Are you frugal? Some random thoughts on stuff

The rest of our stuff came last week.  Wave 3 of the attack, if you will.  I mentioned before, that I didn’t miss too much of it.  Now it is here.  I’m trying to convince myself that this is a good thing.  Or it will be.  Once we get it put away.  I think it will all fit.  Progress has been slow because, you know, KIDS.  And it feels like a shell game.  I need to put X in here, but I can’t because Y is in there, and I can’t move it until I sort Z and get it moved.  And so on and so forth.

My goal for this weekend is to at least get things out of Henry’s reach.  I miss before when he wasn’t randomly walking up and handing me an iron.  Or a flashlight.  Or my box of Christmas cards.

Living with less stuff really wasn’t hard.  I’d like to get back to that a little bit.  But I’m having the same problem I was when I tried to purge before our move.  Selecting the things you want to take is easy.  Looking at all the things and eliminating them is hard.  When I didn’t see this stuff, I really didn’t miss it.  But now–even though I didn’t need it for almost two months–I look at things and think I should keep them.  You know, just in case . . .

I asked James the other day if we are frugal.  The Frugal Girl has a funny post up about how to How to be an obnoxious money saver.  The comments are interesting.  I don’t identify with a lot of these things, particularly noticing price changes of a few cents.  I would never notice that.  My general philosophy is that I can buy whatever I want at the grocery store because it is much cheaper than eating out.  I mean, within reason, of course.  I’m not buying all filet mignon, foie gras, and crab legs.  But we don’t have a grocery budget.

I recognize that we are fortunate to be able to think this way.  I know not everyone can.  I know I may need to think that way some day.  Besides the other reasons I mention here, I think this is one of the reasons I haven’t hired any cleaning help yet.  We could afford help now.  But I think I want to try on what would be like if we couldn’t.  I don’t know what the next step is.  If we opt to do something very different with a very different income stream, I’d like to know what it feels like.  Is this a deal breaker, ladies?

One of my new friends here has asked a few times if we have been to the mall yet.  Nope.  Besides that whole driving thing, I’m just not that into it.  The kids are not super fun in stores.  And I know I want less stuff if I see less stuff.

Similarly, a new favorite blog is The Mom Edit.  The writing makes me laugh.  The pics are gorgeous.  It does give me outfit ideas.  But it also makes me want things.  I find myself with 5 new tabs open after reading a post before I talk myself down that, no, I do not need another gray sweater.

In Clutterfree with Kids, Joshua Becker talks about working towards minimalism after spending a day cleaning out his garage.  Let’s just say it was not the most fun day, and he wished he could have spent more of it with his son.  It was a realization that your stuff owns you.  You have to put it away.  Clean it.  Organize it.  Take care of it.  Right now I feel a little like the stuff is owning me.  I need to be vigilant about eliminating the things that don’t find homes.

So, no, I don’t really think of myself as frugal.  I don’t budget.  I spend money on kindle books without hesitation.  I’ll drop some money on a dinner out.  But I’m working towards less stuff.  And recognizing that putting myself in less opportunities to acquire stuff generally results in less stuff.  I definitely don’t want to be holier-than-thou like the obnoxious money savers above.  I do love stuff.  Particularly gray sweaters.  And gray pants.  And gray purses.  Yes, I have a problem.  I think the goal should be stuff that works for you.  Right now my stuff is not working for me.  Time to recalibrate.

What’s your “stuff” strategy?  Do you consider yourself frugal?

Wine tweets (Vol. 2): What I’ve been drinking*

*Descriptions from a wine/beer lover who is really bad at talking about it

Want more wine tweets? See here.

The good

The good

Starting on the left, the Toscana was one James let Henry pick out at the grocery store.  Natch, he went with the red lion.  This was medium-bodied.  It was just ok.  Definitely drinkable, but it didn’t have the rich mouth feel I wanted.  #notreallyspecial #toddlersommelierfail

We had the neighbors over for drinks after the kiddos went to bed.  You know the cool, lived-all-over-the-world, no kids neighbors?  They brought this wine.  Of course, it was amazing.  They claim it was a grocery store find, but I haven’t tracked it down yet.  Smooth, inky, delicious.  #wontyoubemyneighbor

This Dolcetto d’Alba is my favorite Dolcetto yet.  I think.  We had two in close succession.  One was outstanding, the other was meh.  James claims this was the good one, but I’ll need to track down another bottle to see.  If it IS the good one, it is medium, fruity, good mouth feel.  Everything you’d want in your dolcetto.  #everyday #versatile

The Teroldego on the right is one of my new faves.  Another super cheap grocery store find.  James tells me I can’t get this in the U.S. so I should not get too attached.  Another smooth wine with a great mouth feel.  (Noticing a trend here?)  #repeatbuy #mustimportteroldego

The OK

The OK

The Est! Est!! Est!!!, from a region with a charming back story, was Italian adequate.  Meaning good, drinkable, but a little forgettable.  I think this one was on the fruitier end of the spectrum.  #enjoyedbutnotblownaway

The Frascati is one of the rare local wines.  The only word that really came to mind for this one is “light.”  It wasn’t very sweet, very fruity, or very dry.  It was just pretty light.  This sounds underwhelming, I know, but it wasn’t bad.  Definitely a refreshing wine to drink when it is hot out.  #summer #laziolocal

I had high hopes for this one because I am a sucker for bottle art.  In the end, I was disappointed, but mostly because of expectations.  I thought it would be on the light and fruity side, but it was more like chardonnay.  And I was not in the mood for chardonnay that day.  As far as chardonnay-ish wines go, it was ok.  I thought it improved on the second day.  James thought it got worse.  #thelobsterledmeastray

The ugly

The ugly

Which brings us to the lone beer of the group.  Hats off to the folks at nabiretta for making beer in Italy, but I was really disappointed.  This one started off ok, but went all wrong as you swallowed.  I wouldn’t call it homebrew-y because that would be an insult to homebrewers.  Of course, I was disappointed by the lack of hops, but the malt just tasted off.  #didnotfinish

P.S. I’m not off my whole30; it just takes me that long to get around to writing these up.


Coloring outside the lines: can it be taught?

I recently finished Rules of Civility.  Set in NYC in 1938, the main character is a spunky gal making it on her own.  I’d recommend the book for many reasons, but the protagonist particularly impressed me when she went after a job in a nontraditional fashion.  Instead of brushing up on her cover letter, she stalked her hopeful boss at his lunch spot, pretended to be meeting someone else, and then dropped a novel of mutual interest on his table.  I’ll let you read whether the gambit works.

Granted, this is fiction.  But these things do happen in real life.  Take this guy: post WWII he borrows money to buy a new car, drives it halfway across the country for a business meeting, parks it strategically, is all like “oh, you like this car,” and gives the car to secure the distributor contract.

I would not do these things.  It isn’t just that I wouldn’t do it; it would never even occur to me to do them.  Take Martine Rothblatt as another example.  There are about a billion examples in this (lengthy) article, but it would never occur to me to start my own religion.  That just seems out of the bounds of things that one can do.  (I guess I am not honoring my Lutheran heritage by thinking that way.)

Or Bill Murray as another one.  Running up to people on the street to warn them about a lobster on the loose just isn’t something you can do.  Right?  (I know, I know, tell that to Billy Eichner.)

The Confidence Code, another recent read, talks about how women are generally great at school because they are good at following the rules; however, rule following may not serve you well in the real world.  The book also mentions that women tend to ruminate about things more, where a guy could just shrug it off and try again.

My confidence is a little on the low side right now.  Some of it is from navigating a country with a foreign language and different customs.  Some of it is from learning how to juggle two kids in public.

I’ve decided to work on this.  I’m thinking about a series of “confidence challenges.”  Baby steps.  Things like purchasing produce at the outdoor market, getting a cappuccino with the kids, taking the kids on public transit, and actually going to the weekly playgroup across the park.  Besides making myself do more, I’m also going to try not to beat myself up about them.  If an Italian occasionally thinks I’m a clueless foreigner, this really should not be a big deal.

This morning at the grocery store, I transacted with the seafood guy.   A first.  Baby steps.  And you never know, by next year I could be approaching random Italians at Villa Borghese to warn them about runaway lobsters.



confidence code

street market

Learn Italian. I’m on it.

I had one of those experiences at the grocery store today that is re-motivating me to work on my (currently very limited) Italian.  It started in produce.  I grabbed a cantaloupe because I picked up some prosciutto earlier in the week and thought we’d enjoy them together.  How Italian!

I weighed the melon and got a sticker.  This is a big difference between European (at least German and Italian) grocery stores and those back home.  I learned this the hard way, my first trip to a Germany grocery store when the clerk yelled at me for not doing it.  Even though that was over 10 years ago, I have since been hyper-vigilant on always weighing my produce.

We make it to check out.  Henry refuses to relinquish the melon.  No biggie.  I peel it off and hand the guy the sticker.  But I can tell right away there is an issue.  He tells me it is the wrong sticker.  This is for the bigger melon, not the little one.  He says he’ll wait while I go fix it.

Everything the clerk said was in Italian.  I may have missed some nuances, but I’m pretty sure I got it.  Context clues helped greatly on this one.  But I am hopeful that comprehension is not completely hopeless.

But I couldn’t think of a single word in Italian to respond.  Some of it was the “deer in headlights” aspect of it.  But a lot of it was just my lack of Italian.  I have thought of a few things to say after the fact, but not too many.

I’m not beating myself up over it, but I’d like to do better next time.  And so back to Duolingo I go.  And then other Italian courses.  And hopefully lining up a tutor before too long.  Italian language prep fell by the wayside around the time Mac was born.  Now, I’m on it.