I’m cradling an exquisite mug I bought from the London Clay Art Centre run by the London Potters Guild. The photo doesn’t do Elly’s Pottery Productions justice but you get the idea.
It’s a delight to drink from, to hold and to look at. My partner and I have both had full time jobs for the past 7 months (after 12 years of contract work, being students and other cobbled-together financial solutions) and I am mindful of the privilege that brings. We recently sat down for our annual budget deliberations to see if our spending aligned with our values.
“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden
We value time together which means our default is to eat out when we can. It is the Achilles heel to our otherwise frugal impulses. The kitchen in the house we rent is small, it makes food prep cramped and by necessity a solitary endeavor. Good food takes time and, with both of us working outside the home, a very late dinner indeed. But I’m off on a tangent so back to budgets and values.
We buy second hand, receive hand-me-downs, make stuff and try to buy quality when buying new to reduce our consumption overall. Our vacation plans are car trips to see family back east, nothing involving flying or hotels, it’s just too much money & resources.
For Christmas our stockings were filled with great goodies from Weezi’s like handmade soaps & journals made from upcycled books. We had chocolate made at Habitual Chocolate & coffee from Fire Roasted Coffee Company . It was all delightful and I got to look the people who made these wonders in the eye and thank them. I get to share the stories of what a great Christmas we had thanks to their good the next time I’m there. I know the money I spend at local shops gets reinvested into my community.
We’ve recommitted to not eating out as much to ensure we have the money to buy local and handmade when we can. When we go out to eat we choose independent restaurants that are locally owned, like Winks Eatery.
Our mug supply had been suffering from some serious attrition so when it came time to replenish I decided to follow through on that ongoing commitment and get handmade mugs. It turned out Elly was working the shop that day and we chatted about how the blue glaze changed as it got wet, how that matte finish felt in my hand and my love of coffee.
This beautiful and practical art is now part of my morning routine, it fits just so in my hand. It has a nice heft to it, like drinking out of it means something. It grounds me in the moment. The smell of the coffee, the feel of the glaze on my lips as I sip coffee organically grown, fairly traded and locally roasted. I feel connected to my community, I’m in the moment, far from my anxieties and worries and I’m very thankful I can afford to buy things in line with my values most of the time.