Day 1, B(a)NM: Snow days and rules of the game

Ron and Debbie's back 40, near Malone, NY

Winter 2008 will go down as one of the snowiest in many years. Around here, this is seen as a good thing as we have been able to unpack the skiis from the basement and put them to some use. We are also slowly testing the limits of a one-year-old in cold weather and luckily he seems to be displaying the more hardy northern european constitution of his father then the wimpy mediterranean one of his mum. Me, I would be one of the first to lie down and take a nice nap in the snow on a Mt. Everest expedition becasue it's too cold to keep going.

We've had some great excusrsions out of the city recently. The above photo montage is from a wonderful weekend spent in the company of Jake's old roomates in the Adirondacks near Malone, NY. We were hiking the "back 40" of Ron's incredible forest retreat in frigid -15 celsius weather

The first official day of our campaign to buy almost nothing is underway! J and I talked about this with another friend last night, who, between bouts of uncontrollable laughter at the self-flagellatory nature of this idea, kept quizzing us on the loopholes rules of the game. And so, for the sake of clarity and marital harmony, here they are:

1. The mission and spirit of Buy (almost) Nothing Month is to - obviously - consume less. But it is also about fostering a spirit of self-sufficiency and creativity. While it's highly impractical to avoid buying anything in the middle of winter in an apartment that isn't ours, we need to ask ourselves, with every action that involves our wallet: is it necessary, can we do without, can we do differently?

2. Groceries are OK, takeout sushi is not;

3. In celebration of the self-sufficiency aspect of this effort, purchase of necessary raw materials is OK. So ice-cream is out, but chocolate chips to make our own cookies is in;

4. Work-related expenses are exempt;

5. Transportation costs are a grey area. Bus tickets are good, since they're public transportation. We'll need to do a gut-check on gas for the car, since the car really is a luxury but, let's be reasonable here, we're in the middle of winter in a big city with a little kid;

6. Entertainment counts as consumption. That includes dinners and drinks out on the town, video rentals, concerts, magazines, etc. We can, however, use barter. Like "hey, if we can borrow your video rental for the night, we'll cook you chocolate chip cookies (see rule #3)".

Day 1 has been good so far. Tonight it's dinner at Sophie and Nico's. I'm making caramel pots-de-creme from this amazing recipe. Good thing I have all that muscovado and demerara sugar lying around...

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