a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Frugality Is Often Priceless!

Is it stating the obvious to say that cheap has become a way of life for me?

Even though financially, it is not as necessary as it once was, it is still wasteful to spend more than is needful for an item. I love the challenge.

As I have stated before our family motto was

    "Broke is a state of pocketbook --- poor is a state of mind"

There is no shame in being broke and we were usually okay with it.  and ----
There is no need to be poor and we refused to see ourselves as such ---- even when our financial circumstances leaned that way.

While we didn't realize it at the time, great dividends resulted from our financial situation. Necessity caused us to be creative in many aspects of our lives. Since there was no money for repairmen or replacement, Dave tried to fix many things. More often than not he was successful. When he wasn't, the only thing lost was a little time. (And maybe a little pride, although that is just a guess :) Over time he became quite the handyman.

By far, the greatest dividend was that our kids learned to share.

First it was crayons, and bikes and bedrooms. Later it was paper routes. When three were in college at the same time, they met weekly to exchange clothes, greatly expanding their individual meager wardrobes.

To this day they still share, usually across the miles ---- strength, support, ideas, and even occasionally, stuff!

Way back then, little did Dave realize when he was on an outing with just one of the kids and they financially had to share a soda pop, that a priceless bond was being created.

Creativity and thrift are not just for the financially challenged. It is caring and resourcefulness in a time when disposables and wastefulness are a way of life.

Following is a poignant message worth sharing (possibly I have already posted it, but if so, it is worth reading again). The author is unknown.

"My mother was so frugal she even ironed Christmas ribbons --- they were rayon then. I grew up in the forties and fifties when my practical mother also ironed wrapping paper and reused it and washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, and then reused it. 

She was the original recycle queen before they had a name for it. It was the time for fixing things --- a curtain rod, the kitchen radio, the screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things that could be fixed and kept rather than simply replaced.

It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, reheating, renewing. I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there would always be more. 

But then my mother died, and I sat in my kitchen that Sunday afternoon reading her old handmade cookbook in a binder. I was struck with the pain of feeling all alone, learning that sometimes there isn't any 'more.' Sometimes what we  care about most gets all used up and goes away---never to return.

So.... while we have it...it's best we love it...care for it...fix it if we can when it is broken...and heal it when it is sick.

This is true...for marriage...and old cars...and children with bad report cards...and dogs with bad hips...and aging parents...and grandparents...and aging family...blended families...sisters and brothers... We keep them because they are worth it and because we are worth it.

Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with. There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special...and so, we keep them close!

It is best if we can determine what is really worth keeping and, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away."

                          This post is part of a "Simply, Gail" column in a 2004 issue of Desert News Magazine.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Simple Steps to Take Before Leaving Your "Home Alone"

All packed up and ready to hit the road for a week-end or a week or more?
Consider the following before you walk out the door!

Taking a moment to take a few simple precautions may provide additional protection for your home while it is home alone when you are away. Even a pinhole-size leak can wet down a room in minutes!

  • If it uses water, turn off the supply
  • It if uses energy, turn it down, turn it up or turn it off.
  • If it burns fuel, remove the ignition source.
  • Turn down the furnace --- or turn up the air conditioner thermostat.
  • Lower the water heater temperature setting.
  • Turn off all washing machine water hoses and sink/toilet water leads.
  • Unplug all electronics and appliances.
Further Do's
  • Make sure a trusted neighbor has phone numbers to contact you in case of emergency.
  • Have a neighbor pick up your newspapers and mail --- or have them temporarily stopped.
  • Leave a car parked in the driveway if possible.
  • Arrange to have appropriate yard maintenance continued, depending on the season --- lawn mowed, snow cleared, etc.
And a Couple of Do Not's
  • Hide a house key in an obvious location. Even amateurs know most of the favorites -- under mats, in flower pots, inside fake rocks, etc.
  • Change your answering machine message to proudly announce your trip (no matter how terrific it is) or to explain why you will not be returning calls.
Now that you have added these simple safety precautions for your home in your absence have a wonderful and safe trip. Increase your safety by wearing your seat belts and avoid talking or texting while driving.