Jan 9 2011

are you expressing yourself or propagandistically supporting financial insanity? [flashback - day 227]

n1355929489_107613_2584Original post: January 1, 2009

About two months ago, I got a really cool pair of shoes from a friend’s teenage daughter.  She said she was not wearing them anymore, so I took them home with me.  The shoes were awesome, great colors and artwork!  As soon as I got home, I put them on and went outside to play with the boys.  We got out the sidewalk chalk… well our version of sidewalk chalk… and started the outside art process.  I drew the skull that was on my shoe.

I had seen lots of merchandise with artwork like my shoes, but I didn’t really know much about it.  Ed Hardy.  Stuff that people are paying insane amounts of money for.  $109 for a short sleeve t-shirt?!?!?!?  Are you kidding me?   Continue reading


Dec 27 2010

A post Christmas story of be longing [flashback]

This was written 4 days after Christmas last year on my blog iembracechaos.com.

What is out of the ordinary?  Choosing to help others and live differently in a way that changes life as we know it.  My kids really didn’t seem all that bothered by the lack of gifts they got from me.   They still received the mandatory 27+ gifts from my mother, gifts they will never give a second thought to once they are put away.  They were both on board with the plan of donating money to their favorite charities, but I just wasn’t so sure come Christmas, they would still feel that way.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Christmas evening, after the kids came home, we rented a few movies and enjoyed some time together.  After all, I had not seen them for almost a week.

Yesterday we ventured into the stores, only for the purpose of grocery shopping and finding a small rug for my closet floor.  No store was exempt from the typical long return lines and post-holiday sale events.  Seriously, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

I decided yesterday to clean out my closet and get rid of the mountain of unused linens.  Why do I feel the need to hang on to stuff that I will never use again?  I made the compulsory closet purge, filled up the Infiniti sleigh and headed for the thrift store.

After unloading our surplus of worldly possessions, we went treasure hunting.  No, not shopping, treasure hunting.  Shopping is buying overpriced new ‘goods’ at large chain stores.  Treasure hunting is finding something special, previously owned by someone else at a price that doesn’t break the bank.  My kids quickly made their way to the toy section, disappointed that it was mostly baby toys.  I headed for the crowded book area, my kids not far behind.

I found a Man Ray photography book for 50 cents, which in the bookstore, was probably closer to $50.  Man Ray is one of my photography inspirations, mostly for photograms.  My photogram ‘Coffee Addict’ is one of my favorites… not that I have coffee issues or anything like that.

Cole found a Star Wars picture book, which he kept directly in front of his face in the entire time we were there, miraculously not walking into anyone or anything.

As we were making our way toward the front of the store, I stopped to see if there were any jeans or sweatshirts for the boys.  I guess everyone has been doing their Christmas purge, as the racks had three times the amount they usually do.  I found this t-shirt that pretty much sums up what society is teaching our kids.  ”WARNING: allergic to lame gifts.”  I wanted to buy the shirt just so I could destroy it and take it out of the clothing circulation.  I would have saved the small candy cane skull icon though, as it seems appropriate to use as a symbol of our cultural Christmas consumerism.   Continue reading


Dec 23 2010

the most referred to blog post… [flashback]

This is a blog post I did in October of 2008 on iembracechaos.com, and the one post I send people to most frequently.

is it coffee or an investment?

Anyone that knows me well, knows that I cannot live without my latte machine.  It’s a Pasquini machine, basically a smaller version of the ones in the trendy coffee shops.

This is a pricey machine, but after doing a cost analysis on how much I was spending at Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Caribu Coffee and many other coffee addict hangouts, I decided it was time to make a purchase.  (Yes, I did the cost analysis, I used to be a financial analyst)  Being the thrifty person I am, I had to price shop it to death.

The best place to buy beans, is also the best place to buy a machine. wholelattelove.com I bought this machine about 4 years ago.  It retailed then for $1700.  Again, being “one of those people” who will not pay full price, I bought it refurbished from whole latte love through eBay for $1300.  Yes!!!  A great deal.   Continue reading


Dec 23 2010

last year's blog post 2 days before Christmas [flashback]

There’s not much time left until Christmas.  It will go by very quickly though.  Looking at the Facebook news feed, I get the distinct feeling people are ready for this to be over.  People are either extremely tired or they are frantically shopping.  Well, maybe they’re just tired of shopping.

It reminds me of what it’s like to take a road trip, the busyness of preparing for the trip, running around making sure you didn’t forget anything.  Is everything packed?  Did I give the key to the neighbor?  Are all of the important items checked off my to do list?  (it’s not even possible to complete all of them)  Should I check my email one more time?  Is the iron off?  Oh yeah, I don’t have an iron.  Okay, I think it’s time to get in the car.

Pulling out of the driveway, I’m going over the mental list in high speed, before I’ve driven too far to go back and get whatever it is I’ve forgotten.  Once I’m on the road for a little while, this restful peace sets in.  Ah, the blissful haven between life’s pandemonium and the inescapable reality of a final destination.

As I dream of the adventures, the gentle rocking motion of the Infiniti sleigh is soothing to me and I’m trying to adjust the volume of the radio.  Turn, turn, turn… to no avail.  Eventually I’ll replace the shocks and get the volume knob fixed… or maybe not.  The sleigh has character and it makes me smile.  Not because it’s been paid off for 8 years, because it’s my happy place.  The sleigh takes me to wonderful places and the unexplored universe of reckless abandon, a place once called home to someone.   Continue reading


Dec 16 2010

santa claus [flashback]

December 11, 2009… I was listening to talk radio on my way to work yesterday.  It was so incredibly cold I didn’t want to let go of my warm coffee mug to steer the car, much less turn on the radio.  The news guy was reporting on the experiences of the fake mall Santas this year, disclosing the newest Christmas lists they’re receiving.  Many of the kids sitting on Santa’s lap are not asking for the typical toys and electronics, they’re asking for basic necessities.  ”Mommy really needs a job” or “Could we just have our house back?”  Some others are asking for food and clothing.  You know the economy is bad when kids are happy to get socks and underwear for Christmas.

Santa Claus.  The historical Saint and the modern day icon of commercialized Christmas.  Who is Santa?  Santa has many roots in history spanning the globe, roots also ranging from Christianity to paganism.  The early Christian Santa was Saint Nicholas.  He was a Saint that gave generous gifts to the poor, especially to daughters of poor parents so they did not have to become prostitutes.  I could go on for days here about the history of Santa, but he did have his start as a good guy that helped people.

Honestly, I’ve always struggled with the whole Santa thing.  I did not want my kids believing that some overweight guy in a furry red suit is going to give them anything they want for Christmas.  Their dad said that was wrong and I was awful for even thinking it.  Choose your battles, right?  I chose not to fight this one.

My earliest recollection of Santa is asking my parents if Santa was real.  I was in kindergarten, five or six years old, and already wondering how one guy could go around the planet in one night, bringing lots of stuff to kids.  And don’t get me started on the flying reindeer and sleigh.  I suppose my over-analyzing of everything started at an early age.  My parents told me the truth and quickly proceeded to tell me that my knowledge was a secret.  I wasn’t very good at keeping secrets back then.  Even with my secret knowledge, Santa continued to bring me lots of toys and stuff, and much more than he brought anyone else.  Continue reading


Sep 9 2010

flashback [day 106]

Flashback.

As a child I was taught to buy a lot of stuff we didn’t need and saving money was not mentioned at all.  My parents always had new cars, with car payments, and the justification?  Buying a used car was buying someone else’s problems, although I don’t understand why they needed a new one every year, or less.  Christmas was always way overdone, almost all of the gifts were mine, as I was an only child.

As a teenager, we didn’t have a lot of money, however we lived in a tiny house in an affluent area.  I didn’t have the huge wardrobe of name-brand clothing with Izod alligators chomping at Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.  Yeah, I know,  I’m old.  When I turned 18, I got my first credit card from Dillard’s department store.  I’m pretty sure it was less than a month before I had it up to the limit.

As a young adult, I wasted lots of money of stuff I didn’t need.  I was just going along with the rest of society.  Not that I was ever great at maintaining finances or my credit ratings, my ex-husband was a con artist and really messed up my credit.  I think it was then that I learned quickly to live within my means.  Progressively I decided to shop differently and live differently.

Fast forward.

I ended up being a financial analyst for many years, yes, I said financial analyst.  Go ahead, laugh, it is kind of funny.  :)  I guess I have an ambidextrous brain?  If I had debt, I always had a plan to pay it off quickly.  Large purchases were never made without really thinking about them a lot before the actual purchase.  I spend money more like a guy.  I have a huge problem buying a sweater for $32, but it’s no problem to spend $600 on a large plasma television.  I do struggle now with those large purchases, always wondering what better things I could have done with the money.  Again, I progressively started changing from some debt to no debt and from no saving to saving.

Now.

Anyway, this whole thing has been a process of going from spoiled only child to responsible adult, maybe a bit overboard as some think.  I don’t miss shopping much at all.  There are a few times when I want to go buy something, but mostly now it’s things I need.  All in all, I’m glad I’m doing the challenge.  I hope to learn a lot more and come out of this with better ways to live.