Frugal Friday- July 10th, 2015

I’ll admit, I don’t completely understand what the citizens of Greece are facing when they are asked to choose between “more severe austerity measures” in order to keep their country afloat, or bailing on the money they already owe, but either way it doesn’t sound pleasant. Michael and I elected a long time ago to never again owe any money and it was the best decision we’ve ever made. We may someday see our own self imposed austerity measures, but frugality shouldn’t be confused with austerity. It’s but a way of life that we embrace willingly and whole heartedly and that allows us to live well on less. Maybe folks with a lot more money than we do have no need to even consider frugality, but we chose to retire at the tender ages of 49 and 55, knowing it was a choice that would affect us for the rest of our lives. 13 years later, the only thing we’ve had to give up was that 9 to 5 job! Our new job is to live within our means and although we sometimes have to work a bit of overtime to accomplish that, the payoff is always worth the extra effort. This week has been no different:

Monday: Our veterinarian’s office is less than a block away and once a year he offers a rabies clinic for cats and dogs for only $10. In-Shot-Out in two minutes or less and it’s a pleasant walk there, saving the poor cat from a car ride. Is that austerity?


Tuesday: I reused a stamp that arrived in my mailbox uncanceled. It’s amazing how often this happens, and it’s amazing that I’ve never had a single piece of mail returned to me when I reuse these little goldmines. I do tend to use them on mail that is not of utter importance, just in case, but I believe that’s overkill on my part. Austerity? Nah, but I did save 49 cents!


Wednesday:  We went camping recently and I was finally able to try out my homemade fire starters, made with repurposed toilet paper rolls stuffed with saved dryer lint. Now that we no longer heat our home with wood, and since the surrounding woods are always picked completely clean when we camp, kindling and such is hard to come by. These firestarters worked very well and of course I love making ‘something from nothing’. The resulting fire and s’mores could hardly be considered austerity measures.


Thursday: On my daily walk I ran across a full bale of straw with a neglected potted ficus tree sitting on top of it, waiting for the garbage truck to haul them away. I went home and got my own garbage truck and saved both from the landfill. I’ll use the straw bale as a fall decoration later this year, then as mulch for my strawberry bed. The tree can be nursed back to health and I’ll give it to my daughter for her birthday in November since she’s always wanted such a tree. Austerity? nope, just smart savings!


Friday: I gathered some fresh cedar and sage from my herb bed and made smudge sticks, a Native American tradition of clearing your space, your life or even your body of negative energy. They make great house-warming gifts, or simply as an offering to a sick friend to metaphorically cleanse their body from whatever ails them. Maybe the government of Greece should consider giving smudge sticks to all their citizens to help them cleanse the bad air that’s brewing there…


I joke about austerity measures, but I assure you they are no laughing matter to the citizens of Greece and there is no intention to belittle the hardships they face. I sincerely believe however that looking at all our available resources with an eye towards conserving them, whether it’s a 49 cent stamp or a wad of dryer lint can help us remain solvent in our own personal ways. I am concerned over the global state of affairs and have found the best remedy for my anxiety is to simply live as best as I can on as little as I can. Growing food, reducing my energy needs and tending a supportive and understanding community are the central tenants of this blog and my life. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to avoid austerity, and think transition.

Here Comes the Sun…
June 20, 2012, 4:00 PM
Filed under: Herbs, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

… and the mosquitoes and other biting insects. I’ve been mixing up what I fondly call “BUG POTION NUMBER NINE” for years now and keeping a little bottle by the back door, in the car, in my backpack, and the bathroom. It’s not an insect repellent per se, but a natural (no chemicals) soothing, antibacterial, healing, and frugal anti-sting remedy. Of course, it’s just occurred to me that it would likely act as a good repellent too so I plan to make Michael try it, since he’s the one that always gets bit, and I never do. He says that’s because he’s sweeter than me. Whatever. Anyway, here’s the recipe that I prefer to store in old spice bottles that have tight stoppers, but any repurposed container would do!

1 cup witch hazel

1 cup rubbing alcohol

8-10 drops peppermint oil

Mix and shake well, then store in a tightly capped container so the alcohol doesn’t evaporate. Applying this with a cotton ball as soon as possible after being bitten results in better effectiveness.

And while I’m talking about natural remedies, I want to share with you something I’ve learned from my heroes, the Native American Indians. When they would move their teepees to a new hunting ground, they would ‘smudge’ the ground before the teepee was erected, as well as the space within their new home. This practice was used for cleansing and to give prayers to the Creator. In modern-day practice smudge sticks are often lit to cleanse and purify a new home before moving in, after a conflict within the home has been resolved, or even after a smoker has broken their habit in the house.  Since we’re moving into our new home next week, and since my sage is growing like crazy, I thought I’d made three smudge sticks with my bounty. One for OUR new home, one for the buyers of this, their first home, and one for the woman that we are buying from as she journeys to her new home. This was an easy project that you might want to try while your sage is  reportedly at its most potent on this summer solstice. 

Native Americans always thanked animals and plants before harvesting either one, so I did the same. They would often leave a gift of tobacco in appreciation for them but I didn’t have any tobacco just lying around… Once gathered, trim the ends uniformly and since traditionally red thread was used because of it’s spiritual power, I used red embroidery thread I had from an old project. Wrap the ends using a slip knot and then twirl the bundle in one direction to wrap the thread up the stick. When you reach the top, turn the bundle over and reverse the direction. Tie off the ends in a knot. Let it dry for a bit, then light the stick and wave it’s fragrant smoke through any area or structure you’d like to ‘cleanse’. I LOVE the idea behind this, don’t you? I once bought a much smaller sage and cedar smudge stick at the National Native American Museum in Washington, DC for ten dollars. (That was back when I had more dollars than sense 😉 These gifts were free! Happy Summer!

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