Book Review: A History of Food in 100 Recipes

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A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell

A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell

This is a history book, not a recipe book. Sitwell takes us chronologically through a brief history of the world, revolving around food and storytelling.

The book starts out circa 1958-1913 BC with a recipe for Ancient Egyptian Bread, which was found on the wall of Senet’s Tomb in Luxor, Egypt. This is common through most of early history since published cookbooks didn’t appear for quite some time. Recipes are found drawn on walls, written on clay tablets, incorporated into stories, mentioned in the Bible, sung in songs, etc. People have been talking about food for centuries.

The book is laid out so each recipe gets it’s own chapter and discusses how food was used during that time. These are not recipes for you to cook by. But they do provide an amazing insight into the time and culture.

Here is a recipe for “Fish Baked in Fig Leaves” by Archestratus circa 350BC:

You could not possibly spoil it even if you wanted to… Wrap it [the fish] in fig leaves with a little marjoram. No cheese, no nonsense! Just place it gently in fig leaves and tie them up with a string, then put it under hot ashes.

Ratios weren’t standardized. Time wasn’t standardized. Many of these recipes are little more than ingredient lists.

The first cookbook published by a woman was in 1664, The Cooks Guide by Hannah Woolley. This was just one of several books and articles Woolley wrote on Household Management. Also, like many other cookbook publishers around this time, she was frequently plagiarized. It was discovered that some of the more popular cookbooks in their time had been copied directly from other cookbooks that few people saw. Historically, it’s all about who you know and what resources you have.

As for actually reading this, I loved the first three-quarters of the book. My knowledge of food within the context of history was definitely broadened. Although, I found the early chapters much more interesting than the later ones. The last bit of the book provides current recipes and details on modern food culture that I did not find as intriguing as cultural history.

Even with my interest waning towards the end of the book, this was one of the best food and history books I’ve read. The writing is very readable with a good balance of wit and knowledge. Sometimes the author pats himself on the back needlessly. Or ties in his family, the members of which have a place in food history. I could have done without that since it’s a history book not an autobiography. But I understand the author was excited to be part of this history.

It’s written in a way that you can skip around by recipe rather than chronologically if you’d prefer. There isn’t an overarching story that ties everything together. Although previous authors do get referenced later.

For anyone interested in history. Or anyone interested in culinary. I definitely recommend this book.

Title: A History of Food in 100 Recipes
Author: William Sitwell
Genre: Food, History
Rating: 4/5
Summary: A history-focused food book that tells a story through recipes; is not a recipe collection.

October Monthly Expenses in NYC 2014

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October 2014 Expenses and Average Monthly Spending in NYC

October 2014 Average Monthly Expenses in NYC

Rent in my building went up this month after the landlord did some infrastructure improvements. Since I live in a rent stabilized building, he had to special request this increase from the city. Then all of us residents had to sign and approve it. Unfortunately, this means my rent will increase again when I sign my lease in February. I am now paying a little over $1,400 to live in a 1BR in nowhere Brooklyn.

On the plus-side, this was a bonus-paycheck month, since I get paid bi-weekly. That paycheck went fully into my emergency savings. It is exactly what I needed to get building that back up again.

I got a little carried away with entertainment this month. I bought a FitBit One at the end of the month. And some MTG cards to put together a new EDH deck I’ve been thinking about for a while. These purchases were both close to $80. I also went to three Alkaline Trio shows in one week. I bought the tickets at almost face value off of craigslist. The tickets themselves totaled a little over $100. All of my booze costs this month, a whole $30, were just because of those shows.

Health costs this month are solely from running races in the nyc area. I’m doing more 10K’s than 5K’s now but these still cost between $30-$40. I have been using it as motivation for myself. And socialization with friends. But the costs are adding up. I am hopefully at a point where I don’t need races to motivate me to run. I have made the decision to not sign up for any other races this year. Most of the NYC races are in parks. As shutting down roads is too costly. They don’t shut down the park either. So paying $40 to literally run in a park that others are literally running in for free next to you is something I just can’t justify anymore.

Over the summer, I reduced my therapy appointments to every other week. Financially, this was a great decision. Spending only $200 on that a month helps a lot. Health-wise, I seem to be doing well with the new schedule, too. This makes me feel pretty good about things.

I’m trying not to worry too much about saving money with the cats. I have started giving them mainly wet food. It’s not a raw food diet or anything. But cat food cans are certainly more expensive than a giant bag of dry food. But the little one has sensitive teeth and is prone to UTI’s. So I want to keep them as healthy as I can.

Booze + Eating Out
I’ll talk more about my food costs below. I wanted to highlight just how little I spent in booze and eating out this month. I spent $28 in booze. And spent $26 eating out. The eating out costs are exclusively my $5 bagel breakfast sandwich I buy every Friday. That’s it.

How Much Money Do I Save by Eating at Home?

I don’t normally break down expenses like this. But I’m continuously intrigued by my food spending this year. Before July, I had some extra money and was dating someone. This meant, eating out or getting delivery for dinner, a lot. More importantly, that meant not having leftovers for lunch. So I would frequently eat out for lunch and dinner. At the very least, I was consistent each month.

After August, I used my savings for an emergency so finances were extra tight. I also was out of that relationship. When I’m only feeding myself, I can be much less picky. I never order delivery for just myself. I never eat out by myself. This means, I was doing a lot more cooking at home. And cooking at home means leftovers. Leftovers means I don’t have to buy lunch out every day. That is the real cost savings.

Combined Food + Groceries:

  • Jan: $336
  • Feb: $339
  • Mar: $393
  • Apr: $298
  • May: $366
  • Jun: $362
  • Jul: $353
  • Aug: n/a
  • Sep: $260
  • Oct: $255

I traveled for most of August so I’m excluding those costs as it is an outlier anyway.

September and October grocery costs are also including a dinner party I hosted for several people. I’m able to do afford hosting things like this now that I’m spending so much less money on eating out.

Cooking meals at home that give me leftovers to eat for lunch the next day is saving me about $100/month.

Creation Vs Consumption: Finding the Perfect Balance

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Consumption and Creation are the Base of Everything We Do

We need a balance of creation vs consumption in our lives to be happy & successful. This balance should be 60% Creation, 40% Consumption. Creation leads to real accomplishments. Consumption is necessary in the process of creation. But consumption should never be the goal itself.

Why Consume?

Creation cannot exist without consumption. However, creation will not occur if we consume 100% of the time. We create, to make things better. To improve upon what already exists. To give our unique take on something. To create something new. To create something customized.

But you need to know what is already out there first. You need to know the weaknesses. What is lacking. The competition. What makes something great? What makes something not great? What you should copy. And what you shouldn’t. This is why we consume.

Every writing reference book I’ve read recommends reading reading reading reading reading everything. Read poetry, journals, periodicals, non-fiction, fiction, reference, memoirs, all genres. Regardless of what you want to write. Just read everything.

We need a base. We need ideas. We need inspiration. We need to find our passion. We need to disagree with something and write a counterargument. We need to agree with something and write a clearer argument. We need to get mad or fall in love.

Examples of things we consume:

  • Food we didn’t make
  • Media (TV/Movies/Books)
  • Products & Services
  • Internet (Wikipedia/Blogs/Forums/Social Media)

Why Create?

Doing nothing but consumption can be boring. It isn’t challenging. It doesn’t stimulate our critical thinking. While consumption can get us thinking. Too much is overload. Too much consumption and we lose our energy. We lose our motivation to create.

We get sucked into thoughts that “this is the best”. We surround ourselves thinking about one tv show, book series, or movie. We consume more and more information about this interest. Instead of creating a new show, series, or movie. Why make something when someone has already done it for us? We grow lethargic.

Creating keeps our mind fresh. It keeps us on our toes. It keeps us learning. Motivated. Accomplishing tasks and goals feels good.

Goals can only be accomplished by creation. These accomplishments directly lead to success.

It makes us feel we are worth something. Even merely writing your opinion in a product review is creating something. Because creation is a process. You do not just learn how to create one thing. You experience an entire process by creating.

After consuming a movie, you might say “I loved it!” And if someone asked you why you loved it, you would shrug and say “I don’t know, but it was really good.” And why was it really good? “I don’t know, it just was.” That is consumption.

But now, let’s actually write a fully thought-out opinion on what you loved about the movie. The characters? The soundtrack? The setting? The time period? Do you love all movies set in that time period? Is it because you love history? You thought the story was historically accurate? That is creation.

And in that process you may realize some aspects of your own preferences you hadn’t thought about before. Our opinions are more than simply love/hate. We are more complex than that.

Examples of things we create:

  • Energy by working out (races, bike rides, bootcamps)
  • Meals (customized to our preference, for friends, dinner party)
  • Stories (via blogs, forums, social media, long-form, video, audio)
  • Friendships/relationships (by maintenance and putting ourselves out there to meet new friends)
  • Opinions (reviews, editorials)

Create One Thing A Day

Often times, you may find yourself just staring at your mobile device. Or staring at your laptop. You’re bored. And are waiting for something new to appear for you to consume. You refresh all your social media accounts. Nothing new for consumption. You go over to Wikipedia and consume. You’re just sitting at your screen consuming for a long while.

Fine, that’s okay. But an alternative to waiting for something to happen to you, is to create. Just start writing. Or recording. Or drawing. Draw a re-enactment of that Wikipedia article. Write a story set in the same time period. Write a blog post sharing this information.

Instead of just researching recipes, actually make one. What’s the worse than can happen? Throw it away and order pizza.

Creation is scary. It can be a risk. It is personal. It is putting ourselves out there. It can fail. Or it can succeed.

Consumption just is. It doesn’t result in an active accomplishment. Consumption-based goals are not accomplishments. You can’t fail at consuming something. Or succeed. It’s not scary. It’s not a risk. It is the safe route. Reading 50 books in a year is easy. Writing one is scary.

Keep That 60/40 Balance, Focused on Creation

I recommend a general 60% Creation 40% Consumption balance in our lives. Because there are times we will want to create create create. We will want to write all the stories, or blog posts. Speak at all the conferences. And make all the meals. But we can’t forget to consume. Because consumption, at 40%, keeps us on our toes. It keeps us learning. And then we can create to share this information. Or to make it better.

Finding our personal balance between creation vs conusumption directly correlates to happiness. Even in failure, our lives are happier when we are creating. And producing anything brings us closer to our goals and to success.

NaNoWriMo Excerpt: Introduction

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For the past four years I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo; National Novel Writing Month. I don’t know if I will ever do anything with the stories. But the process of writing. And coming up with new ideas, is fun for me. Fun, I use that loosely. But I enjoy the challenge.

I also enjoy the act of writing this fiction a bit more than blogging. The immediate nature of blogging can feel overwhelming. But with this fiction, it has time to grow before I share it with people.

But this year I have decided to help keep myself accountable. And to prevent myself from churning out empty words. By sharing excerpts of my story on here.

I wrote 2,613 words yesterday. 50,000 is the goal. Below is some of what I’ve written.

Remember, December is for editing.

She drove into Atlanta nervous as usual. There was always traffic and people walking around. She actually did not consider herself a small-town girl. But she did enjoy the comfort of being home. Being able to hear crickets every night. Looking out her window to see for miles. Atlanta was certainly different. She knew it was a small city. But it was still a city and it made her nervous. She wasn’t necessarily worried about her safety. But there were so many people. She was worried about getting lost. Or getting a parking ticket.

Part of her liked that she didn’t have many friends in Atlanta. This made her feel almost invisible. In a good way. In a fearless way. Who would notice if she wasn’t wearing the latest trends? Because she certainly would not be. And who would notice if she tripped and made a fool of herself. Because she certainly would. No one there knew who she was. She liked that. And was frightened by it at the same time.

The last time she was in Atlanta was six months ago. January 21st, 2013. She came in for a concert. Events were the only reason for her to come down here. Music. Books. Plays, sometimes. She never really felt she was missing too much. The drive was easy enough. Although she rarely wanted to make it on a weeknight. Today was an exception of course.

Hannah wandered around the bookstore pretending to peruse. Well, she was perusing. But she was also staring blankly at the shelves lost in her own thoughts. The event didn’t start for an hour and was barely set-up. She walked around looking at all the titles. The authors. The book covers. When the store finally started putting out chairs, she had an intense conversation with herself over whether to sit down or not.

I don’t want to sit over there all by myself. No one else is sitting down. I’ll wait until another person sits down. Okay, someone just sat down. But I don’t want them to talk to me. And if we are the only two people there, they will probably talk to me. I kind of have to pee. Why don’t I put back this book that I’ve been holding and not looking at. Go to the bathroom. Then when I come back, the seats are more likely to be filled up and I will sit down then.

Whew. That was a lot of thinking for such an unimportant decision. As was the usual case.

Hannah walked upstairs to the children’s section, where the bathrooms were. There was only one and it was occupied. Good, this will help kill some time. But I hope not too much time. I don’t want all the seats to be filled when I get back. She tried to look over the railing but wasn’t able to see the event space from her location.

Should I go back down? I can probably hold it. Can I hold it? What time is it? As she glanced down at her phone, the door opened. A girl her age with a pixie haircut, t-shirt and jeans, and red converse, came walking out. Hannah went in and did her business. She had noticed the girl’s t-shirt right away. It was for Bishop’s Collar. The band she had come down to see in January. She hadn’t bought a shirt. But the show was good.

I’m trying to write the main character as neurotic, anxious, and annoying. She will, hopefully, become less annoying as time goes on and she grows up.

Think of a Therapist as a Personal Trainer

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In my bubble of a 30-something in NYC, talking about therapy is fairly common. It nonchalantly comes up in conversations. And most of the people I meet go to one. So I was recently surprised when someone, outside of my bubble, was embarrassed about starting therapy. They told me, “I’m only going to her until I get out of this funk. Don’t let it get around.” This person was seriously ashamed about seeking help.

Why does seeking out help have such a stigma to it? Well, only certain types of help right? Getting help to improve your physical health isn’t looked down upon. Having a nutritionist, diet counselor, or personal trainer isn’t embarrassing. But there are different aspects of our health. And mental health is just as important as physical health.

You hire a personal trainer to get our bodies in shape. So why is it so weird to hire a personal trainer to get our minds in shape?

Why Do We Need Help in the First Place?

There are thousands of books on running, eating healthy, and working out. You’ve probably read a few of these. You know exactly what you need to do. You need to eat less, work out more, eat less fats, and eat more vegetables. Yet, you’re not doing that. You know what you need to do but you don’t do it. Or you do it briefly. Sporadically.

The same is for emotions. There are thousands of self-help books on controlling your anger, interpersonal communications, and relationships. You know exactly what you need to do. You need to stay calm, think before you speak, and open yourself up more. Yet, you’re not doing that. You know what you need to do but you don’t do it.

We Are Only Human

So, if you know what we need to do, why aren’t you doing it? Well, you’re only human. We all need help sometimes. We need to be held accountable and encouraged. This is why books & reading don’t work. They’re not as motivating as one person. You don’t have anyone to answer to when reading a book. But when you see a personal trainer or a therapist, you check-in with this person once a week. They help you stay on track. And they give you a break when you need it. This is also why most training plans in books aren’t always practical.

Unfortunately, talking about mental health can be embarrassing because it is so invisible. Until it’s not, of course. If you tell someone you’re seeing a physical trainer, they will likely be happy and encourage you. Maybe you’ve had some unhealthy eating habits lately. These can be noticeable. But it’s more difficult talking about therapy. You can’t always see mental illnesses. Especially when people hide them.

It needs to become acceptable everywhere to care about our mental health. Seeing a therapist doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Just as seeing a personal trainer doesn’t mean you’re obese.

If you’d like to start seeing a therapist but am not sure how to go about it, here’s a little guide.

Winning Web Awards Since 1997

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Unofficially, I’ve received the Versatile Blogger Award. Or I’ve been nominated to receive it? I don’t know how it works. Really, it’s a chain letter. Recipients are supposed to write seven “interesting facts” about them. Then nominate (award?) fifteen other blogs. Well, since I was only unofficially nominated, I’m breaking the rules.

Website Awards 4Ever

Looking at this award reminded me of the first website award I ever received. In highschool I loved music. So I decided to create a lyrics website hosted by Geocities. Of course. I painstakingly wrote individual html files of lyrics for songs & albums that I liked. It was pretty subjective.

Actually, when the site began, I hosted midi files too. And for some reason I had a Stone Temple Pilots midi file auto-playing on the site. I remember being told that my site didn’t qualify for a web award because of the auto-play music. Once I took that off… winner!

The first website award that Lyrics site won was called… I have no idea. And I don’t know why website awards are still occurring almost 20 years later. Winning one mattered nothing back then and still matters little now. Although back then it was certainly less of a circle-jerk chain letter. Someone was simply telling you that they like your content and work.

It All Began on Geocities

Thinking back to that first award made me also think back on the evolution of the web as I’ve seen it. It seems like I’ve been on the Internet a very long time. I first began teaching myself HTML when I was 14 years old, in 1996. The Lyrics site began in 1997. I stopped working on it in 2004. That’s seven years.

After the first year, I moved the site off of Geocities and onto FTP space provided by our local ISP provider. Back when Internet and Cable were not tied together. Our ISP offered a limited amount of web space with every account. At first, every time you uploaded a file, you had to send an email with the subject “Update” before it would be fully published. After a month of me sending hundreds of these emails, they finally changed their policy.

Surprisingly, this Lyrics site was pretty popular. I remember receiving numerous emails a day requesting songs. Or general emails from people who liked the same music. This was before SEO and social media. The Internet was much less organized. I am still currently in contact with people I met through the site.

And Then The Blogging Begins

In 2000, I started a blog on the Blogger platform. Before Google owned them. It was a two-person blog, written by me and my boyfriend at the time. We took advantage of the free web hosting provided by Michigan State University to all students. This was a full-on personal blog. I have no idea why people read us. But they did. And I made a few close connections through it. Monetizing blogs wasn’t really happening then. Social Media wasn’t what it is today. MySpace was just starting. We closed the blog in 2004 after a mutual break-up.

Also in 2004, I bought my first domain name. That started it all and now I own way too many.

The Current State of Blogging

I didn’t start blogging again until 2009. In the five years between, I moved from Michigan to New Jersey. And juggled jobs a little bit to try to find a career path. Money was definitely tight. I was hired as a straight-up php web developer. I wrote php code and mssql queries all day long. These are skills I can do but don’t quite enjoy them. And they aren’t very creative.

My love for budgets began in college. Where I also had little money. I discovered The Simple Dollar and created a budget spreadsheet. I continued reading about Trent for years. But in 2009 I grew fed-up with his midwestern, family focus. By this time, installing Word Press was far less tedious that it had been years ago. So I decided to buy a domain, purchase hosting, and start a Word Press blog. I wanted to provide a financial perspective for other 20-somethings who were single/living alone or with roommates.

By this time, Twitter and social media was important. Just like my previous sites, I have made numerous connections and friendships. I’m still enjoying writing and web publishing. I like having a web development background. I still use it from time to time but thankfully it is no longer my career.

I’ve Been On The Internet Too Long

In the 17 years I have been on the Internet, I’m pretty proud of the three websites I’ve started from scratch. And now I can say that two out of three of them have received an all-important website award.

What Have You Done That You Didn’t Think You’d Do?

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What have you done in your life that you never thought you would or could do?

Focus on your accomplishments instead of dwelling on “what am i doing with my life?”

After recently having a birthday. And being single and over 30. Sometimes I have the passing thought of “what am i doing with my life?”. And “I never thought my life would be like this.” I don’t have these thoughts often. And thankfully I no longer get wrapped up in them like I did when severely depressed. But they still pop up every now and again.

Stop Those Thoughts. Reverse It.

One way to talk yourself out of these self-deprecating thoughts is to turn it around. Instead of thinking about what you haven’t accomplished that you thought you would, think about what you have done that you never thought you could.

As a child I probably thought I’d be married by now. As a child I also thought 30 was “old age”. And also as a child, I never thought I would be running half marathons. I never thought I would see the Northern Lights. I never thought I would live in NYC.

There are plenty of things that I never thought I would, could, or wanted to do in my life. Yet I am here doing them.

I Could Never Do That

Running is the top thing I never thought I would do. And I mean that. I had actual thoughts saying “I will never run for fun. I hate running. Why do people run?” (Okay, I still have these thoughts).

In school, I hated gym class. I wasn’t out of shape or overweight. I just hated gym class, physical activity, running, sports, teams, competition, etc. I wasn’t very good at it and didn’t care either way. I didn’t participate in any sports through school.

Above all, I hated running. Part of the New York State physical fitness test is to have every student run a mile. During the yearly mile run, I would be in the back, walking it, with the other gym class outcasts. I wouldn’t even attempt to run it. I wouldn’t even start out jogging. We were just walking and chatting. Didn’t care.

I started running for health in college. Even now I still don’t enjoy it. But I do it. It keeps me healthy. Running is absolutely something I never thought I would do. I never thought I could be capable of running any distance. Let alone a half marathon. Let alone that would turn into a hobby.

Change Your Focus To Remind Yourself Of Your Strengths

So sure, I haven’t yet done a lot of things I thought I would do by the time I was 30. But I’ve had the self-discipline to start and continue running. To challenge myself many times. To stay fit & healthy. To stay motivated and ambitious.

Besides, what did 18-year old me know about anything anyway?

Netflix Instant Satire: Fido, Team America, Galaxy Quest

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Fido (2006) / Zombie Satire

Fido Horror Comedy on Netflix

Zombies movies are overdone. Even sarcastic ones. But Fido is still worth watching. It’s set in a world that has a handle on its zombie problem. Zombies can be tamed and essentially controlled with a hi-tech collar. Zombies are kept as pets, servants, and for manual labor. Killing zombies and keeping them around trained is perfectly normal. So this isn’t so much about an unexpected zombie attack. It’s simply about life with zombies.

The main character is a young boy named Timmy who has a pet zombie named Fido. There you go. The 1950’s-esqe world grows a little tiresome but it also adds to the humor. The film is a good mix of old and original zombie concepts. Plus it’s fun to think about a functioning world with zombies. Rather than the usual dystopian tales.

For Halloween season, this is a good pick. The humor keeps it from being too scary. Yet there is enough gore to satisfy a horror fan.

Runtime: 92 min
Leslie Rating: 4/5
Summary: The wit of Sean Of The Dead with more gore.

Team America: World Police (2004) / Animated Satire

Team America on Netflix

Continuing the theme is a movie whose entire premise is based on satire. Team America does little other than parody action movies and the state of politics at that time. And that’s what makes it great.

Nothing about the film is politically correct. And little is subtle. One of the more memorable scenes for me was the montage. Some of the lyrics, “If you want to go from beginner to a pro, you need a montage”. Classy.

This in-your-face humor isn’t typically my style but I actually quite enjoyed Team America.

Runtime: 97 min
Leslie Rating: 3/5
Summary: Over-the-top satirical take on action movies and Bush politics.

Galaxy Quest (1999) / Sci-Fi Satire

Galaxy Quest on Netflix

Galaxy Quest works off the premise of real aliens mistaking sci-fi tv actors for actual heroes in space. Sure, it’s predictable. But the great cast work well off each other. And it’s enjoyable straight through.

There’s quite a few big names here with Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, and Sigourney Weaver. But thankfully the movie doesn’t get muddled. In the movie, they all play washed-up actors on an old sci-fi tv show (think: Star Trek). They are all tired of playing these characters but still make an appearance at a sci-fi convention. It is there they are approached by a real space team in trouble! Oh now!

Sure it’s a predictable plot but it’s a good-natured one and you will smile.

Runtime: 102 min
Leslie Rating: 3/5
Summary: Sci-fi actors need to save the planet, for real this time.

Prevent Burn Out By Not Completing Tasks Every Day

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Stop doing things every day to prevent burnout and actually reach your goals

Customize the Goal Tracking Spreadsheet to meet your goals without burnout

Habit creation really can be a challenge. Often times, we tell ourselves that to make something a habit we have to do it every day. Every. Single. Day. And for the first week you actually do it. Because you’re excited! This is great! I feel great flossing every day. Or sweeping every day. Or doing sit-ups every day. But this is actually not sustainable nor necessary for most tasks.

Inevitably we fail. Once the excitement wears off. The one day we get tired. We don’t do it. Now your whole streak has fallen apart. Now the entire week is completely ruined because you missed a day. And if the week is now ruined, why not just skip tomorrow? Let’s just call this week a wash and start anew next week. But then next week comes around and you’ve completely lost your momentum. Now you feel guilty for messing up last week. And have lost all interest in having flossed teeth or photoshop-esque abs.

Setting Ourselves Up For Failure

When it comes to goals & habits, we constantly set ourselves up for failure. It is unrealistic to go from never doing something to doing something every single day. Of course you’re going to screw up. You’ve spent hundreds of days not flossing your teeth before bed. And all of a sudden we expect ourselves to diligently become a flosser overnight. You have never flossed before but now you will floss your teeth every single day for the rest of your life.

That’s just not how things work. That’s not how our brains work. Our brains don’t like big scopes. Well, we use big scopes as an excuse. At some point, you decide that flossing every single day is hard. Or you don’t have time to sweep the floor every day. Or you’re just too tired to do sit-ups tonight. And when you think about having to do this again tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Well, our brains just tell us to give up. That is too many sit-ups. Too much sweeping. And too much flossing.

The Key to Forming Habits is Keeping a Routine

Instead, I will argue to set-up a weekly routine to help form habits. Even if these are to be daily habits like flossing. Start out with low expectations.

Change “floss every day” to “floss Wednesdays and Sundays”. That’s it. Two days a week. It is far easier to transition from nothing to 2, than nothing to forever. And flossing two days a week is still better than not at all!

What this does, is help you develop a routine. Monday is for sweeping. Tuesday is a break day. Wednesday is for flossing. Thursdays are sit-ups. Fridays and Saturdays you’re free. And Sunday floss again. Mentally, this is far easier for our brains to tackle. And it makes you less likely to skip a day.

Before, I would skip flossing because I’d tell myself that I’ll just do it tomorrow. And I’m only skipping one day. But now, I have it in my head that flossing is on Wednesday and Sunday. I don’t need to skip it if I’m only doing it twice a week. Then over time, I’ll realize that it’s not too difficult. And I can extend this habit to Friday’s. Until eventually I’m flossing every day because it doesn’t feel like a chore. And it actually feels weird when I don’t do it! That is the sign of a fully established habit.

It’s Okay To Break The Chain

This does go completely against Seinfeld’s chain method. I get it. You do something every day to get better at it. But you can’t start out that way. You have to build up to it. Ideally, you do want to floss every day. But you can’t immediately start flossing every day. Because this is why we fail at our goals so often. This is why we never completely form habits.

Tracking non-daily weekly goals sets us up for easy wins. And these easy wins keep us motivated. And excited to keep going. With small requirements, we are less likely to fail. We don’t like failing. Failing means we quit. This way, our motivation stays constant.

Having a routine means your goals are flexible. Yes you should floss every day. But flossing four times a week is still better than not at all.

How To Track Weekly Goals

I’ve been successfully using my weekly habit-creation spreadsheet since June. In that time I have started flossing daily, cleaning up the kitchen before bed, and a few other habits part of my bedtime routine. I am trying to form new habits. But not too many at once.

Also remember, you won’t create a habit or reach a goal, if it doesn’t follow your life value. Every goal you make should be based on something you value in your life. You need to know why you have these goals in the first place. Many times, we are actually going after someone else’s goals. Thinking this is what we need to do to be successful.

What do you value? Health, Family, Friends? What are you doing each day to make sure your life follows those values? Some of these types of goals aren’t measurable. But that’s okay as long as you know why you want to do them at all.

Visiting the Museum of American Finance on Wall St

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The Museum of American Finance was founded in 1988. It is on Wall St, right next to the 2,3 subway stop. In the Financial District, of course. Just a few blocks away from the New York Stock Exchange. Admission is free on Saturdays; $8 other days.

The Museum of American Finance located at 48 Wall St in NYC

The Museum of American Finance located at 48 Wall St in NYC

The building is absolutely beautiful. It used to be the headquarters for the Bank of New York. It has a bank feel, which definitely works for the museum.

American Museum Finance Doors on Wall St

Exhibits & Information

History Exhibits in the Museum of American Finance

History Exhibits in the Museum of American Finance

This is largely a reading museum. Although very educational, half of the museum is focused on the stock market and likely wouldn’t hold the attention of a small child. There are many hands-on interactive pieces but these focus more on text than images. This is a museum for adults who love history or money or both.

The former headquarters of the Bank of New York is now home to the Museum of American f Finance

The former headquarters of the Bank of New York is now home to the Museum of American f Finance

The upper part focuses on history. There is an exhibit on the history of American currency, Alexander Hamilton, Checks & Credit, and the Federal Reserve. This includes lots of historical tidbits. I really do recommend reading everything.

Investment Choices and Information at the Museum of American Finance

Investment Choices and Information at the Museum of American Finance

The lower part focuses solely on the stock market, stock exchange, and investments. The history of the Dow Jones is a great exhibit. Pieces of history are discussed in context of whether the stock market dropped or increased. Pretty interesting if you’re into economics history.

Warren Buffet on the Stock Market

There a few really great panels educating investing. I think I learned more about individual investments in this exhibit than I ever did from pf blogs & Internet literature on the topic. It breaks down what the types of investments are. Where your money goes. How to read a stock ticker. How to calculate yield. Plus some history of the stock market and key investors.

Yield calculation

Museum of American Finance is Worth the Trip


It should take you about 1–2 hours to see everything in this museum. I left in a little under two hours and I took the time to read everything. It’s a small museum but definitely worth a stop. Especially if you are into American history. Or economics. And live in nyc. There is no reason not to stop by here on a Saturday. It’s free. And in an easily accessible part of Financial District.

Free admission every Saturday

Free admission every Saturday

If you’re visiting, it’s difficult for me to recommend spending limited time here. But if it really piques your interest, you’ll find it’s worth it.