And what about that New Years resolution…

I know all anyone wants to read about is Beth’s exciting life but hey the rest of us have stories too, albeit not nearly as exciting. 4 months ago I made the resolution to buy nothing new in 2011. One may wonder how that resolution has worked out considering our world travels. Well it hasn’t been perfect but I think I’ve done pretty good, of course there is still room for improvement.

I did have to stop and think about how much my resolution should affect the other people in my family. It’s fine for me to choose to do this for myself but is it fair to expect everyone else in the house to have to live this way too. Obviously, Dan has the means to go buy anything he wants or needs but the kids don’t always have that ability and they do still have some needs that can’t always be met at a thrift store. So while I do still preach the evils of child labor in the clothing industry I have made some necessary purchases for the kids. And since they have heard my mantra many, many times in the past 4 months their expectations for new items are very slim. They have made more purchases for themselves instead of expecting me to buy everything they want.

I am very proud of the fact that for the past 4 months I have not made 1 single trip to a coffee shop unless I was meeting a friend for some social time. No matter how tired I have been I have not stopped and gotten any coffees for just myself. I have gone through the Starbucks drive through a couple times but only when I was picking up coffee for someone besides just myself.

Also up until last week I had not bought anything new for myself. I have had a list of wants that I have been putting on hold until next year (delayed gratification at its best) and I did break down and ask for 1 item that i wanted for my birthday. But last week Beth needed to go buy some new shoes for her trip to London and while we were at the store I did decide to buy a pair of Tom’s for myself. Since my shoes are either too dressy and uncomfortable or just plain ratty I was thinking a new pair of shoes for walking around Las Vegas would be nice. I could justify the purchase of a pair of TOMS because for every pair purchased TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. At least I know that something good came from my purchase even if they are still made in China.

During Beth’s and my time in Europe we managed to buy very little. We did, however, buy some clothes from a vintage store. Not only were the clothes less expensive than buying something new but how cool is that to say, “oh I bought this at a vintage store in Paris!” I did feel like I should buy the boys something touristy since they didn’t get go with us, so I bought them each a t-shirt. Dan got some French mustard and a couple Carmel/ choc candy bars.

Back in Feb was Daniel’s 20th b-day so we had to figure out how we were going to handle that, luckily he wanted tickets to a concert and since that falls into the category of events not stuff it didn’t break any rules. Beth’s 18th b-day was just last week but she had been covered with her laptop that she got at Xmas so she wasn’t expecting anything besides a crepe breakfast.

Easter is coming up so we’ll have to figure out what we’re  going to do about that. It’s already a challenge since I try not to buy the kids any candy, which doesn’t leave much to put in those plastic eggs. I’ll have to do some serious thinking about what I’m going to do for that.

Another thing that I have managed to stick to is putting aside 20% of our paycheck into savings. At this point I should have a nice little chunk of money set aside. Well not exactly that money has helped pay for the Beth’s impromptu New York and European travels. We have managed to get through all of her trips without incurring any credit card debt and for that I am very happy! While I will still put aside the 20% a majority of it is now being claimed by Daniel. In an effort to get him to cut back his work hours and concentrate more fully on his college classes we are taking over paying his rent and utilities. 5 months ago I would have never thought that I could pull that out of our monthly budget but now I know I can and still have a few hundred dollars go into savings.

All that to say I am still embracing he “no new in 2011” rule. I am happy that we are not bringing more stuff into the house and we are working on decluttering as the renovation works its way through the house.

Fabulous Thrift Store Finds

Since I may be making a trip out of town in the near future, I decided to make a trip to the thrift store in search of the perfect outfit. It’s not 1/2 price day and I already have gone to the thrift store once this month so I’m breaking my thrift store spending rules but damn it is the thrift store and that was a dumb rule! At least I didn’t go to the mall in search of the perfect outfit.

I found some really exciting items and 1 or 2 not quite sure if they’ll work kinda items.

I found 4 skinny belts, for .99 each. Much better price than the $20 I spent on a skinny belt at Macy’s back in Dec. (I did end up returning it.)

IMG_8109

A gray skirt from H&M for $4.99

IMG_8112IMG_8115

This is actually a black v-neck t-shirt (the flash made it look washed out, but its not) for .99

IMG_8116

A heavier black, Jones of NY t-shirt for 1.99

IMG_8119

Oooh I love this little fishing vest for my niece, 1.99

IMG_8122

Gray Newport News silk, cashmere, angora blend sweater 4.99

IMG_8124

I’m not sure about this sweater dress, I thought maybe I could do something with this. It’s actually 2 pieces, the next pic is with the jacket, 1.99 for both pieces

IMG_8126

the flash makes it look washed out and kinda frumpy so I’m really not sure.

IMG_8129

Jones of NY skirt .99

IMG_8132

I loved this red jacket, it has 3/4 length sleeves 1.99

IMG_8136IMG_8141

Ooh this was exciting a Halston vintage coat (I’m really not sure if its vintage but it sounds so much cooler to say that) 2.99

IMG_8146

I hate to say a sweater vest but I guess that’s what this is, either way it cute .99

IMG_8150

This is so cool, it’s a BCBG Max Azria top (I’ve never noticed that line at the thrift store before)  .99

IMG_8158

Brown, 100% cashmere sweater 1.99

IMG_8159

And the crème de la crème, a Louis Vuitton clutch for 8.99. The jury’s still out on whether this is real or not. I couldn’t find any pics online that match the design.

IMG_8153

All said the total was $39, more than I like to spend but I think I got some really fun items.

no spending and the lead free crock pot…

21 days into the new year and I think my no spending has gone according to plan. I have missed just running into Caribou for a coffee on the go, but I’m sticking to the rule that it has to be a social event, so I only get coffee when with others. I got 2 Caribou gift cards for Xmas that may last me forever at this rate!

My biggest dilemma so far has been over buying a lead free crockpot. Last year when I started clearing all the toxic substances out of my kitchen (which includes anything made in China) I had read about lead being in the glaze of crock pots, but I think it was just too much for me to think about at that time so it was pushed back to the far recesses of my mind. It has recently started popping up again in the blogosphere and this time I couldn’t ignore it. So I decided to get rid of my 2 crockpots but what to replace them with. My friend Kristen did the research and found a couple of lead free options but I’m not buying anything new. So I planned on waiting until next year to buy one and in the mean time use my cast iron pots and oven to slow cook. Which I did yesterday and it worked just fine. However, my birthday is coming up and mother in law asked what she could get me, and even though it does feel like cheating I asked for that crockpot.

Also I’ve decided that the thrift store shopping still needs limits, while my goal of this experiment is not to live as a pauper I can get carried away with even thrift store shopping. So in an effort to live within my new saving requirements I am going to put aside only $20 a month for thrift store purchases. Which means only shopping on 1/2 price day to maximize my money. I’m mostly buying wool sweaters for my sewing creations so I will be sad if I run out. But I can venture on to other art stuff (or maybe working on that renovation!)

I’ve got all our regular bills set up so I can have them all paid automatically each month, by putting the gas and electric on budget plans I don’t have to think about the bill I can just set it up for auto pay. We had a tiny pay cut which left my budget off by about $100 a month so I’ve had to drop my savings to about 18% instead of the 20%. I think that’s still an admirable goal so I’m ok with that. A note about the savings, this is just a short term savings acct. Since our debt is limited to our house and 1 car we are using the money to cover any big expenses that come up such as Beth’s modeling trips, my scrapbooking weekend, summer vacations and any renovation costs we start to incur. I don’t expect to have a huge amount of savings at the end of the year but I do expect to be able to pay for all of our vacations and renovations without going into debt!

New Years Resolutions 2011

I’m mixing things up a bit for this year. While I have on-going goals that I plan on sticking to I don’t really consider them New years Resolutions (such as only eating local, humanely raised meat, eating as much organic produce as possible, sticking with local in season fruits and veggies, etc.) Those are life time goals for us and not something new.

So for my New Years Resolution I am picking something that I have never attempted before. First off I am going to start putting 20% of all our paychecks into savings. Dan is usually the one who saves money and it has to be before the checks get to me. I have lots of reasons (excuses) as to why I can’t save any money. I pay all the bills and spend the rest of the money on groceries, gas and the kids classes. But each month money is wasted on unneeded items. So before I do anything 20% is going into savings.

The next part of the resolution is going to help with not needing that 20%. I am going to buy NOTHING new for all of 2011! The only exceptions are food obviously, necessary toiletries, and materials for the house renovation. While my budget for the renovation is pretty much $0 anyway (since I don’t have any money saved for it,) I had already planned on being very frugal with what we purchased. But there are still going to be items that need to be purchased new such as electrical wire and drywall and other items like that. But wherever possible I will first search out previously used items and not automatically run to Lowes for supplies.

This also means no more shopping for new clothes (except to use up any gift cards we were given for Xmas,) and no more trips to Target for “necessary” supplies. Also no more purchased gifts, sorry to say everyone is going to be getting handmade gifts this year. Not only that but I’m not going to go out and buy NEW supplies for making these gifts. I have to use up the abundance of supplies I already own or find magical items at the thrift store to transform. I promise not to give arm warmers for every gift this year!

I think this is going to be a huge challenge but a necessary one. We have gotten used to being able to run to the store and buy whatever we “need” even when those needs are questionable. I have way too much clutter and stuff in this house and part of clearing it out is not bringing in anything new. So for at least 2011 that is the goal!

I’m marinating….

…myself that is. I’ve rubbed coconut oil all over my hair and scalp. It’s 10:15am on Sunday morning and I plan on keeping this in my hair until I shower tomorrow morning. I’ve been having so many problems with dry hair over the last couple months that I have been searching high and low, or really just on the internet for some healthy solutions. I’ve tried the “no poo” route, giving up shampoo and using apple cider vinegar for a rinse and that didn’t seem to help. I’m still limiting how often I shampoo and using a more natural shampoo from Whole Foods that is paraben free and not tested on animals. But it hasn’t resolved my dry hair issues. So I’ve moved onto coconut oil. Which as I’ve been reading is good for just about everything, it can be rubbed on your body as a moisturizer and eaten in your smoothies to help prevent Alzheimer’s plus it’s good for about a million other things. Here are just a few from Global Healing Center:

10 Benefits of Organic Coconut Oil:

Used in tropical cultures as a nutritious diet staple for many centuries, organic coconut oil can help:

  1. Keep You Healthy and Slim
    You can help boost and regulate your metabolism to keep your weight under control with this wonder oil.
  2. Support Your Immune System
    Organic coconut oil is jam-packed with lauric acid, the immune supporting nutrient.
  3. Promote Heart Health
    Packed full of healthy fats that are good for your heart, organic coconut oil is a great addition to your daily diet.
  4. Give You Instant Energy
    Organic coconut oil can help you feel less fatigued and require less sleep by stimulating your metabolism. It can also enhance athletic performance.
  5. Support Healthy Thyroid Function
    Organic coconut oil helps to stimulate the activity and proper functioning of this important gland which provides energy, supports the health of your skin and metabolism, and keeps your moods in balance.
  6. Help Keep Your Skin Youthful, Smooth & Healthy Looking
    Using organic virgin coconut oil as a lotion will help improve your skin, hair, and nails due to its moisturizing and smoothing effects that also promote elasticity.
  7. Increase Cell Regeneration
    When your metabolic rate increases, your cell regeneration speeds up, too. This means that your body will more quickly replace old cells with newer, healthier cells.
  8. Promote Anti-Viral, Anti-Fungal, and Anti-Bacterial Activity
    Teeming with lauric acid, organic coconut oil possesses abundant natural agents that may reduce fungus, bacteria and the viruses that cause influenza, herpes, and other illnesses.
  9. Improve Insulin Secretion
    This helps to better utilize glucose to balance insulin output which can help relieve the symptoms and reduce the health risks associated with diabetes.
  10. Protect Your Body from Disease
    Organic coconut oil may help protect your body from cell damaging free radicals.

Here are 2 of the external benefits of coconut oil from Living a Whole Life

Hair Care:
Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair providing them a shiny complexion. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. Coconut oil is extensively used in the Indian sub-continent for hair care. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged air. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair.

Skin Care:
Coconut oil is excellent massage oil for the skin as well. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin. The benefit of coconut oil on the skin is comparable to that of mineral oil. Further, unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin with the application of coconut oil. Coconut oil therefore is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It also delays wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections.

I smell like the beach and I’m not sure if this will stain my clothes so I’m wearing an old t-shirt with my hair in a pony tail and stuffed into a hat, so I look a little silly. But I’m hopeful that tomorrow after I shower it will all be worth it. This may become a weekly routine, but next time I’ll wait until bedtime to apply the oil.

My next change in my hair care will be to start using a boar’s hair brush and to continue with the infrequent use of shampoo, read more here: getting rid of shampoo & hair products for good

Resolution update, March

I decided that each month I would reassess my resolutions and see how I’m doing at sticking to them. Here they are, yet again:

stay enrolled in at least 1 art class: This one has been easy! I love the book making class, so I signed up for a second session and Beth has joined me.

lose weight by changing my eating habits and exercising: I’ve lost 13 pounds since the beginning of the year and I have transitioned to an almost all raw diet. I’m really enjoying learning a whole new way to eat and “cook.” I haven’t been very consistent with exercising but now that the weather has warmed up I’ll recommit to walking every day.

less TV & less time at the computer: Hmm well I’m blogging more and researching raw foods and buying more groceries online so my computer time has not gone down but I’d say my TV time has. And it will go down even more with the warm weather.

participate in an art show: haven’t done anything for this, but Beth and I have been making lots of books so maybe we’ll still pull something together.

clothing- I want to use fair trade companies or shop at thrift stores: well I have been shopping at thrift stores a lot lately but I haven’t been buying any clothes. As the seasons change and the kids need new clothes I do plan on looking at thrift stores before we go to a traditional store.

buy less: Let’s see I’ve been over-hauling my kitchen, getting rid of all the plastics replacing them with glass and stainless steel containers, getting rid of any possible leaded dishes and replacing them with clear glass dishes (there are tons at the thrift stores!) so no I’ve still been buying too much. But I have instituted a strict budget for my spending money so we’ll see how that goes this month.

natural cleaning products: tomorrow I plan on going through the house and pulling all the cleaning supplies that I’m no longer using and giving them away. I’ve switched to home made natural cleaners or eco cleaners from whole foods. I’ll be blogging about this later.

natural body products: This is another future blog…I have been making some strange changes. No more shampoo or conditioner instead I just use apple cider vinegar for a rinse; no more body lotion instead I’m using Grapeseed and Vit. E oil when I get out of the shower; I went through my back stock of body products (from my CVS deal days) and boxed it all up to give away; Beth and I have been researching natural, cruelty free make-ups and she hopes to get a few things for her 16th b-day, which is coming up.

This is the first year I’ve ever made so many resolutions and actually stuck with them, I’m impressed with myself!

Raw for Lent

I decided that for Lent I would go all raw. I’ve been pretty successful; I’d say I hit 95-100% every day. There have been a few rough days, like when I really needed to go grocery shopping and had absolutely no fresh veggies, fruit or nuts in the house (and was trying to wait until pay day to go to the store.) That day I used frozen spinach and veggies and had 3 green smoothies with a few date/ nut balls but nothing else. I kinda feel like I’m on one of those allergy elimination diets where you start out with one thing in your diet and slowly add more.

I’ve got the green smoothies down, I usually have one every morning for breakfast. And date/ nut balls, those fill my need for sweets and fill me up when I’m a little hungry. Then I added raw muesli with fruit and home made almond milk (yum!) Next was the “cheesy” nacho dip with veggies. Today I’m going to try some type of dessert with a coconut I bought. We’re going to my MIL for b-day dinners tomorrow and I need to bring a few things along so I can stay all raw surrounded by tons of cooked foods and desserts.

My family thinks I’ve gone a bit far with the healthy eating, they are definitely not on board with my changes. So now I get to make 1 traditional meal, 1 vegetarian meal and 1 raw meal. I try to merge the 3 as much as possible. It will be easier when the garden is going and were getting stuff from the CSA. Then we can have huge salads to cover the raw (me) and vegetarian (Beth) with something grilled on the side for the carnivores (also known as the boys.)

Even with all the difficulties I really like this way of eating. I can see myself sticking with this even after Easter.

Some of my favorite raw blogs and books so far:

http://greenandcrunchy.blogspot.com/

http://kristensraw.blogspot.com/

http://rawgoddessheathy.blogspot.com/

Eating in the Raw by Carol Alt

Living in the Raw Rose by Lee Calabro

Complete Idiots Guide to Eating Raw