Saturday, October 18, 2008

Compacting in a small town

I haven't updated about Compacting lately because there hasn't been much to tell. How many times can you say "I bought nothing new this month."?

I am afraid that it may change soon, though.

Compacting in a small town sucks. At least compacting in this small town sucks.

I have been (what I am told are) the two biggest thrift stores in town and it was pathetic. I thought the fact that I don't need "stuff" would make it ok... clothes can't be that hard to find, right? The mens jeans section of the bigger store had exactly two pair of jeans. I couldn't even find the mens section of the smaller store.

So my options are -
1. Keep trying.
2. Drive to Jackson or Tuscaloosa (each 1 1/2 hours, in different directions) once a month as needed.
3. Try other small town thrift stores - if there are any. As the county seat, we are the biggest town around.
4. Become nudists.

I don't even know how I am going to pull off Christmas or the two birthdays we have coming up.


Saturday, July 19, 2008


After much consideration, I am moving Mamas on the Compact to We are getting more and more inquiries from people interested in joining--most of which have gone unanswered because I am incredibly busy with raising my toddler, working full time, helping my husband to run our farmers market and engaging in other charitable pursuits. But I have the time this weekend, so any of you who have NOT received an email invite will once we move to wordpress.

We will also have our own domain name, and it should be easier to register and post (you shouldn't have to wait for me :)). And for those of you blogspot lovers who may be a little nervous about the switch, wordpress is very easy to use and navigate. The new site will NOT be mother-specific, though, I imagine that many of our members will be mothers.

I will invite all of you over to the new site with an email describing how to log on etc. as soon as I work out the kinks. All posts will be imported over to the new site and this site ( will be given an announcement for one week before I start a redirect.

Happy compacting!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NOT doing great on the Compact

Haven't exactly been going on shopping sprees, but... with stressing out with house-hunting, have kinda let the Compact slide. I need to re-assert myself TO myself, and restate my purpose with the compact, or officially put the Compact on hiatus until the move is done and over with.

I think the best option right at the moment is to officially put the Compact on hiatus until the move is done. Because with the fear that we're not going to have a house to move to, yeah.... I'm doing ok on keeping it to shopping second hand (Value Village and Goodwill are my friends right now. LOL)

I WILL be back on track, and soon!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Half way there...

The end of June marked our halfway point and I forgot to blog about it!

Things haven't changed much for us because we never did much shopping, and always looked for used before resorting to buying new. In fact, The Compact has made it a little easier because now I have a reason to give people instead of just being the crazy person who never buys new. I think the fact that being green is the new thing (we are a little slow here in Michigan) makes it easier, too.

One thing I am learning to do it think ahead. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

I know that my kids are going to out grow their clothes, so I am always checking for the next few sizes at the thrift store. I know that we will always need pens and pencils, so I pick them up when I see them at yard sales - even if we have some at home. I know that eventually our couch repairs won't work and it will need to be replaced, so I am on the look out for a good quality replacement.

Thinking ahead allows you time to find what really fills your need, instead of having to settle - or worse, run to Wal-Mart - because you are sitting on the floor or flashing the neighbors!

Picture from flickr and Cross posted at Life, in a Nutshell


Yesterday I had to break the compact - and I am so happy about it. I have lost 2 pants sizes and 1 shirt size, and had just a few things that fit me right. It happened so quickly that I didn't have time to find clothes at the thrift store. I ended up having to buy new shirts and shorts and capris... but it was all on sale, so I spent right around $50. (4 shirts @$7 each, 1 pair of capris @$12 and 1 pair of shorts @$9.)

Now I am going to start keeping a stash of smaller clothes from the thrift store and freecycling them when I am out of them.

Not a bad problem to have, I suppose.

Other than that, we have been a compacting away with our bad selves.

Cross posted to Life, In A Nutshell

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

not much new in the compacting world...except that i haven't been following it very well lately. i need to re-group & re-state my purpose...hopefully that will give me some accountability with someone out there in the blogging or real world!

a couple quick tips
::walmart has great & cheap fabric for making cloth napkins...i have made a ton all for very little money ($1/yard!).

::white distilled vinegar works AWESOME as a rinse agent in your dishwasher!! it really works! my dishes have never been this shiny

::don't go to a dealership & drive a new just makes you want one....darn you, MAZDA 5.....

check out my other blog for my work-in-progress, revised, longer lasting compact.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A little over one month in

And I'm doing OK. Just OK tho. I've bought a few things I wasn't going to. I bought two thingies (can't remember the name of them) at VikingFest, but that's a once a year thing, and I've been wanting to buy them since our first VikingFest three-four years ago. Bought a couple new outfits at Goodwill, so that wasn't "new", just "new-to-me" so I suppose that goes along with the Compact. :) The best thing I got that day was a porcelain Ballerina Cinderella doll that I think normally runs $25 for a whole $6. That was a heck of a deal!

Bought myself a new bathing suit, but that's not something I want to buy secondhand. And I'm not sure if my suit from last year would fit. It sux.

And the no junk-food thing? Yeah, forget it. I'm craving sugar like there's no tomorrow, so I'm about to give up on that. HOWEVER, I have done REALLY well on the cutting down on fast-food idea. So, there's a big plus.

That's my update. I'm worried about the move coming up, I'm going to TRY to stick to the Compact, but I may have to put it on hiatus until the move is completed.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

May Progress Report

This month wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Everything we bought new was for the move/new house, but I still feel a little guilty.

- Various nails, picture hangers and hooks for the new house
- Umbrella for the patio furniture (I did use a coupon from Bed Bath And Beyond, so I got it for $40.)
- A new scale ($40) - Ours was old and barely worked. Since I am trying to lose weight I decided to get a digital one.
- Fire pit - Not a need by any stretch, but all of the nights spent out there as a family make it totally worth the $45 (I got 10% off because the first one I bought was missing parts.)
- Weed Eater ($20) - I gave mine away when we moved into the apartment. I posted on Freecycle to see if anyone had a weed eater and lawnmower available, but nothing. I did end up getting a lawnmower, though. (The house next door is also owned by my landlord and he gave us the one the previous tenants left.
- Wood for Christian's bed - his loft bed didn't fit into his new attic bedroom, so he and I built him a platform bed. All told, it was about $100.
- Landscaping timbers for clothes line posts (About $13)

I really wanted to garden this year but I decided not to spend the money. I hope I don't regret that decision.

It is funny... not much has really changed about our lives since we started compacting, except the guilt. I know... crazy.

Cross posted at Life, in a Nutshell

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Compacting with higher gas prices

This past weekend in Michigan we hit $4.19 a gallon for gas. Ouch! The higher prices have really been a challenge to my compacting ways. Before, I wouldn't hesitate to run to Saginaw (about 30 miles) or Mt. Pleasant (about 25 miles) to pick up something we needed from Freecycle or Craigslist. Now, not so much. Hitting up yard sales a few towns over is a thing of the past, too. In many cases the cost of gas would be more than buying the item new. Sad, when you think about it.

Have the gas prices put a crimp in your compacting/thrifty ways?

(Picture from flickr)

Monday, May 19, 2008

time's up...well, almost.

the end of my compacting challenge is almost here and it seems like i have just begun. i have officially decided that i will continue the challenge as more of a way of life. i am sure the rules of the compact will be changing to meet the changes of our family. but i am excited to see how much this has changed me.

for example:

  • hosting the kids' birthday parties became a lot simpler by accepting the fact that i won't be using paper products anymore. we have plenty of party plates, cloth napkins and tablecloths. saves me money, saves the environment and people enjoy eating on real plates.
  • before i even leave the house, i evaluate what i am really going to buy, where i am going to get it and if i really need it. it has totally cut down on impulsive buys and makes for less clutter & junk in the house.
  • i am happier without so much stuff. i didn't know that having so much stuff made me a slave to that stuff.
  • my life goals & dreams are changing. no longer do i need to live in the city, no longer is our family mantra 'bigger, bigger, better, better'. but rather, 'less is more...oh wait. less is actually less and that is a good thing'.
  • buying less stuff & getting rid of the stuff we don't use has created a richer & deeper life for our family. (getting rid of our swing set was the best thing for our kids' imagination!--more on that later!)

for now, i will try to continue to adhere to the rules i set up just two short months ago. this has been 'my gig' all along. in a couple weeks, my husband and i are going away for a quick weekend sans kids--cue the angels & the hallelujah chorus--where i hope to start a great discussion about how compact living fits into the fabric of our family. i will post my new compact when we are finished with it.

i hope these two months have at the very least provided entertainment to those of you that read this blog...if not some hope and inspiration that living with less is not such a bad thing! i'd love to hear how my journey has spurred you on to making changes in your shopping habits...even your life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

organically inclined...

Hi! I'm Michelle Kennedy Hogan and I've been compacting for a number of years now. However, I decided to make it official and take the pledge (mine is here).

I'm about as frugal as they come, except in one area - our local convenience store. Because it's so darned convenient! I'll go in there for a gallon of milk and come out with a bottle of soda, a "treat" for the kids and, I don't know, some "thing" I forgot I "needed." We do live about 40 miles from any large town so buying our milk and gas there isn't unreasonable. But even with my very frugal habits in every other area of my life - I added it up last month and we spent well over $500 at this one freaking store! I was appalled. Granted, some of it was legit - gas for my truck and milk for the kids - but the rest - Oh My Freaking Word!

So - in addition to the rest of my pledge, I am taking on a "nothing but the milk and gas" clause. I do not need a 1/2 gallon of ice cream for the kids that costs $6.50. And I don't "need" the soda, just because I'm tired of iced tea and water. This will be the true test for me, because much of my overt spending comes out of kid-guilt. We'll see how I do...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

another one...seriously, what is my problem! (updated)

what! another one...i know, i know. i went to kohl's. i shouldn't have...i just shouldn't have.

i walked away about $100 poorer with some really cute clothes for the kiddos. well, they are still in the bag and i was trying to decide what to do. see, bo is in desperate need of some new clothes...not NEW, but clothes that actually fit his ever growing body. those little noodle arms & legs keep growing longer & longer!

kohl's was having great clearance (what did I tell you about clearance? my WEAKNESS!). but, i think i can turn this oops boat around! there is a huge TAKE 2 sale at the fairgrounds this weekend, starting today at 10am. the reason this is my saving grace is because i am having my garage sale starting tomorrow, so i don't think i'd have a chance to go down there otherwise.

my plan is to get down there today and get some stuff for bo, so i can take back all the new kohl's stuff & get back on track!

i am finding that it is the compulsion to buy new stuff that is luring me, calling out to me. it still has a hold on me...consumerism. that witchy, witchy woman. also, i am seeing my cycle of buying stuff and then either taking it back & buying used or just taking it back. baby steps, baby steps!

**i redeemed myself this morning: returned the clothes to kohl's & went to the consignment sale. not only was i able to find just the right amount of clothes for bo, i was able to find sister's birthday present...a doll house w/ accessories. all for less than what my kohl's bill was! ahhh, the joys of being back on track.

cross posted at mint green mama

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Oops'd already

Not even three days in, and I goofed. :(

Wasn't thinking when I got gas today for the drive into Seattle, and I grabbed myself, of all things, a Hostess Cherry Pie. After I said I wasn't buying any junk food. :(

Otherwise, I'm doing pretty good on the compact, but my parents are torturing me, and going shopping and buying stuff for the kids. TOYS! Rawr!!

C'est la vie. Life goes on, and I will do better.


Does the compact apply to everyone in the house, or just me? I'm feeling insanely guilty, because my parents (who live with me) went shopping today. I thought they were gonna shop at the thrift shop in town, but they ended up going to Wal Mart. I didn't BUY anything, but they bought me and all three kids some croc-like shoes. I, honestly, feel awful! And, I gotta edit my exemptions... Forgot to add our weekly/bi-weekly Domino's. Not giving that one up, it tends to go along with our weekly family movie night.


And, on a side note, the husband is rather irked with me, because he said he'd "try" following the compact, and that didn't mean I had reason to join the group. Ugh. And I'm only two days into my two months.

Friday, May 2, 2008

garage sale friday!

today was not planned, but i remembered a friend was having a garage sale and boy am i glad i did! i spent the most at her garage sale, a wopping $24. i drove through urbandale & west des moines--both seem to be having lots neighborhood sales.

here is a picture of my loot! i am sooo happy with all the stuff i found. some clothes for me, a shirt for bo, two purses for me, a book & a toy for each kid, a new glass pitcher (just broke the handle off mine THIS morning!) and some house decor stuff (the tall thing is a bamboo rug for under our table or in sisters room).

i think i am most excited about the purses (of course!). i can't pick which one to love more, so i guess they will have to share my affections for now.

shopping at garage sales has never been so much fun & rewarding! also, i found the cutest toy for sister's birthday, it is a full hair salon station with all the dryer, curling iron, curlers. it was priced pretty high for an older toy, but in great shape. i got the lady's number & address, I am going to call tomorrow and see if it has sold. if not, i am totally going back for it (& probably offering her less!)

this post has been cross posted at mint green mama

April Progress Report

You may remember that we decided to put the compact on hold while we move, thinking that we would need all sorts of little things that you would never consider buying used (toilet brush, for example). So far, we haven't had to buy a thing, but we are officially moving in next week.

One thing we have decided to buy new is stuff for the back yard. Our backyard is big but there is no patio or deck, so our table would sink into the soft ground. I came up with a design that will allow us to build a deck that can be taken with us the next time we move. (We will build four separate 6x6 sections that will be carriage bolted to each other, for a full 12x12 deck.) We also plan to buy a gazebo ($200), possibly a new grill ($150 or so. Ours is 8 years old and falling apart) and wood and various soil components for four 4x4 square foot garden beds. We had planned to sell our current patio set and buy a new one, because the wrought iron is rusting (loaned it to my brother while we lived in an apartment in Ohio and he left it out all winter, uncovered) and there are only four chairs for five people. After thinking about it I decided that I like our current set, so we will just paint it and buy a chair that sort of matches so we don't have to keep dragging a kitchen chair out there. All together, we will be spending less than $500, and since we are doing the compact for financial reasons, and we budgeted for this, I am totally ok with it. Justification? Maybe.

Everything else that I purchased falls under the exemptions that I decided on when we started. (Bras, cross trainers, shoes for large footed children.)

We have also decided to take the kids to Germany next summer, so there will be various purchases throughout the upcoming year. (Passports mostly.)

Another thing that I decided is that it isn't fair of me to drag my family along on my crazy adventure. I am the one who decided to do the compact, and it isn't fair of me to force it on them. Of course, I wouldn't hand them money and ask them to buy me something (I think that would violate the spirit of the compact), but I am not going to try to stop them from purchasing new.

So basically, no new purchases for April, but probably plenty for May.

Cross posted at Life, in a Nutshell

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New to the Pledge!

I am new to the Mamas on the Compact Pledge but I'm really excited to be a part of it!

The following is my pledge as posted on my blog:

1. I am pledging to not buy anything new for a period of two months to begin May 1, 2008.

2. My reasons for doing this - I think I need to learn to be happier with what we have, which let's face it, is more than so many less fortunate than us. I also need to stop using shopping as a way of making myself feel satisfied, and I need to stop playing into the idea that you are what you can afford to buy! It really is all about differentiating between wanting and needing.

3. My plan for maintaining the pledge? Prayer! No, seriously, that may be the only way I make it through! But really, I can still buy used...that's allowed... so if I really get an itchin' for some shoppin', I can go to the thrift stores. Also, when I 'm feeling lonely and bored (which usually results in a shopping trip) I will try to spend time going for walks, making crafts, cooking, playing outside, and thinking of ways to be "greener" :)

4. Okay, finally the part where I get to justify a few things...the exemptions:

a) Building materials. We are after all still remodeling a house! This does not however exempt un-needed purchases such as furniture and decorations. I'm exempting trim and paint, that sort of thing.

b) Building materials. Redundant, maybe, but this time it's for the dwelling. We plan to use as much salvaged material (which is allowed, right?) as possible but I'm figuring that some things will need to be purchased new. The reason I'm exempting this is because it's already in the works, and therefore needs to be built!

c) I have the husband on board as much as possible...however, he has come up with a few exemption of his own:
- Music for DJing...which is unavoidable and also a business expense.
- Very early morning coffee on the way to the hospital, because if he grinds beans at 6:00am it wakes me up and that makes me grumpy...but whenever possible, he will make it at home.

d) My appointment at SalonSalon. It was a gift from Valentine's Day and even though it will be paid for during the compact, it was given before hand. And dammit, I need some pampering!

e) Whenever humanly possible, I will make or purchase recycled gifts during my compact. If this does not seem humanly possible, I am exempting the purchase of modest gifts. No going overboard!

f) Bathing suits, socks and underwear. Three things I outright refuse to buy second hand!

g) Last but not least, let's be honest here, it's soon to be summer vacation. We plan to take a small trip as soon as Walter is done with school. I don't know if vacations are part of the pledge to begin with but I'll exempt it just in case... the cost of this trip is exempt, but not purchases made on the trip. No new stuff! After all, there are thrift stores on vacation aren't there?

I think that covers everything. I know it seems like a ton of exemptions, but I'm supposed to list them up front and I may as well be honest, instead of saying I'm not going to buy anything and then end up cheating!

Well, that's it, let the compacting begin!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New to the Compact.

Ok, I've come across this blog online at, and I've decided to join the compact.

Barter, trade, buy used or go without

My Pledge:

For at least the next two months, I pledge to buy nothing NEW. This does not include "new to me" items. Merely going shopping for the sake of going shopping.

I am doing this to help the environment by lowering the demand for new things to be made, as well as lowering the amount of waste created by my household. I am also doing this to help my children and myself to learn to differentiate between what we want and what we truly need. And to be completely satisfied with what we already own, instead of going out and buying new things because we're bored with what we have.

To avert the "I wants" I plan to avoid shopping websites, and stores like Target, and the mall. I will limit my shopping at WalMart to buying groceries, if I can not manage to bring myself to shop at the grocery store down the road. When I go out, I will leave my check card at home, to avoid any temptation to go shopping. I will talk to my husband about our spending habits, so as to have him help keep me on track.

Ok... my exemption are:

Shoes- I will not buy used shoes, it's just icky. They never fit quite right, and they're uncomfortable as all get out.

Underwear- I know I'm gonna need new bras soon, just gotta get the money to get them.

A Wii or a PS3- I know, I know, I know that that's a horrible thing to exempt, but it's one of those things we were planning on getting w/ the taxes, and it got put aside. I should be getting money soon, so we can get it.

Necessities- Things like cleaning supplies, and a soaking jar for my moon pads. I really need the soaking jar.

Things that I will NOT buy:

Toys- The kids have a ton and a half toys, and do NOT need any more. And before I even THINK of buying more for them, I'm going to go through what we have and get rid of a bunch.

Clothes- I *REALLY* don't need any more. I have two bedrooms FULL of clothes that need washing before I even pretend to need more.

Jewelry- Any jewelry I *want* I can probably make for myself. I will exempt a butterfly necklace, as I've been looking for one for months.

Hair Stuff
- Puh-LEEZE, I *really* don't need more clips/barrettes, or frills for my hair. I *might* need elastics, but not the frills. And I can probably make do without the elastics.

Cosmetics- unless I run out, which I shouldn't for a good long while

Junk food
- THIS one's gonna be tough. I have a serious junk food addiction.

Fast Food- unless we're not home, and have no other option, and if we eat fast food, we will choose the healthiest possible options.

I will edit this more as I think of more.

I forgot to say that I'll be starting on 1 May.


Your resident compacting host here announcing that I'm terribly overwhelmed (as many of you newcomers know). I've been neglecting this blog and want to apologize.

Secondly, I'm seeking a co-admin for Mamas on the Compact. The responsibilities are pretty simple:
  • Help me check for new bloggers wanting to join the compact and send them invites in a timely fashion.
  • Set up the sidebar to include newcomers and move those whose compacts have ended to graduates.
Also, I'm still strongly considering a switch to wordpress and a domain specific to this blog, so keep your eyes peeled for that. If you're interested in helping out with some of the administrative stuff email me (jenny (@) green-mommy (.) com or reply to this post and I'll get back to you.

Take Care & Keep it Green!
today was a quick run to the goodwill: looking for an alarm clock for bo's room. he has been waking up way to early, so we are instilling the no words until 7am rule. i have heard it works so i am trying it.

so, i promptly found the working alarm clock...actually kinda cool for $2.99 and then as i was plugging it in, i remembered that those khaki pants don't fit anymore. a whole other story there....but we won't go there right now. i found two pairs of khakis that fit for $3.89 ea. and then a pair of dark browns that are a bit too big, but for $3.89 i think i can attempt to alter them. i am sooooo excited for my finds.

i've been on the hunt for a webcam as well, i have a friend in africa that I am dying to chat with and actual hear her voice and I found one on craigslist! we are going to pick it up tonight...a webcam & mircophone for $14.

i am finding the key to compact living is thinking ahead & making a working list. things you need right now, things you'll need in the future, things that you'd like to have but aren't necessary to get right now. i know with young kids it is hard to keep up with how quickly they grow, but it is a sure bet that they will always need play clothes, coats, hats, mittens, snow pants, etc. by thinking ahead about 6 months, then we can be prepared for when we need things by just going to the closet, rather than all around town or hoping for a great garage sale.

speaking of garage is officially garage sale season! i am so jazzed to dust of my "this van stops for garage sales" bumper sticker. i need to begin planning out my friday strategy, since in the past it has been drive by the sign and make a quick stop.

this post is cross-posted at mint green mama

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

shopping can be dangerous

okay, so i admit it...i am prideful. full to the brim with pride and not in a good way. i thought i was doing so good at mending my ways...becoming green, saving the planet & my pocketbook, until today at Toys R Us. of all the places! i thought to myself that i could last two months without having to post an oops moment. but here i am, not even through month one and i am posting my second oops.

we have three birthdays of close friends in the next couple weeks , so i set out today to go shopping for those kiddos. i thought i was safe at the toy store...but i wasn't.

the truth of the matter is that i am a sucker for the clearance rack. i found the cutest sets of tanks & shorts for my daughter on clearance...i know, i know. major slip-up.

let's not even go to the part of the shopping trip where i was in the hello kitty aisle for about 15 minutes contemplating a cute hobo hello kitty purse for ME...not my daughter, not for the birthday present...for me. i have issues. luckily, the hobo hello kitty is still at toys r us....calling to me. it is the cutest thing.

so, a minor set back...or a major set back...depending on your perspective. the optimist in me is saying this was minor. these clothes will be great for my daughter...cheaper than driving all over town looking at consignment stores to find what she will need for play clothes this summer. there have been days passing by that i haven't bought anything, new or used. that is a very good sign. my husband is happy. my bank account has some money. things are a changin'.

the pessimist in me is saying that i could have done more...i could have waited for the church garage sale, gone around to consignment stores and searched for hand-me downs...instead of giving into cutest & clearance. there will always be something that i do better, i am sure of that.

i can see how this challenge is just that...a challenge. it is stretching me, growing me to think outside the box. to see how much i don't need all that crap that the TV is trying to shove down my throat inconspicuously.

we are the first of the generations that are completely influenced by tv...our great-grandmothers were the last generation to know what life was like completely without the bonds of the media. the last generation that, while at the grocery store, worried more about what to make for dinner or how the vegetable garden is doing rather than when Katie Holmes & Tom Cruise will give Suri a sibling. (not saying that all women worry per se about the Holmes/Cruise baby project...but most of us could admit to knowing more than we want to about celebrities...) this compact challenge is becoming a way of life for our family...a buck of the system. it is going against everything that this american world has been teaching me through Sesame Street all those years ago.

we are on the cusp of so many changes in our to raise our kids, what to teach them, who will teach them and what values we want them to hold close. i can't help but be a little overwhelmed at all these thoughts. all i know is that i don't want to follow the status quo, i don't want my kids to worry about what the jones's have and how to be better than them by the world's standards. i don't want them to buy into the lie that more stuff will make your life better or easier or more successful. i want them to be happy.

i want them to work with their hands, to get dirty and sweaty after a hard day of play. i want them to be life-long learners. i want them to be resourceful. i guess that is why this challenge is so hard for me right now. it is working out all the world has put in for so long. all the sudden it has become so much more than just not buying new is about life change.

i share this oops to show i am human, worse off than i thought on this challenge. although it was an oops, it was in the midst of so many positive i guess i am still a little full of pride, but in a different way. we have come a long way since april 1st. but still...beware of Toys R Us!

*cross posted at mint green mama

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Compacting - on hold?

It is almost time to move. We pick up the keys in two weeks, and then will spend the month of May moving.

When I wrote our pledge at the beginning of the year I knew we were going to be moving, so I almost included moving as an exemption. I decided not to because we were planning to move from a 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath apartment to a 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath apartment. I wouldn't need anything. Now we are moving to a four bedroom house with a giant rec room (the "man cave") and a huge yard that I can garden in.

So anyway, I know that I am the only one that will make myself feel guilty for buying curtains to hide our nakedness (for example), but in the interest of full disclosure, I wanted to let everyone know. Of course, we will still continue to look for things used before we buy new, and of course, the Compact will only be "on hold" for those things we need for the house.

The sad/funny thing is that all of the things I need to buy are things that we Freecycled when we moved from our house in Detroit to our current apartment. Doh!

In the mean time - Anyone got a lawnmower they don't need? lol

Cross posted at Life, In A Nutshell

Friday, April 11, 2008

a near slip-up, sort of...

this week has been a busy one. i have been on the hunt all week for rain boots. i've asked everyone i know if they have some i can borrow. nope. none. nada. zilch. i went to goodwill and a couple consignment stores and called around. same thing...none.

so i resigned myself to the fact that i do in fact need these rain boots for this weekend. it is out in the wilderness and requires some walking down the prayer path...these boots will not only serve my feet, but also the feet of many others if they so choose. it is looking like there is no other option for me at this point.

so i called tj maxx to see if they had pair of super-cute key lime boots with hot pink lining in my size for my price. i told myself i wasn't going to spend over $20 and they were $19.99. God is good, all the time.

so, i decided in the stress of this week (my mother fell & broke her hip...looks like i will probably be primary in taking care of her recovery....and i have been busy planning for this weekend. a retreat for about 10 ladies from our church that i am lead teaching) to go ahead, take the plunge and buy the boots.

so you are probably thinking...isn't that a full fledged slip-up? well, not exactly in my brain. it is a "i have no choice" type of decision. the near slip-ups came at BOTH kmart and tj maxx when i happened to walk past the purse section.

ahhhh....the purse section. my favorite section of any store at any time...i have a problem with purses. they are beautiful, they store my stuff, they are so cute....and these were all on clearance. at kmart they were $3.99 for last years winter stuff. a super cute cream colored knitted one jumped into my hands before i even realized what was going on. it looked hand-made and so unusual. i seriously was considering & justifying it in my head and then i realized that i was doing this challenge. it is like when i get around purses, i lose my MIND! i swear. what is wrong with me?

so off to tj maxx to get my rain boots, when yet again i have to walk by the purses to get to the footwear. and once again i find myself in the same situation. brain gone, will power nowhere to be found and i have in my hand one of the most beautiful leather purses i have ever seen. it is a camel brown in a hobo style...smallish and so rich looking. it is on clearance for $89 (yikers!) but the strap is broken. so i chance it and take it to the manager, to see if they will take less...much less.

what do you think he said? nope, can't do is already marked down so much. i continue to talk with him and he is firm on his no. then i realize once again that i am on this challenge and committing not to buying new stuff. i walk away with some self-control & pride that even though i lost my brain, i didn't really lose out...because i stuck to my challenge (with the exception of the rain boots!) and didn't buy either purse. everyone that knows me is probably so shocked and proud of me for that amount of self control. i seriously l-o-v-e purses.

my thought is, by the time the challenge is done, that purse will be marked down so much that i will be able to get it for the price i offered! it wouldn't be the first time.

*cross-posted at mint green mama

Monday, April 7, 2008

only mint green...

hello, my name is meredith and i was addicted to buying stuff. it all started with an innocent trip to super target to get some milk....$150 later, i walked out in the consumer daze of 'how did that happen?' reliving the daze of mindless shopping, being sucked into buying stuff on clearance or just because it was cute and i need it, right? that's when i knew that things needed to change in my life, the checkbook said husband said so.

so, i stumbled onto this compacting idea from my friend sara, and i have decided to join this compacting challenge for two months. i refer to myself as "mint green" because i am learning to become green in so many areas...but in some areas i just can't get myself to commit. i have been challenged over the past couple years, really since having kids, our life doesn't reflect what we believe. from all that we consume, the cars we drive,the groceries we buy, these all affect our health & environment.

there are many mamas out there that are much greener than me, but the goal for all of us is to get better at making choices for our families, our health and our environment, right? what i have found on this journey so far is that everyone goes at their own pace, it is okay to be green in some areas and not in others...for now. the ultimate goal is to make better choices. to stop and evaluate: is this the best for me? for my family? for my health? for my world?

so, in following in the footsteps of amy at gift of green, i have modified the compact challenge with my own exceptions. it is not as green as i would like, i can see my biggest downfall is gifts for others. i want to be able to give them something great & perfect...sometimes we can't find those second-hand. more thoughts & ideas on this topic in future posts, i'm sure!

here is my compact for the next two months:

in the year of our Lord 2008, in the month that brings showers for may flowers; i, mint green mama meredith, pledge not to buy anything new for two months.

the reason for this pledge is to help reverse the pressure of our family budget, to save money, to teach myself & my children to be satisfied with what we have, to distinguish between wants & needs and to begin to live a simple life.

the big game plan for avoiding the "gimmes" and the "i gotta's" include: not browsing on shopping websites, avoiding target with all my human strength, shopping at the grocery store rather than walmart, not taking the kids with me grocery shopping and evaluating which credit cards we can rid ourselves from.

exceptions for april & may:

-food...we all have to eat. i'm going to continue to concentrate on buying store brand vs. name brands, as well as shopping mostly at aldi (aldi is an amazing place...much like ikea for food!)

-meds & doc-in-the-box. we don't go here much & have been blessed with healthy kids, i am praying that this continues!

-may birthday gift for my daughter. her birthday isn't until about the end of the challenge, so i am hoping to find the perfect something through other means than buying "new", but i do have a back-up plan in place if i don't find the perfect thing. i will be searching craigslist & freecycle for my ideas.

-birthday presents for my kid's friends. i only find it fair to subject only my own family to this kind of living at this point...not their unsuspecting friends. although, i will keep my eye out for the perfect gift to the couple birthday parties we will be invited to over these next couple months. also, i would love to have my kids learn how to shop for their friends by asking: what do you think they'd enjoy? what makes them happy? what would be special to them? it might be that what would make this friend happiest would be a home-made gift, wrapped in love!

-postage...we have been moving more and more of our bills to online billing, but there are a few we must snail mail. for online bills, i have a slick little spreadsheet with all the user names & passwords. it is pretty easy and saves on the postage & gas to send it. our bank charges us to do
online banking through them, so instead i took the extra five minutes & made a spreadsheet. our citi card said that they planted a tree for us committing to online billing. citi card rocks!

-new shoes & unders for the further explanation needed for that one.

[this post is cross-posted at mint green mama]

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

March Progress Report

Woohoo! Bought nothing new, and found everything that I needed used.

In March I found:
Plates - Have needed new ones for a while, and I wanted the white utility looking ones that Marty uses at work. We could have ordered them at any time but he forgot to in 2007, and of course in 2008 we couldn't buy them. A church must have gotten rid of theirs because my local thrift store had about 100 of them - 4/$2.40. I bought 12.

Juicer - On SCD I can't use any concentrated juice and we have been using a lot of fresh, so I wanted a juicer. Found a barely used one (might even be new, but since I bought it at the thrift store, I assume that it is ok...) for $4.50. Love it!

Lid for my Kitchenaid - You know... the Stand Mixer Bowl Cover thingy that they charge $15+ for? Found it at the Goodwill, rubber banded to a bunch of other things, and without a price tag. I helped the manager find the stuff that the other parts belonged to, so he gave it to me for 29¢! Score!

The Ugly Chair - Walking out of the thrift store yesterday I found my dream chair. A big, comfy, sink into it with a book chair. No price, so I walked in telling myself that I wouldn't pay more than $25 for it. (The really ugly chair next to it was priced at $49.99, so I was pretty sure I was going home empty handed.) When she said "How about $4.99?" I am pretty sure I giggled like a schoolgirl.

The picture does not do the chartreuse justice (Traditional chartreuse, not web chartreuse, thankyouverymuch.)

Even better than finding what I needed used is the big box of stuff ready for a yard sale or thrift store.

This post is cross posted at Life, in a Nutshell

Let the Compacting Begin!

Although I am barely at the level of some of you compacting mamas, beginning April 1st, 2008, I also pledge not to buy anything new for two months. The purpose of this pledge is to save money, to learn to be satisfied with the possessions I already own (and to take care of things I do own so that they last longer), and to distinguish between what I "Want" and what I "Need".

Strategies for avoiding the "Wanna-haves" include not browsing on shopping websites, flipping quickly through the pages of my magazines that extoll the next best green thing to buy, rewarding myself with several trips to the thrift shops, and reviewing my bank account balance!

Here are my exceptions (with forbiddens noted) for the months of April and May:

Food (coffee shop coffees, restaurants, buying lunch at work, and "energy bars" are strictly forbidden)
Medicine & Doctor's Visits
Feminine Hygiene Products (I am really, really sorry all of you Diva Cup fans)
April birthday gift for Great Grams
Anniversary Present for Green Husband (must not be a "thing" however - can be something like admission to the butterfly exhibit - if I were to do that.)
New shoes for the children (I'm sorry - unless they are used snow boots or dress shoes, I don't do "used" shoes. They mold to the wearer's feet over time and basically become customized. I predict that both of my children will jump a shoe size over the next two months!)

I think that is it! Gulp! Wish me luck!

{This pledge is cross-posted over at Gift of Green}

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Near Oops!

I nearly lost it the other night if it weren't for my husband. I had actually already completed the transaction when my husband talked me into calling Old Navy to cancel my $300 order of new clothing.

It's tough. My biggest issue is not the miscellaneous stuff, but clothing specifically. Clothing of a decent quality and attractive cut is difficult to find here. Sure, we have a handful of thrift stores that I frequent quite often, but little of that clothing is work-appropriate and most of that clothing is better suited for jog-suit loving old ladies, cleavage revealing teenagers or would-be lumberjacks. I can't say I fit into any of those categories.

So, down to two grey cashmere sweaters I purchased secondhand and a thrifted flannel skirt (don't even get me started on the underwear issue--suffice to say that the days of matching lacy bras and panties disappeared during the first few weeks of nursing), I loaded up my cart on Old Navy's website forgetting that it was a GAP, Inc Company not, of course, that I should be purchasing new items anyway.

It's just hard to feel so blah all the time, and it's not particularly easy to dress well while observing the rules of the compact. Of course, if it weren't for work I'd be happy in yoga pants and tank tops but such a wardrobe won't get me too far in the office.

After my husband's goading, and an unreasonably nasty response from me, I called Old Navy and cancelled the order. Instead, I purchased some handmade clothing on Etsy. So it's saved, sort of. Sure, the shirts and skirts and underwear I purchased on Etsy are technically "new" but they're made by artists who are paid for the work they do and it's precisely the artists and craftspersons that we should be supporting.

Cross-posted on The Green Mommy.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

February progress report

Happy leap month! February was a good Compacting month. With the exception of the yogurt maker, there were no new purchases in this Compacting house.

We just got back from a week in Ohio (we live in Michigan) visiting family. Our niece turned four while we were there and her gift was a Compacting success story!

How many times can I say Compacting in this post?? Ahem... anyway.

Take one $10.90 thrift store table and chair set, one 99¢ thrift store table cloth and what do you get? A funky table and chairs just made for a 4 year old!


How is everyone else doing?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oops! Yogurt maker

We had to buy a yogurt maker.

Our Middle son and I have to start the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and need to start making our own yogurt. Because of the long (24 hour) fermentation period required by the SCD, a yogurt maker is recommended. I posted on three local Freecycle groups to see if anyone had one they weren't using, but got no reply. I found a used maker but decided to buy a different brand because of the long fermentation time and sheer volume of yogurt my family of 5 (including 2 teenage boys and one pre-teen boy) eats. The smaller machine would be on 24/7.

So while a completely justified purchase, it was still a new purchase so I thought I should fess up. :o)

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Compact - January is behind us!

One month has come and gone and we are still Compacting strong. I have to say I am proud of me, proud of us (my husband and me) and proud of all of the support we have gotten. There are still lots (LOTS) of people in our daily life that do not *know* we are on The Compact and that is ok.

We haven't had any slip ups! I only went to Target once and it was to help my mom pick out Téadora's birthday gift. I bought some used clothing and a pair of shoes for myself and a used video for the kids. I bought some used Tupperware containers for Aidan to use instead of baggies in his reusable lunch bag. I have baked bread 4 times since the beginning of January and I have decluttered about 265 items from our house (mostly toys that my kids weren't playing with (more on that in another post). We had to buy Nick a new pair of work of work boots and those were bought brand new, but that was an exception in our Compacting "rules".

It has been freeing to not NEED to go to Target or the Mall. I have un-subscribed to many company emails; Gap, The Children's Place, Gymboree, Pimperlime, Old Navy, Sears. Some of which I am not even sure how I got on their email list in the first place. I have spent more time with my family, with the Lord, planning adventures that do not cost money and organizing mine and my family's life around things that do not involve excess and consumption.


X-Posted Twist and Shout

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Changes to Compacting Mamas

To all you mamas on the compact or those of you who are considering it, I'm considering making some changes to the blog and am in progress with them:
  • Move to Wordpress
  • Addition of a Feed Aggregate that will naturally pull your posts (maybe ... maybe not)
  • Addition of a Free for Shipping Section that will allow you to post stuff you need to get rid of or pick up things you need.
Keep up the good work, and remember that the corporations would rather the world drown in unnecessary "necessities" than for the cycle of consumption and disposal to stop.

Creating a Happy Place


We all have strong points, but organization is not one of mine. Organization of time–yes. Organization of personnel–yes. Organization of projects–absolutely. Organization of things–absolutely not.

Perhaps that’s why I’m so drawn to simplicity and why I drool over home decor and organization porn (oh yes … Pretty Organized on Flickr I’m looking at you!).

This year one of my goals is to organize and decorate our home while maintaining the standards of the compact and respecting our goals of simplicity. Our home should be a haven, a sanctuary and a source of joy and it is my goal to make it just that.

I haven’t really started on any projects, but I was organizing our vast collection of books today and as I was sifting through them I started wondering just why I’ve been lugging them around for years. There’s books I will never use again, never read again but they still sit on my shelf. There’s books whose topics of long-since outgrown or am no longer interested in. I even came across my high school year book–why would I want to cling to that? Of course, posting books to Paperback Swap helps dilute the clutter and has been wonderful for our family and keeps us in new books when we need them.

There’s clothing we don’t wear often or that we have duplicates of. There’s my little dude’s stuff too–who knew a two-year old could accumulate so much. I come to work to find garbage bags filled with toys and clothes for him once every six weeks.

It’s almost insurmountable and it certainly is a hindrance to simplifying. After all, when I can’t find takers I just keep the stuff because loading it in the dumpster destined for the landfill seems so wasteful. (Before you start to suggest it: we’ve tried freecycle, free ads in the paper, flyers and donating it to charity but this area of excess even the charity shops are struggling under an avalanche of stuff.)

So let me circle back: I need to create a happy place–a home that allows me to feel at peace rather than like I’m drowning in stuff.

We live in approximately 750 s.f., so we live small and small messes look awfully big. Still, I think it can be done and with a few coats of (low-VOC) paint, a little ingenuity and the support of my family I think it can be accomplished beautifully.

So, dear readers, hold me to my promise!

In the mean time, I’ll be looking for inspiration:

X-posted at Green Mommy.

*Photo by house n baby on flickr’s Pretty Organized pool.

Friday, February 1, 2008

January progress report

When I was explaining The Compact to my sister in law she said "That will be a no brainer for you. That is how you live." She is right. We rarely buy new, and only as a last resort. (For the record my SIL is equally frugal, and she is the one who got me interested in the environment.)

Well, of course now that we publicly committed to not buying new, everything broke this month. Maybe not everything, but it sure feels like it. The other day we were making breakfast and the toaster gave us a fireworks show. Thats ok - I bought it at the thrift store 7 years ago for $2. One will turn up at the thrift store, and until it does we will live without toast.

All of a sudden, almost every pair of jeans I own are looking pretty threadbare. They were fine in December, I swear. I have been checking the thrift stores, but so far, no luck. I may end up wearing dress pants all year or Capri pants in February in Michigan or something. That will be fun!

I had my first compacting dilemma on the 6th, but in the end it turned out fine. Our family lives in Ohio and my brother, SIL (the one mentioned above) and nieces all came to Michigan for our annual "Christmas in January." Each year we buy them a zoo pass, but since our nieces are young (2,3 & 5) we also get something small for them - last year it was a stocking filled with small things like coloring books & crayons, a stuffed animal and an ornament. I didn't know what to give them this year. They have so many toys that I'm sure my brother would kill me if I just went to the thrift store and picked up another toy. I am not crafty, so I can't knit or crochet them something. I posed the question on my blog (next time I will ask here, too) and sure enough, got some great answers. Christine suggested homemade Play Dough, and Cindy sent me her recipe for Kool-aid Play Dough. Ethan (my 12yo) and I found some great cookie cutters ($1.99) and a bag (75¢) to put them in at the thrift store, and we had the perfect bucket to keep it in. The girls loved it! We all sat at the table and played for hours.

I made my first anti-compact purchase on the 18th. And it was a box. I had to buy a box. How ridiculous is that? I had to send Christian's (my 16yo) MP3 player back to the company because it stopped working. Guess who too the box that the last one was sent to us to the recycling center a few days before? Ayup. Me. So I spent 77¢ on a box and $1.57 on bubble wrap. I hang my head in Compact shame.

I also bought Financial Peace University brand spankin' new on the 21st, but I don't feel one ounce of guilt about it. FPU is something that will help my family for years to come. They ended up giving me my money back and insisting that we keep the kit (looooong story) so the used kit we bought on ebay is going to be passed on to a family that can't afford to buy FPU.

Running total:
Box - 77¢
Bubble Wrap - $1.57
Financial Peace University - $149

How is everyone else doing?

X-posted at Life, In A Nutshell

Thursday, January 10, 2008

2008....So far so good!

10 days into the new year, I'm doing well. I haven't purchased anything new and I cut up all of our credit cards. I will be cancelling them as soon as they are paid off. I'm energized and ready for this year and I'm excited to see so many new names here on the journey with me! It is so much more fun and interesting knowing that there are others across around the planet doing the same thing!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Krista's 12 Month Pledge

In an effort to be debt free by the end of 2008, my family will actively work to reduce our consumer imprint. When we need something we will try to get the item used (Thrift stores, Craigslist, Freecycle, yard sales, etc) borrow or barter.

My Pledge:
Follow the rules and exemptions of the original Ccompact, with a few personal exemptions. Connect with other "Compacters" in Michigan, to share resources.
The Principals and Exemptions of The Compact
  • #1 Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
  • #2 Borrow, barter, or buy used.
  • A few exceptions - using the "fair and reasonable person" standard -- i.e., you'll know in your heart when you're rationalizing a violation:
    • food, drink, and necessary medicine (no elective treatments like Viagra or Botox)
    • necessary cleaning products, but not equipment (don't go out and buy the Dyson Animal, for example).
    • socks and underwear (utilitarian--non-couture or ornamental)
    • pajamas for the children
  • Utilitarian services (plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, veterinarians, dog/house-sitters, fire/paramedics, dry cleaners, house cleaners, etc.) -- Support local and encourage used parts (rebuilt transmission, salvaged headlight unit, etc.)
  • Recreational services (massage, etc.) & local artisanal items - Good sources for gifts, but should not be over-indulged in for personal gratification
  • Charitable contributions (Seva, Heifer, and the like) - an even better source for gifts
  • Plants and cut flowers - Whenever possible, cultivate from free cuttings or seeds. Ok in extreme moderation (yo, incoming oxy) when purchased from local businesses (i.e., not the Target Garden Shop)--and again, within reason
  • Art supplies - First line of attack: SCRAP. When absolutely necessary (for the professionals and talented amateurs in the group), from local businesses
  • Magazines, newspapers, Netflix - renewals only, no new subscriptions. Even better to consume online
  • Video rentals and downloadable music files (non-material) -- freely shared and legal, please

Our Personal Exemptions
  • Clothes and shoes for my tall and skinny boys who have huge feet. (We will always try to find things secondhand before we resort to new.)
  • Small gifts for my elderly, out of state grandmother
  • Homeschooling books and supplies (We will always try to find things secondhand before we resort to new.)
  • A bed (Because believe me, no one needs a new bed more than we do. I promise you.)
(X-posted at Life, in a Nutshell)