A new tradition is about to be born.
In my new home (my clothes, my bed and a great big kitchen: all of these things combine to make my home), in the darkness of what is now winter, and in an effort to connect-connect-connect after being abroad and disconnected for so long, I’m introducing WEDNESDAY NIGHT POTLUCKS.
Thanks to this WordPressed blog for inspiration: New Urban Habitat, I’ve decided that, as of this week, Wednesday night will be potluck night in my little corner of Cambridge. If it’s a one woman potlock at the beginning, so be it. And if we overflow the kitchen, hoo-rah. Emails will be going out to those in the neighborhood and all are welcome to join as many Wednesdays a month as one can. Heck! If you’re a local reader and we’ve never met, shoot me an email; you’re welcome to come on by as well! Here’s to spending the cold New England winter with friends and food.
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Oh my god, it feels so goooood! And it’s ironic in a way: You see, I was reading O Magazine yesterday in Barnes & Noble while my mom was browsing the books, and I read an article on Simple Living. It’s a concept that really doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation, and it’s a concept I actually formally stumbled upon this past summer. Basically, overwhelmed by consumerism and sobered by the economy, more Americans are embracing the less-is-more philosophy of voluntary simplicity, trading possession obsession for personal fulfillment (Sited here). It’s a concept I embrace whole-heartedly, and yet…
It was nearly four months I spent in Paris before this, my first visit home for Christmas. And adjusting to a new culture, for me at least, means finding my personal sense of self in that culture. This includes my personal sense of style, as well as my own personal values. Those first four months in Paris included a lot of eating on the cheap- buying 89 cent bags of pasta to pinch pennies rather than spending the extra buck to get something locally or sustainably grown, like I’d usually do in the US. This, in a way, was me comprimising my sense of self in France. But if I was eating like a mindless mass-consumer, I was shopping like a Simplistic Liver, ie. Not at all. It’s like my normal way of being flip-flopped in France because of my new economic situation (read: student status). I wanted to explore my new sense of style in Europe- you know, buy a funky handbag or some incredibly high heel- but because of the weak dollar I really didn’t shop for four months. I’m also not planning on doing a whole lot of shopping for the next six either.
So, really, I do believe in Simplistic Living. But I had to get some things out of my system, and oh, has it felt good! New lacy undies that make me feel sexy, jersey sheets to try to help remedy my sleep problem, deodorant and toothpaste and razors- all stocked up for the next six months so I don’t have to cringe at the Monoprix. Old Navy was selling t-shirts for six bucks, and- really- who can pass up a six dollar t-shirt? And new bras that match the new undies, and some fun clothes for New Years and boots! Boots that don’t require me to sign away my first born!
I’ve been saving all the receipts from my binge shopping but haven’t looked at any of them yet to tell you the truth. I figure my Christmas money (yeah, it should have gotten ear-marked for groceries…) will cover what I’ve spent so far. And the difference? Well, if there’s a difference between what I’ve spent and what I actually could afford, I’ll just pay my credit card bill with a smile
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This morning I went two places: to Whole Foods and to the Farmers’ Market.
The market was small- only four or five stands, but two brimming with fresh produce, one stand advertising itself as a low-spray farm. The feeling at the market (admittedly my first market trip of the season – I hang my head in shame) was familial. I handed less than four dollars to a woman in a country-style smock and a man with brown hands and dirt under his fingernails held my cucumbers for me while I delved into a basket of fat, fresh green beans. (I walked away with lots of produce for a very slim price.)
There were heirloom tomatoes. I often don’t understand the foodie obsession with varieties and textures and colors, but when it comes to heirloom tomatoes I know what they’re talking about. The way the yellow and pink and red flow on the tomatoes’ skin, the asymmetrical shape, the grandiosity or the delicacy of a single fruit – these were works of nature, and nature got it right.
Walking from the market I saw people. Not altogether a phenomenon, but at the same time it was. People walking, people talking, people shopping for the elements to a great summer meal. Somehow it all touched me. This is life, un-obscured by the walls of corporations.
At Whole Foods there was an escalator, fluorescent lights and a not-totally-unpleasant cashier. But I was inside. I was separated from people doing people things. In Whole Foods there were Customers. At the market there were People. See the difference?
Shop your local Farmers’ Market : National Farmers’ Market Week is August 3-9, 2008.
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