March 2, 2015
It’s March! So close to spring! Only 21 days! And this time next week the clocks spring forward! Extra day! It’s currently snowing like a bitch outside in NYC and a man hit me in the crotch with a snow shovel, so forgive me for counting the days until this garbage Winter is over, but I am READY for Spring.
True story though: I do this seasonal fear eating when the weather starts to change. At the end of September I eat as many tomatoes as possible. This past week, i’m trying to get all of the Winter foods in before it’s too late. I’ve had: ramen, pho, multiple chicken soup variations, chili, and a lot of roasted veggies. Currently eating: this big pot of baked lentils with merguez, parsnips, and kale. Still on the list: SOUP DUMPLINGS.
The onset of March also means that my experiment in austerity is over. I had some bumps in the road – there were a couple cab rides, a few meals out, and one MUCH NEEDED trip to the Russian Baths, but otherwise it was really awesome and really easy. I cooked SO MUCH. Awesome, healthy, frugal meals! For myself and my pals. I didn’t buy any physical things! I really still need pants but I made it through the coldest month ever in thick tights. #proud.
I had a good manic planning afternoon in an effort to rope my friends in to doing cheapie activities so that I wouldn’t miss out on fun.
First up was a big clothing swap at my place which was the most fun excuse to clean my closet ever. I spent Valentine’s day at work and then day drinking with my best gentleman pal which really set me up for closet-clean success. I was brave enough to strip down and try on every single thing I own to see what still worked, what could be taken in, and what needed a new home. So many babes came to my house! I made a great Mexican baked egg dish and Mexican spiced hot chocolate! Other lovelies brought homemade bread and the best brownies I’ve ever had in my life. We all laughed and were in various states of undress and wiggling into clothes all afternoon. I loved it, and I loved watching the clothes I love so much going home with rad babes who looked great in them. It also felt great to be around a bunch of awesome fat femmes and try on a bunch of sizes of clothing in my own house!
Obviously I needed a snack-centric event as well, so I goaded the girl gang into having a dumpling making party with me. Everyone brought a different type of filling and then we assembly lined the hell out of them to make a million. I ate all the ones that broke, and we all got some to take home for the freezer. We had spicy lentil, pork with ginger, garlic, and scallion, sweet potato with kale and paprika, and homemade goddamn CHEESE BLINTZES.
We gabbed. We laughed.We fried. (WAIT. MENTAL NOTE: WE LAUGHED. WE FRIED WILL BE THE NAME OF MY GIRL GANG LOVE STORY.) We steamed. It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday. It also made me realize that i’m a crazy person and only happy when i’m being productive. Like, “Oh, hey we’re going to churn out hundreds of dumplings today instead of sitting around eating brunch and relaxing like normal weekend humans.” I guess i’m lucky that my lady boss friends are the same way and will go along with my camp counselor-like activity planning.
For March, i’m focusing on moving more. I agreed to do an African dance performance as a was of making myself go to two classes a week instead of one. Logic: I’m too afraid to look like an idiot at the recital so i’ll go to class more often to make sure that doesn’t happen. I also need to get my ass back in the pool so that when it’s finally warm i’ll be in good swimming shape.
Holler if you know anyone in NYC who wants to give me some swimming pointers! I need to nail down a kickturn!
February 12, 2015
I think a lot of people would argue that February is the most garbage month of them all in New York. (I actually think it’s March, but that’s because I’m an accountant.)
I usually try to make February even worse by abstaining from something I like (wine, dairy) just to see if I can. I feel like this year I have all my food and drink ducks in a row, so I’ve decided to team up with my gal pal Nora Wolf this year on what she calls “Month of Austerity” and on what i’m calling “FRUGAL FEBRUARY” because I like alliteration.
Here is Nora and me with our pups and her boo this New Year’s Eve!
(AMAZING ASIDE THEY MET AT MY CHRISTMAS PARTY LAST YEAR).
Basic rule: Don’t buy anything other than cook-at-home food. No booze or meals out (unless it’s for work). No clothes. No makeup. No cabs. (We both are taking exceptions for special occasions. Nora: ski trip. Me: Dad’s birthday).
Since this whole thing was Nora’s doing I asked her a little bit about her history with Month of Austerity and what it means to her, and I think that a lot of the things she pointed out as the benefits of taking a spending break are really true for me as well.
1. Choice Fatigue – “I remember when I was not making much money and trying to scrape by after college and there was a certain freedom from decision making. Should I get those pants? How many dinners out can I take this month? (During month of austerity) the answer was always no, none, you cannot do any of those things. I didn’t have to think about it.”
YES. Budgeting is goddamned exhausting. It’s really nice to just shut all that off for 28 days.
2. Clothes Horse – Nora has one of the best best closets/shoe collections of anyone I know. She says Month of Austerity helps her cull that collection, “No new clothes, and I usually purge some pieces from the closet for resale or giveaway.” I am SERIOUSLY in need of new clothes, but giving myself this month to really figure out what I want/need keeps me from impulse buying 10 new fringed kimonos. I’m also having a clothing swap at my house this weekend to see if I can get any must haves for freesie, and i’ll be able to get rid of a huge bag of awesome togs to babes I personally know so I know they’re going to a loving home.
3. In/Out – I think I am for sure more of a homebody than Nora. She is really good at finding the best dance parties/square dances/art things to go to. But she lets February be a down time for her, “I don’t eat out so I have more people over for homemade meals. When I saw dating I usually took a break from dating.” I definitely have been cooking at home so much more. I lapsed a little this week for a couple perfect beers out this week with a friend, but then had her back to my place for homemade meatballs, so that balances out. I have been on dating hiatus for a while, so i’ll just keep using Frugal February as an excuse!
Here’s what I bought last week that was outside of my weekly public transport budget and weekly grocery shop budget which i’ve bumped up to $75 because i’m cooking 90% of my meals at home!
$20 – African Dance Class
$1.50 – Can of Black Beans for “I’m sad I didn’t eat Super Bowl snacks yesterday” homemade nachos
Literally nothing! NO DOLLARS.
$12.55 – I forgot my homemade lunch on the counter. This got me a pretty good bowl of rice, tandoori chicken, and spicy braised greens.
$15.00 in Quarters – Laundry. Having to pay to do the chore you hate the most is the crummiest.
$3.00 – Iced Coffee. I know i’m not supposed to buy coffee but it felt comparatively warm this morning and I really wanted this.
$11 – A dozen Peter Pan donuts for a staff meeting. You’re welcome.
$30 via Venmo -To my little brother for gas and tolls to pick me up from my office and take me to NJ. This is somehow cheaper than a round-trip bus ticket, and I can bring back a bunch of heavy seltzer right to my Brooklyn door and he has big speakers so we can listen to a lot of hip hop very loud.
$13 – Coffees for my fam because I was up first.
$45 – Wine for my dad’s birthday after-party
$25 – This amazing steak.
Sunday: ZIP. Zero dollars.
That’s $176.05, which feels pretty good. BUT I want to just check my privilege for a minute and note that that’s still a fair amount of discretionary spending.