A rookie mistake.

BP and I made a rookie mistake last week. I call this a rookie mistake because it’s the kind of decision we would have made thoughtlessly in our pre-BNN life. And here we are, 19 months later, making the same sorts of mistakes. Unlearning life-long habits is hard.

My laptop isn’t functioning all that well and really needs to be kept in one steady place. In addition to this my back doesn’t thank me for using my laptop as it’s intended (on my lap). We decided to get a small desk for our living area so that I could remain a part of the gang while using my computer.

BP recalled, with sentimentality, how much he’d loved his childhood desk The Fearse Family: A Rookie Mistake– an 80s style map top desk (chunky and brown). He asked around and found that it was located at his sister’s house. She kindly offered to have it fixed and delivered it herself.

We have had it less than a week and it has served its function as a table for my laptop quite well, but it has also quickly become a new surface to add clutter to. We knew this was going to happen. Everything we have learned about removing clutter from our home tells us that we need less surfaces and less storage, not more. Everyone who has lived in a house knows that it is going to take less than a month for those drawers to be loaded up with stuff.

Although we had already discussed the need for a dining table in the front room, sentimentality clouded our vision and we brought in this desk that is all wrong. During the winter months we only heat the front half of our house. The back half has few blinds and curtains and most of the heat would be lost. The only time we use that end of the house is for eating dinner. We could easily have solved this issue and the desk issue with a small, compact dining table in place of the big, chunky desk.  If we had a dining table here it would still be a surface, but at least it would be one that we had to clear every night to eat.

I’m disappointed in our thought processes which basically showed no growth from our impulsive decision making prior to our first buy nothing year.

Of course now we have a fierce Fearsian stand-off. BP is sentimental and wants to hold on to the desk and I am a cold-hearted clutter clearer and want to move it on (or at least out of the house) to make room for something more practical to our purposes.

When you make significant changes to the way you lead your life, you owe it to yourself not to relax on those ideals. We have worked too hard to claw our way forward to now allow ourselves to slip backwards into old habits that don’t suit our purposes.

This week, to help us remember how far we have come, BP and I used ingenuity to repair a squashed, shattered and near destroyed washing basket. When I bought this basket, several years ago, I bought the cheapest one I could find. Everything about it was nasty. It didn’t take long for it to start deteriorating. Recently someone sat on it, or stepped on it, or was pushing someone else around in it as though it was a car and it collapsed into itself. Since we’re working on reducing our waste, and there was no way this was recyclable plastic, we knew that we had no choice but to find a way to repair it, or reuse it. I made the decision to buy the shittiest, cheapest basket I could find and I’m now responsibleWashing basket
for where that ends up. So, how do you repair a shattered plastic washing basket? Start by connecting all the broken bits back together with a few handy pipe cleaners, then insert a hardy backdrop (in this case some cardboard that came as the packaging for one of Little Fearse’s birthday gifts) and go to town with gaffa tape. Ta da! I reckon it will last us another decade, don’t you?

The daily decisions we make about our consumption and about the things we bring into our home need constant examination. This way of life is not yet ingrained in us, which is not helped by the fact that it is far from the norm in society. I see that there is a shift and change happening around us and I hope that things will change in this lifetime. All I can control are the choices that I make and hope that I can mostly make good ones.

Mama xo

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Phone vs Fearse

Today the 18-month War of the Phones has finally ended. Those of you that have been following our story may recall my frustrations at dealing with my 2.5 year old phone at the beginning of our BNN year. I have since learned that the average life span of a smartphone is believed to be somewhere between 18 and 21 months. I guess can feel some sense of achievement that my Galaxy S lasted me 44 months, which is at least double the average phone. I haven’t used it less than other people, or treated it better, or protected it more from dirt and damage. I’ve just been persistent and I have never once coveted a newer model.

In order to use my phone in any usual way I had to be willing to research fixes and curious back door pathways. To phone someone required me to have the phone plugged in at all times. To text took an average of 5 – 10 minutes. Sometimes it took my phone up to 30 seconds to register a word when I typed or swyped it into a text. It would take an unseemly amount of time to open any apps and if I clicked on something more than once (think it hadn’t registered it the first time) my phone would often jam and shut down. I couldn’t use my camera (it took so long to take the photo that the subject was almost always gone by the time the shutter snapped). If I did manage to photograph a stationary object I definitely could not upload said photo to social media. What I could do is play solitaire. For about three minutes before my battery shut down. I could receive texts, and notification of missed phone calls (often the phone hadn’t even rung).

I’m not saying I’m some kind of technological saint, but I was more persistent than most people would be. Today, after trying to call me for three hours and being transferred straight to message bank, BP told me he was putting his foot down.

“I’m taking you to the *insert generic phone company name here* shop and you are getting a new phone.”

But…I’ll end up paying more.

But…I have no service at home anyway!

But…I’ll have less data.

But…I don’t want to get locked into a contract.

But…I don’t want a new phone.

“Mama! Enough. You are getting a new phone.”

I actually felt physically sick on the drive to the shop. I was certain I was going to get sucked into some deal I couldn’t get out of, that didn’t really suit my needs. I knew that I was going to have to get a new phone. I’ve been researching reconditioned and second hand phones and I haven’t found any that were affordable or that I could confidently spend hundreds of dollars on. I know that some of those phones may have been barely used and were only being passed on because the previous owner had upgraded, but how was I to know which ones these were? I had long ago accepted that this is something I’d need to buy / obtain new. My old phone will be destined to the Melbourne Zoo to help raise money for gorilla protection.

On the way into the store I grabbed a pamphlet and was stunned to learn that I could get a new phone (two models up from my current phone and two models down from the most recent model) with the data and calls I’d need for $15 less a month than I was currently paying. Yeah, I took a data cut and I have also made a commitment for another 24 months. I think it’s worth it for, in this case, the convenience of having a phone that actually functions and also paying a lot less than I have been. Although we had a squirming, exhausted toddler, and the whole process took a lot longer than predicted (mainly due to my old phone being an arsehat) it was surprisingly painless.

Ultimately, although I hate to admit it,  I think this shitty bit of expensive, overrated technology is actually going to make my life simpler.

Due to a new job which will require decent phone and internet access BP has also upgraded to his first ever smartphone. I think he is partially mourning the buttons on his old phone and partially revelling in joining the rest of the pack in their general swipe-ish behaviours.

We walked out of the store with two new phones and no exchange of money. It was a strange experience and I could see how easy it is for people to be sucked into upgrading, upgrading, upgrading all the time.

I’m torn between the feeling that I have cheated on my ideals (the phones won) and the feeling that we have done well to hold out so long (Fearses won). We may never definitively know who won this war, but either way, it is over (until next time…)

Mama xo

 

Today I bought something new.

I had been eyeing off this beautiful colourful teething jewellery for a few weeks at the market. It is designed to look great on but also provide your child with relief when teething. Little Fearse loves chewing on my necklaces, teething or not. The business is run by a local Mum. She sells her product through Facebook and the market. It ticks a lot of ethical buying boxes, except the fact that a) it’s not a necessity and b) it’s new. Little Fearse isn’t even teething at the moment. (I’m still a little traumatised from her last bout of teething, to be honest, which left us all sleepless – and helpless – for over a week.) I bought a teething bracelet without even really thinking about it. It was a strange anomaly in my personality – some kind of minor blip in the system. I have spent the rest of the day feeling guilty.

This is also on top of (full disclosure) the breaking of my no “new” clothes rule – I purchased a pair of jeans at the op shop on Saturday (half price purple tag got them down to $3.65) and a shirt at the market today ($1). I have kind of evened that out by donating a pair of jeans and shirt from my wardrobe. I still feel a little alarmed at how easily I slipped back into old habits.

Purchasing something new didn’t feel good and it didn’t give me any buzz. Finding the vintage shirt at the market for $1 gave me a buzz…but it still didn’t feel good afterwards. I’m a little disappointed in myself, to be honest.

These are minor purchases that really don’t mean much in the scheme of things – except that I feel I’ve let down our project a little.

On the upside (because it’s always good to end on an upside) we discovered the joys of frozen watermelon today thanks to a comment on our last post from Verity. If you love our blog, I reckon you will enjoy Verity’s blog The Happy Rebel. She is also working on reducing her consumption, but in a much more challenging environment. Read! She’s very inspiring.

I hope those of you in Victoria are surviving the heat okay.

Mama xo

What’s been our biggest BNN challenge so far?

A friend recently asked me what we had found hardest about our BNN challenge. I admitted that buying second hand wasn’t too difficult for us. I found it a difficult question to answer at the time, but have pondered it lots since.

What have we found really difficult? Gift giving. We have found a variety of gift giving solutions, but I don’t really feel as though we’ve excelled in this area. I have had a go at some toy making for the Mum’s Group first birthdays and am still working on some of these (really late…see what I mean?).

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These toy boats were filled with bells that were rescued from Lindt Easter Bunnies so they tinkled. I loved the tutorial, it was quite simple. I just didn’t feel like they turned out really well – something was amiss. The first was too pointy, the second too billowy. I have a Pinterest board full of great sewing tutorials, I just can’t seem to get it right.

I often have great ideas for second hand gifts, but somehow it doesn’t feel like it is quite honouring our goals. It doesn’t seem challenging enough to buy second hand toys and gifts on eBay and at the market.

I also feel that sometimes people think we’re being cheap, rather than inventive, with our BNN gift giving challenges. We really are not driven by cost at all when it comes to gift giving – we want to give the right gift for the right occasion, but somehow it can get lost in translation somewhere.

I think that I have always felt a little out of wack when it comes to gift giving. I LOVE giving gifts, but usually not at the “right” times. I’ll find the perfect gift months before a birthday or after Christmas, but never when the pressure is on.

When I am receiving gifts I much prefer the one well thought out gift than the mountain of gifts. I love the gift that has been thoroughly considered over the gift that has cost a lot. I have always loved the useful gift over something frivolous. I love a handmade gift. I find it hard to disconnect what I like in a gift when giving gifts to others.

So, gift giving is our biggest challenge this year. I hope that people will forgive us if they feel we’ve dropped the ball in this area. We really are trying.

Mama xo

Separation and Sentimentality

As I had previously promised here I was going to upload a video of me reorganising and de cluttering my home office/studio. I went in yesterday and set up the camera and then I stood still for an hour.

As I rummaged through my shelves and pursued my desk, I realised that a lot of what inhabits my studio is tied up in sentimentality in one way or another. Knick Nacks and Doo Dads that to the naked eye may appear to be useless or even rubbish but in one way or another hold some form of significance.

As a child I moved house 10+ times and with each successive move I learnt to pare down my belongings and often leave behind things that I had cherished. However as I got older and moved out of the parental household, I became more and more sentimental about “stuff” and have spent the better part of 10 years lugging it between apartments, share houses and now it’s final destination “The Fearse Cave”

The mountains of media really form the majority of the clutter in the office. The vinyl and cassette collection is off limits, I have spent most of my life cultivating it and cannot bring myself to part with it. What about the CD’s though, although I hate to admit it, the humble CD is basically a dead format, I can’t remember the last time that I popped a disc into any form of player and gave one a spin. I don’t even have a cd player in my car or a cd drive in my laptop. I could back them all up and donate them to the Op Shop but I’m really not sure how keen they’d be to receive a couple of hundred Hip Hop and Metal discs, even the humble Op Shop is limited in space. I’m at a loss as what to do with these, if anyone has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

Eagerly awaiting your ideas/responses

Big Poppa Fearse

All those lovely bits of paper.

Is it possible to become completely paper free? I read a post on The Non-Consumer Advocates FB page recently where a user claimed their household was entirely paper free. They used re-usable cloths for toilet paper, paper towel and tissues (I think, once upon a time, these were called HANDKERCHIEFS). They used cloth napkins, of course, and then had a big bag of rags for things that were too horrible to be cleaned up with a re-usable rag.

This has made me think a lot about how much paper we use in our household. We always recycle envelopes and blank-backed letters for note taking. Any other paper goes into the recycling bin. We do use tissues (tsk tsk), toilet paper (how do you explain to guests that this is a toilet paper free household?!) and occasionally napkins/serviettes. We can definitely stop using two of these…I can’t see myself becoming toilet paper free.

I’m a bit of an obsessive list maker, so I’m not sure how I’d go transferring that to another medium. Call me old fashioned, but I like to use a pen and paper for my lists. I wonder how BP would go writing songs on something other than paper? Surely that would stifle your creativity? Mind you, I’m very creatively creating this very blog entry straight onto a computer, so maybe I’m wrong. (And a little bit old fashioned.)

A friend and I have an ongoing disagreement about the value of Kindles (and such) for reading. I will eat my hat AND shoes if I one day choose to abandon paper books permanently in favour of the screen. (Bob, you have that in writing – published for all to see.) I’m really very sentimental about books. I was almost swayed when I read about the Worldreader charity, though. Maybe e-readers are the future. I won’t like it if they are, though.

I guess if we make the choice to use paper for things like note taking and reading we need to be really aware of how well they can actually be recycled. And if they can’t, if all those lovely bits of paper that we send off hopefully to the recycling plant actually end up in the trash, we need to be okay with that, or willing to make a change.

The recycling process (and it’s effectiveness) needs more research from me and perhaps a little time to deal with, because it’s likely that I’m not going to be okay with my hopeful bits of paper adding to our landfill or energy consumption. So I need to be willing to make a change.

D…d…declutter.

A part of what we want to do this year is declutter our home. With no new things coming in it should be much easier to do this (theoretically). Every so often I’ll read an article about different ways to approach clutter in your house. A lot of them focus on the wardrobe. The rule regarding getting rid of anything you haven’t worn in 12 months just gives me heart palpitations. I have a lot of vintage dresses that I haven’t worn in a long time, but I’m very attached to them.

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I know I will never find anything like them again. I realise that is just an excuse. But seriously, it’s just not happening. So where to next? My books? Magazines? My jars of buttons? I think maybe it’s one of the downsides to being a teacher. Everything is a resource. Most things I keep for crafting / sewing / school do come in handy. They take up so much room, though. And they only come in handy once, maybe twice a year.

Here are a few articles I’ve read that I think have great ideas. The thing I like about these articles are that they make it sound easy and even a little bit fun. I am actually a little inspired to start. Just a little. I’ll let you know if I make any progress*.

33 Ways to Declutter

18 Simple Ways to Declutter Your Home By Going Green

10 Creative Ways to Declutter

Don’t let the junk win!

Mama xoxo

*If you’re after a hair straightener, I’m your gal. It’s the one thing I have so far decided I don’t need, so mine is up for grabs. Let me know if you want it.