Have you ever been on a diet and had a planned cheat meal? And then that cheat meal turned into a cheat day? And that cheat day turned into a cheat week? And all of a sudden, you’ve gained 5 pounds? Yeah. It can be super easy to fall off the dieting wagon. And it can be just as easy to fall off the budgeting wagon too. It’s happened to me many times before, and it has happened to me again. Thankfully I caught it in time before it could do any real serious damage, but …
… I’ve been hit with a case of FOMO.
It all started off innocently with a tweet about the upcoming Vancouver Interational Film Festival (VIFF). Last year I went to 4 shows, and loved every one of them. So I went onto the website, and found two films I really wanted to see. After briefly discussing the best times with BF and finding a coupon code online for $3 off per ticket, I booked the shows.
Related: Why I dislike the term #YOLO
A few days later, we decided to have a date night on Granville Island – beer at the brewery, and a comedy show at TheatreSports. When buying our tickets to TheatreSports (with a 2-for-1 Entertainment Book coupon), I saw that Colin Mochrie was set to perform in the beginning of October. We both got a little bit excited, and decided that we had to go to that show. $86 (!) later, we had tickets.
It was only then that I realized we have tickets to the BC Lions game this weekend (although those were free), a Ryan Adams concert (already paid for) in the beginning of October, and my sister is taking us to a Canucks game AND a Giants game for my birthday. There’s also a a concert I really want to see at the end of October. I’ve missed the last 2 or 3 times he’s come to Vancouver, and I’d hate to miss out again. Plus, I kind of want to get away over the November extended long weekend. And also maybe over New Years. But my bank account has been shouting at me, and thankfully I’ve decided to listen. No more in 2014! No more concerts, expensive events, and definitely no iPhone 6 (even though I really, really want it). :)
This little breakdown in spending has cost me $110 in the past two days.
A few years ago, I would have gotten pretty upset with myself for this kind of spending. And sure, I’ve already blown this month’s Entertainment budget. But there are so many areas in my life that I’ve cut back on, in order to spend money on experiences instead of stuff. And if I’m continuing to save for retirement, and my spending doesn’t get completely out of control, I’m okay with it. As long as it doesn’t happen too often. But I think this little break in spending will be a good one for me. :)
When’s the last time you experienced FOMO?
I’ve been obsessed with macarons for a couple of years now, but have never attempted to make them. Everyone always told me how hard and finnicky they were to create, so I just left it at that and continued to buy them regularly. But when I saw a TeamBuy coupon for a 2-hour macaron making class for $45, I jumped on it.
We booked a few weeks ahead of time, and ended up going to a class last night at Professor and the Pigeon – a cute little bakery and coffee shop located in Kitsilano. The class started at 6:30, and we had about 15 or 16 people in the class. BF was the only guy there, which wasn’t surprising.
There was a wide range of skill level in attendance. One woman said she’s tried to make macaron at least a dozen times before, and there were people like us who have never attempted it at all. I bake a few times a year – banana breads, pies, cookies, etc. But am by no means an expert.
The first thing we did was watch a demonstration on how to make the macaron shells. Then, she divided us into 3 teams, and we started making our own shells. The group I was in was making Earl Grey macarons. Yum!
We started out by measuring the ingredients, and we were both pretty surprised at how simple the recipe is: just egg whites, white sugar, icing sugar, and almond flour. :) We blended the egg whites and white sugar together until the batter formed stiff peaks, and then we were ready for the next step.
We then poured the icing sugar and almond flour on top of the egg white mixture, and started mixing together. It was really important not to overmix, but I was surprised at how runny the batter was (similar to the consinstency of melted chocolate). After we got it just right, we filled a piping bag and went to town. Ours came out a little bit uneven, but pretty good for a first try. :) Then you let them sit on the tray for at least 30 minutes, until they dry out a little so that you can touch them (kind of like a blister).
They don’t spend long in the oven, and it makes a big difference temperature-wise whether you are using a convection oven or a regular oven. Once removed from the oven, they have to cool completely before you can move onto filling them with deliciousness.
While they cooled, we started to make our Earl Grey buttercream filling. It’s a little disgusting knowing how much butter and sugar actually goes into the filling, so I’ll just skip over that part. :) We used ground up tea, mixed it with hot cream, and then added it to butter, sugar, and vanilla extract.
Now the fun part – assembling the macarons! :) I was a little bit stingy in the amount of buttercream I put into my macarons. Thought I could somehow make them healthier… but, don’t skimp out. They were much better when you put more buttercream than what you think is a healthy amount, haha!
Making macarons was a really fun experience, and made an awesome date night. We were concerned before going to the class that we wouldn’t be able to make them at home. But it turns out, they’re quite simple to make. You just need to know how to get the right consistency with the batter, and get the timing perfectly. I’m glad we took the class because it gave us hands-on experience before we attempt to make them ourselves. :)
Here is the finished product. So pretty!
NOTE: This wasn’t a paid review or anything (although I did use a referral link to the coupon site), I just love macarons and was really excited to share this experience. The price for the class is normally $99, but you can buy it through TeamBuy (referral) for $45.
Have you ever tried to make macarons before?
This year was the year I told myself I’d finally get out and explore Vancouver.
Ever since I moved here six years ago, all I’ve done is work. I worked, worked worked through every summer. Weekends were spent working. Evenings were spent working. I said no to a lot of things. However, I don’t regret any of it, because it has given me so much: a down payment on a beautiful townhouse, a freelance career that helped me live and travel in Europe for 10 months, and the ability to create a secondary income stream for myself.
Related: Time management for the freelancer
But when I made the decision to scale back my freelancing this year, it was to seek a bit more balance. I often say I’ll do something, and then just forget about it because it’s too much work. But this year? No. If I was going to make a conscious choice to lose out on money by losing freelance clients, then I’d better make the most of the free time I’ve created for myself! :)
This weekend was a perfect example of how I want to make the most of my time – but in a frugal way.
A friend and I decided to venture to the Richmond Night Market for some tasty treats. For those that aren’t familiar with the Night Market (there are actually three of them in Vancouver), it’s open only on weekends, and showcases hundreds of merchandise booths and Asian food vendors. The atmosphere is fun – lots of games, entertainment, and people watching. The food is delicious, and I was actually surprised to see a few non-Asian vendors: one was selling German pork knuckles, and I saw another one selling Hungarian chimney cakes – yum!
There was a $2 entrance fee, but it was definitely worth it. As soon as I got in, I headed straight for the food. :)
It was a really fun time, and altogether – including transportation and a gift for someone – I spent just $20.
I heard via Twitter that there was going to be an Upcycled Urbanism event downtown on Saturday, and since it was designed in part by the UBC Architecture program, Nic and I decided to go and check it out. It was a fun hands-on project on Granville Street where anyone could go and build structures out of huge recycled polystyrene blocks.
This is the first structure we built: a single wall, supported by beams at the base. It was not sturdy, and pretty much fell on top of me after this photo was taken. :)
Next we created an interesting structure that we built as high as we could before we realized it was useless. So we tore it down.
Finally, we got to building our sturdiest structure, using the popsicle-stick method.
I love free events like this, and all I had to pay for was my SkyTrain fare – which was $2.75 each way.
I was feeling pretty good, so decided to go on a short hike in Lynn Valley. It was my first form of exercise in about two weeks. I was a little nervous to see how I would feel, and even though I walked less than two hours all day, my body was not happy with me afterwards. :| Hopefully I didn’t delay any healing, but I really thought I’d be better by now. Or at least able to walk more than a few hours at a time.
Anyway, I couldn’t believe how packed Lynn Valley was. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been there in years (and when I was there, there was nobody else around). But it was still a lot of fun, and a nice way to spend a few hours on a beautiful day.
The cost was free, except for the gas… which P.S. is up to $1.51/litre here!