Wednesday, June 18

From goats to...death row!

I don't use enough dramatic titles on Gloss!

Seeing as Gloss is my digital scrapbook, I wanted to scribble about something that's recently hit a nerve with me.

A lot of you probably know about the West Memphis Three case. I vaguely remember hearing about it in highschool but I've only just gotten to grips with the full story. If you'd like it in a nutshell, watch this trailer! 

So basically, three teenagers - Damien, Jessie and Jason - were wrongly convicted of murdering three eight-year old boys in 1993. They spent eighteen and a half years in prison. The alleged ringleader, Damien Echols, spent ten years of that in solitary confinement, awaiting execution. They eventually managed to walk out of prison after signing something called an Alford plea but they haven't been exonerated. Now, the reason this story has hit a nerve with me is because stupid things like their dress sense figured into the state's reasoning for their guilt! Damien and Jason had long hair, listened to heavy metal and wore a lot of black. This gave the state cause to believe that they were murderous s@tanists. AKA: How ridiculous. I've thrown in the @ sign because I don't want Gloss getting a lot of creepers hits. Anyway! I was frightened to the core because it made me think, if I'd lived in their neighbourhood at that time, I would have probably also been chucked in the slammer because I kinda looked like they did. My Pantera shirt was my prized possession along with my CDs, candles and posters. Was I worshipping some dark force? No. I just happened to like the sound of crunchy guitars! And, erm, candles! Thankfully, I lived a million miles away in sunny South Africa but I experienced a similar sort of prejudice in school. I won't go into the details on Gloss but I was accused of all sorts of horrible things when I was really the most harmless thing on the planet. 

Amazingly, Damien and Jason share their story without any bitterness. From what I've read and watched, they seem to be sweet, gentle humans who just want to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Jessie is the quieter one in terms of talking to the media. Damien has become an incredible inspiration to me. He could have lost his mind in prison, or worse - taken his life - but he read everything he could and found ways to deal with his stress and pain. So whenever I'm feeling stressed now, I think, "Well, at least I'm not on death row!"

Why am I blogging this? Because Damien and Jason are doing everything they can to convince the state to re-open the case and find the real killer/s. They need support. They need the state to know that this isn't going to die down - that people will continue fighting for justice. So I guess I just wanted to do my tiny bit to support these guys. And if I could ask the world one thing, it would be, don't be quick to judge. Get to know someone first. Try to understand their background. Empathy, understanding and kindness - that's what the world needs more of. One of my happiest moments was looking around at my twenty-first birthday party which was held at the local church hall. I smiled when I saw pastors pouring tea for my band mates - and my tattooed, long-haired buddies noshing cupcakes with my gran! It was surreal in a cool way! And FYI, I wore my Metallica shirt to the office yesterday because I still freaking love metal! 

Side note: One of my other heroes, Eddie Vedder, spent something like fifteen years supporting the West Memphis Three - and most of that was out of the public eye. Along with many others, he played a role in saving them. I couldn't help but relate to that in a much smaller sense because....when I was fourteen, I spotted a Peal Jam cassette at this random market downtown by the harbour. My parents bought it for me  - I think it was like, R10 - and I slipped it into my walkman. I jammed that cassette for years and when I look back now, it was bands like Pearl Jam that sort of saved me at the time. If you were also a 90s kid, I'm sure you'll relate too. 

And lastly, how crazy, amazing is this? x

Sunday, June 15

Cotton Tails

Just some precious, little cotton tails we visited last weekend at the Flag Animal Farm.
How I wish I could have some goatlings of my own. x

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Sunday, June 8

Ten tips for a thirty-day spend fast!

PLOT TWIST! This is actually a frugal finance blog. Heh. 
K, it's not but ya'll seem to enjoy this topic and I'm enjoying learning about it so let's keep chatting about it! For June, (well, since my last pay check which was late May), I challenged myself to only spend money on my essential bills and groceries. Read: Needs! So this means, for +- thirty days, I'm avoiding all wants like clothes, flowers, home goodies, hair cuts and well, anything non-essential. I could have been even stricter on the grocery side but baby steps!

I'm two weeks in and I've managed to stick to this bar a visit to the animal farm and lunch on the beach with one of my besties. Both outings were less than R100 each and I'm considering them enjoyable cheats! I totally forgot that we usually go camping with mates in June and I'm not sure how to resolve that one yet! 

I didn't think this spend-fast thing was a biggish deal and I wasn't even gonna blog about it but a few friends have said, "How are you managing that???!! Please give us tips!" Lols. So I gave it some thought and came up with a couple of things that are helping me to not spend on wants. FYI: I totally believe it's cool to treat yourself to some wants if you're also saving some dosh - I'm just limiting my spending this month because I have a lot of upcoming expenses like dentistry, renewing my drivers license and vehicle license etc

This has been an enlightening exercise because it's made me acutely aware of the things I crave and probably over-spend on. If you've been going a little spend-crazy, it might be an idea to try a spend-fast and sober your wallet up! 

1. STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM THE MALL. If things are out of sight, they're out of mind. Fortunately for me, I hate malls! The crowds freak me out. If you can, avoid the mall and rather buy your groceries from a stand-alone grocer. There's a certain homeware store that I drive past daily and now that guy, I love. Everything is pretty reasonably priced but man alive, if I walk in there, all my will-power instantly evaporates and I end up buying 32 polka-dot cupcake cases that I do not need! It's been hard driving past but the temptation to spend is way less than if I were in there.

2. Dust and cherish your stuff
Before you buy new stuff, love your old stuff! Dust and shine that crazy, old deer ornament that's collecting cobwebs on your book shelf. When you fall back in love with the things you own, you'll be less inclined to buy more things right away.

3. Re-arrange your stuff
Again, this will help to remind you of what you do have. Seeing old things in new places is sometimes enough to give you that feeling of, "Yay, newness!"

4. Springclean your wardrobe
Chuck out/donate the things you absolutely never wear and plan what to replace when you're done with your fast! Then, get creative with those pieces you haven't worn in a while. Haul them out, mend them, iron them and give them a spin while deciding what to buy in the future. 

5. Shop Pinterest!
Pinning is erm, kind of like window shopping with less temptation! It might heighten your urge to shop but it seems to tame mine for some reason.

6. Entertain at home
You don't really need to spend loot to have a good time with your mates. After all, the fun should be in just hanging out, eh? So take down your freshly-cleaned plates (see point 2) and have your mates round for wine coffee and cake at home. My friends are used to me saying, "I can't do dins out but I can totally bake you a banana bread so pull round!" 

7. Do all the free, fun things in your city!
Walk through a pretty tree-lined street, picnic in a park or visit a museum (I'm not actually sure what our museums cost in Durbs but I visited loads of free museums in London.) Fun + an education! Ok, I'm sounding like a frugal-nerd-supreme here. Thing is, you can't stay inside your home for four weekends in a row on a spend-fast. You'll go a little nutty! Fortunately, most places have some fun, freebies to enjoy.

8. Watch your savings grow and give yourself a high-five!
You won't feel so deprived on your spend-fast when you see your hard-earned cash sitting in your bank account. Once you've tempered your spending cravings, you'll be able to think more clearly about what you really wanna do with that cash. 

9. Sell your old stuff!
Give your savings an extra boost with a garage sale! Now, I am extremely sentimental. I have every birthday card I've ever been given since I was one years old and I struggle to let things go. But, I had way too many things sitting in storage that hadn't been used in years. So, I went through everything and divided it into piles of "Keep Forevz!", "Donate" and "Sell." I took photos of the stuff I planned to sell so I could still remember them fondly. Then, I sold them onto people who would give them happier homes. I freed up space, made some money and also made some other people happy because they got that stuff at a bargalicious price! 

10. Plan your next month's spending
It'll be easier to hang back on spending for a month when you've got a plan for next month's spending. Also, you'll be less inclined to make crazy impulse buys when you've calmly planned your next month's "wants."

And there ya go! Hope that inspires you with your own money journey. x

PS: Sorry again for the lack of pics! I was gonna post today's animal farm snaps but I feel like there's a flu creeping over me and all I wanna do is tuck into the Sunday roast that Jon's just made. Mmmmmm. I can smell it now! Update: I ate it and it was freaking delish.

PPS: I still wanna post about cheap and cheerful things to do in KZN and I'm tempted to pen one called "Carrie Bradshaw is the worst role model for money EVER." That said, she is a very sweet character - most of the time!