You’ve probably made a New Year’s resolution.
“Excuse me, New Year’s reso-whaaa?…” you may ask.
Ok, maybe you’ve already broken yours. Don’t feel bad about it. Many people already have or soon will. Just check your gym a month from now. I never keep New Year’s resolutions. This year, however, I vow to keep mine. In a bank account.
Yep, I’m resolving to save more money.
It’s much easier to save money this time of year. Let’s face it, there’s less motivation to leave the apartment with the snow blowing and wind blistering. I plan on doing the following to save cash:
- Put a dent in the Netflix queue: We’re already paying $15 a month, so we might as well stay in more often and catch up on the films and TV series dancing in our heads, no? Maybe I can finally watch the movies that have been in my Netflix queue for years, like Coffee and Cigarettes and Hotel Rwanda. And take in the movies I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never seen, such as Annie Hall and A Streetcar Named Desire.
- Cook more often: You’ve heard it here…Dining out is limited to twice a week—once for lunch, once for dinner. I finally have a properly stocked kitchen with real knives, food processor and a Kitchenaid mixer, so there is no excuse not to use them.
- BYOB-it: One of the best things about Chicago is delicious dining on the cheap. Even better, there are so many places that allow you to bring your own booze. In our early days in the city, Joe and I could eat dinner for $10-$15 at a tasty Thai or pizza place, plus the price of a cheap bottle of wine. Perfection.
- Scour Time Out and the Reader for free/cheap entertainment: I’ve adopted my friend Ryan’s philosophy about seeing live music—don’t go unless it’s under $20. I’m actually adopting the same philosophy about any event right now. Certain exclusions may apply.
To make saving money possible, please intervene when I talk about purchasing:
None of these. Tell me to “just say no.” Except for the wine. Remind me that we’re saving to go to:
How do you save money in the winter? Share ideas. Please.
It’s hard to believe that, in a city where there as many things to do as people to do them, you can fall in a rut.
Even though it’s not winter, it feels possible.
Work. Mindless tasks. Sleep. Repeat.
I’m not sure if this is the case with you or not, but I’m not good at juggling. I’m the kind of person who throws all three balls in the air at once, focuses intently on one and lets the other two fall on the ground. I can only do one thing well at a time. Plus, the weather has been so gloomy lately, it makes me want to curl up on the couch and deplete my Netflix queue.
It’s great to be reminded that everyday is not the same. This little strip of landscaping between work and the gym helps me keep things in check.
Last spring, it was filled with tulips (I heart). The one renegade red tulip among its yellow counterparts kills me. Also, notice how sunny it is?
Petunias in the summer...still sunny.
Imagine the pleasant surprise when I was snapped out of repetitiveness a few days ago with:
Fall mums (I love).
The fall colors I crave so much: a splash of crimson and marigold to dilute the gray.
Also, I will be here on Sunday. That helps.
There you have it: rut, interrupted.
I write about the oddities in my neighborhood quite often. Either I don’t get out much or I live on one of the weirdest streets. The jury is out.
But it’s hard not to point out things like this:
Just a half-mannequin lady playing backseat driver. No big deal.
Yep, this happened. I noticed this too-hot-for-my-internets lady sitting in the backseat of a parked silver Dodge Neon on my way home from work the other day. Rarrrr. Let’s just say she was more anatomically correct than Barbie.
I can’t quite pinpoint the Neon’s motive for including the mannequin on its joyrides. We don’t have carpool lanes in Chicago, so there’s no use in using a faux friend to get to work earlier like people in other cities do. And I can’t imagine that she’d have much to say on long trips. Perhaps she was on her way to see her friends down the street, the 80s mannequins. Yep, that’s happening too. Mannequins are all the rage in this neighborhood. They’re the new skinny jeans. Better outfit your apartment or car in one today.
Fun fact: Did you know there is a Mannequin 2 movie? Sounds like it has an amazing plot line: “The film stars Kristy Swanson as a mannequin who was frozen one thousand years ago by an evil sorcerer using a magic necklace. She remains frozen until the necklace is removed and can stay permanently unfrozen if she receives a kiss from her true love.” Netflix, please rush.
Thanks to my pal, Ryan, for humoring me with his Photoshop wizardry.
Yesterday was Groundhog Day, and in typical fashion, Punxatawny Phil made his decree: six more weeks of winter.
Hey, I’ll take it. I probably don’t need to tell you that winter in Chicago this year has been more miserable and unpredictable than usual, making us asking ourselves “Why do we live here?” several times a day. Ask my friend, Megan Boley, pictured at right. She’s not impressed.
So, six weeks certainly beats the 12 weeks of arctic air and snow that I had predicted. And it saves me from the usual colloquialism: “Oh, we only have to do this for three more months.” Nope, only six weeks, according to my new furry BFF. Even though I am pretending that there are only six more weeks to go, the truth is, we’ve got a long way until spring. And many people, myself included, are doing the best they can to beat the winter doldrums. Here are some ways that people are coping, or how I like to think of it, putting a Band-aid over winter:
Exposing yourself to the element
This technique practically screams denial. Super Bowl Sunday, it was a balmy 35 degrees in Chicago. If you were predicting the weather on the basis of attire, you might have guessed that it was the first day of spring. Rebels were walking around without coats. One friend even reported seeing someone walking around in shorts and a hoodie. Seriously? Although I have not been brave enough to try this myself, I witnessed a friend sporting open-toed shoes in order to create the illusion that it was lukewarm outside. The attempt failed, but she looked damn cute.
Mixing up the routine
Everyone I know is trying this one. It ranges from a making a subtle change in appearance to going out one night during the week. Whatever it is, you can certainly separate from your Netflix and get out of your apartment to do something different for once.
Wear the brightest color of clothing that you own
I brought a red coat out of the archives and wore it for one week solid to make myself feel better about January. And I did I feel a little more enthusiastic about going outside, but I will admit to you that this sentiment was short lived. And I probably looked like Madeline, the French cartoon girl.
Get the hell out of town
If at all possible this time of year, get out of Chicago and go some place warmer. Even if it’s only five degrees warmer, you’ll thank yourself later. I recently went to San Francisco, and I had a smile on my face for two weeks after my return. Until I realized there was snow on the ground again. (insert sigh)
Trick everyone (including yourself) into thinking you’re out of town
Let’s face it: the economy sucks right now. It’s no time to take an extended vacation. But, you can trick everyone on Facebook, and even yourself, into thinking you’re doing so. Call it a “stay-cation,” or whatever you will: it’s the dream that status messages are made of. A friend of mine recently brought this up, and I thought it was genius. Perhaps I will be in Paris or Costa Rica tonight. Check my Facebook page to find out.
If you have a fantastic way to cope with the winter doldrums, please share. I’ll be hiding indoors until then.