Starting anew to buy nothing new….this is a very interesting project to try

Several years back I read an article that completely changed the way I spend money, the way I buy items I need and it changed the relationship I have with the stuff I currently own.  It was life changing, …..really.  I could not find the article today to give it credit, but I believe I read about it in Parade Magazine back in 2007 or 2008.  It was about a group of people in California that made a pact to not buy anything new for one full year.  They exempted obvious things like food and underwear, but any other tangible consumer good was included in the pact.  You were allowed to buy “used” goods or barter and trade with people, but you were not allowed to purchase any new, as in brand new, item for 12 months.

I was intrigued by the idea, but could not commit to a full year. I had a young daughter and was a little intimidated by the prospect of a full 12 months.  So I commuted the time to 6 months and exempted a couple of additional items to my list.  I allowed myself to buy anything new for my daughter that I could not find used and I added major appliances to the list in case my stove or washing machine, which was already ancient, broke down during the 6 months. I started on January 1st of probably 2008.

The week before my start date, my daughter and I house sat my Aunt and Uncle’s house in the mountains.  It had been snowing in Colorado and we packed our snow shovel because I did not know if I could get down their driveway when I got to their house.  We did not need the shovel after all and I put it in their garage while we were there.  When we headed home to Denver, I realized that I had left the shovel in their garage.

That following Tuesday as I left a client’s location, it started to snow and the forecast was for a decent amount of snow over the next couple of days.  I had no snow shovel and I had just committed to not buying anything new.  As I left my client’s office, I was trying to figure out what to do about not having a snow shovel.  It was early January and we would need a shovel several times over the next few months.  I remembered thinking…” Does Goodwill have snow shovels?  What are the chances that they would have one, especially now that it has started to snow? Where does someone get a used snow shovel?”

As I pondered my problem and my commitment to the pact, I noticed that traffic was really moving slowly.  All of the cars in front of me were getting backed up, though I could not see any kind of accident in front of them.  As we were creeping along, I saw that most of the cars in my lane were changing lanes ahead.  I finally got to the front of the line and there in the middle of the road was……..a snow shovel!!  I looked all around me to see if someone was making a U-turn to come back for the shovel, but there was no one showing any interest in retrieving it, so I stopped my car and put the shovel in the back.  I swear to you, this is a true story and I own that shovel still today, 7 or so years later.

When I read the article, it did mention that the people participating were surprised at how the things they needed and would have purchased before the pact found their way to them.  Mention to a friend that your blender broke and they say….I have a couple of blenders, you can have one of mine.  And so on.  I did find that to be true and I also found all kinds of ways to deal with needing to acquire something that was not brand new. Initially, it was a real challenge.  It was the impulse buying that caught me off guard initially.  I would without thinking pick up something that I liked the looks of and then would remember that I could not buy it.

My friends were truly confounded by the prospect and questioned me for months as to how I was doing and how was I doing it.  Really, their questions were a constant in my life.  They simply could not imagine how I could go for 6 months and not buy a single new item. I grew to love the challenge and I learned a great deal about myself in the process.

At the time, I had a small wallet that was attached to a key chain.  I loved that little wallet because I have not carried a purse for decades and it had everything I needed in it; money, credit card, lip gloss, etc. During the first couple of months of the pact, it broke…the leather piece that held the wallet to the key chain came apart.  In the past, I would have immediately headed to the store to replace the wallet, but alas, I could not.  As I looked at the wallet, I saw that what it really needed was just to be sewn together again.  No problem, so easy to do I could do it myself and I did just that.

As the months progressed, it got easier.  I got more creative and I determined that it was such a worthwhile process that I would continue it after a fashion even once the initial 6 months were over.  For several years after the initial pact, I would not buy anything new except during 2 months of the year; January and July.  Choosing those 2 months allowed for a couple of things.  1) If I truly needed something, I told myself I only had to wait until January or July came around.  It was surprising how when a buying month came around, I could not remember what it was that I thought I needed to buy.  2) In January and July, everything is on sale!  So what I did need to buy was almost always cheaper than if I had bought it at the moment I thought I needed it.

The change in my spending habits was significant.  The change in the relationship I have with my current stuff was significant.  I take better care of what I own and I value it more.  I discovered Goodwill and other used/consignment shops at which I would never have otherwise shopped.  Literally, every time I have really needed Goodwill to have something I really needed….it did.  I had a Cuisinart coffee maker that I had never seen anyone else have (fairly expensive, one cup at a time)  and it broke.  One day in Goodwill, there it was…a fully functional replacement of the exact one I wanted. I had gone to Goodwill to buy some raggedy old maker to get me by.  For $9 I replaced my exact one.  We shop there all the time now.  More than half my daughter’s clothing come from Goodwill.

My disposable income became something I treasured.  I had so much more money left over every month that it completely changed the way and the degree to which I saved money toward really large expenditures that had eluded me in the past.

It has been a couple of years since I exercised the discipline of that pact, but my sister and brother-in-law are in a small group that is trying it as of Jan 1 and I have decided to be a believer again.  As of January 1st, I will be back on the “Nothing New” pact for 2015…or at least until July.  Try your own version of this and stick with it long enough to really learn from and benefit from the process. It is the very difficult times; times when you really think you need  that new thing that you will learn the most and get the most out of the process. I think you will be amazed at what you discover about yourself and what you can live without or acquire in a different manner.


We’ve moved our blog from

We moved our blog from to our new website,  Please excuse our mess while we are under construction, I am struggling with designing the new site to be a regular website as well as a blog.

We moved for more accessibility. seemed very restrictive both in using it and in trying to find other blogs we would be interested in following.  It was not that intuitive.  I hope designing this website proves a little easier and offers more options for designing and sharing content.

This is a creative project for Laura and I.  We are trying to challenge ourselves to be more creative.  We are constantly designing projects to help us improve our photography, be more conscious about food selection and creating great menus, and learning to be in the moment.

It would be great to have a ton of followers, but it is the process that I am getting the most out of.


It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

It truly is for me.  I love Christmas for several many reasons.

I begin decorating the inside of our home the weekend of Thanksgiving, while my husband is decorating the outside. We have a very festive home in and out, and I love waking every morning and turning on the tree.  My Santa collection always gives me a happy, holiday feeling. The Poinsettias are on the tables and the holiday stuffed animals are scattered throughout.  It is fun!

I make lists and lots of them.  There are several lists of menus I will cook while the family is together.  Then there is the grocery lists – I have several, shopping lists, cleanings list.  Checking things off my lists shows me I am accomplishing goals as we move closer to the  main event.

My shopping is finished and all the packages that need to be mailed have arrived at their destinations.  Yea! That is a big relief.

This year, right now, our daughter and her family, which includes a granddaughter, are on their way here for the holidays.  It will be a long, eleven hour drive for them, but hey, they are young.  Last year we made the drive and we are not nearly as young as we used to be.

Our son and his family live here, and that includes a granddaughter, so the whole family will be together and that is my most favorite time ever.  I absolutely love it when we have the whole family together.

The Christmas meal will include my mom who is 91, my older sister (no need to mention her age) my nephew and his family which includes a great-niece and our whole family.  Does it get any better than that?  Well, yes, we are missing my other two siblings, including Tricia and Devin and my brother and his two girls.

I like listening to the Christmas carols.  They play in the house and in the car. Some make me feel happy – like Burl Ives and “Holly, Jolly Christmas”.  Some make me feel nostalgic, like “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”, and some give me a feeling of thankfulness and can bring a tear to my eyes, like “O Holy Night”.

I am a spiritual person.  Realizing that the Christ was not really born this time of year, and He would not be impressed with the way we have totally forgotten the real reason for his birth, I still try to keep the remembrance of Him separate from the Christmas hype. “O Holy Night” brings me back and makes me think again about how awesome the occasion was and how awestruck I should be when thinking about that sweet baby, born in a manger, just for me.

So, I guess you could say I love the pagan part of the holiday and the religious part of the holiday. As I said at first, I love Christmas for several reasons.

The holiday began last night with family coming over for some white chili and the best cornbread ever (a recipe from the Baldpate Inn near Estes Park, CO) and the holiday overeating will continue through next Saturday.  There is enough food and goodies to last us for weeks.  So, it will be leftovers for Dale and I after everyone has gone home.

It is the most wonderful time of the year – enjoy!



Now I can relax

OK, shopping is done, shipping is done, let the real holiday begin.  I was late getting into the holiday this year. Between Thanksgiving being so late in the month and then immediately getting ill, I was way behind in getting everything having to do with the holiday done.  The house was not decorated, the shopping was not done and I was behind at work as well.

But now that I have everything but one item in the mail or being delivered by my niece, I can finally relax and really enjoy the several days off that I am taking this week.  There are so many reasons why I love being self-employed, but one of the best ones is definitely being able to design my own schedule and take time off without having to ask for permission from anyone.  I am really looking forward to a week off, seeing movies with my daughter and friends, reading a couple of books and basically just chilling.

Laura and I start another year of photography in January and I have time this week to give some thought to how and what we are going to do.  I want to really give some thought to the projects this year, be serious about learning more and take some great photos.  We are all taking a big trip this year and by the time we leave for it, I want to know more about my camera in a way that will facilitate me taking some great shots of this trip.

I am going to eat less meat in 2015 and this week I want to find some recipes that I can have available to make the transition to pescetarian smoother.

I want to take some time this week to remember what I am grateful for and to write down my mantras for 2015.  What thoughts am I going to allow to pass through my brain, what energy am I going to release out into the universe, what do I want to  see happen in my life in 2015 and let’s start thinking it and expecting it.  I find that having a plan and writing it down really helps ground me and make me feel more in control of what is happening in my life.  I have been floundering too long without a plan and it has been too unsettling. This week I change that.

So, come to find out, I have a lot to do with this week, but, still, I am looking forward to it.


Adopting; a Sister’s Involvement

When I was 28, I first started thinking about how I might have children if I never married.  I was currently in a relationship, but just did not think we would marry and have kids. He was 10 years older than me and already had a daughter.  He was pretty honest about not really wanting to have more children, so I first mentioned to my family that I might have children before, if ever, marrying.

DocImage34 December 8, 1997

I gave myself a deadline for when I would have to get serious about moving forward with getting pregnant and when that deadline first came, I gave myself a 2 year extension.  When the second deadline approached, I met with my doctor to discuss how to go about getting pregnant.  Come to find out, it was not as easy I thought it would be to get pregnant….and it was expensive……and I had to consider how to explain the whole donor issue with my child.

DocImage43 She was a happy Baby

My sister had never been a fan of me getting pregnant outside of marriage.  When the deadline came to make a decision and move forward, she made this comment to me:  “Why don’t you just adopt one of those babies from China?”  My response to her was: “Like they would let me”  I did however start considering adoption as an option.  My sister’s two kids were both adopted and we had several other adoptions on my mom’s side of the family. Adoption was a good option for me because I was also self-employed and maternity leave was not a benefit I offered myself, nor could I have.  I considered domestic adoption, but was not a great candidate at 38 and single.

DocImage733 DocImage193Love both of these photos

I attended a friend’s wedding and at the reception, I met a woman who was single and had just returned from China with her daughter Grace.  One month later, I attended an orientation and two months later, I finalized my dossier for adopting from China.  I was supposed to wait 4 to 6 months, but China reorganized their international adoption process and it turned into 14 months before Laura and I traveled to China to meet Devin.  We traveled in December of 1997 and I returned home 2 days before Devin turned one.

Laura was not originally all that thrilled to travel to China and I felt like I had to twist her arm to get her to go.  I think she went more out of guilt than any real desire.  She traveled with one entire suitcase filled with food.  For me, it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life.  It was great to bond with the other 12 families, and it was fun to see the first part of China only because we had our daughters with us.  We first flew to Hong Kong and spent the better part of 2 days there.  We then flew to Changsha the night of December 7th.  On December 8th, we all met our daughters and spent the next 5 days or so touring Changsha….not a big tourist destination in China.  We then spent the 2nd week in Guangzhou which was more touristy.

IMGP0924Our trip back to China in 2007

The food was interesting.  Some meals were very good, but some were pretty scary.  When we arrived in Guangzhou, I saw a McDonalds in the shopping center next to our hotel.  We checked in to the hotel and I immediately went to that McDonalds.  I bet I had not been in a McDonalds in 20 plus years, but was soooo thrilled that the fries, apple turnover and chocolate shake all tasted just like I expected.  Weird combo, but was I afraid to order anything with meat.  The hotel also had a Hard Rock Café in which we spent a lot of time and I really do not like Hard Rock, but the desire for food that resembled home was too strong.  More later….

IMGP0845Another 2007 picture


China and “Gotcha Day.”

17 Years ago I was in China with my sister. Tricia was adopting a precious one-year-old baby girl and we went to bring her home.

Oh, she was so adorable!  All the children were just precious.  We were in a group of several parents, and we all traveled together, so we got to know each other pretty well.  Wonderful parents, wonderful babies. Of course, ours was the cutest.

We spent several days traveling around and doing some sightseeing while all the paperwork was being handled, and it was an unforgettable experience.  The Chinese people are so friendly. They would come up and admire our babies and try to show us how happy they were we were there despite the language barrier.  Another interesting thing about the Chinese women is they feel very strongly about having hats on those babies.  We had one woman stop us and smile and gesture that Devin needed her hat on.

We were not in the metropolitan areas, we were more urban. I was hesitant to go to China because I am not a very adventurous eater and I was not so sure what there was that I would like.  Turns out, nothing. My sister had a different experience with the food and came home and incorporated a lot of the menu into her and Devin’s eating habits.  I lost eight pounds in two weeks while there.  Something about the whole chicken – and I mean after it was cooked – just left me wanting.  Not all their food was bad, but in my opinion, most of it was. I subsided on roasted sweet potatoes, instant oatmeal I brought from home and M&Ms.

That little one-year-old is soon to be 18.  Tricia and I met Devin for the first time on December 8.  We call that “Gotcha Day.”  So, instead of her birthday, I always give her a gift on “Gotcha Day.” It is something only I do as I was the only other family member in China at that time. It is special to Devin and I, and I am so thankful we have that between us. Her mom frets every year that I might forget and she says Devin looks so forward to my card.  But, I would never forget such a special day as December 8.

“Gotcha Day.”  It is a very special day.


So sick of being sick…

I don’t usually get sick.  When I was younger, everyone around me could be sick and I would never get it.  That has changed somewhat in the last few years, but still, I do not usually get very sick and if I do, it rarely lasts very long.  But I have been sick for almost 2 weeks now and I am really sick of it. I got the same crud that my sister got and we were not even in the same state!  The friends we spent Thanksgiving with should have warned everyone that they had been sick because I came down with it like a mac truck hit me. I have not had my voice for 5 days now.  I have not left my bedroom for 4 days except to drag myself to a clinic yesterday.  My bedside table is littered with nasal spray, decongestant pills and syrups (nasty!!!), regular lozenges, menthol rub, throat numbing spray and lozenges (also nasty)…………….and now an anti-biotic and an inhaler.


I have not felt this bad in years.  I am hacking, wheezing and basically miserable.  I sleep a couple of hours, sit up bored in my bed a couple of hours and then repeat.  One cat stays by my side no matter what, one won’t come near me and my sweet Turtle wants to be near me until I start coughing and then heads somewhere else.  My daughter left Friday morning for school and then a weekend of skiing, so I just stayed in the house all weekend moping, weeping and cursing whatever the hell this crud is.  The cough is so bad that I have pulled a muscle in my back and around my rib cage.  Is it possible to cause internal damage with just a nasty cough?  Finally, I got concerned that I was trying to fight a cold, when I really had something else.

So I crawled out of bed and took myself to a clinic first thing Sunday morning.  My blood oxygen level was low…uhhh that is because I can’t breathe, I was congested everywhere, my ear had started to hurt and it did not look good on the inside so I was prescribed the anti-biotic and the inhaler for the panic that not breathing was causing.

I am behind on everything now.  We have no tree yet, I have done very little shopping, my daughter turns 18 on the 20th and I was hoping to surprise her with a party of some sort…..this December sucks so far.

I really hope I have turned the corner or am about to turn a corner because otherwise, I will have to admit myself to a hospital or jump off the roof.


The Day Before

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I am getting ready to make a pecan pie, parker house rolls and a glaze for the roasted vegetables I will prepare tomorrow.  My whole family is on the road.  My brother is driving from AL to MO and my sisters and mother are driving from OK to MO to all share Thanksgiving with my nephew.  Devin and I will spend the day with the same friends we always share Thanksgiving when we have not travelled to be with family.  We have known this family since our daughters were 1 year old.  It is great to have a place to spend Thanksgiving when you cannot be with blood family but instead with family you have chosen for yourself.

Ever since the first Thanksgiving that I could not travel to be with family, I recognized the gift of the friends Thanksgiving,  Everyone needs a place to go for Thanksgiving and that first year, I was grateful and relieved to have a place to go.  I was single with no children, so I did not want to be by myself.  I now make sure that people I know who are single or with a very small families have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving.  I really love my family and I love our holidays together.  I feared that the friends Thanksgiving could not be as much fun and the family version, but it can be great fun.  The only downside can be two fold: 1) you don’t always get the exact dishes you remember and love from your childhood and 2) you don’t get enough, if any, leftovers!

So this year, I am making a turkey breast, dressing and potatoes on Friday or Sat, so I have all the leftovers I want and I get the family recipe version of them as well.

I have a couple of leftover recipes I want to try.  Dressing waffles topped with turkey, potatoes and either cranberry sauce or gravy…..Yum    The other one is leftover thanksgiving dumplings….egg roll wrappers stuffed with leftovers, baked or pan fried and then a cranberry/soy sauce dipping sauce….another yum.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.  I will NOT start shopping for Christmas……I do not need a good deal on some product enough to ruin what should be a treasured holiday meant to be with and celebrate family and friends.  I hate that we now require people to leave their families so the stores can open on Thanksgiving so we can be the conspicuous consumers we have become.  I don’t need that $100 savings enough or my family does not need that TV enough to destroy what has been a beautiful holiday until we decided that shopping was the reason for the season.  I know not everyone has family to be with or that they want to be with and would just as soon work, but it forces other people to work and started a trend that cannot be reversed now.   Consumerism over family, not a fan.

We do sometimes go see a movie that evening, so a little hypocrisy there….someone has to be there so I can see my movie. I will reconsider that this year and think of games my daughter can play with just 2…not as fun as with a bunch of family, but still doable and a better way to spend an evening.


The Favorite Santa

In 1981 my sister-in-law gave me my first Santa.


The following year my daughter, who was seven years old at the time, wanted to add to my collection – if you can call one Santa a collection.  In November, 1982, we went to her elementary school holiday craft sale.  She found the perfect Santa, that was in her budget and proudly purchased it.


At Christmas that year I opened my gift from her which was a very special Santa for a couple of reasons.  I found out after I opened the gift that she had indeed purchased the Santa that day, but promptly dropped and broke it.  She was heartbroken and headed back to the artist to tell her sad story.  The creator of the Santa was in the holiday spirit and sold her the second Santa for half price. Now, however, she is over her budget because of the extra expense of the second Santa. The above photo is my Santa.

My collection has grown over the years with some very nice and sometimes expensive Santas, but the Santa bought at the elementary school holiday craft sale by my seven-year-old daughter is my favorite and always will be. Seeing the excitement on her face when I opened that special Santa, that she had to sacrifice extra money for, is forever in my memory.

I am still adding to my collection, but nothing will replace this Santa given from the heart from my precious daughter.


And then there is my son.  He decided to begin a collection of holiday treasures that poop candy. Now, he has given me many nice Santas over the years, but he is especially proud of the plastic ones that make obnoxious noises and then poop candy. Isn’t that special?!




I always like to eat seafood when I am in the south.  Actually, I like to eat seafood anywhere, but it is better in some places than others.  While I was visiting my brother in Montgomery, Alabama, I requested eating some fish.  He had just the place in mind.  As we were driving there I could see we kept getting further away from the city and more into the industrial area.  We passed the metal recycling place, a trash dump, several abandoned houses, and I was getting nervous.  When we turned into the place where the restaurant was located, I was surprised to say the least.  Had I not been with someone who was familiar with the Capitol Oyster Bar, I would have made a big U turn and been outta there. It is a dive, and there is just no other way to describe it.  But, when we went inside, the place fascinated me.  I was immediately drawn into its ambiance.  It was not that is was beautiful or even modern.  The place had an energy that was palpable. As we walked in, there were a couple of fellows working a big sink full of snow crab – yum! We sat inside because it was cold, but there was an outdoor balcony that overlooked a very old and very underused marina.  Some of the boats looked deserted. The server was the nicest southern gal and she gave us our placemats that were also the menu. The bar looked like it was made from an old wooden fishing boat.  I ordered the Swai dinner and it was worlds more than I could eat, but man was it good.  John ordered one of the specials, grouper cheeks.  He nor I had ever heard of that, but it was delicious.  Also, the best coleslaw – not the creamy kind, and hush puppies. Every Sunday night they have a music performer of some renown, and I am guessing that is a fun place to be.  They even have a print out of the performers who are scheduled for the month.  The server told us they have people sharing chairs on some Sunday nights. What a fun place!  Oyster Bar Menu Oyster Bar Capitol Oyster Bar DSC_1772 DSC_1792 DSC_1791 DSC_1784 DSC_1783 DSC_1778 DSC_1777