March 11, 2009

humbled & revered

Last night Jason came into our room and found me hunched over my nails going at them with the nail file.

"What are you doing?!" Me, looking up confused: "Filing my nails." "But you're supposed to go get your nails done tomorrow!" "I canceled the appointment." "Why?" "Because you need a jersey for softball, and it costs $26. My nails would have cost $20, so this way we're really only spending $6 out of pocket." "But you've been planning on that for weeks!" "I know, but softball is important to you."

And you know what? This morning I woke up feeling so happy about my decision. I feel like the habits and thoughts of a frugal housewife are finally sinking into my subconscious. Truth-be-told, it started when we were still living in North Carolina. I had the great fortune of working with a young Army wife named Alana (she recently gave brith to a beautiful baby boy, named Hunter).

She was (and still is) the sweetest, happiest person you could ever hope to have for a friend. It was through her that I learned my favorite mantra, "The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They make the best of everything they have." She was so happy and so content to be a wife and mother. It made me really evaluate my life and the way I behaved.

Now that I've started learning more about being a WWII-era housewife, it's making me realize that I need to stop being so reliant on commercial products. Yes I still buy repro dresses, because ladies, let's admit it, I can't work a sewing machine! I can patch a hole and sew a button with no problem, but if I made a dress I'd look about as glamorous as Lucy and Ethel here in their feed-sack dresses.

But I am getting better. Now that I've built up a decent wardrobe I can slow down on buying new items. I've started scouring eBay and Etsy for real vintage clothes, or at least cheaper repros. I'm learning how to make my clothes serve more than one purpose (one pair of white shoes goes with ten different outfits!), and I'm getting better at making sweets from scratch. I'm trying so hard to simplify my life, and darn it--I'm proud of myself for it! It's not easy when you've been raised in a material obsessed place like California; a place that trys to tell you what you have is more important than who you are.

(If you made it through my ramblings this far, thank you thank you thank you!) Inspired by all these wonderful feelings and thoughts, I made a plan of attack to continue the simplification process:

- Start making my own cleaning products (here's a recipe I found for a multipurpose cleaner, I might just add some lemon juice to help with the smell).
I love this idea because 1.) I hate the cost of Windex 2.) The cheap stuff streaks 3.) I always lose the bottle and have to buy more, then I end up finding the other one, still totally full and 4.) I secretly want to decorate the bottle like 50's Gal's reader did:

- Start making my own laundry detergent (recipe).

Food & Groceries:
- Start buying plain ice cream.
I doubt very much that they had flavors such as "nutty-buddy-crunchy-munchy-swirly-twirly" back in the 40's and 50's. So to help my figure (and my mindset) I'm going to stick to the classics. After all, chocolate a strawberry ice cream make the best milkshakes!
- Learn to cook more dinners from scratch.
I can do spaghetti, and that's about it. Of course, I used bottled sauce. And frozen garlic bread. In any event, I want to learn to make more soups, and learn how to cook with lentils.
- Start cutting coupons for anything and everything!
This means I may have to find a reputable online coupon site as well. If you know of any, please let me know!
- Make meals last longer.
My clothes do double duty, why shouldn't my food?

- Try to buy all dresses, shoes, hats, and accessories from Etsy or eBay.
- Start using Ebates more.
Have you heard of this place? It's awesome, especially if you do mostly online shopping! I added a link in my right hand side bar, plus if you sign up you get $5, and I'll get $5 for referring you, and you'll get $5 for referring your friends (can we say Amway?). ;0)
- Work the military discount when traveling, or for anything.
Certain hotels have done away with it, and it's going to start negating where we stay when we travel. Plus, you'd be surprised how many local antique dealers are willing to give you a 10% military discount to close the deal on a piece of furniture!
- Try to shop exclusively on base.
We aren't taxed at the exchange and we're only charged a surcharge at the commissary (I think it was $5 on a $100 grocery trip).

So there it is. My plan in black and white. I intend to try my hardest, shop the cheapest, and make everything count down to the last dime! We're in a failing economy--now is not the time to go willy nilly!


  1. I buy my coupons from The Coupon Master. I found out about them from Hot Coupon World which is a good resource for both coupon newbies and the old pros.

    Good luck to you on your new adventure! :)

  2. Thank you!! Online coupons are a new world for me!

  3. Good for you! Thanks for linking to my site. When I showed a pic of my own pic for my store bought pine sol (use it for everything so cheap and so green and lasts forever) I was surprised one of my followers were nice enough to follow suit with her homemade and sent me that pic. Its like we are all girlfriends who live in the same town, exchaniging recipes and ideas, don't you love it!
    I know sewing can seem hard (belive me I am still at the Lucy feed sack dress phase) but I am trying. Some day I really recommend trying it. IT is a very fulfilling moment to wear somthing you made. A simple pencil skirt is so easy to make and you can fancy it up with rick rack, ribbon etc. Thanks for that recipe for detergent. I am going to make some of my own as soon as my fels naptha comes in (it is a wonderful old soap and pretty cheap online)
    I commend you on your choice for you nails. Sometimes what we think is important often turns out not to be. Then when you can have that special day to get your nails done, it will feel that much more special. When I lived in the city (Boston) mannis and peddis were soo cheap, but not so here in the burbs, so I do my own as well.
    Keep it up, we can all do it. Just think we are all changing the world for the better one smart step at a time, as Obama said, "We can do it!"

  4. "The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They make the best of everything they have."

    That is a wonderful sentiment and one I try to live up to.

    I don't have any advice for you on coupons, but maybe I can give you some hints on cooking?

    Lots of soups are super easy and a good way to start. The fact that you can at least cook spaghetti is good news too.

    Even if you use bottled sauce, you can start to add your own ingredients - try dicing up an extra onion and finely chopped garlic and soften in a little olive oil before you add the bottled sauce to it. Work your way up by adding things you particularly like - maybe some spicy sausage, diced bacon or salami (for tomato based sauce).

    I'll hunt down some easy soup recipes for you and email them through.

    xx VV

  5. 50s Gal: I have seen your dress and they are not feedsacks! Haha! I know what you mean about girlfriends exchanging recipes and such. My best friend lives in Alaska and she's very into the rockabilly style; while it's not exactly the same thing as vintage, we both have a love for a similiar style and looking feminine. So we're always exchanging shopping advice!

    VV: Thanks for the offer of soup recipes! And I've often thought about adding in some mushrooms to our sauce because Hubbs and I both like them in our spaghetti. Newman's (yes, as in Paul Newman, he founded the comapny) makes this great sauce called "Sockarooni" and it's just chalk full of veggies; it's the best sauce I've ever tasted.

  6. my favourite thing at the moment it to use canned soups as bases for other recipes... i still get to add my own spices and things so I feel like i'm cooking from scratch, but it's sometimes a bit easier... like when they got housewives to add an egg to pre-mix cakes, sales took off, as people felt they were contributing to the cokking.

    a lot of soup cans have recipes on the side so keep an eye out for that... this past week i have made beef stroganoff (from cream of mushroom soup), chicken and pumpkin curry (from pumpkin soup) and chilli con carne (from tomato soup)...

    plus each meal makes enough for 4 or 5 so there's enough to freeze for another evening...

  7. Some great ideas. On the food thing, I'd suggest skipping the icecream altogether and making all your own cakes and cookies. They have FAR less sugar than all the commercial types and it does amazing things for your waistline just by switching that one thing.
    If you have to have something icecreamy, a good, healthy and cheap alternative is to freeze peeled bananas, then once frozen, put them into the blender. they come out just like icecream and taste delicious!

  8. I also make nice and smart lists for my everyday life but I still don't manage to do everything in the manenr I'd like to....
    How did the detergent work out? Iäd love to try that!


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