Monday, October 17, 2011

The Return of Mr. Français

Another memorable trip to Ikea!
Things have gotten, well, interesting again now that I am back in French classes 3 times every week. I fell like my brain is slowly turning into a croissant. Normally, I am quite good at managing stress levels, but being back in school while working full time is certainly elevating my stress. It’s taking me back to the time in my life when I was a full-time student and full-time worker. I was always strung out (which I’m now realizing probably had something to do with why I was single most of the time while I was in school). Lately I have gotten used to being able to do yoga whenever I wanted and when I left work, and the part that I loved is that I was actually leaving work instead of going to do 3 hours of even more work. Yes, yes, I know this is all for the greater good in the long haul and one day I’ll be completely bisexual bilingual, but I sure have my doubts about whether or not I can manage this all the time. I suppose that as long as I continue to work hard at this, there shouldn’t be any problem getting my French up to par and then sailing through my career and onward toward more money. Honestly though, I think that because I am unable to go and do yoga as much as I want, I’m truly depriving myself of the one thing that I have been using to manage my stress levels.

Delicious Pad Thai by John! 
The time is quickly approaching for day 21 of my 30 day challenge and I must say that it is going really well for the financial part, the yoga on the other hand; well let’s just say I have cancelled my class tonight in order to write you this blog entry. Anyone who reads my blog knows that when I put my mind to something I can achieve anything, so why wouldn’t I be able to not buy any food outside of the grocery store? Certainly I have had a little helping hand along the way from my friends who will grab me a cup of coffee (which I haven’t asked for) or share some of their Ikea meatballs (thanks Jess), but if I really don’t want something, then I can say no. The main thing I am learning is that I can make myself meals everyday that taste effing delicious and don’t cost me more than $5 per serving. For example, last week I made an amazing vegetable curry with lemon-ginger rice. It cost me about $40 for the ingredients, but since I didn’t use all of them (i.e. the spices) it worked out to about $20 for 8 servings! That’s right, only $2.50 per serving. A couple nights ago I made myself a roast (to my vegetarian roommate’s horror – “is that cooked? Do people actually eat that?”) for about $2.00 a serving and today I made a tofu Pad Thai (to my vegetarian roommate’s delight “mmm, I love tofu”) for about $2.25 per serving. It’s really incredible how far you can stretch your money when you cook at home!

Amazing Veggie Curry! 
Really though; I know that cooking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really not that difficult and you do save a lot of money. The biggest key to making it successful is to keep it interesting! If you try a dish that you really enjoy, go home and look up the recipe and challenge yourself to make it one night. If you don’t do it properly, or it tastes like congealed donkey testicles, then try something different. Don’t be afraid to ask friends for their recipes either (unless it’s Dana’s lasagna recipe) or better yet, get together and cook with them. In no time you will accumulate a cornucopia of deliciousness. There are other way to find good recipes other than through friends, check out some food blogs, or buy a new cookbook full of recipes of foods you actually enjoy eating. I just bought (with gift cards) a book for my partner’s birthday called “Jamie’s Food Revolution” by Jamie Oliver; it is full of recipes that are just as cheap and easy as he is. 

Great cook book!
Now that I’m on the topic of my partner’s birthday, I should probably mention that my savings account has taken a little bit of a hit and it’s not quite at $2,000 anymore, but what I loved the most about that how I was able to use my savings instead of credit to purchase the present for him. I was a little generous (I got him a new guitar) but it was on sale so I felt it was justified and since we’ve been together for 3 ½ years, it seemed like an okay thing to spend money on. The problem with spending in stores for me though, is that I get the taste for shopping again and I have started to spend when I shouldn’t be. I think I’ll just take the money that I have spent already out of my “prize” at the end of the 30-day challenge. Yesterday I managed to blow through $82.50 at Ikea on 3 new pots, a rug for the foyer, and some candles. A little excessive, yes, but I did say no to a bunch of other stuff (a frame for my art print, a $40 drying rack, a drawer organizer, even more pots, a giant picture in the ‘as is’ section, and even our adorable shopping mascot, Peanut) so that made me feel good that I was actually able to leave Ikea without spending more than $100 (which used to be a huge challenge for me).
Ok, that’s the gist of it today. The only other thing that I want to mention is that I have officially paid my MasterCard down to under $5,000 from an original $14,581.45 to a mere $4,684.98! And there’s more to come this month! MasterCard better start getting ready to say good-bye because this cash cow is beginning to run dry!

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