Wednesday, December 31, 2008

5, 4, 3, 2, 1... Happy New Year!

Tonight, as the audio-animatronic Dick Clark and the even less realistic semi- humanoid Ryan Seacrest ring in the New Year in Times Square, we'll be ringing in the New Year the way we usually do: dinner in, a movie in the player or a game, then cuddling together after everyone else is asleep. We found lobster on sale at Costco for $6.80 a pound, so we'll be having crustaceans, drawn butter, a salad, and baked potatoes for dinner; tea and sparkling cider for drinks, and crème caramel (egg custard) for dessert. And wine for toasting at midnight.

Times Square (NYC)
by Michael McDonough(^),
used under Creative Commons License

Tomorrow begins a new year. Last year I made a few resolutions...
  • At the end of last year, I resolved to lose weight, and I did - I'm down about 20 pounds. Yay!
  • I resolved to exercise, and I did, some. I need to do more. Semi-yay!
  • I resolved to not chicken out and finally do something about the pain I'd been feeling, and I had minor surgery in February. The surgery went well, and combined with no longer eating wheat, my pain is gone. Yay!
  • I resolved to be neater, and made some progress, but probably not as much as I should or could have. I like clean, but don't really mind clutter. I wish it bothered me more, I guess. Another semi-yay!
  • Work on crafty things more than the previous year. I did ok on this resolution. Probably could have done more, but did a whole lot more than the previous year, so I think I'm happy.

    Our dog, if he were green and made from polymer clay.

  • I resolved to get out with friends more. I didn't really do very well with this one at all. Phooey. I will double down and make more of an effort in 2009.
  • My final resolution, shared with my husband, was to follow the Compact. The Compact is a group of people who resolve not to purchase anything new for a year and to look carefully at their purchases to determine what is truly needed and what is merely wanted. It isn't a matter of debt or anything like that (for us, at least). It was an exercise in discipline and of discovery, of what is really important.

    You can read more about the Compact here at Good Magazine(^) or here at the San Francisco Chronicle(^) .
We did very well for a long time, then moderately well for a while, then not so well. We were disappointed that we weren't able to last a whole year, but are resolved to try again, starting tomorrow. We've written up our own guidelines for the coming year, which are:

Follow the basic Compact - no non-necessary spending on new anything unless it is a matter of health job, and/or safety, with the following details:
  • Mutually agreed upon educational materials for SuperCat are exempt if we can't find them used or at the library. She's currently learning to read and we may need a book or two.
  • Memberships may be exempt, as they are services. They would include membership to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and possibly to Costco.
  • Mutually agreed upon materials to finish previously started projects - limited to those items only (i.e., bias tape to finish a previously started sewing project, nails to finish a wood project, etc.) may be exempt, as it is utterly wasteful to abandon a dress, for example, for lack of three buttons.
  • New clothes for SuperCat if she needs them; only if clothes can't be found elsewhere (hand me downs, sewing, etc.
  • Remodeling materials, always checking Restore(^) first.
  • All gifts & cards should be handmade (I'm already working on Valentines Day ).
  • Internet connection, computer parts, etc., necessary to keep the computers in good working order. Mutual agreement on new purchases in this area.
  • Postage as needed.
  • Try to move toward more sustainable habits, like: cloth napkins, hanging out more clothes to dry, etc.
  • Dinner/lunch out no more than 2x week. Week starts on Sunday and ends Saturday night. Eating out is almost certainly more wasteful than eating in.
  • Freecycle(^)/FreeSharing(^), hand-me-downs, antiquing, thrift, Restore(^), etc., is always preferable to new whenever feasible.
  • Food, obviously, is exempt.
  • Utilities, insurance, etc., to maintain our household are exempt. We have to stay warm.
  • Medicine, medical care and pharmacy needs are exempt. We have to stay healthy.
  • Car repairs as needed to maintain safety are exempt. We have to stay safe.
  • Career-related materials are automatically exempt. Self-explanatory.
That's pretty much it. It's not too difficult in some ways, very difficult in others. Consumerism is a habit many of us don't think a lot about, it has become automatic.

My own resolutions this year are:
  • Join a local knitting group. I had plans to join in October, but something came up and I couldn't. I have enough yarn to knit the entire year away without fear of running out, and the women in the group seem to be clever and smart and are obviously talented.
  • Exercise an hour a day. I'm not quite there yet, but getting closer.
  • Lose weight (who doesn't have this as a resolution?).
  • Grow my hair out longer than it is now.
  • Complete projects I've started but haven't finished. They include finishing some knitting, finishing a set of dolls, completing some earrings, a quilt, and some tutus.

    doughnut earrings on silver wire in need of findings to be finished
    (that's what jewelry parts are called, findings)

    cupcake earrings which need to be finished
  • Try to reduce the amount of clutter in every aspect of our lives. To me, clutter isn't only stuff. Clutter is anything that we don't need or want.
  • Make soap with lye. I'd like to try my hand at making a super-fatted soap to use as a shampoo bar.
  • Make cheese from scratch. This just sounds like fun, doesn't it?
  • Edge closer to an all-Linux environment, computer-wise. I'm more than half-way there. My desktop machine is all-Linux, and my laptop dual-boots.

    Resolved: to spend more time with Tux, the Linux mascot
  • Make more of our food from scratch. We've made huge strides in this area, and I'd like to continue. Cooking from scratch is rewarding and fun.

    homemade french onion soup
  • Make treats instead of buying them. I already regularly make Chex Mix, marshmallow treats, and cupcakes. In the last month or so, we've made double chocolate rocky road fudge (with marshmallows and walnuts), and hard lollipops. Both were easy and fun, and both were so much better than anything we could have bought. Next year we plan to pull taffy and make peanut brittle.
  • Follow the Compact, and apply it to everything above.
So, how about you? What are your New Years resolutions? Whatever you choose,

Happy New Year!


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