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Weekly catchup: not my adult gap year

I was not meant to be working right now. This was meant to be my year off. Mr S’s too. Thirteen months of owning our own time.

We postponed it due to COVID. Can’t travel over seas. With state borders repeatedly closing, there were times we couldn’t even have travelled interstate, with no guarantee that state borders won’t close again.

Now, while I’m not sad we are not having this year off, I made it quite clear to Mr S, who wanted to postpone for two years, that I am definitely having 2022 off. I didn’t only want to go to the UK. I wanted to potter and garden and learn German and exercise and read and bake and explore and … and … and. So much more.

But mostly I wanted to not go to work.

Our forced savings for the year off have stopped being deducted from our income, which meant our pay as gone up to 100%. Having got used to living on 80% of our income, I didn’t want to waste the 20%, so I’ve upped our mortgage repayments.

With 20% of our income being taken out post tax and saved for us for four years, we have a nice lump sum waiting for us. We momentarily thought about cashing it in and paying off our mortgage.

But no! I WANT that year off.

I say to myself repeatedly, “Only three and a half terms left.” It’s a pretty liberating feeling. (Yes, I will be back after the year off but more than a year off – 13 whole months!!!)

I can see why FIRE is attractive.

It’s not that I haven’t got satisfaction snd identity and fun and fulfilment from work. But I’m ready to get more of that from other things.

What I’ve just read: Laura Tingle’s essay on NZ in the Quarterly Essay: The High Road: what Australia can learn from New Zealand. Sharp and incisive and comprehensive. Australians need to know more about NZ and this is a good start.

Also read Snakes and Ladders by Angela Williams, a memoir about a woman who was sent to prison for breach of weekend detention, a decade after her original drug-fuelled crime and after having turned her life around, getting uni degrees. I got to this book via a FB group which started in protest about the current sexual mistreatment of women working in Australian parliament but the FB group wiped the word women from the title as it was deemed exclusionary. At which point I left the group. The women are being raped, sexually assaulted, harassed because they are women. The protest is being co-opted by a group with a different agenda.

What I’ve been watching: I finished season 1 and started on season 2 of Our Yorkshire Farm. Mr S got into it too. What a fabulous family! But while I’d love to live there, farming is not for me.

Continuing with Season 1 of Vera – episode 2, which I have seen before, probably more than once but it was still so scary – the sounds, background music, faces popping up at windows. I had to mute bits. I can’t cope with really scary bits. I know it’s imaginary. I know they catch the killer but still. Why so scary? Why oh why do people always turn their back on the crazy murderer? And why are English coppers always on their own when there’s someone with a hammer about?

I also watched some rubbish – James Corden interview Prince Harry. (I will be watching Oprah’s interview next week.) Flicked between Gogglebox and Wife Swap. My two rubbish addictions!

Steps to my goals:

  • Sleep: crap week
  • Water: not enough.
  • Exercise: ditto.
  • Decluttering: said goodbye to the dress that I thought would last for a few more wears. But happy to release it while it is okay for someone else. With quite a few other items from my wardrobe, I will either take to a clothes swap meet or to the op shop.
  • Main thing too embarrassed to tell you about: did nothing.
  • FIRE: our first increased mortgage repayment went in, dropping our mortgage by over $7,000. If we keep this up, the mortgage will be gone in three years. My super is nearly double our mortgage, so worse case if work really shit me and I couldn’t continue is we could pay off our mortgage and fix up the house and live off Mr S’s super which is more than double mine.

Weekly Catch-up: Dutiful Daughter

Last year, we all learnt that plans have to change and do change quickly. My goals for February quickly were tossed aside when Queensland opened their borders to NSW residents from February 1.

For readers outside Australia, I live in the capital city of NSW. Sydney was hit first with COVID. One of the first things the other states did was shut the borders. So we couldn’t cross into other states!

The first time the borders opened between Qld and NSW, I planned my trip north to visit my mother in the upcoming term break.

Then another wave hit in the southern part of Sydney and Qld closed its borders to people from that part. I thought I was safe – I’m at the very north of Sydney.

Then Qld blocked one more local government area (LGA).

Everyone was asking me if I was going north. I said I’d wait until they did one more LGA.

Ha! They went: one, two, all.

Borders reopened just before Christmas so I had everything booked to go up in January. Perfect timing as my mother was going through a sticky patch and I could help her with decisions and selling and getting rid of stuff in preparation for downsizing.

And then Sydney got another outbreak. I ummed and ahhed whether I should jump on a plane, miss Christmas with my family or or risk waiting a fortnight.

Waited and yep, borders closed.

Unexpectedly, the second day that school resumed, Queensland announced it was allowing people from Sydney in. So, even though school had not been back a full week, I took carer’s leave and hightailed it to Qld. I couldn’t risk the borders slamming shut again.

Anyway, perfect timing, except for missing Mr S’s 60th birthday. Mum’s house had sold in record time – it was on the market for less than a week. The removalists were coming the week the borders reopened.

I spent the first five days packing, helping my mum get rid of more stuff, taking that stuff to the op shop, directing removalists, dealing with electricity and phone/internet suppliers, connecting the internet, buying the needed connection to get the phone working. Exhausting. But what a dutiful daughter! Really, they would have struggled without my help.

Then I set up the mobile my sister had bought our mother. Now my patience started wearing thin. Possibly not quite errant, but not the most dutiful of daughters.

Now to explain the need of internet access for banking! They don’t have an active credit/debit card so couldn’t pay the removalists. I paid it and they needed to repay. Like the removalists, I don’t want cash. “What if we get a debit card? Can you use that to take money?” No, I’m not a business. I don’t have a card reader.

How will they pay the rent of the house they are in while waiting to buy a new, smaller property? “We don’t want this internet banking thing. Can’t we just get the bank to send the owners money?” You can try but I don’t think they will. You need to transfer yourself via online banking.

OK, I did become a bit sharp. Still, internet access established (by me) and once money is in the bank it will be my job to pay the rent regularly. DD, again.

But we are still not finished with dutiful daughter jobs. Signing my parts of enduring power of attorney. A visit to my mother’s doctor with her to get him to sign his section on the enduring power of attorney form and discuss my concerns about my mother’s health.

Add in a visit to my aunt who lives nearby and who had a stroke last year. All round it’s been a fortnight of adult offspring care tasks.

I did get to do several rainforest walks. I wish I could share some photos but the camera on iPhone is dead.

Here’s one from an earlier visit:

If I was closer, and the borders didn’t keep closing, I’d be able to spread these tasks out. But then, possibly if there wasn’t a sense of urgency with the move, my parents wouldn’t have accepted my help?

Copying Laura from The Occasional Nomads, I am going to add a regular bit below.

What I’ve just read: The Blue Zones: lessons for living longer by Dan Beuttner. This has invigorated my health goals. Adding drinking water and working on better sleep (again) to my goals. Worth a read. The Living Sea of Waking Dreams by Richard Flanagan. Interesting style but too too depressing story about adult offspring who won’t let them mother die and forced on her painful, invasive medical interventions. Strange choice for my week with my elderly parents. Lol!

What I’ve been watching: too much shit on tele. I need to be more selective. Turning the Tv off will help me with my goals of sleep and home routines. I watch too many American home makeover shows. My favourite is the husband and wife couple on The Fixer-Upper. I also watched the first episode of the new series of Wife Swap. The Australian version. And Hughsies, We have a problem. And repeats of Would I lie to you and QI. Think I should go cold turkey and not turn the TV on after dinner.

Steps to my goal

  • Sleep – I’ve been sleeping well here. No stress of work to keep my mind rolling over.
  • Water – will start tallying my water consumption again.
  • Exercise – four days of rainforest walks in a row.
  • Decluttering – leaving a pair of sandals in Qld. Old and worn. Goal was to wear them out this summer. ✔️
  • Main thing for the year – I have a major goal I am too embarrassed to share until it is finished. But for now, know I haven’t done anything for it this week as my focus was helping mum move.
  • FIRE: I’m starting to think about the FIRE movement – Financially independent, retire early. Thinking but not doing much. Actually becoming more aware my purchases are working against it. $55 for lace bunting? Why? Jeans with beading for $250. I don’t really need them. Anyway, thinking and awareness are the first steps.

Comfy shoes

I have thrown out a pair of shoes. 

I bought them three summers ago. They were my first foray into “leisure shoes”. 

Mr S hated my new leisure shoes from the start. He thought they looked ugly and did nothing for my legs. I admit I normally wear something more structured and with a heel. If I am in walking shoes I tend go wear runners. Still these were so comfortable and I was in them non-stop through three summers.

(Yes, they were the start of my move into “comfortable shoes”, a sign of aging and an insult. Mr S says that about ugly shoes, “They must be comfortable”. Implication for those who don’t get it, “because you wouldn’t wear them for any other reason.”)

But they started dying. First the inside of the heel went. I persevered. Then the sole started separating from the top in different spots. Then the sole was nearly worn through. Then they stretched. And the last sraw: the inside became quite dirty. 

But never fear. I have another pair. A friend bought a very similar pair on my recommendation. While she was amazed I would take to leisure shoes (it was she who coined the phrase, as she normally wears such shoes.) she didn’t like my recommended pair. So passed them onto me. 

Quite handy having a friend with the same size foot.

Wearing in or wearing out

Do you like how soft old cotton pyjamas get? 

When they’ve been washed many, many times. When the threads, the weft and warp, have loosened. When the elastic is shot. When the material is thin. 

It’s how I prefer my pyjamas. Except I usually wear old tshirts, track pants and shorts as night attire when they’ve passed their prime as indoor around-the-house wear, which comes after they’ve past the wearable-in-public stage. 

In my defence, it is not just a tight arse thing. I find it difficult to find pyjamas that are comfortable. I don’t like buttons, or frills, or hard seams. Anything that is going to rub or itch. I don’t like neck lines too high but in winter I have to have my neck and back covered so can’t stand wide open neck lines. I can’t stand tight waists. Slinky material leaves me feeling cold and staticky. I can’t have just any cotton. It has to be knitted, stretchy material not woven material which stays cold to the touch. 

So old clothes work best for me. The line between comfy and rag-like does become fuzzy. 

For pyjamas, I don’t see holes in knees or neck lines. I can ignore seams that slightly come apart in the crutch. But I have standards, damn it. 

When the elastic totally goes and pants fall as I walk, they go. When holes appear in the backside or the ones in the crutch are too big to be decent, the clothing goes. 

I just let go of a pair of shorts that have been doing duty as PJ shorts. They’ve had a long life and I’ve definitely had value for money. Too many holes in the bottom now.
I am sad. I know it will be many years before I find a similar pair of shorts and wear them into a comfy state. 

Free slippers, anyone?

I have stopped taking the shampoo, conditioner and body lotions hotels provide. 

Basically they’re crap. Made in China crap. 

And normally they make my hair go like straw. Or have a scent I wouldn’t use. 

I do make exceptions. Crabtree and Evelyn  products. Nice smelling soaps for guests. (In the book I read where they won a luxury trip, they got Chanel and Tiffany products. I’d take those by the case load.)

I never used to be this strong but my “Use it up” challenge made me confront my excess product collection. Now I can walk out of a hotel and not feel the need to throw in all the small bottles. I’d rather spend money on the product I like than use a freebie I don’t like. 

But I can’t walk out with the slippers!

Why?

They are generally one size fits all which means they are too big for me. 

They don’t have a great warmth rating. 

I have heaps already. 

I did think I could give them out to guests who stay over. We have wooden floors which are cold in winter. But I don’t really have that many guests. 


Since I started my “Wear it out” challenge, I have stopped wearing my beloved uggies and are wearing the hotel slippers. 

Every so often I look down and think, “Shit. If someone came to the door now and saw me in these grotty things, they’d think I was a pig.” And then I know it is time to toss them. (They don’t really hold up to being placed in the washing machine.)

I have gone through quite a few. But they are like the magic pudding or wire coat hangers – there always seems to be another pair. OK, I did bring more home from my trip to China. Still…

Can you resist the free?

And what about the hidden costs? I don’t mean the hotel bill covers these things. I mean the cost to our environment for such disposable items. Does this cost worry you?

Wear it out

I’m feeling better, thanks for asking. 

Do you know how ill I was? Ignore the coughing and chills and sweating. I didn’t feel like reading; didn’t want bubbles; and I watched nothing that involved thinking. Muppets Movie, anyone?

Anyway, let’s move on. This house needs some organising and decluttering.

Everyone is into decluttering. Sorting through stuff and then tossing, donating, whatever! Just get it out. The western activity a result of consumerism. I never heard of decluttering in the 70s and 80s. We didn’t have tonnes of stuff. 

I’ve been mindlessly watching (see above) old episodes of Gok, some young fashionista from the UK. The shows I’ve been watching are quite old but I’d never heard of him before. I love his motto: shop less, wear more. He creates a wardrobe from 24 pieces. (I’d say he doesn’t live by that which is fine. Let me not make you hate me, or call me hypocritical, by counting my wardrobe items.)

I am attracted to the idea of having fewer clothes, more a capsule. But I have trouble letting things go. 

I like most of what I buy. I love shopping my wardrobe. I love having clothes for different seasons, weather, purposes, events, looks, moods. I love using items from my wardrobe and creating new outfits. I love shopping and finding new items. 

I have a problem with buying something and then tossing it while it is still good. The whole concept of disposable fashion irks me. All that production for landfill! 

I know one can donate but buying just to donate is so unfrugal. 

So I’ve been on a mission to wear clothes out. 

Except it is difficult to sometimes to work out at what level an item is worn out. 

Holes in the crutch! Easy? Toss?  No. Cause if they are in track suit pants they become PJs. 

Hole in the back of a top. Out? No, cause it can be worn with a jacket. 

Piling on a top. Mmm! Can it be worn under a jacket?

Dress material thinning. Wear a slip. 

When you see clothes fade, it is like living with someone as they age. You don’t notice it. 

Then there’s the whole concept of changing body shape, OK let’s call it what it is. Aging. Me. Not the clothes. Some just don’t suit you anymore. They worn out their welcome if you no longer look good. 

See it is not always easy. 

I want to be a sharp, a snappy dresser. But I want to get my money’s worth out of an item and I don’t want to add to landfill too much. 

So what have a worn out since the trackie dacks in September?

In the bin:

  • Two pairs of shoes. The thing that finally went in each could have been repaired but both had wear elsewhere that meant repair wouldn’t have been worth it. They would have looked shabby. 
  • A dress. I am hard on front and back seams of dresses and skirts, striding  around as I do. This one had been sewn up many times. Enough’s enough. 
  • A handbag. OK not clothing but I have too many of these too and they mostly live in my wardrobe. Or are meant to but they don’t fit. 
  • Hotel slippers. These are getting their own post.  
  • A much loved purple dress that literally wore thin. Does this happen anymore? I wore it with a slip for a while as it had become so thin but admitted defeat and tossed it. 

Worn thin


To the op shop:

  • A top that is no longer looking it’s best. It’s white but made of two different material. A satin material on the cuffs and collar which is shiny white still and stretchy material on the rest which is now too grey for my eyes. Also the stretch has gone and it is saggy. And if that is not enough, it has pilled around the side breast area where my handbag straps rubbed.
  • A top that isn’t white enough for me. Tried Napisaning it. No joy. 
  • A pin-striped jacket that is perfectly good but the matching skirt died long ago and I don’t wear the jacket with the pants. Too matchy matchy. 
  • A short summer dress. Actually not worn out at all. The material would never wear out! It’s nearly pure plastic, too hot for summer but it’s a summer dress. 

Too plasticky

  • A flash woollen jacket from a suit. Skirt died earlier. The jacket had become shiny. If I compared it with its original state, I’d probably be shocked. How long have I been wearing it past its prime?

Into the rag bag:

  • Two t shirts that have shrunk over the years. 

Given away:

  • A singlet top with embellishments that are starting to drop off. 
  • A handbag. 

A few items have been put into heavy rotation. They are on the turn and will cross that line that is “worn out”. My only fear: they’ve crossed that line already and I haven’t noticed! 

Wear it out

I have a pair of tracksuit pants that make me look like an extra from Struggle Street.

They are stretched and  baggy; the waist elastic is gone, the seams worn, with extra holes just about to appear in the knees and backside. 

I did not buy them. They were a “gift” from my mother – a hand-me-down as they didn’t fit her anymore. 

Yet I struggle to let them go. 

I never wore them in public. And still don’t, you’ll be pleased to know. They have been PJs. So who cares about the holes? A friend says I should have more self-care and self-respect and wear nice things at night. 

It is the frugal and green me that wants things to be used to death. 

Seems like we all have different definitions as to what constitutes death for clothes. 

 

Worn knee of trackie dacks

 
Should I perservere and wear them until there are actual holes in the backside? Or should I release them?

BTW: 42 days of not buying clothes. 

Use it up, wear it out, out with the boxes

Use it up

68 days without buying a hair care, skin care or makeup product now. 

Perhaps this challenge could also be called “Show us your empties”?  As I am using up my stash. 

Here’s some the lot that have been used up over the last week or two. 

  
I’ve finally used up an eye makeup remover. I’ve been using it all over my face with a cotton pad after I remove most make up with cleanser and a face washer. I figure if it is gentle enough for eyes it can be used all over my face. Who says I don’t push the boundaries?

More makeup does come off. So I probably wasn’t do enough for my skin when I just used a washer with cleanser and water. 

Now I’ll move onto the non-astringent toner I bought in this range years ago. It will probably last forever – I bought the large container for professionals, not for retail sale. It’s fine for my eyes too. So don’t you stress. I bought the toner because it was so gentle on my skin. Soothing, not just not making me go red. 

I wouldn’t buy the eye makeup remover again but I would defintiely get the toner. Just not until I’ve used up all other products. (Yes, I do have another toner. Unopened full size Clarins. GWP.)

I also used up a 10g night cream sample. Wouldn’t buy this either. Not soothing enough for me. Has AHAs in it. 

  

Just finished a shower gel/ bubbl bath product I bought in London in March. Whipped out another one I received as a gift a couple of years ago.
Threw out a large sample night cream. Didn’t like it on my face. Thought I would use it on my arms and legs but I really hate the smell. So no use torturing myself. Out! And replaced by rose hip oil for night. I have actually mixed in some of the long ago purchased macadamia oil cause I find the Rose hip oil too yellow and it sits on the skin.  

AND, finished a cleanser. This use it up challenge has been good for my skin. I remember to take off my makeup and clean my skin more thoroughly. 

  
Sukin is a good brand. Cruelty free, non-irritsting in my skin, with a gentle scent, made in Australia and reasonably priced. So I will probably be sticking with this product. 

My 900ml conditioner has finally gone. This one has blue toner in it to stop my blonde going brassy. This has lasted well over a year. Maybe two. But I have two normal sized conditioners in reserve. And a couple of treatments. 

  
Wear it out

The skirt I thought would die this season has just died. The back seam which has been mended numerous times, just ripped again as I got out of my car. The material is too frayed to mend again. And there are little holes appearing in the material around the skirt.

It’s had a good life. Regular wearing in autumn, winter and spring to work. Definitely over 10 years old. I can’t actually remember when I bought it. 

I think this makes up for the dress that came in three weeks ago. (Nothing bought since then.)

 

Ripped seam. But the skirt is not brown; it’s purple.

  

See? Purple.

 

And I wore out a top. Does a slip seam count as wearing it out? The top is tight fitted and slinky material. The split seam is under the arm and over-locked so repairing it might rub my skin. I am very sensitive and break out in a rash when my skin is rubbed. By also the top is over nine years old and wearing thin. Anyway, it’s gone. 

  
Out with the boxes

So it’s simple really. Boxes with writing on them go. 

I like a rule like this. 

Isn’t it funny how our own obsessions seem normal but the obsessions of others are just plain weird. 

One responder to my question about boxes revealed her need to keep pink Napisan plastic containers. Really? A plastic laundry container. 

Mad, people are. 

Me on the other hand, completely normal and my need to keep boxes, completely understandable. 

So imagine my joy when I find that the writing over one of my boxes was an outer cover. Look!

  
It was folded around the base as if it was the box, not a slip cover into which the box fitted. I’m not that stupid. So I ripped it off and now I have a plain pink base of a solid box. The lid has a small print stating the brand of cosmetics that were inside. But I can live with this, especially as the box currently holds much cosmetic product awaiting use. 

Wear it out

Remember how I went on The Great Wardrobe Diet in 2013?

No? Well, I’m not replicating it but am adding another challenge to my current list. I have Use It Up for cosmetics and Out With Boxes for boxes. And since the beginning of June I have been attempting to Wear It Out for clothes and shoes.

Part of Wear It Out has been to stop clothes coming in and wear items until they are dead.

What consitutes dead? Holes, pilling, worn thin, raggedly looking, saggy/baggy, unreapairable heals, unrepairable scuff marks, tears, non-elastic elastic.

See, I have too many clothes.

How many is too many? The amount of clothes I have.

No number. I started an inventory of dresses and skirts but lost count with my tops.

But when clothes cease fitting in their allotted space, you have too many.

I do like new clothes. And buy some regulalrly. But have trouble releasing my old clothes. Mainly because I love what I have.

So my goal is to wear more of my old clothes that are on the just wearable stage and then release them. I will try to stop buying.

Since the beginning of June I have said goodbye to a soft woollen cardie. A lovely shade of pink. It had holes. I wore it a couple of times this winter under a suit jacket, averaging once every second week this term. But the holes were now too noticeable. If I took the suit jacket off, it wouldn’t be a good look. So in June it had its last outing as an item of clothing. I cut it up and turned it into polishing cloths. 

Same thing happened to an Alannah Hill skirt. Mr S was shocked when he saw me taking to it with the shears. It was a rich purple and a thick knitted material which would have had many years left. But the lace overlay on the bottom flip part of the skirt was manky and holey and hanging. Last year I gave the skirt an extended life by cutting the overlay off the front but the trim on the back was now just too sad. I also wore out a pair of woollen socks that I have had for years. They have been sent to the shoe polishing box.

I also farewelled a pair of shoes. From the outside they looked OK but inside the leather was flaking away and every time I wore them, my feet would turn a nasty shade of dirty back-brown which was hard to clear from my feet. The dye soaked in!

Since the beginning of June only four new items have entered my wardrobe. Two ski pants (don’t make me feel guilty, yes they were cheap and they were probdbly produced with externalities), a dress at a wonderfully reduced price and a pair of thermal pants. At least some are leaving. Here’s the new dress:

Have you worn out clothes? Or do you change with changes in fashion? When you’re board with an item? If so, do you donate them before they die?