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May 04, 2017


In Praise of Adult Sharing: We Should Be Better At It By Now

Last year, I shared this post of AWESOME tips from my friend C on how to host & entertain well throughout this busy season. There are practical tips, as well as a general mentality on how to host people so that they really feel cared for; entertaining not for the sake of looking good or putting on a show, but serving the ones we love.

One of the tips she shared was that long ago she bought a set of plain, white dishes that they use for hosting events. Great idea, but many of the comments afterwards referred to the extra space it would take, the extra stuff to manage, etc.

Minimalism is the new black (perhaps a cultural response to our over-stuffed lives), so the concept of hoarding extra, occasional items may be frowned upon. It’s very un-KonMarie.

May I suggest an age-old solution that we learned way back in kindergarten?

Sharing.

It seems like something we should be good at by now. We want kids to learn to share, and in fact we DELIGHT to see children working together or trading toys back & forth. There’s always plenty to go around, after all, and it would seem strange for children to sit each in their own corners of a playroom with their own set of the same toys.

However, when it’s me, I am MORE THAN HAPPY for that to be my reality!

I don’t want to go and borrow my neighbor’s ladder “all the time” (or is it the two times per year that I use one?). I’ve got to go over to there, when they are home, arrange for a timeline (how long will it take me?! I don’t know! The pressure!)

And shouldn’t I just own my own ladder? I’m sure that future issues will arise that will require a ladder; it seems like something that is a mark of being a responsible, grown-up homeowner: ladder ownership.



Sharing possessions, as adults, feels so… inconvenient. It feels dependent. And independence & convenience are two qualities that we value extremely highly in our culture.

I’ve resisted borrowing goods because it feels like I’m too cheap or too lazy to get my own; I’ve bought seldom-used tools or kitchen gadgets simply because I’m embarrassed by how it looks if I “keep” asking someone else.

A turning point came for me when I met a neighbor of ours with a backyard pool. He saw us in the sprinkler one day and said, “I have a pool! Come use it whenever I am home!” It took me about 2 years to take him up on the offer, but once I did, it was fantastic! My fear of feeling imposing (“Oh, we should just pay to use the community public pool”) was slowly overcome by 1) our neighbor’s easygoing generosity 2) the convenience — the pool is 6 houses away 3) the free-ness of it all: it only cost me making them one pie! (and, in fact, I often went home with lettuce & other spoils of their garden!)


Pride can be such an unhelpful companion, and I realized that by hiding behind my pride & fear, I was missing out on so much:

  • Opportunity to connect with & enjoy others in my community or life
  • The pleasure that others get from sharing in their abundance, and that I enjoy in turn when I can share what I have
  • Saving both money & space when I don’t need to personally own everything
  • Gaining humility of asking for help

I can admit, at this point I may have swung to the far opposite end of the spectrum, as I’ve now borrowed everything from rakes to limes to coffee urns from my neighbors & family! But, though I joke about being the needy neighbor, I think that more than anything, it bonds us. It certainly provides me with more excuses to pop by and check in with how they are doing, or what is happening in their lives.

 

The most embarrassing thing I've ever borrowed is an artificial Christmas tree (to use as a prop for photographs of our holiday kantha quilts). Have you ever borrowed or lent something completely strange or surprising? Share in the comments below!

April 07, 2017


No More Vacation Envy

Aka, How to Legitimately Enjoy Everyone Else’s Hawaii Photos Without Secretly Rolling Your Eyes



Pre- Spring Break, I wrote the following intro to my weekly email: 

This is about the time I need to take a break from Instagram... because Hawaii. It's nice. I want to be there. I will not be. It will feel like ALL THE PEOPLE are there. My coping method will be putting down the phone and instead looking out the window. At the brown grass. 

Ultimately, I didn’t include this, because it was too negative and petty. Also: it didn’t account for Disneyland! 😉

My husband commented, “Remember when people used to take trips, and it was so exciting to see their photos afterwards?”

Now, it seems, as we experience (via social media) all the beachy, good food-y, relaxing glory in real time, our response is more of an eye-rolling, “I get it. You’re having fun. [That place] is AMAZing.



Even writing those words feels gross! Maybe it's just me for whom #thestruggleisreal... but, I don't think so. 

Envy is oppressive to community as well as our enjoyment of life. Joshua Becker pointed out, "Joy is not a finite resource," and I'd like to live as it that is true!

I am ready to break free of my vacation envy & replace it with celebration & enjoyment. Who's with me?!


Tips & Tricks for Overcoming Vacation Envy: 

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March 17, 2017


Financial Satisfaction: When Will I Feel Like I Have "Enough" Money?


John D. Rockefeller was an American industrialist, oil-man, and — at one point in the early 1900's — the world's richest man & first ever American billionaire. When he was asked by a reporter, 

“How much money is enough?”

He famously replied,

“Just a little bit more.”

I’ve heard varying accounts about when people feel like they have enough money to be satisfied, or happy. One recounted: from Donald Trump to a Manila garbage dump-picker, people would be satisfied with "about 10% more than I'm making now." I’ve read elsewhere that it’s double: if we made twice as much, then we would feel settled & satisfied.

Regardless of the study (or anecdotal “study”), what’s common is that the satisfaction is not tied to a specific number, it is completely subjective by person. The other thing that’s clear is: we all (pretty much) want more.


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March 02, 2017


Do As I Say, Not As I Do... Money Wisdom That Adults Totally Forget

There is a great little piece of advice that swirls around parenting books & mom blogs (& all of those fun and exciting places…) The setup is like this:

Parent takes children shopping for a birthday present or something else. Kids want their parent to buy something for them. Nagging & whining ensue. Mayday!!

The wise book author/mom-who-has-been-there suggests: tell your kids beforehand that the reason for the trip is to buy X specific thing, not for anything else. That way, when you’re there and the gimme request arises, you can remind wee Johnny/Jane/Harper/Emerson that you’re only there to buy Clover’s 4th birthday present, and nothing else.

 

Pretty good advice, I think. And it even (more or less) works!

 

Why is it that we, as adults on our own, forget this enormously simple tidbit all. the. time?!


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February 17, 2017


Why We Buy: Belonging as a Motivator to Spending

Last summer, I came home from our family vacation to face the realities of life .

I had felt weary from the responsibilities of family, home, business, self, and so, naturally, vacation is when I ignore all of those things and do whatever I want! (it helps when you tag along with grandparents). Eating ALL THE THINGS was part of my responsibility-rebellion, so when I came back to life, I wasn’t surprised (but nonetheless horrified) that my clothes were ill-fitting and I looked, to myself in the mirror, well… vacaction-y (and I don’t mean tanned & relaxed).

I resolved that I would find some kind of exercise solution that would help get things back on track, and ultimately, signed up for a membership at my local YMCA. It made sense financially, because I was going to register my kids for various programs (there are discounted rates for members), it had dozens of drop-in classes included in membership, as well as a pool & the usual fitness facilities.

I have always been very motivated by the commitment of spending money. If I pay for a program, I am going to show up. Otherwise, what a waste of money! I know this isn’t a motivator for everyone (see: Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies), but it has worked for me.



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January 20, 2017


How to Eat Well, Waste Less, & Save Money on Food This Year

This so-obvious tip has been a game changer for food management (and waste minimization) in our home...

 

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January 12, 2017


Are Expensive, Designer Jeans Worth It?

I have spent most of my adult life rolling my eyes at the insanity of expensive jeans. They are jeans! How different can they be?!

Ever since I saw a £50 ($60) D&G white baby onesie in Harrods department store in London, I was convinced that staple-type clothing items made by design houses are a total scam. Isn’t a pair of $200 jeans just the same thing? I mean, I know that stretch jeans from Old Navy will disintegrate within months, but Gap? Guess? Banana Republic? With discounts & coupons & sales, I should be able to get a great pair of jeans for $60, right?

Well, as I sit here typing in my Seven for All Mankind jeans… I can admit that I may have changed my tune.

 

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November 23, 2016


A Pep Talk Before Black Friday

The cheerfulness is right in the name there, isn't it? You get through your day of turkey & holiday peace, and then... doomsday!

But, stampedes and nonsense aside, we all know that Friday (through Monday, often) is the time to shop. Christmas is coming, and we are all just trying to stretch our dollars as far as we can. I am certainly not above special event & sales shopping, personally, or (as you can read below) as a retailer.

How can we be smart about getting the good deals, and maximizing our budgets, without going totally overboard? It is soooo easy to get swept up in the excitement and one-time-only and fun of it all; it is very easy to still overspend, because we buy all kinds of extra things that were too good to pass up.

I wrote a guide earlier this year that is essential Shop Good: it's how to shop smarter, spend better, avoid buyer's remorse, and really to be able to shop with confidence & with the satisfaction of money well spent. Here are a few principles straight from it that can really help direct your shopping next weekend (and throughout the holidays):

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November 16, 2016


Back-Pocket Holiday Gifts for Any Party, Neighbor, or Unexpected Need!

November & December are SUPER busy months for me, the most professionally & personally nutty time of the year. I’m sure that your experience is completely different. … Ha!

It can be a stressful time of year and while it may seem as though I am suggesting adding more to your overflowing plate, my experience has been completely the opposite. Instead of scrambling every time there is an event, house party, unexpected neighbour drop by with baking, or on the last day before school vacation when I have totally forgotten about the teachers, etc. I have a go-to solution for all of those things. If I buy a few extra ingredients and carve out a little bit of prep time on a rare, spare evening or afternoon, I set myself up to have an on-hand solution for a myriad of holiday niceties.

Re: packaging: I buy a flat or two of canning jars (16oz/500mL for the nuts, a little bigger for the granola). We've passed peak mason jar, I think, but the reality is that they have a classic, simple look, and just about anyone can use them in the kitchen. If you really want to fancy it up, trace the circle part of the lid on wrapping paper, cut it out, and slide it in when you screw on the lid. Boom! You’re crafty.

 

See the Winners... 

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November 04, 2016


Shop Good Book Club | Trick Yourself into Learning Some History!

I, for one, don't like to learn about history. But, I do like to read and I do like to be smart (or at least sound smart). The best solution for me is to read novels that are set in a time & place that teaches me all about it, without me even realizing I am getting a history lesson.

Of course, it's not just about gaining smarts! Reading stories that are set in another time & place gives us a first person point-of-view to understand better the circumstances of others' lives. Like "heavy reads" that pique my empathy, any stories that take place in a life different that my own do increase my sense of humanity and fraternity. Straight up: learning about different lives makes me a better person! And, it makes life more interesting, too, no?

 

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