August 31, 2009 :: Bye, bye summer spending

I've dubbed it the September of Nothing. Blake would rather I refer to it as the September of Very Little, (out of simple dread) but I think that's splitting hairs. After spending a small fortune in home upgrades and seeing a stagnation of freelance work that's simply apocalyptic, we're battening down the hatches - happily. Starting today (a day early! we're already ahead!) the Tennelle Street gang will be experimenting in the fine art of much-less-is-so-much-more for thirty austere days that will make my midwestern DNA humm in the gorgeous, thrifty harmony of it all.

We blew it out in August, and boy, was it a pockebook-busting party every day. Woo hoo new shoes! Woo hoo new paint for the house! Woo hoo organic produce from Kroger! Yeeaaah thermostat at 75 degrees! But, (as always) I am ready for a change. And a challenge. And a chance to do something even better for us and our little plot of Georgia and everyone around us. Something healthy and simple(r). We don't do badly already, to be honest, but we can do even better.

There's no rules to this game, we'll just make it up as we go along. But I have some goals:
  • Drive even less. Blake can't do much to help his commute (24 miles one-way to Roswell), but I can. I've followed my friend Sam (read his story here) to the nearly train-bound life, and also signed up for the Clean Air Campaign's Commuter Rewards Program. Now, the state of Georgia PAYS me to take public transporation. To little-old capitalistic me, there's nothing more motivating than that.
  • Eat more frugally. We grow bunches of stuff ourselves, take part in a CSA and shop the local farmers' markets as much as possible. But we're still not opportunistic enough eaters, or so says my Mint budget tracker. (a fantastic, free program you should try, by the way.) At 5 PM on a Thursday, we decide we want {insert complicated food we have zero of the ingredients for here}, and we go buy it. From Kroger. Which is expensive. We're giving a small fortune to that grocery store, and it's got to stop. For the next 30, we're planning better and eating what we've already got. Period.
  • Start several "funds" for big-ticket items. We need a new HVAC unit. (one that, preferably, produces heat and is not the size of a pickup truck.) We also need a new roof, a small garden shed, a visit from an electrician, and, seriously, a damn long vacation. Somewhere with water and silence would be nice. We have a terribly hard time saving for any and all of these things.
  • Eat away at the debt. I won't go into detail, but debt...we got it. And it needs to go away. Now. No time like the present to whittle away at it a little faster than we have been.
I feel like I rolled violently off of some plodding wagon a while back. For all my good planning and intent, things just keep getting more expensive, I keep taking in the same amount, and we keep falling further and further behind where we'd like to be. Oh this Nothing will be sweet if it works.

I will be posting often what we're doing and changing and altering in this pursuit, and hopefully some kind of great return at the end. Wish me luck.



August 25, 2009 :: The Walk

The route - from Cabbagetown through the tunnel, down Edgewood through Inman Park, onto the East-West line, to the North-South line, to the High Museum, down Peachtree to Ansley Park, around the circle and up the stairs in the modern-mission building, then reversed, eight-some hours later.

Done twice a day, four miles of walking, 20-some minutes of headphoned people-watching, one train change, one stop at the coffee shop, zero blisters in just the right shoes. This is the thing I love most about living in the city right now.

Today's walk photos span east to west on the last leg of the trip.

*House posting, some kind of update, and general motivation, hopefully, coming soon. I'm in a photographic, ideologic, and design rut. Things are brewing, however. I'll be back.