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Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Transformation

I caught Kate in the bathroom doing what all little girls do from time to time....dress up like boys. Totally normal, right???

I was impressed with her detail and the commitment to the look. Check out the battle wounds from a fist fight.

The fun lasted several hours and then she put back on her clothes, washed her face and returned to being a girl.
Kate's little pretend time made me think about what it would be like to be a man. My thoughts lasted only about as long as I think that reality would be fun....just a few seconds.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wanting Less

I found an interesting article recently on It's content is in the same vein as my last post. The article was about wanting less. Which at times I've have wondered if that's even possible. How do you live in world that is so consumer driven and actually want less. We are so brainwashed into thinking we need and deserve it-whatever it may be and we consume at an alarming rate. It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately and for some good reason it's all slowly sinking in. I know it's a good thing but it feels a little uncomfortable. It sounds silly but I feel like I'm turning my back and walking away from s dear friend. That dear friend just happens to be my spending and my desire for the things of this world. It's hard to give that up. I don't thinking wanting less is something that happens over night, but I'm willing to go there and see how it might change me and how I consume. I'm nervous but I know it will be liberating. (photo credit)
It must start then with reprogramming ourselves to want less.

Here were some suggestions given from the article how to want less:

Throw away catalogs without going through them. –I have been doing this lately and I will have to say it does help. It's hard to desire the pretty cardigan from Garnet Hill if you never see it. Even better I should contact the distributing companies via website, email, or phone so they don't send me their catalogs anymore.
Don’t watch commercials on television. – Easy. I only watch recording TV. Although I do believe most TV distracts us from real reality and leaves us feeling bleak.
Don’t read the adverts in the weekly paper. – Easy. I don't get the weekly paper and I only use the coupons and grocery store ads from the mailers.
Don’t hang out in shopping areas for recreation. – I have three kids and not a lot of free time. I'm definitely not hanging out in shopping areas for recreation although I do have other problem areas. Like the quick trips to Target. I read once that you can spend up to 50% more when you shop with your kids. I do find that leaving my kids at home helps not to mention it makes my shopping experience much more enjoyable. I also need to cut down on my frequency to such stores. When your not there you don't know what your missing.
Take a complete inventory of your house contents for insurance purposes. – I told myself I would do this 2 years ago when there were devastating fires in the area. Still not done.
Do a weekly “27-fling boogie” a la Flylady. – I guess this is getting rid of 27 unwanted or unused items a week that go to good will or the trash. Every week? How about every other?
Visualize moving all of your stuff to a new home, or your heirs going through everything after your death. – Both scenarios are a nightmare.
Keep warranties. – I'm very good at this probably because in the pass I was a cronic returner but what does it have to do with wanting less?
Perform basic repair and maintenance. – I do feel very good about myself when I stretch the use of something a little longer.
Think about what else you might want, instead of more stuff. – Ummmm...I'm thinking.

Here's what I added to the list:

Go without.- Even if it's just for a week.
Make due.- I find it surprising how many things you have around your house to make due. I'm especially going to keep this in mind when it comes to school and Church projects. Instead of running out to get new ribbon or whatever just make due with what you have.
Be resourceful.-I'm creative I should be able to handle this one. We'll see.
Forget about keeping up with Jones's.- Concede that contest. It's too exhausting. I guess the only game worth competing is the one for the most sustainable lifestyle.
Make smart purchases- The idea is to want less not want nothing. Making better choices will hopefully lead to making fewer purchases.
Turn it off.- The computer is great but can be a fuel to the desire to wanting more.
Stay Home.-It's true that you just spend less when you don't know what your missing.

I know that learning how to want less will take months maybe years before I'm good at it but I know it will better for me, my family and the planet.

Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"6 Simple Ideas" I love

I wish I could take credit for this inspiring post but the words are taken from Scarcity and Abundance by Allison. This post spoke right to my heart. I hope it does yours.

i would say my philosophy about what i have- materially-can be summed up like this: i believe in honoring what i have by admiring it, putting it to its best use, and enjoying it. if you aren't doing any of those things with the stuff around you, pass it on to someone who can. get rid of it, liberate yourself!
i have found that clearing out a closet, a drawer, a garage, or the shelves in my pantry makes me feel so free. it is almost obscene! i think STUFF can be a form of mental pollution, cluttering the mind and weighing down the heart. maybe it is consumer guilt or recognition of being over-privileged, but i seem to always be aware of having one thing too many. i am working to resist the temptation to buy needlessly and working harder still to just be happy with what i already have. adding more and trading up and up can be so exhausting. why can't we just embrace what is already at our fingertips and under our very own roof?
i think the root of the problem is often in the buying. i don't think we are trained to give weight to the consumer experience anymore. credit cards and miles and miles of stores and options make it too easy to just blip! and buy without giving it much thought. and oddly enough, in areas like clothing, goods have actually gotten cheaper instead of more expensive, which i think causes a certain disposable mentality. i fall victim to this all the time (thank you, old navy!) and suddenly have a closet that contains sequined shoes, a muumuu, and a bikini that will never see the light of day!
i have been giving a lot of thought not only to better buying, but also better keeping, and i think i've boiled things down to a few rules that will hopefully help me stick to the above philosophy ....
1. invest in quality, goods if on the first go round we all bought things we truly loved regardless of price tag, i think we would be more inclined to hang on to them. granted i have an insanely good knack for loving the $200 frocks of the world, but i still think it might be worth breaking the bank for those kinds of items if it means that i will value it more highly make it a prized possession and get the best amount of use out of it. in general, i do think that price tag does correlate to quality-- things that cost more are made well and that makes them last, which means that hopefully in the long haul, you end up buying less.
2. be a good house manager and know what you have. do i know what i own? do i keep it organized? can i find it when needed? it is pretty simple. fundamentally if you don't know what you have, you can't be rightfully appreciating it. thanks to my $15/week project i now keep an inventory of my pantry and freezer and produce items. i find i waste a lot less food and my grocery store runs are much more streamlined and less impulsive. i no longer just throw in a courtesy can of tomato paste and garbanzo beans every damn time i shop. it is amazing what making a list of what you have can do for you. i haven't yet done it, but i think it could be a pretty cool exercise to take a for real inventory of all my possessions. the fact that the task seems so daunting may be a warning bell, but i think i may give it a go. if i really acknowledged on paper how many white tshirts i have or how many pairs of shoes or chopsticks or plates...maybe i would be less inclined to buy more? or maybe i would just make myself insane and make nobody ever want to hang out with me again.
3.understand the term good riddance. ah, shakespeare. he coined this phrase originally, but i really love the thought behind it. sometimes it IS good to have to part with things. it frees up space in mind and house, and if disposed of properly, it can be of huge benefit to others. dropping off unused items to charity or selling things on craigs list or the ksl classifieds ensures that someone genuinely will utilize and will appreciate your cast offs. i have had a fun time going through my kids old stuff and donating and selling things we no longer can make use of. i've been doing a lot of good riddance of late and it honestly feels like a win win. i also have learned that things that you feel are too nice to use or that may come in handy down the road are usually things you should just get rid of now. i don't see much use in saving the good china for your 50th anniversary meal or never burning the fancy candlesticks or sitting on the good couch. what a waste of space and energy...i really think if you aren't enjoying it and using it, it should find its way into someone's life who will.
4. be open to new ways to shop that are more responsible and likely more fun. i haven't completely been sticking to the pledge to buy handmade, but it is certainly a goal to try and do more of that. there are so many people creating amazing things with their own two hands and there are so many local businesses working hard to make a go of it and keep the money, the craft, and the expertise local. if i am buying, i think it is a good idea to buy in a way that benefits the little guy. chances are i will end up with something more unique and meaningful. i also love love love to support buying second hand. i used to do it purely out of the love of the hunt for something quirky and weird and truly vintage, but i think it makes sense to shop for even everyday things at thrift stores and vintage shops. it is environmentally sound but it is also really fun. i need to give a shout out to savers the unsung hero of the thrift store scene in slc. most people are true to the DI around here, but me, i'm all about savers!
5. everything old can be new again i love this trend of 'upcyling" stuff, cretaing something new and useful out of something cast off. so many stores around town and a zillion etsy shops have really cute offerings that demonstrate just how chic and cute thrift store finds can be with simple updates like a coat of cute colored paint or adding a fun, new fabric. in my own house, i love the simple trick of rotating objects and rearranging things. switching up pieces of art, knick knacks, lamps, or even big pieces of furniture can breathe new life into a room. lately when i've been getting the itch to go out and buy something because i'm sick of my house and wish i could remodel it already or doing a poor me because of my less than stellar thread count sheets or what have you, this little trick has come in very handy.
6. stay home and/or sleep on it. i really feel that the best armor i have against buying things i don't need is to stay at home more and cut myself off from the consumer temptations. if i don't go in a store, i can't buy anything. an added bonus is that you don't know what you are missing and my neighbors don't seem to care a wit that everytime they see me i am wearing the exact same tank top. i throw cute catalogs directly in the recycling bin (except curses on you mini boden!) if the temptation to buy something is super strong, i like to indulge in online wishlist shopping and try to fake myself out that i've just made a purchase. i still haven't used lay away but i think that would be another great thing to do before plunging into my next big purchase this way i can double check that i still want it 2 weeks, a month later.

--Posted By allison to
scarcity and abundance at 8/01/2009 02:39:00 PM

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Clean Out

I have been on a serious clean out the last few weeks in preparation for the the homegoods swap party Jill and I are throwing. The clean out has been substantial and has created quite a mess. It started with pulling a few unused books off the shelf and grew into an all out unearthing of my cupboards and closets. Last week the mess was so bad you would have thought we were moving. It felt good to toss unwanted items over the banister and create "give away" piles.

I have always enjoyed the occasion purge now and then and the feeling of good will I get as I throw a bag into the DI trailer. But this most recent purging has left me feeling well, a bit bleak. Cleaning out not only un clutters your spaces but it also reveals your weaknesses and the fact that you have a few issues. It can be a bit painful. I found me saying to myself. "oh my, am I really like that."

So here's the revelation:

I like to be well stocked in case of an emergency. What's the saying-you can never have too many ____(whatever). I'm beginning to realize this statement should only apply to food, water, tampons and ponytail holders. During my clean out I found in various locations a total of 62 glue sticks. Keep in mind I don't scrapbook nor did I buy a huge jumbo pack of glue sticks at Costco. We do like to craft at my house but 62 glue sticks seems a bit excessive. You may think that glue sticks never go bad. Not true. Those babies dry out sooner than one would expect. One problem was that they were scattered all over the house and so I had no idea I had so many. Limiting them to a few locations would help. Glue sticks were not the only heavily stocked item. I have 12 bottles of bath wash. Not a big deal except for the fact that no one in my family uses bath wash. I also have this funny thing with the number 3 when I comes to home decor items. If I find a container I love I will often will buy three. After all you never know when you'll have a dinner party that will require you to decorate a really long table.

Fine fine-I like to buy in bulk whether it's 3 or 50 and I have a hard time buying one of something especially if it's on sale. What's the saying like mother like daughter. In my case it's more like mother-in-law like daughter-in-law. In the end the extras are what's killing my budget.

I buy items I think I will use. This is particularly apparent when it comes to my art and craft stash. There is something to be said about having the right equipment and there are some supplies I absolute need like paint, brushes, pins and needles, but I don't need 5 different kinds of paint trays when all I really like to use is a plastic dinner plate. In the art vein I also like to hold on to items I plan on re-purposing. Which is OK except I often can't get over the seeming brutality of deconstructing one item for the use of another. Silly I know. It's like having a stash of wonderful ribbon, which I do, and never using it. I will have to dig a little deeper to find out what that's all about and I guess I will admit I'm be a bit of a pack rat.

I hold on to clothing items because one day I will fit into them, I will find the right pair of shoes to wear with them or they just need to be mended or altered ...yada yada. Let's be real. The idea of holding on to something you wish to fit into someday this is soooo bad for your self esteem. Especially if it's several sizes to small. There is nothing like a size 2 pair of pants hanging in your closet to make you feel like a failure. Last summer I was a size 2 but just barley. I could wear my size 2 pants but only on really skinny days when all I had consumed for three days was a diet coke. At my healthiest and happiest I'm a size 6. Boo hoo some of you might say, I would love to be a size 6, stop your pity party. I know, It's crazy but I will admit I really want to be size 2. That is what is so crazy. My reality is a very green pasture but I've always wished I was on the other side of the fence. I should know better and that size 2 is just not for me. Not because I probably couldn't get there again, but because it takes up too much energy thinking about, worrying about and trying to achieve. That energy could be put to better use like appreciating my body for what it is-a capable and healthy vessel.

As far as the other reasons I hold on to clothing I need to be honest with myself. How much time do I want to invest in mending or altering or finding the perfect companion piece for a particular item? I spend so much time as it is just caring for the clothing I do wear. There's the washing, the folding, the ironing, and then the putting away into drawers and closets that are, to be honest, overcrowded. There's a problem if your drawers are stuffed so full that all the clothes in the bottom never see the light of day. Some days I want bigger closets or more drawer space, but the truth is I have more than enough space and what I really need is to get rid of things I don't use or want. All of my unworn clothes equals waste and indulgence.

I've also realized we just have a lot of stuff. Books we will never read, manuals we will never study from, adapters and cable cords that no longer have any use. Paint cans with dried up paint, medicine that's years past expiration, stuff from college with little or no meaning, games that haven't been played in years. And the list goes on and on.....

The other day while looking around at the piles scattered around the house I couldn't help but realize the tremendous wealth I possess in this world. Not because what I have is really nice or expensive but simply because-I have a lot of stuff! All this "stuff" means I not only have an abundance of material things but I'm richly blessed with opportunities, experiences and choices-all in overflowing abundance. I'm a lucky girl!

Cleaning not only make me feel extremely grateful; it makes me actually want to want less.

Here's to order and to my things having a home.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Craft for Cash

A few months ago I bought a pot holder kit for Thomas with the hope his busy little hands would find joy in creating and hopefully relieve the "I'm so bored" moments I knew would pop up from time to time this summer. Luckily for me he liked it from the get-go. They were easy to make and could be started and completed without any of my help which was the best thing about project! Kate even joined in the crafting fun along with Thomas' friend Ben.

I suggested to the boys they make a bunch and try and sell them at the fireworks show on the 4th of July. All I had to do was mention making money and they were in full production. We went to good will bought a bunch of old t-shirts and made our own recycled loopers. Here's a tutorial courtesy of the Beerhorst Family.
(I made mine a bit narrower. I found it made the loopers easier to work with.)

For the next couple of weeks they sat in their fort, a.k.a. "the pot holder sweat shop", they had made under the ping pong table and created pot holders.

Sadly this project was not unlike most goods things which eventually come to an end, but between the 3 of them they had made 35 pot holders. Due to poor planning and a sudden cringe of embarrassment at thought of my kids begging people to buy their pot holders, the 4th of July came and went. I was all for the little summer venture but I was not ready to go door to door asking for my neighbors to support my kids summer craft project and I knew asking Grandma to buy 35 pot holders would be a bit much. Luckily for us he park was holding a Jazz Festival lasting several weeks. Thomas suggested we try and sell them there. I was over my embarrassment by then and I knew they deserved to try and sell them if for nothing else then their hard work. It was Perfect.
On the last day of the festival Thomas and Kate mustered up the courage to walk around, talk to strangers and try and sell the adorable pile of recycled pot holders. They worked out a price and decided that Kate would hold the tall stack and smile while Thomas gave the spiel. I was so proud of them, especially Kate who gets queasy in the tummy just looking at a stranger; I knew for her it took a lot of courage. It started off a bit slow but once they made there first sell they were off.
It took them just 45 minutes to sell all but five. I'll admit it was a "you're a good mom" moment for me and for Thomas and Kate they left the festival more confident, proud and a whole $45.oo richer. Not so shabby.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Big Sis Love

I caught Kate holding Jack lovingly while at the beach. It may have had something to do with his fear of the water. As he would say,"it too dangerous for me." But what ever the reason for this tender encounter it made me realize it's these moments that matter the most.

Friday, July 3, 2009


I'm thankful for my healthy body, my upbringing and spell check. I'm thankful for hot showers and instant messaging. I'm thankful for the abundant options of fresh food in the grocery store, particularly the blueberries. For coincidences. For getting the first row parking spot. I'm thankful for words that needed to be said and that I don't know everything that is said behind my back. I'm thankful I was born well after the popularity of the corset. I'm thankful for lip balm, tampons, nonstick pans and blended fabrics with spandex. I'm thankful for options and that hard work really does pay off. I'm thankful that happiness is a choice and that at the end of a really crappy day there is sleep. I'm thankful for the ordinary.

cut out by Tina Tarnoff