(essentially Jan 2 – Jan 15)
I stayed on my money budget and on my calories budget for 2 weeks straight. I am so proud of myself…and so happy. I have never stuck to our expense budget for longer than 3 days until now. I would curb my spending for 3 days and then out came the credit cards for a sushi lunch here, an ebook there and before I knew it, I would have spent more than $100 on unnecessary purchases in a single week.
And did any of it make me feel good? Not really. Not even the lunches. I ate out almost out of a destructive compulsion of habit. And then, when the bill came, would think that the meal was hardly worth the $18 I just paid for it. And when Friday came around and K sat there with his notebook and laptop going through our week’s spending I’d feel both guilty and defensive.
So, you see, I have reason to be proud. Here is my report card for the month so far.
- I have lost 1 lb of weight. (2 lbs actually but one of them was losing the weight I had put on in the last week of December)
- I have eaten more plant matter than animal matter (and my twin pimples are now gone). I was eating too much meat and not enough vegetables. I wanted to fix that in 2015 and I am happy so far.
- I packed lunch from home every day. It not only allowed me to control the calories that I consumed but it was also the only way I could stay on budget.
- I cooked dinner at home almost every day. This saves us a lot of money and helps me keep true to my diet.
- I got rid of all my magazine subscriptions that weren’t already pre-paid because I really don’t have time to read them anyway. The only subscriptions I have now are to Bon Apétit and Cooks Illustrated.
- I have cooked a nice assortment of Ottolenghi dishes from his three cookbooks that I own: Plenty, Plenty More and Jerusalem.
- I stayed on budget. I think I’ve talked about this enough already. 🙂
- I baked 3 new types of bread and my breads.
- I am not meditating nearly enough times.
- I cannot stop thinking about the new DSLR we will be buying at the end of the month. The end of the month is not coming fast enough, if you ask me. We are not going to buy the expensive Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.6-5.6G lens yet anyway, just the camera body and the 35mm lens. But that should be enough to get me started.
- I still spend far too much time obsessing over that person I dislike intensely. It’s a waste of time and completely unproductive, but there it is.
So what do you think? How did I do?
Have you noticed that every store asks you for your email address as a routine part of their in-store payment process?
They claim they’re doing it because they’re going green – saving paper, trees, the environment and the Earth.
I call BS on that. You know why? Because, a week later, you will find that you have a copy of their monthly printed catalogue sitting in your mailbox. And suddenly, their email newsletter starts showing up like clockwork every week too.
I used to spend a few minutes each morning to delete all newsletters from my email inbox. I thought nothing more of it. It was part of my routine for a couple years now.
Then, as I started to look at everything in our apartment with a critical eye, asking myself the questions – What purpose does this serve? And, do I really use it? – I instinctively turned the same critical eye on my email inbox. Continue reading “Digital De-cluttering: Newsletters”
I’ve been on a bread-baking kick lately, tossing out a loaf every day for the past week.
Flour, yeast, salt, water is all one needs to make a slim-n-trim baguette or a rustic boule loaf that can be hollowed out to make a bowl for French onion soup. So simple, so tasty and so much better than anything – even the premium bread – available at supermarkets, and for just a fraction of the price.
Flour, yeast, salt, water. What could be simpler? I suppose it is simpler to drive to the supermarket and buy a loaf of bread. But supermarket bread, even the more expensive, fancy loaves, don’t taste as good as a mediocre loaf of home-baked bread. Besides, Keith dotes on my home baked bread. He doesn’t mind one bit whether it was made the hard way with a starter and two rounds of kneading and two rounds of rising, or by one of the newer, no-knead breads that Jim Lahey of Sullivan St Bakery made so famous. Continue reading “Happiness is Home-baked Bread”
Alongside donating books by the boxful, I have also been giving books away to people who I think will enjoy them. For example, my friend Luis wants to learn how to cook like me, but does not know where to begin. To him I gifted my hardcover copy of Michael Ruhlman’s book, Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, A Cook’s Manifesto. A barista at a coffee shop I go to often is taking a biochemistry course in the fall. I gave her my Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry.
Both these books are precious to me. I have owned and read the biochemistry textbook since freshman year in college and I loved it for the clear explanations and easy-to-follow language. Mine is a well-thumbed copy. I remember studying it from cover to cover for the preliminary exam that I took at the end of the first year of my PhD. Ruhlman’s Twenty gave me a clear path to follow when I was so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of cooking knowhow out there that I felt paralysed and didn’t know what to learn first. Giving these books away actually hurts. I felt a twinge of panic at the moment of handing each book into another person’s hands for good. It’s a bit like losing a reliable friend; who would I turn to now if I got stuck again?
Then why give them away at all? I didn’t need to.
No I didn’t. But I don’t need to hold on to them either. I hold on to them out of sentimentality. Sentimentality is not a bad thing. But it does give rise to clutter. Sometimes I look around my apartment and I have the eerie sensation that I am living in a tomb or mausoleum of my past like an ancient Egyptian king equipped for the afterlife. Ok, that’s both a little extreme and a tad morbid. Sorry.
However, the older you get the more tokens of the past you have and the more things you own that are kept for what they once were to you. Sentimentality means more boxes to drag up flights of stairs or to stack in the basement or the attic.
The truth is that I have outgrown these books. My cooking is now much advanced and most of the things in Ruhlman’s Twenty are now incorporated into my kitchen muscle memory. The biochemistry in my Lehninger now falls within the realm of “elementary background knowledge”. I don’t have it all committed to memory, but most of it I know, and the rest is easily looked up if I ever need it.
So, I am giving them away to people to whom the books will have more value. When you watch a great movie you tell all your friends to watch it so they can enjoy it too, right? So why not share your most favourite books with those who will get out of it what you got. Sometimes the right gift, given at the right time can be the catalyst can make all the difference.
Ever lugged something about from one end of the country to the other because it had, in the past, been very important to you; something that you don’t really use any more but hold on to because you have held on to it for so long?
Maybe you have not even stopped to look at it properly in over a year. Sure, you pass by it every day because it’s sitting on that shelf on the way to the kitchen, but you notice it like you notice the walls in a room, that is, with peripheral vision. Own anything like that?
Here’s just one example: Continue reading “Simplification First Step: An Experiment”
Call it what you will – de-clutter, simplify, minimize – they mean the same thing in the everyday sense of the word, which is to go back to the basics, prioritize the things most important and ditch the rest. That is what I’m in the process of doing.
But why, you ask.
I mean, why get rid of perfectly good stuff that I have use for…or even do already use from time to time?
1. The Guilt
I’ll tell you why: it’s the GUILT. Continue reading “Why I Decided To Simplify”