2.14.2014

quieting my wants








Hello and happy St. Valentine's day to you all.  I suppose posting thoughts on not shopping on this day of gift giving isn't the best timing on my part but my timing has never been great. It is estimated that Americans will spend over $17 billion dollars today to celebrate our love for each other. We do love our fancy holidays.  As a couple we usually exchange cards and have a nice dinner in...so exciting.  But anyway we are only a few weeks into the new year and if you are finding yourself getting weak and wanting to give in to the merchandising machine, then I thought I'd share a trick I use that stops me from shopping.  It isn't guaranteed to work but I can honestly say that it works a lot of the time for me.  I started using it years ago when at the time it seemed as if we were so poor but now looking back...we were so rich.  We were young, healthy and in love.  Starting to ramble, sorry.

Ok, so this trick I use may or may not work for you but in the off chance it will, I want to share it.
I get the above 2 catalogs regularly in my mailbox, and I don't mind getting them.  I also subscribe online to 1 shopping website and instead of fueling my desire for more I use them against themselves.  I play a little game with myself as I flip through them.  For instance, when looking through the Pottery Barn catalog and something catches my eye, say a beautiful bedroom with gorgeous bedding, I tell myself...wow, I already own a comfortable bed and nice bedding. Next page, pretty lamps, same thing.  I take a look around and look at the lamps I already own and that I think are pretty.  I'm not struck with the feeling that I have to buy, but rather I get the feeling of how lucky I am that I already own what they are trying to sell me.  Oftentimes I own the real thing that Pottery Barn is copying.  That's always nice.

I do the same with the J. Crew catalog.  I'll even tear out a page or 2 of outfits I like and realize I have something close to it and actually use it for inspiration to expand my own wardrobe.  Both catalogs help me to see what I already have and yet they can inspire me to look at things in a fresh way.

Maybe not getting catalogs or even not caring what is "in" or "out" this season works for you and should be something that I should aspire to, but I do like fashion and home decorating so I enjoy seeing how experts in design bring back looks or re-style things.  I really don't get caught up in having to have the latest or greatest but it is fun to look and yet not get sucked in.  So that's my little trick.  Lame?  Maybe but it really has worked for me.  If you have any tricks, please do share.  And really...have a happy day. x

112 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Happy Valentine's Day Janet! My tip to prevent shopping big for clothes (my tendency) is to let the list of what I need at the drugstore build up and go buy it all at once so I feel like I'm having a splurge:).

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  3. Hardly lame. And happy Valentine's to you and the hubs.
    I'll be celebrating by rolling my eyes and watching First Wives' Club. Aka the story of my people :)

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  4. Janet, I love this, as what you are practising is abundance. I have been working very hard on that this winter and it is making a huge difference in my life. I think now and then of something "special" and then think of what I already have that is equally special. There is always something "else" to want isn't there? and there is always something else that we think we "deserve" or will make us feel "special". I am working on finding that from within and it is making a huge difference in my daily happiness.

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    1. I am tucking away everything you just said. Thank you for expressing it so succinctly. As a fellow reader, it helps me.

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    2. Thanks Vicki! It's hard sometimes, isn't it? I am grateful for these posts by Janet!

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    3. wendy until i read all these comments i hadn't realized that i was practicing gratitude. it was just a trick i was using. they say that gratitude solves everything and i guess they are right. :)

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  5. I have found the same thing. Also, if I am in a store and want something....food ....clothes etc....I will put them in my shopping cart....keeping walking around....and then in about 5 minutes....I no longer have the "internal need/desire" for these things.....so I take them out of the cart and put them back on the shelf/rack. I end up no feeling deprived.

    Really love your postings Janet.

    Ann

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  6. I think it's easier as we get older because we have figured out that things never make anyone really happy.

    I also know that having a goal- of say a trip or some other type of experience- really makes it easier to avoid the affluenza epidemic. I enjoy updating things once in a while, though-and to me, it's more fun when it's very deliberate.

    Like you, I use magazines for inspiration, and it's a fun challenge to recreate those looks on a different budget.

    Happy ♥ Day!

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  7. Janet,
    I tend to do the same thing when perusing catalogs. "Gee, I already have something like that," I tell myself. The other thing is that, online, I just put what I want in a wishlist. Time goes by and I look at the wishlist and am typically glad I didn't part with any money for the stuff on the list. Passing fancies.
    Kathleen

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    1. K- I really, REALLY like this "wishlist" idea. Im going to try this myself. TY!

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  8. Janet, Happy Valentines Day....LOVE all of your wonderful tips for a simple abundant life! At this stage in life, more stuff is not better, it's simply MORE.
    Instead of shopping I'm trying to lose those 10 lbs that would make my current wardrobe look better. Would you do a post of your exercise regiment? Motivation, etc.
    Also, did you ever drink wine/cocktail daily? If you did and are now just an occasional drinker, what was your motivation to stop the daily habit....I'm finding it difficult not to have those two wonderful glasses of wine each night but I think that is keeping the 10 lbs from coming off. Also, does daily wine age our skin?

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    1. Hi anon!
      I have an answer to your last question ... yes, alcohol DOES age our skin.
      Due to big problems with alchol addictions in Scotland, the Scots developed this programme:
      http://www.drinksmarter.org/handy-tools/drinking-mirror-app

      Lisa from amidprivilege once posted her clues and tricks, how she successfully reduced the amount of alcohol she consumed without quitting:
      http://amidprivilege.com/2013/01/learned-drink-saturday-morning-1057am/
      I remember the posting well, because it lead to an online-argument. Maybe we agree to disagree here:  2 glasses of wine per day = addiction.
      Many people argue, that they know that they are not addicted. They say they could say "no" to a glass any time. As you say, you find it already difficult.
      Your body can't be tricked by concepts. Your body develops an addiction over time. That's the sad truth. There are plenty of ways, how addicts deal with their addictions. In the long run, quitting the addictive substance seems to be the easiest way to deal with the problem.

      No doubt, you would lose plenty of pounds by leaving those "empty kcals".

      You and probably many readers here will probably read my comment as an insult.
      My intention is NOT to ruin your day, but rather to provide tools, to help others ackknowledge what is the truth, instead of denying.
      I would have loved to send you my comment as an email, this seems to be the only way to reach you.
      warm regards, Paula

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    2. hello anon. i've never been a big drinker so never really fell into the daily drinking. i drink on occasion and that is fine with me. i have a good friend that drinks 2 big glasses (her words!) of wine each night and loves it. she is not an alcoholic and does fine with it.

      i do have a story about a client of mine (excuse me if i've already told this story) who came to me for years. we constantly were battling her rosacea and overall redness. we went over her diet and skincare routine many times and she was extremely active and fit. she was a pilot and architect and i admired her greatly. anyway, one afternoon during a facial she casually mentioned that she drank 6 beers every night. i about died b/c her redness was always such an issue and i was at my wits end trying to calm her skin down. when i told her that her drinking was prob causing her skin to be so red, she laughed and said too bad. after all the work and worry! lol

      so yes, drinking does cause premature aging of the skin. in extreme cases it will cause lots of broken capillaries too. it is also dehydrating. and can add unwanted pounds. these are my observations only. :)

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    3. oh and one more thing that is kind of shocking. according to the AMA 2 drinks a night for a woman is considered heavy drinking! surprising right?!

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    4. Well, and I think I've read that it really isn't recommended to go beyond one drink a night, for a host of different health reasons.

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    5. I'm reading that while drinking my second glass of red wine. :( However I do not do that every night, just sometimes.

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    6. I forgot to add - the size of the "glass" of course matters! In Austria a standard glass is small, 125ml. whereas in Scotland its 175ml.

      Many doctors say it is healthy to drink 1 glass per day. Because statistics say, that those who drink 1 glass per day are healthier than others.
      What the statistics does not say: It could be their sense for overall-moderation and not the glass of alcohol per se, which makes them healthier. I found this to be an interesting aspect!

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    7. Janet, thank you for your comments on the wine/weight/skincare issue which were spoken with kindness. I work out, play tennis, bike ride, eat healthy but I suppose winter doldrums lulled me into an evening wine routine .....now it will be only twice a week when I go out. This way I'll lose the 10 lbs. and go shopping in my own closet! (also, to Anon @ 2:21, thanks for sharing your personal story of breaking the wine habit and losing the weight.....your words were also kind and inspiring)

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    8. When experts say 1 glass of wine is good for your overall health it always makes me think that it is more likely the lifestyle of one who chooses a single glass of wine. Maybe they are a little more educated, a little more cultured, a little more affluent...All their life choices add up to a longer life. It's not just a glass of wine. My 2 cents...

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  9. Great tips on focusing on what we already have!

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  10. Good tips. When I get a home furnishings catalog and think it's full of stuff I want...I tell myself...ok, you can have anything and everything you want in here. Money is no object. Then I go through page by page and pick out one thing per page that I will buy. Most of the time...I realize I don't really want anything. I just think I do. If I tell myself I can have any of it...it turns out I really don't want any of it. Now...with clothing catalogs...it's more difficult. I always want new clothes...but yes, they are good to use for inspiration.

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    1. I feel like I'm a self-help group or therapy circle and everybody is sharing problems/success. So many wonderful tips. I really like this one. It's a whole reversal of thought. It almost makes it fun. Pretend you're a zillionaire. I'm definitely trying this...

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  11. I love how you are able to look at the catalogs with a sense of gratitude for what you have and inspiration for what you can put together with what you already own.
    Yep, you are a better woman than I.
    I find myself pining for the homes and clothes that I see.
    For me it's like looking at a cookbook when I'm dieting.
    Although the J. Crew does work well with my diet motivation.

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    1. Yes, and I think this is what really sets apart Janet's post, the attitude of gratitude. I have never once looked at a catalog or online retailer with this approach, which I think is tremendous...to look at a lamp on a catalog page, and then look at a lamp in your house and realizing you already have what they are trying to sell you and yours is as nice or better. I guess I am a victim of thinking that my stuff is never good enough? Also, it took me a long time as a single working woman to build my first apartment from secondhand scratch and then later be able to afford new things and not hand-me-downs. I got a lot of enjoyment from my surroundings. But the key thing here is...when did I ever ask myself if it was enough? Instead, I just kept going down that wrong road instead of stopping and saying, "Okay, I have enough now." I'm sure it's no different than having the discipline of turning down the piece of apple pie after dinner, or a second cigarette, that third drink, and so on. I admire disciplined people. I lost that somewhere along the way and am trying to get it back.

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  12. You have way more discipline than I do. I find myself going to thrift shops on a regular basis and the clothes have been amazing deals, too good to pass up. One thing we need are new sheets and a duvet cover and I am so tempted by the gorgeous linen ones at Rough Linen, they are an investment so I need to save up to buy them. I think if I stop buying clothes I can save faster for the bedding....one trick I use is if I am tempted to buy something on a whim I leave the store and if it is really something I want I'll tell myself you can go back and buy it another day and usually I never go back!

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    1. Rough Linen? Hmmmmm.... **skips off to Google**

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    2. I totally get what hostess is saying. It is so important to have goals, not lose sight of them or lose them altogether. We can't have everything, so we have to choose. We've all talked here about paying down our mortgages. I want very much to try to make two payments each month so that I can pay off the mortgage in half the time as we are 'way too old, my husband and I, to be taking a mortgage into the retirement years. I believe gail from northern california talked about this in previous posts. I think I can pull it off if we are very, very careful. Constantly keeping in mind that important goal will prevent me from spending stupidly or unnecessarily in other areas. When I was a very young woman, I did this...my brother and I had a goal to buy a condo, and we did it; he was 21 and I was 25. It was uppermost in my mind; I was sick of apartment living and throwing rent money away. I do believe in later years, I lost some dreams and lost some goals, or failed to revise them. When you don't have something to shoot for or look forward to, that's when you get into trouble. The smarter people always have goals...savings goals, life goals, bucket lists, etc. Otherwise, you just roll around like a tumbleweed with no direction, get stuck and accomplish nothing.

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  13. Brilliant advice, its easy to get sucked in by fancy magazines and catalogues. xxx

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  14. what a timely post for me. this has been a difficult winter here in the Northeast. lots of snow and so many days of single digit cold. I was thinking that something new in my wardrobe might cheer me up. luckily, I used the time inside today to catch up with my bills. then I went to my collection of catalogs and placed them in the recycling bin. but first I did look into my closet and admired the collection of clothing I have accumulated over time. I realized, as you did, that almost every look that is pictured in the catalogs I could duplicate in some way. at my stage in life I could probably not buy another item of clothing and be just fine. well, maybe that too extreme! and one always needs underwear and t-shirts that wear out. anyway, I would rather spend my money on experiences, like travel, than on another pair of jeans. and though I am sure everyone knows this is that scarves really do help expand one's wardrobe. I had asked for more at Christmas and they really do add interest to an otherwise basic outfit. Happy Valentines Day!
    Darby

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  15. I bring very little mail into my house. I do all my banking online with e-bills, so much of my mail consists of catalogs. When I pick up the mail, I walk straight in through the garage, stopping at the recycle bin. I throw most of it away. Sometimes I flip through a catalog before tossing it, but as a former magazine junkie, I don't want them in my house. Current magazine subscriptions arrive on my iPad.

    After my divorce, I downsized to a smaller house so that I wouldn't have a house payment. One of my smartest moves ever. I love uncluttered interiors and that helps. I also love my early retirement and if that means forgoing a few things that I'd get rid of in six months anyway, I'm fine with skipping the purchase altogether. The only struggle I still have is not buying more art. I'm still a bit addicted to that. Could be worse....

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  16. Hi Janet! Good trick of the mind trick!lol I also get the PB catalogs and love to look at them, especially the bedding and floral arrangements. I always try to duplicate with items from Target, Hobby Lobby or even Walmart if it is something that I really love. If we all look closely there is always a cheaper alternative to the very pricey PB. My biggest problem is that I change my mind so often about what style I am that I never seem to be content or finished decorating! Gotta work on that this year. I'll try your trick!

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  17. Happy Valentine's Day to you too! Ours is pretty dullsville. My husband is working on a plumbing problem today and I can't do dishes the traditional way, having to use a big bowl. I'm making a nice dinner tomorrow night so hopefully it will be fixed by then! :o) I bought my husband a bottle of good wine, a bar of Green and Black's and a CD only because our library does not have it and he really wanted it. We don't spend much on each other on Valentines Day, I would be mad if he went and bought me a dozen roses.

    I do the same thing with the catalogs and I tear pages out of magazines if I see a new outfit that I can create with what I already own. I do have some rewards from my credit cards (in the form or gift cards or certificates) I'm hanging onto until I decide what I want to do with them. The old me would have run out and used them right away on something stupid that I didn't need. Now I save them for something special. I did use $20 in certificates the other day at Macy's towards makeup, but that is something that I have to replace once in awhile!

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Linda
    xo

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  18. I also feel better - most of the time - when I flip through a catalog and actually feel better about my current home and closet. Not sure if the retailers had that in mind!

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  19. Great post. I think what makes your strategy nice is that you receive a limited number of catalogs to begin with. My home is swimming in catalogs, and I find it super irritating. They just end up in the trash because I don't want to look at them and lust after merchandise. I recently found a free website that stops catalogs from coming for anyone out there like me who wants to reduce the number they have coming https://www.catalogchoice.org

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  20. Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours! I do receive a few catalogs and I usually don't even go through them because they always make me crave for thing I don't even need! I must try your trick so I can learn to be grateful for what I already have.

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  21. Happy Valentine's Day Janet! I think your tips are great. I'm probably in the last paragraph/category. I don't receive any catalogs and do not like malls or shopping in general. I do like going to estate/ garage sales but I am very discriminating about what I purchase at them. It has to really WOW me or it doesn't come home. We are moving this summer, so now, more than ever I am in the "minimalism" mode. I have been going through my closet and home in general, donating things no longer being used or worn. It has been an exhilarating feeling, truth be told. Less is more!

    On a side note, I made the lasagna recipe you posted and it was AMAZING!! A new family favorite. It went together so easily. I added a layer of mushrooms in the middle. Thank you so much for your amazing blog - I adore it!

    Caroline

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  22. Happy Valentine's Day, Janet. Downsizing to a small cottage and having SO MUCH stuff that I have no clue what to do with and that I now need to get rid of somehow (what a waste of hardearned money) helps me with not shopping. Needing NOTHING is almost euphoric to me now. I like your trick; not only do you NOT buy, you also allow yourself to realize what nice things you already have - a self pat on the back. Simple, and kind. I like....

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  23. I love your headline, we have a phrase here " you've got a want in you" , it's not a positive! It's said to a person who is always buying buying for the sake of buying and never sated.

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    1. Yes, Janet says things so well in sometimes few words that just zing me. I will remember the phrase of 'quieting my wants;" it's a perfect expression.

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  24. Every single evening when cycling home from work, I ride through Austria's main shopping street and see thousands of products on display in hundreds of shop windows. I have seen the products in spring, summer, autumn, winter. And again: spring, summer, autumn, winter ... those déjà vues, the heavy load of products (clothes, shoes, bags, stationary, home decor, etc) quieted every single want over time. It seems somehow useless to buy the stuff. Because there will be always more to buy. It is like eating a whole jar of Nutella at once. I know now just one person who was cured from the desire to eat Nutella after having eaten a whole jar.

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    1. should read "I know NOT just one person who was cured from the desire to eat Nutella after having eaten a whole jar." ;-)

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  25. What wise words. Yes, most of us do already have what we want but we keep wanting more. How nice to look around and be satisfied. Happy Valentine's Day!

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  26. The wisest words I have seen in a long time, I will be putting this into practice , thank you!

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  27. I love your posts...they are realistic. For me, I have to play those games, the one you've provided will be especially helpful. I keep reminding myself to keep your eye on the goal...to pay down our mortgage and be better ready for retirement. So this is great.
    Karen

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  28. I believe that, as you age, you truly realize that beauty is in simplicity. I enjoy my minimalist home. I have several accessories that I love and I enjoy changing them out with each season. If you purchase something you love, it never goes out of style whether that be a home decor item or a piece of clothing. Purchasing a flowering plant for a favorite pot makes me happy and brightens my living space. Eating healthfully and exercising daily makes me happy. Buying clothing that looks nice on me makes me happy. Like you said, Janet, it's always fun to catch up on what's in style and adapt what you have to be fashionable. I like your style and it's classic. That says it all! And, I fixed your lasagna last week and served it to company. The non-vegans asked for seconds!

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  29. Happy Valentine's Day! Not bad timing on this post. I feel this is just another "you must buy stuff" holiday. Why must we buy things to show our love? Great tips. Personally, I just have to leave those beautiful catalogs closed, and place them immediately into the recycle bin. Too tempting if I look inside. Perhaps I'll attempt putting your gratitude "window shopping" tips into practice here. Thank you! :)

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  30. To Anon. at 8:43: I drank 2 or 3 glasses of wine every night for years. Last spring I decided to stop, wasn't enjoying it anymore. Almost immediately, I lost 10 pounds, and my skin, which was nice anyway, began to look better. I sleep more soundly. Plus I am saving some money. I still have a glass or 2 if I go out, but I don't really miss it at home.

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  31. Hi Janet - It's everywhere - the temptation - my fashion, organizing and homemaking blogs really do it for me too. Do you limit your blogs for this reason OR do you practice your exercise on the blogs you follow too? Just curious. Thanks!

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    1. I'll jump in before Janet does to say that I totally decreased the number of blogs I visited because not only were they taking up too much of my time and I was sitting on my 'behind' too much, some of them would tend to make me feel restless, irritated, envious, as I'd stumbled onto the ones where the blog owner seemed to have a lot of money and could afford things for their sumptuous houses which was difficult for 'everyday' people like me to relate to, so one day I amassed the list and cut it down to about a fourth of what it was and, I have to say, I do think today I may be under ten blogs of which I'm a reader. I love the blog world but it's just another thing in which to achieve balance.

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    2. You guys are right about the decorating blogs.....it can produce envy, covetiness......etc.: that's why I like Janet's blog....keep it simple, and you don't need it!. I try to only view blogs that support minimalism: Jane Cumberbatch of Pure Style is one, Parmac Lilac is another one:

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    3. jennifer i'm not quite sure what your question is. do you mean do i limit the blogs i read or the blogs i write?

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    4. Janet:
      Do you limit the decorating blogs that you read? How many do you read? Thanks

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    5. i do limit the blogs i read. there is just so much time in the day. honestly, i can barely keep up with my own. and that is no joke!

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  32. Happy Valentine's Day, Janet. I like your technique, I may try it instead of what I have been doing. What I have been doing is this: I enjoy relaxing and reading the catalogs and with pen in hand, I circle all the items I "want", then close the catalog. The next day I throw the catalog in the garbage without looking at it again. It's worked pretty well so far but I may try your gratitude approach instead.

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  33. I as well try not to indulge the moment. Oh, I do on the one hand. I'll sometimes even write out my paper catalog order. But then I let it sit. (Same with online ordering; I let it sit in the cart.) A few days later, I'll look at it and think, "Why did I think I needed that?" This isn't any kind of original thought; I'd read it as a tip from somebody else but it worked for me. My break-thru is that I've lost a lot of the desire to shop...because my greater desire is to de-clutter. My overshopping has cost us not only the money to buy the stuff in the first place, but it's expensive to move it if you change houses. And, if you can't fully move in yet due to remodeling or whatever, which is my case, there's then the expense of storage units (which are costing me a small fortune because I can't unload them overnight). As my husband says, "We are now eclipsing the worth of the stuff in the storage units for what the units themselves are costing." I really do feel if somebody handed me a winning lottery ticket right now, I wouldn't go out and shop. I don't want to feel trapped like this ever again. Or as guilty. I aspire to being smarter.

    I also have a paper habit that I need to break. I like to print out things off the computer...recipes, pretty images, interesting blog posts(!). I accumulate too much paper and there's enough of it in the world already. Paper can bury you quickly. My husband will understandably roar at me about what it costs to color-print off the computer per page. So, I've been doing the little trick...the little game: I turn off the printer, get the computer prompt that it's offline and I let my print jobs stack up without printing (I "pause" each one on the print menu). I've now gone a week without doing any printing and I won't tell you how many print jobs stacked up. I couldn't believe it. If I were to print them out and calculate the cost per page, it's possibly a print cartridge-full, which translates to a fair amount of money, and that doesn't include the cost of the paper, which of course also involves trees. The bottom line is that I needed this exercise to show myself what I was doing because it just didn't translate with the visual of the paper stacks sitting on the desk waiting to go in my file folders. I feel stupid as usual, but will now go back in and be very selective of what I print out on that long list of print jobs. But the main thing is to curb the urge. I do think all this started in the interest of time. I'd come across an interesting article, be in a hurry on the computer just checking mail or headlines and think, "I need to print this out so I can read it later." And, well, look what happens to 'later." It's like over-eating, being pressed for time, not letting your stomach catch up to what's gone in the mouth. Rush-rush...and going nowhere but down.

    It's obvious if you're a person prone to excess, it's going to spill over into many areas of your life; I'm sure there's a whole psychological profile here I'd rather not know about it. All I can say is, I'm trying to reform, trying to improve. The blogs have helped so much because I do take in all the tips and advice. It motivated change, somehow, to know that other people have had some of my same struggles with over-everything (ialthough I probably take the cake with over-commenting).

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  34. I love the ideas that I get from catalogues and I have purchased from Pottery Barn on occasion. I especially loved the outlet when it was in Temecula (I think, somewhere on the 15). But lately when I start thinking about downsizing, my favorite things that I want to keep are not mass produced from stores. I love the special, unique pieces from years of collecting. I also find that Pinterest helps my collecting urge. I see something on One Kings Lane or Pottery Barn and I just pin it.

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    1. I love One Kings Lane but since they have a "no return" policy I have only purchased one item from them over the last couple years. Maybe that's why they quit sending me daily emails! :)

      Linda

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  35. I can't tell you the many mistakes I made after I started reading decorating blogs. I would see all this "stuff" on the pages to update my home and go out and buy too much of it. Now , a few years later it is just excess stuff to me that I have to find a place to store when not rotating. I am surprised at myself for doing that because I don't like the over decorated look or clutter but I guess all those pretty rooms got the best of me. Not anymore! Here is a saying I cut out of the paper a few years ago after the economy took a downturn and I read it often just to remind myself that the treasures I own and things passed down to me are truly treasures and I need to take good care of them.

    Our lives are full of things. Disposable distractions,
    stuff you buy but do not cherish, own yet never love.
    Thrown away in weeks rather than passed down for generations.

    Perhaps things will be different now. Wiser choices made with greater care.
    After all, if the fewer things you own always excite you, would you
    really miss the many that never could?

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    1. I'm guilty too...my husband said to me one day as I was looking at some decorating blogs, "every time you go on those it costs me money!"

      I started reading "Rate my Space" years ago and through that website found a blog and I was hooked. I have scaled way back because I was wasting too much time on line, now I just have a few favorite decorating blogs that I read.

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  36. I've gotten to the point where I want very few material things. And I'm so grateful that I have gotten there. It takes a lot of time and energy to be envious and to always want, want, want. I try to keep in mind that what I'm seeing today is probably a trend, but if I really love it, I tear the page out and hold on to it for awhile. Most times, a week or two later, I don't love it as much.

    happy valentines day! ♥

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  37. I try to recreate the "feel" of an outfit using what I already own. I find that a lot more satisfying. Plus, no matter how high end the clothes are, so many seem so cheaply made today. The best trick I learned from my sister but it is for shopping in a store not online: She IMAGINES the item on the sale rack, hanging off the hanger, all dusty and lonely in 3 months time. Then she doesn't want it.

    I also try to imagine my elegant grandmother who never had a lot of clothes. Just quality things that she made or bought after careful thought and planning. She always looked chic.

    I hate that feeling of wanting something very badly. When I give in, I usually find I am disappointed. J. Crew and Pottery Barn have MBA's and Ad people who design the catalogs to create a feeling of insecurity which usually leads to a slave-like purchase. Then they change the 'hot' new color or style, and we are left wanted and dissatisfied again. I read an article about women's magazines and how adept they are at making us feel insecure month after month. I also think about the stockholders into whose hands my very hard earned money is going. All these help me step back. If I really really want something, I put it on a list and find a way to buy it by juggling other things off the list. I'm very careful though.

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    1. This info made me stop and think. And I think I will not give in to these marketing ads anymore.

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    2. Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Don't you dare manipulate me!

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  38. Hi Janet, I've opted out/unsubscribed to pretty much all ads online and catalogues through the post. It's not that I'm tempted to buy anything, I think I've finally overcome marketing temptations. I like how you use the catalogues you get as affirmation of having enough.

    Your Valentine's Day sounds like ours, and I prefer it that way. I'd rather pass on the crowded restaurants and such and stay home by the fireplace enjoying a nice intimate homemade dinner. Hope you have a happy valentine's day!

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  39. This is exactly the way I've felt over the last few years and most of the above commenters echo my thoughts. Love your blog Janet and your simple lovely life!!
    Kelly

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  40. Nothing "lame" about it! I feel so blessed to be in such good company :)

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  41. I love it! I do something similar. I see beautiful things in catalogs (I get too many in the mail) and think, "Oh, I'd love to have that." Then I think about how I don't have any room for it, or I don't really need it because I already have something nice that is similar. Very much the same thought process as you. I also like to think about the money I'm saving by not buying something. Whatever works, right?
    Claudia

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  42. Looking at clothing or decorating blogs seems to satisfy my urge to acquire; so long as someone is enjoy those beautiful items I'm happy. Pinterest is also really helpful, it's sort of like collecting, but only images. I come from a long line of consumers and it wasn't until middle age that I had an epiphany and realised material things mean nothing. Foolish, I know. When I think of the time and money wasted on acquiring it makes me cringe.

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  43. I like to look at some catalogues, too. Often I will go through the motions of ordering everything I like but then it's so much and too ridiculous to contemplate and I don't want to just order some of it, so it remains an exercise and after a while I usually realise there's nothing on there I really need, anyway!! And increasingly, the same fashions have come round several times so either I wore them the first time round, already have something like them (if it's a fashion I liked and kept!) or else I am now too old to wear it LOL

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  44. Janet I love this post and the comments that follow it... I don't get catalogues and the ones I do get I chuck in the recycle. Cursing the waste of paper I have to say! My trick is Pinterest, if I capture the image I somehow feel that I own it, and it's free and creates zero clutter.
    I wrote a post on shopping today and I had to link to this post, such good tips to "quiet the wants" and rebel against the "machine" that wants us to buy more, more, more until we absolutely drown in clutter!
    Thanks Janet as always for your wonderful blog. xox

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  45. I definitely like the idea of seeing what we already own in fresh ways. You are a smart cookie! This post really hits home for me, especially while I'm still trying to style my new place in a way that makes me happy (and maybe even satisfied? Is that even possible?). Thanks for this post...great reminder to me right now!

    Have a great weekend, Janet!

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  46. I am limiting myself to shopping in real life. I gave up online shopping after Christmas. Tired of the buy, wait, hate, return, search again. I limit myself to shopping within 50 miles of my home too. If I can't find what I need, then I don't need it. I figured in a major mall, but so far, I have not used it. Catalogs are fun but what I still do get goes into recycle immediately. Limiting my time online has helped too. I only read your blog and follow 1 person on YOUTUBE. I used to have at least 40 favorites and it can get overwhelming.

    I also keep to a list of what we truly need. For instance, I was in need of some new t-shirts. I have the style, cut and color I wanted written down and lo and behold I found them at Target this morning. Perfecto!!! Just what I needed. I also keep a budget now for each member of my household. So far, I have only spent 10% mine for the year.

    Biggest changes have been to stop comparing myself and looking for the latest, greatest next big thing that will only indulge me for a few month. Be happy now is my motto. :)

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    1. Oh I completely agree with you Heather: the "buy, wait, hate, return, search again" bit. I've tried ordering online and have almost always been disappointed when the item arrived. I've gone into a shop, seen an item in person, and then went home to order it online because they didn't have it in my size in store, or it was on sale online only. Then when it arrives, it is permanently misshapen from shipping (a leather belt I once ordered and a pair of leather shoes). To me it isn't worth it if I have to waste my time to ship it back or take it back to the store - especially if it took a long time to arrive in the first place (which it usually does).

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  47. I've been using two techniques to get through this phase of wanting, wanting, wanting. I realized at some point earlier on that if I brought something new to my house (decor or furniture) somehow everything else (the things I loved and had kept for many reasons) then looked shabby or sad. So it was an unsatisfactory thing - to bring home something impromptu from the mall because it set off a spiral of purchasing to update everything......and always, always in the end - the original shabby, reupholstered, well-loved and unique things stayed and the new was packed up for donation. I tease that "I'd buy that but it causes the rest of the things in my living room to feel sad." I love them too much to let them feel bad. The second trick I use is to follow a couple of bloggers who buy, buy, buy. I lurk as they accumulate and purge season after season with no progress or satisfaction. Is that cruel? Maybe. Blogs are like that - people forget that the posts are out there in the archives for all to investigate. What was new and must-have a year ago is now in the donate stack. Not once, but over and over. I read as they work through justifying. This black cardigan has to be ordered because of the different hemline, shipping is free if I order it in three other colors even though I don't have any other orange in my closet, etc. The book, Overdressed, is fantastic motivation and explains this buying the same things over and over with little to no satisfaction.

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    1. oh gosh kitty i do the same thing! i do read a few blogs just for that very reason. what am i saying? i'm probably guilty of the same offense. i feel like i'm finally waking up to the whole purge and replace cycle. great comment.

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    2. Oh my goodness Kitty, you are so right! Sometimes I'll visit a couple blogs that are supposedly becoming frugal, but then every post they make seems to be on a new acquisition they've made, and almost on a daily or weekly basis! I think they must think because the item is from a thrift shop that it is okay. The point they are missing is the forever shopping mentality. They must be in stores everyday. Sometimes I want to leave a comment there but it would come across as negative - so I don't. It probably wouldn't make a difference anyway. The buy and purge treadmill is awful to witness when it is so constant.

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    3. Oh goodness, nothing evokes such enticement, such desire, such acquisitiveness, as a brand new Pottery Barn catalog with it's gleaming pages of ersatz rusticity and domestic bliss. I've succumbed to it more than once, I confess. That said, I used to work for the company that owns Pottery Barn and was able to purchase a few things on discount and have never tired of them. After years working for major retail companies, I see the big picture, and how they are always going to present me with something that I want to buy. It's all part of the game. So I've trained myself to differentiate between needs and wants. And found more creative ways to occupy my time, other than shopping. That said, I still enjoy looking at these catalogs - for ideas and inspiration. Those retailers know what they are doing! It's a constant struggle, resisting the urge to buy. But willpower and my bank account thankfully prevent me from being their puppet.

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  48. Hi there, I was just doing a little pinning and discovered your blog. Your home is beautiful and your recipes look delicious! I spent at least an hour browsing through your archives.

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  49. Janet - a little advice for you... my two cents, if you will. Please consider putting yourself down less and making fewer negative comments at your own expense. On one hand, I appreciate your self-deprication, use of irony and sarcasm, and self-awareness. On the other hand, I worry about your internal monologue... in nearly every post you put yourself down in some way by commenting on how boring you are, that your clothing is repetitive, that your posts are boring or you have nothing to write about, that there's nothing new about your life that is interesting, etc. The things we tell ourselves, even in just, can have a big, negative impact on our personal psychology. And you're amazing. You live well and you're a model of how to live well while being a good citizen in many respects. And the way you live saves animals' lives, and that's a lot. And despite your doubts, your blog is loved and popular and your "boring" or everyday posts get more comments than most other blogs I read.

    So many of us are too hard on ourselves. And our internal monologues are self-destructive. So, keep on rocking your bad-ass self and focus on a positive sense of self that reflects how much your readers love you and how much we like all of your posts.

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    1. dear anon thank you for your advice. i really do appreciate constructive comments such as this one.

      the only thing i can say is that changing my dna would probably be easier than changing my style of self deprecation-ish humor. i believe i was born this way. i've read a fair bit about it and it supposedly comes from being raised in a home where there is a high level of perfection expected and my upbringing couldn't be further from that fact. i was a pretty quiet kid and listened a lot before i'd open my mouth. believe it or not i'm still like that. but anyway what i observed pretty quickly was a personality i didn't care for and that would be someone who bragged a lot about themselves. often it would be the most popular kids in class. i suppose i decided then and there to be the opposite. and now here i am in my 50's writing a blog for all the world to read. it puts me in the center of attention and while i love using this blog as a sort of diary of my garden and life i really hate the part that makes me an "expert" on simplicity, etc. i'm not an expert on anything really. i just do what i do and i'm pretty average. and average is really good to me. so is mediocrity. i think both get a really bad rap in our society today. i'm rambling now and will stop but just to be clear...i totally understand your point and take no offense to it at all. i promise you i don't take my self talk too seriously as i don't take anything too seriously. well that's a lie, i do take a lot of things seriously but certainly not the drivel i write about here. see i can't stop myself. i hope you are not too put off by it and stick around, i like you. :)

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    2. I'll stick around :) i've commented both times you've considered not continuing you blog and asked you to continue. i was also the one who dared to agree with you about how cuffed pants often aren't the most flattering and said that we should let bloggers occasionally say something that isn't totally positive without everyone needing to jump to saying "no you're gorgeous!!" or "no you're wrong!"

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    3. Dear Janet, I just want to say I appreciate your humbleness - that's the way I see your self deprecation. It's refreshing to me. I think it's because I see it as humorous rather than down-putting. Maybe it's from my upbringing where it's frowned upon to "pat oneself on the back" too much. You seem confident to be able to poke fun at yourself. It's good to not take oneself too seriously and I think most people find it endearing. In any case, I like it :) Be yourself.

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    4. Dear Janet, I feel when you talk about how boring you are, how mediocre your blog is, how uninteresting you are,the drivel you write about, etc. etc.... that you are insulting your readers. We are, after all, the ones who come here and read all the supposed mediocrity. I know that is not your intent, but thought you would want to know how you come across to some. When you state those things everyone comes to your defense which totally puts you in the center of attention,and that is something you say you do not want.I read those self-deprecating comments from you that you need a pick me up and they are invitations to have people tell you nice things. You do come off as an expert on simple living. But, like 'average' that is not a bad thing!

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    5. dear anon, i appreciate your comment and here's the thing...i cannot control how anyone who reads this blog feels or interprets it. there isn't much i can do about the fact that you read my humor as a ploy for more attention or are in any way insulted. there just isn't. i hope you stick around but if not i totally get that too.:)

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    6. Janet, I can totally relate to your listening before speaking and not caring for the personality who brags a lot about themselves. I feel much the same. Great responses on where you're coming from. I find you very humble and "read" your humor about yourself as you not wanting to be that bragging sort nor wanting to push anything on anyone.

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    7. Janet, I think you have a great sense of humor...that's part of the reason I read your blog! :)

      Linda

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    8. i would just like to say one more tiny thing about all the comments that i get on my blog. i love every one of them. i learn so much from all of you. it's just that i don't put a lot of weight in the praise i get or in the negative stuff that comes here too. not saying the above 2 comments were negative, i put those in the category of constructive criticism and learn a lot from them. what i'm trying to say is that if i believe all the praise then i also have to believe all the negative. i strive strive strive to read them and take them for what they are...a persons opinion of me. good lord i'm rambling again but i so hope you understand what i'm trying to say here. thanks ladies.

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    9. I think I get it. Balance. You've achieved balance in so many areas of your life, this is no different. Like, a person can have an opinion of you but you don't take it personally. I think that's hard to do, so kudos are in order. But it also means you are evolved; pragmatic. A grown-up. Centered.

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  50. This post is directed to Janet but I could identify with it. Although I was at first taken aback for our blog owner here(!), I simultaneously realized it was written out of respect, insight, affection and encouragement. Truer words were never spoken about Janet being amazing and a role model; it is inspiring to see a woman living so mindfully. I have no other blog which affects or helps me as much than The Gardener's Cottage (both Janet and her readers). Janet attracts thoughtful people here...people who are sincere and intelligent (as is she) who can contribute to the dialogue; I have personally learned so much from reader comments; it has become transforming.

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    1. I don't know what key I hit wrong or what is UP with trying to leave comments again, but mine above is meant to be a reply to the one made by Anon 2/15 @9:51pm...the prior one telling Janet how much we all love her and how we have the ability to re-train our brains, etc. (wasn't my intent to leave another stand-alone comment).

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  51. "living so mindfully." Yup, that's it. I could not put my finger on it for a long, long time, but you are very right. THAT is what draws me to Janet and all aspects of this blog. GREAT compliment; its what I now realize I am striving for (the Big 50 on Wednesday of this week). TY Vicki!

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  52. Dear Janet, I'm totally enjoying the direction of your posts this year. I admire your motivation and disciplined lifestyle! You have helped me improve my life in so many ways! Along the lines of your great grocery posts, and self-restraint, could you do a weekly post series on de-cluttering, organizing and simply decorating our homes? I was really motivated by your post on purge 100 items and got great results. I have already been purging, resisting temptation, etc... and it feels great. I could really use the motivation to keep going. Thank you for all you do! Deni

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    1. hi deni. i'd love to do a weekly post about those subjects if i can think of something to write about them! there are so many wonderful decorating blogs out there, my sidebar is full of great ones. could you give me an example of something you'd like to see? thnx.

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    2. Thanks for answering my request (I know it's a big one). Maybe a weekly challenge, choosing one room at a time, to de-clutter, how to choose what to get rid of, organize and clean that room. A plan, to use what you have on hand (using pb for inspiration ;) what works for your individual home. I've noticed the less I have, the better I can appreciate what I have, and to focus on what's important. You definitely have achieved that, and that is what I'm striving for, (for peace).

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    3. ok deni. i'll start thinking about that. thanks!

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  53. Great post here and I've seen it mentioned twice now in other people's blogs. These are all great tips. I cancelled all those free mags when we arrive in CA 12 years ago, and now a few have started creeping in. I read them like mags and then recycle, I never (only once!) buy anything online. I don't buy from big box stores and never buy something just because its on sale. But I still make mistakes and I get really mad at myself for them

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  54. A few things I'd like to comment on. I don't know what it is like to blog or to receive rotten comments. I can imagine that they would make you feel like what you write is insignificant. But Janet we are attracted to your blog because of YOU! We value YOU! It makes me sad when you put yourself down because I think you are a delight (and so do many others)! And we all think on any given day--"Should I cuff or not? Who could possibly care about my skin regimen or anything else in my life?" You are sharing your life and for that we adore you!

    Now about the WANT monster. I sometimes feel personally offended by the catalogues I get in the mail. JCrew is telling me I need yet another pair of pants/cashmere sweater/darling pumps???? They've instituted yet ANOTHER purse collection??? They are turning these wardrobe tricks so rapidly it is hard to say whether you are in or out of fashion these days! Pinterest does help me too bc I look at the photos and say--hey, I have that and that and that already! Interestingly, when you get a close up photo you can see the quality of some of the items and realize--hey that's not such a high end coat/dress/boot after all! If you create a certain style for yourself, make a twist or two to be unique, and hold on to it you've got something much more valuable than the JCrew knock off look.

    I read a quote from a designer who said something to the effect of hating to buy new things. Meaning that instead of the bathroom set of toothbrush holder, soap dish, towel rack, she'd prefer to repurpose vintage or antique things. I think that quote every time I walk into Target for my bottles of Pellegrino. Don't turn down that decor aisle for a cheap version of a vintage piece!

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  55. Great post! I have opted out of most catalogs but still receive a few where I continue to shop. Otherwise, any extras get dropped in the recycle bin before I even take a look at them. Something that has worked for me is moving some items from room to room which helps to give a whole new look to my home. And paint is cheap & can transform a space. I even read less decorating blogs these days, there seems to me to be a sort of desperation in seeking perfection, something we all know doesn't exist. As for anon's comments about Janet's self deprecating remarks, I think her intention came from a good place but I personally love her humor & is one of the reasons I continue to read her blog. Janet, I love your comment about being pretty average, I agree that is a wonderful thing!
    Kristi

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    1. I've been digesting Janet's reply to Anon; have re-read it a couple of times. Janet, I hope some of us haven't been making you too uncomfortable about being an 'expert' but I don't know how else to label it; I'll try to think of another description so it's not burdensome! Maybe it's like a spotlight on you that you'd rather not have but this many people can't be wrong about what they're reading and seeing here on your blog posts.

      Something giving me pause is the idea of being average and/or mediocre. I believe I was on a mission my entire adult life NOT to be average or mediocre. I wasn't one to outwardly brag but, internally, I thought I was different from other people, that I felt things more intensely or had some kind of better sensibility about things (despite the fact that I was deeply insecure!). When you feel so special, you really set yourself up for disappointment because there are just too many expectations; you can't ever feel satisfied. But I always fought against 'middle-of-the-road;' I didn't want to live in the gray areas of life. For awhile, I pulled it off...I took exotic vacations and was a globetrotter, bought really fine clothes, made sure I had some singular and unique experiences...because I was really into self-enrichment (uh, self-indulgence).

      I think a lot of it was influences in the 1970s about women needing to expand all of their horizons; whatever you do, don't fall into the trap of 'housewife.' (Although I secretly yearned to be one because I thought homekeeping and child-rearing was noble; I'd sometimes felt like I was deposited into the wrong era.) It probably started out as a good thing for women...to seek choices and not have to feel limited. I was soaking all of this up when I was a teen, and I bought into it to the extreme. Some of it was a lot of game-playing, now that I look back on it; I think we were fed a lot of bull-crap, frankly. I read too many of the books and magazines about how to hold your own in a man's world, depend on your own self for financial support, be your own best friend, never depend on a man (Cinderella complex), me-me-me mentality; self-gratification and personal fulfillment. I just took too much of it too literally. I wish instead I'd just followed my instincts...listened to my heart. (Who were all those feminists and journalists anyway?)

      My parents were very humble, lived under the radar with no flash or fame, living a very methodical life. When I was young, I thought they were boring. I was into the comparison thing and I felt parents of my friends were much more stylish, hip, active, etc. It wasn't that I didn't love my parents; I did. I just felt they had accepted a life of 'less than' and were too settled rather than challenging themselves. Really judgmental, huh. Now, I see them and others who live with this apropos concept of 'mindfulness' and also moderation (AKA balance) in how they live and plan...and I crave their well-rounded, average, good and full lives I crave that normalcy, that consistency...all of which is its own simplicity. Living a bohemian life where everything is wild and spontaneous runs its course. We eventually choke on glut and excess; too much self-absorption and not enough common sense. I almost learned too late.

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  56. As a kid I was always eagerly awaiting the bi-annual arrival of the "Quelle-Katalog" - which was the catalog of a huge German Retailer that sold everything from clothing to furniture. I could not pronounce the word properly - I made it sound more like a German word for "poo", which is still amusing my Mum to no ends til today. I would sit for hours and days looking through the thing, designing my dream wardrobe and furnishing a house.
    I still love doing the same thing today - I love looking at magazines, blogs etc - but like you it's more because I just love fashion, decorating etc and I just like to look at it and take my inspiration from it.
    Yes, I get inspired to spend some money as well, but I have found by looking at only selected magazines or blogs that I feel 'reflect my style' that it also helped me to be more selective and then in the end being more happy with what I purchase.

    Our Valentines Meal was your fabulous Lasagna.

    xo
    Mireille

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  57. Such a good post, Janet, as always. Reading blogs, like yours, has helped me quit magazines. Magazines fueled my insatiable desire for clothes which put me in debt. I stopped reading them and realized how formulaic they are, same thing every month. And any article titled, "The Best Of ..." is just a giant ad. I still browse a few catalogues, but recycle them as soon as I finish so I'm not tempted to buy. I get so much more from blogs- great ideas, good discussions, support for ideas and so many creative exchanges that I am never at a loss for something to think about. Bloggers, Keep Up the Good Work. Wish I had something to blog about.

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    1. You just did!

      I think 'formulaic' is a great way to describe it. One mega-clothier (cheap clothes) just recycles their stock. I see the same outfit/item/ensemble advertised that I did a year ago, only because I happened onto a stack of magazines I'd forgotten to recycle which had mistakenly been put into a packing box. (Another eye-opener; not exactly like their stock was moving very fast, now was it.)

      Endless shopping; just another drug. Oh, and how they hook you: I only went into that online retailer because I was indeed looking for inexpensive, cleaning-house clothes; I'd somehow run out of any kind of casual/at-home slacks/pants, ala yoga-style. The prices were unbelieveably-cheap on sale and they offered me free shipping as a first-time orderer. If it could only have stopped right there...but, no, I then got an onslaught of online offers ot a 3-hour sale, or buy one/get two, etc. I fell right into it and was buying-buying; I definitely got the attention of the UPS delivery person. It became too much even for me, a near-daily assault of offers. Thankfully, I caught myself and unsubscribed from everything related to their online stores. And, of course, the clothes I bought largely did not hold up and were made with poor fabric/rushed sewing.

      Live and learn. Stay clean! Don't fall mercy to the dangling carrot.

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  58. I do have a trick! Years ago I'd get "Veranda" and the dearly departed "Southern Accents" and they would have (Veranda still does) these gorgeous spreads (page after page) of fabulous jewelry. I would feel so envious, jealous and bad- like who are these women that get to own and wear these pieces?? So one day I decided to "pick one"! To this day I'll see an ad or spread in Veranda with fabulous jewelry and I'll play like I get to pick one, but only one. Sometimes it takes me two seconds, sometimes 10 and sometimes I pass as there's nothing on the page I would wear. For some reason I can then turn the page without a pang of envy now;) But I still wonder who are these woman that have $50k bracelets and $150k necklaces to wear?!!!
    xxoj.

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  59. Your tricks are brilliant Janet!

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  60. Dear Janet,

    I'm in my twenties and living in my first "grown-up" apartment (no roommates, planning to stay here awhile). I'm very drawn to the idea of living with less and am sure that I could do much better at quieting my wants. However, I'd also like to not have only Ikea furniture, or live in a totally spartan space. Any thoughts or suggestions as to how decorate or turn a "house" into a "home" without constantly purchasing things? Or, how to make thoughtful purchases for things that I do buy? Thanks!

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    1. oh you are in such an enviable position, just starting fresh. what fun!
      i don't know if i'm the right person to ask b/c i kinda love a spartan look. but if i were just starting out today i'd avoid ikea and shop craigslist, yard sales, estate sales and thrift shops. there really isn't anything you cannot find at those places and they will have so much more character and style than anything ikea has to offer. don't get me wrong, ikea does have some great basics to add in. but i'd add them in instead of making them the main focal points. another thing i'd do is think about how you want to live. what are your interests? your home should reflect that and that can lead you into a decorating style. here is a link to my son alex's first place (well after living in a friends garage, which was pretty awesome too). everything except the mattress was 2nd hand. let me know if this helps or if you'd like more info. thanks for asking my opinion. xo

      http://thegardenerscottage.blogspot.com/2010/10/alex-and-meg.html

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    2. Hi Janet,

      Thanks for responding! Those are great tips. I can't believe your son got that amazing chesterfield for $8. What a score!

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kindness is never out of style.