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 :)

They make one to use in the shower. Instead of electricity it attaches to the shower pipe! The brand I'm familiar with is Oral Breeze.

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

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What's in Vanilla?

I just read a flurry of emails on a frugal website about the rising cost of vanilla and how people are working around that while continuing to live their frugal lives.

Not one of the letters asked these logical questions.

Why has the price of vanilla risen so steeply?

What is happening to the people who grow and process it? 

"One must have sunshine..." Living Life Forward

This is another interview with a person who lives frugally and thoughtfully by design and by default. 

Thanks, Helle.

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How I met Helle Koustrup Berry tells you a lot about how she arranges her life.

Mindful Chickens a Month Later

(I just like the bison joke...) 

It’s been a while since I wrote a Mindful Chicken. 

Mindful Chickens are (for people who don’t know why I call them this) about TWO things.

  1. Being Cheap (cheep, cheep).
  2. Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.

___________

ONE – I donated blood. Why is this frugal? A tech checks your blood pressure and temperature. They prick your finger to test for hemoglobin (iron) levels are normal or low.

Looking for Sincere and Heartfelt Tales

A while back I posted an article about my friend Franc; I talked about how he has created a good life for himself even though he has rarely earned more than $15,000 in a year. (Right here)

This article was satisfying to write. I enjoyed spending time with Franc and asking nosy questions. Yes, it’s a challenge to interview folks and then write about their lives, but I did this often in my 12 years as a newspaper columnist and I like the adventure of it.

Mindful Chickens - Chicago Edition

Mindful? Thinking about what we do around here to be responsible to the world and to ourselves.

Chicken? Cheep, Cheep, Cheap!

 You may have noticed I haven’t posted in a while. There’s been a lot going on – including this pleasure.  Len and I went to Chicago for several days to care for our granddaughter while our daughter and son-in-law went out of town.

Mindful Chickens on an Icy Night

My church has been working for months to organize their fund-raising auction that was supposed to be TONIGHT. But instead we are in the middle of the massive spring storm that is scrubbing the nation from Oklahoma to I don’t know where next. The wind is howling; rain is sleeting into snow over a glaze of ice.

So the auction is postponed until next Saturday evening. I have put in so many hours (as have many other) working towards this event in the past weeks - that being quietly at home not working on it makes me feel as if I won a lottery. 

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