Mar 23 2011

around the corner [day 300]

Wow!  Day 300!  Actually, that was yesterday, as I’m a day behind on the blogging.  It’s just a number, but I feel like I just made that last turn into the final stretch.  The funny thing?  I plan to keep going once I hit the finish line.  I’m sure I’ll start something new, but I plan to keep shopping the way I’ve been shopping.  There are so many good things that the challenge has produced, results I never would have expected.

  • My shopping habits have changed drastically. I think a lot more about things, all things, before I buy them.  Even small things like a pack of gum.  I look at everything long term now and I shop for the future, not the here and now.
  • I’ve lost my desire to shop. I still like to treasure hunt on occasion, but there’s no part of my being that wants to go into a superstore or the mall.
  • The amount of good things that have come out of no shopping. Since I’ve been blogging this everyday, it’s easy to go back and see all of the amazing things that have come out of the challenge.  Money I’ve saved, people I’ve met, ideas for sustainable living, and the list goes on.

Nope, I don’t want to go back to the old way of doing things.  I’ll stick with the new plan.  It’s very freeing.


Feb 21 2011

where did all this stuff come from? [day 271]

I spent a few hours yesterday in my garage, again.  I’m making progress and getting rid of a lot of stuff I don’t need, or even want for that matter.  So this begs the bigger question.  Where in the world did all of this stuff come from and why do I have so much?

Space. Maybe it’s because I downsized from 3,300 to 1,780 square feet, but that was 4 years ago.  I took everything from my old house because I could, everything but the furniture.  It wasn’t my style, so I gladly left it.  The photo is of my ‘formal’ living room in the old house.  A useless room that was used once a year at Christmas time.  I loved the red walls, but I couldn’t take those.  I hated the coffee table so much, I listed it in the divorce decree as the ‘ugly coffee table’ that he could keep.

I’m realizing the I don’t need this much stuff to live or to be happy.  I don’t need to keep a lot, I don’t need to buy a lot and I don’t need to pack every inch of my house with stuff.  My neighbor saw my master bedroom closet and said it’s the smallest she’s ever seen.  It’s small, but it’s only about 1/3 filled, and that’s with the shelf I took out.  Empty space is good.  I want more of it.

Personal attachment. I don’t have many of these items.  Some would say it’s because my heart is 2 sizes too small.  It could be.  I do keep a few things.  My kids each have one plastic tote in the attic.  I place items in there that are meaningful to them like their favorite outgrown toys or art projects.  I kept one thing from my grandma, her turquoise blue double boiler pan.  Useful, and it reminds me of her cooking french toast for me when I visited.  It’s about the memories with a person, not the stuff. Continue reading


Jul 9 2010

the challenge: day 43 [a boutique]

Just when you think you’ve seen it all…

My friend E got an amazing espresso machine for Christmas last year.  It takes little pods (they call them capsules), similar to the Keurig machines.  E needed to stop at the retail store to buy some more pods.  Now I can go into retail stores, but I can’t purchase anything.  So I went with her.

I buy my coffee beans online from wholelattelove.com, and I have no idea if they have a storefront.  (I do know that the beans I buy are fair trade)  I’ve been to a few coffee stores before, but this was a coffee boutique.  We knew that immediately when the doorman opened the door for us.  At first I thought he was a bored employee just being  gentleman and opening the door for us.  Nope, that was the dude’s job.  He looked like a bar bouncer, as he was large, sort of mean looking and had that ‘secret service’ kind of stance that says, “I can and will throw you out if I need to.”

E went to the back to get her pods.  I walked around, wanting to take some photos, but that wasn’t allowed.  Besides, Guido saw my camera and he was ready to take action if needed.  The sales guy, who I’m pretty sure takes espresso much more seriously than anyone else on the planet, was giving another guy a demonstration of one of the machines.  I stopped to watch, until the sales guy gave me the evil eye, insinuating it’s not my turn and I better no mess up his sale.  I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman in the boutique, and I guess it’s fair he judged me that way, as I might actually carry that ‘thrift-store-cheap-i-have-no-money’ look, and without the rich boyfriend.  The customer guy was clearly enthralled and chatting on his iPhone to someone, giving the play by play of how cool the machines are and sucking down the espresso drinks.  Hmmm, free lattes?  😉

I joined E in the back, taking in all of the modern displays and rainbow color-coded capsules of espresso, carefully arranged to make you want to buy a box every blend.  The girl helping E was asking what model she had so she could add it to the ‘big brother’ database for future capsule-solicitation.   When she asked about the espresso button, she pronounced it ‘expresso’.  If you work in a coffee boutique, can’t you get fired for that?  Good thing Guido didn’t hear her.  E was then formally welcomed to the Nespresso club and told she can talk to a live coffee specialist anytime she wants to, just call the phone number on the receipt.  Now that sounds fun.  I would call the live specialist just for fun and ask questions like, “Where were you born?  Do you have a dog?  What kind?  Do you fold you underwear or just throw them in the drawer?”  What?  It could be fun.

I suppose this brand is geared toward rich people, but what if they didn’t have the boutique, all that overhead cost and Guido’s salary?  Maybe the machines would be a little more affordable.  Although it is not prominently displayed anywhere in the boutique, the capsules can be recycled… but not in the United States.  That doesn’t at all surprise me because the US has endless resources and a bottomless trash pit, right???  Wow.

So why am I telling this story?  Because I felt like it.  LOL, seriously, I’m a coffee addict and you can read about my machine and coffee choices here on iembracechaos.com.  Here are some tips for coffee addicts that want to support fair trade, save money and be green.

  • Do a cost analysis on your coffee drinking.  My Pasquini machine, purchased on eBay refurbished, paid for itself in 5.5 months.
  • Research your coffee beans. Do they participate in fair trade?  Do they have green practices?  In less than 5 minutes, you can research this on the internet and make choices that will impact many people and resources in our world.
  • Buy a used machine. Many people purchase these machines and then never use them, therefore making a good buyers market.  Read reviews on the machines to make a good choice, as there are many machines and many options out there.
  • Advertise. If you found a good machine, good fair trade beans or any other ‘good’ coffee thing, share it with others.

Simply taking a few minutes to research before you buy can mean a lot to a worker on a coffee plantation or make a better, cleaner world for all of us.  And don’t worry, Guido could find a job somewhere else, maybe as an enforcement official for an environmentally friendly, fair trade coffee company.  It could happen…