Retail therapy without spending a dime

February 15, 2010 at 6:21 pm 4 comments

I love a good catalog.  Doesn’t matter what it’s for – home goods, clothing, kid stuff, etc.  Doesn’t matter if it’s from a retailer I shop regularly or a place I’ve never purchased anything from.  Every time a new catalog lands in my mailbox, I get a little giddy.

It’s a little odd, I realize.  I mean, how many people do you know that are enthusiastic about a marketing piece designed to sell you something?  But I never said I wasn’t a little odd, so I don’t apologize for my weird little tic.

Here’s what I do.  I put it aside, save it for a time when I can sit down and really *look* at it.  And then I get my pen and I sit down and I read the whole thing from cover to cover. I look at the pictures.  I read all the copy.  I circle things I like and would buy and even mark the size or color I would buy it in.  I might save it to look through a couple more times.

And then it gets thrown away.  Yes, I realize I should recycle it, but that’s another blog post for another day.  And I know the truly environmentally friendly thing to do would be to call the companies that send me catalogs and remove my name from their lists, for I can view their offerings via the Internet and save a few hundred trees in the process.  It’s just not the same.

99% of the time I don’t buy anything before the catalog gets tossed.  My budget currently doesn’t include items from Crate & Barrel or Title 9 clothing or Leaps & Bounds.  There isn’t room in my finances for $5.95 shipping & handling on things that I could drive myself over to the store and pick up.

It’s free therapy.  Free RETAIL therapy, without the actual retail part.  I can mentally redesign a whole room without spending a dime.  I can recreate my whole wardrobe without actually trying anything on and once again destroying my mood for the day because NOTHING FITS ME the way I want it to fit.

I can also develop new hobbies without having to expend the actual energy into a hobby.  This time of year is prime catalog time for gardening catalogs.  A couple of years ago, during one of my wild hairs, I decided I wanted to plant a vegetable garden.  I also wanted to create a beautiful blooming landscape in our flowerbeds.  Never mind the fact that my track record with growing green things could best be described as craptastic.

As a result, I’m now on the mailing list for at least three gardening companies.  Their catalogs have started to infiltrate their way into my house, with all their luscious colors and beautiful flowers and thriving vegetables.  The ripe red tomatoes catch my eye.

Tomatoes, I think.  I could grow tomatoes.

There are no less than fifteen varieties of tomatoes.  I prefer red tomatoes, so that narrows it down by two or three.  But I’m confused by the remaining twelve choices.  They all ripen at different times and thrive in different climates.  And I remind myself that I’m the only person in my house who eats tomatoes, so I’d probably just end up giving most of them away.  No tomatoes.

I move on to flowers.  The pictures are gorgeous and the flowers have lyrical names like snapdragon lemon lollipops and zinnia purple prince and shasta daisy snow lady.

Snapdragon lemon lollipops. Photo from

Zinnia purple prince. Photo from

Shasta daisy snow lady. Photo from

I’m even more confused with the flowers.  I have no plan, so I have no idea if they’ll be planted in full sun or full shade.  I have no idea if we’re in zone 4 or 5 or 6.  How many bulbs or plants do I need to cover the area I want to cover?  How tall will these get?  How far will they spread?

I closed the catalog with a sigh.  Maybe I’ll run over to Hobby Lobby tomorrow and fix my flower jones with some indoor plants.  After all, they’ve come a long way with fake flowers, right?  And even better – I won’t have to pay for the shipping.


Entry filed under: Life in general.

Recipe: Lemon Glazed Chicken Breasts Another blog recommendation

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aunt Dano  |  February 16, 2010 at 8:29 am

    This has to be a family thing! Grandma loved her catalogs and so do I!! I can drool through all the pages and redesign, purchase and change my mind in 10 minutes. My only problem is, I want to keep them all. I found one the other day from 2008 and figured they’d probably changed the prices by now, so it hit the trash before I could change my mind. On line catalogs just don’t cut the mustard, it has to be in my hands.

  • 2. Sara Foster  |  February 16, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I am a sucker for the gardening catalogs. I have dwarf apple trees and nectarine trees in the back that my dog thinks provides her fetch sticks. Yet to produce fruit with her pruning. 4 raised beds that grew weeds last year. One border bed that has become the dog’s dig area, but I seem to have a knack for pumpkins. I threw out seeds last year to appease the kids a behold 4 months later we had 20 pumpkins of which I let most spoil. Andy tries to cull out the garden catalogs before I see them.

    Clothes are fun, but the best is Pottery Barn Kids. I sit and imagine my kids’ rooms that clean and organized. If they could sell that part I would pay their prices.

    See you tomorrow.

  • 3. amymanatee  |  February 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Janet – I had no idea it was genetic!!

    Oh, I agree about the Pottery Barn Kids catalog. I would love to have a play room for the girls with all the fun (expensive) toys. And have all the basket/bins with the labels embroidered on them. It would soooo fulfill my love of organization. What I could do with an unlimited budget…

  • 4. Maria  |  February 22, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    I could’ve written this post, too! Crazy how much we have in common. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up the Seed Savers catalog and thumbed through it, circling and dog–earing. Just last week my husband asked (kinda worried), “Just how many seeds do you plan on buying???” (We have a balcony — that’s it.) I laughed and replied, “None, but I’m pretending I have a big garden and am getting ready for the planting season.”

    Sometimes I KNOW he really worries about my mental health.


    I may have to follow up and add onto this topic. Too fun not to share.


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