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?!

The 2-4-1 challenge might be our best strategy for BNN so far.

Since setting the challenge that each new-to-us item into the house means two items out I have noticed a marked change in my thinking. On Sunday I went to a market that sold second hand items for children and babies. I was hoping I might find bed rails or shoes for Little Fearse, or maybe even a Little Squirt (I have bid on Ebay on FIVE of these now and been outbid at the last minute for each one!). I was keenly aware that there was going to be a lot of stuff there that looked appealing, or was cute, or would be very useful to us. I took a limited amount of cash and a list of five things I could look for. Anything else I was to walk right passed.

I found three pairs of shoes for Little Fearse there, the cheapest being $1 and the most expensive $10. How could I go passed a pair of purple Converse hardly worn? (I know, I know.) I feel like we are now covered for Little Fearse’s first pair of shoes. She is walking now, not at the stage yet where she’ll need them, but soon. Each of these pairs of shoes is a different size.


I then found two sleep suits in size 2 – not technically on my list. I have been bidding on some of these on Ebay lately, also, and found that they tend to go for upwards of $30. I got these for $5 and $3, so I don’t feel bad about that at all.

Anyway, I passed by lots and lots and lots of other things that we could use now or in the near future. All I could think about was the 10 things I was going to have to get rid of when I got home.

I felt really pleased with what I brought home. Things we will definitely use. I didn’t have any buyers regret and I was able to find ten old uni readers and teaching resource folders that I don’t use to get rid of. Plus, it’s put a dent in the mess of old study things left over in Little Fearse’s wardrobe. I think that this challenge will really help with the hoarding issue, too.

Soon I am going to update the clutter collage I uploaded here. Things are looking so much better already.

Mama xo

I spoke too soon.

I really did mean it when I asked where all this stuff comes from, but I’m beginning to work it out. Today when visiting a friend we were gifted a number of items. Some of them were things we needed, some of them were things we didn’t. Now that I have brought them home BP reminds me that I have to get rid of two items for each one.

Oooh yeah, I remember that late night post now.

Due to a recent roof leak in our bedroom our already crappy curtains absorbed a lot of water and became stained. I think it’s a good enough reason to get off my butt and replace them. They are the type of cheap curtain that is bought in packs and attached by flimsy brackets. The parts are all plastic and break easily. Little Fearse likes to pull the thin plastic rods out and swing them around. They really have to go. I think I can use the material for something like an art mat or a picnic rug, as they’re rubber backed. I will definitely use it.

Anyhoo…today we were gifted a curtain rod. In exchange I will get rid of a blue stripy vase which I keep thinking is useful but haven’t used in years and a book called ‘The Musicians of Auschwitz’ which I bought in an op shop in New York and was translated from French. I will probably never read it.

I once blogged that I was worried about finding shoes for when Little Fearse starts walking. She’s already begun to take steps, so this is becoming a little more urgent.  My wonderful friend’s Mum handed down the beautiful leather shoes she wore when she was a tiny tot (circa 1980). I will add one of my pairs of shoes and a straw hat to the op shop pile in exchange for these two tiny pairs of shoes. I will also take to school for our EQ area two lovely books about feeling happy and feeling angry.

My friend also found a tiny jacket for Little Fearse. I will exchange this for a certain surprise Sesame Street themed parcel for a lovely family we know. I will also finally pass on my DVD copy of The Magical Mystery Tour. No matter how much you love The Beatles (and I do) this is a terrible, terrible film and in the 7 years since I bought it at a garage sale I have watched it precisely 0.5 times.

To solve an earlier freezing food in bulk dilemma my friend had saved a heap of take away containers for us. I am going to cheat slightly with this and exchange these space-wise with all the glass jars I took to my Dad for pickles on Thursday.

She also gave me a cotton reel holder from her Grandma’s house. This is an item I’ve been meaning to acquire (not this one in particular, but one of it’s type) for years to tidy up my sewing corner. I will exchange this for two books of old uni readings, currently taking up valuable space in Little Fearse’s wardrobe.

That was already difficult, but you know what? I didn’t even know we had some of those things. It just took a little fossicking in cupboards to find random items. I don’t have great hopes for us in the long run becoming actual minimalists, but I’ll be really interested to see how far we can go.

Mama xo

PS I’m not going to bore you with posts that list every item we get rid of in the future. The aim of this is for you to really see just how many layers and layers of things we are dealing with. I wonder if people who have less storage have less stuff or just more clutter?

Challenges we already anticipate…

We’re 9 days in and so far…winning. Just took a week away on Summer holidays and spent a total of $30. No new purchases.

As suggested by a lovely reader on FB I will be ‘purchasing’ the new books with my vouchers but donating the same amount of books. That way I’m not accumulating more stuff. Actually, I will probably be buying two books and I’ve found four to donate to the local oppie. So…yay! (By the way, for those who are interested, none of them are Big Poppa’s books…)

There are a few things I suspect (or know) we’ll need to purchase over the coming year and those things are troubling me somewhat. I need to focus on solutions that don’t compromise BNN or my other personal philosophies. That’s to say, I don’t want to purchase something second-hand as an interim until next year. That is still accumulating stuff that will be landfill within the year. I also want to ensure we’re making ethical choices with purchases.

  • Our fridge is losing it’s seal and making an odd noise at the back. If it’s not closed carefully both the freezer and fridge hang open a little which is disastrous for our energy bill, ecologically irresponsible and terrible for our food. This year we may need to purchase a new (to us) fridge. How do we do this while ensuring that it is second hand but also has a high energy rating (something I take very seriously when purchasing white goods)? While I’d like to think this is a bridge we can cross when we get to it…we can’t. Fridges are expensive and a necessity. When our fridge goes bung we need to have a fool-proof plan for quickly acquiring a new one that we can afford and meets our energy requirements. Any ideas?
  • Little Fearse will definitely start walking this year. She’s ridiculously close already. While we were away she took several opportunities to stand for a few seconds without holding on to anything. Exciting, but also…aaaahhhhhhgggghh! Children’s shoes are ridiculously expensive. Plus, especially at this age, they grow out of them in about three seconds flat. There is some debate over the use of second hand shoes. Obviously to be safe and supportive she needs shoes that fit her very well. This is also something that we need to pre-plan for, but since her feet are growing all the time we can’t start searching until we know what size they’ll be when she starts walking.
  • This might seem minor, but I forgot to purchase a new hair brush before January 1st. I’ve had mine for 12 years and all of the little bobbles have worn off the ends of the tines. Plus the handle keeps falling off. My very long hair is fond of bird nesting itself if I don’t brush it regularly. I can probably hold off with my current hair brush for a little while longer and I have got my Mum hunting her cupboards for any old hair brushes that are hiding out. I’d hate a blimming hair brush to be my first ‘new’ purchase. That’d be a bummer.
  • I’m currently driving my brother’s car, while Big Poppa drives my Dad’s car and my parents have my car. This is a very confusing situation (especially if someone gets a speeding fine…) but seems to work for us. My brother will be returning from overseas in August and we will need to purchase a ‘family’ car. Although this DEFINITELY won’t be a new car, it is a new purchase and it’s important that we think carefully about our needs and desires before we need to buy a car. At the moment we’re rating child safety ratings as pretty high on our list of priorities.
  • My subscription to the Australian Breastfeeding Association is due for renewal, and I have decided to renew. All three of us are breastfeeding fans and supporting the ABA is important to us.
  • Now that Little Fearse is getting around a lot more we need to put child proof locks on the kitchen, bathroom and laundry cupboards. I have been dreaming for awhile now about a vintage medicine cabinet to hang on our bathroom wall, but have decided to put that aside at the moment. Medicines will go in a box at the top of a tall cupboard in another room. We have been gifted some left over drawer locks from child proofing at my parent’s holiday house which is great! Now we just need to get some locks for cupboard doors. We might need to purchase these, but we anticipated that under the ‘safety’ clause. Mind you, if anyone has any child proofing bits and pieces that they are no longer using or that are looking for a home, we’d be delighted to put them to good use.
  • We need to install new deadlocks for two external doors of our house. This is not optional. I don’t imagine we can do it without purchasing brand new locks. We just have to find the most cost effective way to do this.
  • Before Little Fearse moves into her own room we would really like to put up blinds. I wonder where we might be able to source second hand blinds? Perhaps we’ll keep our eyes on Ebay. We’d have to be pretty lucky to get the exact right size…but hey, stranger things have happened.

If anyone has any leads or suggestions for any of these challenges, we’d love your advice.


Mama xo