Tag Archives: No Eating Out

Coming Clean: How We’ve Cheated on Our Buy (Almost) Nothing Year

We only have two months left in “Our Year of Living Minimally,” aka the Buy (Almost) Nothing Year, and it has been both harder and easier than I expected.  I’m sorry to have dropped the blogging ball as I just realized it’s been seven months since the last update … so much for my goal of monthly posts!  We’ll put that one in the harder than I expected category.

As we are fast approaching the end of this little experiment, I thought it might be a good time to come clean on how we’ve “cheated.”  If anything, this project has exposed and emphasized both the rebel and rule follower in me.  There are ways that we enforced the “letter of the law” but obviously broke the spirit, and there have been times we really felt in keeping with the spirit of our law while blatantly breaking the letter.  We haven’t followed our self-imposed guidelines perfectly, but I’m really proud of how well we’ve done on the whole, and our slip-ups have provided opportunity for reflection and growth.

So here’s where I share some (actually, all that I can remember) of those slip ups.

IMG_1566Clementine: This is very much so a spirit and not letter breaking.  I initially wrote out an exception to our shopping ban for clothes and toys for our daughter, which I would do again.  However, because I left a bit of latitude in that guideline, I honestly bought her more than she needed, especially with regard to clothes.  It’s really the first time that I’ve had to shop for her clothes as much of her wardrobe her first year consisted of hand-me-downs, so I’m still learning what all accouterments a two year old actually needs.  I was able shop economically, though, and found several cute dresses (more than she needed, I am learning) at a second hand shop while visiting friends in Austin.  Honestly, shopping for Clementine has often been guided by want instead of need, and this is an area in which I desire to exercise more discernment.

Pens & Notebooks: I bought some pens this summer.  Some pretty, pretty pens.  And a couple of notebooks.  Blatant rule breaking, but I don’t care.  These things keep my life together, and I’m 10x more likely to keep my life together when I’m using pens and notebooks I love.  Plus, I had some birthday money to spend …

Glass Food Storage Containers: I didn’t write out an exception for replacing broken items, but I should have.  This would count as a spirit keeping if not letter.  I dropped one of our lunch bags last spring and shattered the rectangle container I pack my lunch in every day.  We went ahead and sprung for a complete set with locking lids because eating at home practically every meal increases your food storage needs.

Shorts (for me & David): My only pair of khaki shorts developed a hole in them, and I found another pair for $14 at Sam’s.  I did get some new athletic socks and sports bras, but I knew that was a need and exempted that purchase from our ban ahead of time.  I should have investigated David’s wardrobe a bit more before making our exemptions, however, because he was in need of more athletic shorts.  I found a couple pair at TJ Maxx for around $10 each, and it was a good thing because he lost another pair to the wind while airing them out on our balcony a few weeks ago …

Digital Bible Resources: Each month Logos offers a free ebook and often a few super cheap ($1-$3 range) options as well.  David makes these purchases unabashedly because 1) they don’t take up physical space in our home and 2) they will serve him well in the future.

IMG_1692 copyA Basket: Last spring I found the. cutest. basket at a children’s shop near our school.  I wanted it for our living room to help corral Clementine’s toys, but I didn’t get it because I felt like it was veering too far from our established guidelines.  Over the summer, however, I talked myself into the purchase.  It was for Clementine!  I’ve already hashed out how purchases relating to my daughter are a weakness for me, so there’s that.  When we returned home to Jakarta in July, I was devastated to find the basket no longer for sale.  I really wished I had just made the purchase back in May.  For months I kept my eye out for that basket and finally found one very similar (although not as big, unfortunately) and sprang for the purchase.

A Wallet and Purse: After the basket debacle, I determined I would not become victim to a similar fate again.  Things change on the daily in Jakarta, so when I found the perfect leather purse that I’ve been dreaming of for years at a temporary pop-up shop in the mall, I bought it.  My current purse is developing holes, and while my crafty mother-in-law helped salvage it this summer, the purse is looking pretty pitiful.  No, I don’t actually need a new purse right now, but I will soon, and I knew that the shop wouldn’t be there in January.  So while I did break our rules to make the purchase, I am at least hiding it in the top of my closet where it will wait for me until January 1st.  🙂  I also bought a wallet from the same shop for David because we were in danger of losing debit and insurance cards due to its developing holes.

Delivery Pizza: As I have written before, breaking our eating out habit was by far the hardest change initially.  It soon became the new normal, however, and we both found ourselves enjoying eating at home at lot more than we expected.  We did eat out over the summer, but again, that was pre-planned.  Outside of book dates, our birthdays, friend/group gatherings uninitiated by us, and our trip home over the summer, we have eaten out/ordered in exactly twice.  Once was a 3:00 AM McDonald’s run the night we got in from the States (still on Central Standard Time …), and the other was a Domino’s delivery order after the gas ran out on our stove as I was getting ready to make dinner.  We weren’t able to order more gas until the next morning, so we opted for pizza over eating the leftover beans we’d had for lunch that day.

Hmm, I just remembered two more … I did get new tennis shoes this summer after using my (three year) old ones on a family whitewater rafting trip, and we did eat out on our actual anniversary in addition to our pre-planned summer celebration.  I may even remember a few more before I finish typing this post, but the point for me is not how much or little we have strayed from our initial guidelines.  The point is how far we’ve come.  I appreciate things like eating out so much more now that it’s the exception and not the rule.  I’m truly grateful for everything we have and am more and more cognizant of all the things we don’t really need.  I don’t expect next year to look a whole lot different from this one, surprisingly, and that feels amazing.  I thought this year would be this huge sacrifice, but it’s just become our life.  A very joyful one at that.

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Minimalism & Love Languages – OYoLM March Update

One day in college during an RA staff meeting, my boss informed us that we would be discovering our “love language” together that afternoon.  Doubtful and apprehensive at first, I didn’t see how this cutesy little system could help me understand myself better or even peg me accurately.  Especially with the phrase “love tank” being bandied about, there was some definite eye rolling.

However, upon exposure to the descriptions of said “languages,” I was surprised at how much they made sense.  I didn’t think I would fit into a love language mold, but I absolutely did (the Quality Time and Words of Affirmation molds, in fact).  I later read the book for myself (and years later walked my own RA staff through the quiz), and if you allow yourself to look past the cheese, there’s a lot of wisdom to be found.

For the uninitiated, Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages explains how people tend to give and receive love in different ways and how by knowing your own love language(s) and those of others, we are in a better place both to demonstrate our love and truly feel loved.  He proposes that most people fall into one of five love language camps (or at least value some camps more than others): Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.  This was such a revelation to me at 19.  I finally understood why unloading the dishwasher meant so much more to my mom than just “hanging out.”  Or why I could remember in detail both the best and worst things people said about me.

So what does this have to do with “Our Year of Living Minimally”?  Well, March is a big celebratory month for us with my birthday and our anniversary falling two days apart (Beware the Ides of March & Happy St. Paddy’s!), and special occasions like these tend to mean stuff, at least in greater consumer culture.  When we put our shopping ban in place, we decided not to get each other presents for our birthdays, anniversary, or Christmas.  We still very much celebrate these occasions, just without the stuff.  In fact, this year David got up early to make me a delicious black bean tostada birthday breakfast and shared a list of his favorite memories of our relationship, complete with a song for each category of memories.

He also tried his hand at a chocolate cake (from SCRATCH!) and officially redeemed himself from the flour/powdered sugar confusion incident of 2011 … 😉  We celebrated our anniversary with dinner and plan to celebrate more fully this summer with a night away.

Now, in full disclosure, “Receiving Gifts” happens to be the lowest ranked love language for both of us.  That’s not to say that we haven’t given and received thoughtful gifts over the course of our relationship, but certainly our most memorable gifts have been experiences together.  To celebrate our first year of marriage (and our birthdays as justification for the trip), we got to go skiing.  Our first year in Indonesia we celebrated our second anniversary with a hiking/beach vacation in Lombok.  We took a babymoon/anniversary/birthday trip to the Philippines for year #3.

Now that Clementine’s here, our trips consist of walking 50 meters to the local Mexican food joint, but we’re still happy to be spending time together.

Perhaps pursuing minimalism is easier for us in some ways due to our love language bent, but this year has pinched at us a bit namely because of our primary love languages.  While we may not be as tempted to go out and buy a lot of things, going out to eat (sometimes multiple times a week) was a significant way we spent quality time together before this year.  However, in limiting those experiences, two things have happened.  1) We work together more in prepping meals to eat at home, which allows for more quality time and 2) We really cherish those rare occasions (book dates & birthdays) where we do get to spend time together over a meal we didn’t prepare.

So what about you?  Do you know your love language(s)?  How does it impact your experience with minimalism?

Our Year of Living Minimally – January Update

Well, we survived the first month of our “Buy (Almost) Nothing Year,” and it wasn’t as difficult as I’d anticipated!  All of the decluttering and simplifying we did over the Christmas holiday really paved the way for initial success with our audacious goal.  In the past, I would get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in our kitchen, both random utensils and a decent amount of non-perishable food, so much so that I was discouraged from cooking.  However, by ridding ourselves of the excess, cooking is a much more pleasant endeavor … and it doesn’t hurt that David doesn’t mind doing the dishes.  🙂

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Friday Night Fettuccine

As I mentioned before, my biggest apprehension going into this year was our no eating out rule (excepting book dates and travel).  That first Friday night at home it was a little sad not to head out together for our weekly Amigos date, but it’s since become the new normal.  We’ve decided to make Fridays “Italian Night” complete with either homemade pizza or a pasta creation.  It’s also been great having leftovers to carry us through the weekend.

Since we’re a bit behind in our reading, going into the month it looked as though we might not eat out at all the entire month of January.  However, the school needed to send us to Singapore for a visa run, which meant we had no choice but to eat away from home.  🙂  We thoroughly enjoyed our rogan josh and chicken tikka masala in Little India.  And Clementine is a huge fan of the mango lassi!  We were thankful for the little “splurge” and I am newly motivated to try out some Indian recipes in the not so distant future.

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Enjoying our Little India “splurge”

We did do a little Orchard Road shopping for Clementine while in Singapore, although all under our “approved” guidelines.  Her grandparents gave her some money for Christmas we had yet to spend, so we got her a Grimm rainbow, which she’s loved.  Since potty training is in our imminent future, we also got her a potty seat … (pray for us now).

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Loving her Christmas present

One thing I did notice on our trip was the lure of Starbucks.  At the airport I mentioned to David how on any other trip we’d be grabbing our triple caramel macchiatos (easy on the syrup) before boarding the plane.  I was proud of us for drinking homemade coffee in the car on the way there.  I hadn’t missed it much, but walking around Singapore where there was a Starbucks every few meters it seemed, I was suddenly very aware that I hadn’t had a takeout coffee in awhile and how nice it would be to get one.  It’s crazy how much our surroundings influence us!  I am so thankful that I don’t see a Starbucks on a daily basis or really any other “tempting” shops.  (See photo above for the “We Miss You!” email I received from them the other day …)

While we didn’t finish Anna Karenina (our December book) this month, we went ahead and read January’s The Underground Railroad since a digital copy recently became available from the library (and was going away at the end of the month).   Even though we live overseas, we still have access to three Dallas area libraries, and more often than not we are able to find the books we’re wanting to read.  There’s even an option to “recommend” the library purchase certain digital titles, and a few times they’ve actually stocked David’s requests.  All that to say, if you haven’t looked into your local library’s digital titles, you are potentially missing out on a goldmine of convenient and free reading.

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January #DaSHbookdate

In addition to our unforeseen Singapore trip, we actually got a book date in this month as well.  Because eating out has become a treat and not the norm, we have appreciated it so much more.**  We really savored each meal, taking no bite for granted.  However, now that eating at home is the norm, we appreciate those meals more as well.  We’re eating more healthily both in content and quantity, and we’re spending less money.  It’s still very early in our year long experiment, but we are happy to see some rhythms emerge and notice positive change.

So that’s the update at one month in.  I realized after the last post that I hadn’t gotten much into the “why” of our decision and had planned to use this month to cover that more fully.  However, I’m going to leave that one to David.  This year is the culmination of ideas and promptings spread over the course of several years, so much so that “the why” deserves its own post.  Plus, David spoke in chapel this month over the spiritual discipline of simplicity, and I know he’ll express our heart much better than I could.  So … stay tuned.  🙂

** I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a fantastic resource we stumbled upon this month that has further shaped our thinking about consumerism and its pitfalls.  The whole blog is worth checking out, but this post in particular really helped put our eating out habits into perspective.