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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What Would the Pioneers Have Done?

After a blogging hiatus and wonderfully relaxing long weekend in Canmore, I am back and ready to rant!  Today's topic is courtesy of my beautiful mother and her funny little ways.  I recently bought a book (using my gift certificate remember) that takes me through how to make my own clothes and includes over 20 different patterns for some really cute dresses, jackets, skirts, and shirts; all for the beginner seamstress.  Cool right?  Well, on the way to Canmore I shared this book with my parents and husband stating that I was very excited to start on some of these projects, however I was really going to be limited by the scarcity of cool fabrics at the thrift stores.  My mom immediately piped up and said that she didn't think that it should count to buy new materials for projects/gifts that I was going to make.  My gut instinct was to disagree with her but then she blurted out, "Just think, what would the pioneers do?"  She said it with such passion that I couldn't help but laugh initially.  After I got thinking about it though, this question seems to me like a good guideline to help me clear up any 'muddy' areas of this project.  Of course, I would prefer to buy all of my materials second hand, but is it really cheating to buy some of the materials new?

I still can't decide about this one, so I am again putting it to a reader poll.  The choices for this one are as follows:

1. Buy new materials (mostly wool & fabric) to my heart's content
2. Buy new materials but only those that are discounted from regular price
3. A combination of the above; buy some new materials, but continue to buy some used
4. No buying of new materials: rules are rules

I am also planning on doing some 'trading' for fabrics: my mom wants me to make her some gifts for example, so I told her that I would if she bought the material along with a bit extra so that I could make a few extras for gifts of my own.  This feels like the best scenario to me, but it doesn't work for all situations.

"Pioneers may be picturesque figures, but they are often rather lonely ones." - Nancy Astor

I am curious to hear from you so get your vote on!
Marebare :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

There are Voices in my Head!

This weekend we are going away - for the first time since I started this whole thing.  The fact that we have made it two whole months without a road trip is a record in itself I think.  My parents are taking us to Canmore for the weekend, one of our favorite mountain towns.  Plus, we have some amazing friends who live there so we are really, really excited. 

On the other hand, going away for the weekend also comes with its set of 'Marebare' challenges... for instance, the preparation has taken me pretty much the entire week!  I had to start the laundry on Monday to make sure that I had enough clean (and DRY) clothes for us to pack, clean my house (I can't stand coming home to a dirty house) and buy/prepare/pack all of our food (our 'condo' has a kitchenette).  In fact, yesterday I am pretty sure that I set a record for bread-making.  I made three loaves of ciabatta bread, cinnamon buns, regular buns, soft pretzels and bagels.  Plus, with all of that bread making going on, my son conveniently found the time to terrorize me for much of the morning.  It was a very busy day!

Last night, I 'got away from it all', thanks to the babysitting services of my amazing mother-in-law.  The woman is a complete saint and manages to take phenomenal care of my son while also leaving my house cleaner than she found it (I am still desperately trying to figure out her secret!).  Anyway, with Pat on duty, I was able to go to the home show with my dad and my husband.  I know what you are thinking, wierd place for someone who isn't buying anything these days right?  In any case, I mostly find home and renovation 'stuff' to be extremely boring and I spent most of the time looking for the booths with free food (there were strangely very few), what a disappointment!  While in my travels, I came across a booth selling 1200-thread-count sheets for only $55  ($100 for TWO sets)!  Now, sheets are one of mine and Trent's true loves (don't ask).  Immediately, a familiar voice in my head said, "They are too cheap NOT to buy!  Make sure to get two sets to get the best deal".  Now this voice seemed so familiar and comfortable to me that I had two sets picked out and my hand on my credit card before I even realized what I was doing.  As soon as my hand grazed that shiny visa card however, something strange happened... a new, stronger, deeper (and meaner) voice boomed in my head "DO YOU REALLY NEEEEEED THOSE?"  I looked around, half expecting everyone around me to be staring at me with accusing stares.  I immediately started to retreat from the booth, mumbling something to the lady about needing to confer with my husband (yeah right!).  Then I spend the rest of the show carefully avoiding her booth (it wasn't hard - the show was HUGE).  It was a close call.

Last night, as I went to bed in our 400-thread-count sheets, I couldn't help but feel a bit of pride as my face scratched against the cheapish cotton.  That being said, I was also wondering how long it was going to take those darn things to wear out!?  I was also thinking about the voices... the 'Marebare' voice, the stronger, louder, meaner one, saved me from making a purchase that I really didn't need.  I guess that's what this year is all about, trying to awaken and train my subconscious to think before it indulges.  Now that it is working in my favor, I wonder if I could train this voice to be a little nicer sounding?

Well, here's to small victories... I'll take what I can get!

“Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.” - Proverb

Marebare :)

P.S. Don't forget to turn your lights off for Earth Hour this Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 pm - make a party out of it!  Get some candles, some friends, some wine, some snacks... sounds like a perfect evening to me!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Month Three Already?

I have already become so used to 'living with less' that it hardly feels like much of a 'challenge' anymore.  As such, I completely forgot to give my 2 month update... (the countdown meter is in the 200's now, did you notice?) 

Here are some 'month two' trials and tribulations:
  • I finally started using some of my gift cards.  First of all, my friend Amie has been giving me even MORE gift cards for babysitting her son... and one of these gift cards?  STARBUCKS!  So, after a few weeks of deliberating, I finally decided that it would be okay to spend this one.  To help ease the guilt, I also treated my parents to their coffees and snacks, using up more than half of the card.  Of course, I did treat myself to a special coffee, but this time, it felt like just that, 'special'.  Starbucks is no longer something that I take for granted, so, I guess you could say 'mission accomplished' on that front.  Amie's second gift card was a bookstore card.  Now, I have a bit of a book fetish... so, this couldn't have been more appropriate.  I used the card to buy myself a 'sew your own clothes book', so I am super excited to get it and start sewing.  As usual, Trent thinks that I am a bit nuts, but we'll see... Thanks again to Amie for her generosity... although you and I both know that I would have done if for NOTHING!  (silly goof!)
  • In other gift card news, I used one of my gift cards to buy supplies for setting up my indoor grow-op.  I needed to buy/build a light hanging device, and now I have the supplies to do it!
  • Speaking of my indoor garden, it is sprouting nicely.  Everything is up, just waiting on the peppers. 
  • I have started to 'master' bread making.  Once a self-described 'non baker' I am now able to make such delicacies as breadsticks, ciabatta bread and soft pretzels.  Every week it just gets better and better.  I am loving the fresh-baked bread.
  • I have returned (yet again) to my knitting.  I have knit a whole host of cute and colourful toques that I am stock-piling for gifts. 
  • The first installment of 'meatless Monday' was a bit of a bust.  My family is not convinced.  My husband would hardly touch the stew that I made.  I myself thought that it was delicious.  Again, if you have any delicious vegetarian recipes to share, SEND THEM!  I need to avoid a revolt at all costs!
  • Our grocery bill was even lower this month than last... I am getting to be a master at finding the 'good deals'
  • Other than the purchase at the kids consignment store and few thrift store visits, I have continued to succeed at reducing our expenses on retail goods
  • I have been reading about investing as of late... I need to find somewhere to put all of the money we are saving!
  • If I am being honest... I am finding the clothes-dryer challenge a bit tougher than I expected.  You really need to be a planner to do something like this, especially in the winter.  I find myself doing at least one load of laundry per day instead of trying to do five loads at once like I used to do.  I just need to be a bit more organized and try to hit the good weather days as well.  I will admit that I have thought about chucking a few things in the dryer more than once, but as I said, I fully unhooked the thing and hooking it back up will require some effort.  (Self-sabbotage does work you know)
Well, that's about all that I can think of for now... Here's to another month under my belt!

Thanks for reading!

Marebare :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Farm Fresh

As much as I complain about living here, yesterday I realized (yet again) that we are indeed very fortunate to live in this community.  After weeks of searching high and low, I finally have found a local source for my 'farm fresh' eggs.  We are going to be getting them from our neighbour, who gets them from her neighbour, who gets them from a 94-year-old woman in Carvel who takes care of the hens.  How awesome is that!  I got my first dozen yesterday and I haven't had a chance to try them yet, but I will be sure to update you when I do!  I can't tell you how making such a small change in our lives can feel so satisfying... plus, the eggs are only $1.75 per dozen... cheaper than in the supermarket!  It is just win-win-WIN, everywhere I look!

On our visit to the neighbours, Chephren came along and got to get up close and personal with the neighbour's cows.  He was just fascinated.  He kept pointing and saying, "Moo!  Moo!"  After last week's post about the movie Food Inc. and my rant about how dire things are in our food industry, I have started to notice that there are actually still a lot of 'real' farmers in this agri-community that I live in.  As I said, we are the lucky ones.  After living here for four years, I feel like I have finally begun to appreciate our local farmers and the good, no GREAT, work that they do, especially compared to the alternative...

One final note, I am instilling 'meatless Mondays' in our household.  My family is pretty skeptical at this point (in fact, my husband will probably be at work today consuming a double burger at lunch instead of a single, simply out of sheer panic)!  So, I could use some great vegetarian recipes if you have some to share.  I have a few from my lovely friend Tess, but it would be great to have a few more to add to the repertoire.  I would love to be able to serve up some delicious vegetarian food so that my family can see that it really isn't that big of a sacrifice (and then we could go to two days a week...)  Baby steps right?

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”  - Albert Einstein

Here's to the farmers (and the vegetarians)!

Marebare :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

This is what happens when you take 'frugality' a bit too far...

I have really done it this time.  Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I would say that one of the skills that I have in my 'toolbox' is my ability to take whatever is in my fridge, throw in a pot and make it taste good.  I have somehow been able to consistently do this for the past 12 or so years with very few major errors... until today. 

After taking stock (pardon the pun) of what I had in my fridge, I decided to make a turkey soup - normally one of my speciality dishes.  Now, this is where I got a little overzealous and carried away... you see, in an effort to be frugal and use up as much 'stuff' as possible, I pushed the limits of what should have gone in the pot, going against all of my innate cooking instincts.  The result of my zeal?  A disgusting pot of brown slop that honestly spells like dog food.  In other words, I figure that it is pretty much inedible.  So, instead of serving up a frugalicious supper... I am going to be forced to start all over again.  Luckily I still have a few things to work with, and now Turkey Curry Stew will be the next project of the day. 

What is the point of all of this?  Know your limit - and don't cross it!  Today I learned that it is not absolutely necessary to put the contents of EVERY tupperware container in your fridge into your soup (or casserole, or whatever).

Now, if only I could get rid of the smell as easily as the soup itself!

“In examining the potential of individuals, we must focus on their strengths and not just their mistakes. We cannot be limited by what they may have spilled in the kitchen.”  - William Pollard

Amen William, let's focus on strengths!


Marebare :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Every Vote Counts

I took last night off from blogging to do some very important research... watching the documentary Food Inc.  For those of you who haven't seen it, do, it is quite the eye-opener, very reminiscent of a Michael-Moore-style documentary.  You know the kind; evil corporations + greedy bureaucrats & politicians = the destruction of our health, well-being and happiness.  Yup, that about sums up the movie.  Even a year ago, this type of movie would have sent me into an absolute panic attack over how powerless we are as average citizens, and I would have spent days, weeks, even months, worrying about each and every thing that I put in my (and my son's mouth).  Eventually, though, I would have given up... after all, what could I possibly do about it?  How could I fight a fight so absolutely huge?  Today, I choose to look at the situation a little differently... you see, I do have some power and control over the situation, and this power lies in my role as a consumer.  The movie takes the very valid position that as consumers, we drive the supply and demand marketplace with our choice of purchases.  The key word there being choice.  No one is forcing us to eat ammonia-rinsed ground beef or genetically-modified soy products, we choose to do so, each and every time we stop at McDonalds or scan those processed food items through at the supermarket (I haven't eaten at McDonalds in 5 or more years btw... just making a point).

Now, logistically, the food industry has become so out of control that there are virtually almost no products in your average supermarket that you can purchase that haven't been somehow 'tainted' or influenced by the process of mass production (and all that comes with it).  However, there are certain things that you can do:
  • Buy organic
  • Buy what's in season
  • Buy local
You as the consumer have a choice, each and every time a dollar leaves your wallet or your bank account.  It is ultimately up to YOU to decide how you want your food to be produced and by whom.  As the movie states, think of it as 'voting' three times a day.  You don't even have to 'go big' to start off with... lasting changes will more likely occur if you make small changes at first, because after all, every little bit counts.

I for one, found myself greatly saddened by the stories in the movie, and not just about the horrific treatment of animals, but also the human stories that were shared as well.  These corporations are treating humans much as they treat their animals, which to me, is simply unacceptable.  While I am still not following these practices as 'perfectly' as I should, my food consciousness is becoming more and more attuned with every food purchase that I make.  I plan on using my consumer dollars to vote for the small, organic farmers who are still trying to make an honest living in this crazy world.

There are no seasons in the American supermarket. Now there are tomatoes all year round, grown halfway around the world, picked when it was green, and ripened with ethylene gas. Although it looks like a tomato, it's kind of a notional tomato. I mean, it's the idea of a tomato. - Michael Pollan, a quote from the movie Food Inc.

All of that being said, I hope that I didn't spoil your day (or your appetite)!

Marebare :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Grow-Op Begins

Today my green thumb just got a little bit greener, or blacker I guess, from the dirt that I was working with.  I started my indoor garden today (of VEGGIES - get your mind out of the gutter!).  I know, I know, the term 'grow-op' has other connotations, but I like that term.  It makes me feel like a 'rebel'.  I especially liked discussing my 'grow-op' with my mom at the top of my voice in the grocery store as I shopped for seeds.  Anyway, I planted three kinds of tomatoes, broccolli, three different herbs and two varieties of peppers.  They are now snuggled in nicely in their pots baking under the heat lamp in our downstairs bathroom.  I am a lazy gardener (and I mean extremely lazy), and I have never done this before, so I guess we'll see how this little experiment grows... er, goes. 

On to to other 'living with less' news... I went consignment store shopping yesterday.  First stop was the 'Once Upon a Child' store - a kids consignment store, which is truly a one-stop shop for all things baby and/or kid.  I stocked up on splash pants for the little guy so that he can continue to enjoy his puddle splashing, minus the excessive loads of laundry for me.  Next we checked out a ladies consignment store in Edmonton called Caprice West.  I had heard really good things about this store, and I wasn't disappointed!  Funny enough, it is also owned by an old friend of ours who used to teach me piano as a child.  It was neat to see her doing something that she is so obviously gifted and talented at... her shop is amazing!  Imagine what it was like playing dress-up in your mom's closet as a child and that is what this store feels like!  There is something there for everyone.  Even my dad admitted that it was a pretty cool shop, and he HATES shopping!

One final tip:

It sounds kind of ridiculous because we should have been doing this all along, but lately my parents and I have been 'going half-ers' on a lot of bulkly packaged food... especially the fresh stuff.  It is so much cheaper to buy heaps of it and then split it in half... and then of course, there is also a lot less chance of it spoiling on you.  This week we split huge packages of pasta, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, broccolli, feta cheese... and the list goes on. If you have someone to do this with, I highly recommend it!

Whether you tend a garden or not, you are the gardener of your own being, the seed of your destiny. - The Findhorn Community

Happy Early Spring!!

Marebare :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Through the eyes of a child

Warmer temperatures and sunny days means more time spent outside for this little lady.  This is mostly because my son is absolutely addicted to the outdoors, which, by my own standards is a good thing... no, a great thing.  If you ever wanted to reconnect with nature and re-discover all that it has to offer, just go outside with a child for a few hours.  Following my son Chephren around the property over the past few weeks has been such an interesting experience.  He is absolutely delighted by every little thing: the puddles, the birds (he says 'CAW' at the top of his voice every time), the squirrels, the trees and of course, our 2 big dogs who he loves to pieces.  Usually, I don't really like this time of year because of the yuck and the muck everywhere, but Chephren has inspired me to find the good in even the muddiest of puddles. 

Yesterday, as we were out in the yard, something occurred to me.  Chephren's ability to find pure joy in the most ordinary of things is actually teaching ME something about simplicity.  After all, isn't that what simplicity is really about?  Being present, living in the moment, connecting with your surroundings and marvelling at the world around you?  This realization has caused me to wonder, what other lessons has Chephren been trying to teach me that I may have been missing out on.  Here is what I have come up with so far:

1. LOOK: I know, it sounds obvious, but when was the last time that you actually 'looked' at your surroundings?  I know that I tend to do a lot of things on 'autopilot' and Chephren's squeals of delight often cause me to look at things that I might have been missing, even though they are right under my nose.
2. MOVE: No, I am not describing the kind of movements that you do everyday (walk to and from your car to your office and then to and from your car to your house).  I am talking about moving your body with reckless abandon!  Do you remember what it felt like to move like a child?  Run like a child?  Dance like a child?  Start with the running.  You might look silly but I guarantee it will feel AMAZING!  Also, try to dance for about 5 minutes every day - just crank up the tunes and give 'er!  Chephren and I try to have a 'dance party' at least once a day.
3. NOTICE OTHERS:  Have you ever been greeted at the door by a child?  Doesn't it feel amazing?  Chephren gives the best greetings, starting with peeking out the window, running to the door, calling out your name and giving you a big hug.  It is pretty amazing.  Greet someone like this when they come home tonight and see what happens.  Seriously, just drop what you are doing (it isn't really THAT important is it?) and run over and greet them with your whole heart!
4. IF YOU FALL, GET BACK UP!: Life is hard, you are going to have tough times.  Don't dwell on them, get back up, dust yourself off, accept a cuddle if it will help you feel better, and then MOVE ON!  No one does this better than a child.
5. FORGIVE & FORGET: Don't hold grudges.  They don't serve a purpose, other than to drag you down with negative thoughts and energy.  Get mad if you need to and speak your mind, but then get over it.  Life is too short!

I know that I am just barely scratching the surface here as far as 'what our children can teach us', but the first step is to pay attention to the message!  If you don't than these life lessons will pass you by.

“Try to look at everything through the eyes of a child.”  - Ruth Draper

Marebare :)
(Photo: Taken by Maren Hasse, Maui, November 2009)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"It's the end of the World as we know it..."

For anyone who has heard the above upbeat song by Great Big Sea, you will know that the song continues with, "...and I feel fine".  The 'end of the world' is today's theme, as I recently watched the movie 2012.  You know, the really cheezy, overdone, ridiculously unrealistic, fear-mongering movie that predicts that end of the Mayan Calendar on December 21, 2012 will bring along with it the cataclysmic destruction of our planet?! 

Here is where I will admit something to you.  A few years ago, this movie would have sent me into a pit of fear, despair and worry about the 'what ifs' of the future.  Having read about some of the things that we've done to our planet of late (and continue to do to it), often still makes me wonder what the long term consequences of these actions will be (aside from those we are already experiencing).  Nowadays, I can think a little more clearly, and I tend to try to only worry about the things that I can control, in other words, my own actions.  Anyway, out of curiousity, I did a little bit of reading on the Mayan prophecy.  

Here is what one article had to say on the topic:

It is said that the world we are ending is the one that is dominated by materialism and ego consciousness, therefore it may be that the world to follow will be founded on different values that honor the spirit of the interdependence of all of life.
Wouldn't that be nice?!

Also in the same article, Carlos Barrios, from the Eagle Clan of the Mam Maya of Guatemala shares this in regards to 2012:

"The world will not end. It will be transformed... Everything will change...Change is accelerating now, and it will continue to accelerate...If the people of the earth can get to this 2012 date in good shape, without having destroyed too much of the Earth, we will rise to a new, higher level. But to get there we must transform enormously powerful forces that seek to block the way...Humanity will continue, but in a different way. Material structures will change. From this we will have the opportunity to be more human..."

It seems that we are approaching an important time in humanity, but instead of fearing it, we should be taking this time to re-evaluate who we are as people, communities, cultures, and nations.  When I started this project, it became very clear to me early on that there are many, many like-minded people out there who share some of my beliefs and values.  I have found this so encouraging.  It is wonderful to know that I am not alone in my efforts to 'be the change'. 

"Everything depends on how conscious we can become as a species, and how we all contribute to this process of awakening our human potential." (Quote taken from same article as above on March 9, 2010)

Don't be scared of the future, decide what you want it to look like and do something about it!
Marebare :)
(Photo: Taken by Maren Hasse, Tikal Guatemala 2004)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Talk About Ironic!

Guess what?  Today my computer crashed (not a big shocker, it is an old clunker, and by 'old' I mean 4 years old, and for a laptop PC that is practically ANCIENT) - more on the evils of modern technology production later!  But, as I was saying, my PC crashed and I fixed it ALL BY MYSELF!  Now, if you know me, you will understand that this is nothing short of a miracle.  Trent, if you are reading this, try not to pass out! 

Now, here is the ironic part.  Instead of picking up the telephone immediately and begging my husband to either a) bring me home a new computer (been there, done that) or b) come home RIGHT NOW and fix it for me (also been there), today I decided to proceed a little differently.  You see, today I didn't panic, or even yell, rant, or throw stuff.  Actually, I continued on with my chores for the morning while I thought about what I should do.  You see, that computer is my livelihood.  I work from home and it is basically my lifeline to my professional, and let's face it, my personal existence.  (Talk about being attached, sheesh!)  Anyway, my ability to stay calm in this situation allowed me to see a very clear solution.  I would use my husband's work laptop (which is also at home) to get on the internet and see how to fix the problem on my computer.  Two minutes later (literally), and BAM my computer was working as good as new... well, okay, it wasn't that big of a miracle, but it was working again. 

And then it hit me.  In fact, I laughed right out loud.  Does anyone else see the irony here?  We (okay I), have become so dependent on the internet and computers that I actually required the internet and a functioning computer to fix my own computer.  Does this mean that everyone should be walking around with two internet sources at their immediate disposal (or an IT team on standby?).  I hate to say it but, maybe? 
This is also ironic to me on the 'living with less' front.  I can see needing one computer but 2?  Come on people, give me a chance!!!

Just thought I would share this little story, it is still making me scratch my head...

All the best to you and yours on this lovely (and windy) Monday!

Marebare ;)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Covet

No, I am not about to launch into a sermon or anything like that, and NO, of course I am not coveting my neighbour's spouse (ew), however the title for this entry is very fitting and here's why...  Remember a few weeks ago when I was talking about my unhealthy attachment to things?  Well, I have been working really hard at trying to get past this issue, in fact, I have been thinking about it so much that you could even say that I have been obsessing about it (not coveting, obsessing... and yes, they're different).  This obsession has led me to having fantastical thoughts.  In these thoughts, I have been trying to imagine a world where people truly aren't attached to any material thing.  Now this notion might sound completely ridiculous to most of us living in Western society, however there are cultures in this world who actually practice this type of lifestyle.  In particular, I am thinking about the various groups of Buddhist monks who live around the world, but particularly those in Asia.  About eight years ago, I took a course in University in which I studied Buddhist culture and all I remember feeling was ENVY (yes, yet another sin).  I guess what I am trying to say is that that I have been attracted to a simpler lifestyle for quite some time now.  In fact, part of me has always fantasized about running off to live in some ashram in India, however since those fantasies have come into being, I have been with my now-husband (then-boyfriend) Trent, and for those of you who know Trent... well, let's just say that wouldn't have gone over very well.  So, I guess you could say that I chose love over my fantasies of living in extreme simplicity.  And now, well, I continue to choose my family over that same level of simplicity.  I guess what I am saying is that I am trying to find ways in my current life in which I can try to practice some of the values that I continue to find myself so attracted to.

Here is an example.  Look around your house.  How many objects can you see that you are not using to their fullest potential?  Here are some ways to think about this question:
  • Have you used the object in the last day, week, month, year?
  • Maybe it is an object that you used once or twice but likely won't again (book, dvd, etc.)
  • When do you think that you might use that object again?  Could someone else be using it or enjoying it in the meantime?
  • Ask yourself the 'whys' behind the 'stuff' in your house.  Why do I have that?  Why am I keeping that?  Why did I buy that? 
For instance, from where I am sitting right now, I can see a whole bunch of books that I absolutely loved reading.  So, in my way of thinking, shouldn't I try to pass them along to someone else that I think might also enjoy them?  I am not saying that I should put all of my books in a bag and drop them off at the thrift store, but maybe I could pick a few each week to 'gift' to friends or family who I think might enjoy them.  Books are an easy one, and I actually have been doing this for some time now, but how many books are you hanging onto because you 'loved' them?  I say, if you love them, share the LOVE!

Okay, another example.  Baby stuff.  As you know, Trent and I have one baby, and are still thinking of having maybe one more, but I had a whole pile of stuff sitting in my basement not being used.  This makes me totally crazy, so, I farmed it out to my friends who have babies.  Am I worried about what would happen if I had another one?  No, because in my way of thinking, people will just keep paying it forward and we'll either end up with some of the same stuff or maybe even different stuff.  After all, it is just that: 'stuff'.  And 'stuff' isn't as important as people, or the relationships that you have with them.  Oh, and giving 'stuff' to people and sharing the wealth that you have with others actually improves the way that you feel about yourself in the world.  And no, I am not exaggerating. 

Okay, now for the realistic side of my brain to speak.  I know that the above notions aren't going to work for everyone.  With my ridiculous fantastical notions of the above utopian lifestyle, I hope you know that I am trying to make a reasonable point.  The point is this: if you're not using it, find someone who will, and if you don't need to buy it, don't.  If it helps, try to think of all of your 'objects' as little people who need good 'homes' (as long as this doesn't automatically increase your attachment to them!)

I think that it is in our human nature to covet the objects that we have spent our hard-earned money on.  I will readily admit that there are definitely objects in my house that I am still 'attached' to.  But these are objects that I use (and love) everyday, and that I get a great deal of use out of. 

These are some of my thoughts (and fantasies) of late.  I have had a lot of time to think lately as I have been in bed with the flu for the past few days so I apologize for the lack of writing.  You can expect me to post more regularly this week!

“Covet wealth, and want it; don't, and luck will grant it” - Chinese Proverb

Marebare :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Frugal vs. Cheap

Is frugality just a nice way of saying that someone is a cheapskate or are the terms frugal and cheap actually fundamentally different?

I recently stumbled upon an article on a website that has this to say on this issue:

"The frugality cult emphasizes that their lifestyle is different from merely being cheap. Cheapskates aim to buy as much as they can for as little as possible, not caring much for the quality or environmental and ethical virtues of the items they're consuming. To be frugal, on the other hand, is to consider the full ramifications of every purchase. Eating at McDonald's is cheap. Cooking dinner and saving the leftovers for lunch the next day is frugal. These sites argue that your commerce should be calculated and purposeful. Go ahead and spend $800 a year on cable if you want, but don't do it blindly—do it only because you've decided that's the best use of your money (instead of, say, buying an Xbox, a Wii, several games, and a subscription to Netflix or just putting the money in a savings account)." - Taken from on March 3, 2010.

I am sure that you might guess where I stand on this issue, but I am awfully curious as to where you folks draw the line.  Here is a fun quiz that you can take to see where you rate on this issue:

I scored a 30 - in the 'frugal' category, right on the money!  Feel free to post your scores and/or comments on this topic, I'd love to hear from you!

Oh, and also, here is a huge listing of web-based resources on frugality: - put down the credit card and join the 'frugality cult' today!


Monday, March 1, 2010

To Judge or Not to Judge...

Well, I have sure been falling down the past few weeks on this blogging effort!  When I first started this project, I wanted to try to write something pretty much daily, but alas, I haven't held true to this lofty ambition.  Even with all of my 'extra' spare time, I guess that I am still not immune to 'liffe-gets-in-the-way-itis'! 

Case in point, I am currently in Calgary again for work.  This time, I am attending a two-day workshop given by one of the leading specialists of Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) in the world - Dr. Christine Roman.  So far, after one day, it has been absolutely wonderful.  Roman is truly a genius in her field. 

On to a more 'living with less'-specific topic, I just wanted to share an interesting observation that I have made over the past six weeks or so.  I have received a lot of feedback on this blog and while a lot of it has been very supportive, some of it has come across as more 'defensive' in nature.  What I mean is, some folks seem to be interpreting my project and its goals as in some way my being 'judgy' of the way that they themselves are doing things.  To be honest, I find this quite odd (and a little funny), so let me be clear.  In no way do I expect other people to 'abide' by the rules that I have set out for myself to follow.  If others happen to be motivated or interested by what I am doing, that's great, but again, if not, that's okay too.  Again, NOT JUDGING!  Like they say, live and let live...

Now, on another note, do you think that the hotel would notice if I stole their drapes? They would make beautiful throw cushions for my bed... (remember: no judging!)

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. - Carl Gustav Jung

Good night y'all,

Marebare :)