Saturday, December 31, 2011


Are you ready to set sail for 11 months of voluntary simplicity?  Have you made your mind up to live in the abundance you have for a year with out adding a single new item?  Have you talked to the kids?  The spouse? 

I have read a lot lately of people who eschew modern conveniences.  They are giving up their homes, cars, well paying jobs, they are perusing simpler lives.  That is NOT what we are talking about here.  We are only talking about 11 months of not being driven by consumption.  11 Months of living with only what we have, not necessarily giving up what we have.

For me personally I will be using the next 11 months to declutter my life as well.  Part of living in thankfulness for what we have is also placing a value on those things and those things that are not adding value to our lives are going to be donated so that they may add value to the life of someone else.

If decluttering sounds like a big task take a moment to check out this downloadable calendar that provides you with just one simple task to complete each day.

Tonight enjoy your New Year’s Eve activities what ever they may be, remember to be safe, don’t drink and drive, have fun and remember to spread the word about The 11 Month Project to all of your friends so they can join you or at least help you practice voluntary simplicity in 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Establishing A Family Plan


Last night over dinner we established our family’s ground rules for The 11 Month Project.  I think the KEY to truly making this a success is getting the kids on board.  If they are willing participants they can also be a big asset in keeping you on the straight and narrow.  I know my 9 year old daughter is a great ENFORCER. 

If your kids are not on board then The 11 Month Project may be exactly what they need.  Our kids have to learn that they truly have EVERYTHING they NEED.  Review “wants” vs “needs” with the kids.  I am sure we all can create a list of things we really really really want or would like to have, but those things are not needs.  If you think your kids simply could not handle 11 months without a single purchase of an unnecessary item, maybe your goal for the next 11 months is just for the kids to be complete THIS Ask Why Before You Buy worksheet (created by iMom) before making a purchase.  Again though I have to say, if your kids are very averse to The 11 Month Project it really is something that they NEED. 

For our family the rules are simple:

No purchasing of anything that is not consumable.  If you run out of it, you can replace it.  No one wants anyone walking around with out deodorant, greasy hair or sans make-up.  BUT in replacing an item we are going to look for the best value. 

Birthday gifts for family are going to be made by hand primarily from materials we already own.

Birthday gifts for friends can be store bought.  However we will not be stockpiling a “gift closet”.  Too many times I look in there, shake my head and wonder “what the heck was I thinking when I bought that”.

Clothing – this is a gray area for sure.  My daughter is 9 and is growing like a week….she will need clothes so if she outgrows an item we will replace it.  My husband is notorious for spilling coffee on his shirts…he will NEED new shirts but luckily he has no problem at all buying second hand dress shirts.

There are areas that will be harder – we will not be buying the hot new Wii or DS games.  The cool souvenir from where ever we happen to be visiting will stay in the gift shop.  The “it” purse I must have will simply have to wait as will that adorable pair or shoes.  The new kitchen appliance, gadget or tool that I can’t “live without” with be lived without.

A little trickier is the everyday items – for some reason our family has been breaking dishes like we were at Greek wedding lately.  Our service for 8 is now a service for 4 and half…maybe.  So this may be the year of the eclectic, mix and match table settings.

As I look at our bath towel I know that they have seen their better days but they are just fine for us and will serve us well for another 11 months.  Kitchen towels….I hope they make it – I am not a fan of stained towels in the kitchen I know that they are clean and perfectly functional but still the look is just bad.  I will cross this bridge when I come to it.

We are also using this opportunity to get a handle on our food and dining out budget by being more diligent in menu planning so every night is not a game of Chopped… have 1 pound of hamburger, a handful of peanuts, miso and beets……now COOK.  We will be packing snacks when we hit the amusement parks, and having a couple of meals in the freezer ready to go on nights that I’m just not feeling the cooking vibe.  I will NOT be a rabid couponer for a couple of reason but the biggest one is that we are embarking on The 11 Month Project to cut the amount of stuff and clutter we have.  For couponing to work well you MUST have large stock piles of things you purchase on sale.  Our little apartment is not designed for stock piling things like paper towels.  We do keep a supply of food basics on hand.  How much you want to stockpile is up to you but for us we keep about 8 weeks of food on hand.  At the end of the 8 weeks we may be eating meatless high carb meals but we will be eating.

So if you haven’t already done so I want to encourage you to talk to your family about how you plan to implement The 11 Month Project.  What kind of things do you plan to include and or exclude from your family’s 11 month plan?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Just Say No To Christmas?

It is this time of year I hear many of my friends decrying the commercialism of Christmas…keep Christ in Christmas…He is the reason for the season…too much shopping….all about the toys….the complaints and grumbling go on an on BUT if you look at pictures of the “grumblers” Christmas you will still find trees over flowing with gifts and stockings stuffed beyond full…..we are no exception.

The 11 Month Project was designed to be 11 months and not a full year so that Christmas would not be included.  I suspect however that by the time the 11 months draws to a end we will either be:

a) so completely OVER not spending money that Christmas will be a sweet release from the ties that bind and our first real spending spree

or, and this is truly my hope and desired effect

b) more fully aware of what we already own, use and don’t use, and less willing to buy just for the sake of buying.

Don’t get me wrong I LOVE Christmas shopping…..all of it….the sights, the smells, the music, bags full of gifts for those I love….it is the quintessential Christmas experience and I am not likely to Just Say No To Christmas any time soon….but I am hoping to just say no to buying “stuff”.

You can read the article about saying no to Christmas here:  Just Say No To Christmas

Sunday, December 25, 2011

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

From our family to yours we wish you a joy filled day.  This special day is a chance to renew our bonds with those we cherish.  Have a peaceful holiday.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thinking Ahead….

The official start of The 11 Month Project is a mere 11 days away and although I had not planned to “stock up” on items I would surely want, but may not neatly fit into my ideal definition of necessary, today while putting on my make-up I realized that I MUST.

012This eyeliner is NOT going to make it 11 more months.  Making matters worse, every time I sharpen it, the tip breaks off IN the sharpener….not such a big deal, since I apply it with an angle brush, but still a big reason my little nub of eyeliner won’t stand the test of time.  But in a nod to the spirit of the project I replaced it with a MUCH cheaper brand.

Part of the goal of The 11 Month Project is thoughtful spending.  My Perscriptives pencil is MUCH loved.  It goes on like butter and stays put all day long but at $17.50 I knew I could do better. 

PALLADIO – you guys have to try this product line.  It has been around since 1999 and was actually formed with the principal idea of providing high quality products at affordable prices.  My new eyeliner…….HELLO……$2.99!!!  Ulta didn’t have the exact color I wanted so I picked a softer shade.  But did you all catch that TWO DOLLARS NINETY NINE CENTS.  Palladio’s entire line is herbal and vitamin enriched and completely affordable….I’m hooked.  I’m also very picky about what I use on my face since being introduced to Dr. Lancer and his products.  The Palladio pencil fits my pick nature perfectly, it is not so hard it feels like it is stretching my skin to apply it.  It has lasted all day long and looks as good as it did this morning.  I am going to urge you to check out this product line during The 11 Month Project.  I can not go out in public with out make-up for the next 11 months (ya’ll should be thanking me for THAT) but I can be more practical in my make-up purchases.

Are you guys ready for January 1st?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Simple-Size Your Life….

Do you see the Today Show this morning?  There was an interesting story about a family of 3 in rural Maine who lives, fairly comfortably, on $20,000 a year.  They live in a home decorated right out the pages of Martha Stewart Magazine.  It is truly lovely.  What is most impressive?  It is nearly 100% decorated with “found” items.  The wife is creative and crafty – her husband said she could stretch a nickel into a dollar.  Her favorite “shopping” spot?  The dump.  They grow as much of their own food as they can, they chop fire wood for heat, etc.

While I admire their thriftiness, living in rural Maine is a world away from living in San Diego suburbs.  For instance for $600 a month we might be able to rent a decent size storage unit but certainly not a house or apartment.  Also, since we are apartment dwellers growing most of our veggies is out BUT we can grow most of our herbs instead of spending $5.00 on those little plastic containers at the grocery store.  I don’t see myself “shopping” the dump anytime soon BUT I can certainly look to repurpose what we already own.

Jeff Yaeger had lots of great tips we CAN use.  Avoid debt.  Don’t pay for depreciation….buy used.  Do it yourself when ever possible.  SKIP THE SODA…now, I don’t drink soda but I do order iced tea when we eat out.  For the average family of 4 if you skip the soda (or iced tea) when eating out and only ordered tap water to drink you could save $800 a year!!!  The other interesting tid-bit Jeff had to share was the fact that according to FDA we throw away 25% of our food each year.  Just by being more aware of what is in your fridge, eating left-overs, not throwing away food you could cut your food budget.

Take a moment to watch the segment here:  Living Well on $20,000 a Year

What a great way to get us motivated as we plan on the start of The Month Project.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Define Necessity


The 11 Month Project is primarily a challenge to not purchase a single thing in the first 11 months of 2012 – obviously food and certain disposable items are excluded from the challenge.  BUT it is also a challenge to redefine necessity.  Look around your house, is there really anything else you truly need?

My girlfriend has been telling me about this new cupcake pan she just HAS to have.  It has a small post sticking up in the middle of each cupcake.  You impale, say a small peanut butter cup, or other candy on each of the post, pour the batter in and TADA like magic you have a perfectly placed little candy in the center of your cupcake.  OK seriously that sounds cool.  I have visions of perfect little cupcake treats going to my daughter’s classroom and the kids ohhhhing and ahhhhing over the candy center.  But the fact of the matter is that I already have at least half a dozen or more cupcake pans in various sizes, it is not necessary to have yet another.  AND frankly I am sure the children would be equally impressed if I simply sent cupcakes in with a peanut butter cup plopped right on the frosting or imperfectly placed in the batter.

So over the next few weeks lets take a moment to evaluate what is a necessity for you.  Feel free to share in the comments here or on our Facebook page what your plan is for The 11 Month Project….are you ALL IN or just modifying your spending. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Deck The Halls


The 11 Month Project has not officially started yet, but it has seeped into my consciousness in a very real way.

Christmas shopping has been especially interesting.  I love shopping not only for Christmas gifts but also for Christmas decorations.  That amazing new table cloth, the stocking holder that is too cute for words, even adorable wrapping paper that would be stunning under the tree.  I love it ALL.  We don’t have a perfectly manicured tree festooned with ribbon and bows all in perfect rows, thematic ornaments that shine just so and are placed for perfect glimmer and balance….our tree is a collection of ornaments we have picked up over the years because we thought they were cute, or based on something we particularly enjoyed….thus a whole series of odd little hiking, backpacking, camping ornaments from REI…or made by our children or foster children.  It’s a big green history book.  So we will be adding a new ornament or two to the tree this year.

BUT as my husband brought in the giant green storage containers from the garage stuffed full of decorations, table clothes, towels, napkins, lights, swags, wreaths, decorations galore….all lovely, all well loved when they were purchased and all these things see the light of day for what? 6, 8 weeks max?  Do I really need anything else to store for 10 months?  AND I don’t know about you but every single year I find something I had purchased and had forgotten about. 

So while technically we have not embarked on our 11 month journey yet – have you thought about things you can do to make the 11 months easier?  Is there anything you are going to find particularly hard to give up buying?  We are three weeks away from the official start…are you ready?