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Monday, April 30, 2012

Do You Want to Look Like Sofia Vergara?

Day 121
Do You Want to Look Like Sofia Vergara?

I do! That woman is beautiful! Add that figure, that crazy laugh and adorable accent, who wouldn't want to be like her? Now you can! Simply stop in to your local Kmart store, sashay over to ladies wear, intimates or bedding and YOU can be like Sofia Vergara.

This was actually announced last year but it's ramping up now. I admit, I did go to Kmart in search of my inner Sofia last fall. Unfortunately (or probably very fortunately), the Kmart close to me did not have her clothing line yet. This red dress is available now, and I probably would have hunted it down. Can you imagine, you can look just like for Sofia for just $17.99? That's the sale price this week. Sound too good to be true? The one online review did say that the dress is so thin that your underpants show. Perhaps that's what Sofia intended, I would not argue with that woman.

I am (hopefully "was") a sucker for a cool celeb clothing line. When Jennifer Lopez announced, or media blitzed, that her clothing line would be available at Kohl's, I nearly camped out to be the first in line to look like JLo. When it finally arrived, I tried and tried but couldn't find a single piece that was flattering and fit properly. Shopping at Kohl's now, it seems like there are more celeb lines than regular brands. Vera Wang, Lauren Conrad, Daisy Fuentes, the list goes on. Have you ever seen a celeb actually wearing a piece from the Kmart or Kohl's collection? I haven't.

From day one of my no-buy challenge, I maintained that there was no one to blame for my shopping habits but me. I see now that there are great forces at work appealing to our every desire and insecurity. Television, movies, fashion and celebrity have melded into a gigantic retail machine. There is potential at every turn, enticing us to part with our hard-earned buck to chase the illusion of looking just the teensiest bit like Sofia Vergara. Taking this year off of buying is bringing a lot to light. And it's a good thing because that red dress would likely be in my closet and my underpants on display!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gather and Sort

Day 120
The Gather and Sort Method

The challenge I set out on was to stop purchasing clothes. At the same time, I knew I had to really organize my closets and drawers to utilize (and discover) what I had to work with. This quickly spilled over to nearly everything in our house and the method I have been using is a little something I call Gather and Sort. (say it like, "bend and snap!")

I have tricked myself in feeling like I don't have enough by spreading what I do have out. Shoes were not only in my closet, but also in the hall closet, the garage and in a box under my bed. Candles could be found in virtually every room of my house. The idea is to gather every item from every room, spread it out (I like to use my dining room table) and really decide what I want, need and how I will store it. The rest goes to The Purple Heart. This method have proven very successful for me. 

Imagine my delight when my husband employed this same method--and credited me for it! Like so many things in our home, tools can be found in most rooms. He has tried to keep a central tool location but (and I think it's something like Toy Story) the tools tend to wander off and end up spread about. Yesterday, he brought me to the garage to see Gather and Sort in action. He has gathered all tools and is making small tool kits. There will be one for my craft room. A kit for the garage. Each of our two kids will get one. I am happy that our tool situation will be solved and proud that my husband is using my method. And I am hoping that my tool kit is held in a super-cute tool bag!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

American Idol Clothes at Kohl's:What's Next?

Day 117
American Idol Collection at Kohl's

I love American Idol and I love style so I was intrigued when Tommy Hilfiger was featured for several weeks coaching the contestants on their "look". According to Tommy, it was super-important that the singers look the part of pop star. Even I could see between the lines ... AI clothing line on the horizon. Although I can't buy the clothes myself (the one year, no buying clothes challenge) , I had to know,  what would "American Idol" clothes look like? Would I look good in them?

It was announced that Kohl's is the lucky retailer to offer this exclusive line of, let's call it, "rocker" clothes. And NO, I wouldn't look good in it. Probably OK, as I am pretty sure I was not in the target demographic. In my opinion, the looks are cliche and a bit pricey. Perhaps junior girls will be tempted by the collection but I had to laugh at the offerings for Teen Guys.
I have an 18 year old son, and I'm sorry, but NO WAY.

This got me thinking. What's next? Jersey Shore Snooki slippers? Already out there. Kardashian dresses? Out there, too. There must be a reality TV tie-in not yet exploited. How about The Bachelor Collection of tiny bikinis, evening gowns and "fantasy suite protection"? Perhaps Survivor clothes, pre-dirtied and smelly? Tight black Simon Cowell T-shirts for whichever show he is currently associated with?

I am going to hold out, because the reality television clothes I really want to see are from Dancing With the Stars. Bring on the feathers, the sequins, the ruffles, the spray tan. When that happens, look out! I sincerely hope that doesn't premier until NEXT year when I am free to buy again!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Red Orange Shoes- Grateful for the Little Things

Day 115
Red Orange Shoes- Grateful for the Little Things

Yesterday I had the opportunity to join some fellow Oakland Press bloggers in a workshop with blogger Steve Buttry. It was super-informative and I left with my mind reeling with ideas. I also had the opportunity to meet some fellow bloggers, which was a fun bonus. As we were leaving the workshop, Kim of Kim's Crazy Life commented, "I'll bet you are glad you bought those shoes last year!" I glanced down to admire my lovely, red-orange patent shoes with flower detail Yes, I am grateful.

It's easy to become so focused on what you don't have, you forget what's in your own shoe closet. No, I do not have this season's wedges, but theses shoes, actually purchased 3 years ago from Parisian, are as fabulous. They doll up a plain dress or brighten a pair of jeans. For me, this color is a neutral. Purchased at a reasonable discount, not a final clearance, these shoes can be considered one of my very wise purchases.

I am grateful for my family and friends, my home, my super-cute garden and my red-orange patent pumps with the flower detail. Thanks for reminding me, Kim!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Super-Cute Garden

Day 113
My Super-Cute Garden

What do you think of when I say "garden"? Dirt? Weekends weeding? Fresh herbs and vegetables? For me, the prospect of a real garden meant all of those things, and the best thing all all--a new place to decorate and accessorize!!! I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my husband and I decided to make a solid attempt at growing herbs and vegetables this summer. This is the beginning of my herb garden.

I decided to plant them in individual pots for a couple reasons. First, I got an early start and I wanted to be sure I could bring them inside should frost threaten. Second, woo-hoo! fun, multi-colored pots! I have a little "fresh-Caribbean" theme going on . We re-used several old pots and stands and those old metal chairs. I have been painting bird houses to brighten things up.  As always, I am trying to buy as little as possible but keep it lookin' good.

It was suggested that a "real" gardener keeps a journal. Makes sense, as I usually can't remember what we had for dinner yesterday let alone what date we planted a beefsteak tomato. Great news--there's an app for that! We found an iPad app called Garden Toolkit HD. It allows us to research plants, document our garden and track our progress. By adding our zip code, the app can suggest plants based on our zone. We can add photos and notes. So here we are, getting back to our "roots" with organic gardening, in a super-cute, fresh-Caribbean themed space, tracking progress on an iPad. No one that knows me will be surprised.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Another Thing About a Bargain

Day 111
Another Thing About a Bargain

A thing or three, that is. I know I am not alone in the world of clearance or bargain craziness. Perhaps I have even jockeyed around you in an attempt to uncover a hidden treasure at a 70% off rack. I am realizing a few things, though.
Thing 1: Have you ever asked yourself why things are still on a store rack, markdown after markdown, month after month? Is it that all other bazillion shoppers that have perused these racks are blind or fashionless? Hmmm... that could be that case in a very small percent of items. But generally, what is left is truly picked over. It is true that I have found a few treasures but the majority of the time, I choose this passed-by garment only to find (shocking) that it fits poorly, is styled poorly, or is just wrong for me. Face it--sometimes fashion buyers make mistakes. They are called the 70% Off Rack.
Thing 2: When I finally accomplished the monumental task of cleaning, sorting and organizing my closet, I found that I have a small collection of "go-to" items. My best black skirt, my most versatile jacket, make favorite boots. None of these were from a clearance sale. In fact, I think they were, at best, 25% off retail price. I waited but they never seemed to be moved to that real "bargain zone." Because they are awesome. There is no additional enticement needed. If only I felt like I could afford to always shop that way, which leads me to ...
Thing 3: If I added up the amount I spent, or "saved" on clearance or super-bargain items, I could buy more than a few full priced things. Case in point: I purchased this dress at Parisian:
I had my eye on it for about a couple months. It's cool, right? I never tried it on but I thought it was exactly the thing my wardrobe was missing. With an original price of $110, I thought I'd keep my eye on it. Finally, my patience was rewarded when it reached the coveted "yellow tag clearance". (Note the yellow mark on the tag) This meant that the dress was now 70% off the marked down price of $87.97. This perfect dress, the missing piece that would complete my wardrobe was mine for just $26.39! Of course, my local Parisian didn't have my size anymore so I spent the day driving to two additional locations until, at last, the dress was mine. That was two years ago. The tag remains securely fastened. While the print is great, the cut of the dress is wacky. Admittedly, I'm a bit "hipp-y" but I don't think it would work for most figure types. I should have returned it, but I was so clever that I purchased at $110 dollar dress for $26.37, how could I return it? It was "just twenty-some bucks". If I added all those up, I would probably have a nice collection of well-cut, functional clothes that I love, some possibly purchased at (gasp) full price. This doesn't include the time and gas spent traipsing form store to store.

I'm not sure what I will do with this dress. Maybe I can make something out of it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Clearance" Should be a Controlled Substance

Day 109
"Clearance" Should be a Controlled Substance

Our government attempts to protect us from ourselves by ordering intensive warning labeling. "Don't Plug This in While Standing in a Tub of Water." "Warning: Do Not use Orally After Using Rectally." A prescription drug advertisement can have 10 times more warnings than benefits! Yet, some of the most dangerous things come without warning at all. For me, it's the (da, da, da ...) clearance sale.

This is the third in the series of "why I shop" revelations. Over the past 100+ days, I have come to the realization that I shop because I love clothes and because it is a response to nearly every emotion in my repertoire. The final reason is that I am virtually defenseless against a really good clearance sale, or any really good sale at all, for that matter. I rarely buy anything at full price anymore. I don't even think stores expect us to. Each week, stores woo us with fetching seasonal ads boasting great discounts. I saw that JC Penney has tried to get away from the constant sale cycle by offering great "everyday" prices, and even they now have "lowest price Fridays" or something similar. TJ Maxx doesn't have sales, but --oh boy-- they have clearances.

The mall nearest me has a Lord and Taylor Outlet store. It is not uncommon to find a rack of clothing "90% Off". I am drawn like a moth to a flame. The idea of purchasing something for just 10% of its retail price is intoxicating. Doesn't matter what is it, how ugly or ill-fitting, or even the ridiculousness of the original price, I want it. Parisian has lured me time after time with Yellow Tag Clearance and extra markdown coupons. Almost every store does it. I feel a real sense of triumph when I am savvy enough to purchase something at a mere fraction of what the general public pays. I am SAVING money for my family, in fact, my husband will likely retire early with all I have saved from these remarkable sales-- NOT! The fact is, my worst, most wasteful, stupidest purchases come from clearance sales. I quickly forgive a flaw, a color that I should never wear, or a completely unflattering style. Each time I find another item buried in my closet with a price tag still intact--you can bet it's a clearance tag. Why? If I purchase something a full price, or even at an ordinary sale, I scrutinize like crazy. How well does it fit? How will this work with my existing wardrobe? Is it really worth the price? All of that reasoning flies out the mall door when a clearance tag is in sight.

While I do not buy clothes, I still have occasion to be in stores where they are sold, and I still look! The sight of the clearance sign still, even after 109 days, gives me quivers. I hope, hope, hope that 365 days will be enough time to defend myself, because I don't think a government warning is on the horizon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cause and Effect

Day 106

Cause and effect. Action and reaction. I feel sad so I buy shoes. It's the cycle that propels us to move forward, and sometimes to remain in a dangerous loop. This is the second of three reasons that I buy (or over-buy) clothes and shoes. At the root, we have to protect ourselves form the elements, therefore we buy clothes and shoes.I suppose we could wrap ourselves in whatever is available but a Patagonia jacket is the preferable choice when it's chilly. It's cold, we cover up.

I feel blue so I shop for an outfit to perk myself up. This is a leap from protection from the elements, but it feels a lot the same. I feel fat so I shop for an outfit to make me feel thinner. I feel thin so I celebrate by finding an outfit to show that off. I am overworked and reward myself with shoes. I am bored so I seek out the perfect shoes. Stress = dress. Blue = shoe. Hurt = shirt. This all equals dangerous loop. This reasoning is the same as saying, I am hungry so I buy a sweater (although I have used the reasoning that I have denied my hunger by being on a diet therefore I should have a new sweater). Something about buying things feels so good. I won't even venture a psychological hypothesis, I can just say it is real.

By challenging myself to end the purchasing of clothes and shoes, I felt like I was ending the emotional reaction to whatever I was feeling. Funny thing- just because the reaction is gone, the action remains. I still feel sad sometimes, stressed sometimes, proud sometimes. I am finding other, hopefully more productive ways to react (that don't include donuts). Once again, it's a good thing this is a year long challenge because this action-reaction pattern has been 50 years in the making and isn't going to fade easily.I am getting very crafty though ...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Mall Makes me Tingle

Day 102
The Mall Makes Me Tingle

This should be called, "The Reasons Behind the Madness, Part 1 of 3" but the mall really does make me tingle.When I walk into the mall, or any store for that matter, a giddy anticipation flows through me. What will I discover today? What skirt, top or shoes are going to change the way I live? How fabulous can I really look?

It's taken more than 100 days but I think I have narrowed down the Reasons Behind the Shopping Madness to three categories. Doesn't sound like much, but these three categories of madness have bogged down my closets, budget and life.

As I have examined every single piece of clothing in my wardrobe, I ask myself, "why?" Often, the answer is simple. I love clothes. I love color, adore fabric, revel in design. The way a dress can transform the way you see the world, and the way the world see you. Sounds dramatic, I know. I must just accept the fact, I love clothes. Plain and simple. Admittedly, many times the tingle I feel entering a mall leads to resignation when the day is done.

There are times, though, that I'll be shopping, notice a dress and think, "wouldn't this be beautiful if the colors were brighter?" That leads to, "surely someone has thought the same thing, I'll keep looking." And that leads to, "I've spent the entire day looking for that dress in the right color, doesn't anyone get it?" Finally, I buy something similar but not quite right. So often I have settled for "almost it" because no one has "it". The year I knew silver running shoes were the only solution to all my problems, no one made silver. I spent days, even weeks searching for silver running shoes. I still have the "almost it" pair but they were never quite right. Then, after I gave up, the market was flooded with silver running shoes. So I ask, am I some sort of fashion seer? Can I see the future of retail? Do I, in fact, have the crystal ball for all that looks right? Maybe. Probably. Yes. But I have more than 200 more days to think about it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 100 Part 2

Day 100 
Part 2 

 Ok- it only took me 100 days, but I think I have finally figured out why my blog posts that get sent to you via email have words that run together. This post is a test to see if I repaired that problem. If the words are now properly separated, then yay for me again. 

If not, back to the drawing board!

Woo Hoo! 100 Days!

Day 100
Woo Hoo! 100 Days!

Today I celebrate 100 days of not buying clothes, shoes or accessories. I will not celebrate by buying those things, or with a cupcake. In elementary school, much ado is made of the 100th day of school. My kids were always assigned to bringing in 100 of something, paperclips, pennies, crayons, something to count that would mark spending 100 days in that particular grade.

I can count things, too. Maybe not 100, but I can count many, many times I nearly took something to the cash register out of sheer habit, having to stop myself from making a purchase. I can count the number of things donated to the Purple Heart this year alone, things I have no idea why I thought they were a good idea. I can count the number of coupons and special offers I have received in the mail, tempting me with too-good-to-pass-up bargains. I can count the times my heart has sunk, seeing the potentially best  (fill in the blank) ever, dress, swimsuit, shoes, etc.

Instead, I’ll count the dollars I have not spent. I have tricked myself too many times in the past by buying things to “save” money. I am focusing on actually “not spending” money. I count the hours not spent frantically searching store to store for the outfit that will conceal the figure flaws. I’ll count the number of ways I am making decisions, conscious decisions, that are good for my family. 100 hundred days is really a great reason to celebrate. Even if just with a pineapple and strawberry smoothie and a pat on the back. Yay me!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Final First Quarter Assessment

Day 97
Final First Quarter Assessment

This last week has been a look at the challenge and how I have added to and refined it. To be perfectly honest, the biggest change I have noticed in myself since implementing the challenge is not a smaller wardrobe. What has happened, and what I did not anticipate, is I feel very powerful. It seems strange to even me that something that can seem insignificant, like shopping, can really impact a life. It has been very, very difficult to avoid reverting to old habits and buying things when I feel sad, feel happy, feel fat and feel thin. Yet not shopping gives me a sense of accomplishment, an “I can do anything!” feeling.

The next step is to channel this power to good instead of evil.

An additional challenge since the beginning, or perhaps since the beginning of time, is how to lose those last few pounds to fit into _____ (fill in the blank). In January, it was the epic battle of Weight Watchers vs. Menopause and there was no clear winner. Some weeks Weight Watchers would kick butt. Others weeks, the diabolical Menopause would launch an all-out war. My yoga pants and I were tugged from one side to the other.

At the same time, my husband read a book that he shared with me. Called, “The Happiness Diet,” it’s not actually a diet but a way of choosing which foods to eat. Feeling both empowered from staying out of stores and battle weary from dieting, I joined him in making conscious, informed decisions about what we eat. A friend suggested another book, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. This is proving to be another significant, yet unanticipated change in the way we live.

In a nutshell, we try to choose “clean” foods. We seek out the freshest food possible, the more local, the better. Organic is part of it, but we are more concerned with as little “processing” of foods as possible. I have started a super-fun herb garden and make all of our dressings and marinades. We frequent the Eastern Market and Royal Oak Farmer’s Market. We are starting a vegetable garden this spring. We are not perfect at this new approach to food. But, I will say for sure, our food tastes better and we need less of it to feel satisfied.

I worry that I will gravitate to orthopedic sandals and unshaven legs. I hope I can be the new picture of organic—stylish, fully highlighted hair and pumps. Sounds like Green Acres!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Day 96

This is part of the “quarter of the way there” update.
My challenge to “not buy” extends far, but cannot extend to consumables. By consumables, I mean things that we use regularly and have to replenish, like hair products, body lotion, make-up and shoes. (sorry—not shoes, old habits die hard) Again, it would be very easy to transfer my bad shopping habits to any of these necessities so I have had to make some rules.
1.      Lotion: I have to use up what I have before I buy more, unless it stinks or is of really poor quality, in which case it is thrown away.
2.      Makeup: I had to try on everything I have to determine what is worth keeping and what was an impulsive, poorly chosen item. NO gift with purchase packs with odd color samples and stuff I will never use. I am such a sucker for the “gift with purchase!” Lipsticks can only be replaced with the same color.
3.      Hair care: Again, try everything I have, even if it means some really, really bad hair days.
Along the way, I have discovered some really stupid purchases as well as some hidden gems:
·         Tan Towel Tanning Mist: VERY bad. Streaky, runny, orange. I had to actually throw this away in case I forget this review.
·         Ulta Body Lotion:  This smell good but sits on the skin. I think of it more like a creamy scent. They discontinued my signature scent so Ulta is on my bad list.
·         Speaking of discontinue, have you ever had a beauty product you love but it gets discontinued? I have! I found that by searching online (Google) for the product with a color number, it is often available at or I discovered that some products are discontinued regionally so they are, in fact, still available. This really saves the trial and error of new products.
·         Bath and Body Works Lotions: Better lotion quality than Ulta if you find a scent you like, and they will likely discontinue it at some time.
·         Aveeno Baby Eczema Cream: We bought this for our grandson and it wasn’t suitable for him- but it gives me the skin of a baby!!! An accidental great find!
·          Garnier Skin Renew Dark Spot Corrector: Useless. Did nothing, but smells nice.
·         SexyHair Blow Dry Volumizing Gel: Bought this on a whim because it implied I would get sexy hair. It actually gives huge volume but it makes the blowout a little more difficult. Worth it.
·         Organix Coconut Milk Weightless Mousse: Clearly bought this thinking “vacation,” nice product because it is lightweight. Doesn’t smell coconutty, which is disappointing.
·         Almay Smart-Shade Anti-Aging makeup:  Smart, if your shade is orange!  I like the Ulta tinted moisturizer better.
·         Best new find: I have used spritz hairsprays for years because I thought it was better for my fine hair. Because I had to use up a can of aerosol hairspray, WOW! I found that I love aerosol hairspray!!! What a difference- my style holds much better now. I can’t wait until all my hairspray is gone so I can buy Elnett from L’oreal!
My shelves are looking pretty bare but I know what I’ve got to work with. I’ll share more reviews later!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Assessing What We Have

Day 95
Assessing What We Have

This is part of the “quarter of the way there” update.
The decision to no buy clothes, shoes and accessories for a year was big for me so I decided to make the most of the opportunity. The simple result is spending less time and money. Going a step further, I am assessing everything I own. I have started with clothes and shoes, moving category by category. What actually fits? How many of these do I have (or need)? What on Earth made me think this was a good idea? Seriously???

Next, everything is sorted into 3 categories: wear regularly, may possibly wear, and what were you thinking (donate pile). The things I use regularly are put back NEATLY into closets and drawers. The things I could possibly wear have one year in a shopping bag. If I need it, I can retrieve it with no consequence. If it is still in the bag after a year it gets donated.

Finally, this same system has been put into place with everything in our home. From serving pieces to candles to beach bags. We are making conscious decisions as to what we keep and where and how we will store it. If a fancy bowl can only be accessed by moving 3 boxes of Christmas lights, it’s a problem. If our board games are missing half the pieces, what’s the point?  

Effort formerly spent finding new things has been funneled to organizing and storing what we have. Our storage areas look more like (sigh…) store shelves. I finally put my gowns, formal and holiday wear into a zippered storage case. My shoes are not piled. This all feels really, really good. What began as a challenge to stop certain behaviors has transformed into implementing new habits that keep our home and life organized. I truly do not think we would be this successful if I didn’t take the enormous step of “the challenge.” I also wonder what will happen when everything is finally organized and I find myself with time again … 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2232 Hours and Counting …

Day 94
2232 Hours and Counting …

April brings a landmark of sorts. I am officially a quarter of the way through this one year challenge to buy no clothes, shoes or accessories. Being “one quarter through” doesn’t really sound encouraging to me. Neither does “only 75% to go!” But, having accomplished a goal for over 2000 hours—that sounds like an achievement! It’s all in how you look at it.

This is a good time to evaluate the challenge. While never wavering from the original version, I actually have added to it. For example, my original challenge was for no purchases for myself. Why should I punish my poor family, leaving them potentially fashion-backward? The reality is, I get just as much a thrill dressing them as I do myself. Sometimes more of a thrill because they look good in so many styles! I buy them clothes that they don’t ask for, want or need. They have become so accustomed to finding drawers and closets full, I’m not even sure they know that most people actually have to go to a store, pick things out and buy them. Clothes don’t magically appear. If my family needs clothes, they will have to venture out to a store, choose them and buy them. They may not choose what I would have (oh, my …), they may not get the best sale price (this hurts) and they may not even use a coupon (killing me). I have a suspicion that they will survive.

The first part of 2232 hour recap states that the challenge was updated to specify no clothing, shoe or accessory purchases for ANYONE. No gifts. No holiday or occasion purchases for my family. No cute things for my grandson. The recap will continue this week.