January 04 2017
Living in Brooklyn

Three Awesome Things This Week & One Horrifying

I am the queen of email folders.  My email folder at work, broken down by all my clients and then broken down further by various other topics and categories, is a marvel to behold, I promise you.  I love throwing things into email folders when I want to file them away because, as much as I hate email, it is my only real filing system.

So file away I do, to my heart’s content. Then I realized that I might create an outlet for these odds and ends that I file away.  They were of interest to me, perhaps they may be of interest to you?  (Perhaps even more interesting than my usual long-winded treatises?)

Here are the thoughts I have filed, and the trails I have followed, this week:

Three Awesome Things:

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles1. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I’ve mentioned it previously, but now that I finished it, I can say that it was outstanding.  Reminiscent in feel to the Grand Budapest Hotel, it is a wonderfully smart and stylish book that whisked me off to a snowy, evocative Russia, years ago, in a romantic old-world era, as noble elegance crashed into the upheaval of history.  Elegance managed to maintain its dignity in this ultimately uplifting book.  But ironically, it kindled in me a desire to delve deeper into the darker reality of Russian history, and into some classic Russian literature.

Naturally I embarked on a ridiculous internet search to decide which direction to go, but I have settled on Dr. Zhviago, where I will likely remain for a while, as I try to divine the intricacies of Russian patronyms and surnames for 700 pages.  I’ll probably be simultaneously reading The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes because that topic feels urgently important and I anticipate a few gear switches will be welcome.

Ugh, already I’ve lost the fight against my long-windedness. But onward to awesome thing number two…

china bans ivory trade
You know you love them. Photo, Taylor Hicks, NY Times

2. China bans the ivory trade.  I don’t proclaim to be an expert on the plight of elephants.  But I know enough, as the average person does, to know that it is heart-breaking.  This story struck me because it shined like a diamond against the darkness and sheer horror of every single other news story.  It’s just a comforting relief to see One. Good. Thing.  If it can’t be something good for us humans, I will rejoice that at least these magnificent beasts may find a kinder, friendlier planet to roam.  I know Miss Mazuma, someone who is intimately acquainted with this topic, is cheering somewhere, a mile up.

ms. montana
Ms. Montana, always dishing out serious wisdom…

3. Ms. Montana’s awesome essay on “pausing.” I’m a big fan of Ms. Montana.  She has a lot of smart ideas and an incredibly lovely way of expressing them, and inspiring others to peek out from her very fresh, energizing perspective.  But I especially loved this post because it highlighted one of those shortcuts in life that anyone can invoke when they take advantage of those predictable little brain quirks that we all have. In this case, it is pausing something, instead of totally cutting it out, which, mentally, is a million times harder.  The trick, of course, is that once you have paused, stopping altogether (if that is what you ultimately want) loses all of its power to daunt.

And finally, one horrifying thing:

The No-Spend January.  I have already failed masterfully in my attempt to join everyone in a no-spend January.  Herein lies my confession:  In the early days of 2017 I have purchased pajamas, an end table, a piano light for our new keyboard, several books of sheet music, bird seed for my new bird feeder, several books on kindle and tickets for my family to see the Peter Pan Experience at BAM* (though in my defense, tickets were only $15 each). We also repaired our vacuum cleaner to the tune of $100. I am going to stop now.

 

*Husband, if you are reading, we are going to see the Peter Pan Experience on March 26th.
  • Awesome! I’m glad you liked it. =) My friend is trying to talk me into doing this crazy Whole30. Ugh. I just keep telling myself, “I’m only pausing, only pausing for 30 days. Yummy cheese, booze and candy can return soon!” Maybe after 30 days I can give up my Smarties addition for good. Or maybe not. We’ll see…

  • Aww – thanks for mentioning my plight to save the elephants! 🙂 Hooray for China banning the ivory trade. It was a long time coming. Education is key to transformation….take for example, Cecil the Lion. Such an uproar (no pun intended) was caused over this creature that 3 major airlines will no longer transport game trophies (http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/todayinthesky/2015/08/03/american-airlines-animal-trophy-ban/31090331/). The more you know!

    As for Ms Montanas pause – I LOVE this concept. People get so wrapped up in the things they give up they sometimes we forget these things are only temporary. Pausing can often be a reset in our patterns once the thing is brought back into our lives. 🙂

    Thanks again for including me!

  • We were pretty good about staying frugal in late December, except for eating out. We were eating out all/the/time. Did a ton of grocery shopping on Dec 31, but I’ll probably count it towards my UFM grocery spending anyways, since we ate all of that food in January! Ha.

    Thanks for reminding me about that Ms Montana post, I have been meaning to read it!

  • We are not taking part in the no spend January too many Birthdays to celebrate, including my wife and my own. So We’ll just look to cut back overall as the year goes on. I’m a big fan of e-mail filing too. So many folders so little time. 🙂

  • Ha, we already ended up going out to eat on Jan 2. (had to meet my dad for lunch to pick up a late present and a forgotten present.) And…someone left doughnut holes out on the counter even though I’m trying to eat sweets only on the weekend and of course I mindlessly picked one up and ate it.

    But it’s okay. I’m climbing back on the horse with the no-spend and weekend-only sweets, and you can too if you want to. Don’t give up, Linda!

    And what were you gonna do? not vacuum for a month? (Okay, we might try that one, lol, but probably would be getting it fixed within a week or two when the mess got too great.) And the deals on pajamas and other clothes were crazy good after Christmas. So life happened, dust yourself off and move forward.

  • I wouldn’t worry about your January purchases -it’s all how you look at it.

    Pajamas – sleep is so underrated and you need to be comfortable
    Piano light and sheet music – you already covered the power of music in a previous post – I imagine smiling faces when family members are at the piano
    Books – again, from your last post, right? 🙂 Books nourish the brain and the soul.
    The bird seed ensures an ongoing connection to nature – there’s therapy in our interactions with animals
    Tickets – this sounds like an awesome family experience – exactly the reason you’re trying to spend less elsewhere
    Vacuum cleaner fix – you didn’t buy a new one 🙂 Fixing is sooo underrated.

    With my powers of rationalization, I’d say you did a pretty good job this month!

    What I didn’t see on that list was “$800 of decorative trinkets from Target” or a lease on a new SUV.

    Remember, it’s relative – you’re much further on the frugal spectrum than most 🙂

  • Ms. Montana’s post really made me think too. I have several things I need to pause, but it’s definitely easier said than done, particularly when other people are involved.

    So, back on the horse for the no spend month! Don’t beat yourself up (and avoid the “what the hell effect” at all costs!) Those were minor purchases, plus you repaired the vacuum – you didn’t go out and replace it – which is a huge win in my book!

    • Thank you Amanda! I was happy to get the vacuum fixed at this little mom and pop near my apartment which has been around forever (in an area where few similar shops have survived rising rents). The only reason I ever go into this store is to turn in my SodaStream carbonators. But repairing vacuums is mainly what they do – they are a nice family run business and I was happy to patronize their main business. Of course, it wasn’t cheap. But it was about $400 cheaper than buying a new model would have been and at least that’s one less vacuum in the landfill! xo

    1. Amanda @ centsiblyrich 11:06am 08 January - 2017 - Reply

      Ms. Montana’s post really made me think too. I have several things I need to pause, but it’s definitely easier said than done, particularly when other people are involved.

      So, back on the horse for the no spend month! Don’t beat yourself up (and avoid the “what the hell effect” at all costs!) Those were minor purchases, plus you repaired the vacuum – you didn’t go out and replace it – which is a huge win in my book!

      • Brooklyn Bread 02:02pm 09 January - 2017 - Reply

        Thank you Amanda! I was happy to get the vacuum fixed at this little mom and pop near my apartment which has been around forever (in an area where few similar shops have survived rising rents). The only reason I ever go into this store is to turn in my SodaStream carbonators. But repairing vacuums is mainly what they do – they are a nice family run business and I was happy to patronize their main business. Of course, it wasn’t cheap. But it was about $400 cheaper than buying a new model would have been and at least that’s one less vacuum in the landfill! xo

    2. Mystery Money Man 11:31pm 07 January - 2017 - Reply

      I’m just going to say that I concur with everything Chris said . : ) I know when I spend, it seems to happen in bunches as well. Thankfully, it usually doesn’t take long to recover.

      • Brooklyn Bread 09:19am 08 January - 2017 - Reply

        Thank you MMM! Trying not to beat myself up too much…

    3. Chris @ Keep Thrifty 05:04pm 06 January - 2017 - Reply

      I wouldn’t worry about your January purchases -it’s all how you look at it.

      Pajamas – sleep is so underrated and you need to be comfortable
      Piano light and sheet music – you already covered the power of music in a previous post – I imagine smiling faces when family members are at the piano
      Books – again, from your last post, right? 🙂 Books nourish the brain and the soul.
      The bird seed ensures an ongoing connection to nature – there’s therapy in our interactions with animals
      Tickets – this sounds like an awesome family experience – exactly the reason you’re trying to spend less elsewhere
      Vacuum cleaner fix – you didn’t buy a new one 🙂 Fixing is sooo underrated.

      With my powers of rationalization, I’d say you did a pretty good job this month!

      What I didn’t see on that list was “$800 of decorative trinkets from Target” or a lease on a new SUV.

      Remember, it’s relative – you’re much further on the frugal spectrum than most 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 06:47pm 06 January - 2017 - Reply

        Oh thank you, Chris. Can you and Emily just come to my house and talk to me when I am feeling stressed? Lol. But seriously, this made me smile… -Linda

    4. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe 05:06pm 05 January - 2017 - Reply

      Ha, we already ended up going out to eat on Jan 2. (had to meet my dad for lunch to pick up a late present and a forgotten present.) And…someone left doughnut holes out on the counter even though I’m trying to eat sweets only on the weekend and of course I mindlessly picked one up and ate it.

      But it’s okay. I’m climbing back on the horse with the no-spend and weekend-only sweets, and you can too if you want to. Don’t give up, Linda!

      And what were you gonna do? not vacuum for a month? (Okay, we might try that one, lol, but probably would be getting it fixed within a week or two when the mess got too great.) And the deals on pajamas and other clothes were crazy good after Christmas. So life happened, dust yourself off and move forward.

      • Brooklyn Bread 10:15am 06 January - 2017 - Reply

        Oh thank you for saying that Emily! A little bit of absolution! I think I have stabilized things… onward! xo

    5. Brian @ Debt Discipline 02:39pm 04 January - 2017 - Reply

      We are not taking part in the no spend January too many Birthdays to celebrate, including my wife and my own. So We’ll just look to cut back overall as the year goes on. I’m a big fan of e-mail filing too. So many folders so little time. 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 03:24pm 04 January - 2017 - Reply

        Oh, I wasn’t even counting the birthdays! My older son turns 9 tomorrow. The Doctor Who Legos… the Pokemon pinata, the Pokemon edible icing sheet from Etsy… lol

    6. Green Revelation 02:02pm 04 January - 2017 - Reply

      We were pretty good about staying frugal in late December, except for eating out. We were eating out all/the/time. Did a ton of grocery shopping on Dec 31, but I’ll probably count it towards my UFM grocery spending anyways, since we ate all of that food in January! Ha.

      Thanks for reminding me about that Ms Montana post, I have been meaning to read it!

      • Brooklyn Bread 02:15pm 04 January - 2017 - Reply

        I was sure I finally had everything under control. Then all hell broke lose. But I have stopped the hemorrhage. I think. lol.

    7. Miss Mazuma 01:54pm 04 January - 2017 - Reply

      Aww – thanks for mentioning my plight to save the elephants! 🙂 Hooray for China banning the ivory trade. It was a long time coming. Education is key to transformation….take for example, Cecil the Lion. Such an uproar (no pun intended) was caused over this creature that 3 major airlines will no longer transport game trophies (http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/todayinthesky/2015/08/03/american-airlines-animal-trophy-ban/31090331/). The more you know!

      As for Ms Montanas pause – I LOVE this concept. People get so wrapped up in the things they give up they sometimes we forget these things are only temporary. Pausing can often be a reset in our patterns once the thing is brought back into our lives. 🙂

      Thanks again for including me!

      • Brooklyn Bread 02:16pm 04 January - 2017 - Reply

        Thank YOU for enlightening people about important issues. I have such great respect for that! xo

    8. Ms. Montana 01:51pm 04 January - 2017 - Reply

      Awesome! I’m glad you liked it. =) My friend is trying to talk me into doing this crazy Whole30. Ugh. I just keep telling myself, “I’m only pausing, only pausing for 30 days. Yummy cheese, booze and candy can return soon!” Maybe after 30 days I can give up my Smarties addition for good. Or maybe not. We’ll see…

      • Brooklyn Bread 02:17pm 04 January - 2017 - Reply

        Oh dear – good luck!! This is why I need to read the Case Against Sugar – so many things need to be brought into line right now and food is definitely one of them! -Linda

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