Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day 22 - It's War

Guess who's not working again.This morning when I pulled the start knob of the washing machine, all I got was a loud mechanical growl. Now in general, I'm a nice person, but I don't consider having household appliances growling at me as "acceptable behavior," especially after having just spent $300 to have it "fixed." Without really thinking about it, I smacked it out of frustration.

Suddenly, I had water and no growling.

I've seen this phenomenon with dogs, but I didn't think it extended to other things. However, I guess we have had to establish our hierarchy here.

I am now Alpha Appliance.

Excuse me while I go smack my cell phone.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Day 21 - Spring Has Arrived

Our weather has been mostly unpredictable (snow, rain, hot, cold) for a couple months, but the last few days have definitely been "spring." And in spring, a "younger" woman's thoughts turn lightly to yellow cotton sundresses.

There is something distinctly "spring" about certain shades of yellow, and all week I have been longing for a trip to Joann Fabrics to find a bright springy-yellow cotton print to make a summer dress. Do I have enough cotton fabric already to make at least 10 summer dresses? Yes. Does yellow make my little Norwegian self look like a large walking banana? Yes. Does any of that matter? Not in the slightest.

The addictive property of fabric is in its potential. The dress I could make, the jacket it could become, the suit I envision--the image is always much better than the Garment of Reality, which usually involves some editing, trimming, and lots of swearing. But in the fabric store, EVERYTHING is possible. I could look good in yellow. That gathered skirt really wouldn't make my hips look huge. Microsuede pants really won't make that corduroy "whooshing" sound with each step. In spite of all previous evidence to the contrary, attempting a full-size quilt really won't make me want to slit my wrists. Everything is possible.

Since the possibilities are always better than the reality (and take far, far less time), I can sit here and admire a closet full of fabric and yarn just waiting to be used. And all I can think about is buying more. A lovely, springy-yellow.......

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 20 - The Closest I'll Be To Shopping For A While

Since I have extended MY spending ban for 8 additional days, this
is no longer off-limits, so I have moved forward on the edging:

(The odd-color bits of yarn will be coming off. I am known to do a lot of odd things, but making lace shawls with random bits of miss-matched yarn isn't one of them).


There is such an emotional rush to getting a package in the mail! Besides just the thrill of getting anything in the mail that isn't addressed to "occupant" or asking for money, even when I know what is supposed to be in the package, it's still a huge thrill. When it's yarn....well, then it's close to a religious experience.

Theo didn't experience quite the same level of excitement, however......

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day 19 - Sometimes Tired is Good

Over the holiday weekend we went to Colorado for a niece's high school graduation this weekend, which is the reason for the lack of blogging. We had a fabulous time, though after several days of festivities (and I think doing an admirable job of keeping up with 3 very cool teenagers), and flying in late last night, I have been too tired today to even whimper when the new Joann's Fabrics sale flier arrived in the mail tonight. Not that I think I want to get through 80 more days this way, but sometimes it helps....

Day 18 - The Universe Remains A Mystery

Even though it is the only phone I have and I do have to use it quite a bit for work, I try really hard to not be on my cell phone when it can bother other people. I find it rude and inconsiderate--not to mention pretty ridiculous--when people find it necessary to have inane conversations in stores or anywhere around other people. Waiting for the flight from Denver tonight, a young woman sitting next to Andy made 11 separate calls trying to find out if the person picking her up had left for the airport yet. Two voicemail messages were closely followed by calls to various people to find out if "Trixy" or whatever her name was had left for the airport, followed by long discussions about how "scared" she was that Trixy wouldn't be at the airport. If you have to make 11 different calls to find out if someone who has obviously promised to pick you up is actually going to do so, you have obviously asked the wrong person. Then once Trixy was actually located--and was verified to indeed be on her way, there were 7 more calls to presumably everyone she talked to during the first round to assure them that she was indeed going to be picked up.

I do not make loud, ridiculous calls at any time, much less around strangers. I have not now, nor will I ever, start every phrase or thought with "like...." I have the sense to ask favors of dependable people. AND IT'S MY CELL PHONE THAT HAS DECIDED IT IS NOW ON LIFE SUPPORT!!!!!

The universe is just not fair.......

Day 17 - People Will Only Find the Spending Ban Funny From a Distance

Know what would be a good rainy-day activity to do with guests on Memorial Day?


Know what you can't do with guests who are on a bizarre spending ban?


We will be lucky to have any friends left once the spending ban is over.

Day 16 - That's where they are!

If we ever have another contest to find the dumbest products ever (which in most people's lives may not be terribly likely, but all bets are off about such things at Chateau Sutton-Goar), I have a new strategy.

I am going to the airport.

Airports have the best marketing strategy of all: Get a whole bunch of people into your space, provide them with chairs that have metal armrests to make sure no one can ever get too comfortable, then keep them in your space as long as possible with absolutely nothing to do besides shop the strange little stores you have "conveniently" provided. When else does anyone find potato-themed gifts (Boise airport--Idaho potato thing) a must-have?

And if we hadn't had to get up at 4:30AM to catch the flight on Saturday, I'd have remembered to take pictures. But at that time of the morning, we're probably lucky I didn't fly naked.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 15 - Temptation

It's Memorial Weekend. Know what that means?

A big sale at Joann Fabrics. Which I will not be going to--sigh.

If everyone else could make an effort to go, it would really help them, I'm sure. Their sales are down this me.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 14 - CONTRABAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The new yarn arrived last night:

It was so exciting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And feels SO sinful!!!!! Aside from the 90-day spending ban (reset to August 18 for me because of this yarn), I have been on a "yarn & fabric diet" all of 2008, so I haven't gotten any new yarn since DECEMBER. Illicit mohair--it just doesn't get any better......

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 13 - Know what I really, really, REALLY want to buy today????

It's the Larry Craig "bobble foot" doll!!!!

The St. Paul Saints from Minnesota--home of the infamous rest room--will be giving away Bobble-foot dolls to 2500 people at Sunday's game.

We in Idaho are SO proud!

Details here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 12 - Prominent Display

Have you ever noticed that there is some amount of browsing involved in grocery shopping? I stopped by a grocery store tonight on the way home from work, and supermarkets REALLY understand what impulse shoppers we Americans are. There were new release DVDs right by the produce--which is perfect, since what's a movie without an artichoke or potato? Useful "gadgets" hang from little clips just at eye level on every single aisle (which I can attest to as they are remodeling the store and after 3 laps, I finally had to ask for a map and a lifeline to find the coffee). And we BUY this stuff. Two weeks ago, I would have sworn that I didn't buy things that way, but I kept stopping automatically & had to remind myself that I can't buy any of those things. I don't need them, and might never have even seen them before, but just the fact that they are "on prominent display" gets me to stop. Geez!!!!

I'm going to go put the vacuum cleaner and mop in a "prominent display" and see if it has the same effect on me!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 11 - We Have Met the Enemy.....

......and he is Motorola.

This is my cell phone. He's about a year old--maybe a bit more. Until there was a spending ban in place, he only needed recharging occasionally. Yesterday, after a full night of recharging, he developed that sickly chirp at around noon. Now I won't say that it wasn't a busy day, and I did use him quite a bit, but dead after 4 hours???????

The 90-day-spending ban is obviously going to have 2 components:

1. learning about our spending habits for good or for bad, and hopefully steering them toward the "good" behaviors

2. an all-out war with our possessions to see which of us has the stronger will.

The tally so far:

1. washing machine: Timing error on its part--we were able to get the new part in under the wire.

2. batteries for the doorbell: I gave some friends some of our dried food experiments (the more successful ones) because they wanted to try them for camping, and as a "thank-you" they brought us "D" batteries that they had at their house. No money was spent, so we decided we could live with swapping something we already had for something they already had. What do you think--fair?

3. cell phone: I am carrying the charger around with me, and luckily I sell business telephones for a living. I can start carrying my VOIP phone home at night, or using the soft phone on my laptop. This is a battle I think I'm at least more prepared for than other people might be. Then again, it's doubtful other people would invent such stupid experiments....

Ha! Go ahead Universe! We can take it!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day 10 - What I Would Have Purchased Today

Darn near anything.

I am an emotional shopper. I did not know this before--though that does explain the insane amounts of yarn I have tucked away and the bookshelf of cookbooks....... I had a bad morning at work--relating to an incompetent coworker who expects everyone else to clean up his mistakes and then whines when none of us will allow him to work on our projects--and I was experiencing just a teensy bit of anger. My dearest wish would have been to fire him on the spot (or throttle him), but as I don't actually have that authority (or don't want to go to jail), my next strongest impulse was to buy something. Anything.


Is that really how I react to serious frustration? And if I do, what do frustration and buying have to do with one another (besides the mall anytime during the holiday season)?

So under normal circumstances, I would have spent $25-$40 to "cheer myself up." And yet the same inept coworker will still be there tomorrow, and maybe the day after. (Wouldn't take bets on his long-term outlook at the company as I am not the only coworker angry with him--I'm just the most angry today.) So in normal circumstances, I would still be angry AND out forty bucks.


Sunday, May 18, 2008


Today I had an epiphany:

All I have to do is go to August 18 instead of August 10 on the spending ban, and I do not have to live with the idea of being beaten by Ms. Sowerby! Aha!!!!!

As I am obviously starting to sound like a total maniac, while I am not competitive with other people like in sports or in school, I am insanely competitive if I have set out to do something and run into setbacks. I actually lost sleep last night over thinking that I couldn't stick to the rules of the 90-day spending ban.

Andy is a brave, brave man.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Day 8 - Some Interference from Realtiy

I blame it on Jane Sowerby.

This is a lovely knitting book:
The pictures are beautiful and are coffee-table-book worthy. Visually, it's a wonderful book. Unfortunately, knitters tend to have a few hangups about knitting books. It's fine and dandy to show them lovely pictures of shawls, but if , with the aid of said book, the knitter cannot recreate any of the patterns, the knitter will probably get really cranky.

Right now, I'm one of those really cranky knitters.

There are two problems with this book. One is the number of mistakes in the book. Now a great way to mess with a knitter's mind is to mistype the directions on a complicated lace pattern. Knitters are usually in awe of "designers" and will berate themselves for not being able to make the pattern come out correctly. It usually takes a couple hours, language that would embarrass even Hollywood, and several repeated attempts before the knitter realizes that it is the BOOK that is wrong, not the knitter. While being right does not make up for the lost 3 hours of your life you just spent getting to this conclusion, it does help a little.

This book, however, has a second more unique problem. For the average knitter, the patterns grossly underestimate the amount of yarn required to finish the project.

If yarn were like anything else in the world, this might not be a problem, but some knitters, being trusting souls, bought the stated yardage in a rare yarn that they encountered at a fiber festival (yep, such things exist). Sometimes they have spun their OWN yarn from hand-dyed fiber, which would be impossible to recreate. Sometimes they have scored a fabulous laceweight yarn on clearance, which they will never be able to find again. Sometimes they can find the yarn but not the dye lot, which means the new yarn won't exactly match the yarn they already have, creating very interesting shading problems on the knitting. Sometimes they declare stupid spending bans that don't allow them to buy anything new for 90 days.

This is what I have so far:

It's hard to photograph a lace shawl while still on the needles, but this is a wonderfully soft mohair with just a tiny bit of sparkle to it. I still have two rows on the body to do and then an edging all over the entire shawl to do, and I have this much yarn left:

I'm not going to make it.

Feeling really nervous after the pajama episode (when having foolishly NOT consulted the pattern, I came home with 1/2 a yard short of this:
which I could not locate after the December spending ban lifted, leaving Andy with:
pajama bottoms and no pajama top, and leaving me with a little bitterness toward the entire fabric industry--but that's another story), I checked online for this yarn.

It is being discontinued, but there are still a few balls available.

Option 1: Don't order the yarn, and have wasted $80 on really expensive mohair that can't be ripped back because when you knit mohair, all the little wisps of mohair lock together to form an insane bond that Scotch tape can only envy.

Option 2: Alter the pattern to do a much simpler border, thereby changing the entire look of the shawl which was the whole reason to make it in the first place.

Option 3: Wait anxiously until the ban has lifted, then hope and pray that I can find the dang yarn, which worked so freaking well for me with the pajama incident.

Option 4: Persuade someone ELSE to order the yarn for me and hold it until the ban has lifted, thereby proving I have indeed lost my mind entirely.

Option 5: Order the yarn, thereby breaking 2 bans (the 90-day ban AND the self-imposed "No New Yarn or Fabric" ban) and admitting that I was beaten by little miss Sowerby and her lack of test knitters.

[Note: I'm sure Ms. Sowerby is truly a lovely person, and I freely admit that my heartfelt desire to kick her in the shins at this moment is MY issue, not hers]

My loving spouse and I had a conference, and we have decided that we are both allowed 2 exceptions during this time frame, and that the exceptions truly must be special case scenarios, and that we both have to agree to them. So tonight I ordered the yarn.

Blast it!

But I'm NOT going to open that darn box until AFTER the spending ban has lifted. Little Miss Sowerby can only push me so far.....

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day 7 - The First Thing to Go

As soon as you declare a spending ban, it's basically a race to see what appliance/possession will stop working first. The washing machine just squeaked under the deadline, but our doorbell did not.

Our home, built about 3 years ago by a builder who was building it as his dream home, was built without a doorbell. Baffles the imagination. Did they forget? Leave it off the checklist? Not have any friends? Because it isn't like there's a knocker on the door either. If we're not within about 20 feet of the front entrance, we can't hear someone knocking. For a while we had to specify that people coming to parties "just walk right in," but that was a little too strange, so Andy installed a wireless doorbell--which has worked fine until this week. Could be the batteries, could be broken--we have no way of knowing as we don't have anything else with D batteries. I've looked. I have taped a little "out of order" sign on our doorbell, but 90 days of this???

I'll have to see if Andy can do something with hula hoop bits again.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 6 - We have laundry!!!

It takes so little to make me happy sometimes.

The washer works again, so I now have clean clothes and can quit dressing like a color-blind bag lady. Whew--there is nothing that will change your attitude faster than being faced with the prospect of a weekend at the laundromat.

I could have taken our clothes to a cleaners, of course, but the last time I took dry cleaning in, they made me sign a waiver saying I would not hold them responsible for what they were about to do to my clothes. To be honest, I thought that the reason I was taking my clothes to a total stranger so they could "clean" them for me (still not so sure about that, but that's another story) was so they didn't get destroyed by regular washing. If they're going to get destroyed anyway, what am I shelling out $75 for? A mini vacation for my suits???? So when I did go back to get my clothes, the clerk made a point of telling me that the beads now missing from my dress were actually already missing when I brought it in. Uh huh. Have you ever noticed that the more a person goes out of his or her way to tell you something wasn't his or her fault, the more likely it is that it was? I don't know, maybe I'm a little cynical here, but when a dry cleaner makes you sign a waiver and THEN makes a point of telling you that the damage was REALLY done before you brought the clothes in & that you just didn't happen to notice anytime during the 8 hours you were wearing it the day before, I'm thinking they either know they do a lousy job or have just hired chimpanzees to run the machines in an effort to save money.

Or perhaps not being able to buy anything new for 90 days makes me just a little cranky......

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day 5 - We Have A Winner

In our competition to find completely useless stuff, I pretty much thought I had everything sewn up--especially with Andy's one lone product--

For fun, I'd use the He-man duct tape bandaids. I could be persuaded to use the Easter/sport notepads for 3-year-olds, the goldfish container might be put to use to hold buttons in the sewing room, and there is a chance I would be willing to see if some slimy gel really did make my legs look energized.

But there is NOTHING on earth that would persuade me to try beer mixed with clam juice and tomato juice. Nope--nothing.

I think we have a winner.....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day 4 - Andy Encounters His First Setback

We stockpiled light bulbs, socks, envelopes, paper, packing tape, epoxy, stamps, contact lenses, pens, batteries, canning jars, paint, thread, car fuses, and gifts. The one thing we know we missed:

Duct tape.

Andy was trying to set the drip line/hose in one of the garden beds, and as a true male of the species, was going to fix it with duct tape. I did offer the duct tape Bandaids, but I don't think Andy was amused. Instead, in the best think-outside-the-box fashion, this:
was achieved with pieces of this

a gardening implement known to the rest of us as a "hula hoop."

You know what they say--Necessity is the Parental Unit of Invention.....

Monday, May 12, 2008

Day 3 - What We Would Have Bought So Far

3 days down out of 90, and so far we would have purchased:

1. paint (for the office--I think it needs a little stenciling)

2. a stencil (to be fair, I said I could make one out of cardboard, though Andy has some doubts. The man has played Pictionary with me, after all)

3. wooden knitting needles - size 9 (some yarns are just too slippery for metal needles, unless one is into knitting for the swearing opportunities)

4. more flowers (I have a flower pot in the back yard that I forgot, so I'm attempting zinnias from seeds, but buying plants makes me look like a better gardener)

Not bad, though I'm not sure there's any real "personal growth" being achieved by not buying these particular items (especially considering all the swearing).....

And on a side note--the He-Man Duct-tape bandaids were on a little side-bar of the regular bandaid isle at Fred Meyer (Kroger) grocery store. Sounds like a lot of men will be getting them for Christmas........:)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day 2

Wow, it is a bit daunting to realize this is going to go all the way to "Day 90." Yikes.

It is possible that the dog treats might not be quite as worthless as I thought. Theo was quite enamored with them, and spent quite some time licking them.

Unfortunately, it might be a hallucinogen for cats, as he seems to have had Superman dreams later.

Today I planted most of the garden and the front flower pots--

Sorry about the through-the-glass shot, but in order to get an outside shot I would have to either admit to the neighbors that I'm in my PJs at 6:00 PM, or I'd have to get dressed again, so....

I will be keeping a VERY close eye on the flowers. While we have opted to consider vegetable plants or seeds as "food" (that is, if I don't keep killing them) and therefore "allowed," flowers are most definitely "things" and cannot be replaced. Now the question is, is plant food "food" or a "thing?"

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Day 1 - The Reality Wall

Aside from food, we won't be allowed to buy any new THINGS until after August 10.

That seems like SUCH a long time!!!!!!

I'll be back after the shock wears off........

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Final Contestants

Today is our last free-purchasing day, and the final day for our $10 quest to find the most useless items in American capitalism. My final entries:

1. "Tired Leg Gel"
From the package: "Soothing & cooling, our natural morello cherry & iced mint Tired Leg Gel will give lasting relief for tired, itching & heavy legs & feet and put the spring back into your step."

That is really asking quite a bit of cherries and mint--especially if they aren't going to be served in a beach drink with a funky umbrella stir-stick. I'll let you know how it works.

2. The worst-looking dog chew toys EVER:

Now if you've ever had a dog larger than, say, a weasel, you know that all chew toys end up in chunks scattered around your home. Anyone want to run across bits of this
in a few months?

And my personal favorite....

3. Manly "Band-Aids."

For those he-man "ow-ees."

Andy is proudly displaying his one item:

A 24-ounce can of "Chelada," a blend of Bud Light and Clamato juice (clam juice & tomato?) with salt and lime added.

Doesn't that just make your skin crawl?

I have quite thoroughly razzed Andy about only finding one item (he had $7 left to spend), but I do admit that he found a doozy. So, I will let the readers pick the winner.....

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Contender #2

For $2.99 (which boggles the imagination, I know), I have my second contender for Most Useless Product in America.
A plastic goldfish container to carry Pepperidge Farm goldfish in.

Besides the overall objections to a really unhealthy snack, does anyone else remember when these sorts of useless items were obtained by sending proofs of purchase to the manufacturer to prove that you did indeed buy their product and had therefore "earned" the useless promotional item that would further market the company's product? Does this mean that we've become foolish enough to start paying companies for the privilege of marketing their products FOR them?

$5.82 left to spend by Friday at midnight!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Just Under the Wire


That's how much it will take to restore laundry to the Goar-Sutton household.

In 10 days.

After some hurried discussions via cell phone, with much grumbling we gave the Sears repair man the money to order the parts, but we're not paying him for labor until the thing is up & running again. It's weak, I admit, but it will still adhere to the actual "letter of the law" of the experiment. Labor is a service--not a "thing," so repairs are technically allowed, though the part would be a decidedly gray area. That, however, was bought & paid for today.

A bit of a stretch, I know, but have you actually been inside a laundromat recently??????

10 days until we can do laundry.......time to go count the underwear......

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Repair Man Cometh

We should be able to do laundry tomorrow!!!!

That will teach me. I have been known to grumble about the laundry on weekends, for which I am greatly ashamed. Doing laundry in the convenience of your own home is a wonderful, marvelous thing--so says a woman facing the prospect of 90 days of laundromats.

The Sears website is an interesting one--when you request a service appointment, it pops up with a list of appointments to choose from listing several days and the following options:

between 8:00 AM and 12:00 PM
between 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM
between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM

I am racking my brain for the scenario in which one would choose the third option. An addiction to surprise parties? Never getting visitors for any other reason? Wanting to justify an entire day off of work? Inability to make decisions?

We, of course, chose the first available appointment. I am willing to try many things for the sake of the challenge, but 3 months without laundry isn't one of them.

4 days left....

Sunday, May 4, 2008

We're Going to be Playing Dirty

Five days until the spending ban begins and today the washing machine started taking hostages.

Andy's underwear (which I am not allowed to photograph) spent 4 hours trapped inside:
this seemingly innocent washing machine. Now for those of you who don't have one, a front loading machine has a door lock feature, which means that you will only get your clothes back when the washer is darn good & ready to let you have it back. Andy did eventually get his underwear back, but it took a great deal of rinsing in the bathtub (which I was also not allowed to photograph) to remove the soapsuds.

5 days until the spending ban begins, which is obviously going to be a war with the appliances.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I blame it on this

A second cup of coffee. Me hyped up on caffeine rarely has good consequences. Today's was pickling garlic.

A few weeks ago, in anticipation of a tremendous garden this year, I ordered two books on preserving foods, believing that one book would just not provide enough options for the produce avalanche we will experience (when I'm being delusional, I like to be thorough). One had a recipe for pickled garlic, which sounded like a wonderful appetizer--or a good test of a marriage, whichever way you'd like to look at it.

I picked up 9 heads of garlic at the store--leaving a checker quite positive that I had a vampire infestation--then had to have Andy pick up 3 more as the recipe quite firmly stated that it would take 12 heads of garlic to fill 5 8-ounce jars.
Not if the heads are this size.

After blanching the garlic, Andy was drafted into peeling the skins off the cloves,

and might cease to smell of garlic by our third wedding anniversary.

Peeling wet garlic cloves is an entertaining endeavor. Andy swears it was not a personal issue when he squeezed a clove too tightly and it barely missed my head. In some homes, cooking is a contact sport.

Half an hour later,
7 8-ounce jars of garlic, the leftovers are in the refrigerator marinating, my hands may permanently smell like brine, the kitchen looks like it was struck by canning terrorists,

and one jar has sealed so far.

Ah, the adventures of newlyweds......

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My first contender

As you may remember, Andy and I each received $10 to purchase the most ridiculous items we can find before the 90-day spending ban begins on May 9. Today I found my first contender.

For $1.19 I am the proud possessor ofEaster notepads that have nothing whatsoever to do with Easter. Aside from that foolishness, my reason for nominating this particular item is in the upper left hand corner--"Ages 3 and up."

Exactly how many memos does anyone actually receive from a 3 year old?

Fall! Finally!

Even without extremely hot summers, I've always loved fall.  A little coolness in the air, leaves starting to turn, sweaters coming out-...