Friday, March 12, 2010


This blog wanders like it is lost, but I am still working on my efforts toward frugality. Simple abundance and frugality - they seem like opposing forces (abundance and frugality?) but frugality is about being simple, so perhaps they're not so opposed after all.

We have been Craigslisting items, which a) gets them out of our house, and b) brings in some cash. We switched from an espresso machine to the little stovetop espresso pot like everyone in Europe seems to have, and yesterday a nice person from Craigslist came and paid me $100 for the machine. We can still have espresso whenever we want - but it's one less pull on electricity (the espresso machine was always plgged in), one less large piece of clutter, and more money in hand. The machine had been sitting for about a year, so we certainly won't miss it.

We are eating a lot more vegetarian meals. Last night I made black beans and rice, Mexican style with onions, chilis, tomatoes, served with a squeeze of lime, a sprinkling of cheddar cheese, and avocado slices. Tessa would still prefer a cheeseburger every day of the week at every meal, but she actually ate everything I served with only a minimum of fuss (which is huge these days). Ryan is taking his lunch almost all the time, and often he takes leftovers (which I plan for when I cook), so that means he's eating more vegetarian at lunch, as well, instead of the fast food meals that I know he was having.

Part of my reason for more vegetarian meals is cost, and part is health, but another part is that it's more environmentally friendly. When I buy meat I'm trying to find sustainably raised, grass fed, pasture raised, free range (in the true sense of the word), hormone free, ethically slaughtered, etc. That comes at a price - a hefty one. I almost moan when I hear an ad for $1/pound hamburger, because I sometimes pay 5-6 times that much for the green version. To balance this with frugality, we just eat a lot less of it. Not only do we eat meat less frequently, but we also eat it in smaller quantities than we used to.

(Book note: I just finished "The Butcher and the Vegetarian" by Tara Austen Weaver. It discussed the ethical and environmental issues of meat by a once-vegetarian who is prescribed meat in her diet due to health issues. It's an interesting twist on the question of meat, and an easy read.)

Once again, we got free mulch delivered, with help from our friend Kathleen and a local tree service. It's high quality, rich material, and it will nourish our vegetables all summer. I'm never paying for mulch again. We're making our own compost, though it seems like we can use twice as much as we can produce. Vegetable scraps are used to either make stock (I keep a container in my freezer at all times now so that making stock is as simple as throwing it into a pot of water, adding onion and salt, and simmering) or compost in the worm bins, and I love the closed cycle that creates. Once again this summer we will be eating out of our garden. The blueberries and raspberries are starting to leaf, the rhubarb is coming up, the strawberries are waiting, and the herbs are starting to renew themselves. In the next few weeks I'll be planting early veggies like peas, leeks, spinach, chard, and the garden will be off and running. We're expanding the garden again this year, so our harvest will be even greater than before.

I am trying very, very hard to avoid packaged and processed foods. I still buy, not make, cheese; I haven't attempted my own crackers yet. But for most things, I'm working with whole foods that look the way that they grew. Tessa would probably prefer Ding-Dongs in her lunch (at her age, I did) but we're all adjusting. I am making all of my own bread (and getting rid of the bread machine!), cereal, and three meals a day. It's tiring but worth it, I think.

The library is one of my closest friends. I'm on their website every couple of weeks, placing holds on all kinds of books. I do look forward to buying books again, but right now, while I really care about frugality, this is a great back-up plan. It's one thing to stop buying books, altogehter another to stop reading them!

We haven't used paper towels in at least a year, maybe more. I keep one roll on hand for things like vomit (arghhhh!) but that roll lasts a whole year. I keep a basket of rags with the cleaning supplies, and they work great. Whenever something gets stained beyond wear, I cut it up and it goes into the rag bin. I don't miss the paper towels a bit. Same is true for paper napkins - we still have a bunch from before we went all cloth, and I will use them very occassionally, but I don't even think about them any more. There is a big bin of them in the kitchen, and it works for us without a thought.

In the winter it's harder, but I'm still trying to walk many errands instead of driving - that's one great thing about living in West Seattle, I can walk to multiple grocery stores, a deli, coffee shops, pharmacies, toy store, thrift stores, clothing boutiques, etc. We've got to get Tessa more comfortable on her bike and then we can expand our range, too. (Although I haven't figured out Shep + bikes. I like to take him on my errand walks to get him exercise - how do I exercise him if we're on bikes?)

I'm still staying out of stores. Yesterday the Title Nine catalog (women's clothing, much of it athletic wear but also darling skirts and dresses) came and I drooled over it for far too long. I have canceled most catalogs for this reason: when I look at them, I start to crave things or think that what I have isnt' good enough. But when I stay out of stores, and stop looking at catalogs, I don't miss things at all. I have never been trendy - I like to htink of myself as more classic - so I don't need to buy a bunch of things every new season.

In short, I've come a long way. Still have a long way to go....but I've come a long way.

Time to wake up the girl. Fingers crossed that she's in a good mood this morning....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are there, Kristina. I think you've got it. :)!!!
Missing you,
Lynn H.