In January, I spent my time…
In January, my thoughts turn to reviewing and evaluating my life over the previous year. What will be different this year? What do I want to be different? What do I need to make happen?
As far as my personal life goes, if 2017 is like 2016, I am in good shape. But because of recent world events, I feel the need to step outside my personal sphere and live my beliefs out loud more. We’ll see how that takes shape.
DREADING / AVOIDING
I am having a hard time with the news from the US. I am oversaturated with thoughts of the latest evils. It saddens me so much that disempowered people feel the only way to succeed is to take rights away from their fellow citizens. I heard an interview with Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor this week. His theory is that when people feel they can’t effect change, and they may never have had any positive experiences of creating change, and they don’t understand or use the channels available to them, there is a tendency to engage in magical thinking (i.e. that the new president will magically fix everything).
I have been doing a lot of thinking about how I can be an activist within my comfort zone, or whether I need to break out and take bolder action, and what that would entail (and feel like). More on that another time.
Meanwhile I have been doing extra reading of the news behind the headlines so I am properly informed.
PLANNING / MOBILIZING
I have vague ideas brewing for art and photography projects. I’m feeling the need to have more creative outlets. I’ll let you know what comes of it.
MAKING / DOING
As you know, I spent a weekend cleaning out the fridge and cupboards, inventorying the food and restocking. I am happy to know what’s there, to know it’s still edible and the surfaces are clean. Despite the masses of food, I went $30 over-budget on the January grocery bill. I needed to provide snacks for a staff work event (this is uncommon and not an ongoing issue) and I stocked up on some toiletries which should last about 3 months. Last year I averaged $23 over-budget every month but I am going to attempt to keep the budget the same and trim costs.
Once upon a time on this blog, I said I was going to produce a little cookbook, but that has long since fallen by the wayside. This month I started a project for home. Rom and I have been eating vegetarian at home for almost 5 years now, recently enough that we know where all our recipes came from. I have copied all the recipes we use regularly and put them in one place, so now we can just riff through to make up a meal plan. There are about 40 recipes we have made often and turned into mainstays! I am currently making notes on how I have adapted the recipes I use most. Maybe it will turn into a cookbook someday yet.
Meanwhile, following a suggestion from Hawaii Planner, I made double batches of banana bread and pumpkin raisin muffins this month. I often think twice about baking because making one item is a big effort with short-term results. So, doubling the output made a lot of sense to me! I also made yogurt again after a long break from doing so. I tried two new things: paying more attention to technique (as per Lisa’s instructions) and pre-heating my yogurt maker. I found the taste was less sharp and the thickness was acceptable but not the same as store-bought. If I want it thicker I could either use whole milk instead of 2% or I could drain it. I will keep making yogurt whenever time permits because it’s something I like to have every day and homemade is half the cost.
On December 31, we created a daytime New Year’s Eve by going out for a deluxe lunch and then spending a few hours at the board game café before spending a cozy night in.
Since January 1, we have had zero out-of-home entertainment. No concerts, movies or dining out. I scan entertainment listings weekly and subscribe to notifications, but there weren’t any must-sees. Although I do want to see the movie Hidden Figures before it leaves the theatres.
My in-home entertainment consisted of 4 books, one movie and a TV series. I read the two books I reviewed in a recent post, and two more I will save for another book review post.
Rom subscribed to Netflix again. We watched the documentary The Minimalists, based on the blog/website of the same name. The story of the two founders and their journeys to minimalism were engaging. What I liked best were the interviews with other minimalist bloggers – it was cool to see them off the blogs and on the screen! We watched the Netflix 10-episode series The Crown together. We loved it! There are three main characters: Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and Winston Churchill. Elizabeth becomes queen far earlier than expected and she must adapt to her royal duties while she is a new wife and mother of two young children. Philip refuses to “get with the program.” Churchill proves to have been a much better prime minister during the war than after. The series has non-stop political intrigue. Some would find the pace slow, but I loved the focus on little moments of decision that changed lives. I empathized with dutiful Elizabeth while Rom fell for vivacious Princess Margaret!
One of my favourite bands, The xx, released a new album this month and they have their first hit song! They are a minimalist band. Slow and quiet and uber-chill. Love!!
Other things I am enjoying this month:
- Mild weather – only one snowfall this month and a few rain storms
- Living in Canada
I normally don’t buy stuff in January but I made a few purchases. I borrowed a book of William Trevor’s short stories from the library and renewed it a couple of times, but didn’t finish. Not because the stories were lackluster – quite the opposite. I felt they needed to be savoured slowly so I bought a copy.
I have been looking for work jackets (blazers) for the past two years without much luck. One I spotted a few months ago finally went on sale (down to $100, which is certainly not cheap) and I snapped it up.
My laddered bond ETFs were underperforming for a whole year so I sold them off and bought a social index fund ETF which is making small gains.
My Fitbit ceased operations in late November, outside the warranty period. I could have called support and begged for a second replacement, but I was afraid they’d offer me a discount on a new model and I’d be unable to resist! I rejected the lure of disposable electronics and I’ve now been fitless and bitless for two months. It still feels unnatural not to be able to check my steps and heart rate! Maybe someday I can just get chipped 🙂
Since it was a new month and a new year, I tried to find another life organization app that would meet all my needs. I am still using Trello but it has some gaps. I currently have an old Windows cell phone with a dirt-cheap pay-as-you-go plan for calls and text, and I have a 4-year-old iPad Mini. I debated getting a new iPhone so I’d have a one-stop device with that perfect app. Alas, it does not exist. I was looking for something with a calendar (with day, week and month views), reminders/notifications, task/to do lists, and a work log or journaling feature, all integrated. And the ability to sync between devices and laptops/desktops. So far, I have only found one thing that comprehensive: yet another page-a-day planning diary! I’ve had a few ideas for apps lately. I need to learn to code 🙂
Meanwhile, I have lovely wireless headphones, and no pocket-sized Bluetooth device for playing music, so an iPhone is looking mighty tempting. I have a lead on a used one.
Finally, I love February because it is African Heritage Month (Black History Month) and our library has dozens of fantastic programs to choose from. Hope you will find something, too!
How was January for you? Do you have a personal framework or plan for dealing with the new world order – how do you begin?