January was a welcome month of hibernation. My out-of-house activities were work, fitness, grocery shopping and visiting parents. That’s it!
In the few days after New Year’s, I bought 2 coffee and a muffin while I was at work. I didn’t want to keep spending money on take-out all month, so I stopped. My habit is to bring a Thermos of coffee to work every day. I had a bit of a crisis – I bought a large bag of coffee on sale, and didn’t like it. I suffered through it for the whole month, and was glad to see the end of it. I won’t be doing that again! I’ve accepted that coffee is too important to me to settle for inferior beans.
In the meanwhile, a more serious problem arose – my home espresso maker quit! It is 10 years old but only used on weekends. I was researching brands and trying to decide how much to spend on a replacement. I cleaned the old machine thoroughly and gave it one last go, and it kicked back to life. Ahh! Still going.
Last year I finally switched to noting meetings and appointments on my phone rather than in a planner (notebook). I loved the alarms and reminders, but I missed something: I had also used my planner to keep a record of work accomplishments. So far, I haven’t found a good way to do that on a smartphone. I’m sure there are nice integrated apps? It’s so easy to see everything at a glance on a printed calendar or page-a-day format.
I use the iPhone Calendar app for meetings and appointments, the reminder app for time-sensitive notes to self, Evernote for lists, Fitbit for workout tracking, and Goodreads and Letterboxd for recording books and movies. While they’re all easily accessible on my phone, I have to open 6 different apps, as opposed to seeing everything at a glance on a page. They’re all searchable, though. No easy answer. Maybe start a bullet journal and make it prettier? I tried to create my own journal format last January but I wasn’t motivated enough to continue with it.
All this to get around to saying, I also bought a planner this month, and I still use it to document work activities after they have taken place.
From the depths of my virtual cave, my discretionary spending was at an all-time low in January. The 2 coffees and a muffin and the planner. Plus a de-salting car wash on a less-freezing day.
Our grocery spending was at an all-time low of $334 for the month, or $83.50 a week including cleaning supplies, paper goods and personal care. We had NO restaurant meals in January (gasp!)
Rom and I watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. I had read her first book in 2015 but at that point I had already inventoried the house and done the most serious decluttering. Lo and behold, the Netflix series wildly inspired Rom and he spent three weekends decluttering his stuff! I could not have been more surprised. He discarded half of his magazines and a few computer books, went through all the clothes in his closet, and literally looked at every receipt and piece of paper he had haphazardly hoarded. Rom moved to Canada 10 years ago; he is getting to the point where he thinks of his time in the UK as a previous life, for which he no longer has to keep every shred of evidence. I was most impressed with his work. I think it really helped that the TV series treated men as equal partners in organizing and maintaining the home (even though that was aspirational for some).
Our favourite moment in the series is when a couple asks Marie what she does when her own kids mess up her tidying work. Through her (very cool) translator, she says, “I scold them.” You can tell the family she’s working for never “scold” their kids!
I spent one day going through my own clothes and I edited them down to 157 items. That includes tops, pants, dresses and skirts (ha), footwear, outerwear and workout wear; but not socks, underwear, nightwear, scarves, hats and gloves. For a few years I’ve been trying to stay at about 150, so I am comfortably in the “150-ish” range. I have a few items tagged for follow-up. I’ll donate them if not used this year.
When we travelled to Bath last summer, I saw DVD movies of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion available in the Austen Centre gift shop and craved them madly. They were from the ITV television movie series and they starred Felicity Jones and Sally Hawkins respectively, two of my favourite actors. I was interested in these titles from the series since I had read both novels recently, prior to visiting Bath. When I returned home, I saw they were both available from my public library. I watched Persuasion this month, and although it was not a lavish production, it did make the story and setting come alive. The pivotal scene was rather undramatic, but I’m still glad I got to see it. Now I will need to watch the 1995 BBC version. And while I’m at it, watch Sense and Sensibility again to revisit Emma Thompson’s performance, which I loved.
At the end of the month, I watched Lady Bird which was wonderful! Now I want to watch Saoirse Ronan in everything she’s done. Upon checking her list of credits, I found I had heard her in two voice roles, in Arriety and in Loving Vincent.
As you may have guessed upon seeing my Health Blitz post, I loved the documentary Notorious RBG, and will need to see On the Basis of Sex (Felicity Jones!)
I have made good progress on Reading Down the House (in which I make a point of reading books that have piled up at home) and I’ll post about that soon.
After gorging on holiday chocolates and treats for a month, it was hard to retreat, especially when holed up in the house with books and movies. In the past 10 days I have cut back on snacks and amped up my fitness so I’m no longer in a “daily maintenance” phase. My goal for the spring is to have visible abs again. I have a long way to go! This week I rediscovered Jillian Michaels and did her 30 Minute Shred DVD (ouch!) I guess I need her Six Week Six Pack one next 😊
Over all, I was very happy on a low budget this month, but I’m well aware of our ongoing lifestyle and in-home entertainment expenses. We long since cut cable TV, but we have good Internet service. Rom pays for Netflix and YouTube Premium. I have Apple Music and a gym membership. (I could work out at home but I like swimming too much). Such are the costs of rarely going out!
How was January for you? Did you hide away from the cold (or heat)?