a few nice things

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Unfortunately, I’m trapped under a pile of data entry today at the desk job. I’m actually making a concerted effort to choose to be less negative about the two and a half weeks remaining in my prison sentence. (Calling it a prison sentence might not be aiding that effort.) I do realize that situation itself – being stuck here for another couple weeks – is neutral and that only my attitude is what makes it positive or negative for me. Oh and the data entry also makes it negative. Data entry is not neutral. Data entry is for the birds.

Although! I do sometimes listen to fun podcasts while I enter various datas. Mom, you’ll be delighted to know that I occasionally listen to Car Talk episodes while I do this data entry. So I suppose that’s a silver lining.

Anyway, I don’t have time to write a proper post today, due to all the entries necessitated on the part of the data, so instead I’ll just post a few shots of things that have made me happy recently. You know, for the sake of being positive.

The one above is a shot of a small church on Sixth Avenue and 10th street, and the beautiful blue sky September morning behind it.

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These are lovely, fragrant flowers that my thoughtful boyfriend bought for me on Friday before he was about to go to Toronto for the weekend. What a special surprise treat that was. Gentleman, never underestimate the power of gifting flowers to your lady for no reason. Getting flowers on a random day of the year might even be better than getting them on your birthday or anniversary. Frankly, even one single flower will do. You know how we are. The gesture means so much, blah blah… (Thanks, Kev.)

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The cats may be appreciating the flowers more than I do. Kaia, for one, enjoys nibbling on them and sticking her face in them. And both Chawser and Kaia have taken to laying under the them. From what I can tell, they pretend they are big jungle cats and the flowers are a big jungle trees. It’s precious. I think I’m going to try to keep fresh flowers in the middle of the table so the cats feel like they’re living in their natural habitat. (A kitchen.)

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Speaking of Kaia, she’s gotten a lot of attention on the blog in the last 24 hours, but I haven’t otherwise mentioned her recently. She’s doing really well! She’s much happier than she was when she first came home, she and Chawser are getting along swimmingly, and she lets us pet her and pick her up more than ever before. It’s fun to have a tempermental little lady around the house. Another one, I mean. She still prefers her dad over me, but what else is new? If Kevin and I ever have children, they will probably like me less too. It’s understandable, Moms are bossy and they don’t let you eat all the shredded tuna and chicken liver that you want…

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…but their clothes smell nice.

daily dessert

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Dessert yesterday was several bites of this chocolatey cookie from Starbucks, which Kevin surprised me with when he came to meet me at the office on Monday night, along with a cup of decaf coffee. I tucked the cookie in my desk drawer so that I could have it for dessert the next day and that’s just what I did. I didn’t eat the whole thing, though. It didn’t seem wise. But ooo, I wanted to. It was very tasty and verrrry chocolatey.

reminding myself

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Lately, I have been so bizarrely content to lay on the couch watching TV for hours that I don’t recognize myself. Part of me is like, Uh oh. The other part of me is like, Rock on, lady. TV rules.

No Mom, I’m not going to lay around watching TV when I no longer have a job. I’m just trying to make a point. I’m tired. Is the point.

The purgatory of these last few weeks is exhausting. Or maybe the years I’ve spent trying to juggle all these commitments of mine are finally catching up to me.

All the stuff I’ve been packing into my days for the last seven or eight years – getting back into school and graduating, the weight loss, the exercise habit, ending a troubled relationship, entering into my first healthy Big Girl Relationship complete with We Live Together Now, the various paycheck jobs, the comedy jobs, more recently the bakery – it’s all stuff I’m so grateful to have and to have experienced. And it’s also a lot of work, lots of hours, lots of things that fill up each day, schedules that find me leaving the house at 9am and returning at 11pm, not yet having eaten dinner. And it’s been that way for a long time. Makes sense, really. I’m in my twenties and I don’t have kids – what better time to pack up my schedule until I can’t see straight. And I’m glad to have done it. Before I had this kind of schedule, I had the kind of schedule where I sat around, fat and unhappy, and did next to nothing. So I’d say this is an improvement. But it’s time to strike a balance between the nothing and the everything.

It’s the New York City way, to pack in as much as possible, but it doesn’t have to be. And not everyone who makes their life here lives that way. As I move into this new phase, I will still have my beloved projects, relationships and commitments, but I’m going to make it my priority to create more time and space between them all too. That down time is something I am starting to require (as I grow gray hair).

I want to be able to cook dinner. Once in a while. And I don’t want to have to schedule it all out to make it fit into my day. I just want to, say, shop for the ingredients in a leisurely fashion, come home, turn on some music or the news and stand around in my kitchen putting it all together. Patiently, calmly, maybe with a glass of wine, maybe without nagging hunger begging me to scrap it all and order Chinese food because it’s 11:30pm and I’m ravenous and going to start throwing a temper tantrum if I don’t eat soon.

I don’t even know what that lifestyle is like, the one where you cook dinner. I honestly haven’t a clue. I’m about to turn 29 years old and I’ve never had that kind of lifestyle. I’m not complaining, I’m just observing. Luckily, it’s up to me to make it so. Maybe I’ll hate it! Can’t wait to find out.

Maybe I’ll get really into decorating my apartment! Or collecting cheap, cute necklaces! Or sewing! (Probably not sewing.) (But maybe!)

Blue and I had drinks and dinner on Saturday night. It was great to spend some time with her and catch up – we had a lovely chat in which we were both able to talk about stuff that was on our minds. It’s a blessing to have her in my life right now, to be able to bounce things off each other and reflect back to each other our experience of these similar journeys we’re on.

After having quit her table-waiting job a little over a month ago, she’s nearing the end of her “30 Days.” It was a month during which she planned to avoid survival jobs, to pursue work she’s passionate about and to find out more about herself. Not surprisingly, this month has taken her places and given her experiences that she wasn’t anticipating. It’s so exciting to hear where she is with it all mentally, and how open she is to laying her expectations aside and responding to her own needs. She’s been doing an excellent job of letting any judgment, her own or other people’s, fall away and that’s not an easy task. I recommend checking out her blog entries about this last month. It’s interesting and inspiring to read her progress.

It wasn’t a coincidence that on my walk to meet up with her on Saturday night I’d been thinking about what my own experience will be like once I’m no longer working. I wonder where I’ll be a month and a half from now. I definitely feel a sense of pressure, applied by myself and no one else, to “figure it out.” To come up, rather quickly, with a new career, a new path, a focused direction out of all these things I’m invested in, and one that can generate income right away. I realized that I’ve been subconsciously telling myself that right now! is the time I should be figuring out that new path – while I’m still at the desk job and I have the time and the paycheck to do so in a risk-free setting. I’ve been telling myself that once I leave here, it is my duty to begin walking down the new path that I’ve neatly laid out. And ASAP.

Ugh. I’ve got to stop telling myself that stuff. Because that’s not what I want out of this.

I’m so done with “asap.” Honestly. Enough is enough with the pressure and the time lines and all the judgment that comes with how long stuff takes, or what pit stops you make along the way. I don’t want to let people down, let myself down, or appear like I made the wrong choice. But I just can’t worry about that. I cannot worry about other people’s expectations for this process, or other people’s feelings that it was a mistake that I quit my job. Any and all success I’ve had in my life has come from following my own time line and listening to my own needs, not adhering to someone else’s. I’m reminded of that saying that goes something like, “Be yourself and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of you. The people who matter don’t care, and the people who care don’t matter.” Amen.

There is no time line. There is no race. I’m not in any hurry to create anything for myself other than a sense of peace and contentment. And that can come in many forms. I didn’t quit this job so that I could magically manifest the next perfect-for-me career and walk right into it after 3.75 weeks of relaxation and 1.25 weeks of pre-planning.

I quit this job because I’ve never had an opportunity to do something like this before. I quit this job because I never intentionally chose to make a career out of office administration, I just ended up doing so. And now I intentionally choose NOT to do so any longer. I’ve spent the last seven years cleaning up the messes I made in college, paying my penance. There were bills to pay and debt to tend to and weight to lose and emotional baggage to pack into smaller suitcases. Following my professional bliss didn’t seem to fit anywhere within that, nor did I have the emotional maturity to handle something like that at the time. It meant I took the jobs I could get, not the jobs I wanted.

For the first time in my adult life, I don’t have to do something I don’t want to do, be someone I’m not, just because my circumstances make it so. There is such a simple freedom in that.

Right now, I want to know who I am when all I have to do in a day is to cook a healthy dinner. I want to know who I am when I don’t have to show up to an office job every day. I want to know who I am when I have free time to practice yoga, keep my apartment tidy and spend time doing the things that make me happy. I want to know who I am without a weight loss project at my feet, without needing more therapy, without relationships to repair. I’ve learned a lot about myself by writing this blog for the last nine months and by talking to other people who are on or have experienced similar journeys. But I have to continue the learning process now by doing the actual field research. I know I’m very lucky to have the chance to do this, but I’ve worked hard for it, so I guess it’s not really luck so much as it is privilege.

If I stay open to the possibilities and commit myself, when I finally leave this job (three more work weeks!), to doing things that make me feel fulfilled, pursuing work I’m passionate about, and slowing down so that I can fully take in this big, beautiful life I have, I know that the right career path for me will eventually emerge out of that. However long it takes.

It might be right away, but it might not. It might be an instant, obvious choice, but it might not be. I might have already discovered it, or maybe I haven’t. I might have to go work in a cafe, at a bookstore, with children, with old people, with animals, selling shoes, making sandwiches – to make ends meet – or maybe I won’t. Maybe any one of those jobs is the new path. And maybe it’s not.

I’m going to have to constantly remind myself that this is not a race. That I am not on a time line. I’m also going to have to remind myself that my success and happiness is not based on my pace, the amount of activities I can cram into a day, or how far I try to spread my energy. I’m going to have to remind myself that if I show up to my grandparents’ house at Christmas time with a measly job as a coffee shop barista and the announcement that I’m “gonna write a book!” or I’m “gonna travel the world!” or I “still don’t have health insurance!” it’s okay if they all look at me sideways, try to talk me out of it, or don’t talk to me at all. Too bad for them. I’m pretty cool if you get to know me.

My ultimate goal is to create:

A career that lets me feel happy and fulfilled.
A career that allows me to create a work/life balance.
A career that provides me with financial abundance.

That will happen someday, maybe sooner, maybe later. The immediate goal is to discover that career by spending my time in ways that fill me up and make me happy – pursuing projects I’m interested in, spending time with people I enjoy being around, and doing things that I like to do.

This particular blog entry will serve as a reminder for me, something to read and feel encouraged by if I start wondering what the hell I’ve done.

daily dessert

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Here are a few desserts I’ve missed telling you about.

I enjoyed one of these Fanny & Jane buttercream sandwich cookies last night. They’re good. (We will be selling them at the PIT tomorrow night!)

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I forgave Pret A Manger for their calorie trespass and had a delightful “Love Bite” for dessert late last week. The Love Bite is a smaller version of their Love Bar, which is basically just a graham cracker crust bar topped with dark chocolate, nuts and coconut. And I love bars, as I’ve made abundantly clear in the past. It was divine.

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This is a delightful little sundae I made myself over the weekend. It doesn’t look like much, but it was very tasty: chocolate soy ice cream, pieces of crumbled up dark chocolate crunch bar, a few sesame sticks, all-natural peanut butter and raspberries. It really hit the spot.

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And lastly, here are two chocolates I was gifted by a coworker on Friday. One was strawberry creme (that’s this one, even though the filling is white), and the other was caramel. I think they were just your standard candies from a box of candies. But sometimes that’s all you need.

senior-itis

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I had a full, but relatively relaxing weekend. I spent much of it laying on my couch and napping or watching crime documentaries.

I tried to get a post written today and it just wasn’t happening. I’ve been majorly slacking on daily dessert too. Like I said in my last entry, I’ve been feeling pretty unmotivated sitting at this job lately. You’d think being so close to the end would make it easier, but it’s actually just given me senior-itis.

I’m gonna try to shake my routines and habits up a bit and see if that helps me refocus for these last few weeks.

For now, I’ll mention that Sunday, the 27th, was my 7 year weight loss anniversary. It marked seven years since I joined the Weight Watchers program and started the journey toward losing 115 pounds! If you’ve never lost a bunch of weight, you might not understand why the exact date / anniversary is important to me, but it is. Interestingly though, this was the first year I totally forgot on the actual day! The day passed and it completely slipped my mind.

what dreams may come

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I had a dream last night that I was nine months pregnant. I’m definitely not pregnant, no. I’m just one of those women who occasionally has very vivid dreams about various stages of pregnancy. I know there are plenty of women out there who never dream about it, but I also know there are plenty of women who do, and I’m one of them. I always have been. I’ve had every kind of pregnancy dream imaginable, and it’s been happening for as long as I can remember.

Anyway, last night I dreamed I was nine months pregnant and that it was finally the exact day of my due date. I’d never had a baby before so I had no idea what to expect. And although I felt very large and immobile, I didn’t feel the slightest rumbling of labor. Physically, I felt totally and exactly the same as I had throughout the last few weeks of the pregnancy. But emotionally, I was anxious, excited and eager to have this damn baby already.

In the dream, I was hanging out with my family, my mom and Uncle Kel and my cousins. And we were all just sort of passing the time, waiting for this baby to come. They were playing cards, chatting, eating, I was resting and waddling around the apartment and anxiously asking everyone when the baby was coming and if we should go to the hospital so that they could check on my progress, or lack thereof. I became convinced that I was going to be one of those women who remained pregnant well past her due date – that I wasn’t going to have this baby and be relieved of this uncomfortable, beached-whale feeling for weeks and weeks. I was distressed, nervous, frustrated and worried about the timeline. I just wanted to have the baby and be done with it! And I felt huge.

I woke up realizing I wasn’t pregnant, which is always a surprise to me when I wake up from a pregnancy dream. You mean, I’m not pregnant?! Weird! I was just totally pregnant! All these baby dreams throughout my life have convinced me that I already know, viscerally, what it will feel like to be pregnant because of how vivid these dreams are. (I’m probably way off, but I guess I won’t find out until I find out.)

Kevin’s on his way to Toronto this morning for an improv festival, and he’ll be gone until late Sunday night. He left early this morning before I was awake, so I sent him a text message when I woke up to say good morning and to tell him that I’d had a wildly vivid nine-month preggo dream. You know, just to freak him out and remind him why he’s glad to be going out of town for the weekend.

He wrote back and said, “Kylene’s interpretation would be that you’re waiting to get out of that office and have your creative life finally be reborn.” Kylene, my mom, is a vivid dreamer too. Personally, I think it’s a genetic trait that she passed onto me. As Kevin has witnessed, my mom and I often discuss our detailed, complicated dreams, trying to decipher what they could mean.

On a whim, and probably because I still felt really connected to the dream, I googled “pregnancy dreams” when I got to work this morning and almost every site I found said exactly what Kevin suggested: Dreams about being pregnant indicate a “new growth in your life and growing creativity.”  Also, “pregnancy often represents a new event about to take place in your life, a new creation of yours, or a rebirth of yourself.” I also read that how you feel about being pregnant in the dream, and the circumstances surrounding you, are also supposed to indicate how you feel about the personal rebirth or growth in your life.

In the dream, I felt excited and nervous about having a baby, but I was mostly just anxious to finally move onto the next chapter of my life was a new mom. More than anything else, though, I felt like I was going to be stuck in those final stages of pregnancy forever, like I was in pregancy pergatory and although the end may have been near, it certainly didn’t feel like it. I felt stuck in a state of immovable forever.

I realized when I sat down to write this post that today, September 25, was originally supposed to be my last day at the desk job. When I gave notice at the beginning of the month, I’d planned for today to be my last day, I’d even scheduled a doctor’s appointment in the middle of a workday next week because I hadn’t planned to be working here after today.

And then it ended up that I was going to continue working here until October 16, which was partially my decision. I could have gotten out of it and been gone by today if I wanted to, but I chose not to. It wasn’t a horrible decision, because three more weeks of work really isn’t the end of the world. And it means another paycheck, much of which I’m going to be able to tuck into my little savings account for a rainy day.

But, extra paycheck aside, it kinda sucks to be stuck here well past what feels like my expiration date. I will certainly rejoice when October 16 finally rolls around, probably more so than I would have rejoiced if today were my last day, because I will be so beyond ready to say goodbye to this place forever and ever. I’ve had to laugh lately, as I get ready in the morning and imagine that I’m going to spend yet another day trapped indoors doing mundane office work, because if I don’t chuckle about it, I’m going to kill someone.

It’s like when you finally decide to move out of an apartment you don’t like anymore – during the last few weeks that you live in that apartment, you want to get out of there more than ever before. You’ve finally made the decision to make a change and now you’re really allowing yourself to feel how much you’ve disliked these circumstances – this leaky faucet, this running toilet, the lack of direct sunlight, the tiny closet space – when before, you didn’t mind these circumstances quite so much. It was your home and you made do. But now that you will be moving to a better home, you’re really ready to make the change.

Well I’m noticing the leaky faucets at my desk job more than ever before. I’m noticing (or re-noticing) how unmotivated I feel when I sit here all day long, how the simplest tasks take the greatest effort because I generally feel so uninspired and disconnected. I’m noticing how dark it is in this stupid lobby and how boring it can be to do the same things day in and out. I’m also noticing that the internet can suck your brain dry.

I laid in bed last night before falling asleep and I daydreamed about all the big (and small) ideas I have for not only generating income in the coming months, but also for transforming my life into one where I’m self-employed doing the things that I love. I always have the richest, most productive brainstorms about this kind of thing right before I fall asleep. I guess my plans and my eagerness to make them all realities were absorbed into my subconscious last night, because I certainly dreamed about being in a state of anxious, almost-new-life. Eeeek! It’s exciting. And it’s rewarding to know that even in sleep, I’m gearing up for this new way of living.

daily dessert

Dessert yesterday was this darling little mini brownie from Pret A Manger, along with an afternoon cup of coffee.

I don’t generally drink coffee in the afternoon anymore, but since I’m back up at the reception desk, and since these last few weeks at the desk job are absolutely snail-ing by, and since I want to bang my head into a wall more than ever before at having to sit here day in and out, answering the phone and staring at a wall, I’ve been getting afternoon coffees to keep me from falling asleep or strangling an innocent delivery person.

The brownie was very yummy, and is handmade with all-natural ingredients and that makes me feel good about the world. And the coffee was organic. Yay, world.

I do, however, have some upsetting news relating to Pret A Manger, which is one of my favorite places to grab healthy, fresh lunch in New York. Or it was – until something unfortunate happened.

You know how I love their harvest cookie? And how I’m always raving about how yummy they are and how I’ve told you before that they’re only 180 calories? Well GUESS WHAT. Pret must have updated their calorie info because I walked in there yesterday to find that the harvest cookie is now listed as having 350 calories! And all this time I’ve been thinking I’m getting away with a 180 calorie cookie! Unreal.

Needless to say, I was pissed. I guess the benefit of having calories listed on some menus in New York City isn’t always, uh…beneficial.

I knew it was too good to be true. That damn harvest cookie is like a small meal. And now I know why. I should have trusted my instincts. This happened once before with the margaritas at Chipotle. They went from being listed as having 90 calories to suddenly boasting 210. GAH! Get your facts straight people!

10 ways to save for a desk job escape

You guys, the envelope method is going really well. And best of all, I’m enjoying it!

When I set out nine months ago to quit my desk job and pursue work that makes me happier, I wrote a list of things to help me achieve that goal. One of the items on the list was “Save – create an account for job escape.”

CHECK! I did it.

Here are 10 money saving tips I’ve used to help me build up my escape account. These are tips for building up a short-term savings account, an amount of money you plan to use within the year:

Make coffee at home. If you buy it every day of the week, you spend an unnecessary $30+ a month! It adds up.

Freeze your gym membership for a little while. My friend Sarah told me about this a few years ago and I finally did it. I wasn’t using the gym that often in the summer anyway, and I saved $32 a month by freezing my membership for six of the warmer months of the year.

Set aside $50 a month from your paycheck, every single month without question. If you can put away more, great. If you can’t, just commit to a minimum of $50 a month. It’s not that much and if you set up an account that withdraws it automatically, you won’t even notice it’s gone. Again, it adds right up! I cannot emphasize enough how much this helped me. I also found an online savings account (www.tdameritrade.com) that paid me $100 after 12 months of putting something away each month. That was 100 bucks – FOR FREE. I’ll take it! (I’m not sure if that site is still offering that deal anymore – but if they’re not, you might be able to find another online savings account that offers beneficial perks.)

Pay down less on your credit card. Wait! I know what you’re thinking. What? That’s crazy! I gotta pay that thing off! And yes, you do. Paying as much as you can to your credit card debt is a good thing. My suggestion to pay less to it is only for someone working on a temporary savings account, one that you’ll be using to, say, escape from your desk job in the coming months or year. And even then, paying less to your credit cards might not be for everyone. I know my friend Phil, for instance, is a proud Snowflaker and he is on a mission to pay off his debt as quickly as possible. I think that’s fantastic. But for short-term savers, this might be a good option to consider. Only you can know what’s right for your situation. Obviously, it’s always a good idea to consolidate your debt onto as few cards as possible, and find a low or 0% interest rate. And consult your doctor.

Don’t spend a ton of cash on alcohol. Consider the potentially tacky option of bringing your own flask! Why not, right? It could be fun to do a few times, and you’ll be the hit of the party. It’s so easy to spend wads of cash on booze in a night. And if you’re gonna go out and financially splurge on a night of drinking, plan for it so that you can choose to spend less the day before and the day after.

Spend less the day before and the day after a splurge. If you’re going to splurge, plan for it. This same philosophy helped me to lose 115 pounds and maintain my weight loss for the last seven years. If you know you’re going out with friends, or to a fancy restaurant, or to Whole Foods so that you can cook up a big dinner party, trim down your spending on the days around the event. Damage control.

Don’t shop at Whole Foods. I like Whole Foods. And if you like to shop there, great! But also consider local farmers’ markets, Trader Joe’s, the fruit and veggie bodega in your ‘hood, the produce carts on the streets of the city (if you’re a New Yorker), and the other small markets that we pass by every day. Fancy grocery stores are expensive and that might be an expense you can avoid when it’s often easy to buy fresh, local, inexpensive food that tastes just as good. Kath from Kath Eats Real Food is an impressive person to follow in terms of the way she and her husband shop for their meals. They are so frugal with their monthly food budget – they’re an inspiration to thrifty cooks everywhere.

Wait for the DVD. Unless you’re just dying to see the newest flick in the theater, skip the movies for now. Kevin and I went to see a movie last week, just because we wanted to experience a movie-going night, and we ended up spending $30 on two movie tickets and a small thing of Milk Duds – and we hated the movie! It was such a bummer to realize that we could have gone out for margaritas for half that and had a much better time. If you’re saving short-term for something that’s going to be happening within the next few months or a year, you’ll probably be okay without the movie-going experience for a while. Unless you just have to see it and everybody’s raving about it. Then at least buy your soda at the drug store and sneak it into the movie in your purse. $5 for a soda at the movies? Get the eff over yourselves, theater-runners!

Cancel fancy cable channels. The savings add up and you don’t need the premium fancy pants package anyway. You will find something to watch on TV, I promise.

Allow the occasional indulgence. This is another trick that helped me lose and maintain a large weight loss. And it works for being a smarter spender too. I still let myself go out for dinner from time to time, or to buy a magazine I don’t necessarily need to have. If I don’t let myself have little treats, I will probably rebel by spending a bunch of money at once because I’ll get so sick and tired of being frugal. Decide which indulgences matter most to you. If you’re a Whole Foods chef through and through – great! Cut back in other ways, but allow yourself to shop at your favorite grocer. If you love to try new restaurants – great! Pick one to visit every couple weeks and plan for the financial splurge. As with anything – food, exercise, relationships, workload – spending wisely is all about balance.

daily dessert

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I think my trip on Monday afternoon to Dean and Deluca might have been my first visit to the specialty shop. Their stuff is expensive, huh? I was eyeing a small bag of chocolate covered nuts until I saw it was priced at $8. No WAY. That’s almost half my $20 a day budget!

I settled on this big ol’ sugar cookie, which was only $2, and a cup of coffee.

The cookie was pretty dry and crunchy. I prefer sugar cookies to be a bit softer. But the flavor was alright – it satisfied my sweet tooth. It didn’t exactly taste fresh, though – I suppose it had been sitting out all day – so I’m not sure I’ll be going back there for a sweet treat any time soon.

I had a few bites of it while standing in the sunshine in Rockefeller Plaza, and finished it later on that afternoon at my desk.

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