Originally posted August, 2009
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