Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The beauty of forced frugality

I doubt most of us would use the word beauty and forced frugality together... at least until the view you are achieving is from the rear view mirror. Years and years later one looks around at the skills developed and the life being lived, only to realize they would not have come about except for the day to day living when there is more creativity than money. :)

I thought about that this week as I was in the kitchen and working on small projects. Both the guys were away from home. I had plenty of time to think and ponder and work on decluttering projects (for there are always places in a small house which need to be decluttered). All those little items on my "to do" list are now "to done". It is amazing what two days alone (in the daytime) can do...

Yesterday afternoon I baked a loaf of honey wheat bread as promised for my husband, made the best salmon patties, set sliced cucumbers and onions in vinegar and sugar, and sliced some tomatoes... all coming together for a cheap but delicious dinner... leftover salmon patties carefully covered and set aside for a late dinner when the guys arrived home.

The bread recipe was learned long, long ago for the benefit of health and our pocketbook (kept taped inside my kitchen cabinet), the salmon recipe only recently discovered as a way to add salmon to our menu on the cheap (I used to hate salmon patties until I found this recipe, which is now on my recipe blog).

Sitting on my kitchen counter this week has been a small bowl of cider vinegar with a squirt of dishwashing liquid... battling gnats which somehow came in with veggies and reproduced. At one time I would have sprayed poison but I couldn't afford to buy any so I found a cheap solution, and it worked! So many of our "going green and good for the planet" solutions have come about by the need to be frugal.

There is a simplicity that comes when one must stay home for long stretches of time to save gas or the money isn't there to shop, go out to eat, sign the children up for various classes, or flitter from one friend to another (flitter?). Staying home is hard for some who have been used to leaving each day. It is only when one becomes good at staying home that it is possible to look at housekeeping other than maintenance... moving into the realm of creative homemaking... for such a lifestyle requires time.

I love going out to the garden to pick green beans for dinner or zucchini for a quick bread or cake (using the same batter in a 9 x 13 dish). As mentioned in another post... skills continuing to be learned as we're stretching money as a family over the years. New recipes are being researched as we use more beans, lentils, etc. in various recipes.

I was listening to a TV show recently where the author being interviewed had written about learning to live with less money. She thought some will come out of the present economic crisis with their life changed for the good, having gained many useful skills and learning how much joy can be found in a simpler and more frugal lifestyle... as she had after leaving a high paying corporate position.

Going through tough economic times can be very difficult. I have been there when a decision was made to put the house up for sale before we lost it. I have been to the grocery store when a decision was made to purchase either milk or bread (which is why knowing how to make bread became a priority... we don't own a cow). :)

Living on less can make convenience hard to come by but it also forces us (as in forced frugality) to gain knowledge and experience which come only by doing things for ourselves... and that can be a heritage passed to the next generation just as important as what is found in a bank account.

Personally, I believe such lessons learned are worth all the gold in California as one decides to depend less on what money can buy... manage expectations... develop skills for living... and stop complaining about circumstances but becoming less consumers and more producers... even it is just a tomato plant on the deck and bread in the oven.

As the Word says... do not despise small beginnings... and don't stomp your foot and complain that you are being forced to learn to live on less. In the long run, you will be thankful... someday even if it is not now. :)

Picture: Grandma's Garden, Robert Duncan; allposters.com

20 comments:

Love the Decor! said...

Wonderful words of wisdom and encouragement to live more frugally and enjoy doing it! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I understand what you mean Brenda. I thankfully grew up in a whole community where frugal living was just the basic way of life. I thought everyone everywhere grew up like I was. From there I married and gained even more out of necessity again. Not that we didn't want to have more 'things' and less worry over money but we lived in reality. Like you over the years, I gathered books and learning on different aspects of independent simple living etc. We learned this and then another thing as times changed our knowledge grew. There is always more to learn. One thing leads you on to another. I have always thought of it as more of a game than drudgery. It was a game of feeding the family the best possible food and yet not spending more than necessary. It was setting priority for any money we did have. From you later I learned we should each keep a prioity list for the things needed when extra $ came in. Before the $ came in we research just which stye/kind of those items would be the best fit for us. It was keeping fun and good family times into our lives which you can do with or without money. It was concentrating on what we had and not on what we did not have. It was keeping a grateful heart. It is in knowing Who is in control of our world. Forced or not frugality is what our life in its basic form,... but it does not define us. I am forever though grateful for the early lessons and in the rear view mirror as you put it Brenda for all the times I dreaded that came but taught us more than if they had not happened. It seems like we are right in the throes of another time like that at this very moment and I am taking a deep breath and waiting for the new lessons... :) Jody

Anonymous said...

Those few years in our earlier life when we had almost no cash, I do look back on with great pleasure. Because I lived close to my wonderful Mom and her parents, and we did most everything together. Laughing anc chatting as we worked. I miss those days!! But yes, I did a lot more in those days as we had no choice...sewing more, canning, etc. And my Grampie grew enough garden to feed the neighborhood! So there was always plenty to fix, freeze and can. Plus my dad raised cows and we had a goat for milk. Not a bad life really. I enjoy reading of your life...it encourages me, eventually we will get to living more this way...step by step. Thanks for sharing so much!
Elizabeth

Marie said...

I agree with all you said. I have told you before that we made a budget when my husband retired and we are sticking to it. This past year and a half has made us be more frugal and spread things as far as they will go. To go out to the grocery store takes help from friends. For that reason, I check the freezer and decide on just what I need to go with that to make a meal. When I cook, I cook enough that it last for a couple of meals and some put away in the freezer for one of my bad days. I have even started making bread but there must be an art to it--I haven't gotten it just like I want it but we eat it anyway. My husband and I both find happiness at home. My doctor asked me one time if I was not depressed because I didn't get out often and I said "NO!". There are not enough hours in the day usually to do all I want to. I love to read and always have a project going. Some of my friends say they just have to get out of the house. I am happy for them that they can but in the meantime, we are saving money on gas and eating out and buying "stuff" we don't need. Keep giving us good pointers!

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Another great post, Brenda. Two things came to mind while reading it. One was the fruit fly traps I make where I put vinegar in a small bowl, cover the top with saran wrap and poke tiny holes in it. The flies go in but can't get out........My daughter Alice showed me this.

The other was a memory of being at a farmer's market in Budapest in 1992 and standing behind a mother and her perhaps 8 year old son as they looked at the earliest strawberries and discussed which ONE of them they were going to buy. This was a serious discussion and went on for a while. And then they bought ONE to take home......

I felt so humbled at the the thought of the abundance I had always known and certainly not appreciated enough. And yet this mother and son were surely much better off than millions of people in our world.

The Pleasures of Homemaking said...

Brenda, How I wish you lived next door and I could pop over for some tea (well, I'd have coffee) and a chat! Well this blog is the next best thing! I'm always so thankful that there are women like you who are willing to share their wisdom through blogs with those of us who really don't have anyone like that in our personal lives!

I too am learning new skills all the time (isn't the internet great) and it's one of the things I love about being a full-time homemaker. Just because you stay home doesn't mean your brain doesn't get used!

Manuela

scrappy quilter said...

I totally agree. Another wonderful post filled with tons of wisdom.

Mrs.Rabe said...

True words Brenda! Thanks.

Ms.Jeanie said...

I love all of your posts, but especially the ones of frugal living. I never thought I would enjoy this living, but after reading your posts and your good attitude about it, I realized it could be much worse. Thanks for sharing all you do.

Jeanie in KY

Anonymous said...

I am thinking of buying a bread machine and wonder if you could recommend a type or brand. Maybe some of your readers could also help.

Friend Debra

Niki RuralWritings said...

Very true. I want to ask about the cukes and onion in a vinegar and sugar solution...how much vinegar to sugar do you use and do you let the cukes soak for a period of time? Also what type of onions? It sounds so refreshing.
Blessings,
Niki

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

I agree about the bread machine. I don't know anyone personally that has one and uses it. What would be the one you would recommend? I thank you so much for your frugal tips. I need them as much as possible. My mother was very frugal but always looked great and enjoyed watching her pennies. She shopped at Goodwill and after my daddy passed away we had to make it all stretch. I look back and wish I would have saved like I should have. I can't go back so I need to stop beating myself up about it. I pray the Lord will help me learn more and more about saving more. Thanks for your help.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I am very busy through the week...go, go, go. When I am home on Saturday, needing to tend to my place, I have to fight the urge to hop in the car and run the 15 miles into town to pick up this or that (my ADD?). It is an act of willful discpline that makes me stop and say that I will save that task until I am going into town for other things. I think you are right--staying home is hard for those of us used to running. And, yet, I know somewhere deep down that stopping that urge is the healthy thing for me. Thanks for this. I need to take it all to heart. C

Beth said...

As always, I love your post! I love being frugal. I have mentioned in my blog about being MORE content and happy when we have LESS! That doesn't make sense at all, I know, but I think that when we have less, or should I say when we can AFFORD less, I am much more grateful and appreciative to our Lord for what He has provided.
I have gotten into the habit of telling my family how much our supper costs each night. I tell everyone that we were able to have a balanced meal to feed five or six, depending on who is home, for less than five dollars, etc. I hope to get them to realize that by NOT eating out, I am spending less than 1/5 of what it would cost us to just have a hamburger, fries and a soft drink. I want my kids to realize that people can live on way less than we think or WANT to...and be happier in it!
Thanks again for your words!!
Hugs! Beth

Anonymous said...

I too, especially enjoy the "frugal" posts. You are a wise woman. You know, it is pretty simple; "Most of us have too much" - I include myself here. I am grateful (from the rear view mirror) for the tough times we've been through. My only struggle is the fact that I am the breadwinner in our family since my husband has been unable to work for the past 10 years. I would really like to be able to spend more time at home instead of working 50 hours a week awa;y from home.

Martha said...

We've always lived frugally although we do have some "guilty pleasures". I must admit it is easier living here on the prairie -- we can have a really good dinner out and even with tip it's just a $10. (In the cities sometimes that is just the GLASS of wine!)

If you live frugally if hard times hit, your less affected.

Ms.Jeanie said...

THis is for the readers wondering about a bread machine. I just bought myself a "breadman" from Target online and it cost about $45 plus shipping. I really like it, but I only use it to knead my dough...not actually bake the bread. I find that when the machine bakes it, even on the lightest crust setting,it still gets to hard. I like to shape it and let it rise myself before baking. It has 7 different types of dough features and 3 crust settings. Very nice machine so far. I just got it in July.For my birthday from hubby. Hope this helps. Brenda, what is your recipe for honey wheat bread?

Jeanie in KY

Rebecca. Harlan, IN said...

This statement is profound. Could I have permission to copy it in my blog along with your blog "address"? "Staying home is hard for some who have been used to leaving each day. It is only when one becomes good at staying home that it is possible to look at housekeeping other than maintenance... moving into the realm of creative homemaking... for such a lifestyle requires time."

Raquel said...

I love being frugal. When I was growing up, we were, quite literally, the working poor. But we had love and I have very few bad memories of my childhood. Then I was a single mother for 13 of my son's 18 years, so making do was a way of life. But we had fun, and lots of it. Now I am re-married and so somewhat more comfortable, but the way things are looking, my job may be cut in hours shortly. So I will be revamping my budget. I will be sure to budget in a few "guilty pleasures". Much love - Raquel XO

eag said...

So very true.From adversity grow good things, abundance and riches."Good be with you"