This week I’ve been thinking a lot about how I spend my money…
Especially as I re-re-re-re-evaluate all the stuff that I own. And there is just SO MUCH STUFF. Sigh.
Over the past year, I have been zealously purging and organizing my belongings as I move from one place to another. Each round of organization feels like the last time… but then I turn around and find even more stuff.
- Round 1: At the beginning of the year, I cleaned all my stuff when I moved out of my apartment at graduate school.
- Round 2: Then I went back to my parent’s house and sorted through bins of childhood nostalgia.
- Round 3: Before moving to Chicago for two months earlier this summer, I strictly cut back on what I packed until everything fit into a carry-on and rolling suitcase.
It was tough to choose what to bring. I had to survive with just one towel and one pair of pants. Compromises were definitely made in terms of convenience (with so few clothes I had to do laundry all the time) and waste (I had to buy some things in Chicago that I ended up leaving behind) but…
As a whole, living out of those two bags felt sooo good. I felt light, unencumbered, and inspired to try to live like that all the time.
This week, I packed up from Chicago and came back to California. Without question, I am so happy to be “back” in California (even if it is just for two weeks before I leave for Japan). Kosuke and I have so much to talk about and things we want to do together after being apart for months. And I am loving all the fuzzy snuggles from my bunnies.
BUT my space feels like it is exploding with stuff.
So the first day back, I left my still-packed bags from Chicago in the center of my room and went about purging my room again. My thought was – whatever was in my room, I had lived without for 2 months, so I could pretty much throw everything else out. (Right?)
Okay, I wasn’t quite that aggressive but I did rampage through everything. When I told my mom, she politely asked, “Do you even have anything left to throw away?” The answer is – Yes! I have two bags of trash and two boxes of stuff to donate. Where does it all come from…
I know the answer. I like buying stuff. It is fun to go shopping. Shopping, especially with my mom and sister when I visit home, is one of our favorite activities. It isn’t really so much about the stuff as it is about enjoying time together.
With that in mind, I have decided to re-think my spending habits. After nearly 6 months of constantly cleaning my room, I’m exhausted. I’m tired of throwing away yet another thing that I thought I wanted and enjoyed in the moment but then never looked at or used again. I’m tried of feeling like I am wasting my money, that I am not using my money to do the things I want to do and spend time with the people I love.
So I’m going to try to put aside my recreational shopping to prioritize spending time with people, instead of owning (even) more things.
Okay rambling over… Here’s what I have been eating this week! The recipes this week all feature their own unique and surprising flavor twist.
- Spicy Carrot Kinpira Stirfry
- Wine Braised Eggplant with Basil (plus my secret to loving any food)
- Zucchini Ribbon “Noodle” Salad with Fresh Mint
- Sticky Chicken
- Boiled Eggs (bring to boil, remove from heat, let stand 12 minutes, drain)
A Japanese “kinpira” like Spicy Carrot Kinpira Stirfry is usually sweet and a bit salty from soy sauce. But the Spicy Carrot Kinpira version has an unexpected spicy kick from a generous dash of crushed red pepper flakes. The heat of the peppers balances the sweetness and keeps the flavor interesting.
The Wine Braised Eggplant with Basil combines the fruity aroma of white wine with the dry light taste of sake for a tantalizing flavor. A huge bunch of fresh basil leaves keeps the dish fresh and vibrant.
Among the three salads this week, the Zucchini Salad might be the simplest but it delivers snappy and fresh flavor. The fresh mint contrasts with the deep roasted flavor of broiled red peppers toasted in the oven. The blanched zucchini “noodles” add a satisfying bite and texture.
- Roast the peppers for the Zucchini Ribbon “Noodle” first. While the peppers are roasting you can prep the Sticky Chicken. By the time the peppers are done, you can swap the chicken for the peppers in the oven.
- Next start the eggs, while you prep the salads.
Want to learn more about simple, Japanese-inspired weekly meal prep? Read “What is Make Now & Eat Later”…
For more delicious weekly menu ideas, check out Menu #1 , Menu #2, Menu #3, Menu #4, and Menu #5! Thanks for stopping by. See you next week~