My oh my…it’s been a while since I’ve blogged! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! My apologies for my absence, I was swept away with preparing for my parents visit the week of Thanksgiving and we don’t have guests over often. The good news is that just about every drawer, cabinet, closet has been raided, we’ve donated about $600 worth of items to Goodwill and now I have a clean slate to start from. I’m one of those crazy people who can’t focus unless my physical environment is tidy and uncluttered. Particularly hard to do as a crafter working with recycled materials!
Anywho, wanted to share what I’ve been working on the past few weeks:
Cooking! Yes, I made a ton of food for my parents during their visit as my mom is an excellent home cook who prides herself on home cooked meals everyday. The menu consisted of orange-cranberry muffins and quiche, lots of dips for veggies and homemade crostinis, pulled beef sandwiches, prime rib (thanks mom for the meal and teaching me how to make), and of course…lots of turkey! Turkey dinner with all the fixins’, turkey soup, turkey pot-pie. David and I finished all the leftovers, made a 2nd pot-pie and even used the leftover cranberry apple chutney and turned them into chewy oat bars. I’m really making an effort not to waste any food and finding a way to utilize any soon-to-be-trashed foods into other recipes. If we don’t use it now, we can always freeze it for later. Wasting food is like throwing dollars into the trash can.
My dad and David put up a clotheslines, something I’ve wanted to do for a while - as an environmental and frugal choice. I grew up with clothes on the line, that wonderful smell of crisp air on the clothes and I knew that it would be also result in less utility costs which equals money saved and a more environmental choice from less energy used. I’ll let you know over the next couple of months any difference in our electric bill. And just in case you were wondering, I’m NOT hanging undies on the line – sparing my neighbors of that and instead choosing to use our indoor clothesrack for those as well as socks and dishrags. Since most of my wearable wardrobe as of now consists of PJs (yay!) I could care less if there are any wrinkles in them, but for David’s work clothes and for our towels, I throw into the dryer for 5 minutes after I take them off the line to soften them up a bit and take out any wrinkles (although I must admit, my PJ’s are still plenty soft now that we use vinegar in our washer as a fabric softener).
In the past couple weeks I made a recipe for and tried out several times a DIY recipe for dishwasher detergent…and it failed miserably! We found the recipe online that promised great results but fell quite short. It doesn’t help that we have extremely hard water so even the all-natural products on the shelves don’t even cut it…we have to, regrettably, stick with Cascade for now, but I’ll keep trying!
Sewing! I knew my sister had a sewing machine and suspected that she didn’t use anymore. I didn’t want to buy a brand new one and asked my sister if I could buy off her and she offered to give it to me for free, so I asked my parents to bring it with them on their way out here so that my mother would also have time to teach me how to sew using a machine. Through trial and error we got the thing working, and my father, a former machinist (who can fix ANYTHING and helped me to learn to try to fix something before tossing and buying new) was able to fix the few glitches. And…through a quick google search, I was able to find the original owners manual to help me with trouble-shooting any issues. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing with my sewing machine and took a try at making mittens. You’ll see by the pictures below that I was successful with the first one, but the 2nd mitten I forgot the whole “sew-from-inside-out” rule and now have to take it apart…it oughta make you laugh!
On our way back from dropping my parents off at the airport, we decided to stop at the thrift store to buy some sweaters and tops to use as “fabric” for my sewing projects and scored big when we happened across a 50% off sale, so wool and cashmere sweaters that were already at a low price of $4 were now only $2. Once we got home, I deconstructed the sweaters into panels and sleeves, washed them and now I have a basket full of fabric to make recycled/upcycled coffee cozies and mittens. I even found a queen size fleece blanket in great shape for $5 that I plan to use to line the wool mittens and I can probably get 50 pairs of liners just in the $5 spent! A couple weeks ago when I was in Boulder, I stopped at the Artist co-op and found upcycled mittens being sold for $30-$50 dollars – insane! I can make them and sell them for much, much less!
I’ve also been making more paper bows but have found a new template so that they look just like the bows you buy in the store. Magazine and packaging paper are perfect for these and coffee bags and chip bags make perfect silver/metallic bows.
And finally, I’ve been researching frugal and environmental ideas to help me find new uses for the things I have in my house. Every time I get an urge to buy something new, I try to think how I can do it cheaper or for free by using materials already in my house in a new way. Why pay for things, tax the earth for valuable resources and add to the toxic load to the earth from items being shipped over from Guam, for example, when you can fashion something at home to do the same thing? Using my crafts as an example, my paper bow template required using a brass brad (basically those fasteners you find on the backside of manilla envelopes; since I didn’t have any, I decided to hand sew my bows using materials I already had on hand and it took me no more time to do! When I couldn’t find my bone folder (a tool I bought years ago to craft with), I resisted the urge to buy another one and instead used an old and empty gift card for scoring/folding, etc.
I know it sounds ridiculous to spare a couple dollars here and there, but doing so has allowed us to transition to and live comfortably on one income as well as tread a bit lighter on the earth. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my parents is saving money on the unimportant, trivial things (cost-comparisons, shopping sales, using coupons, not buying material things you don’t really need) allows us to save the money to splurge on the things we do find valuable: vacations, fun items (once in a while), eating out at nice restaurants here and there, making several trips out to the East Coast to visit family (we’re planning quarterly visits which isn’t cheap) – but sparing on those unnecessary things frees up the cash for these important, valuable things.
I do want to leave you with this final picture, one that I took from my couch while I blogged this to you all during this frigid 3 degree day. This is what simplicity is all about…having time and taking the time to appreciate the view.
Okay, enough for today; I’ll be sure to provide more regular updates now that things have settled. Thanks for sticking with me!
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