Hinterland, Week Three: I didn’t buy a salt cellar (but I did buy a RainBowl)
Somehow, in many years of being enthusiastic about food, I have yet to be enthusiastic about using kosher salt.
I don’t know how this happened. I feel like I need to find a reality show called Culinary Confessions and share my story with the world.
However, working at Yellow Bird has shown me the error of my ways. It has also reignited my desire to make all of the things. So it only follows that last weekend, I became obsessed with a) buying kosher salt and b) making all of the things.
I also became slightly obsessed with c) buying a salt cellar, a thing I always thought of as a nice idea but could never remember its name or validate its purchase. For those of you who are less concerned with this subject, a salt cellar is basically a fancy home for salt. It usually features a swing top lid and some sort of sustainable sourcing of bamboo or olive wood or marble. No one in the entire world needs a salt cellar… but it’s an easy thing to want if you are inclined to want food-related things. And now, post-kosher-salt conversion, I felt like I finally had a reason to buy a salt cellar.
Remember last week when we talked about complacency and living simply? That’s a nice thought that becomes a nice reality when you decide to live off a very lean budget.
There is no room in my current budget for my salt to receive its own personal homestead.
$1.34 for a box of kosher salt?
All day every day. I got 99 problems and that ain’t one.
$20 for a salt cellar?
I can literally hear my budget laughing at how hilarious that is.
Aside from the fact that the salt can live quite comfortably in the box it came in… we have about a thousand glass jars in this house already. There was a lovely one in the basement that used to be a home for pumpkin butter and is now a home for the kosher salt.
This is the entire point of the lean budget exercise. It’s not necessarily about spending less money, although that is a side benefit. It’s not even completely about detaching from a consumer mentality, although that is an enormous benefit. It’s mostly about realizing that I already have everything I need—primarily intangibly, but tangibly, too.
I love seeing this jar every day. Aside from being more beautiful than any of the fancy salt cellars I was looking at, it serves as a visual reminder of a principle that makes me cringe a little bit. That glass jar would have sat in the basement, unused, for who knows how long. This is a normal thing that isn’t ever really questioned in our culture—having so much lying around in excess that you can’t quite remember what exactly you have.
I don’t want that to be a normal thing for me. Because in almost every case, I already have everything I need. I already have more than I need. So why would I buy something new?
It would be so nice and tidy if I could wrap this post up right here. I’m a responsible consumer! I’m learning valuable lessons! But because this is real life, there was more to this week than just a kosher salt victory.
A few days later, I bought two mini Salted Pumpkin candles at TJ Maxx because I’m still a white girl and it’s still October and I still have a hard time saying no to orange candles that smell like pumpkin pie and cost $2.99. I mean, come on…
But wait, there’s more! I also bought my mom a RainBowl for her birthday because, as per the product description, FUN AND SAFETY GO HAND IN HAND. And while I can think of few things more excessively American than purchasing a motion-activated party light for a toilet, I can also think of few things that are quite as memorable.
Basically, I have none of this figured out. I lean towards wanting black-and-white rules for life (thank you, Baptist heritage). And maybe if I had a rule about spending zero dollars on non-essentials I’d be writing this post about how I created a blend of mulling spices from some unused kitchen staples instead of buying those $2.99 candles at TJ Maxx. Maybe I would have made my mom weep with joy over something sentimental I made for her instead of buying her something you could find at a rave.
Or maybe rules like that make helpful guides but terrible masters, because real life is never black and white. Sometimes real people use what they already have and learn from it. And sometimes real people buy a RainBowl for their mom.
So let’s just settle the score for this week at +1 for glass salt jars, +1 for fall, +1 for birthday humor, and +1 for real life, and never having it completely figured out.
P.S. If you haven’t already, please do yourself a favor and read the complete product description for the RainBowl. I mean, just look at all of these happy customers, all but one of whom appear to be residually happy about their past/future RainBowl experiences.