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...
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.