SP Latte

Before I talk about this syrup, I want to talk about what it represents: indulgence.

This past weekend, I started a cleanse of my own. Nope, not the juice kind. Nope, not even the food kind.

I’m going through a bit of a material cleanse right now. Not in terms of getting rid of stuff (I actually do that quite a bit). More in terms of re-evaluating the things that I spend my money on and buy/consume without thinking too much about it.

Ever since I moved away from downtown Toronto and especially since my career took a better turn last year, I’ve never really struggled financially, and I’ve never been particularly foolish with money. I’m in a position where if something were to randomly happen to my car, or if Benny were to need some sort of emergency surgery, I’d be fine.

But I’ve realized that I could be doing so much better, and because I’m in a good position, I tend to occasionally plunk down money on things that I might need, but not immediately.

For example, clothes — for a long time, even when I was working full-time, I couldn’t justify buying new clothes because I didn’t have a ton of money, so I was stuck wearing the same crappy, poorly-shaped, faded, low-quality clothes I wore in university. Now that I’m in a better position, I buy clothes more frequently (and, to my credit, always get rid of old clothes). The thing is, I still haven’t learned the art of keeping only a small number of essential pieces. I owned a lot of clothes in university, so I’ve felt a need to replace my crappy, collegiate style at a 1:1 rate, but it should probably be more like 1:2 or 1:3.

Another thing is, to sound totally cliché, my daily Starbucks indulgence. I usually use Starbucks as nothing more than an excuse to get out of the office on my lunch break and do some writing. Why can’t there be a library or something close by? I’m not so into coffees/lattes that I feel an actual craving for them on the daily, so I really need to stop going to Starbucks out of boredom/convenience.

Okay, and another thing I need to stop doing: expanding on my collection of Lush pots. For someone who likes to tote a minimalist skin routine, I actually have a tendency to fall in love with a new soap scent long before my last one has run out. I work really close to a Lush and sometimes I just go in at lunch to smell all the smells and get away from everything, and I usually feel way too guilty to walk out without buying something.

I feel like I’m portraying myself as a spend-o-holic here. Don’t worry, I’m not over-the-top. But I definitely think everyone, even those of us who are financially comfortable, need to look at our spending habits a little bit more and wonder how much we’re actually spending on what we need.

Here’s my current vow:

  • No Starbucks for two weeks (I’m not ruling out coffee shops in general, but I go to Starbucks out of convenience and out of not actually wanting coffee.)
  • No Lush or any other toiletry product for two months.
  • No clothing purchases — not even an accessory — for one month.
  • Since the big seasonal clothing transition is approaching, I will be getting rid of no less than 20 clothing items and not replacing them.

I’ve also made a few vows for my at-home habits — no playing The Sims or 2048 for one month, and no watching The Office for one month. I know those sound like strange things, but those are probably the two things that, once I’ve done everything for the day — cooking, blog work, workouts, cleaning — that I fall into. I mean, you can argue that if you’ve tended to all your other responsibilities, what’s the problem? But I think by always falling into those habits, I’m limiting myself from trying something different, like reading a new book, playing piano or even doing a puzzle. Again, I’m not giving up TV, I’m giving up the show that is most convenient for me to watch reruns of (I have every episode) because I know that 99% of my drive to do those things is not out of genuine desire but convenience.

That’s it. Is it sad that I’ve felt a need to do this? I actually don’t think so! What this comes down to mostly is an exercise in self-discipline and also teaching me how to better use my time.

One of those better uses of time is coming up with cool original recipes (see the segue I did there) and knocking things off of my list of fall goals. I’ve actually accomplished a few so far and I might detail some on the blog. Here’s one of them, which started out as an attempt to make my own pumpkin spice syrup.

With it being October, pumpkin puree wasn’t actually available in stores, and damned if I felt like carving a pumpkin all by myself (I try to avoid mentioning this, but I have the visual artistic talents of a drunken sloth, and carving pumpkins would surely result in me accidentally painting my walls orange).

But then I saw sweet potato puree for about 50 cents cheaper than pumpkin puree, so, like, why not?

Sweet potato is, after all, sweet, and I have enjoyed a good sweet potato pie in my day. It doesn’t quite have the smooth, soothing taste of pumpkin, but that’s kind of what I like about it.

Here’s the sweet and spicy sweet potato latte, so you can possibly differentiate yourself from the #PSL crowd.

Sweet and spicy sweet potato latte syrup, makes about 3/4 cup of syrup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sweet potato puree
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup, maple syrup or agave (I don’t recommend a thicker sweetener like molasses or coconut nectar)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar, turbinado sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon or one cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, or one vanilla bean, seeded
  • Pinch of ground cloves

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and slowly warm on medium heat, stirring to ensure no burning on the surface.
  2. Once the sugar is dissolved and all elements are combined thoroughly, remove from heat. Strain out any solid pieces like the vanilla bean and/or the cinnamon stick.
  3. Let cool before transferring to an airtight container.
  4. Store in the fridge, but I recommend removing it for at least 30 minutes before using it in a drink!
  5. This also makes a great drizzle over vegan ice cream — mm!

So what are some of your indulgences that you might need a bit of a break from? What are your worst habits? What’s something you think you could be doing better with your time? Let me know in the comments below.