Confession


I cheated. I bought something new.

Here’s how it went down:

I’m producing/filming a documentary on Mike’s band Check in the Dark (awesome band, check out their new iphone app or website, checkinthedarkmusic.com). They are also working with Leighton Meester (of Gossip Girl) as her acoustic band and she suggested that she join them for their gig last night and play a few of the songs they’ve been working on together. “Great! Another cool thing to add to the documentary,” I think. But as I go to grab a tape to record, I realize I’m out. Now, this all happened very last minute and as its only a few hours before I have to tape, so I don’t have much time to think of what my other options could be and I’d like to think that there actually could be some. I cave. I swipe my debit card and buy a nice, plastic wrapped 3 pack. First glitch.

-Courtney

Moving and Moving the Crap Out


I’m moving. Next week. And with moving comes reflection, and not the peaceful kind. I find myself saying, “WHY THE HECK DO I HAVE ALL THIS STUFF???” on multiple occasions. And as I sort through it all, I’m much less attached to any of it. Things I’ve been carrying on from move to move that I’ve never used, or things I haven’t worn in a while are all getting tossed into the ‘donation box.’ With pleasure. And without a second thought.

Tonight, Mike and I are headed to the half-off sale at the thrift store to try to find a computer desk, dining room table, a lazy boy chair, and possibly an area rug. And I’m stoked. Its such a fun thing…hunting through stuff at thrift stores. And even more exciting when things that are already really cheap are even cheaper. I really have grown to love having an eclectic style with stuff that mismatches but goes together. I like finding things with character and history. Wish us luck! Hope we hit the jackpot.

-Courtney

Bubba’s Bored

Bubba, our Shih Tzu, is bored. He misses the UPS guy. (More accurately- he misses barking at the UPS guy!) It’s been nearly three months since our last package was delivered. Sorry Bubs… at least those stray cats are still roaming the neighborhood. ~Stacey

Four-Eyed Freak

I knew this day would come.

It was inevitable, really.

My mom, dad, and brother all wear glasses. Growing up, we even had a collie that would have benefited greatly from corrective lenses.

Poor vision just runs in our family. So, when I started to have trouble seeing road signs while driving at night, I knew I had to go to the eye doctor.

The diagnosis was as expected: “Slightly nearsighted. Nothing glasses can’t correct.”

After the examination, I was taken to the front of the office to select my frames. As I was looking at the designer styles it hit me… I can’t buy new glasses. So, I asked the “framing specialist” to direct me to the section of frames that my insurance would fully cover. She looked disappointed and reluctantly led me to a small shelf containing exactly two frames: one labeled “men’s” the other branded “women’s”. This made the choice easy. I selected the “women’s” option and declined to even try them on.

I waited for my prescription to be filled and wore my glasses home.

And, WOW… it was like the world was suddenly being broadcast in high definition. I no longer cared that I was wearing generic frames. I was just happy to see things for what the really are. Clarity is a powerful thing!

~Stacey

Nothing is Everything


Nothing huge to report, but I wanted to check in.

My bud James asked me the other day how “Year of Nothing New” was going. I honestly forgot for a moment that I was even doing it.

It’s just a way of life for me now and only after a few months. Its become a habit to look for things used or talking myself out of needing something in the first place. I don’t put myself in situations where I’ll be tempted to make exceptions. I have more time for people in my life and activities cause I’m shopping less. And most importantly, I have a greater appreciation for what I do have.

I even like my clothes now. I know that sounds stupid, but for as long as I can remember, a “going out” night has always consisted of me saying, “Ah, man. I have NOTHING to wear.” I think this has something to do with the overstimulation of constantly bringing new things to my wardrobe. Somehow it never seemed enough. Which makes no sense, but we women can all relate to the “Ah, man. I have NOTHING to wear” feeling, knowing quite well that we absolutely do have tons to wear and in abundance.

After limiting purchases and getting rid of stuff, now, when I go to my closet, I’m like, “This dress is cute…or…I haven’t worn this one in a while!…” It’s an amazing feeling to love what you have and actually wear it.

So in this year of nothing new, the nothing has meant everything to me and my spirit. And being reunited with my cute clothes!

-Courtney

Now It Really Sucks!

Our vacuum died.

Actually it choked, smoked, and then it died.

As owners of a long-haired Shih Tzu, having a working vacuum is not an option, it is an absolute necessity. So, when our 2-year-old Hoover Uh70085 Pet Cyclonic bit the dust, Brian was ready to head to Best Buy that day for a replacement.

But I asked him to give me one week to attempt to repair it.

First, I tried to fix the contraption myself. But even with the help of an interactive “how-to” website the effort ended in a pile of parts and a cloud of dust.

Then, I found Herbert.

Herbert Matthie is the proprietor of H. Mattie Repairs located at 1828 West Liberty Avenue. Stepping into his modest storefront was like stepping into a simpler time. The 200 square foot space was filled (literally) to the ceiling with vacuums and sewing machines and as soon as Herbert came around the corner to greet me, I knew he was going to bring my Hoover back from the dead. His warm eyes took one look at me and my half-dissected machine and, holding back a chuckle, asked, “So, you need some help with that thing, ah?” He asked for my name and number and gave me a paper claim ticket. Then he sent me on my way.

A few days later, Herbert called to tell me the vacuum was fixed and reminded me of his “cash only” policy. After stopping at the ATM, I returned to his quaint shop and retrieved my like-new vacuum.

The thing that amazes me about this whole ordeal isn’t that it has a happy ending, but that before this project I would have hopped into that car with Brian and bought a new vacuum at Best Buy without even a half-hearted attempt to repair the old one. (To be completely honest, it never even crossed my mind that someone like Herbert and his store existed, let alone in my own backyard.) I am thankful for this gift of insight– for the opportunity to look at things differently and find new solutions.

~Stacey

My New Target


So, I have to admit,I had a brief moment of panic when I started thinking about all the stuff Mike and I would “need” for our new place we are moving to in April. Things like kitchen towels, rugs, a microwave, toaster, a coffee table, a kitchen table…just all the basic house stuff which neither of us have. (We’ve been living with roommates who have these things.)I was about 90% sure that I’d be writing a confession post about how I had to run out to my local Target to purchase these items. But alas, I’ve figured out a way around it.

Over the weekend, I visited St. Vincent’s De Paul in Lincoln Heights, http://www.yelp.com/biz/society-of-st-vincent-de-paul-thrift-store-los-angeles, and oh, my goodness…I struck gold. I’ve always been a “thrifter,” but this place far surpassed my expectations. It was a warehouse and the best organized thrift store I’ve been to yet. For 20 bucks, I walked out with kitchen towels, pot holders, rugs, pillow cases, kitchen stuff, etc. And when Mike and I are ready to pick up the big stuff like tables and chairs, guess where we are headed?!

For all you Los Angeleans, please check it out! You’ll need a good few hours. I spent the first hour just walking around, completely overwhelmed!

I encourage you all to look at your options when you need a common household item. There are so many available in thrift stores and we shouldn’t keep manufacturing more of what is already in our consumer system.

-Courtney

Books and the City

Last week, Brian and I spent a long weekend in NYC. It’s our favorite city to visit (we even honeymooned there). We try to make the trip a few times each year and usually pass our days shopping and our nights visiting with friends at thrilling restaurants or charming wine bars– but this year with shopping off the menu, we had to get creative with our afternoons. So, we decided to scour the city for the best used bookstore.

I know, we managed to replace shopping with, well, shopping. But at least we were setting our own terms and making a game out of it.

Brian and I have been known to get a little crazy when it comes to books (used or new) so to keep us both honest, ensure we could repack our suitcases, and to give our mission an added purpose, we came up with this one rule: One used book each. Period.

For a book addict like me this “one book rule” was worse than buying nothing at all. But I wholeheartedly accepted the challenge.

After visiting the usual spots (the Strand Bookstore, East West Books, Forbidden Planet, and East Village Books) we were still empty handed and a bit overwhelmed.

Then, on the advice of a friend, we headed to Alabaster Bookshop, which turned out to be the “hole-in-the-wall” retailer we were searching for. The smell, the shopkeeper, the shelves bowing under the immense weight of Tolstoy and Austen and Woolf – convinced us that we would find our treasures in this small but perfect place.

As it turned out, we did. Brian found a fun children’s book about a magical ninja (whose cover art ended up being much more interesting than the tale inside) and I picked up a copy of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman (not exactly classic literature, but it made for a pleasant read during the flight home).

Overall, I loved our hunting expedition. It was the most meaningful (and cheapest) shopping experience I’ve ever had in New York City.

~Stacey

PS. I just wanted to take a moment to plug Hotel 17

“The newly renovated Hotel 17 is a chic budget hotel conveniently located in Downtown New York near the East Village.” I’ve stayed there about a dozen times over the last four years and think it is the best kept secert in the city. The price is great, the rooms are clean, and the staff is friendly. If you are okay with having a shared bathroom, I recommed you check it out on your next trip to New York! (And no, I did not receive any type of kick-back for this endorsement.)

Shopping as a Necessity, Not a Sport


My relationship to food and shopping for food has become much more meaningful since I’ve not been shopping for other items. I wake up early each Sunday and make my way to the local farmer’s market, where I stock up on salad mix, oranges, fish, and herbs. I take time when I’m there. I see the vibrancy of colors and smells and really enjoy the process of speaking with the farmers who have grown my food. I think, in a way, it has replaced my hobby of shopping for sport. Because it’s still shopping, but it’s shopping out of necessity. Which has both a value and a purpose.

Mike and I reap the benefits for the rest of the week. Each night as I cook, I revisit what I’ve purchased and it nourishes and gives our bodies the energy we need. Much more so than a stupid sweater or hat.

-Courtney