Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Simply Live, Therefore Live Simply

This is a picture from the shop Mom and I used to own. Imagine life so simple that you could sit on a bench in the warm sunshine, reading through a book. All the while your laundry is drying on the line in the gentle breeze...

Tonight's blog is inspired by an old friend and old recipes from pre-1950 through now. This friend has inspired 2 of my blogs now. She encourages me to write about some of things we talk about so that I can encourage others. I love it!

This afternoon I went through an entire box of old recipes that belonged to a well-dressed, simple, Finnish neighbor lady. I say 'well dressed' because her garments are now mine and I intend to wear them as my own...with pearls, of course. ;) She was "simple" in the way that she brilliantly lived. Some may think that the desire to live frugally comes from having very little money. I don't know what her financial status was but she used what she had and lived simply, I can tell. That's my dream! In her old recipes were many types of paper that were used sometimes more than 3 times. It might be an envelope with a recipe and each one included who they were from and what date it was given, or written. (I wish I could read all of the hand-written ones but she barely spoke English and I do not understand much more Finnish than "sokerie" which is translated: sugar. It was in so many sweet recipes that I figured out that much!) I'm sure you know of many older people who live this way. They save gifts like new hand towels for years because the old ones are still able to soak up water... maybe not much but... they are still useful. They also used every bit of what they cooked. To me, this is an art. I'm slowly 'getting it' but I have far to go. In my opinion these ladies are wise.

So besides telling you about this fine lady and how she lived, I wanted to share with my readers some simple-living ideas I use or at least some that I know about. These ideas help me to get dollars to stretch but also make me feel good about not wasting.

1) Taco Meat: When I'm making taco meat, I add the seasoning, some water or tomato sauce and 1-2 cans re-fried beans or whole canned beans plus fresh garlic and onion flakes. This greatly adds to the meat amount and makes it stretch quite a bit farther. I also love the taste and that it's not dried out. Thanks to my mother-in-law for the idea of adding beans!

2) Dryer Sheets: I rarely use these anymore because I prefer liquid (it's easier on your dryer..), but anyway, for goodness sake, cut the sheets in 1/2! There is plenty of softener for one sheet to become 2!

3) When whole chickens are on sale (especially non- hormone added, organic) buy them to use instead of plain breast meat. Cook it one night for dinner, but leave a little left on it. There's plenty for our family of 5 (with 3 small children) to have dinner and then I take off the rest of meat that I can find and store it in the fridge for use with broth/stock. Usually that night or the next day I put the carcass in a 20 quart stock pot and fill it up to about the 14 quart mark with water. Add your favorite seasonings, whole garlic, just flatten the cloves, chunks of onion (or the green tops of garden onions), celery. For seasonings this last time I made it, I used about a dash or 2 of almost every spice in my pantry, it seems. Parsley, 2 bay leaves, coriander, celery seed, oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, thyme and paprika. Those poor spices don't always get used anyway so you've got to not play favorites. ;) I then strain this and put it in pint size jars to can. Before I seal them I add salt and about 1 tsp of those reserved chicken pieces. I must say that when I labeled this batch I was so excited to write "Organic Chicken Stock" on them. It's fun to be able to use up the whole chicken too!

4) Picking up:I am by no means the best housekeeper, but I do try. When I'm leaving one room to go to another I pick up something that needs to go that direction. There's always something that needs picked up with 3 little ones and 2 big ones.

5) Saving gas and time: Limit trips in the car. Plan ahead. Make out a list of places you need to go and plan a day to get lots done instead of many small trips. I used to do way more small trips before I had kids but now I've learned. Gas is expensive and it's just plain wasteful to not try to combine at least a few things together. And before you leave home at least pack some snacks like almonds, dried fruit or cheese and crackers, if you don't pack a meal. It helps when you start to get hungry and give-in to that convenient bad-for-you but o-so-good food.

6) Raise Chickens: Get some chickens to use up scraps that would otherwise get thrown in the garbage, down the disposal or tossed out! Plus chickies give you eggs!

7) Use a clothesline to dry your laundry: It saves many dollars in electricity! It's simple to do too! If you don't have a line already made, string up some strong cotton clothesline rope or plastic covered line from one tree to another. String it between two posts on your porch or use an old-fashioned drying rack.

8)Make your own laundry soap: It's a mere fraction of the price. And even if you don't do that, you can save on stain remover by buying a bar of Fels Naptha soap and using it. I keep mine in a canning jar near the washer and when something has a stain, wet the bar and then rub it into the fabric. It has removed even blood soaked pillows from when one of my kids woke up with a bloody nose. I was amazed! And it's cheap too! It doesn't have that toxic smell like some stain removers either. I think it's like $1-$2!! There are lots of ideas online. Mine calls for washing soda, grated Fels Naptha and Borax. It works well too! I haven't taken the few minutes to make this for awhile but I really need to get back into making it. It's so much cheaper!

9) Your Cell phone: If you don't need a fancy camera phone with all the bells and whistles and things to distract you, get a free one when you update your plan or better yet... I'm planning on using a pay-as-you-go phone. That will save us more than $25 per month at least and now we have just a basic plan!
10) Make quilts: out of old clothing or fabric with special memories. Many women in the past have made quilts this way. Way back when, women didn't go to a fancy store to buy specially matching pieces of expensive fabrics to make blankets for their beds. They would cut up old dresses, men's shirts...whatever was still useful. I have the 'new' fabric to use up but I really do like this idea. I guess I do a little of that when I make the borders. I usually end up sewing all of the scraps from cutting out the quilt pieces and make a randomly-colored border. I use up most of those extra pieces doing this.

I know there are more ideas but how much time do you really have to spend here? It's wasteful if it takes you too long! haha!

I hope you learned something that you don't already know or just that you are reminded to live simply. I believe that we are such a spoiled few generations of folks that it's actually kind of ridiculous! It's fun to be creative and come up with meals from your cupboard and not just go to the store for something that sounds good. If you mixed up some flour, milk and some other on-hand ingredients you can have biscuits and make a white sauce with sausage and sage and you'll have biscuits and gravy! Or, when your garden abounds in lettuce, make meals that include it! Taco salad, green salad, chef salad, or use it for tuna sandwiches.

Live simply because you can, not because you have to.


Pickles In My Shoe said...

I like the idea of living simply because you want to. Good post....I also love your new vintage clothes on FB! -Jana

Kristin said...

Thanks Jana! I thought of that last comment right at the end of writing and had to stare at it for a moment. I amazed even myself! lol I truly think we should because we can! And IF we do because we HAVE to... do it joyfully and creatively!

BTW if you ever see old clothes that I might for sheap at sales... please pick them up and I'll pay you back! ;)

freckled laundry said...

I really enjoyed this post, Jana. I do whole chickens frequently (such an inexpensive meal for a fam of 5) but I need to learn to can so that I can make my own broth as many have suggested. I couldn't agree with you more on many fronts. I'm trying to head in a much more simple direction. What isn't simple, is usually DIY. Thank you so much for visiting and loving on my Cookie Monster pinata.

freckled hugs,

freckled laundry said...

Did I call you Jana? I meant kristin. I was looking at Jana's post and wrote her name. I hate it when your subconscious makes you write or type something else.