Terrace House – Opening New Doors

This is my favorite reality TV show. I normally browse or play games while watching TV, but for TH, I put the iPad down to read the subtitles. This show is the Sims IRL!! If you put six Sims together like this the results would be not too different. Except my Sims would definitely squeeze out a couple of kids before too long. The characters in the show are attractive, talented, entrepreneurial, and opportunistic. So this show is a publicity generating platform for them as they develop their brands while we viewers watch them socially interact. I almost think of it as panda porn for Japanese youth. Kids, this is how you engage each other socially. Pandas, this is how babies are made. Beautiful.

Organizing?

This may be a backslide on the decluttering-throwaway resolution front. This mountain of stuff on the coffee table that inadvertently became the storage area for all Costco purchases started getting a bit out of control. I suppose a space as small as this has no business storing Costco-sized anything but on the occasion, I do like to pick up a few cartoonishly large-sized items. Ironically, the stocking up is a result of not enjoying the Costco experience. Buy more, buy less frequently. Y’see the logic?

Then stash it all at home where it clutters our space. Yeah – I’m not sure it makes sense, but that’s the gist of it.

Please disregard the shoes. I did not get those from Costco. They’re just my house sneakers and I don’t know how they ended up on the box of tennis balls, which also were not from Costco. Ok – this is just the clutter table.

From what I understand of the minimalist thinking, the general idea of organization or storage items is they tend to, in the long run, exacerbate clutter. They’re clutter magnets. It’s better to not have the storage items and to just get rid of the stuff that you would have kept there. I’m not at that level yet. That’s like Michelin 3-star level minimalism. So even knowing that, we got the rack anyway because we figured the coffee table footprint is larger than the rack footprint and the rack optimizes use of vertical space. It’s Hong Kong here in my little place.

Wheels belong on every piece of furniture.

Maybe I will come to regret this Costco shrine installation. One feature I’m glad it has is the caster wheels. Boy if that isn’t my favorite furniture feature for small spaces. I want walls to come with wheels. And the coffee table goes because it doesn’t have wheels. So I suppose zero sum in terms of stuff. One in-one out.

The Life and Good Times of Allie Aloe

Allie moved into the neighborhood wanting to start her life as a mother. She’d given up on finding a relationship or partnership or whatevership. She just wanted to live up to her name, and bear many pups, as a good Aloe should. Allie first met Blair Lothario at the local park where she liked to hang out. This man happened to be spending the day at the park with his seven other housemates. Lucky Allie introduced herself to them all. That night though, it was Blair who was lucky enough to go home with Allie and then they both got lucky. Allie was pregnant on their first try. Allie bid farewell to Blair. Then, she went to the park to relax. There, she got to know Chet Lothario a bit better, so she took him home and they got to know each other even more. After he left, Allie went to the hospital to have her daughter, whom she named Blair, after the child’s father. Allie thought it easiest to keep her baby daddies straight by naming her child and all future children after their fathers.

Once Allie brought Blair home, she called her now close friend, Chet, over to introduce him to her baby. Then Allie and Chet got to be more than just friends and lo, Allie Aloe was pregnant. Pregnant Allie called a sitter and set off to meet new people at the park. There, she chatted up Wayne Lothario. Wayne followed her home and they got to know each other very well. After Wayne left, Allie gave birth to Blair’s little brother, Chet.

Since Wayne had grown to be such a good friend, naturally she called him first to invite him over to meet the new baby. Then Allie and Wayne bonded over this family and decided to make another. Now pregnant with her third and two young ones at home, even with the help of a sitter, going to the park while pregnant and tired all the time was not going to be possible. She called Colin Lothario to chat, just wanting to have adult conversation.

As they grew more familiar with each other, she invited him over and they became more than just friends. So much so that after Wenya was born, the first person she thought to call over was Colin. In the excitement of meeting the new baby, Allie and Colin found themselves expecting another baby. Having toddlers Blair, Chet, baby Wenya, a babysitter whom she had to keep her hawkeye on, and pregnant with Colin Aloe, it was all Allie could do to keep it together.

Allie had to find a relief valve from the stress and she found it in Steve Lothario. Steve bravely visited Allie and tried to help with her children. Facing a challenge together helped strengthen their budding relationship and they found themselves passionately in love. So in love were they that after Colin was born, the first person Allie wanted by her and the children’s side was Steve. And being by her side, Allie found herself with child again.

After Steve Jr. was born, Allie’s equipment needed a break. Also, she could barely keep it together with five needy wee ones. Luckily Blair was starting to be a little more independent. After Blair grew old enough to start helping with her younger siblings and Chet was old enough to care for himself, Allie had her two youngest back to back, with Arnold and Jaden.

By the time Jaden was born she had plenty of help with the younger toddlers and newborn and Allie Aloe could mostly kickback and relax and be pleased with herself. She had seven beautiful children with seven charming Lotharios. And they all grew up to be master gardeners.

Except Wenya, the little hussy. She decided to seduce her brother’s father, Chet. After finding out Wenya was pregnant with her older brother’s nephew/brother, she shared the news with Allie. Allie found joy in being a grandmother to the third Chet. Nobody was confused by the three Chet’s in the neighborhood.

A hotpot kind of night

Forecasters called for snow this weekend and I instantly thought, hotpot. I started brainstorming with a friend, must-haves to include.

Her favorite items to toss in:

  • Yuba – Dried sheets or sticks of tofu skin. It’s only available from China, so she tries to go for the ones manufactured in Hong Kong.
  • Bamboo – She goes for the frozen ones, though recently they’re available fresh.
  • Frozen firm tofu – After freezing, tofu develops a sponge-like texture. It soaks up the soup well.
  • Daikon – Fresh daikon makes a tasty broth. I also like to ferment the skins with some carrots, ginger, and salt water for a few days.
  • Taro
  • Chrysanthemum greens
  • Enoki

I have never added bamboo or yuba in my hotpot but they both sounded tasty so I got some to try. Another item I suggested to her is seaweed. It adds umami and deepens the flavor of the broth, along with some onions. Other items I like to include are napa and cabbage and sometimes lotus roots.

I’m so hungry right now just thinking about it. Hotpot is my winter comfort food.

By 2020

Twenty twenty has a nice roll off the tongue. Tuh-wen-ty twen-tee. Five or six years ago, 2020 seemed like a nebulous faraway place. I’d daydream of this or that and say, by 2020. These are the cans that I kicked down to 2020 (and am probably not going to achieve):

  • Move to a place with a yard.
  • Get a dog
  • Get a cat
  • Get a chinchilla
  • Get an alpaca, llama, Brahman cattle, chickens, goats, apiary…

Yes, I see now that my life goals involve owning others. How not-so-subtly possessive. But alas, given that 2020 is less than a year away, I probably won’t achieve my despotic wishes by then. I’ll have to rethink my priorities.

Clarity via health scare

Coming back from the New Year, my coworker dropped by to catch up with me about his newfound interest in positive life outlook? I don’t know how else to describe it. Connecting to inner spirituality? Think meditation, nature bathing, values-questioning type stuff. He recently had a health scare where one of his heart arteries was majorly blocked. It wasn’t a heart attack, but he needed surgery to get a stent to open up the flow. He mentioned his wife also isn’t in the best of health so he’s been re-evaluating his life and thinking about retirement.

He mentioned a few things that stuck out to me:

  • I can trade time for money, but not the other way around. He says he’s seen so many boats and RVs for sale from owners who didn’t get to use them for long because after they retired, they were older, or got unforeseen conditions that left them unable to enjoy those things. He wants to be able to enjoy these things while he and his wife are still physically able.
  • Real estate taxes can take a big chunk out of your retirement. He’s thinking of selling his place after he retires and moving somewhere less expensive because even though he’s no longer paying a mortgage, the taxes alone will take a significant chunk of his retirement. I never thought of it this way, but home ownership isn’t true ownership. We pay rent in perpetuity to the gubment. I am having second thoughts about how badly I want that backyard garden.
  • Buddhism can be applied as a philosophy rather than taken as a religious dogma. I think he’s trying to apply aspects of it to his life and maybe rethink or re-prioritize his values? Or something?
  • Retirement classes cover a whole lot about finances but don’t really help much in the area of how-to-life.

Anyway, I was glad to get a glimpse of what goes on inside the mind of someone as they start thinking about retirement. I sometimes feel like I’ve been ready already, but when it’s staring me in the face, I will be a lost little lamb!

Supplemental resolution

The other person who inspired me a lot last year (well, maybe for a few years now) was Mr. Money Mustache. So between Marie Kondo with her get-rid-of-your-garbage philosophy, and MMM’s stop-buying-garbage philosophy, I was torn about which I would adopt as my theme for 2019. So I’m taking them both. I’m sure I’ve recycled these two ideas in past resolutions. It’s an uphill battle for me on both fronts and they relate. Stop trading my time and space for garbage.

With MMM in mind, I had originally drafted a post geared towards what I thought was going to be my 2019 project of reducing my annual food cost from 2018. This was in November before the end of the year and my data was incomplete so I waited to finish the post with all the dollars tallied. Lo, the outcome was stupid. Yes, I can lower my food costs. No I’m not as Mustachian as the man himself. But no. See food expenses in 2018 were lower than in 2017. Good enough for me. I apparently made strides without even trying.
My theory is, part way through 2018 I gave up on finding decent plant-based options in the area because they were mostly just mediocre, so we ate out a lot less. I don’t see the dining scene suddenly improving this year. We’ll still try a few places every now and again, but maybe this isn’t the pie slice I need to improve. I will just have to look elsewhere to improve my clutteriffic living situation. Anyway, it’s not like my food takes up that much space. Except maybe the beans and rice – I hoard that as if the next apocalypse were upon us.

The Daily

First day back at work from a two week extravaganza where I kept the hours, diet, and life of a college kid. Family has a way of bringing out the old habits of youth. I even fired up Sims again. Unfortunately my body doesn’t handle that like it used to so I got sick. I still have some lingering congestion from my New Years cold but I know I’m on the mend when my immune system goes back to tilting at windmills (aka allergies).

I didn’t really feel like going to the gym today, but I ended up going to yoga tonight. It’d been two weeks and I felt stiff and hoped maybe the stretchy part would help. The gym was packed this evening. I forget how busy things get after the New Year at a gym. I supposed I was glad I went even though I wasn’t feeling it. I did look at the clock a few times and took whatever easy option I could. At the beginning of every class this instructor often asks everyone what they’d like to work on (it’s a small group). I was tempted to say savasana, one hour! I still feel stiff but maybe less so? Fighting entropy is a losing battle. But fight I must!

Homemade Nut Butter

I was about to buy one of those fancypants high-speed blenders (Vitamix) just so I could try making nut butters at home. Fortunately, in all that research for blenders, I learned that food processors would work too so I tried that.

Redskin Peanut Butter

It was so easy to make in the food processor and I’m glad I’ve found a new use for this kitchen tool. It took a matter of minutes to blitz peanuts into a jar of peanut butter and it’s actually smoother than the kind I get from Mom’s.

In terms of cost savings, I’m not so sure. It takes a whole lotta nuts to make a jar of nut butter. Maybe two cups of nuts become one cup of nut butter? For the effort, cleanup, etc. I highly recommend just buying the stuff. For the customization, smoothness, flavoring, experimentation, go for it.

For my next batch I plan to make a frankenstein nut butter. All the nuts and maybe even some seeds mixed into one. I have pecans, walnuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and peanuts. A nut allergy nightmare.

Throwaway Year

I started purposefully throwing stuff away last year, but getting rid of things is an iterative process. For example, first, I got rid of the CD player/stereo. Then it was the DVD/VCR player. Then the VHS, DVDs, CDs, and Blu-Ray discs. And now I’m tossing the Blu-Ray player. We probably used it a handful of times before we just unplugged it and put it away. I think this is the last of the digital media I have, except for the Taylor Swift cds because TS. Although once I get rid of my PC, I won’t have any device to stick them in.

I think by being on the lookout to throw things away, I end up bringing fewer things in. At least that’s the hope. Whenever I consider getting something I think about the throwaway. The only things I haven’t gotten a handle on are the plants. I want all the plants!