Vinyl Collecting Can Be Expensive

Recently I started to look into collecting vinyl records from some of my favorite bands. And don’t get me wrong, I know there are vinyl collectors out there growing in numbers with the resurgence of the medium, but there’s a difference between picking up standard pressings of records from some bands you sort of know and what I plan on doing. (I don’t mean to say this in some sort of elitist way, to be brutally honest. I suppose I’m just wanting to whine about the price difference in the records I’ll be collecting!)

You see, I wish I was going to be going after standard black wax pressings of my bands. But since I had to fall in love with a band that does a lot of alternate pressings that are quite rare, well, my wallet is bound to suffer over the next year when I start chasing down some of these albums.

It’s not just the fact that the alternate pressings exist. It’s the fact that they’re released in batches of 100 or 300 in a way to make them extremely rare. Only those quick enough to order them right away will get them brand new. Otherwise, you’ve got to look around on the aftermarket to pick up some of the coveted variants. And trust me, seeing some records go for over $150 on ebay isn’t the most fun thing when you really want that album.

I did discover that some people are fans of trading records though. So it gives me incentive to go through some of my cardboard boxes full of my partner’s dad’s albums from the ‘70s to see if there are any gems hidden within. At the very least, I could trade away some of the albums he didn’t want and we don’t care to listen to in order to snag some of the rarer albums from my favorite bands.

It’s a good thing we did decide to pack away a good portion of the records he gave us in some old cardboard boxes. We don’t necessarily have room for them, but we placed them in a few boxes in the back of our coat closet. They stay out of the way and aren’t in trouble of collecting any dust, meaning they shouldn’t lose any of their quality or conditions. So, lucky for me, I said “Yeah sure, I’ll take those” when he asked if we wanted any of his old records. Looks like it’s paying off now!

New Decade’s Resolutions

Just a week ago, we experienced not only the turn of the year, but the turn of a decade. People have made a huge deal about new year’s resolutions from one year to the next, and I’ve always found them quite silly considering people can make resolutions at any point in the year. However, I will admit that with the end of a decade and the beginning of a new one, it may be a good time to reflect on your last ten years and look forward to the next ten.

So, this should be approached as a new decade’s resolutions instead. If it were thought of like this by the masses, I’d have much fewer problems with the idea of resolutions, especially if long term goals are considered.

For myself, I’m looking to focus a lot more on my financial situation going forward as well as my health. If there are two things that impact my life the most down the road, it’s these. While other smaller resolutions are fun to tackle, nothing is as impactful as taking care of your body and mind while also building a solid financial base that will support you throughout life.

Regarding health, I know one thing I’ll be cutting back on this year (to prepare for the decade to come) is alcohol and candy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t drink every single day, and I’m not some sort of candy fiend who is always at the theater munching on whatever candy boxes I can get my hands on.

But still, I know that alcohol will slowly destroy my liver, and candy boxes are absolutely loaded with sugars that are not only bad for my body but my dental health as well. While they have been my little vices for the past few years, I know they haven’t impacted me too badly in the immediate here and now. But that sort of thinking is what gets you in trouble decades down the road. I don’t want to wake up one day and have some sort of heart problem or liver problem that could have been avoided back when I was this age.

I think if more people considered their health and life down the road when they made resolutions for the new year, things would be a lot less bleak. When we learn to look towards the future and learn from the past, real change occurs.

Does Anyone Truly Like Wrapping Gifts?

Wrapping gifts is one of those tasks that everyone sort of knows how to do, yet only a few truly enjoy the process. I mean, even if you went around and asked everyone you knew if they enjoyed wrapping gifts, the majority may say they like it, but their answer is always tied to liking it because they like giving gifts. Conflating the two usually means they wouldn’t just go out of their way to wrap gifts for fun unless there was a gift inside, meaning that enjoying the process is typically dependent on giving the gift.

And trust me, I’m one of those people who will flat out tell you that I’m not a fan of wrapping gifts. In fact, my partner and I decided this year for the holidays that we would just go out on a mini shopping adventure together and get things we thought the home needed. And I put emphasis on the word need here, because we’re trying to cut back on our expenses of gifts and things that are considered extra.

Still, I understand that I’ll still be wrapping some gifts that we got for my parents and her parents this year. And so, the dreaded process still looms.

I have noticed, though, that wrapping things is so much easier when you’ve got quality packaging supplies. If you choose to skimp on the materials, however, you’ll be met with a poor attempt at wrapping simply because the tape doesn’t stick well or your scissors weren’t sharp enough to make a straight cut.

So, if I had any advice to impart on you about wrapping gifts, it’s to go out and get some top notch packaging supplies. It may seem like a decent amount of money spent only on wrapping, which can be discouraging, but if you think about how you’ll get years of use out of your supplies, the expenses almost seem negligible.

Make sure to get things you know you’ll use, though. If you end up picking out different colored sharpies and fancy scissors that cut a certain pattern, reevaluate if you’ll actually use them. There’s no point in having much else outside of strong, adhesive packaging tape, a solid black magic marker, sharp and reliable scissors, and the best boxes around. (Of course, the boxes can be grabbed up for free depending on where you look. Just be sure to say no to weak, old boxes that look like they’re falling apart.)

Holiday Traditions

Every year on December 24th, I spend time doing absolutely nothing all day except eating and talking and watching movies with my parents, my partner, and my brother and his wife. It’s a tradition of ours to keep close to the core 6 and do nothing else but be in the presence of one another.

And when we get together for this day, it’s customary that we all prepare a dish or two of finger foods to munch on throughout the day. Oftentimes there’s a shrimp cocktail board, and we make sure to find the spiciest cocktail sauce around in order to get our horseradish dry heat kick. (It typically ends up devolving into a “Who can handle the most heat” contest between my dad, my brother, and me.)

Still, I’ve been excited thinking about what I may bring this year, especially now that my partner and I have gone plant based. While we’re sure to bring a few candy boxes along too, which are always traditional, they’re not something we actually made ourselves (though nonetheless, candy boxes are a great addition to finger food snacking).

I’m thinking some sort of dish like fresh homemade jalapeno poppers would do the trick. Considering we all like a little bit of heat in our food, it would be an upgrade from frozen jalapeno poppers that we used to have in years past. Or, now that I think about it, it could be fun to bring along one of our own little recipes that we recently found involving baby bok choy. If you’ve never sauteed some baby bok choy with soy and mirin, you have got to try it. The savory flavor with the bok choy’s fresh and pungent aroma is one of the best things I’ve ever had, and it’s ridiculously easy to prepare.

I think that traditions are meant to be updated from time to time. A tradition is just that because it’s always the same, but in my opinion, traditions should evolve a little bit along the way in order to keep it familiar, yet new and exciting.

No matter how you look at it, I would say my family has a pretty solid tradition set in place that won’t be going away any time soon. So many families put the emphasis on December 25th when it comes to the holidays, so it’s kinda nice that we all look forward to December 24th more than anything.

Growing & Learning During the Holidays

This past weekend my fiancee and I had our first vegan Thanksgiving with both of our families at separate events. And I’m proud to say that it honestly went a lot better than expected on multiple accounts.

To start, our families were both quite supportive, though we did catch a bit of flak here and there from certain family members that we wanted to avoid conversation with altogether. Nonetheless, it could’ve been a lot worse or annoying, so that was great. But we also were able to completely fill our plates and get multiple helpings of food, so there was no shortage of legit Thanksgiving comfort food made vegan by either us or our moms. I think that was the most surprising part: that we had so much good food to eat and it didn’t feel like we missed out on taste or being full enough (like many people think happens).

So, this already gives me hope for our trips home for Christmas. There’s always cardboard boxes filled with gifts to make us excited for going back home during the winter holidays, but it’s great that our dinners with family will continue to be great for them and great for us without missing out on anything good. (Though I must say that those very cardboard boxes disguised as colorful wrapping are my favorite still, even though I’m no longer a kid.)

This is encouraging not only for us and our future holidays with family, but it’s also great for our families to see that we’re just the same old people hanging out with the same old family and doing the same old traditions. I feel like some people let things that are new or different than them scare them into not wanting that thing around them. But if they just learned to embrace those things or at least the people who like/do those things, everything would be fine.

So, I just wanted to share how great it felt to go forward with something new but yet stay bold on our decision to do so. Sometimes when people go home to family, they compromise on some of their ideals or beliefs just to fit in with the family and not stir the pot. But sometimes bucking the system and traditions can be a very valuable thing for a family. Change is important to developing a relationship, and yet so many families remain unhappy because their relationships within the family didn’t evolve and grow for the better. And that growth was stunted because of a lack of change and new experiences.