• the home arts

    Mindful Money: Good New Reads

    There are two good personal finance/frugal living books that have come out recently. I have been using the YNAB app for just about two years now, and I have learned a lot simply from using it. The book however, is absolutely stellar. I would choose this to hand to anyone lost in the money mess first over anything else, any other book, absolutely first. This is not this quick discussion of debt and then eighteen chapters on investments and retirement accounts and things that most of America can’t even contemplate right now book. It’s the real deal, right in the nitty gritty, say this is your goal, here are some things to think about, what happens when a medical emergency decimates your finances (HMM, sound familiar?) and how can you move forward, how to really manage your money, book. So much common sense, written in approachable, non-judgmental style. Absolutely recommend. I would recommend it over Dave Ramsey’s body of work every day of the week. (Not to say that I don’t like Ramsey, but it’s often felt like to me that there aren’t much practical helps for when you are pre-pre-pre-Baby Step 1 and are dying under the weight of your debt.)

    Meet the Frugalwoods is by Elizabeth Willard Thames. I don’t quite remember how I first ‘met’ Elizabeth, but I think it was a ‘spend-nothing’ challenge group on Facebook. I have never strayed out beyond that one little group- I didn’t realize she had a blog or a significant social media presence beyond that group, and it flits in and out bi-monthly or so…I just don’t engage with social media and blogs like I used to. Imagine my surprise when I saw new book at the library! It’s an interesting read. She clearly comes from a place of privilege and she readily admits this- both her and her husband were raised by parents that gave sound financial education, and by the time they decided to start on their ‘frugal’ adventures, they were already saving over 60% of their combined income and had been major savers since before they even got married. That just isn’t the mainstream access point for the majority of America. It just isn’t. Most are living paycheck to paycheck up to their eyeballs in debt working at a job they hate, sick and tired, and don’t even realize there is another way and their parents are in the same boat, and had no better financial education, either. That being said, she readily acknowledges that and the book is still very interesting, and you will walk away with plenty of ideas to try, which was why I was attracted to her spend-nothing group on FB in the first place- I don’t do everything she and her husband discuss, but I always walked away from the conversations with simple next steps for my own needs and finances.

  • the learning arts

    Another in the collection…

    Yet another of those ideas tucked into my homeschool aims and mantras, seen here, as bumper sticker on our van. (Side note: I love how much my Coexist sticker makes all my nerd friends laugh. I’ve even seen it tickle the funny bones of monks and nuns. Which makes me smile all the more.)

  • the home arts,  thrifting adventures

    Mindful Money: Slow Fashion

    I’ve been having a sort of ongoing conversation about Slow Fashion over on Instagram lately. There is a part of me that has always loved the ‘hunt’ of finding clothes for a few dollars on the clearance racks or at Goodwill, but lately, I’ve begun to feel uncomfortable with even that. My dear friend Tonia has been talking to me about the ideas of slow fashion and mending for years but it didn’t really start to click until this last year. Perhaps it is a function of growing older and growing comfortable in one’s skin- I know pretty well what my style is, what clothes flatter my figure, what colors I love. My closet has grown to reflect this paradigm shift. Imagine my discouragement when I realized that quite a few pieces have become damaged this last year when I did my bi-annual closet cleaning!

    I know that in past, I probably would have given up most of the clothing for lost and consigned them to the rag basket. Thanks to great IG accounts like Katrina Rodabaugh and Elise Joy, I felt much more confident about the needed repairs. They both have wonderful walk-throughs and tutorials in their IG Highlights- worth a look if you are getting started on a similar endeavor!

    We had a rather…erm…eventful weekend, and I had a lot of quiet time on my hands on Sunday afternoon. I was able to repair six pieces of clothing yesterday afternoon, and one more this morning. I still have two pieces that need more major reconstructive/thinking work, so I’ll have to save them for another quiet moment. I have about six pieces of knit clothing that have either been damaged in the dryer or might (!) be moths, and I am going to use some of Katrina’s great visible mending ideas to fix/refashion those pieces a little at a time. They will probably make nice handwork while I listen to lessons from the children this fall.

    More than anything I am very grateful to know that this is yet another area of spending needlessly (heedlessly?) that I can step out of, saving both the planet, people’s livelihoods, and my pocket book.

    Here’s some of the projects, below, from my Instagram Highlights, with notes on each repair.

     

  • the kitchen arts

    Harvest Time…

    Our garden has produced a decent amount this summer, which is a vast improvement over the last few years, when results have been anemic at best or non-existent at worst. We planted lettuces, cauliflower, peppers, spaghetti and butternut squash, and salad tomatoes. If our squash can manage to fight off the powdery mildew that has afflicted them after the endless rain and damp this summer, it will be quite a boon to me! I love both kinds but they are rather pricey at the grocery store. I have been so grateful to pull cucumbers off the vine for our lunches nearly every day…the tomatoes are almost ready. How yummy it will be for my little (and big!) snackers!

    I appreciate dearly the help to my grocery budget the garden has provided. I love knowing, too, that no dangerous herbicides and chemicals have been near them, as sensitive as Elliana is to those sorts of things.

    I am praying that as my grocery budget stabilizes thanks to Trim Healthy Mama, I will be able to put a bit by for harvests of a different sort. I’d like to be able to solidly replenish my pantry, which has been rather down to the dregs over the summer…well…for quite a while now. We have a really nice Mennonite bulk foods store a short drive from here (their prices seriously can’t be beat by even Amazon or the national whole foods co-ops like Azure) that carries the things we use so much of in proper bulk sizes. My plan is to get at least 50-75lbs of oatmeal, which we go through like water. 25lbs of gluten free flour. Sugar. Syrup, at least 4-5 gallons. Kidney beans. Great Northern Beans. Pintos. Rice. Oh my goodness. I can’t decide if we go through more rice or more oatmeal, I swear. (Large family problems!) With that, I could shop my pantry nearly the whole winter, and my grocery budget would go down even further. It will be lovely!

    What are your ‘harvest’ plans, friends? Do you know how to can? I’d love to learn, but there just hasn’t been any time for it until now. How is your garden doing? Do you have a garden?