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

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

What will we NOT buy second hand?`

This year we have been willing to buy just about every thing second hand, or not at all. When we decided to buy Little Fearse her very own bed, we met a bit of a stumbling block. We were more than happy to purchase a second hand bed frame, and did so through eBay. This set us back a whopping $6.11.

Wow, I thought at the time, this is simple. And then it dawned on me. Little Fearse having her own bed means not just a frame, but also a mattress, a pillow, a doona (blanket), quilt cover, pillow cases, mattress protector and sheets. Eep.

I spent many hours researching the best way to do this. I hunted second hand shops for quilt covers, pillow cases and sheets that looked clean and not too worn. I felt a bit guilty about the whole process, like I was letting Little Fearse down by not buying her new bedding. Family members expressed their distaste for the idea of even the second hand frame.

BP and I debated with each other back and forth over whether we could stomach buying Little Fearse a second hand mattress. Those of you that are members of our Facebook community gave a resounding ‘no’ to the question “Would you buy a second hand mattress?” I spent hours exploring Gumtree and eBay, trying to find a single bed mattress that was hardly used. I was nervous about the idea of having a second hand children’s mattress, given that children are probably more likely than adults to pee the bed. I was unsure about the homes the mattresses were coming from. Were they smoke free? Were they bug free? How would I know?

Finally we decided that we really couldn’t handle the thought of our little girl on a mattress from a strangers home. You’d think that would solve the issue, but it didn’t. Buying new mattresses is just as fraught, as the flame retardant most new mattresses are sprayed with is highly toxic. We can’t afford the $1000+ for an organic or latex mattress. What to do? The only plan we could come up with was to buy a mattress and leave it outside to off-gas for a period of time. Is this what we did? No. We have, so far, done nothing. We are completely stumped by this dilemma and no solution we have come up with sounds right. We’re longing to get Little Fearse’s bed up and running, she is excited about it. Every time she walks passed the frame she taps it and says “Mine, bed”.

As for the rest of the bits and pieces, I reluctantly accepted help from my Mum to buy a new pillow, sheets, mattress protector and doona covers as a Christmas gift for Little Fearse. She will use BP’s old single doona, so we don’t need a new blanket. Come Christmas Day we will have everything we need to pop Little Fearse in her own bed.

Except a mattress. What would you do?

Mama xo

A crap week.

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I’m all for positivity and looking on the bright side and all that stuff. I really am. But I also know how annoying it can be when people are faultlessly positive, even when something is just a bit crap. Last week we had a really crummy week. All of us got sick (gastro again, but this time much, much worse) and I worked too much and a few other things here and there stuck the boot in, too. It was one of those weeks which I really don’t want to relive, ever. But we’ve survived worse, and you guys don’t come here to read my complaints, so here is an annoying list of all the stuff that was good about last week:

  • We were the second people at the zoo on Saturday morning. The first people in the zoo went straight to the cafe, which meant that we were the only people walking the pathways for a good half hour. It was amazing…our own personal zoo. Little Fearse could wander as she pleased without us worrying about losing her in crowds. She even stopped just to rub her hands across the dirt for a good five minutes. It was something wonderful.
  • We met up with BPs family for our annual catch up on Saturday, too. Although it ended with Little Fearse getting sick it was wonderful to see them and just be with them. It struck me again and again while we were together that these people who I hardly know share a blood ties with my daughter. An amazing thing and something to be cherished.
  • I went to an inspiring lecture on Tuesday night about (loosely) the place of the arts in education. I came away with so many ideas I want to implement in our year one unit. Worth the late night.
  • On Thursday I had three big friends and one little friend come to visit and spend much of the day here. I was exhausted from my working week and was so grateful for their TLC (one of my friends even cooked us all lunch which is pretty special).

Ok, that’s all the positivity I can muster. What were you grateful for last week?

Mama xo

Something was not quite right.

On Sunday BP and I went on a bit of a strange splurge. It all started on Saturday…

On Saturday BP smashed my favourite vintage glass jug to smithereens. I should qualify that he definitely didn’t mean to and maybe I could have put it somewhere different where it was less likely to get in the way of the frying pan. There is no point blaming a hungry person when your favourite vintage glass jug gets in the way of their bacon frying. 

I was surprised at how upset I was. Partially because I have recently learned how to make my own lemon cordial (or lemon lime cordial, or orange cordial or.. or..) and had been using the jug a lot. Also, I don’t have another jug. I decluttered all my other jugs. Plus, it was a very lovely jug with printed oranges and lemons on the outside an a turned lip. 

Sigh.

Still, it was just a thing and we are trying to reduce our attachment to things at the moment. 

So, BP suggested we head to Savers on the hunt for a replacement vintage glass jug. I think my heart skipped a beat when he suggested we go to Savers. I thought about Savers for the rest of the day and that night and then throughout Sunday morning.  

At Savers on Sunday afternoon I hunted through the kitchen goods section and didn’t find a jug that fit the bill. I did cruise passed the books and find one that I was specifically looking for to pass on to my brother. I then cruised passed the children’s clothing section with the tenuous excuse that Little Fearse needed a rain jacket and slippers. Half an hour later we left Savers $50 poorer, two green bags teeming with baby clothes. Oops, what just happened?

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A bad idea (creating the product in the first place…and me buying it.) [Image from Sweet Tater Blog]

Across the way BP noticed a Not Quite Right grocery store. When I lived in a share house in Coburg as a student I did a lot of shopping at NQR.  I’m sure you have something similiar somewhere near you – a grocery store where bad food ideas and out of date groceries goes to die (or be snapped up by poor students). I stopped going to NQR after I realised that most of the food I bought there was either disgusting or completely irrelevant to anything I cooked, ever. I think the bottle of green tomato sauce sat in the cupboard untouched for three years. 

I agreed to step foot in this NQR. I’m not sure why. As we walked in BP and I made a deal that we would only buy something if it was food we’d usually buy. BP was almost immediately dazzled by the strawberry and cream sour straps. This does not come under the category of ‘things we’d usually buy’. They kind of reminded us of bacon, which then reminded us of this. So we got some. After that we took a bit of time to regain control of our senses. 

I didn’t look at anything in NQR and wonder how it got there. No one needs a giant bottle of chicken parma sauce. In normal person land we call that tomato paste. And I don’t know who needs 5 litres of seafood sauce. I don’t want to meet that person. The “food” you find in NQR is usually highly processed, nutrient lacking and (surprisingly) not significantly cheaper than the regular grocery stores. 

We left with a kilo bag of frozen berries for smoothies (which was a really good deal at quarter of the price we’d usually pay), sour bacon straps and some bulk spices (the ones I use when making my signature freezer dahl…I use a lot of mustard seeds and tumeric). These were pretty good purchases. I didn’t eat any of the sour straps, but BP assures me they were as good as those he enjoyed as a kid (or…well…an inebriated adult). Honestly though, I think my NQR days are over. 

Both of us felt kind of sullied after our shopping spree and I’m not sure what came over us. Something just wasn’t quite right.

It does confirm, though, that in the right circumstances we’re just as likely as anyone else to have a day of needless purchasing. At least we’re doing it second hand. 

Mama xo