The Things We Bring

Once upon a time, I had a lot of paper clips.  Sooooooo many paper clips!   And staples.

I remember buying these paper clips.  It was in 2000: I was just going into business for myself, and outfitting my home office.  I remember how much fun it was to go to Staples (the store) and to buy things like staples (the product) in vast quantities for what seemed like no money at all.   Such a deal!   And with all those supplies, I definitely had a Real Office, with profession-level paper-securing capacity.

By 2019, though, I have gone mostly paperless; I no longer even own a printer.   My staple-and-paper clip burn rate has declined to near zero.  So when we moved from our 3,100 sq ft home to a 900 sq ft apartment, the paper clips did not make the cut.

There is nothing like moving out of a home in which you’ve lived for 21 yrs to bring out your inner minimalist.   Wading through that vast amount of accumulated crap was humbling, and sobering, and a six-month-long pain in the ass.  So in our new home, we were determined to bring only what we really need, what will fit comfortably.  We've stored some things (we will likely move into a perhaps-slightly-larger longer-term home within the next year or two), but permanently divested ourselves of much, much more.   We are done with the endless accretion of stuff!   From now on, we will buy only what we need, replace only what needs replacing, and move the excess along.   Live simply, that others may simply live!  Or at least, live simply that you may more easily find your shoes. 


Our iron did not make the cut.   We also have a handheld steamer; and this, I decided, would be sufficient for all of our de-wrinkling needs.   This decision was a big deal for me:  I love ironing, as I have previously declared in music video form.   But in my new, lighter life, ironing would be obsolete.  Because you just hang things up and steam them, and how much easier could it be than that?  

Well.....the steamer does work pretty well on a limited range of lightweight synthetic fabrics; but on thicker cottons and linens it works poorly if at all.   Plus hanging things up to steam them can in some cases be a bit inconvenient:

Turns out the iron was perhaps more essential than I'd thought.   Husband Steve points out that in fact our 20-year-old iron, cooling its jets in storage, is in fact a pretty crappy one, and we could easily justify replacing it on the basis of quality alone.  

So I buy a new iron; and it is, in fact, way better than the old one in storage.   I can live without many things; but not, as it turns out, without neatly-pressed napkins.  And anyway, I had a 20% off coupon from Bed, Bath and Beyond, so it wasn't even very expensive!

Why, you might ask, if I have truly eschewed the accumulation of household goods, do I even have a coupon for Bed, Bath, and Beyond?  And in response I would say to you:  look how nicely my napkins turned out!


The apartment has limited bookshelf space, so I somewhat arbitrarily declare that we will limit ourselves to six cookbooks. 

I choose first, a book on whole-grain breads.

Steve chooses next, a book on Basque cuisine.

I choose a second book on whole-grain baking.

Steve chooses another book on Basque food.

So we are all set to fill our (smaller) table with a feast of Basque dishes and whole-grain breads (things which are rarely found together in nature).   The meal will be accompanied by impeccably-pressed napkins.


Packing the kitchen was quite a project.   We both love to cook and entertain, so we have accumulated a lot of supplies over the years – and in our old, spacious kitchen, that was no problem.  There is considerably less room for expansiveness in our current apartment. Being mature adults with excellent executive function, we adopted a deliberative, organized approach.  To wit:

  • Question:  what is the maximum number of people we could feed in one sitting in the new apartment?
  • Answer:  eight.
  • Therefore we bring only eight dinner plates to the new apartment.


I am pleased to report that we used the same procedure to determine the number of bowls – that decision was even easier, because we’ve broken some and only own seven. 

After the plates and bowls we ran out of time and just stuffed shit into boxes.

We did pause to discuss a few items.   Steve magnanimously offered to store, rather than bring, the food mill.   You probably do not own a food mill, and maybe you don't even know what one is.  A food mill is an old-school kitchen implement, hearkening back to days of yore.   There is a member of our household who believes a food mill to be essential for creating truly smooth sauces, utterly free from seeds, peels, or other somewhat-solid bits.  There is another member of our household who believes food mils to be essentially stupid, because we also own a blender and a food processor and an immersion blender and because really, who CARES if an odd tomato seed slips into your sauce? and because anyway all the vitamins are concentrated in the peels.

I dither somewhat longer over my spiralizer.  It is a beautiful thing, this spiralizer.   You plug in a zucchini or a carrot and you turn the crank and are then delighted with glorious veggie ribbons that you can roast or saute or serve raw with peanut sauce.  Spiralizers are the darling of the low-carb and paleo crowds.   Personally, I adore carbs and I think the paleo thing is pretty goofy.  But zucchini noodles are fun, carrot noodles have limitless potential, and sweet potato ribbons are positively sublime.

Steve has not yet come to fully appreciate the miracle that is my spiralizer.    I believe men are threatened by zucchini noodles.  It is perhaps best not to dig too deeply into the reason why.

Now that we're into July, our farm share is delivering boatloads of zucchini and carrots.

I am yearning to spiralize these babies!   Not a day goes by that I don't think wistfully of my spiralizer, languishing in a storage unit somewhere.   And the thing is we could have brought it, after all -- our new kitchen DOES have enough space (albeit on a high, out-of-the-way shelf):

Getting it out of storage is not really an option:   it costs a lot to get temporary access to dig things out of the storage unit; and anyway, I'd have no idea in what box to find it.   A new spiralizer, on the other hand, would only be $24.95 on Prime Day!

I add the spiralizer to my Amazon cart in the morning.   I throw in a few environmentally-friendly items (beeswax-covered cloth that is an alternative to plastic wrap; reusable silicone ziploc bags) -- kind of like a carbon offset.

Fortunately, my day gets really busy and I forget about the items in my cart until much later at night, and by that point I am more clear-headed about the whole thing.   There really is no excuse for buying a second spiralizer when I already own one that is perfectly good, even if it is a bit inaccessible at the moment.   Besides, if I were to buy a second spiralizer, Steve might get it into his head to buy another food mill.   And that would be criminal.

You might ask:   if I have truly foresworn future mindless acquisition, why do I even know when Prime Day is?

And I would say to you:  what, exactly, is your point?


The owners of the apartment we're renting have installed a high-efficiency cooling and heating system, featuring Mistubishi mini-split HVAC units.   There are a myriad of options for operating these units in very precise ways, all of which are represented by symbols whose meaning is not intuitively clear.  After spending about an hour with the manual (which is written in a language that is almost, but not quite, English), I figure out that in order to choose the highest-efficiency operation, you need to depress a tiny button -- the "Sensor" button at the very bottom of the remote control.

This button is too small to press with a finger -- you actually need to depress it with a sharp object, such as a paper clip.

Alas, I no longer have any paper clips.

But no worries:  Staples is having a sale.