We’re getting there. Slowly but surely things are getting sorted and it feels like finally this is home, this is where we live. Although of course the sorting, jeepers, there is so much to go through to sort, to do. The whole process makes me think that we need less. Always less.
There has been a lot on the internet recently about less, from ths excellent New York Times article Living with Less to Sui writing about clearning out her wardrobe and an old post by Peonies about living with only 33 items in your wardrobe (including accessories!) Each time I have read something along these lines I have thought about the concept and liked it, yet never actually done anything about it. Until this move.
Somehow this move came at the right time in my life. We sorted, we started sorting about a month before the actual move and have kept on going until now. So far we have taken 11 bags of clothes to the clothes recycling bin, 3 boxes of stuff to a charity shop, sold a lot of furniture in DC and not replaced it all here. Thrown away an awful lot of stuff. Sorted, resorted and shredded a lot of paperwork and just generally begun to get stuff in order. It is quite astonishing how much two people can acquire and what you really actually need.
To be honest it has been a delight having our kitchen stuff back and I am so enjoying my cookbooks, pans and other kitchen gadgets. Cooking is one of life’s pleasures. But it has also been so good to have finally got to a point where my wardrobe doesn’t overwhelm and sadden me. I can see what I have (or don’t have). I am wearing the stuff I do have, each piece of it, no matter how ‘special’ that piece may be and I am looking forward to buying less but better when a piece of it finally dies.
Moving away from this relentless consumerism has felt refreshing, we have everything we need and I no longer need to buy. Instead we can save, we can spend on holidays, meals, experiences.
I am hoping that this whole long experience of moving and sorting and sorting and sorting will be turning point. That somehow I will manage to keep on this track, to avoid the relentless acquistion culture shoved in our faces all the time. To keep our house freer of clutter. To get that kick out of getting rid as I have found myself getting. We’ll see but for now I am enjoying the small amounts of serenity this is bringing.
I’ve been under the weather for about 3 weeks now and after a while it really starts to get to you. Normally I’m in fairly rude health and this most recent stint of illness has made me realise how much I take it for granted that I’m healthy. It’s also made me think about how I really do need to take better care of myself.
This year has been busy, work has been intense at times, good but with no let up and I have travelled a lot. I’ve not had a holiday where I’ve had an entire week off since last Christmas when my in-laws visited. I really need a break to relax properly and give my body a little love.
I’m contemplating a cleanse, I’ve never done one before but with the illness has come very few gym visits and comfort eating so that of course means a slightly more relaxed waistline than I would perhaps like… The next few weeks are crazy busy though, we fly back to the UK for a few days to try and find somewhere to rent, then I have a work project for a week, the following week we head to San Francisco for a few days and throughout this time we also have to sort everything out to move. Fun times.
Still I can’t complain, I’m feeling better, things *are* happening and slowly but surely we’ll get there, one way or another. As a wise friend said recently you have to eat an elephant one bite at a time.
I got an invite at work to an event earlier, it was a ‘Pearls of Polish’ event, all about work etiquette specifically for women. What I didn’t realize was why I had got this. Until I was chatting with a colleague who mentioned that it was an opportunity to talk about dress at work and what was/was not appropriate.
This surprised me, I tend to think the women in our office dress well, not everyone wears a suit all the time but overall everyone looks smart and presentable (to me at least). Little did I know that some of the men in our office had been commenting about the amount of cleavage which seemed to be on display!
At first I chuckled, what was wrong with a little cleavage? Then I got to thinking, was I one of the offenders? Was it me who was causing the office to all have to be told how to dress in a more conservative fashion? Which then led me to think who the hell really cares? Most guys I know don’t seem to mind when there is a little hint of something rather then buttoned up to the top with no femininity.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot from a few perspectives:
- why should men get to say what women wear?
- do they therefore treat you differently (worse?) if they think you don’t dress conservatively enough?
- why don’t they just have a bloody dress code and make everyone’s life easier?
I think the whole thing is slightly absurd to be honest, if it really is something of that much importance then they should write a dress code and be done with it. If there is a code then they should feel comfortable enough to pick a female colleague up on flouting that code. Instead what has happened is that they discussed it with the most senior women in the office and are taking a very round about route to trying to talk about it.
Still for now I shall continue with a quick cleavage check every morning before I leave the house…
When you don’t see or speak to friends or family that regularly you are often asked if you have any news. Much as I appreciate the question I also find it hard, whenever I am asked it all I can think of is the mundane day to day goings on.
Perhaps because I think of news as a big piece item, and I’ve kind of done all of those for a while… But also because when you don’t speak to people that regularly you forget what you’ve been doing. We were recently speaking to J’s parents and forgot that since we last spoke we’d been up in NYC for the weekend and gone to the opera!
What it has made me think about is how I can plan ‘newsworthy’ things. That perhaps this feeling of mundanity and a dearth of excitement is something I need to address rather than bemoan. So I shall get my thinking cap on and see if I can find some fun things for us do, like planning another party And in the meantime perhaps it is time to let my imagination run wild when I catch up with friends and family and see what stories I can tell…
I was talking to a friend this evening about what J and I were planning on doing for lent. We’ve never done anything for lent before, but this year I’ve had some time to think and it felt like a good opportunity to take to try and bring us back to making conscious choices about what we do rather than floating along.
One thing we’re doing is not drinking from Sunday – Thursday. We knew that no booze at all was completely unrealistic but cutting back, definitely a good thing. In part it’s because I can’t deal with feeling so shit after so little to drink, but also because I want to be making the choice to have a drink, not doing it because that’s what I normally do.
The second thing we’re doing, or are going to try to do is to have one night a week without TV or Internet. A chance to be together without distractions and other gumpf and to invest in us and our relationship.
Together I hope that these actions will bring me back to being in the moment more and being more conscious of the decisions I am making. That after this exercise I’ll be more aware of what impacts the choices I make will have.
Perhaps it’s the time of year, or perhaps it’s being more settled but I am struggling for inspiration right now. Not only that but there are now so many outlets through which to tell people about stuff, and to listen to others telling you about stuff that I am feeling perhaps a little overwhelmed.
I think it’s time for a little assessment. On what I want this blog to be. What I want to be talking about. How I want to do that.
Or perhaps it’s just January and with the hope that February can bring all will resume a little more normalcy round here. Who knows, only time will tell.
I know a lot of people are doing these posts and I’m late but selfishly I want to do one, if only so I can look back and say, yes, 2011 was the year I…
Came back to the US in January after an amazing holiday and realised that this was for real, that we lived here and that I needed to get on with it and *be* here
Found a job which I really like, after taking a temping job to get me back in the swing of things
Returned to the UK in May for a wonderful wedding and an amazing time with good friends
Experienced my first ever DC summer, quite the sticky humid experience. But lovely too to get a summer! I think I even got a bit of a tan
Returned to the UK with J for four weeks, seeing my mama and papa and sisters (both the one from Oz and the one in the UK) and all my nieces and nephews
A quick about turn in the US then back to the UK for five and a half weeks without J, that was hard
Our first Christmas together and then a visit from J’s parents to celebrate New Year
We hosted our first house party in the US and it was good! At least we enjoyed ourselves
This was an odd year for holidays, we went abroad but we didn’t ever really go somewhere just the two of us and relax. I did my first trip to Massachusetts and also ticked off Nevada, Arizona and California. We went back to the UK and as much as it is wonderful being back it can be a little stressful, I’m sure those of you who live away from family will know how hard it can be catching time with everyone and squeezing as much as possible out of the given time.
It’s been a good year in the main, three good friends getting married, four good friends getting engaged, pregnancies being announced and lots going on. I feel good about 2012 though. More so than I did about 2011. Partly I’m more settled in the US, much happier here than I was before, I have good friends here now and a good job. Things with J are stronger, working through everything has built more solid foundations for continuing to build our lives together.
I’m hoping therefore that 2012 can be perhaps a more fun year, one with a little travel, one with some entertaining, one with friends old and new. Without some of trials we came through at the beginning of last year to face and overcome.
This year is the first year J and I will spend Christmas together. It is also the first year for me to not spend Christmas in the UK with my family. So it’s a year of firsts, a year where we can forge new traditions which are ours and we can be just the two of us and think about the future and where we want to go.
It is also a year where since we are not spending it with others we are avoiding a lot of present buying. For example this year we’re not buying each other Christmas presents. I have bought gifts for the nieces and nephew but my sisters, parents, in-laws, etc no gifts.
It’s rather wonderful. Not only do we save money but so do others and we also save giving and getting stuff which is nice but not needed and thus fills up either ours or someone elses house.
Don’t get me wrong, I love buying gifts, well chosen, thought out ones, but I like having time to do this. Hence why I enjoy buying birthday presents, they are thankfully a little more spread out throughout the year. But presents for presents sake is something I’m a lot less on board with.
Partly perhaps it’s an age thing, I have most stuff I really need and I don’t have kids so I don’t have people to really get excited about the gift giving bit of Christmas. Partly it’s also that I have been trying a little this year to limit my spending so much, to avoid so much general consumerism and to be a little more environmentally friendly. Still no way near enough I’m sure but every little helps.
I’m sure this will change so this year I shall enjoy a Christmas focused on spending time with my loved one, contacting other loved ones round the world and stuffing myself silly.
London is full of them. I realised the other day a huge part of the reason I love this city so much is all the memories it holds for me.
It was the first place I lived after moving away from home. It was where I met J, where we fell in love, where we married. It holds the key to so many happy times, dancing times, singing times.
Of course it also holds the people with whom I made these memories but walking round these last few days I have glimpsed places, buildings, open spaces and my brain has gone back making me smile in secret knowledge of the things I have done and the memories I have made here.
Being away from home and without your own kitchen makes it hard to cook so I am enjoying very much staying with friends who are allowing me into their kitchen. I find cooking very therapeutic and also appreciate knowing what I’m actually eating. So it has been rather wonderful to be able to cook up a storm again.
On Sunday J and I cooked a roast for our friends, with a wonderful silverside of beef from The Ginger Pig (one of my favourite places in London), we did all the trimings, roasties, yorkshires, gravy and of course veg. It was rather yummy if I do say myself. Then I whipped up an apple and berry crumble. Not being able to get Bramley apples in America it’s a treat to cook with them again.
Yesterday in need of something lighter I made a smoked mackerel pate (so simple, smoked mackerel, cottage cheese and creme fraiche all whipped together with a fork then add lots of pepper, a squeeze or two of lemon juice and a splash of tabasco) and we had that with salad.
Tonight, is one of my favourite dishes, Coq au Riesling. Courtesy of Nigel Slater and his real food cookbook. I’m not a chicken fan but this is well, wonderful really.
Sorry there’s no pictures, I’ve really been cooking for the joy not the blog. Perhaps tonight I’ll take a few and I will share that recipe because if you’ve never made it before you should, it’s delicious.