One Month Down

January is typically a quieter time for me but this month has been extremely low key. I’ve been home a lot – stress has played a big role along with weather which has made it difficult to get outdoors for hikes.

This has actually made my No Spend Month a little easier. If you stay home (and away from your favorite online retailers), there’s little temptation to buy stuff you don’t need. Even still, I did have some unplanned purchases – a work function took me to a cute vintage shop which I wanted to support. So I spent $21 on two cute hats.

I ate out more than I wanted because of work travel and ended up exceeding my grocery budget as well. This was mainly because I found some deals that will save money in the long run. Even still, I ate well and came in under what I would normally spend on groceries.

There were a number of opportunities to shop for entertainment, to pick up clearance deals or seek out vintage treasures. However, I was so busy doing other things that I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.

I did buy tickets for a couple of upcoming local shows that I really want to see and I’m ok with that.

Perfection isn’t nearly as important to me as “good enough.” And I did good enough.

My little cat is happy having me home more and I’m better read, having plowed through a big stack of books in January.

I didn’t focus on exercise nearly as much as I wanted, opting instead for more rest. The treadmill isn’t nearly so inviting as the open trail.

In all, January feels like a success. It has been pleasant enough that I’m planning to continue through February with some new exceptions to the rules.

So, there you go. One twelfth of the year is now complete. One twelfth! How quickly did that pass?

The Chair

This chair was for sale in an antique store near Kenton, Ohio. It’s actually in a cute little town called Mt. Victory that boasts several antique stores.

I didn’t look at the price because it wouldn’t fit in the car but can’t get out of my head that I need a chair like this. Wouldn’t it make a great reading chair? Is it bad that I’m still drooling over this chair almost a month later? I’m in vacation saving mode now so there will be no chair acquisition in my immediate future but it’s nice to dream.

That exposed brick wall is awfully nice too.

It’s so important to have a great place to relax in your home. What’s your favorite room like? Tell me in the comments! I’m always looking for ideas to cozy up my home!

If you’re in the Mt. Victory area, it would be worth a stop to check out their antique stores! The drive-in theater with the great sign is nearby too!

No Spend Month Fun and Vegan Food

We’re 21 days into No Spend January and I have to say it’s been so easy that the prospects of ending it are not especially attractive. I’m thinking about continuing it for another month with a couple of small exceptions to the rules.

Weekends and most evenings have called for quiet times at home. I’ve had time to read, watch movies and catch up on chores around the house. It’s like a staycation every weekend.

Purging and organization projects have revealed some disturbing patterns. For example, just how many half used bottles of bathroom cleaner and conditioner does a gal need? I even discovered that I have two copies of Outlander Season three on dvd that I don’t remember buying.

Either of them.

The month began with a list of areas to purge like my sock drawer, kitchen cabinets and movie collection. About two-thirds of the list is complete. I also have a list of things to do instead of shopping or spending money but I haven’t referred to it even once. It’s going to sound weird but it’s sort of fun to just spend some time inventorying and appreciating what you have.

Cooking has been more fun this month and there’s been a fair amount of experimentation in the kitchen. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make vegan baked goods that resemble their non-vegan counterparts. Removing eggs and butter from the equation is harder than it sounds. While there is a vegan butter on the market, I refused to remove one processed food from my diet only to add in another.

Even with cooking more and experimenting a lot, I’m eating extremely well for less money than normal. Plus there’s been a lot less kitchen waste which is extremely pleasing.

I ran into Wal-Mart for cat food and also to TJ Maxx in search of a gift last week. I wasn’t tempted to buy a single thing and didn’t even buy the gift because everything just looked like cheap, unnecessary crap. A month ago I would have been all over the clearance section and would have walked out with a bag of stuff I didn’t need.

That, my friends, is a huge accomplishment.

For all this progress, there’s still much to do. First, I need to figure out this vegan baked good thing. And, at odds with this goal, is my desire to exercise more consistently. I’m still working toward that goal to run a mile. Perhaps another four weeks will get me there.

Are you interested in trying a No Spend Month? It doesn’t have to be as hard or as austere as it sounds. You set your own rules and have the ability to make a No Spend Month what you want it to be.

My rules are as follows:

  1. Pay all bills on time.
  2. Continue saving money for future goals including retirement, emergencies, vacation, etc.
  3. Buy groceries but attempt to use out of the pantry and freezer stockpile. Avoid buying processed foods by preparing fresh and healthy alternatives.
  4. Buy things that are needed. If I damage my work shoes, they need to be replaced but a cute pair of shoes that I don’t need aren’t part of the equation.
  5. Buy gas but make an effort to batch errands and to not drive unnecessarily.
  6. Seek free entertainment. For me, that’s hiking, photography, reading, play piano, movies and other hobbies.
  7. Write down wants and needs instead of buying immediately. So far the list doesn’t exist because I don’t need or want anything but the idea behind this is to delay gratification and to plan purchases.
  8. No more shopping for entertainment. No Amazon and no browsing for entertainment.
  9. Plan as much as possible. I can stop for gas but having a reusable water bottle and a snack in my bag means there’s no reason to go inside for a drink.

There were a couple of exceptions to the rules this month. Dinner and a movie with a friend (it was a delayed Christmas celebration), a retirement gift for a friend at work and retirement cards for some others were planned. I ate out a few times but, aside from that dinner with a friend, it was always because I had to while traveling for work. So far, I’ve stayed in budget and that’s ok.

If I continue this into February, there’s a comedian I want to go see and my mother’s birthday is in February. Other than that, there aren’t many reasons to spend money.

You can make up your own rules and make the exercise what you want it to be.

So who’s in? Anyone else want to try a no spend month? February is the shortest month of the year so it’s a great time to try!

A Change Of Plans

Today’s post was supposed to be about a light display in a neighboring town. The plan was to go last night and grab a vegan burger from a mom and pop place in the neighborhood.

But the sun was shining yesterday and it was beautiful. Consequently, I made the game time decision to spend the morning hiking and stay home last night. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow!

That’s actually one benefit of being single – a gal can change her mind without considering anyone else’s feelings anytime she likes.

It’s dark when I leave work so hiking isn’t typically an option this time of year. It seemed smart to take advantage of the sunshine.

It was 30 degrees when I went into the woods and about 15 degrees warmer on exit. There weren’t many people out – mainly the hearty souls like me who really wanted to be in nature.

So it was a great day for a stretch of the legs and just what I needed to help clear my mind. In fact, I went in feeling a bit uptight but came out feeling great.

A quick trip through the antique mall yielded a new book. Afterward, a sandwich from a local deli resulted in an impromptu picnic. Hey! The sun was shining and it was above freezing! It was a perfect day for it!

It turned out to be a great day.

Nature was calling. I had to go. I’ve seen those Christmas lights before and they will be there later.

My Theory About Santa

After hearing about the struggles of so many friends who still aren’t done with their Christmas shopping, I have developed a new theory about Santa.

Perhaps he was invented by a procrastinator who wished that someone else would show up in the middle of the night with all the shopping done and gifts wrapped.

It makes sense to me!

My shopping has been done for a couple of weeks, the gifts are wrapped and cookies are baked. I’m making dinner tomorrow but things are pretty low key around here. I went shopping on Saturday to find a few things I needed for the house but sort of enjoyed the hustle and bustle since I was under no pressure to buy anything!

For your sake, dear friends, I sincerely hope that your work is done and that you can spend some of the next few days relaxing and enjoying the season.

Merry Christmas!

Shadyside Sweets, Nerd Stuff and a Diner!

If you ever find yourself in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh, make your way to Prantl’s Bakery.

It’s a quaint landmark for good reason. Truth be told, I’ve only ever had their Burnt Almond Torte, a delicious little treat that literally melts in your mouth. However, if this decadent morsel isn’t your speed, there’s more to choose from. Lots more.

And while you’re in the neighborhood, there’s a host of cute stores including a fantastic little nerd shop called Kards Unlimited. It’s packed with books, games, stationary and some of the most unique gift items you never knew you needed.

My big splurge this trip was a pretty little pair of green turquoise earrings to match a necklace I purchased there last year. Plus I finally found a black cat Christmas ornament that I couldn’t live without.

Next door to Prantl’s is a Pamela’s Diner. Click here if you want to read about my experience with this funky local chain.

In addition to places to eat and shop, you’ll find that Shadyside is walkable and is home to some talented buskers. This gentleman made my day.

Quirky shopping, sweets and music in the air? Sign me up! In fact, I told Nichola this should be a stop every visit! The neighborhood is also just a stone’s throw from the Frick and some other attractions to keep you entertained.

Want to visit Shadyside? Read more on the Visit Pittsburgh site. If you go, I expect to hear all about it!