culling desire

Yeah, so the thirty five post got me thinking. Here we are, on this internet, and yeah, it can be homogenous. But we like tea parties. We like rosy glows. We like old things with history, we like new shiny golden things. Our hearts resonate & vibrate to these things, we are not always just ‘being trendy’ – we are tugging on heart strings that need nourishment in a world too often filled with traffic jams and cubicles and bills. We want stripes and pink cake, damn you, to soothe our little souls.

But sites like Pinterest and Polyvore can really be calming and stressful all at once. They’re super handy because I’m all over the place with my style and decor, and sometimes I want to feel more discerning and directed.  It really hones my aesthetic and is fascinating from a magpie point of view – what am I picking up and saying “ohhh! shiny!!” about? On the other hand, I can’t afford all that stuff, and some people can. It hurts my head to be exposed too much to people whom before-blogs I maybe wouldn’t have crossed paths with, people who think nothing of having many pairs of $900 shoes. Haves and Have nots, blown up 23719872342-fold with the internet.

So, I do not like to read many blogs that have a lot of Stuff and Desire. I adore ladies like Jen at Honey Kennedy and Ginny Branch who are picky and choosy in all the right ways & find unique new designers and shops, but I have to be careful. I think about consumption a lot, and I can’t have All The Nice Things I Want and I don’t need to be making myself want stuff I don’t need and can’t afford and don’t want to fill landfills with.

And oh, I will want stuff. Against logic I will decide I need some crazy thing I saw, especially makeup products (see last post) or shoes.  I’m usually pretty strict on myself about buying new, plus, there ain’t no money, honey. Luckily, I’m good at finding bargains and wrangling free stuff. Like that locket. Cute, no?

I also fall into the “Wow, I am really not blonde and young and tall and thin and there really is a lot of that and maybe it would be nice if I was but you know that’s not really possible so um maybe I’ll just buy this lipstick instead, ok?” thought process (advertising psychology for the win!) more than I should admit. And I definitely fall off the buying wagon more than I’d like to admit, too. You can’t thrift lipstick.

Never-the-less, there are some things I want right now, for reals. That sounds crazy after all that, right? But it’s true. We’re complex people with complex needs. I can know I need to be frugal and still want a new dress. But instead of running out and buying it all I’m making thrift lists for Palm Springs & keeping eyes peeled.

1. Cameo rings. Though, this is one spot where the internet is working against itself because something I read said “cameos used to be dumpy and now they totally hot.” What does that even MEAN? I still want one. My mom has a couple lovely Victorian family cameo lockets with tiny photos of my great great great grandmother. It’s also really really hard to find nice cameos, and I want rose gold, so we shall see.

2. Vintage hankies. It’s allergy/cold season. I’ve had a stack I saved because they were pretty but now i’m using them as they were meant to be used. Delicious.

3. Babies. Sean saw me adding baby things to Pinterest and said “You do know that’s not how you make babies, right?” The internet is probably 75% responsible for my baby wanting right now. I will probably not find one in Palm Springs. Though you never know. Wink wink.

4. A striped blazer. This one might be a buy-new investment, something really nice, if I can’t find it thrifting.

5. Champagne coupes. I know they’re not as good for the champagne as flutes, but I don’t care. Also doesn’t really go with the babies. Whoops.

6. Plain porcelain vases. Yep.

How about you? Are you as prone to falling into desire-fits from blogs?


  1. I’ve had plenty of desire-fits, but not in quite the same way. My desire-fits are almost always travel related. Seeing all the interesting places people go makes me long to go along with them.
    I might be guilty of some success-fits as of late. Or at least, believing that other people are more “successful” than myself. I keep having to remind myself that success isn’t solely measured on the money you make. It’s the experiences you have.

  2. “…used to be dumpy, but now they’re hot” Wow. That’s just …great. This is maybe written by the same blogger who misspelled “chic”?
    At least they didn’t proclaim them “hawt”, I guess. 😛

    For the most part I am afraid that fashion blogs completely enrage me, so save the accidental stumble upon, I am through with them – through, I say!

    P.S. Palm Spring babies, yay! Good luck!

  3. Oh man babies. On one hand I think it’s totally normal – almost cliche actually, for us ladies in our thirties to want babies but dude, the cute dresses and toys and nurseries online certainly don’t hurt. Gimme.

  4. First, “You do know that’s not how you make babies, right?” is probably my favorite thing I’ve read in days.

    I now have cake plates taking up an entire cupboard in our garage and a milk glass obsession. So far, I’ve only collected white milk glass, but I’m starting to get an eye for color clarity and quality, and I’m on the hunt for some of the colored milk glass pieces (particularly blue, you know how I feel about blue). This is a totally new thing for me that I blame completely on the Pretty Blogs.

    On Sunday, I came home from our local antique fair with an antique platter from Jesus College in Cambridge, which I promptly set atop our bookcase next to a large white milk glass vase that is stuffed with the egg-carton-and-glass-button flowers we made and looks perfect.

    My newest obsession is doilies and lace table scarves. I want them for no good reason and even though I am an allergy sufferer. But, oh, I want my house to look like a granny’s house.

  5. Uh, and HOW. But now that I’m selling things online and working away and working really hard to put things out there, it makes me a little more miserly with my money. I can’t use PayPal to buy impulse vintage items online when that money took a while to get in there and is meant to go right back into buying supplies.

    We recently made a list of things we have to save up for, big ticket things like a new mattress and shelving units and a new couch, and that helps me focus, too. Just like your list! Lists are so good & great.

    My biological clock has been ticking so loudly lately that it’s making me crazy.

  6. ALSO, I agree — I really like Jen and Ginny’s blogs and I think it’s because they’re not shopping lists, but more pure and more inspirational. I don’t think that buying things is an art or a talent. I have much bitterness towards the rich. I am working on it.

  7. I hear you!! I go through the same obsessive ‘ghost hoarding’ of pretty things. I’ve found it has made me a BETTER shopper IRL (against all odds…)as I reduce the daily impulse buying. It’s also increased the crafty “hey…I could make that!” impulses so…time vs money, I suppose?

    All that being said, I caved on the Champagne coupes last year. My life was not complete without those perfect 30’s staples!!!! Luckily I found a set of 6 at the local Antique mall and only paid ~$20 for them.

    As for babies, well…I don’t think the coupes and baby making are mutually exclusive 😉

    1. I follow you on Pinterest, yes? “Ghost hoarding” is such an awesome phrase.

      I’m feeling like there’s a set of champagne coupes in Palm Springs just waiting for me. If they’re going to be anywhere, that’s where I’ll find them!

  8. Thank you for the mention, lady! Yes, I blog about beautiful designs that I cannot afford. I don’t really mind all that much that I can’t afford most of the things–I just love to embrace their existence and the people who made them. Well, unless it is houses, furniture and trips to Brittany, Antwerp and Vienna… then I have fits and wee tantrums. I can even feel one now brewing in my bones with just the mere mention of Brittany and thoughts of cider and Mille-feuille.

    I also buy lots of lipstick… mostly red, but all slightly different. The thrill doesn’t last nearly as long as a baby or having apple streudel in Vienna though. Because I mostly care about vintage things, I already know I will always be surrounded beautiful clothes and jewelry. I always have been–even when I was very poor in my early twenties. So, reading and writing about fancy things I’ll never have isn’t actually painful–I’m just so glad the designers exist and are creating things that will still be beautiful in 50+ years.

    What I really want to do is just learn to sew the simple, full skirts I love to wear and maybe how to mend and reanimate some of the busted up vintage dresses that have been injured because of being owned by a clumsy moron. (Read: Drunk in heels running on gravel or climbing ladders in 1930’s silk.) Then I will have the prettiest wardrobe ever.

    1. I think I’m more susceptible than most – I’m the sort of person who jumps at movies, too. Easily overstimulated!!

      I have done the same to 30s dresses – I tore a velvet one at Xmas and am very sad about it!

      Sewing, you can do it!! It’s just patience, really.

  9. Oh yes. I want white floors and reclaimed wood tables. I want a canopy bed and I want a Dyson vacuum cleaner. I want a big dog and I want a beach. I want a doughnut and I want bigger hair.

    But the internet has me completely torn on the baby front. Chubby cheek, little white onesies and baby leg warmers make my ovaries sing but on the flip side I’m reading about how exhausting and trying it can be to be a parent.

  10. pinterest is the first website i’ve been on where i keep track of products i like/want to buy, and i totally agree – it makes me realize what sort of things i like, and what to be looking out for at thrift stores and the like. sadly, i like a lot of modern/minimal stuff that won’t be found thrifting, but thats stuff i hope to make one day. it does make me sad — the lack of $$, and the ridiculous cost of almost every thing i list.

    i’ve been saving up for months to buy myself a nice sturdy pair of boots (frye probably), as mine are held together by duct tape. echoing the comment above – i also have a lot of bitterness towards the rich that i am working on getting over. i have always been poor and the internet really shows you how much of the world has no idea what that is like.

  11. The internet is probably the #1 reason I’m not as at peace with not spending money as I was 5 or 6 years ago. I went through a phase of binge-buying, then a phase of not buying anything and whining about it ALL THE TIME, then a phase of quiet longing for all the things I can’t have, and I think finally reaching a place where I’m (nearly) at peace with it. I renamed my folder of images of things I want “pretty pictures” and let them live on my computer as that… pictures. That are pretty. To look at. Not perfect, but less achy.

  12. Ohhh man, I agree with all of the things you said so much. Those sites are so hard to look at without going want-crazy. The blogs which are not all about buying things make me feel so much better. But even then, a lot of those just make me want to be a different person entirely (more creative, talented, intelligent, fun, whatever), which is still a desire fit. Lately I’ve been feeling like I want to get rid of so much of the stuff I have, it’s almost like an anti-hoarding compulsion. The thought of starting fresh is so enticing. But it is always nice to get new or new-to-you things, especially when you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck for years and you suddenly have a tiny bit extra.

    Also, when were cameos ever dumpy? Haha.

  13. Oh gosh, my feelings of want-y-ness!

    I’ve found that too many blog reading sessions have eroded not my wallet but my sense of security in, like, how I live my life in general. All these people are so happy and surrounded by beauty all the time?! All of their relations are substantive and “amazing”?! And what about the harsh midday sun? How does everyone find time to take outfit pictures during the 10 minutes of the late afternoon when the sun is all fuzzy and golden (I know the answer to that one: Photoshop.)

    Last night, this situation actually came to a head for me. I was tired and about to get in bed after a day spent, mostly, by myself. My boyfriend of a very long time came home and I found myself complaining that, “We never go out anymore! All we do together anymore are things related to food or watching DVDs!” And then, a little more hysterical, “Why don’t we go on dates? Or do things that we both like? But I don’t even know what I like anymore!!!” And finally, most hysterical/edge of tears,”I see these perfect, happy couples on the internet who like, go bowling! But I don’t like bowling!!! I don’t know what I like!!! Why can’t I just be happy with stupid bowling!!!!”

    It was a bad combo of too much information versus too little rest. And somewhat untrue: I really do like enjoying delicious foods and awesome documentaries with my honey. I wish we had more time to spend together every day but I do like that the time we have is fun and relaxed- not filled with taking photos of us having fun and relaxing. On the other hand, in the light of the sun, I do still hate stupid, stupid bowling.

    1. Ahahaha I totally do this to Sean. Because we also sit on our asses watching movies all night. And then I’m like OH GOD WE SHOULD BE CRAFTING or some nonsense. But I also don’t even know what I like. This maybe is a bigger issue. :/

    2. Yes, this:

      “I wish we had more time to spend together every day but I do like that the time we have is fun and relaxed- not filled with taking photos of us having fun and relaxing.”

      And also everything else you said!

      I sometimes wonder how much people are constructing their lives around the pretty pictures they want to post on their blogs. I know that when I’m traveling, if I think *too* much about photographing everything or recounting the stories later, I lose the moments and I’m not totally in them.

      1. Totally agree, and it’s so hard. I saw an old lady taking a photo of her cheese plate today, so I feel less bad about it. But yes. It’s hard to strike the sharing / experiencing balance.

        Says the lady who’s all about pretty pictures.

  14. This will sound really bad, but in the last few years I’ve finally been in a position where I could actually buy myself some nice things. And just when I’ve started to get used to it, I find out I’m losing my job. Suddenly $500 Chie Mihara boots are no longer something I *could* buy if I wanted to. And I HATE that feeling. It’s not even about the boots or how much they cost, it’s having to go back to that have-not state that I’ve spent most of my life existing in. I know damn well that I don’t need more boots or clothes. I know how to be frugal and if I may say so, I’m pretty good at thrifting the things I want/need. But I cannot tell you how nice it was, even if it was just for a little while, to be able to obtain fancy things and not feel guilty about it because I knew that I had worked hard and earned every penny. What’s sad is that I used to be proud of my savvy thrifting skills but now I feel like a failure..and yes I blame fashion blogs and the culture of conspicuous consumption just a little bit for that. Whatever, first world problems and all that. /whining

    1. That doesn’t sound bad at all. I definitely want to work more, get out of debt, be able to purchase quality things when I need them. I’ve also gone from making a good amount, to not working, and now working for a nonprofit I have enough to get by, but I’d like to be back to being able to buy something new if I need to. Yeah, it’s pretty magic to find things, but it’s work, and you have to take what you find!

      I’m going to email you about job-stuff now.

  15. tamera! i’ve recently realized that if i want a rabbit baby… and i do want a rabbit baby, that TIME IS RUNNING OUT! i don’t want a dragon baby. that darn clock is ticking so loud right now!!!

    wanting stuff is the number three reason i had to quit the internerds back in december, right behind the christians and the perverts. ha!

    you know, i was talking with a friend today about how when i was younger, if i saw something that i wanted but couldn’t afford, i would MAKE IT! back when i was cool, 80% of my wardrobe used to be handmade; now i hardly ever sew. my machine is covered in a thick layer of dust! i really want to get back in touch with my creative side… it’s been too long! i want new clothes!

    1. You have like 2 months. HOP TO IT.

      I totally had a moment recently though where I was like I AM TIRED OF MAKING THINGS. Which sounds crazy but there you are.

      1. i know! two months! i did the math!

        i totally get that. it doesn’t sound crazy. i mean, i stopped making things for a really long time BECAUSE i was sick of it. i just wanted to buy new things and designer things that i really couldn’t afford (i just ate less food- and bought more shoes! a winning equation, every time!) it’s a perpetual cycle. you fall in and out of love with making things. ’tis the artist’s way. gah. i sound really corny… i guess i AM really corny! !!!

        1. I’ve boxed up / sorted all the vintage stuff from Etsy, am planning on having a huge sale, and just got an old 70s industrial sewing machine to replace my broken one. I think once my space is cleaned out and not full of junk and I set things up and it’s just for ME and not thinking of selling, I’m be happy about making again.

  16. The Internet is one giant want-making machine, really. If it’s not material things it’s experiences or visits to places that I start to desire. Those things, unfortunately, cost money as well, or if they’re free, they cost time away from work, which as an hourly employee costs me money.
    I’m trying not to be bitter towards rich people – I’m sure they have their own problems. I usually fail in this, though. It’s really something I need to work on. Also, a lot of the people I see online (or even in my classes at school) who have these nicer things seem to be sort of in the same strata as me, at least in some ways – young people, in college or freshly out, working low-level jobs, etc. – and to see that they have nice things that I don’t have makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong. Like I am a failure for not being able to afford those things somehow. I know that I am budgeting as strictly as I can right now and REALLY don’t have any extra for frivolities, but I still feel the need to cut out SOMETHING, to SAVE, to be thrifty and then I can Have Nice Things Too. Damned old Protestant work ethic or whatever! Making me feel like my poverty is my own fault and not the result of various systems at play.
    How can you pull yourself up by your bootstraps if your boots are falling apart?
    In the meantime the Internet (Tumblr specifically) is like my other house/life that I visit when my real life looks too dreary. Maybe it will be my real life in the future. Optimism!

    1. I want to sit down and just drink coffee and talk about this with you. But yeah, it IS the system, it’s pretty set, and you are not a failure. The concept of “the cost of living” is something I’ve wanted to write more about but I never seem to have the time to gather my thoughts as concretely as I’d like.

  17. Pinterest helps me with the wanties, if I see something I think I want, I pin it and then I don’t have to worry about forgetting it (I can have it in the future), and then I find just having the pretty image is enough. Anyway, I’d rather have books more than anything, and I have a lot of those!

  18. Oh yes, I definitely have to stop reading blogs sometimes to stop from wanting things! Right now we’re in “Definitely Need to Save Money” season and it’s tough, but it’s also a fun way to rediscover old things that I have laying around. Instead of buying fancy clothes and accessories I’m rearranging to freshen up my apartment and trying to sew or otherwise make things. The hardest part is trying to prioritize what to spend on, because money definitely does not grow on trees, sadly.

  19. It is really terrible but there used to be a website that was, like, I Love Anthropologie or something like that, that gave me the worst consumption (not in the Victorian sense, haha) fits–but I think I was aware that it was not the specific things from the website (or the store) that I craved, but that ambiance/style, which I am pretty good at recreating with “rags and feathers from salvation army counters” in my own house. But still–I think the most powerful blog-induced desires I experience translate to “I want to live in that picture” rather than “I want this item or that”

  20. i KNOW what you mean, for sure.
    i hate digging through all of the things i can’t afford…especially since my brain has been trained by my family and the families before me to work just like this: See something. Think of a need for that thing. Go home without buying, being frugal. Obsess over that need and how it’s not being filled. Cave and go buy it.

    it’s so easy, especially when you’re reading about hundreds of thousands of new products and bullshit everyday, to convince yourself you need more.

    but you are on the right track, and your wishlist, from a fellow “desirer,” is pretty badass.

  21. My latest desire is to have a truffle farm, but from what I have researched it may be near impossible in Vermont. Tuscany. . . I could really want for Products if I exposed myself too much to places with stores or the Internet. I’ve “convinced” myself that products don’t help me in any way. My skin is nicer with just a splash of warm water, maybe a little baby soap for my hair every few days. Every once in a while I have some nice soap or lotion, and I’ll keep trying the empty bottle in the shower for a long time before it goes in the recycling.

    As for babies, they are a lot less work than my last job, they are smooth and cuddly and beautiful and they say “mama!”.

    1. Because your last job was with 20 of the dang things! My skin was way better with light soap (almost never used soap) and water but as I’ve gotten older, it’s changed.

      It seems like you are online way less than Emily, anyway. For me, I work online all day and it’s hard not to get distracted by the shiny things.

      Maybe you should get a goat and make some goat’s milk soaps. For me.

  22. For me the internet hurts in other ways of wanting things. I see people who live in areas boiling with culture and beauty and I live in Indiana. I see people with covens and community and I crave that—growing up a military child you gaurd yourself. I see people living in climates of year round comfortable weather and it was 5 degrees on my walk to work this morning. I see people who have beautiful weddings or relationships in general and I have been single for 3 years. I can do without the 900 dollar shoes. then again I do need a new pair of pants. ; )

  23. I completely identify with your last couple of posts. Curly hair margl blarg. Skin changing bungle boop.
    But now I have to ask you: I found a great blue and white striped max mara blazer down in LA a few months ago but have yet to wear it. I have no idea what to wear it with! Please to enlighten!

  24. I can’t thank you enough for posting this. I’ve never vocalized this quandary that I find myself in constantly. Pretty blog induced greed that overcomes all of us at one time or another. I look around and see that people have designer bags and shoes and jeans, $200 sheets from Toast (serously wth?) and I don’t understand how they afford it. I will always thrift, go to outlets and over-think expensive purchases, because at the end of the day travel and saving is more important to me. Thanks for being the voice of reason, and honesty.

    1. Well, sheets I can get behind, though I don’t know what Toast is. I’m a stickler for buying quality and buying once. For non-impulse things, like sheets & furniture & dishes & even one good bag, I’d rather save up and buy something that lasts – or find a good deal at an outlet or thrift, for sure.

  25. Gosh, I completely understand about not needing to stir the fires of desire any more than necessary! I’m constantly in a tug of war between budgeting and spending. I’m seriously considering abstaining from any unnecessary purchases for a whole year. . . a “spartan” year. I think it could be fun and get me back in touch more thoroughly with my crafty, resourceful side.

  26. I think there is a constant struggle between wanting what you have and having all you want. The eye candy nature of the internet can make it really tough to navigate the constant consumptive desires and temper them with conciousness about waste.

    1. And I think our brains still haven’t adjusted to the onslaught of eye candy! I’m still learning how to filter and sort out what’s actually tugging at me and inspiring me vs. a grabby-hands rabbit hole of wanting.

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