As June 30th approaches (goal update)

The deadline for one of my January goals is fast approaching, so I felt it was a good time to update you and, in turn, keep myself on track.

1. I would like to reduce the stuff in our house by 1000 more items by Jan 1st 2015.

  • By our last update I had removed 191 items and added 55. We’re faring a lot better now, but I have been a bit slack in keeping track. Let’s call these numbers approximate.
  • Our outgoing stuff, helped along by the Minimalist Game, is at 635 items. I still have a lot of items in the out-going pile that just haven’t been moved on yet. I hope to focus on that a little these school holidays.
  • Our incoming stuff is at 101 items. This has been added to a lot due to Little Fearse’s birthday and, also, me losing focus a little. I’m getting less good at saying ‘no thanks’. I need to continually remind myself that we don’t need stuff. 
  • So, really, this brings our total for removed items (if I’m going to be strict) back to 534 items.
  • A little over half way at a little under the half way point. Not bad! Of course getting rid of 500 more items is going to be more challenging given the depths we have already gone to in our decluttering. I’ll let you know how I go.

2. I would like to further reduce the number of tubs in the storeroom by at least one 60 litre tub by Jan 1st 2015.

  • I have reduced the stuff in these tubs by half a tub. So, I guess, that puts me at the half way point, too.

3. I would like to maintain a clear dining room surface, permanently. (With the exception of times of high volumes of at home work, such as report writing time, when it doubles as my desk and some clutter is necessary.)

  • Here, you be the judge. Not toooooo bad.Image

4. I would like to sell (or, failing that, donate) all of the items that I currently have set aside for eBay by June 30th this year.

  • I have stopped selling things in eBay due to ludicrous fees and postage costs. I’m thinking about opening an Etsy store for my vintage dresses and BP’s vintage cup cake stands, but this is something I need to investigate further these holidays. I won’t be meeting this goal by June 30th, but will probably reassess and set a new goal once I know what I’m doing.

5. I would like to read 5 books on my to-read shelves by 1st Jan 2015.

  • This is the goal I am doing the best with. I have really prioritised reading lately, especially since BP’s new job means less reading time in the mornings. I use every free opportunity, including getting to school a little earlier to read in the car, reading in the bath, reading instead of watching movies or TV shows, going to bed earlier to read…reading, reading, reading.
  • I have read, since the last update, two more books from the shelves Last Words by George Carlin and Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro. This brings my total to four already!
  • My to-read shelves are now down to 99 books! I can’t remember the last time I had less than 100 books on this shelf. BP asked if I wanted some books for my birthday and it was so hard saying no, but I really want to get down to a less overwhelming number of unread books.
  • I have been borrowing a lot of books from friends and the library, and have been gifted some recent blockbusters which I raced through and passed on. None of these made it onto my to-read shelves, so I need to, perhaps, focus a little more on reading from the shelves and less on borrowing yet more books!
  • With my recent focus on reading perhaps I can set a goal within a goal and see if I can double it – 10 books by January 1st? You’re on!

Mama xo

Advertisements

Purge

For a long time I have been a “collector”, from basketball cards when I was a kid, to music and film on basically every kind of media you can imagine. I took pride In my collection and some weird way it gave me a sense of accomplishment. During this month we have been getting rid of the same amount of “things” as the day in the date. Today on the 23rd of April, I have purged and am not seeing the sense in the collection anymore. The first thing that took a shellacking was the DVD pile.

In this day and age, EVERYTHING is basically available on free or paid streaming, as well as the other means that one may obtain content from the good old internets. Instead of having a wall of DVDs I have a small black box that holds thousands of hours of music, film, tv and every other thing I could ever want that sits on a shelf next to the TV. Our TV aerial hadn’t been plugged in since the end of football season last September and was only plugged in recently for the very same reason, to watch one game of football a week. We don’t watch broadcast television and therefore are not advertised to or watch any of the lobotomy style programming the major networks in Australia pass off as entertainment or news.

Looking at my DVD stack, I realised I have most of the stuff digitally now and have pulled half of them out, to never be put back again. We maybe watch an actual DVD twice a year, all they are  doing is filling the space in our TV cabinet they could be better utilized. Out with the old in with the none.

I have even offered up three of my pairs of sneakers to the cause of a less cluttered life. More on that soon.

 

BPF

 

Do nothing.

On Tuesday I stayed in my pyjamas all day. I read my book until late. I did some sewing. I cooked raviolli from scratch. I dug into the deepest depths of our home and continued my decluttering journey.

Sometimes when it’s school holidays I catch up with all my other teaching friends and take Little Fearse on outings and run errands until suddenly I look around and the calendar is full, the holidays are waning and I’m exhausted. For the past year we have battled this by spending a week of my school hoildays at Phillip Island, but this wasn’t something we managed to organise these holidays. I almost fell into my old trap – by the end of the first official day of holidays (Monday) I’d already been off school for 6 days and I had already done so many things and I was already exhausted.

I’m not good at saying ‘no’ and I’m especially not good at remembering to schedule nothing for my own well being. I think it is a weakness in my character that I worry more about letting others down than I do about letting myself down. It doesn’t make a person selfless, it makes them a bit of a push over.

I loved my Tuesday. I felt really good at the end of my Tuesday. I felt like I could start organising new things to do on my holidays after my Tuesday. I recommend you schedule a Tuesday for yourself.

Mama xo

The lies we tell ourselves about luck and happiness.

For many years BP and I led a kind of blessed life. A few years after meeting my Mum offered a tumble down house she owned, rent free, until its demolition paperwork came though. It seemed a shame for the house to be empty while they waited, especially as BP and I were separately paying rent in different houses. BP and I never intended to move in together having had less than fun experiences with former partners, but the opportunity was too good to waste. This three month experiment in living together extended into two years while the permits were way laid. Eventually the house (which was in very bad condition) was heritage listed and had to be sold rather than demolished. On the up side, BP and I found we quite enjoyed living together, despite our initial reservations.

Over those two years we saved a deposit for a house, travelled to New York twice, got engaged and were married.  Things were really great – BP’s music was doing really well, I scored my dream job. Shortly after buying our own home I got a permanent position at my job and then we discovered we were pregnant with Little Fearse. We had a beautiful second honeymoon in Thailand. I had a wonderful pregnancy, an easy birth and we found ourselves with a perfect bundle of joy.

There were times where things didn’t go according to plan. Two months after Little Fearse was born BP lost his job, but he found new work relatively easily and started on his current path of study. Going back to work with Little Fearse was 9 months old was hard for all of us and finding the balance between parenting and teaching was an initial struggle.  These minor setbacks didn’t impact on our overall happiness.  When Little Fearse was about 14 months old we became pregnant quickly and easily with our second baby. Things were really coming up Fearse.

Sometimes we felt untouchable. Mostly, though, I worried about when our luck would turn. When were the scales going to balance? What was going to strike us down? I couldn’t feel happy without also feeling a sense of doom. On a bad day it was like I was sabotaging my own happiness.

Since our miscarriage in September and our subsequent failure to conceive I have often found myself heading down a pathway of thoughts that is not at all healthy. Things are bad now because they have been so good before. We didn’t appreciate our happiness enough. It’s our turn to feel hurt and failure. Our luck has run out. Why should we have happiness when other’s don’t?

I have to keep reminding myself that life doesn’t work like that. Life isn’t fair. Some people go through their entire lives never experiencing any real disasters, other than the “ordinary” grievances we all have to endure eventually. Others experience much more pain, or ill health, or tragedy than they could possibly deserve.

If life were truly like this the same kids wouldn’t show up to school every day tired from looking after their siblings all night because their parents can’t, or without food, or with bruises on their bodies. It’d be shared between all the children, like a roster – and those kids would have ‘lucky’ days where they had great food for lunch and a new iPad waiting for them when they got home.

I spend so much time touting the line to my students “life isn’t fair”, why have I allowed myself to believe that we are really ruled by some cosmic scales of justice? For most of us life is made of ups and downs. There are black spots, there are bright spots. There are times where life cruises with a few speed bumps.

The reality is, this blip in our lives is just that, a ‘blip’.

One day in the future I will have accepted that I am going to be the mother of just one, beautiful, perfect child. Or, I will find myself Mum to a chattering, chaotic hoard of kids. I will feel happy again. I hope at that time that I can truly feel my blessings and not be afraid of what comes next. I hope that I will be able to live in the moment of joy and no longer feel afraid of when my luck is going to turn. I will be happy without being afraid.

Mama xo

Believe in what you buy.

Buy something new. I don’t mind. It’s not my choice, it doesn’t impact on my decisions. That’s the great thing about our BNN project – we buy nothing new. It’s pretty cut and dry, it doesn’t have too many grey areas, we can live by that. It doesn’t mean we feel judgemental towards anyone else for their consuming decision making. What it does mean is that we get to show others that buying nothing new is possible, and it also might give people an opportunity to think about their consumption habits in a conscious way. I think, mostly, the buy / sell process is automatic for most people now. We never really thought about it before our first year began. We had started to buy fair trade coffee and avoid products with palm oil. We were becoming more aware of where our food came from. We knew a little about the unethical production of Nikes. We avoided Nestle. If it was a well-publicised boycott, we knew about it. Otherwise, we were a bit mindless when it came to our spending. We also didn’t realise that there were alternatives to consuming.

The thing about becoming a conscious consumer is that it doesn’t mean you have to stop consuming.  For us it means buying second hand or not at all. For others it may mean buying fair trade, or from stores that provide something back to communities who need it (think Oxfam shops). For some people it may mean buying locally, or supporting small business. For some people it is about buying Australian (or American or Mexican or wherever you happen to be based) made. For some it is about avoiding purchases that may inadvertently support labour camps or that encourage criminally low wages and the exploitation of children. Some may splurge on high quality household goods, knowing they will (probably) never have to replace them. Some will buy branded clothing that can then be passed on at a fraction of the price to people like us who buy nothing new.

The point I’m making, is that buying nothing new is one way. It’s our way, and we like it. We will probably do it forever.

Either way, I think it’s important that we think about what we’re buying, whether we need it and where is has come from. Don’t just be a cog in the wheel of someone else’s design. Make your own wheel, or become a part of something you believe in. Contribute your hard earned dollars to something that matters.

Well, that’s my 2 cents. It’s about all I have spare…

Mama xoxo

Our BNN celebration

Last weekend we held a “thank you’ op shop themed BBQ for our friends who have supported our Buy Nothing New journey. Every time someone takes the time to talk to us about our Buy Nothing New lifestyle it is really touching to us. When people ask questions, or tells us we’ve inspired them to make a change it helps us to feel that we have made progress and that our small contribution is worthwhile.

We invited our friends to wear something silly or serious they’ve picked up second hand along the way. Many came in outfits that included second hand items – handed down hats, pretty brooches and bright blazers. And then there were our friends who came dressed entirely in op shop outfits and looked both fabulous and fun. We had a great time choosing our own outfits.

Image

BP found most of his outfit (robe and boardies) at our local second Savers. The jersey was purchased second hand at a Brooklyn flea market. I found my dancing costume (great for spins with Little Fearse) at Savers, too. Little Fearse’s princess dress and chicken hat were a lucky St Vinnie’s find that I thought were ridiculous. Little Fearse thought they were BRILLIANT. I tried them on her for size one day earlier in the week and she refused to take them off, chucking a spectacular tantrum when she had to have a shower that evening. She knows what she wants, our daughter.

I finally felt like I found my food mojo on Sunday. We planned a simple meal of local meat and a few simple salads plus barbequed veggies and corn. That week a few great recipes popped up in my feed from Mamabake and I added those to the menu. I cooked from the time I woke up until the time we all sat down to eat and I was happy with all the food we provided. I feel like it was a bit of a foodie break through for me.

The best of all was where most of the food came from. It was really something to be able to serve local or home grown foods to our guests, showing that our food habits really have changed in our first BNN year.

Our menu included the following home grown goods:

– Jimmy’s lettuce and spring onions

– Pam’s zucchini

– Dave’s olives (which I pickled, successfully!)

– Tanya’s cherry tomatoes and beetroots

– Dad’s lemons

I was also able to offer guests Emma’s beetroot chutney, Tanya’s onion relish, Dad’s & my pickled lime, Dad’s quince chutney, local green tomato chutney and the Wedderburn Community tomato sauce. The eggs were local (bought at the market) and the meat was from a butcher who is now selling at the market and sources his meat from local(ish) farms with good practices. Almost all the other veggies were from a local grower who sells at the market. The fruit was also bought at the market, but not locally grown. Our gorgeous Barb made a passionfruit sponge to go with our fruit platter. It was the crowd favourite – who can resist a perfect passionfruit sponge?

I really want to get our own veggie patch underway this year. I’m quite overwhelmed by the thought of starting it off, as I’ve had little success with growing anything in the garden previously. In fact, I had to hide three pots of dead plants before our guests arrived on Sunday! I have an old bath and bricks donated from a friend to create a raised bed, probably at the back of our BBQ area, where there is a lot of sun. Any tips or tricks (or good starting points) much appreciated. I’d love our next celebration to include foods from our own garden.

Thanks to all of you who were not able to come on Sunday, too. Every comment or view gives us a thrill!

Mama xo

PS This year we are sharing a photo a day of something we are grateful for, inspired by Hailey at 365 Grateful. We are doing this on our Facebook page. Please like us if you want to keep up with our grateful photos. Our Facebook page is a companion to our blog. We often share stories, post photos, ask questions and post links to things that we think our fans will enjoy reading. We’d love to include you in our social media community as well as our blog community. xo

The end is nigh.

You couldn’t even call this the home stretch – we’re sliding into the home plate. We have TWO BNN days left. Just two!

Deep breaths. Gulps.

Many people have asked us about our plans for next year. BP and I have had dozens of conversations about this very topic. We have some firm ideas about what we want to do, but some of the details are hazy. We’re not ready to officially announce anything yet, but what is certain is that I will be continuing the blog into the new year.

We are looking at continuing to Buy Nothing New in 2014 with some tweaks. We may need a breather for a few weeks, though with our previously negotiated gift card clause we may just be able to get the things we are currently seeking with the gift cards we received for Christmas.

I am very nervous about the year ending. I don’t for one minute believe that we will go on a crazy spending spree, but I am concerned that some consumeristic tendencies will creep back in if we allow ourselves to buy new things. It is hard to know how much of our will power has been spurred on by the fact that you (our readers) hold us accountable, that our rules prevent us from buying new things. Without these rules, what will become of us?

I’ve read Lord of the Flies. I’ve even seen both films.

lord of the flies

All I’m saying is, I don’t want to have to crush BP to death with a giant rock…over an unnecessary purchase. Or, you know, for any reason.

Mama xo