24 December 2016

Living With Much Less...For a Little While

I just moved across the ocean.  Most of my stuff is en-route via shipping container on some sort of sea-faring vessel.  So for the past 6 weeks I've had what I brought with me on the plane (one suitcase with clothes (about 6 days worth), one duffle bag with dog food, and one foot locker with miscellaneous stuff) and what was "quick shipped" (my bike!, a few kitchen items, a few linen items) and that's it.  We moved into a house last week and have temporary loaner furniture. 

The only things I've purchased are things that I simply don't already own.  A few 220V appliances (food processor, water kettle), dish detergent, and a couple rugs since the marble floors are cold and slippery for the dogs.  I am not allowing myself to purchase things that are on their way simply for the sake of convenience right now.

There are some really great things about living with very little.  There's very little house work to do because there's nothing to pick up!  There are very few dishes to do because I only have one spoon, fork, knife, plate, bowl.  However, I wash that one spoon, bowl, etc. many times each day. 

What I wish I had:

1. Black pepper.  I did pack a few spices but somehow neglected to include pepper.

2. Another pyrex storage bowl or two.  I'm very limited in what I can cook since I don't have much in the way of storage containers.

3. Another spoon!

4. A French press.  I have 2 but didn't quick ship either one.  While at the hotel I had coffee with the breakfast.  Now I can't make coffee.  On days when I go to work (so not weekends or holidays) I stop at the hotel (which is on my way to work) and get coffee (they are really nice and just let me take it...I do have my travel mug) but days when I'm home I don't have coffee.  I am not a person who can't survive without coffee but there's something really nice about spending a whole morning in PJs reading a book and sipping coffee.  Yes, I drink tea but I like to have the option.

5. A clothes drying rack.  I have a condensing dryer.  Most Americans have never seen one of these.  They are small and I'm not exaggerating when I say it took over 5 hours to dry one load of laundry.  It was not an overly-large load. 

There are lots of places to get coffee but Italian coffee comes in very small cups.  As in, Dixie cup small.  You don't have an option to order a super-size latte.  And to-go isn't really much of a thing here (there are a few places but it's not common). Thank Italian stars there is no Starshmucks or similar-type place here.  I love that people aren't carrying around and throwing away millions of non-recyclable single-use cups. I love that a coffee and a cappuccino cost a grand total of 1.45€ (about $1.50). 

I'll be very glad to get my furniture (this loaner stuff is very uncomfortable...especially the bed) and my kitchen stuff but part of me is really enjoying having almost nothing.  Aside from the few parts of life that are made more difficult (cooking) it really makes things so much easier. I've been working on reducing the amount of stuff I have over the past few years.  I have a feeling this experience will result in my getting rid of quite a lot more stuff.  That's going to be a good thing.

04 December 2016

Witchcraft Food

I live in Italy!  And Google, in its infinite wisdom, didn't want to let me log in here because it didn't recognize my location.  Very frustrating.  Finally got it sorted out. Only took 3 weeks. 

Anyway, I'm excitedly learning new words and how to say things like, "I'm a vegetarian/vegan."  I'm also learning the Italian words for lots of foods.  Although I might have eaten lentil nuggets with a side of lentils for dinner last night...not entirely sure about that. Either way it was healthy, if not diverse, and tasty.

Fortunately, there's a tiny organic market Right. Across. The Street!  from my hotel.  When I asked at the front desk if that's what it was the guy said, "They sell these biological (European for organic) food stuffs...you know, witchcraft food."  I was a little confused...not sure if it was an organic market or an herbalist who was going to give me a sack of dried stuff and tell me to drink a tea from it 8 times a day.  Turns out it's an organic market. 

A good way to learn new words is to look at familiar products in their packages.


The other day when I thought I inquired as to what kind of sandwiches were available, I realized I used the word for sweet roll instead of sandwich when I heard the waiter say "fragola." 



 
They had quite the selection of tofu flavors (smoked, olive, basil, Black Forest (not sure what this is) and Red (tomato and pepper) along with plain), vegan "meats" and non-dairy milks.  I don't know what everything (especially the "meats") was supposed to be but it's been interesting trying different new foods.  I don't usually eat a lot of packaged foods but given my minimal ability to prepare food for myself right now, I'm doing what I have to. 
 
My zero-waste life goal is temporarily on hold as I have to eat out or eat something I can prepare in my tiny hotel room right now.  I can say that I haven't taken a single-use drink container (even if it is recyclable) the entire time I've been here.  That means I'm drinking only water, coffee or tea but I'm surviving :P
 
I'm excited to try more new foods and to learn the words for foods I already know I want!  We move into a house next week and I'll be even more excited to start really cooking again!!  Stay tuned for new foods and new recipes :D

01 October 2016

64 Cents

Healthy

Vegan

Zero Waste

Local

Organic

Convenient

Affordable...

How do you decide what is most important?

Example: I eat a handful or raw almonds on my drive to work.  I can get organic raw almonds from the bulk bin of my favorite market or Whole Foods.  And they cost about $14.00/lb.  No packaging.  Or I can get them from Trader Joe's for approx. $10.65/lb. But they come in a plastic bag.  I'm not rich.  I live on a budget like most other people.  I do not want to buy things in plastic bags. I do not want to spend over $3/lb more for almonds.  What to do?

Some decisions are tough.  Some are easier.  It costs about 64 cents for a cup of raw organic soy beans from the bulk bin.  I put them in an empty container so there's no waste.  A cup of dry soy beans is all you need to make soy milk.  It does take a little time which reduces the convenience factor but as long as I'm planning ahead (and I always try to plan ahead) then it's well worth the cost and packaging savings to make my own.  Then I just put in in a glass bottle that I have on hand and keep reusing. Think about how much you pay for soy milk or almond milk or whatever kind of vegan "milk" you use.  Now think about the packaging; most of which is not recyclable. 

I wish all decisions were this simple. 

Do you have any great swaps that save both money and packaging?

20 September 2016

Eat What You Want Day

Sometimes you want cookies or ice cream or chocolate or all of the above.  I've seen random things declaring this or that day as Eat What You Want Day.  Well, I recently participated in Eat What You Want Month-and-a-Half.  I did this with full knowledge and acknowledgement of what I was doing.  By the way, the new vegan Ben & Jerry's is pretty good :D  I can't say exactly why I turned to junk food for comfort but I made an effort to not beat myself up over it.  I'd like to eventually figure this out and hopefully find a better way to deal with emotions but for now it's a step to recognize what I'm doing and to treat myself kindly instead of negatively. Thinking of myself as a fat slug that lacks willpower is really not constructive and it was great to not feel that way about myself this time.




A couple weeks ago I realized I no longer wanted to eat an entire package of cookies. Of course, I know that eating an entire package of cookies will leave me feeling very  much not well.  But that sometimes isn't enough to stop me from doing that.  I was however surprised at how quickly I felt better after I stopped eating all the junk. 

I get out of bed much more easily.  I have more energy. I'm not as tired throughout the day.  I have more motivation for things like housework (let's be honest, I rarely ever have actual motivation for housework but these few weeks I've been able to get more done).  I don't feel constantly hungry even though I'm eating much less.  My mood is better. So many positive things gained simply by cutting out the crap.

I'm sure I'll enter more phases of soothing myself with food but I consider this last episode to be an improvement over previous ones just because I stopped hating myself. It works.  You should try it!

Do you ever go through phases of eating whatever you want? How do you deal with that?