Mary Beth Writes

Our son was married this past weekend. As he said, “This wedding has a lot of moving parts …” We are slowly coming out of our happy preoccupation with our kids’ lives.

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Mindful Chickens? We are frugal so that our retirement savings will last as long as we do. At the same time we try to consume responsibly so that our choices have the least negative impact on our fellow humans and on our earth and its creatures.  Cheep, Cheap!

Mindful Chickens of the past few weeks?   

1. Failure: I bought the expensive dress from Etsy which now hangs in the back of my closet. I think it has a future as something and I’m not in a hurry to implement what that future ought to be. Sometimes one just has to let a wrong thing sit until it finds its own solution.  I generally love this process and will let you know when it happens. Might take a year or two.

2. Regarding the dress I DID buy at Dress Barn: I rarely shop at conventional clothing stores. (A friend gave me grief when I called a store a “first-hand store.” She wanted to know what I was talking about.) I DO know stores often have secret on-line deals. Before I went to Dress Barn I looked at their site and found a ‘20% off one purchase’ coupon. I used that on my dress, which was a good savings. (Thank you, Alison, for your gentle horror back when we were co-workers and you realized I had shopped at Kohl’s without printing a coupon first…)

3. The dress needed a flamboyant pin.  I went to a craft store where for many minutes I stood and studied the bridal accessories aisle like a dim cow studying a new fence. They had demure silk rose corsages for $5. I eventually picked one out though it seemed sad and small. On the way to the check-out counter I passed the giant displays of fake flowers.  Saw one that was exactly what I wanted - for $2 – and walked the sad item back to its forlorn place in the planogram (can you tell I’ve worked retail?). At home I snipped the long stem, wrapped the short stem in green duct tape, then pinned it to my jacket with a safety pin. My baby granddaughter kept ruffling the petals it when I held her so it worked perfectly.

4. I went for my dental check-up and cleaning. My gums, which were okay six months ago – are better! The dentist had suggested I floss with those curved soft picks instead of plain ole dental floss. I guess they are a good thing - but they are plastic. I toss one a day and I have no good ideas of responsible ways to dispose of them. Put them in one container and recycle them all at once? Do you have any ideas of how to responsibly recycle icky helpful stuff like used plastic dental detritus?

5. The dentist suggested we try a water pick. At this point, anything that preserves teeth and gums is worth the cost because fixing teeth is always more expensive than maintaining.  That said – we now have a water pick and I’m figuring it out. I have a spare jacket that I put on when I use it. And a towel to wipe down the bathroom when I’m done.  I’m sure I’ll get the knack of this soon… Currently, it’s like playing with water balloons.

6. The regular frugal stuff. We ate all our meals at home except the ones associated with the wedding plus the lovely evening we dined with friends.  I make most of our bread; just made these beauties today. One to sell, one to share, and the big loaf for us. 

7. Sold (on eBay) a puzzle I bought at Goodwill for a dollar – for $15. When I looked it up on the internet I learned it was manufactured in 1936. Cool. 

1936 Tuco "Sunrise"

8.  “American families throw out between 14 and 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy. This can cost the average family between $1,365 to $2,275 annually.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2012/08/22/how-food-actually-gets-wasted-in-the-united-states/?utm_term=.582d0887cd0f   If you have time, read this interesting and depressing article about food waste in the US.  In the past month Len and I have tossed very little; I guess we are responsible eaters. (We sort of look like it.) I did toss the stem of a week-old mushroom today and last week  a half cup of cottage cheese turned to science. We made broth from bones, soup from the broth, ate some and put the rest in the freezer for days we are too preoccupied to cook.  

But that isn’t news. Most of you do the same…

Responsibly eating and using what we already have is among the most frugal and most earth-friendly values to pursue. Not glamorous, but true. 

Comments

Really laughed at the water pick. Been there - done that. I think those little plastic picks could go in the recycling bin! Enjoyed the read as usual - you two are a couple of the most environmentally responsible people I know

Hello, can you tell that I am catching up on my MB reads this morning? This one makes me smile, wonder and laugh. The picture really makes me smile. The Etsy dress makes me wonder, I want to know why you wanted it, why you didn't want it, and what it looks like? And the water pick story makes me laugh. Steve is living a very similar experience. The counter in the bathroom is very full with Reach floss sticks, various pastes and rinses, an Oral B toothbrush, and the newly acquired (about 3 weeks ago) water pick. I asked him if it was possible to use that thing in the shower, that idea is still under consideration. Until then, enter at your own risk :)

What a good idea, water-picking in the shower! Although electrocution comes to mind....

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The Chicken is Thinking 12/11/2017

1. We either squandered $60 this year or saved $30 today – depends on how you look at it. (Ahhh, the prism of life metaphor…)

Len’s lost his job last spring but soon enough he found his next job (he’s a serial worker); he now works mostly from home.

Guess who should have called the insurance company two days after he lost that job? Argh. We’ve been paying car insurance on the basis of a daily 40-mile round-trip commute he doesn’t make.

How to Save Hundreds on Fresh Herbs!

This probably never happens to you. You buy fresh cilantro (or parsley or basil or whatever herb you think you need) at the grocery store. You come home and stick it in the vegetable drawer in your refrigerator.

Two weeks later you throw away the plastic bag of green slime.

It occurred to me several months ago to ask the Internet how one ought to store fresh herbs. 

Is eBay worth it?

The nuts and bolts paragraph of this whole article:

“This is my formula, which is not at all precise. EBay notifies you that your item sold. Soon that selling amount PLUS the amount the buyer has to pay for shipping – comes to your PayPal account. Take that total amount; subtract 10% (a good estimate) of that total price, which eBay will keep for their fee. Subtract the postage. Subtract the original amount you paid. There’s your profit.”

American Clutter

I watched an 18-minute video about Americans and their clutter.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AhSNsBs2Y0 

 (I read about it in the letters section of The Non-Conformist Advocate.   http://thenonconsumeradvocate.com/ )

The book it is related to is this: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors. http://www.ioa.ucla.edu/press/life-at-home

From Our Hit Parade of $ Mistakes

I said last week that I would list The Dumbest Money Things Len and I have done in our lives.

1. Oops. I forgot to get a graduate degree at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. What would my writing career have been like with top-notch editors, agents, accolades and cash?

I have no idea. I write fiction but I don’t live it

Mindful Chickens 10/23/2017

1. The most effectively frugal thing I did last week -- was have a cold. I walked some of those beautiful days… but other than that I stayed home with my germs.

Botanical Gardens

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