Monday, June 30, 2008

Free joke with every purchase


Finally we got to do the lemon stand with Amy’s niece Isabel. We spent the morning making some kick ass signage for the table. My favorite signs were as follows…

Support Child Labor
Buy from 5 year olds not multinationals
Made with love and clean hands
Free joke with every purchase

With the signs done we went out and brought the ingredients. I didn’t realise how expensive lemons were – 99c each!!!! However Limes were 6 for a dollar so we decided to do limeade and not lemonade.

We also bought the ingredients to make Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes so sell along with the cool refreshing limeade (you can see I’m still in sell mode). We spent $40 in total. A lot was at stake this stand had better work or Amy and I were going to have to drink a lot of limeade and eat a lot of cake.

We decided to price our drinks and cakes in a novel way. We were betting that Isabel in her special lemonade selling dress that she had chosen to wear would win over everyone who met her so we decided to run a ‘pay what you like scheme’ and to offer a free joke with every purchase.

it worked – we averaged $2 a cup and a cake.

The weather wasn’t on our side though. It pissed it down. But we found we made more money in the rain than in the sunshine as people took great pity on us. One man even gave us $20 for a cup and a cake!!!! We should have asked him if he wanted to adopt Amy and I!

In total we made $54.

When you take away the costs of the ingredients we made a staggering $14 for about 4 hours work! It wasn’t the most profitable scheme in the world but it sure was fun.

We decided to give Isabel the $14 profit for all her hard work. We strongly suggested that she invest it in a high interest account ready for when she goes to college.

I’m sure we will be doing it again sometime soon.

PS For those of you interested here is Isabel’s joke that she came up with especially for the stand. It is not bad for a 5 year old. It’s pretty profound.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
A: To save the world

Hmmmm I think we have a junior Al Gore in the making.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Allergic to the UK


As soon as I landed back in the UK last week for my whistlestop tour, which included – in 48 hours – 13 hours on planes, 6 hours in airports, 9 hours in cars and one night’s sleep in my old (non-inflatable) bed at my mum’s, my allergies started playing up big time.

Streaming nose, sneezes and itchy eyes. Bugger.
But it isn’t just my body that is allergic to the UK, Operation Night Brace is too. I’d forgotten just how expensive everything is and I had an instant wake up as soon as I landed and I thought to myself: “ohhhhhhh I’d love a cup of tea”

A cup of tea was $4. Now for all you coffee drinkers who have no idea what ‘tea’ is it basically breaks down as follows…

80% hot water
8% milk (semi skimmed/2% is my preference)
4% sugar (white and only if I’m feeling naughty or emotional)
2% tea bag
6% cup (preferably not polystyrene – we only have one planet)

The key ingredient is water. And the last time I looked it was always pissing it down in England with no chance ever of a drought.

$4 I ask you!!!!!!

5 cups of tea and the day is over for me. I’d have to chew on the cups to get some nutrition out of them.

Operation Night Brace and the UK don’t mix well.


The average student debt in the UK after a 3 year course is, according to the NatWest bank, £33,500. So it looks like if we were living in the UK there would be no need for Operation Night Brace in the first place.

Friday, June 27, 2008

If all else fails


I sent this article to Gareth today. I couldn't stop laughing:

Where an Aging Hooker Can Find a Little Piece, Oops, We Mean Peace

Tepito is one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of Mexico City. It’s been a black market since time immemorial, and anything you want, original or imitation, can be found here. Sex can be bought starting at five pesos—from people up to 80 years old.

Xochiquetzal is a nursing home for senior-citizen sex workers. The house, which has a minimum age requirement of 60, can accommodate up to 45 women. Right now there are only 23 retired ladies of the night living there. The majority of them continue working, because there are still people who want to pay to have sex with them. According to the home’s director, the demand isn’t explained by gerontophilia, but by the poverty surrounding the nursing home. “If you have five pesos,” he says, “you buy something that costs five pesos.” But the residents believe something else. They think that, like wine, their vaginas have gotten better with age!

Let's see, if I had let the loans go until I was about 60....5.00 Mexico Pesos = 0.485495 United States Dollars - I would only have to sell my body 360,000 times!!


I'll start to worry if Amy starts putting a 'Tips' jar next to the bed.

I'll start to worry even more if there is more money in it when i come back from work then there was when i left!!!!!!!!!

Life is always better in The Sun


Every paper I picked up while back in the UK was full of economic doom and gloom. The credit crunch is hitting everyone pretty hard. House prices are dropping, high street spending is down and the Chancellor Alistair Darling is a hated figure.

One interesting article in The Sun caught my eye: “Try The Sun’s 33 ways to beat inflation at 3.3%”

The first tip was the best and most unusual one. They suggested you use banana skins to skin your shoes as the inside of the skins contain potassium – a key ingredient in commercial polishes. Hmmmm sounds interesting just make sure you don’t put it anywhere near the soles of your shoe. Surely we have to have learned something from all those Chaplain movies.

One of the tips involved using mayo as hair gel. Errr no thanks. I dread to think what will happen on a hot day when you hair is covered in raw eggs and olive oil.

Another tip involved watching tv in bed without any lights on. “You’ll save on heating and lighting and if there is a sexy show on you might get a bonus cuddle from your partner.”

I’ll spare you the other 30 tips. They were pretty lame.

One of the papers on my last day had the headline: “STOP BEING SO MISERABLE”

It does seem that the media is responsible for dragging everyone down into a credit crunch depression and now they are telling us off for following them.

The papers in the US – rightly or wrongly – are far more optimistic. And that is optimistic in the sense that not every single article is about the end of the financial world.

If I was still in England I’d save money by not buying any newspapers. I’d not only be richer but a lot happier too.

Thursday, June 26, 2008



Again, it doesn't fit in the budget so I will post it instead. If I had my way I would leave Gareth a little piece of chocolate love everyday.

Tuck shop


At the end of a recent conference I swooped in quick before the hotel staff could clear away all the granola bars, packets of chips and cheesy biscuits. I ended up with a sack full of goodies. Really unhealthy stuff. Stuff that Amy and I will die from if we eat too much of it.

To stop us consuming all of it ourselves I am trying to persuade Amy to run a tuck shop in her office. A dollar a bar sounds like a bargain. We could get rich from this new sideline.

However, Amy has no idea what a tuck shop is. It turns out it s something very British – the idea of ‘tuck’ at school and especially a place that sold it. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the world of ‘tuck’ you can find out more here.

My favorite tuckshop story ever is of a boy who would go up to the hatch each day at my old school with his eyes shut and grab as much candy as he could before running off. This rather eccentric behavior was due to his belief that if he couldn’t see the teacher selling the ‘tuck’ then they couldn’t see him. It could have been the perfect crime if it wasn’t so firmly rooted in pure bollocks.

If you are interested in opening a ‘Operation Night Brace Tuck Shop’ franchise at your work just let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008



I would love to make Gareth this T-Shirt...but in the spirit of ONB I will only post a picture of it for all to see what he could have been wearing.

Other T's I'd like to make him but cannot afford are:
Help I live in a tiny room
Help I live with my girlfriends parent
Help I sleep on an air mattress
Help I need cash
Help my girlfriends hungry
Help yourself - but it will cost you
Help I lost it



When landfills become the enemy of today’s educated progressive consumers, a company like Buymytronics makes a lot of sense. Offering to pay for used iPods, mobile phones and other electronic products, Buymytronics makes sure to further the life of existing products. It would be interesting for electronics brands to actually take on efforts such as this on their own, signaling to consumers they are as progressive as their customers are.

I have loads of old used crap - and now I can sell them - woo hoo!! Check it out...

"What does love mean?"


The past week of Operation Night Brace has been a challenging one. I think the ‘novelty’ has worn off and we are both feeling a bit tired and stressed. Not spending any cash requires patience, time and energy. Below are the answers to the question "What does love mean?" by children between the ages of 4 and 8. Every gesture below has nothing to do with money, or living in the back room with your mother... Gareth and I do pretty much all of the below on a regular basis regardless of cash. See for yourself:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too."

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth."

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs."

"Love is when someone hurts you. And you get so mad but you don't yell at them because you know it would hurt their feelings."

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."

"Love is when my daddy makes coffee for my mommy and he takes a sip before giving it to her to make sure the taste is OK."

"When you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more."

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."

"When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you're scared they won't love you anymore. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more."

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday."

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well."

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore."

"Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken."

"Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford."

"I let my big sister pick on me because my Mom says she only picks on me because she loves me. So I pick on my baby sister because I love her."

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you."

"Love is when mommy sees daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross."

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."

I LOVE YOU Gareth Miles

"Now I live in a tinnnyyyyyy rooooom"


To celebrate Amy's Dirty Dancing themed birthday we wrote our own version of "(I've had) The time of my life". Enjoy. It is a bit ropey but it sort of works.

Boy: Now I live in a tinnnyyyyyy rooooom
No I never owed this much before
Yes I wear the same old clothes
and I give my whole salary to you

Girl: 'Cause I've beeennn to Ivy league schoooools
and my credits shot to poo

Boy: I've been saving for so long
Now I've finally found someone
To take it all from me

Girl: We see the zeros in our bank
As we watch our big loans sank

Boy: Just remember

Girl: Loans are the one thing

Boy: We’ve just had enough of

Girl: So I'll tell you something

Both: We’re paying it offffff because

Both: We live in a tinnnyyyyyy rooooom
No we’ve never owed this much this before
Yes we wear the same old clothes
and we give our whole salary to our loans

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

No more jellyfish


Tonight I spent the evening cleaning out my studio so I can buckle down again and make some work again. It was looking like a very unpleasant storage unit - it currently holds all of Gareth's NY things, two beds, one half of a horse, a bison's ass and three very large sculptures. I couldn't find peace of mind let alone head space. I was starting to turn into jellyfish from downunda -- leaning back, stretching through, ducking under, stepping over etc. just to get to my desk.

I think as a celebration for my commitment to NO nicotine I will splurge on a storage unit for the beds...consider it the "x-smoking fund."

Storage space in Brooklyn is much cheaper then Manhattan so that's what I'll do.

Stinky Cheese


While is was back in England I got the following email from our New York office…

“Julia, kind soul that she is, is helping to unpack our kit and guess
what she uncovered...

A plate of cheese and grapes!!! (Just three days old.)

We considered putting it in the fridge w/ your name on it. :)

- m”


In my desire to spend as little as possible I will take any gift horse that looks me in the face. The ‘gift horse’ in this case was a cheese buffet at the end of a client session in Philadelphia. When no-one was looking I created a little parcel of cheese chunks, wrapped them up in a napkin and then put it somewhere safe.

So safe in fact I completely forgot about it.

That was until it turned up in a box in our office several days later in a very ripe state.

Oops again.

Sorry Matt, sorry Julia.

Monday, June 23, 2008



I love writing this blog. It is not only free to do but it is also great therapy. It is because of this blog that every bad thing that happens has a silver lining and that silver lining is a – hopefully funny – blog entry in the “I’m glad it is them not me” genre of writing.

I have never written a blog before and I have found it fascinating (my sister has been doing her’s relentlessly for almost two years). If you click on the sitemeter button at the bottom of this page it gives you all the information about our blog’s visitors: how many we have had (over 2300), how many pages have been read (over 6100), which countries people have visited from (hello the person from Goringen in the Netherlands who has become a regular reader) and the amount of time the average person spends reading it (3:03 minutes).

It also tells you the ‘referral’ - how people came across your blog, the links they clicked on or the words the typed into Google. And it is the latter that makes fascinating reading.

Over the last few months we have had people come to Operation Night Brace with the following searches:

Someone in Peru was looking for ‘the operation of the vaginal’ and got directed to the entry entitled ‘Vaginal wash”

Someone wanted to see ‘Julia Roberts arse’ and got to read the bit about the prostitute in Union Square with the ‘Tired of prostitution placard but need the money’ sign.

Etc etc.

None of these people spent very long on the blog so I thought I’d take this opportunity to clear a few things up. On this blog there is NO…

Horny naked twins
Dwarves masturbating
Smeared in honey virgins
Naked policemen
MILFs making out
Nut bondage

Hmmmm. Perhaps the “No” element of the above phrases won’t feature when people are searching. Oh well.

Welcome to Operation Night Brace horny internet surfers.

Please have a look around before you go blind.

It is lovely to have you here even if it is just for the 1 second that you will stay.

Life is short


My trip back to the UK last week was a very sad one.

I had to attend the funeral of a close relative.

There were lots and lots of tears as people’s faces collapsed from the sadness.

I’d always known it, but here was a very visible reminder of just how short life is.

This is not a dress rehearsal.

Everyday is precious and so we should try and be as happy as we can no matter what that day throws at us.

It is the least we can do.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

If I hadn’t seen such riches


I’m a big fan of the British band James. They are the guys who did “Sit Down”, “She’s a star” and “Laid”. I have no idea if they made it big over here in America but I hope they did.

Not only were there songs catchy but they also had great lyrics – stuff that stays with you a lifetime.

My favorite lyrics of theirs is the following:

“If I hadn’t seen such riches I could live with being poor”

Top stuff and I think very appropriate for what we are going through with Operation Night Brace and how all of a sudden our salaries started being diverted into the Student Loan Company rather than our own bank accounts.

The most recent example of this “hadn’t seen” happened last Friday night when I landed back at JFK.

In the old days I would have jumped straight in a cab and been home in about 40 minutes with a wallet “$45 plus tip” lighter. But this time I decided I would get public transport home for a total of $7 (no tip required).

I left the arrivals area at Terminal 4 and then managed to get the wrong Air Train twice. Be impressed – it is pretty hard to go that wrong as the Air Train is basically a loop.

Eventually I got to the A train station at Howard Beach $5 poorer. I then waited forever for a train into Manhattan. When I finally got on I was treated to a ‘colourful’ NYC subway ride for the next 1 hour and twenty minutes. There was the man who wouldn’t stop talking out loud to no-one in particular. When someone told him to “SHHHUTTT THE FUCK UP MAN” in their most politest New York accent the man responded by shouting out that he wasn’t talking to him “I’m talking to my GODDDDDDD”.

I decided at that point that it made sense to reread the newspaper for the fifth time that I had found on the seat. I found the article even more interesting when the guy who had told him to shut up revealed that he had been in jail for 15 years and didn’t need much provoking motherfucker. Gulp.

In the same carriage was a hugely obese woman in an electric wheelchair. I’m not sure what happened there but all of a sudden she was shouting too: “It’s not like I can fucking fold it up”. I think she was referring to the wheelchair rather than her excessive roles of excess fat.

I just wanted to get home in one piece.

I had landed at 9:00pm and I didn’t make it home and into bed until 1:20am. I may have saved $43 but I was exhausted and in a bad mood dragging my luggage around the subway system.

Note to self - It is easy to save money when you have plenty of time to do something but being in a rush and saving cash just don’t go well together.

I guess we only have a few more months until “the riches” James sing about come back into our lives and we can start divert our salaries towards things like taxis home from the airport rather than bastard loan companies ☺

Saturday, June 21, 2008



One lunchtime this week i walked with my friend Simon to the cafe on the corner of our street. It is called Cafe WOW and it is a place i used to go to almost everyday before the new budget kicked in. Stepping into the place and smelling the scent of deep fat fryers made me realise that it is almost 2 whole months since i last went in there. The staff must be wondering what they did wrong!

It was a strange feeling but it made me realise i haven't once paid for lunch for about seven weeks. This has saved me a fortune and i put it down to several factors...

1. A diet of leftovers. Packed lunches rule when you are trying to save money.
2. Working for a generous company that fills the office with food (we have enough cereal, muffins and pistachio nuts to survive a two year seige)
3. Saying 'Yes' to any food i am offered - thank you Suzi, thank you Rachel
4. Pigging out on workshops when the food is all free.

I used to spend about $12 a day on lunch so i reckon these four factors have saved me over $400 which is a rather tasty amount.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A free guide to free things


Nick, my friend at the swimming pool, gave me a present today.

It is a guidebook to all things free or dirt cheap in New York. It is absolutely perfect for Operation Night Brace and i love the fact we got it for free.

Apparently some tourists had left it in a cafe that Nick goes to regularly. The staff waited a few weeks for them to return and claim but unlucky for them, but lucky for us, they never came back.

Watch out for updates on the places this guide book takes us to.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Suck and Blow


When I got home last night and pulled down the sheets to our air mattress Gareth had filled our bed with balloons.

It was a beautiful sight and made me smile all night.

All for the price of some plastic and air ;)


I actually got the balloons for free as we only needed a particular colour of balloon on a recent work project xxx That doesn't mean i love AMy any less though.

Dog treats


Amy's mum very generously has an open fridge policy - if you are hungry eat it! But I have been careful not to go to crazy with this. We have to keep the "landlady" onside until the end of October.

Last night the temptation was too much and i started tucking into some goodies.

With my belly full i went into the bedroom. From the safety of our inflatable bed i heard Amy's mum come into the kitchen, look in the fridge and enquire: "How has been eating Teddy'd food?"

(For those of you who don't remember Teedy is the new puppy in out flat)

Uckkk! Dog food!

Don't worry too much though. We haven't hit a new low of money saving (although Amy did resort to eating catfood while at college). Teddy is a rather spoilt dog and gets to eat things like cheese cubes and roast chicken. Both of which i love.

I did eat cat food - ONLY $00.89 for an organic can - it helped me stay alive right out of grad school...I was ridiculously poor and had 3 cats, 2 octopi and 5 fish...;)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I owe it all to you...


Tomorrow is my Birthday, June 19th.

I've decided to throw myself a Dirty Dancing themed birthday party.

I've made a cardboard cut-out of Gareth's head on a stick (unfortunately Gareth will not be in town) So I plan on singing a duet with Gareth's cardboard head tucked into my friend Michael's shirt. My printer can only print up to 11" x 17" so I'm not actually sure if the cut-out is life-size or not. I've made the cardboard X-large to compensate and painted the boarders black to match Michael :)

'We've had the time of my life' is my chosen song for our duet.

I'm borrowing the ugliest crinoline dress.

I've made an Operation Night Brace donation bin out of old Fed Ex boxes and duct tape to keep at the door ;)

It should be a disaster.

All for no money whatsoever.

Double bill


On monday night we went to the cinema and paid full price to see The Strangers. What!!! No half price matinee??? I hear you cry.

Nope. We splashed out. We need a date and time alone together.

The film was fucking terrifying and horrible - no twist, no reveal. Just torture, murder and general nastiness. I spent the whole film sitting there with my fingers in my ears. Amy made me swap seats with her half way through as she didn't want to sit in the aisle. Truly terrifying and a bit grim.

It was a relief when the lights came on and we left the theatre.

As we step out into the corridor we saw that Iron Man had just started in the screening room next door so we snuck in (the cinemas only employ one ticket checker at the entrance to the building so once you are in, you are in).

Iron Man was great. A great popcorn movie although the second half felt very rushed.

We got home at 1am. Happy in the knowledge that we had gotten a double bill for the price of a single. Ohhh how i love American cinemas and their staff cutting ways. We could have stayed in the cinema all week.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Public Indecency


Operation Night Brace is not forgiving of stupidity.

I recently misplaced/lost my swimming trunks.

I am an idiot.

To save money i have not replaced my trunks.

I am now swimming, each morning, in a pair of black boxer shorts.


These black boxer shorts are a bit see through and they seem to be getting more and more see through with every swim.

There is now a real chance that the elderly Chinese women i see every morning in the pool will soon get to see a lot more of me.

Stupid Gareth. Serves him right.

Monday, June 16, 2008



Gareth is worried he will call me "Penny" instead of "Amy" know PennY AmY - they're practically the same!

Penny is his X.

To make sure that I don't get upset when it eventually does happen - he has forewarned me that it is something he worries about on a regular basis.

Now that I know this is such a concern of his ... when he does call me PennY instead of AmY - I won't be upset!

I just hope I don't make the same mistake and call him something other than Gareth!

Gareth will be charged a Penny every time he makes a mistake -- yikes how would I feel if the Pennies added up to a Dollar?

Burn or Bust


Operation Night Brace means making sacrifices.

And today I made one of the biggest sacrifices so far.

I have just put my tickets for Burning Man up for sale on Craigslist.

If you have never heard of it go and google it now. It is the wildest, craziest event ever. People who have never been always want to know who is playing - who is headlining. Well the simple answer is we all do. It is about people not stars. If you want to run round naked as a flower do it. If you want to spend months building a work of art and then burn it to ground then do it.

I went last year and had so much fun. I couldn't wait to go back with Amy. We were so excited we took a picture of us collecting the tickets from the Post Office. But Burning Man is not cheap.

First of all you have to buy the tickets ($225 each), then you have to fly to Reno ($400ish each), then you have to hire something to get there in ($500), by all your food, booze and water for a week ($600), buy your camping equipment ($300), book a hotel room in Reno to clean yourself up in when it is all done ($150).

It is over $1000 a person. Yikes.

It is a shame weren't not going this summer but i'm not that devastated. It will be around next summer and we will both be there then.

See you on the Playa in 2009.


I am devastated for Gareth. He was so excited to go and I told him I would do whatever I could to make it happen this year! If anyone has a brain fart on the matter....?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cult Leader


One afternoon about two months ago Gareth gave me a book on Cults. He said he thought I'd get a kick out of it. I started reading it, the more I read the more panicked I got.
This is what it said:

A Practical Guide to Cults

Mind Control Techniques

Inducing a state of high suggestibility by hypnosis, often thinly disguised as relaxation or meditation.
(When I met Gareth he was very keen on giving me massages ;)

Suppressing doubt and resistance to new ideas by exploiting the need to belong.
(The only way we can move on with our lives is to get rid of "The Debt")

Creating a sense of family and belonging through hugging, kissing, touching and flattery
(Gareth is ALWAYS complimenting, hugging and kissing me!!)

Accelerating acceptance of new lifestyle by constantly denouncing former values and beliefs.
(I WANTED to let the loans die with me - he said "NO")

Encouraging blind acceptance and rejection of logic through complex lecture on an incomprehensible doctrine.
(The night we decided to do Operation Night Brace we were at a strange Japanese pop show. Gareth stayed up all night working out the numbers and saying, "We have no choice, we HAVE to do this!" He lectured me until 6am - with his accent though I barely understood any of it ;)

Implanting subliminal messages by stressing certain key words or phrases in long, confusing lectures.
(Again he speaks British - I truly have NO FUCKING clue what he says most of the time... except, on occasion I hear things like "this is the best plan... there is no other way to do it.")

Achieving a loss ability to evaluate logically by preventing private contemplation.
(I LIVE WITH MY MOTHER AND GARETH - they are around me at all times!)

Destroying ability to evaluate information, personal reactions, and body functions in relation to passage of time by removing all clocks and watches.
(The only clock in our room is broken - it says 6:00 all the time!)

Encouraging child-like obedience by orchestrating child-like behavior.
(If anyone knows Gareth they will understand my point here!)

Inducing regression and disorientation by soliciting agreement to seemingly simple rules which regulate mealtimes, bathroom breaks and use of medications.
(Need I say anything here?)

Creating disorientation and vulnerability by prolonging mental and physical activity and withholding adequate rest and sleep.
(Uh Gareth has a lot of energy ;)

Removing individuality by demanding conformity to the group dress code.
(We wear the same things over and over - between us I think we only own about 6 T-Shirts!)

Encouraging the destruction of individual ego through confession of personal weakness and innermost feelings or doubts.
(Uh - that would be, hmmm let me see, oh right THIS FUCKING BLOG!!!)

Achieving increased dependence on the group by 'burning bridges' to the past, through the donation of assets.

Promoting acceptance of cult authority by promising advancement, power and salvation.
(He says we will celebrate and live happily ever after if we do this now)

Inducing loss of reality by physical separation from family, friends, society and rational references.
(You would think this doesn't fit but because we now live with my mother it has actually separated us!)

Maintaining vulnerability and confusion by alternately rewarding and punishing similar actions.
(Gareth is very proud that I quit smoking!)

Creating disorientation and increased susceptibility to emotional arousal by depriving the nervous system of necessary nutrients through the use of special diets.
(I QUIT SMOKING!!! Oh and I eat Moroccan stew about tree times a week and fortune cookies)

Inducing dependence on the group by introducing games with obscure rules.
(uh huh everything in life is now a financial game! And Gareth is the MASTER of games with strange rules - spooky)

Reinforcing the need for 'salvation' by exaggerating the sins of the former lifestyles.
(I used to smoke = bad
I used to spend money = really bad
He claims that I will be saved eventually ;)

Maintaing loyalty and obedience to the group by threatening soul, life or limb for the slightest 'negative' thought, word or deed. (Gareth threatens me with the 'limb' thing on a nightly basis)

Destroying pre-cult families

1. Upper/Middle income family backgroud (CHECK)
2. Average to above average intelligence (CHECK CHECK)
3. Good education (CHECK CHECK CHECK)
4. Idealistic (CHECK CHECK CHECK CHECK!!!)

(I read this all out load to my mother and Gareth one night - we couldn't stop laughing. I told Gareth that he was the PERFECT CULT LEADER!!!)

4$ Dresses

Last week I was not feeling very pretty or very girly. It seemed like everyone in the city had revamped their wardrobes and was now in head to toe summer fashion. I looked through our closet and all I had was a pair of paint splattered jeans and a bunch of ripped T-Shirts. When summer finally rears its face it is always nice to shed your ugly puffer and have something pretty to prance around in.

On our budget I will have to be creative. I looked on Ebay and found some really nice dresses, but I am petite and my body is pretty unforgiving when it comes to size. So, I went to the fabric store and bought 2 yards of jersey fabric, laid it down on my studio floor and traced the outline of my body.

I used the sleeves from an old T-shirt to measure my arms for the pattern. I dug through my drawers and found thread from a project I did a long time ago, then I started to sew. In about an hour I had made myself a sumer dress that fit me like a glove for only $4!

Fuck, the mark up on clothes is RIDICULOUS! Not that I don't respect Diane, Helmut, et al but I plan to make about 5 more Amy originals as best as I can to have my very own summer duds to strut in!

Friends Rock

Last night I went to see Sex and the City. This is not normally the type of movie I like but my friend Michael said it was his treat...

Beggars beggars!

When we approached the concession stand Michael said "What do you want?" I said "Oh nothing." To which he said "Fuck off get what you want it's my treat!"

I said "ok I want an extra large of everything then!" Tee hee.

After the movie we went to his house to walk the dog. His boyfriend Bill had a bag of old clothes he was going to throw away in the hallway. I started digging through them immediately, repeating "Oh Michael I'm so sorry, but there may be something in here for Gareth, is it too weird I'm digging through your boyfriends underwear?"

I ended up with one kenneth Cole belt, I pair of white moroccan trousers, and one pair of swimming shorts with the american flag printed all over them.

After I riffled through his garbage Michael treated me to dinner at The Mercer Kitchen.

What a meal. It was scrumdiddlyumptous. The whole time I was taking notes on what I could make for Gareth.

It turned out to be an expensive night for Michael, so in return I tried my best to give him as much solid advise on his love life as I could. I'm not sure if my advice was worth two movies tickets, an extra large tub of popcorn and a beautiful meal for two...but I think it helped him.

After dinner at 1am I hoped on the train in the rain with a big fat smile on my face!

(PS - my lesson - large tubs of popcorn at the movies are ridiculously overpriced and I never finish them anyway - oh and I don't really think Gareth will wear the swimming shorts, that would be gross - besides Bill's waist isn't much large then mine...maybe I'll use them as a new patch for Gareth's jeans ;)

Moroccan Stew


The cooking lessons are continuing with Amy. Most recently we did Moroccan Vegetable Stew and it was delicious and very very cheap (we are still grazing on the leftovers). It is really simple and well worth trying out...

Chop one onion and fry it in olive oil with a chopped clove of garlic, a finger of grated ginger, a teaspoon of turmeric and a teaspoon of cumin. (The smell fills your kitchen instantly).

When the onions have softened. Tip in a drained can of chickpeas and a tine of chopped tomatoes (i buy tinned plum tomatoes and chop them myself as it is cheap).


Now add a chopped up butternut squash and some chopped sweet potatoes - as much as you like. (If you are feeling flush you can add in some fish or prawns if you like)

Add some water if the juice from the tomatoes is not enough to cover the ingredients. Squeeze in the juice of one lemon (save the zest for flavoring your couscous). Add a little honey and season with salt and pepper

Cook until the squash is soft. Stir in a handful of chopped coriander (optional if your budget is very tight).

Serve with cous cous and a dollop of yoghurt and a grinding of pepper.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Crotch update


I think me jeans are done for. Even with the darning that Amy did last week, my crutch is wearing thinner than a model at New York Fashion Week.

Something has to be done before I embarrass myself in public.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Best seats in the house


I lucked out a few weekends ago when I answered my phone and my friend John asked me if I wanted to go and see the Yankies play. He said he had great seats and they hadn’t cost him a cent. Yes was my answer and I jumped on the subway to meet up with him.

The seats we had weren’t just great they were amazing. We were in the foul ball area and the price on the ticket was $250. Holy shit. I overheard the people around us say that these were “the best seats they had ever had!”

$500 worth of free tickets I hear you cry!!! How on earth did you get your grubby mitts on them?

Well John is what they call a face. He has done very well for himself over the last few years through a combination of pure talent and hard hard work he is now famous as a comedian.

As result of being a face nice things like free tickets to baseball games pop up from time to time.

These tickets earned John Operation Night Brace Gold Level sponsor status ☺

Thank you John.

Thursday, June 12, 2008



I don't think the donation button is working. If someone would be so kind as to test it then that would be magic!

Ha ha ha - worth a try

Paved with good intentions


In my enthusiasm to pay off the debt i got a bit carried away yesterday and managed to upset Amy by putting her face on a thong. As the Queen would say: "One was not amused"

Let me explain.

There is a great website called that allows you to make your own merchandise and then sell it with no cost and no risk to yourselves. It is great even if the art work is a little crude. I designed a lovely thong with our faces on to raise funds. $15.99 each (which is about $8 profit for Operation Night Brace)

I posted it on the blog.

Amy saw the blog.

Amy was not happy.

Gareth took down the posting.

Gareth deleted the thong from

(If things get more desperate they might make a come back but with just my face and not Amy's xxxx)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008



Much to Amy’s dismay, I have been applying to go on Oprah and Ellen to share our scheme with them.

Oprah is the richest woman and if we get on the show I will be sure to look down the back of her sofa’s on set.

Amy is adamant that she won’t appear on the shows if we get asked – she says she is just too shy. She is offering the following alternatives though:

• Hire an actress
• Make a life-size Amy rag doll
• Buy a brunette inflatable love doll
• Make a giant photocopy of Amy

Tuesday, June 10, 2008



I’m having to make an unexpected trip back to the UK later this month. It is going to be a quick trip home – just two nights - and unfortunately it means I’ll be missing Amy’s birthday.

I looked at flight prices - $1000 return. Yikes!

Thankfully I have saved up some airmiles and even more thankfully Virgin is currently doing an airmile sale so I didn’t have to use them all up.

I have managed to get a return trip home for $375 (you always have to pay the tax on airmile flights apparently) and 23,000 airmiles. Magic. Make sure you always claim the miles when you fly – you never know when you might need them.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Say it with Ts


Amy and I have been entering t-shirt slogan competitions on sites such as T-shirt Hell and

It is simple. Just think of something funny to say and submit it. If you strike it lucky you could win up to $500 per slogan!!!

Here is one of our favorite submissions… Please don’t laugh at my dancing (I have epilepsy)

Coming to a chest near you soon (if we’re lucky)!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

"Invoice me later"


I have been signing up for lots of free magazine subscriptions at the moment. When I say ‘free’ they aren’t technically free but the publishing houses in the US are so desperate for eyeballs they give you up to 90% off the cover price and also give you the option to be invoiced later.

I have signed up to about five different magazines and slowly they are now turning up. I have yet to spend a penny on them. In fact I don’t intend to spend a penny on them.

The publishers simply stop sending them if they haven’t received payment after 3 months. 3 months of free magazines for nothing. Lovely jubbly.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Return of the bed


Joy oh joy!!!

The bed came back yesterday (thak the lord for 90 day guarantees) and we had our first decent night's sleep in our room for almost two weeks. It feels so good to have it back - so much so that we have only just climbed out of it at 4pm. A mixture of jetlag, exhaustion and hungoverness has been keeping our heads firmly stuck to our pillows for the best part of the day.

It feels great to be back together - six days apart felt like a lifetime.

The MIA concert last night was a blast and to save cash we got drunk before we went in. We were proper wineos drinking wine from a carton (classly) in a brown paper bag and lazing about on the grass outside the venue. Amy was swigging with gay abound (i love that phrase) I was a bit more cautious - "Will i get kicked out the country if the police catch me?" "Shut up and drink"

At the end of the concert we lucked out. The BBQ stand was desperate to get rid of there surplus supplies so was selling burgers and hotdogs half price. Sweet.

We got home late, full and merry and were quick to drift off into the land of nod on our AirMattress 2000.

Happy days

Friday, June 6, 2008

Operation Night Brace - the Movie


Last night we were chatting nonsense about who would play us if this were ever turned into a movie.

As I am British and have floppy hair we decided Hugh Grant would play me. And as Amy is American and has straight hair, Sandra Bullock would play here.

It would be a rom-poverty-com with loads of mad cap schemes to make money and even crazier schemes to not spend any money at all.

I’d love to see Hugh Grant cycling through the streets of New York with a trash bag of leftover food over his shoulder and borrowing/forcing a young child to sell lemonade on the street for him.

Amy would love to see Sandra Bullock survive without being able to have a manicure or buy any new clothes.

Mr Spielberg – we are awaiting your phonecall. The rights are available.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

You've got (voice)mail


I just got a voicemail from my boss that said:

“I’ll keep this very short Gareth as I don’t want to eat into your $20 a day allowance….”

It made me laugh! Everyone is looking out for us.

Things to look forward to


We decide to do Operation Night Brace a month before we actually started it. I think it would have been hard to suddenly do it overnight.

One of the important things I did with my last pre-ONB wage packet was to buy concert tickets spread across the summer so we had stuff to look forward to that was already paid for.

This weekend is the first of these concerts – in fact we have two gigs to go to although the second isn’t really a gig but more of an experience.

Friday night we are off to see M.I.A. and on Saturday we are off to watch Japanese Monster wrestling at Webster Hall. The Japanese Monster Wrestling is truly bonkers we’ve been once before and can’t wait to go back – check out their website.

These tickets were brought to celebrate the fact we have survived the first month of Operation Night Brace. Yaaaahhhhhh hhhaaaaaayyyyyy.

It is important to have these milestones marked out in the diary to stop the drudgery of a $20 lifestyle ☺.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

FREEBEES explore continued


The Best Things in Life are free: the following list is a random assortment of quotes plucked from Google and my attempt to truly understand what is and is NOT FREE! (FREE in the purest sense that is ;)

Falling in love – Ok LOVE category established! (Hmm - It cost me $40 to find my love ;)

Laughing so hard your face hurts – yes ok (Bodily functions established - they are all free!)

A hot shower - who pays for the shower? And the hot water?

No lines at the Super Wal-Mart – this is just stupid

A special glance – yes but it depends what the glance is for ;)

Getting mail - What this is not free at all – Stamp price, mail box price, computer price etc!

Taking a drive on a pretty road – er what about the car?

Hearing your favorite song on the radio – uh whose radio?

Lying in bed listening to the rain outside - whose bed? How bout just listening to the rain – I’d put it in bodily functions I think – auditory.

Hot towels out of the dryer – er whose dryer and do the towels smell of fabric softener or what?

Finding the sweater you want is on sale for half price- duh - finding a sweater in the trash would be more like it!

Chocolate milkshake - NOT FREE – in whose world is this free?

A long distance phone call – this is just dumb!

A bubble bath -–maybe if you stole the bubbles from somewhere and bathed in someone elses freaking tub

Giggling - yup free + fun – again with the bodily functions

A good conversation – uh huh – free - Friendship category

The beach - yeah I‘ll give it up for the ocean! This would fall in nature

Finding a $20 bill in your coat from last winter – now how is that free? It’s already your cash!!

Laughing at yourself
 - yeah that's good – bodily function

Making faces – (This I made up) bodily function again

Midnight phone calls that last for hours – NOT free

Running through sprinklers – er I think you pay for this with your tax money? The running is free and would go under Bodily Functions... The sprinklers are free if you’re unemployed, homeless or British living in America…so it may be truly free for some in which case it would fall under the nature category!

Laughing for absolutely no reason at all – isn’t that giggling? bodily function

Having someone tell you that you're beautiful – Ok this one is tricky - how much did it cost you to become beautiful? And if you are naturally beautiful – well then most things will come to you at no cost – yeah? I appreciate the sentiment though ;)

Laughing at an inside joke
 - AGAIN with the laughing – can’t we just say that ALL bodily functions – whether fun or not are FREE?

Friends – yes

Falling in love for the first time – yeah at age 12 – hopefully your parents are still picking up the tab at that point! Love category - PS why is it always the "First Time" does that imply that you pay for it every time after the "First" or anything that follows the first pales in comparison and no longer qualifies for the "Best" title?

Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you – ok we’ve established that compliments are free!

(Compliments, Bodily Functions, Friends, Nature and Love – if you’re young)

Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep – this is case by case sensitive, yes waking up is free but is it good? Only if you’re tired and in a bed/floor of your choice that was also free!

Your first kiss - again the 12 year old "First" thing!

Playing with a new puppy – ok Free – we’ll put this in nature - whatever gets people off!

Having someone play with your hair – ok yes, if they want to - otherwise you can also pay for that in Chinatown ;)

Sweet dreams – yup dreams are free – so are nightmares

Hot chocolate - How is this free?

Road trips with friends – What?!

Swinging on swings – yeah...this would fit in the Tax money/nature category

Watching a good movie cuddled up on a couch with someone you love – cable bill, netflix bill + TV???

Wrapping presents under the Christmas tree while eating cookies and drinking eggnog – all of the above cost cost cost!

Song lyrics printed inside your new CD so you can sing along without feeling stupid – this is nice but not free!

Getting butterflies in your stomach every time you see that one person – this falls into the love category!

Making eye contact with a cute stranger – yeah this is nice and FREE

Winning a really competitive game – whose game console? Whose board?

Making chocolate chip cookies – cooking is NOT FREE – it can be cheap but definitely NOT free.

Seeing smiles and hearing laughter from your friends - ok friends + laughter category - let’s just say that any FREE category can be combined in anyway and it is still free!

Holding hands with someone you care about – One of my favorite frees – falls into love/friendship

Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change – nice insight

Discovering that love is unconditional and stronger than time (Love category)

Riding the best roller coasters over and over – uh yeah roller coasters cost cash – I’d like to see anyone queuing up for the cyclone with no money!

Hugging the person you love – nice … in the love category

Watching the expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you – didn’t that present cost you money? – this is an exception ONLY if you made the present or plucked it!

Watching the sunrise – nice – fits into nature!

Getting out of bed every morning and thanking God for another beautiful day- hey wait GOD is FREEEEE – now that’s one I haven’t thought of! I will ad that to my short list – hmm...I’m an atheist – I guess that doesn’t change the fact that GOD is fucking FREE!

Having friends you know you can cry on or talk to about your deepest problems – obviously problems that came from all of our “FREE” Categories – LOVE, RELIGION, FRIENDS, NATURE, BODILY FUNCTIONS…so that SHOULD be FUCKING FREE for Gods SAKE!

In conclusion I would say that anything you do with any part of your body (that does not involve a professional) AND God are FREE ;)

Tipping gets on my tits


Whilst hanging out in some of the touristy areas of the city with Mum and Mike last week we were bombarded by some of the most aggressive tip requests I have ever experienced. It was unrelenting…

In a Russian accent and very fast: “The tip is $7.50 please leave that separately on the table. Do not put the tip in with your payment for the food. Keep it separate. It is $7.50 that you owe me”

In a tour guide voice: “As you leave the boat there is a member of the crew with a tip jar. This jar is for the staff and crew. I do not get any tips from this jar. I shall we waiting when you get off the boat. I truly appreciate your tips.”

It drove me mad.

I’m British.

I hate tipping unless a tip has really be deserved.

A tip – in my world – should never be demanded.

The problem in America is that the price you pay for things is false. In a restaurant the food is cheap because the owners aren’t paying the staff enough. The tip is effectively a tax on your food. I would rather pay the true price for the meal which includes a decent wage for the staff. That way servers can concentrate on doing a great job rather than spending their time writing elaborate ‘thank yous’ and smiley faces on my bills.

I wonder how much money I would make if I stood by the door of our office shaking a tips tin as everyone left in the evening?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Darning and hacking


To save me having to buy a new pair of jeans, Amy spent last Saturday night patching up the hole that was rapidly developing in my crotch area of my 501s. She has kept a pair of jeans that she used to wear when she was 18 for the specific purpose of patching. The jeans are now almost as good as new and they come with the benefit that Amy is near my nuts every time i wear them.

But Amy's cost saving skills don't stop there. Not only can she sew - she can also cut hair! Straight after sorting out the jeans she had me in the bathroom and set about me with a pair of scissors. Not a bad job was done even if i do look like a 12 year old.

Here's to saving money - free haircuts and jeans that have a teenage girl's denim sewn into the crotch.

Happy Thoughts please come back!


What are my happy thoughts these days:
I have an insane case of insomnia, so I always need to grab a happy thought out of the air before I take a sleeping pill and go to sleep. I tend to worry a lot about practically everything especially as soon as I put my head on the pillow (well in this case the floor). These days my happy thoughts are few and far between. The finish line to pay off my loans is so far away and my job has been pure misery. I haven’t been in my studio for a month now I toss and turn without a happy thought.

What can I do to get my happy thoughts back?



What’s free in life really?
Sex (for some)
...Holy shit this list is short
Ok I’ll focus...
This is hard, maybe I’ll Google it later….
Ok that’s all I got…



Toothpaste is free if you ask for it at the front desk of the Holiday Inn :)

Oh please make the humor last…


Gareth and I were on the train on Saturday when he said, “I only have so much humor for Operation Night Brace and I need to make sure that I have enough to make it through. I don’t want this to drag on for years and years.’ At which point I thought to myself, fuck I don’t want it to go on past July, yikes. I understand that he wants it done and dusted ASAP but that would mean that we stay until January 2009, by then:

1) my mother will have adopted Gareth and thrown me out
2) we will look like homeless people and feel like homeless people
3) we’ll still be happy and have paid off $150,000k TOGETHER

I’m routing for #3

Boat ride


My mum is always doing very thoughtful things for me.

On her last night in New York she gave Amy and I a little card. We opened it up and out feel a mini whoopee cushion and a rocket balloon (she knows me very well). $40 also fell out. And the message in the card read as follows:

“40 dollars enclosed . Please take Amy for a boat ride on the lake in central park (12 dollars for one hours and 20 dollar deposit). When you get the deposit back have a drink on us in the Boathouse. We really loved Central Park. X. PS Any change can go to “Operation Night Brace”.


Monday, June 2, 2008



I quit smoking. Let me repeat myself. I quit smoking. It’s been about 3 weeks now. The first two days I was crying, screaming and pulling my hair out. I compared quitting smoking to:

a) the loss of a great love
b) the death of a family member

Yes both of these are a bit dramatic in hindsight, but that’s how it felt.

So now it’s been in three weeks and I’m over the hump, I hope. Quitting smoking has given us and extra $250 a month to put towards the loans and, hopefully a few years tacked onto the end of my life. (NOTE: My voice is still very deep and my skin looks the same – damn!)

It’s a bit daunting


I deposited $8,000 into my account. on Wednesday. In one month alone Gareth and I have paid $18,500!! Holy shit that’s a lot of cash. Neither of us have seen any of it-- it goes straight into my account and then straight to the loan people.

What could I have done with $18,500!

I think I’ve learned my lesson about squandering money needlessly, so I think at this point I would put it all into a high interest CD! Oh but first I would have bought Gareth a Prada shirt and myself a nice summer dress and then taken him out on a date at a restaurant of his choice :)

Jet Setters


Gareth and I are both traveling this week. He’ll be in San Diego until Friday and I’ll be in Barcelona until Thursday. By the time we both get back we should have our inflatable raft back in place! Thank god!

In the meantime we’ll both be sleeping in the lap of luxury, an actual bed, at opposite ends of the earth ;(



Errrrr not quite. Just spoke to the bed people and they said a replacement should be with us on Friday which is great for me as that is when i get back to NYC but bad for AMy as she lands back on Thursday to another (but final) night on the floorboards.

"Excuse me i have forgotten my toothpaste"


I made a great discover last night at the Holiday Inn in San Diego. If you tell the front desk you have forgotten your toothpaste they will give you a free tube of Colgate toothpaste - result.

It isn't the biggest tube but it is free. Slowly i am persuading everyone i'm here with to go and ask for a tube.

So far i have two tubes for the Operation Night Brace bathroom cabinet. I'll keep you posted.

The Lemonade Stand


Amy and I have had a brainwave!

We are going to borrow her niece next Saturday and set up our very own lemonade stand on the mean streets of New York.

Isabelle is super cute so people are bound to stop. Unfortunately she is also super smart so we will have to make sure the earnings get split evenly between the three of us. I was hoping I could just say: “Here have this shiny quarter for your 5 hour shift”.

I’m really looking forward to it. A proper slice of Americana but updated for the modern day beverage consumer:

• We shall be offering two different sizes of lemonade – grande and vente
• We shall be making a sugar free version with Splenda for the health conscious lemonade drinker
• We shall be offering an organic version for double the price
• We shall also be offering a lemon and sugar free lemonade – that will just be cold water (proper marketing bollocks)
• We shall also be making and selling some tiny dairy-free lemon drizzle cakes – a little mouthful of naughtiness.

Lemonade stands used to be so much simpler before these multinational coffee chains came along.

To guarantee sales we are thinking about offering a free joke with every purchase told by Isabelly Button herself. And to offer assurance of quality we will have a big sign that says: All employees have washed their hands!!! (These signs seem to be compulsory in all American restaurants).

All we need now is for Amy’s sister to agree to us borrowing her daughter (two thirty year olds selling lemonade by themselves just isn’t that cute) and a good name for the stall. Anyone out there got any suggestions??

Sunday, June 1, 2008

1 Adult and 2 OAPS


My Mum came over to New York last week for the first ever time! She hasn’t flown in about 10 years so this was a very very big deal and it was lovely to have her here to experience the city that is keeping her son away from her.

In her own words: “New York is a lot cleaner than I thought it would be!”

It is strange that many people’s perceptions of NYC are still heavily influenced by the horror stories of the eighties where it sounded like you couldn’t walk down the street without falling over a dead body.

(When I first arrived here a friend brought me a t-shirt from one of the Canal Street stalls. Beneath a large image of a gun the t-shirt simply said: “WELCOME TO NEW YORK - DUCK MOTHER FUCKER”)

We had a great time and managed to fit a lot in to what ended up being ashort trip to the Big Apple. One of the highlights of the trip was the 3 hour cruise all around Manhattan. Neither Mum or Mike are over 65 but – in the spirit of Operation Night Brace – I told the person at the ticket office they were so we could get the OAP rate for the boat. A whole $12 worth of savings!!!!