Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Insourcing #32...Make your day cozy, comfortable and creative...

I had temporarily ceased my Insourcing posts. It seemed like some of my blogging friends like Wendy, Patsy, and Annabel, were posting similarly, and might I add, far more creatively and consistently on this topic than I was. Annabels Vicky Challenge is inspiring and encouraging to say the least, Patsy's Working Pantry posts leave mine for dust, and Wendy puts my ideas of frugality to shame!
Then this week, I received a lovely comment from Mel at Thrifty, Frugal, Fun, on one of my very first Insourcing posts. Here's what she said...
"Dear Mimi,

I have really enjoyed reading this post and look forward to reading more on in sourcing. Lately I've been feeling a bit sorry for myself. We live on a very tight budget, with every spare dollar going towards paying off our only debt- the mortgage. I cook every meal from scratch, mend clothes, grow vegies, make soap and many other crafts and home school my youngest son. Sometimes I find it hard, my friends think I'm crazy for not eating out or for putting extra layers on instead of using the heater! But having the mortgage paid off will be such a huge weight lifted financially for hubby and I and will give us security when the kids move out. That means more to me right now. Sometimes I just need a little reminder of this when the urge to spend hits me! I have dreamed about visiting Paris for years, imagine if I keep in sourcing, it might one day be possible! xx"
First of all, I'd like to say to you Mel, and for anyone else in Mel's situation, that being frugal and living on a tight budget can be strangely satisfying when you go about it the right way. That said, I do know that long term frugality, without relief, can lead to feeling a bit sorry for oneself. I think particularly so when we have friends who are either in a better financial position, or more truthfully, when we have friends who don't mind spending without thought for the future. It's hard to be the lone guppy swimming against the tide!
The trick is to introduce some joy into the equation.
Here's how I go about it...maybe these ideas can help you too.
I've always rationalised that if I'm saving money by Insourcing, I can afford to have an occasional splurge on tools that assist me to Insource more effectively.
For example, don't think twice about snapping up a bunch of supermarket roses once in a while, especially when they're a bit long in the tooth, and been marked down. Even when they're a bit sad looking, I enjoy them in a vase for a day, then hang them upside down to dry. They are then used in potpourri, as decorator items, gift toppers and even as cake decorations. Feeling like you have the 'good things in life' is a great mind set, and who doesn't love flowers?
A trip to the local thrift shop might yield something special for you, like the gorgeous knitwear at the top of my post. A 'designer' label knit, swept home and swooshed in some home made wool wash, then gently pulled into shape and dried flat in the sun becomes something that smells glorious, feels beautiful to wear, and looks lavish. At under $10 for an item that would sell for over $100 at full retail price, it's a worthwhile investment, even when money is tight. Ask the staff in your local thrift store, what day their stock arrives. Knowing this means that you can schedule your visits on that day, and have a greater chance of something gorgeous at a great price. Remember, all that full time focus and frugality deserves a small reward now and again! And of course, shopping at thrift stores is also a great way to save the planet. Recycle and re-use I say!
 Just to show what you can find if you're diligent, earlier this week I sourced two brand new white linen designer blouses, in very flattering and unusual styles with great detailing (see below), still with the tags on, for $22 each at my favourite thrift store. These originally retailed for nearly $200 each. I know this as it was marked on the tags. I also found two other linen blouses in earthy shades, two very swanky looking structured Winter vests, and a gorgeous cream satin smock jacket (seen below also), that will get an airing at a High Tea this weekend! These items were all around the $15 mark, which is expensive for thrifting, but an excellent price for quality, designer label clothing!

So don't turn your nose up at the thrift store. You never know what you'll find! And for the record, there were at least three other ladies there, who looked very well heeled indeed, scouring the racks for their own bargains. Thrift stores are not just 'for the poor'. These days they are a huge business and are often laid out much like any swish retail outlet!
Remember, every dollar you save, is a dollar towards finalising your mortgage, or booking that dream trip to Paris!
Little splurges that make the most of your creativity are always a good investment too. A coloured ink cartridge for my printer might seem like an extravagance, but it helps me generate sweet gifts like these customised teabags...

These little things save me an absolute fortune in gifts for the dozens of friends that my teen daughter insists on gifting for any occasion from 'it's their birthday Mum', to 'oh she's having a bad day and I want to cheer her up'. When all I'm investing is mere cents and a little time to create these little gifts, why not? It's equally important, when on a budget, to cultivate a generosity of spirit and an air of abundance. Being frugal doesn't have to mean being mean and tight fisted.

Creating gourmet food treats is an essential part of our strategy too. I've always believed in having some luxurious treats to alleviate the boredom, but I refuse to pay the supermarket for the convenience of having them package it for me, and that's where I save big dollars, and still get to feel special.
Marinated feta or cherry bocconcini is a firm favourite here, and why would you pay up to $20 for a tiny jar of feta cubes marinating in Canola oil, when for $5 you can have three times the amount, marinated in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and whatever lush aromatics you like, and feel good about re-using the olive oil for your next batch of marinating, or as a healthy salad drizzle. I sure wouldn't drizzle Canola Oil over my salad! This too, is another great impromptu gift, and there's been many a day where I've been able to whip a jar of marinated feta out of the fridge, pair it with some home made crackers and a bottle of wine, and gift it with pride.
And speaking of supermarket convenience food, I love creating my own 'salad mixes' and save money in the process too. Every 3 or 4 days, I create a new salad mix, which is then used in several ways to further save money and ensure we don't get bored with our menu plan. Coleslaw mix is a favourite. We add grated cheese one night, shredded raw beet another, and stir fry some on a third evening for variety.
A packet of pre-made Coleslaw mix is generally around $4 for 500gms. That seems economical enough and you wouldn't think twice about adding that to your shopping trolley. That is, until you realise that a small cabbage and a couple of carrots, shredded, will yield four times the amount of coleslaw for the same $4. Truly. I promise. So in effect, by shredding your own whole cabbage, and peeling and grating two carrots, you can save $12 on your grocery bill. That $12 alone, over a year, saves $624. Now THAT'S a worthwhile saving! Extrapolate that to marinating your own feta or bocconcini, making your own soups, stocks, risottos and pasta sauces (have you seen the price of pre-packaged, so called 'gourmet' items like soup and risotto in the delicatessens?), and you're eating luxuriously, and saving significantly on your food bill.
Making home the place you prefer to be is key too. I recently discussed this in a post about Nurturing. You might like to read that here
I've been spending time recently, tidying my craft room. I use my craft room daily, and can one day be sewing nightgowns, another embellishing pillow cases and throwing glitter around with wild abandon, and then be finding creative ways to use vintage doileys. It's a madhouse, I tell you.
These embellished project cardboard shapes, now house my ribbons and lace. These are a pretty way to have what I need at my fingertips and just flipping through them, stored upright in a repurposed box, brings a smile to my face.

 Finding new ways to display my trinkets and pretties occupies some of my time too, and a recent Sunday was devoted to fabricating these pretty cloche cushions. Two circles of fabric, cut to suit the base of an upturned Hurricane Lantern (you can use anything as a Cloche...glasses, jars, vases, light fittings), with a gathered pastel polka dot insert to the edges, and filled with rice to support whatever is seated upon it. A sweet way to display my daughters red satin pointe shoes.
Thankyou to my friend Lynette, who gifted me the gorgeous Parisian print fabric for this project!

Finally, maybe growing something you love, will make you smile, and help you to feel that life is abundant.
I'm a patchy gardener at best. I've tried my hand at growing herbs, ornamentals, shrubs, rainforest plants, vegetables, fruit and roses, all with varying degrees of success. One thing though. I don't give up easily. So I am now the proud owner of fruit trees including fig, mulberry, cumquat, lime, kaffir lime, orange, lemon, olive, coffee bean and avocado. I have about 20 rosebushes which are all sporting luxuriant new growth, and this one, one of my favourites, has the very first bud of the season on show. This rose when it develops, will look like this bloom from last year....
...I can't wait!
After you've done all those things...or even one or two of them, remember to find the simple joys in your day. Nurture, create, seek contentment and creativity, and don't forget to smell the roses and enjoy the sunset, like this one taken a week or two ago.
Aren't Winter sunsets the best?
Mel, thankyou for your sweet comment. I think you're doing a brilliant job, and I can promise you unequivocally, that putting that mortgage behind you, will be worth the sacrifices you make now.
Keep your chin up. One day, you too, will visit Paris.
I've recently converted my Five Star Frou-Frou linkup to a never ending linkup with a feature each time  I post. Todays feature is Debbie at Debbie-Dabble blog, who shared her gorgeous craft room. I thought with all this talk of crafting, that Debbies post was appropriate. You can enjoy that here.
Love ya,
Mimi xxx


  1. Mimi, I too enjoy your insourcing posts and I've missed them. Don't put your kind of frugality down, I enjoy all the ones you mention above and still greatly enjoy yours too. Good to see you back in action with this, along with all your other delightful ramblings. Keep it up - we really enjoy it. Pam

    1. Pam, thankyou. It's really gratifying to hear that. I'm flattered and appreciate the feedback. Blogging can be a bit of a guessing game sometimes, and I love knowing what you like to read the most. Love, Mimi xxx

  2. Dear Mimi, I agree beyond words with everything! It seems to me that even though you and I know (and keep learning) the massive $$$ value of doing things and making things ourselves many people don't. It is as if there is mad treadmill of working to pay for things that you could have made for a fraction of the cost and got ahead instead.
    I was fired up on this today as I read an article that seemed to ridicule someone who had made a big saving on an item. Hello, like those gorgeous clothes in your article there are items that I have and love that I would never have paid the hundreds of dollars that was the original price but they are mine as they were $5 in a thrift store! Joy I say!
    Each week I feel I get a head a little bit more due to doing and making!
    Thank you for inspiring everyone! And I love that fabric Lynette gave you!
    With love

    1. Dear Annabel...really? Someone was rubbishing a person who was saving money? Good grief. What's the world coming to. I certainly don't have a problem with anyone choosing to spend their hard earned money in a manner that befits their long as they can afford it! The problem only becomes 'a problem', when you're spending money you can't afford to spend, and living an unsustainable existence using credit cards. And this seems frighteningly prevalent nowadays. It makes me feel so sad, when there truly is another way. We've both had some good fortune thrifting lately, haven't we! I have to say that Lynette really spoiled me last time we met up. That gorgeous Parisian inspired fabric was only one of the lovely items she gave me. She's such a sweetheart. I love how you're getting ahead with your Christmas challenge. It's wonderful encouragement! Lots of love, Mimi xxx

  3. A lovely post, Mimi and I am sure it will be a big encouragement to those who are trying to pay off their mortgage and being really frugal. It isn't easy these days with the cost of housing etc. and it was much more affordable for us when we bought our house back in the 1970s.

    1. Thanks Chel. It IS hard being frugal long term. I think you really have to be a bit kind to yourself sometimes. Love, Mimi xxx

  4. Hi Mimi,
    I have missed your insourcing posts and am so glad to see a new one from you! I agree with you that Mel, Annabel and Patsy all do an amazing job too and I learn something new from them and from you with each post I read. Do you want to hear something funny? I was going through my lingerie drawer and found some beautiful old cotton slips that are trimmed out in gorgeous lace. One of the half slips looks like it was hand made and had never been worn. I had found these at a thrift store while back. The half slip is way too small for me but I immediately thought "Mimi would salvage the lace and embellish a pillowcase or something with it". So yes Mimi, your posts really do make a difference and add beauty to my life.

    Be blessed!

  5. I love this post Mimi! We are also working hard to pay off our mortgage, but still have a long way to go. It can feel like all the effort amounts to not much at times, and there have been times when I've seriously considered reducing our payments a bit so that we have a bit more breathing space. To be honest, it's sheer stubbornness that has stopped me doing that!

    You are so right about treating ourselves occasionally, it really can make such a difference. I will very soon be the proud owner of the new Harry Potter book and that is my bliss! (It's totally for me, not the kids!!!) I can't wait lol.

    What I appreciate the most about your approach to being frugal is that you concentrate on how to still make things feel special. Some advice I have read just seems miserable! I think that certainly for myself, your approach is easier to sustain for a long period of time, and that is why I find your advice so useful.

    Thanks Mimi! Enjoy the rest of your week :)

  6. Dear Mimi, I am so happy to see a new insourcing post from you. This is a fabulous post, filled with such wonderful advice and inspiration. Another great frugal living addition to my pinterest board! :-)

    I love Mel's blog! She also inspires me, and that craft room of Debbie's!! Wow! It is really fabulous.

    Love, Kaye xoxo

  7. I love to visit your lovely blog and read all the inspirational ways you save money, Mimi. You truly are amazing!

  8. Dear Mimi, This was an awesome blog today. This has come at a time when I can help my daughter out who is struggling with paying off bills and having no money and the stress that goes with it. It also gave me a fresh perspective just by reading again about some of your frugal ideas.
    Thank you.

  9. Mimi!! Thanks so much for the honor of being featured!! I will be giving you a Shout Out on Google + and in my next post!! Glad that you enjoyed my post on my Craft Room!!

  10. So much loveliness! Your thrift store finds are marvelous...I'm jealous!
    Blessings, Leigh

  11. Hi Mimi
    The in-sourcing posts are one of my favourites so I would love it if you kept them up! BTW you might just be a little proud of me - my daughters and I were in Spotlight and we bought a number of different ribbons for .20c a metre! If you're interested, the Cherry brand of ribbons were all reduced for new stock coming in. It was like Christmas choosing them and we had such fun. We're going to use them to wrap presents and we have so many different styles to choose from.
    Thank you so much Mimi for your fabulous blog and know that it helps many.
    Mrs Tiggywinkle xx

  12. What a wonderful assortment of insourcing ideas. Thanks so much for sharing them. I am honored that you chose to add Harvest Lane Cottage to your sidebar. Thank you.
    God bless you,

  13. I really love your insourcing posts. They have made me look at things in a different and fresh way and made me realize that you can make some luxurious items and food at a fraction of the cost. Great buys at the thrift ship. Ronnie (London, England)

  14. Your post speaks to my frugal, thrifty and crafty heart, Mimi. I have had a busy summer and have had an issue or two with my back. It has been hard for me to find motivation and I have really neglected my blog and reading the posts of blogging friends. I am taking a few moments this morning to check in on some of my favorites and, as usual, your post is a joy to read.

  15. I love your thrify insights. We follow Dave Ramsey's free Podcasts and books, the best of which is Total Money Makeover. We live debt free and enjoy Grandma's slogan: Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. I keep it as my mantra. As far as comparing yourself to other bloggers...don't. The more ideas shared, the better for everyone. Please keep doing what you do. It is appreciated.

  16. Dear Mimi,

    Thank you for sharing my letter. You have some wonderful ideas. I love marinated fetta and will totally be making some of that- yum! I know when I stop and take a look around, we are living better than we ever have before. One of my favorite things is to make my own batch bombs or sugar scrub and have a nice long soak in the bath. I did this last night after a hard week and had a chamomile tea before bed and I felt like I had just been to a fancy spa. xx

  17. There's so much common sense here - and affirmation for those of us who like to stretch that dollar!

  18. What great tips!

    Thanks for sharing with SYC.


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx