The Art of Frugality... Recent Practices

"How simple and frugal a thing is happiness."
~Nikos Kazantzakis 

As with most people, the advent of the new year has us combing the budget to patch the leaks... reassessing our spending habits... and battening down our spending in order to accommodate a tighter budget.  Because of this I've been especially inspired by all of the frugal ideas found throughout this wonderland of Bloglandia.  Sending gratitude and thanks to all who so generously share their life~enhancing frugal strategies... you are very appreciated.

Here are a few simple ways we've been practicing the art of frugality in our realm of reality recently.

One of my goals for this year is to do more planting of edibles in our little garden.   I've already planted the herbs I received for Christmas (see picture in previous post... I'll write a longer post on our garden plans soon).  

I finally tried this great idea that's been rolling around Pinterest for awhile:  Instead of throwing out the stub of our organic celery I put it in a bit of water on the window sill and use the leaves in cooking.  If all goes well it will eventually go out into the garden with our herbs, cabbages and kale!  I did a similar strategy using organic Romaine lettuce cores (cut from store bought lettuce) with great results.  They sprouted on the window sill where I harvested a few of them to top Tostadas.  I eventually planted them in the garden but our resident raccoons immediately dug them up and ate them! Perhaps the next batch will be put into pots?

I'm also trying another classic idea to further enhance our tiny edible garden: Organic green onions are stored in a glass of water.  After using the green stems (leaving just enough to reach the top of the glass) I'll allow them to sprout and then plant them in the garden.  I hope the raccoons don't have a taste for onions... but we'll find out!
 Several months ago I bought a huge bag of California garlic from Costco and had several bulbs remaining.  After doing a little research in my gardening books I found that planting garlic with your other herbs and vegetables may deter critters (i.e., raccoons and munching insects) from digging up and/or nibbling on your garden edibles.  With so much garlic not being eaten, I decided to plant several of the cloves.  This is my first time planting garlic bulbs but my research tells me that one little clove produces twenty more...that's a very good return!  And if it keeps guard over the rest of the garden all the better.  Also...if you're wondering why I'm showing the garlic cloves in a jar it's because I soaked them for about an hour in a 20 to 1 solution of water and peroxide.  These were all planted about three weeks ago and they are all sprouting beautifully (photos to come).  I will keep you posted!~~~

Inspired by need, I dug out some of our thrifted vintage silver plated flatware and soaked it in an aluminum foil lined stainless  pot filled with water and sprinkled with baking soda and a bit of salt.  It worked fairly well to take the first few layers of the very dark tarnish from them but elbow grease had to take over from there!  We use these for our everyday flatware and I never tire of the pretty shapes and designs.

Citrus abounds out here in southern California so I am doing my best to preserve the fruits of this winter season via dehydrator (seen above) and by freezing the juice.  Mike bought me a juicer for our anniversary last year (at my request) and we've made a healthy habit of it since.  Fresh oranges, lemons and grapefruits are delicious additions to our morning juices.  They are especially frugal as we get most of our citrus free from my father's trees or for a song from the local farm stand.  I plan on using the frozen lemon/orange/grapefruit juice to add to our juices and smoothies when citrus isn't so abundant and/or well priced.

Thank you again for the abundance of ideas and inspiration everyone puts out here... it is so motivating and nudges me to action!

Sending love and good thoughts to all.
Tracey and Family



Sorting and Appreciating Life's Most Precious Gifts

".... such golden gifts!"

 Ever since the holiday season officially ended a few weeks ago, I've found myself sorting (dare I say wrestling with?) those  tangled threads of earthly phenomenon that were so graciously gifted to me (us) this past season.  Please don't misunderstand. I am a life~long lover and appreciator of receiving gifts.  I am ever so grateful for them in all forms!  In fact, I pondered on this fact the other day as I happily removed the contents of a very raggedy billfold and placed them into a brand new, lovely, Michael Kors wallet (thank you Rosie!); and again, as I prepared a small area of our tiny garden to receive newly acquired additions of herbs (and a tiny Italian Pine tree that promises even more gifts of pine nuts... in approximately fifteen years, give or take).

As I was digging through the soil, I thought of something I'd read long ago: Anything of value multiplies when it's given.  I admit to testing this philosophy over the years and have found it to be surprisingly accurate.  Giving can create much happiness for the giver as well as the receiver.  

Whatever the gift, it is the emotion and thought of the giver that sets its true value.  When thinking back on important gifts I've received in my own life I find them to be too numerous to count.  Yet, there are a few that stand out from the rest.

My first great gift in life came from my mother.  Besides the obvious gift of life, of which she played a key role, my mother bestowed upon me an avid love of learning.  She tutored me in my first struggles with phonics and was a wise, gentle guide who unlocked the door of my young mind and allowed me access to that secret world of reading... and all the joys and benefits that grace those who wander through it.  My favorite books from childhood (many of them classics she once recommended) continue to be my friends and counselors.  I find it ironic that these books have offered me much needed advice during the years after my mother became too ill to guide or counsel me.  This gift continues to increase the quality of my life as well as enrich my soul.  

I suppose it's no surprise then that the second great gift of my life came much later, from my father.  My mother's illness (Multiple Sclerosis) had progressed to the point where she became unable to care for herself in any way.  Her doctors recommended that she be permanently admitted into a convalescent facility.  My father adamantly refused their strong suggestions and he was unwavering in his answer.  "If I were in that wheelchair she would be taking care of me...and doing a better job of it than I am."  He would quietly explain.  That was in 1976.  For thirty years (until October 2006 when she passed away) he cared for her at home and we visited often.  Although she could no longer speak she was vividly aware of our presence.  We know this by the way she greeted us. Her eyes sparkled... her arms feebly reached out to each of us for an embrace as her lips silently mouthed the words "I love you".   My father would look on and then tell us later  how much healthier she seemed when we were there.  Who could ignore the valuable gift found in his example of loyalty, love and unselfishness?

Now that it's a new year, like most of us, I've made a few resolutions.  Among them... at the top of my list... is the decision to make a conscious effort to maintain my focus on the many gifts I've been given... tangible as well as intangible.  No more focusing on what I don't have. Instead, I plan to put the art of appreciation into high gear and look for the good gifts that are present in all things and experiences.    

Wishing you and yours a blessed 2013 brimming with tangible and intangible gifts !

Sending love and good thoughts to all.

Tracey and Family

The original "FRUGAL LUXURIES" ~ Based on the books by Tracey McBride ~ Established 1993

A warm Thank You to all kind souls and kindred spirits who generously take the time to leave a comment...your encouragement, trust and support are deeply appreciated...please know that we read each and every message and will respond as time allows.


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"FRUGAL LUXURIES: Simple Pleasures to Enhance Your Life and Comfort Your Soul" was written by Tracey McBride and published by Bantam Books, NY, in 1997. It was the first of its genre to synergize the elements of simplicity, frugality and gracious living.

After more than a decade, FRUGAL LUXURIES has never been out of print and is now more relevant than ever.

"It's our hope that a new generation, faced with a teetering economy, will also find this information helpful and enlightening."

Sending Good Thought to Our Special Band of Kind and Kindred Souls!

Frugal Luxuries Book I

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