Posts tagged compacting

I miss shopping

Leigh and I were talking the other day about how we’ve really done pretty well at not buying Stuff. Since the beginning of the year we’ve really been trying not to indulge in retail therapy, and mostly we’ve been pretty good about it. We’ve had the occasional slip up but no major blowouts, and even when we have decided to buy something new, we’ve been fairly particular and quite restrained.

The trouble it, I miss shopping. Really miss it.

I know that’s pathetic and that half the point of this exercise was to prove to ourselves that worshipping at the altar of commercialism is unfulfilling – but I haven’t really found fulfillment elsewhere, either.

Leigh was never half the shopper I was (am?). She doesn’t understand the joy of wandering around for hours, not looking for anything in particular. Trying on clothes you don’t need and can’t afford. Looking at furniture you have no room for.

Even in our shopping days, she was all for getting what she went for then coming home. She’d always choose the smaller shopping centre over the big one, and really she’d rather be gardening than shopping.

I like having a garden. I like eating food that comes from the garden. But I don’t really like gardening. I prefer The Great Indoors.

I’m choosing not to spend so much time (and money) shopping because I think it’s a better way to live, but I am still waiting for that lightbulb moment when I realise I prefer my days retail-therapy-free.

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It’s easy being not green

It’s been a long while since I posted about our efforts to live green. And there’s a reason – we’ve tumbled from the wagon.

In reality, our natural inclinations are probably a bit greener than average. We are not very wasteful, we grow stuff in the yard, we’re not shopaholics (well, leigh’s not…) But this year we were intending to raise the bar. We did great for the first five months but we’re sliding.

Yesterday we bought children’s clothing from an actual shop. We haven’t done much of that at all lately. We’ve been pretty good about making do with what we’ve been given, and picking up other things at the markets.

We did go out intending to buy new things yesterday – we all needed slippers and there’s just no way on earth my feet are going into slippers that have had someone else’s skanky toes in them. But we also came home with a new pair of sneakers and a new pair of rainboots for hunter.

She does need both – her old sneakers were absolutely ruined in a puddle stomping exercise last week, so she needed replacement sneakers and rain boots to ensure there was no repeat performance. But we could have got those things at the markets (see how my standards are different for the kids and myself? My justification is that kids outgrow shoes so fast that the secondhand ones are generally in near new condition, unlike the adult ones, which always have creepy toes-shaped moulding. Ewww.)

So anyhow, we got Hunter a cute little pair of slippers with monkeys on them. And then we accidentally bought monkey PJs too because they looked so cute with the slipper.

And then we got a jumper for Hugo. And a rain coat for leigh.

Oh, and a new stroller. But we did intend to get a new stroller – the umbrella stroller we have at the moment has really low handles that make it a pain to push and it has no storage basket. The big stroller is great to push but takes up half the boot and weighs 13 kilos. we had looked around at the markets for a stroller but all the ones we saw were in pretty poor condition. We looked at ebay too but I like to be able to push a stroller and see how it goes before committing to it so that wouldn’t really work. So when you think about it, we really had no alternative. Ahem.

On the plus side, we’re still being pretty good about avoiding overpackaging where we can and we’re eating a lot of home grown pumpkins from Grandpa’s garden, so it’s not all bad.

And that little spot of retail therapy really was very therapeutic and my new slippers are very cosy.


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Update update

This update is going to be a collection of smaller updates. Are you excited?

 The renos

We heard from the builder today, just checking in, I guess to see if we’re still alive since it’s been so long since he heard from us. He had told us a few weeks back that he give us a recommendation on an engineer since we’ll need some additional certification but he hasn’t come through with that yet. That seems to sum up the renovation process. People tell you they will do things, then they simply don’t.


I think we’re doing sorta okay. Definitely not being strict adherents but not abject failures, either. We haven’t bought much new stuff this year (though we have bought the occasional new thing) but more importantly we haven’t really bought very much ‘stuff’ full stop. We’re definitely spending less time worshipping the god of materialism.

We actually did buy a big armload of (secondhand) clothes at the markets on the weekend but it was all genuinely needed. Hunter’s winter pants from last year are all at least an inch too short, some of them closer to three inches. Even her dresses from the summer just gone are so short we can no longer let her wear them without leggings underneath because they’re just indecent.

So we bought a stack of leggings that will work under her dresses as Autumn outfits and will also work over tights with long sleeve tops and jackets in winter. We also got her some jeans and a denim jacket.

I am planning a brand new purchase, too. I saw on tv the other night this nifty gadget that turns a single flush toilet system into a dual flush. Our two toilets are both single flush and they waste so much water. This thing just screws in and saves nine litres every time you choose the half flush.

We’re also doing better at not buying so much overpackaged food. We’ve always bought potatoes and rice in 10kg bags. Now we’re also buying 1kg tubs of yogurt to spoon into our own smaller containers for lunch boxes, and we buy 5kg bags of flour. There are other things too, but you get the idea.

Meanwhile, I actually can’t remember the last time I bought something from Myer or DJs. I’d love to say I don’t miss it, but it would be a lie. Leigh is far less materialistic than me and I probably would have fallen off the wagon in spectacular fashion by now if she wasn’t along for the ride.

The veggie patch

It’s done much better than we anticipated. We’re still hauling in truckloads of tomatoes and we’ve been eating lots of silverbeet and rainbow chard. The other things are still growing merrily and in due course we expect cucumbers, eggplant, peas, onions, leeks, rhubarb, zucchinis and a LOT of pumpkins. I think I am forgetting a couple of things but they’re the main ones. We also have a stack of herbs outside the back door.

The kids

Hugo went through a very fussy phase last week where he barely wanted to breastfeed at all. He wasn’t eating much either, but that’s usual. I was starting to get worried by the fourth or fifth day of just-wet nappies, then suddenly yesterday they were full again.

Apart from that, the boy’s mostly his usual obliging self. He is starting to be clingy and it gets frustrating when I can’t go two steps without him crying and lunging at me, but he’s generally still pretty easy going.

He’s saying a good handful of words now (‘that’ just started today) but my favourite is “Hunter” (huh-duh). It is just too cute.

And speaking of Hunter…where do I start. We’re having behaviour issues again the past few days. She has realised that I don’t actually have any real control over her and if she chooses not to do as I ask, there’s not much I can do.

If she is being naughty (you know, like 75,000 times a day) I might ask her to go to the naughty chair/clean up the mess/say sorry etc etc. Lately she says no. If I try to institute some alternate discipline she says no to that too. Today I asked her to stay in her room and have a rest. She said no. Then she said “I am going to cough on you”, which she did. I told her to go to the naughty chair. She refused. I carried her there and she immediately got up and ran off. I told her she was going to go outside and she said “Fine, if you send me outside I will ride my bike and play and won’t care”. Which is exactly what she did.

Anyway, it’s not as bad as it was a month or so ago so I am hoping this is just a blip. she’s being pretty good at preschool and has lots of good days at home, too. She just makes me feel completely inept when she wants to.

The study plans

I’ve done a lot more thinking about what I want to do since I first stumbled on the idea of some more study. The more I have thought about it, the more I have realised that what I really want from my career is enough money to pay the bills and a whole shitload of holidays.

So my current plan is to get out of PR and into teaching. I intend to take my time and hopefully be done with study and ready to get a full time teaching job around about the time Hugo starts school.

The prospect of all four of us being on the same timetable is very appealing. I could make more money doing what I am already doing but there’s just no way I’d be getting 11 weeks off a year.

Leigh’s MS

I could sum up this update by just saying that it still sucks. We think she’ll do the injections on a Thursday night rather than Saturday as originally planned. It seems the side effects are not going to be as bad as they might have been (touch wood) so we kind of like the idea of making the injection part of the drudgery of the week, not a low point in the weekend.

The nurse actually suggested Friday night but leigh really looks forward to Friday night because she has a couple of drinks with her colleagues after work and just gets to take a breath and relax. I really think it would spoil it to know she has to come home and inject herself, especially since it’s probably going to continue to be really difficult for a good while yet.

She thinks this week she wants to go off by herself and do the injection in her own time. I have no issue with giving her the space she needs but I am a little bit worried about coming in to find her passed out. I guess we’ll see what feels right at the time.

Meanwhile, people are coming out of the woodworks with their own stories about their friend’s friend’s friend with MS and the miracle cure that worked for them. Some guy that did prac at leigh’s school gave her some dumb book that purported to have the cure for, well, everything. We didn’t even glance at a single page. We figure if there’s some actual scientific evidence favouring any of these theories then the MS Society will clue us in.

(I just want to add here that I know two people whose partners have MS and while I have been generally unhappy with everyone else sticking their oars in with assvice, I have been very grateful to them for sharing their firsthand experiences)

Right – I’ve been typing for ages and Hunter’s been occupying herself by doing a big poo. She’s just come in with her dress bunched around her waist and an invitation for me to do some wiping. Who could resist?

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To market, to market

On the weekend we went to the markets to look for fruit and vegies and to see what else caught our eye. We came home with sweet potato, peaches (only two though, because they smelled and looked so good we ate the others while we wandered around), some strawberry plants, a stack of books, a pile of plant pots and two sculptures.

The first sculpture is of  a pregnant woman. She’s carved from some kind of wood and stands about 30cm tall. She’s on the lamp table in our loungeroom right now and looks just right next to leigh’s hand drawn picture of the kids.

The other one is about twice as tall and is of a woman with two children, one by her side and a baby strapped to her back. She’s long and lean like a shadow and looks like she’s made from copper, although she’s actually ceramic. At the moment she’s on the loungeroom floor, behind the magazine rack to keep her out of Hugo’s reach, but we’ll find her a proper hom eventually – maybe not till the extension is built, whenever that may be.

 We didn’t really intend to come home with quite so much stuff. We’re still not doing so great on the “buy only what we need” thing – but the products we bought were all secondhand and the produce was all grown close by, so that’s something.

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Shopping for the Planet

We’ve been talking for a while about Compacting. You know, trying not to buy stuff. Getting secondhand stuff if we really must buy anything.

Late last year we decided to give it a go in the new year. So far we’re doing…not that great.

Leigh went out a few days before new year and had a big buy up of new clothes, which seems kind of contrary to the spirit of compacting. I was even worse, going on a “well if she can, I can” buy up. In my defence, I bought a hair straightener with a gift voucher I received for christmas. The voucher was for David Jones, and there is not exactly a secondhand department at DJs. So it’s not my fault.

We’ve also since bought a new birthday gift for the girl next door. Oh. And a new purse and camera. We had some things stolen from our car over christmas and I felt like it was unfair to have to have used things to replace our nice things that some little gobshite took. They also got the brand new in-car dvd player the kids got for christmas, and we’ll replace that with a new product before our next trip.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. We have managed to reduce the volume of imported food products we’ve been buying – focussing instead on local product and home grown food. We also bought Hunter two pairs of shoes from St Vinnie’s. She needed them, they were in great condition and they were cheap.

We also went trawling through some of the secondhand shops in the more expensive suburbs. I confess that while leigh was looking for things she liked, I was checking tags for brand names. I bought a skirt and three tops. They were all secondhand, so I get a tick on that front. But really, I don’t especially need clothes at all. So, a cross there.

Meanwhile, the veggie garden is coming along okay (or so leigh tells me. I haven’t actually ventured back out there).

The chard seems happy, there are some onions and leeks coming along. We lost some of the spinach on the hot day and it’s still too early to judge how the rest is going.

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