Friday, August 28, 2015

Revelations of Scarcity

I want to start by saying we are doing just fine. We have what we need. If we don't, we have a car and we go to the store and get it. But there is still a level of scarcity in the way we are living. I think more carefully about making a purchase because I know I'll be giving it away in 11 months so I consider how much I'll REALLY need it in the meantime. We can usually get by with what we have. I don't have a crockpot, so I'll put a pot on low heat in the oven. We don't have drawers, but we don't have many clothes. We don't have a recycling container, but the microwave box is doing a fine job.

You know how you learn a lot about a person's character by the way they react to a computer malfunction? In the same way, this scarcity brings out some interesting aspects to a person that you might otherwise not see.

"What happened to the rubberband that came on that package of clothes hangers? I swear, there was a rubberband. WHO THREW AWAY THAT RUBBERBAND?!" And the biggest loss--on our overnight flight to Sydney, Delta supplied each of us with simple red blankets. Only three of us saved them. I still wish I had the other four. I could have covered one of the sofas with them. And they are just the right thickness to add a little warmth for moments like right now when it's nighttime and I'm sitting here typing. I'm still not over the loss.

I found myself scouring through the kitchen trash for the lid of a frosting container that someone had thrown away. I knew that container would be super useful for leftovers in the the coming months so I really wanted it! Allen saw me digging in the garbage (Aussie = "rubbish"). And here's the thing: he knew exactly what I was looking for and didn't think I was weird. Didn't find the lid but we bonded a little more that day.

I bought a pack of 6 pineapple cans at Costco. I made pizza tonight and I knew the kids would want pineapple to go with the ham I was putting on it. But I had wanted to save it for things like sweet and sour chicken, or pineapple chicken, so I didn't want to put pineapple on the pizza. I knew the kids would groan and beg me to do it. And I was having this stupid battle inside my head about it. I realized pineapple is what they wanted on the pizza, and I have it, so just USE IT.

I bought a big bag of chocolate chips at Costco because I always have done that and it was a decent price. But guess what? I've decided not to do that anymore because it has this easy open top and then you can just zip it shut again. So, like, no one will know that you reached in and grabbed a handful of chocolate chips and popped them all in your mouth at once. Ya know. I found that the store brand of chocolate chips tastes pretty good, costs about the same, and I can buy them as I need them and not have excessive amounts of something I'm always trying to resist eating. I don't regret the big bag of frozen raspberries, or the salsa, or the Mexican blend cheese. Which is the SAME BAG I buy in Utah. It is made in America. Imported cheese. It is pricey but this stuff they call "Tasty Cheese" here is not that good. And we don't use lots of it anyway.

In my house in Utah I have a drawer full of kitchen gizmos. Spatulas, spoons, ice cream scoops, pasta servers, ladles, pizza cutter, biscuit cutters, garlic press, lemon zester. It's a big drawer. The item from that drawer I use THE MOST is the medium sized black spoon from the cheap threesome set you can find at IKEA for 69 cents. For some reason the black spoon always turns up missing so I buy another few sets every time I'm there so I now have 3 black spoons and about 29 of the matching forks and spatulas. So when we arrived here and I went to IKEA on day 5, the one item I knew I was going to get was a few of was those black spoons. Guess what item was out of stock! Still no black spoon for me.

Another manifestation of the scarcity situation: I get so excited shopping in the clearance section for food. Yes, food. Fresh produce and meat are the two items that are more expensive here. The rest is affordable, especially with the exchange rate being in our favor. I've found one of the stores here that has a spot where they bag up random produce that is getting old, and they sell the whole bag for $4. And then each day it gets marked down another dollar. It's like a game for me every time. A couple of days ago I found a bag that had 3 Asian pears, 3 limes, 2 avocados, 4 lemons, an eggplant, and 3 oranges all for $2 (US$1.42!) The limes alone are worth $3 each, and the avocados about $2 each, and Asian pears! I was so excited, you'd have thought it was Christmas! And the fun part is the extra items I find that I wouldn't normally buy, like the eggplant. Another time a bag had several blood oranges. All of us had a great time that night sitting around sharing them. A couple of weeks ago I got a huge bag of fresh green beans. I was super excited to bring them home and blanch them all and put them in the freezer. It was a great find. I was giddy.

Tomorrow is my first potluck dinner. I am having a super hard time deciding what to take. Stay tuned. 

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