Saturday, March 29, 2008

Living Beautifully With the New Frugality




Morning by the Sea by Susan Rios from Allposters.com




There is a beautiful side to frugality going on all around us. Women who are coming home are discovering the beautiful life by what I call "creative resourcefulness."


Our basic needs are food and clothing, and even at that, we only really need enough to sustain us, not an abundance to indulge in or feel entertained by.


Here are some things that you do not need:


- You do not need to have your hair streaked and you don't need to pay for a tanning session. Even if you have your sister, friend or mother do it from a home-kit, that product is not a necessary expense. Instead, do as we did in the old days: if you are blond, rinse your hair in lemon juice and water, and if you are brunette, try vinegar, and go out in the sun and let the sun streak it naturally. Without all this trouble, it will streak in the sun and you will get your tan, especially if you are gardening and trying to grow some vegetables for your family table.


-You don't need posts in your skin. This costs money and is a health issue. Ask any dentist or doctor. The people who make money off naive young women who do this, ought to be locked up. Look at the photographs of the women of the 19Th century, shortly after the camera was invented. Without modern makeup, tattoos and skin-piercing posts, they had a fresh bloom in their faces and sweet smiles, highlighted by bright eyes. This kind of beauty is free. While cutting down on expenses, consider learning to cut your family's hair, and learning how to trim your own. You can now get videos and books that show you how. Doing your own hair at home will save you money, and the cost of driving to and from the hair clinics many times. I am not saying that everyone must do this, but if you are seriously trying to redeem your family finances so that you can stay home, this is one expense that is not necessary. Long-haired ladies do not have to have maintenance cuts as often, and can often get a friend to trim their locks.


-You don't need fizzy drinks, or coffee by the cup, which can add up to $45.00 a week. You do not need to eat out or buy prepared food. You can make the same things at home, and enjoy it with your own choice of company and music. Home made fries taste much better. The cost of food is considerably less when you only buy raw ingredients that have to be peeled, sliced, or cooked. It costs a lot more to get any kind of prepared food, because you are paying for the extra services of peeling and chopping, putting it into containers with a label, and shipping it somewhere.


-Women at home do not need to drink,smoke, gamble, or go to parties. The amount of money spent on these things could buy things of lasting value: a new couch, a new rug, or fresh paint for the house.


-You don't need to go to the movies or an expensive vacation. You can improvise and substitute things that are free. You do not need to buy seasons tickets or any tickets to ball games and concerts. They are pleasures but not necessarily needs. There may be nothing wrong with having any of the above-listed items, but if you are cutting down on expenses so that you can secure your position as full-time homemaker, they are not necessary. The Victorian women were entertained by reading, writing, doing puppet shows for their children with socks and handmade dolls, and they knew how to make up stories. In those days it was quite common for families, even those not rich, to have a piano in their house. The young people enjoyed exchanging sheet music and playing new tunes while others gathered around and sang. Even without instruments, families learned to sing in harmony and entertain themselves. The hub of life was the home, and to be invited to someones house for the evening would be a memorable event consisting of happiness and warmth. People used to make up their own jokes and invent their own games. Every family can do this today.


The Picket Fence, by Dwayne Warwick from Allposters.
You can plan day trips that are interesting vacation locations, and still be in your own bed at night. You can learn to relax at home, even while you are working. You can provide a place in your own back yard to have quiet moments. When your home is cared for and put in order the way you really like it, you won't want to leave it for long, anyway. With all the lovely corners you create in your house, being home will become a lot like a vacation, without the cost. Consider using the cost of a vacation for home improvement: a new stove (or even a new kitchen) new sheets and bedding, and new bath towels and things for your bathroom.

-Don't get in the car to go to the store for every little thing. Save up a list and make one trip, or ask your husband to get something on the way home from work.
-You, or your children, do not need 40 shirts and 20 pair of shoes. Try to wear out all your clothes and shoes before buying more, and when you buy more, think of ways to get them without spending a lot. If you sew, you do not have to buy expensive buttons or trims. Instead, clip them off the garments you are going to discard, and use them again. The 6-inch ruffle on Lillibeth's dress, was a cotton eyelet curtain valance we had kept in a drawer with laces because we had no use for it but thought it might be useful for some stitchery item some day. She did not have to do any cutting or unpicking or altering; she just sewed it around the hemline of her dress. Our grandmothers kept jars of buttons they clipped off old shirts before using the shirts to crochet into colorful rag-rugs. Sewers can use up their stashes of fabric, and scrapbookers can use up all their papers and embellishments.


When you are finished using up available materials in the home, challenge yourself to find a substitute before buying more. When you have a new attitude toward spending, you begin to look at things a little differently: an empty jar, a box, an old piece of furniture--even if broken, can take on new life when you look at it as a valuable raw material. Originally, materials do not come in labelled packages: you can make almost anything you are interested in. Before you go out and buy something, think of how the item came to be made in the first place, and you might possibly be able to make it yourself. I'm not suggesting that you waste a lot of valuable home-keeping time trying to make something like your own leather for shoes, but there are some things you really do not need to buy that can be substituted quite easily.

Many women are really good at decorating rich. When they do not have money for lavish furnishings, they manage to take something and make it look like the expensive item they want. It is a matter of style and taste, not money, that makes a home look beautiful, as many people are finding out.

When trying to be careful of extra expenses, entertainment and social life can be more enjoyable than ever. Just because you cannot afford to give an expensive dinner, does not mean you have to live in isolation. You can still have company and share some little thing. I used to know someone who would clean her house, bake some muffins, and then call us over for a cup of tea. That is all she had, but oh, did we enjoy sitting at her table and looking at her wonderful setting. Her hand made centerpiece was nothing more than a candle with some cranberries around the edge of it on a plate, but the atmosphere was complete joy. If you do not have flowers, you can always pick something from outside, put it in a vase, and tie with a colorful ribbon. An inexpensive meal prepared carefully and arranged beautifully on the platter is very elegant and hardly distinguishable from something expensive.

To live beautifully while being frugal, you can still be a good housekeeper. I have noticed some people who claim to be poor will also have smelly, musty, dirty houses with soil everywhere and the stench of dirty laundry. Children run around in diapers that have not been changed for two days, drinking out of cups that haven't been washed in a week. There is simply no excuse for this, as most poor women are still able-bodied enough to wash a dish. I know of single mothers who have a very low income that still manage to have a very beautiful home and clean children!
Painting by Consuelo Gamboa, from Allposters. (Enjoy a vacation in your own area, using simple things like picnics and tea parties.)
It does not take money to clean a dish and put things away. It does not take money to have some pride in your existence in the home. If you have no washing machine, some things can be washed by hand, and if you have no water, you can catch rain water with a bucket. People of the past could be poor, for sure, but many of them had a pride about them that required them to be clean, to have a tidy appearance, and to keep their houses neat, and they were resourceful enough to know how to wash their clothes and bathe themselves and their children. Other people who have a sense of dignity, will so live that you can't even guess that they are enduring hard times. Cleanliness and neatness, home cooking, and upright living, will go a long way to making life at home beautiful even if you do not have money to spend.

Here are some ideas for using less, so that the products you buy last longer.
-You can probably use less detergent. Too much detergent makes it harder to rinse off the clothes, which then can make people have quite itchy skin.

-Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. The fruit has a lot more properties in it that are good for you. Buying juice means you are paying someone to squeeze it and bottle it.

-Buy fresh vegetables and cut them yourself, and learn to cook them so that they taste good, instead of buying frozen. If your electricity, for any reason, gets knocked out, the frozen things will spoil anyway. Cooking with fresh ingredients is like gourmet cooking, which is what a lot of the popular television shows feature. You can do this at home and experience the satisfaction of eating something that is very good for you in an atmosphere that is better than a fine restaurant.

-Read the ingredients on packages of your favorite foods and figure out how to make them yourself. Often a flavoring is only garlic and salt. Italian season consists of oregano, basil and a few other ingredients, all which you can use yourself to make your favorite salad dressing or sauce. Just about everything you buy can be made by using basic ingredients at home.

-Get out your stack of magazines that you have saved from years gone by. Pick the current month and display them on one of the tables. Read them when you need to sit down and rest. They are very refreshing! Sometimes when I tell people that I do that with old issues of Country Woman or Romantic Homes, they "feel sorry" for me, but now, I do not do it because of poverty. I enjoy it! I see things in a different way when I have not seen them for a year. It is like taking out a box of old letters and reading them again. After all, many magazines cost as much as a book these days. Why not get them out and make use of them, even if it is for clip art for scrapbooks.

-Consider growing a garden. It does not have to be an ordeal. Just put some seeds in some soil and water them. I knew of one woman who was not in good health one year, so she just pulled up some weeds and grass, and put seeds in the loose soil and covered them up. Her children watered them, and she had a harvest. She did not have a tiller or a shovel, but she still grew some tomatoes and cucumbers. If you only have a tomato plant, your yield will be good enough to save you some money at the grocery store. During the World Wars, Americans and British had "Victory Gardens." Each family was encouraged to plant seeds and make themselves independent. They would then share what they could, with others. I think whether there is a war or not, everyone can have a victory garden, even if it is a bean plant in a pot on the front porch. Declare it victory over financial burdens and poverty, victory over helplessness, or victory over going to the store for every bite you eat, and independence from having to spend your entire income on food.
Now here are some things you do need:

-You do need to pay your monthly house rent or payment. Therefore, it will be necessary to eliminate the above "do-not-needs" in order to protect the money for that payment.

- You do need your electricity. There are many ways of cutting back on it so that rooms are not left with lights or fans on, and things are not left running all day long.

- You do need your water. If you don't spend money on unnecessary things, you assure yourself of the availability of money to pay for your household water supply. Sometimes young women who have quit work to be homemakers, do not realize the cost of water and electricity. They have worked in places where it seemed to be all paid for, and did not realize how it could be conserved. If you can look at your electric meter and watch the numbers roll by, you can understand how the things you turn on or plug in can make your energy costs rise. The more you spend on things you "want," the more likely you are to lose the things you need: light, water, rent, fuel. Keep these at the top of your list as priorities, and you will be able to find many substitutes for other things.

-Learn the many uses of age-old, basic, natural ingredients like vinegar, olive oil, hydrogen peroxide, Epsom salts (I think I read somewhere that this was good for the garden)soda bicarbonate, corn starch and many other common kitchen items. You will not have to spend on expensive medicines and cleaners.

I can tell you from living both ways--both well off and poorer, that I enjoyed the creativity of the frugal times much better. I quite liked my fringed muslin curtains, and didn't miss the expensive drapery and the accompanying complicated hardware. I enjoyed stenciling the walls and didn't miss expensive wall paper that was hard to remove and couldn't be painted over. I liked doing without a car. It gave me hours and hours of freedom to complete jobs and to cook dinner early and have it ready by evening. I was not rushed.
Using a car in the daytime is nice, but it takes a huge chunk of time and can leave a nervous, anxious feeling similar to that of rushing to work and back home. When I didn't have fabric to sew, I enjoyed looking around for unused sheets, table cloths and other fabrics in the house that I could dye, cut and sew for other things. I liked framing scenic pictures from magazines and using them for pictures in the house. A smaller house was easier to take care of an cost less to paint and decorate. It was cheaper to heat. I could hear everything around me. There were many advantages to living a more frugal life.
Being frugal does not mean your house will be unlovely. With the same fabric you make your curtains, you can make a matching tablecloth and napkins and a few runners and doilies, edged in fringe, for other pieces of furniture. You can often coordinate everything much better than if if you were looking for something in a store. Being frugal means you won't have as much clutter and junk as you would if you went to the stores more often. Your house can actually look better. Being frugal means you can make gifts and give them from the heart. It means you will be less wasteful and more mindful of the hard earned money that could be saved.

Daughters at home need to learn how to make do without spending. Even if they are going to have money to spend, there is something sad about not having the inner resources to survive if needed. They need to be able to, if necessary, do without, make things do, or create something out of practically nothing. It uses the creative skills and gives them more interest in life.

I observed girls who had grown up in families where everything was provided for them. They never had a moment's concern about money or about making things do. When these girls got married, they were bored and unhappy. They seemed to have no challenges or goals. I believe frugality is something that the Proverbs 31 woman had in mind when she "looketh well to the ways of her household." She might have been watching for unnecessary waste. Frugality is actually quite fun, for you can start laughing at the world and its insistence that you need to buy everything. It isn't' true. We can get along with merely a shelter and food and adequate clothing to cover our bodies. If we get extremely poor, we can sell our out-grown, torn, faded, threadbare clothes at a high price to famous actresses and call them "Designer Threads."

44 comments:

MsMarla said...

What a lovely post. I enjoyed reading this very much and am inspired to look for more ways to "use it up; wear it out; make it do or do without!"

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

The lady I mentioned that used to call us over for tea did something quite clever: she had company right after she cleaned her house. Everyone knows the house doesn't stay perfectly clean for long, and the best time to have company is right away after it is in order. She may have cleaned it up with that in mind.

Anonymous said...

Must be the Lord speaking through you to get my attention. I've been pondering to look for outside work. I am sure it is because I sometimes fear the unknown and am not always comfortable with the tightness of our one income. Everything you said though really comes down to perspective. Am I willing to be happy with food, shelter and the clothes I already own? I need to be. We live very frugally but some days I desire more. Many times we've just had enough for our expenses or even unexpected bills. I know that does not come from my or my husband's strength alone, but from God. I wish I did not have these stumbling days & pray for the heart that you have about frugality.

Anna said...

Thank you for the time and effort you put into this inspiring article!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I would like to request of anyone who posts anonymously to please make up an initial or a name so I know who I am addressing. To the Mrs. Anonymous just recently, I'd like to add that it isnt just a matter of living tightly, because when you live CREATIVELY you suddenly feel very free. Nothing is denied you. I've shown in several posts how you can make things when you can't afford to buy them. Just about everything you need can be made. And if you do have to do without, you've got a story to tell later. My parents story called "Just Breathing the Air" would not have been as heroic to me if they started with a great salary and we had all the luxuries available. No, it was a sweet story because of the things they did that were so innovative. And without spending money, there is more time to share values and teach good things to children. You don't have to live like you are in prison just because you are being frugal. You can still live a very lush life! My daughter showed me a picture of a blouse a girl made by cutting the sleeves and altering the neckline. She got a new garment by re-styling it. We used to sew bits of lace on cuffs, and dye our tennis shoes when they got old. We used to cut down our jeans and make them into many other things, just like they do today. I saw recently an article showing how someone had used a paper shredder to make beautiful ornaments. She took balls of shredded paper and rolled them in glue and then glitter. They looked like Texas tumbleweed in the snow. There really is no limit to what you can do when you are frugal. There IS a limit when you have to buy something. Just washing and ironing a blouse can give it new life. My daughter recycles her clothes through me, and vice versa. When we get finished with them, we can use them for other things if we are fond of the color and print: for example, a skirt can make a nice round table cloth, and a scarf can be used on a shelf. It doesn't mean your house will look awful, but it means you are not questioning God's provision.

Mrs. Mordecai said...

Thanks for inspiring me to make do with what I already have, which is a lot! I think I will try to make a tablecloth and some curtains instead of buying them. I wish I had your talent with the needle!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

I don't mind if anyone posts anonymously but if someone wants to answer, it is easier if they'll be Anonymous #1 or 2 or make up a name.

Making curtains and tablecloths require no talent. They are just long pieces of fabric. All you do is hem the ends and you can use an iron on hemming tape if you like, or you can use a glue called Fabritack. These days you do not even have to make pockets for curtain rods, as many of styles are just fabric wrapped around a rod.

Lyn said...

Lady Lydia,
I thank you for your wonderful article.

I hope this isn't too simple of a question to ask - I don't know how to sew but desire to learn and see the benefits of doing so. Is it possible to be self-taught? If so, do you have any suggestions for how to go about it? Or the best avenue for obtaining a basic sewing machine?

Thank you.

Mrs. Rabe said...

Thanks for this article.

We do much of what you said in the article. It is a way that we are able to live on one income, and allow me to be home with our children. We love to be creative, sew, and cook from scratch.

Thanks again, oh and your daughter's dress was just lovely!

Anonymous said...

I loved your last line about selling cast-offs to the Hollywood types...that really made me laugh! So much good information in your post, Mrs. Sherman. Some new ideas, some things I already do. All of it, though, very useful to the homemaker who is serious about living prudently, within the family's means. Some of the best meals I have made, some of the best items I have knitted, some of the nicest gifts I've made for people, have come as the result of being challenged by leaner times, not as the result of surfeit.

What a great post!

Brenda

Judi said...

Hi. Once again, a very relevant article. Thank you so much.

If I might make some suggestions to Lyn regarding sewing, yes, it is possible to learn some sewing skills on your own. Thanks to library books, I have taught myself how to do some hand sewing, and I can now do mending. I've also made some simple items like curtains and table napkins. I've learned some embroidery also, and made some Christmas ornaments and decorated my daughter's tank tops. Now I am teaching myself how to do some hand quilting, also from library books. (I also depended on library books to learn to cut hair, make pickles and jelly, and just today I got a stack of library books on gardening. A library card is a great tool when it comes to being frugal.)

I'm sure I would be better at sewing with some lessons. I do know that lessons are available for a small cost through places like adult education programs, county extension services, and fabric stores. As for buying a machine, I don't have one, but I do want to get one, so I have been looking at them at fabric stores, and stores that specialize in selling machines. You also can find them at discount-type stores, secondhand and thrift stores, online, and at yard sales. Some sewing machine stores sell secondhand, refurbished models, and will let you trade them in later on a newer model. Some places will give you a free lesson on the machine too. You have to decide what you can afford, what kind of sewing you want to do, how complicated, and so on.

One last option might be a friend or relative who wants to get rid of a machine. For some people, getting a sewing machine is like getting an exercise machine -- something they think they will use, then they realize they only used it a couple of times in the past year, and they want to get rid of it. Or, there might be an elderly relative who no longer uses a machine. I have such a relative who has offered me a machine, but, there's no instruction booklet. I'm going to get in touch with the manufacturer and see if I can get a booklet, otherwise, I don't think I could figure out how to thread the machine, and my relative can't see well enough to show me.

You can spend a lot of money on fabrics and notions, of course, but, it isn't necessary to spend much. I've bought some things, but I've also gotten material and notions at yard sales, and thrift stores. Once, a friend wanted to clear out some excess, and gave me some buttons, ribbon, and so on.

I'm in my 50s, and just now learning how to sew, and it's a good thing I have my bifocals! But it shows that you can still learn things even as you get older. Have fun!

Elizabeth G. said...

I loved all of your suggestions. Thank you for such great ideas!

Anne with an E said...

Thank you for this post. It has been a LONG road for me to ENJOY creative living. I was raised to learn NOTHING in terms of frugality. Mother was always ASHAMED of bargains, so that if we knew something was gotten for a great deal, we were warned NOT TO SHARE IT. That is not a good thing!! Although almost done child rearing and being on the tight end of things financially, I agree that a clean home is essential. Depression is a great deterrent and one must keep one's eyes on the Lord for inspiration, but a clean home FREES ones mind for creative thoughts on food and other essentials. Thank you again for this post.

Lyn said...

Judi,
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, that was so kind of you.

I think there are many ladies like us who did not have the blessing of having someone to pass down such skills. I have taught myself many homemaking things, but sewing seems to be something more intimidating to me I guess.

I appreciate all the ideas you shared, Judi.

Becky said...

Thanks lady Lydia for all the great ideas about frugal living. Ideas to consider and to use.
Blessings

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia, thank you for this timely post. Shortly after my homecoming last year, I bought hair clippers and began cutting my son's hair(A haircut was $15 at the barber shop!) I had watched the barber carefully, and the clipper set I purchased included an instructional video. We get movies free from our local library,which we now walk to(.5 miles away.) I look for bargains at the market. Bananas with a few brown spots are frequently marked down, and they are perfectly good! All these small savings do add up! God Bless...."Maggie"

Anonymous said...

Sell old clothes as "Designer Threads" at high prices to famous actresses? LOL! I love that idea!

-Christine from Arizona

Walking By Faith said...

Great article! All of it was very good, but I could especially relate to what you said about how it doesnt cost anything to clean the house. I used to sit and think about how I wish I had this or that. But now I realize, I dont really need this or that to make my home nicer for my family. Good old fashioned elbow grease is all that is needed, and that makes a bigger difference in making my home more pleasant for my family than anything I can buy! =)

Here's a good article called, 'The Blessing Of Living On One Income".

Have a blessed day in the Lord,
Walking By Faith

Walking By Faith said...

Did I post the link to that article? Oops, I think I forgot to! *blush* Here's the link in case I did forget:

http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/article_main_page/0%2C1703%2CA%25253D156072%252526M%25253D200871%2C00.html?

Walking by Faith

Tracy said...

A wonderful, inspiring post as always! I hope there will be more articles such as this as I love all of the creative ideas. Thank you! :)

Linnet's Nest said...

What a great post and some wonderful ideas.

~blessings~

Linnet

Anonymous said...

to Judi: sometimes instruction manuals for sewing machines, as well as things like cameras and board games can be found online in pdf from the manufacturer's website

Judi said...

Hi. Thanks for the tip on where to get instruction manuals. I should have thought about the internet! To Lyn, you are welcome, and you are right, some homemaking skills are intimidating, but, isn't it great that we can still try to learn these things? When I turned 50, I started to get bummed out, thinking of what I hadn't accomplished -- then I realized, hey, I could have another 50 years ahead of me! Then I thought what was it I REALLY wanted to learn? I didn't want to learn some job out in the workforce, but instead I want to learn or get better at different homemaking skills, such as sewing and cooking. It's been wonderful to discover so many other women feel the same way.

Amy said...

Wonderful post, Lady Lydia. These help my creative juices flow!

Last summer I used an old bed sheet to make a praire-style pinafore for my daughter for her new prarie dress (which I also made). It was pre-shrunk, and a nice weight, too. A friend said when her husband worked for a upper end hotel chain, he would bring home the sheets they could no longer use and she put them to good use as clothing, curtains, etc.

When I was in high school I used an old shower curtain (the fabric outer layer), including the shower hooks, to make a curtain for my bedroom by folding it up once and handstitching it. It worked great to let in lots of filtered sun, and provide a reasonable amount of privacy (couldn't see in or out).

Thank you again for a wonderful post.

p.s. I am enjoying the Wives and Daughters DVD very much.

Daughter of the King said...

Oh my,
Another *keeper* of a post.I am proof that it IS possible to TEACH a OLD dog new tricks ( I am in my 50's)
The difference has been, getting saved Sept 30th, see my post...and being careful which blogs I visit, that encourage me to be a KAH,to be a better, wife, mom, grandmother (Nana) and to be content. Your blog does all that and oh so much more,
Thank you,
Deby

Rosemary UK said...

A wonderful post,we are being very frugal at the moment,due to large increases in fuel prices.The oil for central heating has doubled in price,and the cost of transport has increased and this affects everything in the shops.We are lucky that we have a woodstove in one sitting room and an open fire in the other so we are able to heat with these some of the time.Because we live in the country in the middle of farmland, free wood from fallen trees etc is available.I love the bit about saving buttons,I keep a button tin,as does my Mother.I inherited my Grandmother's button tin and my Mother-in-law's as she had only sons.I have always cooked from scratch and done my own cake baking,I also make bread frequently but not as often as when my children were young.Then I baked all our bread.We grow vegetables and keep hens,to whom we feed any leftovers not consumed by our dogs and cat.I sew and knit and am spending some money next month to learn to crochet,which I have always wanted to do.There are so many ways to live frugally,I feel lucky that being born in 1947 I was brought up in a family who knew how to live on little as that was life after ww2,but we still had a very rich life.

All things bright & beautiful... said...

Great post - thank you.
Lynn.

KTHunter said...

I really enjoyed reading this article. I do think frugality is in-style in the crafting world these days. I have seen several books on "how to revamp a t-shirt into a dress or fancy shirt" or "how to turn old jeans into a purse". I've read them and gotten a few ideas on how to dress up some of the shirts that I am getting tired of. They are still of good quality, so I am not ready to give them up yet (because then I'd have to replace them). But smocking them or adding some embroidered touches would make them new again... and since I did it myself, I would make them even more my own.

I also find that people love homemade gifts; at least, in my family we do. We love knowing that you spent time putting something together for them, even if it is just a homemade card. Letting someone know that you have invested time into something for them can be as much a gift as the gift itself.

I just wrapped a birthday gift in a shopping bag that I turned into wrapping paper. The bag came from a totally different purchase, but it was such a pretty pink that I couldn't bear to throw it away. It was one of those long thin paper bags (not the ones with handles). I cut the bottom and one of the sides and laid it out flat, and it worked very well as wrapping paper. It was just a little stiffer than normal. Everyone that saw the gift loved the color of the wrapping. I wrapped another gift in a craft bandana that I had that was just begging for a project to use it. I wrapped it Japanese-style (and there are plenty of web sites that show you how to do it) and attached an origami tag to it out of paper that I already had. The recipient was as excited about the wrapping as they were the present, because it was so unusual. He showed it to everyone at the party and had me stand up and tell everyone how I did it. The fabric wrapping can be re-used later. It can even be decorated with embroidery or stamping or fabric paints before it is used again. One could use any kind of square leftover fabric to wrap it that way, and it can be used over and over again... you don't have to buy more paper, and it doesn't take up space in a landfill. Green AND frugal!

We planted part of our new garden -- our first one -- yesterday. It has been a learning experience. I am very very sore today, but I think it will be worth it when I can have fresh cucumbers for dinner every night. Or slicing them up and putting them on sandwiches with some cream cheese for afternoon tea on Sundays... I'd better stop, I'm making myself hungry now. My parents always put in a garden when I was a little girl. One of my favorite childhood memories is of eating my mother's homemade lime pickles. I am going to get the recipe from her so I can make some of my own, as we also planted pickling cucumbers. I have never pickled anything before, so this will be an interesting experiment.

We're also planting decorative gourds. I am looking forward to having some to paint or carve. We also planted some loofah gourds, which make great bath sponges when they are dried. (I never knew they were gourds. I always thought they were "sea" sponges!) They might make great gifts at Christmas, dried and packaged with some good-smelling soap or bath salts.

Thanks again for the great post.

Anonymous said...

"It does not take money to clean a dish and put things away. It does not take money to have some pride in your existence in the home."

I love this quote. As you mentioned, there are poor people with dirty houses, but I know a lot of people with beautiful houses who keep them quite dirty too, in between when the cleaning woman comes.

Thank you for a wonderful post. I can't wait for this cold to pass so I can get back to my regular housekeeping.

~Ann

Kris said...

My husband often makes fun of me, saying, "You're the only one I know who said '...for richer or poorer...' hoping for poorer." And this post is why. Poorer means I get to put my brain to good use!

My grandfather - in all his wisdom - has distinguished two types of poor: the first type makes do with fewer resources, the second has "poverty of the mind" which money does not affect. The latter of the two are those who take no pride in themselves or their surroundings, choosing instead to live as dirty leaches on society (no matter how many didgets are in their income).

Melissa said...

Ahhh...spoken like a true lady! Thank you for the encouragement!

Many Blessings,
Melissa

Mrs. K's Lemonade Stand said...

Your post reminds of some neighbors we once lived near. The children would play at other homes where homemade snacks were normal (like my home) and often complain that they were hungry or had not eaten breakfast that day. The neighborhood had heard there was some financial problems in their home.
Their parents, however, seemed to always have beer and wine and cigarettes.
I suppose I never could understand the logic behind that and yes, it made me very sad for the family.

Fruitful Vine said...

Excellent post as usual. You are an inspiration I must say. Thank you very much for writing this way. Having someone "mentor" you in keeping the home is priceless. I have the Lord to thank for finding your website many many months ago. God bless you.
Jenn

mama said...

I love these kind of articles but am wondering if anyone out there has suggestions on homemaking when you have lots of children!! My house may get cleaned up and everything straightened out but in no time at all it is back to square one!! I so often feel like there is no beauty, creativity etc EVER for more than 5 minutes! Everything that gets accomplished is "basics"(laundry, meals, dishes etc) there is never any time left for anything more. And when I do accomplish more it is hardly worth it since it is "undone" in no time!!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Kris: when I first married, my husband wanted to buy me everything. I would be contentedly sewing or cutting and pasting, etc. and he would say, "Dear, you don't have to do that! I will buy it for you!" And I had to explain to him it was something that I liked to do and that if I didn't spend the money, we could then have it for a bill and be a bit better off.

For all those who have written asking what to say to the negative remarks about being home full time, I'm working on it.

For those who are really feeling a crunch financially, here are some more ideas that were sent to me:

Trade bulbs and plants with friends, to get your flower beds looking full and lush. Observe which plants seem to spread and dig up some for someone else.

Be cheerful. Your mind can take you to far away places and accomplish great things. Sometimes those dreams become realities when you work them out step-by-step, whether it be selling something you own or fixing up something in the house.

Re-arrange your living room and dining room. This gives you an entire new lease on life, for some reason. Clean out your cabinets and drawers. It tells you what you really have, and you'll find you have more than you thought, some which you can sell. If you don't want it to cost you something in order to sell, put it in a basket,trunk, or shelf, inside your house, by the front door with the sign "for sale" and when friends drop by ask them if they know anyone that would like a gift. You can get shrink wrap and package it so it looks like new. You can put an old tea pot and an odd tea cup in a basket of "easter grass", add an old book, shrink-wrap it, and put a price tag on it. I've sold a lot of things right out of my house, for people who really needed a spur of the moment gift.

Write a letter to a friend. This is one of the biggest gifts, most luxurious things you can indulge in. Just to be home and be able to schedule the time to do such a thing is a great gift. Include inside the letter some clippings, a recipe, some little thing that won't make a bulge in the letter, etc. Decorage paper with sticker and stamps, or doodle your own. A stamp is expensive but still about the cheapest thing around. Don't have an envelope? Open up a used one and trace around it, fold and stick.

Someone just wrote to me about how she took used clothes and rags and just hand sewed them together in a circle and made a mat for the floor. I love that idea. One day you will see things like that in high-end stores.

Our Red House said...

Thank you. These areticles are superb.

Kate

Heather said...

I really enjoyed this article but what are "posts" as in "You don't need posts in your skin."
Thank You, Heather

Anonymous said...

Excellent Post, Lady Lydia! I'd like to comment on what Mrs. K's lemonade stand's said: I grew up in a similar home where there wasn't enough money to take us (3 children) to the dentist-yet beer and wine flowed freely, and both of my parents usually had a cigarette between their lips. Isn't it amazing what some think is a priority?

God Bless You,
"Maggie"

BethAnn said...

WOW!! GREAT POST! thanks, I loved the ideas! It gets me exited just thinking of all the ways i could save more, many i hadnt thought of. Not only that, but when we save so much on our own lives it makes it so much easier to be more hospitable and giving to others. Wonderful post!
Beth

Me! said...

I loved this post. I was raised by my grandmother who grew up in the depression and reading this post brought back so many memories. This was really the way we lived when I was little and I always thought it was so wonderful. I remember playing for hours with my grandmothers button box! Thank you so much for this great post.

Catherine R. said...

What a great post. I feel I may have to read this more than once! It is so hard sometimes living in this mixed up world, to remember that there are plenty of ways to create everything we need including entertainments. So thank you indeed.

After reading this I admit that I feel somewhat guilty for not doing all these homemaking tasks. I am especially bad about cooking. I feel so overwhelmed with the idea of making everything from scratch and organizing daily meal ideas. But it is my goal to stop using prepared foods so much...one day at a time, I will learn.

keri said...

A lovely post!

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

You do not have to buy curtains; you can make your own. Just buy several yards of 109 inch or 90 inch muslin and make a pocket in the top to insert a rod. You can hem them, and the sides will be on the selvage so you don't need to hem that part. You can add fringe, but that can be expensive. It is possible to make your own trims if you want it trimmed, by clipping a long strip of fabric, like a fringe, and sewing it on. After it has been washed it will have a different effect, but it looks great on quilts and jackets of homesewers. Buying curtains and expensive drapes is not necessary.

God's Princess said...

This is a wonderful post and I picked up a couple of new frugal tips from it :-) keep up the fantastic job you do with this blog.

Melina xx

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