Friday, May 22, 2009

Recession Ponderings: Further rethinking of frugal myths

We are experiencing our first humid day this season. I opened the kitchen window and the door to the deck in the family room while cool breezes could come through the screens. Even after it warmed up, I left the kitchen window open. It provided a nice breeze as I rolled out the dough for cinnamon rolls.

The last time I was at the grocery store (to buy bananas for Christopher's morning potassium rich smoothie), I passed by the package of cinnamon rolls from their bakery. They sparked a craving which became a morning of mixing dough in the bread machine and finishing it by hand. I tried something new that I'd seen the West Ladies do (on their DVD which was shown on a Christian channel, yes... the one I am coveting... sorry, Lord). I just love to find new ways to make homemade baking taste even better.

Anyhoo, about the frugal ponderings... I was reading an article about getting organized recently and came across a few suggestions that I've heard many times before. For some reason, this time I was struck about how "un-frugal" some of these recommendations were.

Here are a few "Truths" I've also found to be myth, or at least we need to rethink...

If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it... I found the opposite is true as I live a life of forced frugality and simplicity. Especially with seasonal items. For instance, I have Christmas and other Holiday items (clothing, decorations, etc.) that I may use only once every few years (given the short season they would be in use). Same with sweaters, jewelry, and other seasonal accessories... I can't afford to purchase new and at the last minute when I find them suddenly needed.

I purchase different kinds of bakeware at thrift stores and garage sales. Many were originally very expensive (as in the $60.00 range and more). I'm sure some of them were given to Goodwill as a result of the above "rule" of getting organized. :)

I don't have a lot of storage space but there is space for bakeware (even if it is under the bed). A simple sugar cookie recipe looks spectacular when baked in molded pans, shortbread becomes "uptown" baked in a shortbread mold, and we all know what various Bundt molds do for pound cakes. Everyone I know loves to receive baked good as gifts and to be served them when they visit.

There are other items in my kitchen that aren't used regularly but when I need them, I am very happy they are there... the electric citrus juicer, the cupcake stand, the collection of pitchers (I need all of them when we have company out on the deck), the small teapot for use with my loose tea PG Tips... just to name a few.

There is fabric stored on a shelf in the garage, scrapbooking supplies under the bed, and board games in the end table. All items that have been sorted through and those left are keepers, even if I go years not using them.

I also have serving pieces that are used rarely these days but what I have left is what I love and know I'll use off and on. The buffet cabinet hubby brought back from his sister's place (originally belonging to his parents) provided excellent storage space for the serving pieces.

Then there is... china. It's hard to believe when we were first married we had only a Correlle set of four place settings and two place settings of our wedding china. I have my everyday china, wedding china, inherited Victorian china, my Royal Albert purchased at Goodwill, my small Transferware plate collection, and my red plastic plates we use when eating in the family room.

Last month I was at the Mission Thrift Store and came across an entire set of gorgeous off white bone china for only $20.00. I didn't have that amount to spend thrifting or it may have been just too hard to leave without. :)

Some women drink... some collect china. But I digress...

Throw out your spices after a year... I just recently found out this is not true (unless they have become "buggy" and then we're talking a different problem). I read that they lose their intensity and flavor but it usually takes much longer than a year and you can quite often just use more to obtain the flavor desired. Much better then throwing it out and buying new...

Basically the recommendation to throw spices away (I've seen as short a time as six months) is made by the marketing companies who want you to buy more often. Whole spices can last a long time. I had whole coriander last a few years.

It makes you wonder what else we think of as Truth is all Marketing.

Herbs are different, they can lose their intensity and flavor in a much shorter time. I've found if I taste them and they have no flavor, it is time to restock. I check all my herbs and spices in the autumn each year, just a handy time to do it before the baking season begins.

Canned goods last six months to a year... As long as the cans aren't dented, bulging, or open... they can last for a few years (cans containing acidic foods need to be checked earlier). The quality and vitamin content may decrease a little over time but they are quite often still good.

I learned to never even open a can that is "bulging" as the contents are not only spoiled but may explode when opening.

It is not worth getting shoes or clothing repaired... I've found this to be both true and false. Leather shoes are well worth sending to the shoe repair shop as long as the only thing wrong with them is the soles needing repair. My husband's dress shoes were repaired last year and they look brand new. The shoe repair person can look at your shoes and tell you if they can be fixed or not, that is what they did for us.

Almost all clothing is worth making an attempt to repair. I've repaired the usual small rips, lost buttons, unraveled sweaters, etc.

However, just last week my husband showed me a pair of Dockers (slacks) that were already old and worn and needed a major repair. I told him they were not worth the time and effort it would requite to repair so we would put them on the Gooodwill list (those items we are looking for each visit) to purchase for $3.99 (or half price).

Once again, I've come to realize how many Truths we've been told only work in a society that is experiencing financial abundance.

I have one more day of frugal ponderings for tomorrow, aren't you just thrilled? :)

Picture: I've been trying to find the name of this on allposters since I forgot to write it down when I saved it long ago. I'd love to order the poster.

Sorry about the strange sizing of letters in this post. Blogger appears to be creative this morning as they don't show up this way in draft form (and can't be changed).


Vee said...

Have to laugh about the getting rid of things because they haven't been used in X amount of time... My mother always says that just the minute you part with something, you're going to need it. It's one of Murphy's Laws or something. ;D

Enjoy your summery weather!

Echoes From the Hill said...

Here's to china collectors! I have way too much china, but it was all purchased at Goodwill, auctions, or was gifted to me. I have a formal dining room, in my house, that is rarely used. However, it is always set with beautiful Victorian china, pink depression glass, and stemware that came from Goodwill. It looks wonderful, but I must confess that it is on the table because I don't have room to store it in my china cabinets!

Packrat said...

Mmmmm, cinnamon rolls. I don't think I've had a cinn. roll since last summer.

Amen to your frugal ponderings. Most of the time expiration dates are a ploy to get us to buy more. Eggs are one example. Raw eggs in their shells that have been in the refrigerator will keep for months. As to spices, I always figured that if in the old days of spice trade the spices could keep for years, why can't ours?

The maxim "if you haven't used it in a year" is one of my huge pet peeves. I'm going way out on a limb and will probably make people mad, but why do we *have* to declutter, clear out, get rid of? I'm sorry, but I'm tired of strangers telling me what I *have* to do. It's my house, my life. If I want to keep games, puzzles, books, paint brushes, tools, ladders, etc. that I may only use every few years, that is my business. If I want to keep my grandmother's linens, tea cups, costume jewelry, and all the things my kids made me, that is my business. I, too, like my different sets of china. Besides, I've learned that if I get rid of something is the day that I need it or learn that it was worth several hundred dollars.

Sorry for the rant.

scrappy quilter said...

I'm one that says if you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it. For our family that has worked well. I don't declutter because others tell me too, I declutter because I need space. I need to have areas in our home that are open and bare. When I'm surrounded by clutter I don't do well. That's just who I am. I also don't do this with everything in our home. I have some canning jars I haven't used in over a year....I won't be throwing those out. I'm with you Brenda, I have some Christmas ornaments I don't use every year...they will be staying. However there are items I haven't used in a year that will be going to goodwill. They came into our home, we never used them and in all likelihood never will, so they will be going to goodwill.

There are many frugal myths I don't adhere too. I take each one and see if it works for our family. If it doesn't or I find it's just a myth, I throw it out with the bathwater....just like I do with other myths.

These ponderings have been excellant. Lots of room for thought and discussion.

the pleasures of homemaking said...

The "some women drink, some collect china" made me laugh!! You know why! Vee is right, the minute you get rid of something is when you need it! On the other, I guess if you have something and you haven't used it in years then you may not need it so why keep it. Especially if you don't have room to keep a lot of things. Now if you live in an old farmhouse with an attic and a barn you have room!


La Tea Dah said...

I so agree with your post! I live the way you do and it always surprises me that everyone doesn't live like this!


freddie said...

Ciao Brenda, fancy a holiday in Rome??? I will have my solemn profession in October and I'd like to invite you.
You can contact me at
ciao from Rome

Cheryl (Copper's Wife) said...

Another great post! I buy my herbs in bulk and store them in either vacuum sealed bags and/or in the freezer. I've had them retain their flavor for a couple of years that way.

The sad thing about our throw away society is that services like small appliance repair, and even shoe repair, are harder and harder to find. Remember when our folks used to have the toaster fixed instead of buying new?

~~Deby said...

oooh..the throw away mentality...I think ...although sad, there are many of us who benefit from people who toss so readily...and yet it sometimes seems so sad to walk in a thrift store and see the things that truly all represent hard (hopefully) earned $$$$ someone..or many hours of work that someone did making have it tossed for a few pennies or dollars....I don't save everything...but the older I get the more careful I want to be when it comes to buying and even tossing... I do have some regrets on some things that I have hastily sold or gave and learn...
"with food and rainment, therewith to be content"
not exact word for word...but you get it..I am sure.

Debbie said...

A standing joke around our house is that I am addicted to the Christian bookstore and coffee cups. Occasionally indulging in these things helps keep me from spending out of sheer boredom! I can think of far more expensive or destructive habits to have!
I try to keep our supermarket bill down, but find that it frustrates my husband when I come home and fuss about the cost of food and cleaning supplies. Men seem to take these things personally and may think we are implying they are not good providers.
He let's me know when I've reached my spending limit!

Joyce said...

Good information.