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 —


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!



  1. I am so sorry to hear about your husband’s predicament and that you will have to put your studies on hold for a bit. I hope David’s confidence is not too knocked by this and he finds something soon.

    I really like your stoic approach and how you look to our wartime peers for resilience and inspiration. Please don’t overlook the obvious. A lot of people got through the war by pulling together; friends and communities relied on each other despite the hardships. I know that in our highly individualistic society this is something we have lost sight of but don’t be shy about asking friends for help. From what I know, you have more bart-able skills than most!

    1. It’s funny you say that, because I was thinking that the one thing about the war is that everyone was going through it together! Not everyone had the same circumstances and experiences of course, but there was a feeling of “we are all in this together.” In my daily life, this won’t be the case. On a positive note, the internet has many families living on one income — by choice and not by choice — and writing about it — and I will certainly seek out their support.

      You totally have my number at stoic, though — I am not good at asking for help and avoid it at all costs! I have my grandparents as models for that, though. They not only went through immigrating to America pretty much penniless, the Depression, WWII, the 1970s recession, but also weathered quite a few labor strikes without any income as my grandfather worked as a carpenter within a union his entire working life. They didn’t have a large community or help — plus raised two children and a grandchild (me!). I am still amazed and so grateful that they held everything together, and hope to do half as good of a job.

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