Month: June 2014

Tea, and Me

My supplies of Earl Grey Tea and Vanilla Tea were getting so, so low. I was already trying to s-t-r-e-t-c-h what I had by drinking a different tea in my stash, even if I was craving one of the above — but things got real this week, and I only had enough tea for one pot of each left in my cupboard.

Earl Grey has become my absolute favorite tea during the workday. I prefer a good Earl with no milk or sugar which makes it very low fuss for the office. Nice leaves are also re-steepable (I usually re-steep my Earl twice) and I also find that if I get busy and my tea gets cold, it’s still delicious. Sometimes I even make a cold steep with used leaves on purpose!  When it’s rainy, I say to myself, “Ooooh! a good Earl Grey day!”  When it’s hot, I say to myself, “Ooooh, a good Earl Grey day!” When I know I have many challenges ahead of me on a particular day, I say, “Oooh, a good Earl Grey day!” You get the picture.

Here is the Earl I purchased:

I received this Earl for a holiday present this year and loved it so much I sought it out to purchase. It is very balanced, so pretty (those blue cornflowers get me every time), and organic. The price is not too bad either — a little under $12 USD for 3.5 ounces. Because I re-steep my teas, each pot costs me a little more than 10 cents!

I usually purchase Harney and Sons Vanilla Black tea, but purchasing one tin from their site would incur a steep shipping charge, and I don’t have enough tea coupons to make a sizable enough order for free shipping. So, after reading lots of reviews, I bought a box of Mighty Leaf Vanilla Bean black tea:

Vanilla tea is comfort in a cup for me. I usually only drink it on the weekends, at home, curled up in a chair with a book. I’m hoping these 15 bags will see me through the rest of this year’s challenge (and egads, I hope I like them! I am so partial to the Harney I may be a little sad, but if I don’t have the coupons, I don’t have the coupons!). Next year, I am allowing myself an amount of tea coupons more in alignment with the actual rations of 2 oz/week, as I’ll be through most of my tea stash by then.

So, the numbers:

The tin of Earl Grey = 3.5 oz and the sachets of Vanilla = 1.32 oz. Let’s call this 5 oz of tea, which will equal 2.5 coupons. The tally —

COUPONS REMAINING:

Clothing: 52 out of 66
Soap: 30 out of 36
Tea: 3.5 out of 10

Cutting it close there with the tea coupons!

… and now, the Me part of the post. This little philosophical and ethical experiment is about to get very, very practical: my husband’s position at work was eliminated and he has been laid off. To cope, what can I cut? I already am a homebody, make so much from scratch, cut my own hair, etc. I’ve been racking my brain over the past few days and I think cutting some of the food budget in terms of meat and cheese may help lower that bill, just like in WWII rations. I believe I will gain strength and many good ideas in reviewing the economies people made during wartime.

The hardest decision I had to make was taking a Leave of Absence from school this coming semester. I would have had to pay for the semester in late July. Then there are books, extra transportation fees, plus the time I need to do my work (which should be spent making ends meet right now).  As you can see — it’s the most profound way I can cut expenses and it needed to be done.

I’m trying to throw myself into my projects and not over-think what is essentially an unknown that just needs to be lived through as best I can one day at a time, but alas, the little tell-tale left eye twitch that I only get under extreme stress has emerged. I’m going to give myself a little WWII propaganda talking to and repeat, repeat, repeat:

If you have any advice on how to pinch pennies in situations like these, I would love to hear them!

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…and the shoe makeover is complete.

A quick post so that I am forthcoming with my spent coupons!

I now have a pair of comfy, cute sandals for the summer:

http://www.zappos.com/bass-joanne-black-leather

Again, my purchase was fueled by nostalgia: these were the sandals I wanted when I was 10 years old.  They’re summer camp in Maine (not day camp in the city). They’re swimming in lakes (not down da shore).  They’re hammocks and wildflowers (not plastic slip covers and concrete).

Five coupons — not too bad for all of that 😉

Happy First Day of Summer!

COUPONS REMAINING

Clothing: 52 out of 66
Soap: 30 out of 36
Tea: 6 out of 10

 

Pinterest

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I’ve now started collecting pins on Pinterest. <– add me if you’re on there, too! 🙂

I found this extremely simple tutorial for button earrings on my very first day pinning, and couldn’t wait to make a pair. I knew I had some earring posts lurking in my jewelry making supplies, and I remember when I got these buttons YEARS ago, I said to myself, “Boy these would be pretty earrings, if only they didn’t have button shanks!” Who knew you could just snip them off with jewelry pliers. Well, PINTEREST KNEW!!!

Pinterest can be a sometimes silly, sometimes scary place (like anywhere else on thee internet) but if you pick your boards and pinners well, it can be a place rich in creativity, beauty, and conservation-mindedness.

I’m pretty pleased to have new earrings without buying anything. I wore them yesterday and love them!

Victory Garden

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Wildflower ❤

 

I love to garden, but each year, the ideal time to start my garden is also the busiest time of the spring semester in both work and school. Still, I try to do a little. I wanted to take you on a picture tour of a few things going on in the garden right now! I hope to do some Victory Garden photo posts all through the growing season to highlight nice things going on in the Earth around me.

Lettuce, and some kale volunteering from my fall garden. I think I'll throw the kale in our dinner tonight! We've been eating the lettuce sometimes twice a day, every day for a few weeks now. So tasty and tender/crisp.

Lettuce, and some kale. We’ve been eating the lettuce every day for a few weeks now – so crisp/tender.

Ahhh, the herbs. Thyme, rosemary, spearmint, and a little oregano.

Ahhh, the herbs. Thyme, rosemary, spearmint, and a little oregano.

The lavender is in bloom! Must save a little for tea and fill a vase.

The lavender is in bloom! Must save a little for tea and fill a vase.

The most important thing of all -- the compost bin! This guy is why everything is so healthy and happy :)

The most important thing of all — the compost bin! This guy is why everything is so healthy and happy 🙂

Is it? Could it be? Yes! It's the FIRST TOMATO!

Is it? Could it be? Yes! It’s the FIRST TOMATO!

Ah, to be digging and dirty right now.

Living Out WWII Rationing

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I just spent this morning devouring an entire year of:

http://whipstichvintage.blogspot.com

Living Out WWII Rationing Blog. (Forgive me – I haven’t learned hyperlinks on my new iPad. Will learn later!) Wow! The author spent August 2011 through August 2012 not only rationing clothing, but food and gas. She didn’t use a “you get X amount of coupons to spend as you see fit” scheme like I am, but rather a very specific, week by week “you get X amount of gas, and sugar, and one footwear coupon a year” ration book system — much more authentic (and difficult!) than what I’m doing. Despite my project being a baby version, I completely relate to her trials and tribulations (she even had to use her footwear coupon on sneakers!).

She’s given me some really good ideas (of course I should be wearing my sneakers on my walk home to save the heels of my dressier shoes and make them last longer), a vicarious look at some things I hope never to have occasion to do (prepare a cow heart for dinner), and some thinking points about how I may want to tighten up this project for next year (yes, I want to continue this! I’ve only scratched the surface!).

Anyway, when you have some time (you may get sucked in and need to read the whole thing immediately!) check it out. I enjoyed and learned so much from her perspective. I’m going to go read it again right now 🙂

Pretty Sneaky

Mono Print

Last week, I hurt my foot. I was wearing flippy backless wedge sandals, and on my walk home from the train, the back of my foot slid to the side, my ankle buckled, and owwwwwwwww! I had a nice swollen foot, was out of work for two days, and in pain. The worst part is that I should have known better.

Ever since the weather got warmer and I switched to my three pairs of beat up, unsupportive, not anything close to a walking shoe sandals I’ve been experiencing hurty feet, stumbling, and if I had a dollar for every time I said, “I’m going to hurt myself with these shoes!” as I tripped I would have had the money for a new pair of shoes in two weeks!

Measures had to be taken. I put one pair of sandals by the door so I can wear them to do stuff on the porch, and as much as it pained me, I threw two pairs of them away. The soles had no life in them, stitching was coming off, and they were a falling hazard! I also took a look at the only pair of sneakers I owned so I could wear something comfortable as my ankle healed. They were not going to fit the bill: I got them in 2008, there were holes on the side of one, and the soles were extremely worn down. I did save them in case I needed to do something messy like paint a room, but I certainly couldn’t wear them to work. Oh dear, I had to be practical and buy a pair of sneakers.

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These are what I got. I picked them because I remember that when my then-boyfriend and now-husband and I moved in with each other (in 1991!) I had a long walk to work. He bought me a pair as a gift so that I could walk to work and back from our new apartment — how sweet! They wound up being very study, extremely comfortable, and didn’t look half bad with my outfits 😉 I was pleased to see that they are still available and still as comfortable and supportive as they were over 20 (!) years ago. I’ve been wearing them this past week and gosh do my feet feel better. My ankle is healing, I’m not tripping, and there is a spring in my step and a song in my heart!

It took me getting injured to spend these 5 points, but I’m glad I did. I’m probably going to have to spend another 5 points on new (supportive, with ankle straps thankyouverymuch) sandals, too. Thank god I didn’t spend 12 points on socks the other week is all I can say!

Enough! or Too much.

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I recently organized my kitchen cabinets. Gosh I have accumulated a lot of stuff! I love to cook and bake, and consider a well-stocked kitchen a great asset, but it was getting to the point where I would cause an avalanche of baking pans if I wanted to get to one of my cake pans. Where to put my travel thermos now that I’m not using it each week for school? No room at the inn! My vanilla extract was in with the china because my spice cabinet was so chaotic. I didn’t have a junk drawer, I had 3 junk drawers! Help!

spices

Ah, that’s better!

I think this happened not only because I’m a magpie pack rat, taking in The Shiny from thrift shops and friends and yard sales galore, but I’m also a saver of things — no, that’s not an empty spice jar or empty jar of jam or honey! That’s a bud vase or a future homemade deodorant container or a great place for homemade mustard once you soak the label off!

glass

Tip for getting off sticky labels — put oil on them! Let it soak in for a day, then soak the bottle in water. It should come off easily now (a little baking soda will help get off the last bit of sticky too).

When my grandparents died, I also inherited their lifetime (and my lifetime — it was the Thanksgivings and Birthdays of my entire childhood) of glasses, plates, pots, pans, silver, and such.

You know how it is when you get more stuff — you just shove it in with the stuff you have and hope for the best until things become totally unmanageable. Well, that day came last weekend. I had to take everything out and put it all back again in an organized fashion if I wanted to make these objects useful, and pleasurable to use. I was going to do a cabinet a day so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed, but once I started, I couldn’t stop.

cupboard

I am prepared for bean emergencies! If I forget to soak the beans, I have a can of beans waiting!

I was pleased that out of all the items, I only recycled two plastic freebie cups (which, now that I know better, I would have refused when they were offered to me)! Everything else stayed, is used, and loved! It’s now all organized to within an inch of its life.

9 teaspoons

Everything you need to know about my personality: my silver is stored in bags (so it won’t tarnish) by type of utensil, and labeled with the number of utensils.

There is no more room for anything unless something else goes, and I don’t want anything to go.

baking

These are the *straightened up* baking pans (just in case it wasn’t clear 😉 )

The reason I wanted to tell you about the mundane task of straightening my kitchen cabinets is because this experience happened one week before my town’s Town Wide Yard Sale. I used to think of it as the most magical day of the year: I could leave the house in the morning with $50 and come home with books, art, dishes, pitchers, clothing, cups, pans, jewelry — you name it! This year, I felt so differently about it . . . I had no desire to go. In fact, I didn’t go. The idea of adding one more thing to my possessions filled me with terror and doom! This may sound surprising coming from someone tracking coupons — an opportunity to acquire things coupon-free seems like an offer you can’t refuse!

But I did. I have enough, and I realized it through experiencing it as Too much. Blake was right.

 

 

Create the things you wish existed.

 

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I am so jealous of the people who can wear regular shoes without socks. Not me. I get terrible shoe bites on my poor, tender feet! If I want to wear regular shoes, I must wear socks. I realized that I could use a pair of black low cut (nicer for spring an summer) socks — I have crazy stripes, colors, you name it — but I needed something for when I’m wearing crazy stripes or colors. 🙂 I looked around, and all of the low cut socks available were sold in large packages — sometimes I saw three pairs, but usually six came in each one. I didn’t want six pairs of black socks (that would have cost TWELVE COUPONS! No way! That’s a dress and a pair of shoes! Now really). I wanted a pair. One. Pair. Uno. Ein. Un.

So, I made ’em!

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These are the Lacy Summer Footlets by Betsy Lee McCarthy. They take only one skein (!!!) of sock yarn and are super fun to knit.

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The lace is a real cute detail, and the socks themselves are very cushy and comfortable for walking. I took these photos on my walk home from the train. I even stopped in the park I walk through and put my feet up on a bench for a second to admire my new socks that didn’t cost a single, solitary point, as I had this skein of black sock yarn in my stash.

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These socks made me pause to remember how much agency we actually do have. Gandhi’s quote “Be the change you want to see in the world” has always resonated with me, and I try to make it one of my guiding principles. When I saw the quote in my post title the other day whilst perusing thee internet  I felt as if it was embellishing that principle, and infusing it with action. As I’ve been bumping up against problems, I’ve been thinking about how I might create (not buy, not complain about) a solution. It is useful not only for material things. How do you create an opportunity? A community? A friendship? I’m working on it, in earnest.