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