Questionable birthday decisions.

Sometimes we like to pretend that you’re here to read about things like how we choose to parent our daughter (so exciting and original!) or what books I like to read that you should, too, or uhh other stuff that is mostly irrelevant to our BNN challenges. Thanks for indulging us.

We often find we don’t have a huge amount to say about Buying Nothing New. This is probably a good thing. A great thing. It means that we are overcoming our challenges with more ease – it’s becoming second nature to solve our issues by purchasing nothing, borrowing something, adapting, mending, making or (as a last resort) buying second hand. But this doesn’t make for good blogging.

It was my birthday last week. When my parents asked me what I wanted I thought long and hard. I had been researching about the Kitchen Aid Mixer and whether it might be a worthy addition to my kitchen. It is possible to buy them second hand, though they don’t depreciate much and in Australia they are very expensive. I’ve really done a lot of research and I did consider asking Mum and Dad if they’d help me buy one second hand for my birthday. I still feel so undecided about it, though, and recently my brother and his partner suggested I borrow theirs for a little while to see how much I use it and if I like it. I think this is a really great BNN way to make a purchasing decision.

What did I ask for then? Honestly, I’m to sure how this gift sits with BNN. I feel a little uncomfortable about it, but I’ll explain the process we went through. I have an old doona that has lost most of it’s feathers. When I say ‘old’ I got it for my 21st birthday, so it’s not terribly old (I’m not terribly old, really, after all) and it was expensive at the time. I feel it should have lasted longer than it did. But it didn’t. I know that I could get it refilled, but I feel that it is an expensive solution that is also temporary.

As the weather has cooled down at night the three of us in our bed are less than cosy. We use no heating at night and no matter how many bed socks or singlets or blankets we add we’ve all been so cold and none of us have been sleeping well. So I asked my parents if they would give me a new doona for my birthday.

Mum and I went shopping – we ended up choosing a woollen doona by MiniJumbuck*. As an Australian brand using Australian wool we felt it was hard to go passed. I also like the fact that though the wool may get flatter over time it won’t lose feathers. Buying this doona first hand is the first factor that I felt uncomfortable with. I guess this probably counts as a personal purchase of something new, because really I made the decision and although I didn’t pay for it, I asked for it. Technically or not, this is a purchase on our behalf.

The second factor that made me feel uncomfortable was that we bought a king size doona when my previous doona was queen size. This means new covers. We ummed and aahed over what size to get, but honestly – BP and I are both really tall and we share a bed with a growing toddler. I want this to be THE doona we have for years and years to come. I don’t want to make the decision in five years time that it isn’t big enough. To solve the issue of doona covers we managed to purchase two second hand covers on eBay for $28. We don’t love the patterns, but we’re not that particular about our bedroom decore anyway, so at that price (and second hand) we’re happy to have them for the term of their natural life.

The old doona is going to be relegated to our spare bed for now as it sure beats the polyester summer doona in there currently (which will be donated).

It’s not a win – win situation, but it’s not a complete loss either.

Mama xo

* I know it’s weird to link a product website on a blog that is discouraging consumerism, but honestly – to me this seems like a perfect option if you are Australian and you want to buy ‘locally’. None of the other doonas were made here or used quality local products. This reduces the miles the product has travelled, if nothing else.


A BNN first birthday.

This year I really liked the idea of challenging ourselves to creating a fun and happy first birthday for Little Fearse without buying anything new. There were parts of the preparation that were really satisfying and other parts that were a little soul destroying. Would I recommend a Buy Nothing New birthday party? No, I would not. Is it possible? Absolutely! Would I do it differently if I was doing it again? For SHIZ. My best resource for this party was Pinterest. If you’re not already addicted, get onto it. It was fabulous and a perfect spot to store all “my” ideas (i.e. the ideas I stole from all over the web).

Here are some of the features of Little Fearse’s Very Hungry Caterpillar first birthday that gave it a real BNN vibe:


I learned how to make the pompoms on YouTube. I heart YouTube. Big Poppa leadlighted a butterfly on the window using tissue paper. You’ll notice we have a lot of knitted food hanging from the roof. I already had all of that…you may have seen it on my vintage cup cake stand in the last declutter post.


These paper bag puppets were a teaching idea I found on the ‘net. We painted them and filled them with all the foods the caterpillar eats in the book. We had a reading of the book and each kid had their own puppet to stuff. They then got to take them home. This was really intense to prepare…lots of painting and cutting and colouring and sticking etc. Click on the pic for the original link.


A lot of cutting out – luckily we had a few people to help. Also very expensive to colour copy. I just couldn’t face all that colouring in! Worth it, though. All the kids loved this activity…except Little Fearse of course! Click on the photo for the pdf.


These take home bags were a hit. I’ve been sent some really cute photos of kids from the party working on them…and one message ‘thanking’ me after a gorgeous guest ground play dough into her Mum’s carpet. Hehe.. ooops. Of course, I got this idea from somewhere else, too! (Click on the photo.) As for the bits and piece, I put a call out on our FB page a month or so ago wondering where I could find second hand googly eyes etc. A lovely friend raided her own craft cupboard and came up with all the goodies. The bags had been crumpled up under my desk at school since February, so it was good to find a use for them. These look very BNN in comparison to the place I got the idea from, but the kids loved them none-the-less.


I originally searched for cloth napkins at op shops and couldn’t find them anywhere! Eventually I found this unopened packet of cocktail napkins for 49c at St Vinnies. I also planned to buy small plates at the op shop for the party and then re-donate them the next day. I couldn’t find any small plates at my local op shop, but did find an unopened packet of small reusable plastic plates, also for 49c. I was pretty happy with both finds.


I commissioned a very clever friend to make the cake from an idea we found on the web. This was even cuter than this, if you can believe it. It had cupcakes surrounding it with Little Fearse’s name and little lady birds. They were thoroughly delicious, also. She uses a recipe from Magnolia Bakery in NY. I could have eaten ten thousand of these.


And the birthday girl herself. Dressed in a Very Hungry Caterpillar dress made by her Nan, a cardigan that was mine when I was her age, shoes that belonged to one of my gorgeous friends when she was Little Fearse’s age and tights collected from Freecycle. A very BNN outfit…and isn’t she gorgeous?!

Birthday + birthday + BIRTHDAY!

This week started with a birthday party (if you count Sunday as the start of the week…) and is going to end with one,also. If that isn’t enough for the average Fearsian household, there is a double birthday smack bang in the middle, too!

Birthdays – or rather, gift giving – is one of the big BNN challenges. You have to either be very crafty and time rich (read: motivated) or a creative thinker with good resources. I am the latter who sometimes pretends to be the former. We have approached gifting in a variety of ways this year, so far. I’ve made jams and cakes for some. We’ve re-gifted some of our own belongings to friends who we think will appreciate them. We’ve had some lucky second hand finds by chance and we’ve also had some long hunts online and off that have born fruit. So far we’ve not yet failed completely to find what we’ve needed, but we have had to plan well ahead for all of these birthdays and events.


Dad’s birthday onion jam, which may have been a little on the burnt side due to Little Fearse distracting me at the crucial moment that it began to turn from liquid to jam. Dad has not yet complained.

The Sunday market has been one of our best resources for kids gifts. There is a stall there we LOVE with second hand toys. They’re good quality toys and usually in excellent condition. They’re also reasonably priced, which is a bonus.

With all of the Mum’s Group babies turning one within the next six weeks I’ve got my work cut out for me preparing gifts. I have a crafty plan to make toys for each of them, but so far I’m doing very poorly with finding time (read: getting started). If anyone wants to post motivational quotes in comments I’d appreciate it.

Little Fearse’s first birthday gifts come from a variety of sources, too. We found her steel truck at the market for a steal (see what I…nevermind). Her variety of wooden musical instruments were found on eBay. Her toddler bike was passed on from a Freecycler. We also plan to use our last book voucher for a few books for her, though we’ve left it a little late to order them in time. (Oops…)

Something I have only learnt the hard way is that not everyone appreciates a home made gift. Not everyone appreciates a second-hand gift. Not everyone appreciates a foodie gift. I particularly like to give a gift that is enjoyed and appreciated, but I also need to be true to myself and my values when giving these gifts. This year, if it’s coming from the Fearse household expect hand made, edible or second hand gifts.

I have to admit, this is one of the really fun BNN challenges because it can be solved in such a huge variety of ways. And people mostly seem just that little bit more impressed when they know we did it without buying anything new. Even if they do think the gift is a little bit crap and it ends up at the op shop…*

Happy birthday to you and you and almost to our no longer tiny itty bitty Little Fearse.

Mama xo

*Which is probably where we will find it, re-purchase it and pass it on to the next lucky (?) person to have a birthday!