Thursday, October 25, 2012

When Less Really is More

Downsizing, simplifying, making do with less -- all terms of the current economy and challenge to many of us. As I've searched for ways to spend less and yet still maintain a satisfying lifestyle, I have discovered a few things about money and about myself.

I'll never forget the first time I purchased make-up. I was a 7th grader and had been thinking about the application of colorful beauty enhancing products for some time. I was in a drug store with my mom and a 2 for $1.00 make-up stand was more temptation than I could fight.

Two items were purchased that day. The first was an eye shadow with two color compartments. On one side there was a ghastly green and the other a non-committal white.  The second product didn't leave such a powerful impression, however I think it was a blusher.

 Mom registered her concern about what Dad would say about me wearing make-up -- I ignored it.  In retrospect, I think she should have been more concerned about the eye shadow shade I'd chosen.

For all of my teen years and college years I purchased my cosmetics at a drug store. But once I had a job and could afford more, I went right out and paid more.  It was nothing to go to the nice department store and drop $100.00 on "essential" cleansing and make-up products.  It can be painfully expensive to look nice!

In the larger scope of things, I have decided that high priced make-up was no longer a necessity for me. Is it better? Is it a higher quality? Maybe, but why did I need to use it? The best reason I can come up with is because I could.  That's a heck of a reason.

"So why do we upsize in the first place?"
So I started wondering why we upsize in the first place.  We choose our expenditures so that they increase to fit our budget.  I'm no expert, but that can't be good financial planning. Perhaps it's a cultural thing, but we seem to think that we are entitled to spend more on our clothing, our furnishings, our cars, our houses, and our make-up as we get older and perhaps earn more.

I'm not buying my cosmetics in the big department store anymore -- I'm going to Target and Walgreen's. For a fraction of the price, I'm getting the same thing.  I don't think my appearance is any different, but I certainly feel better about spending less. 

Now I'm on the hunt for similar expenditures.  What else do I spend more on than is necessary? What can I buy used? What can I do without? Where and with what can I be more creative? What has been sold to me as a bill of goods that is completely unnecessary.

It's kind of like going thru the fast food drive thru and ordering a combo meal -- cheeseburger, fries and a Dr. Pepper.  Then they have to ask you if you'd like to super-size that!  What a bargain! I have to admit that I've said "yes!" a time or two -- and I've always regretted it.  If I eat those super-sized fries, there's no way I can eat my cheeseburger!  It's more than any one person should eat. We don't need it.

I am determined to stop upsizing and supersizing. I'm enjoying the challenge of doing just the opposite and making my money do more for me and my family.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Flock Has Arrived

Here's little Periwinkle a three day old Black Australorp.
Pansy is a White Plymouth Rock
The Fenton post office called at 6:50 am to tell me that my chicks had arrived.  I've been extremely excited about having my chickens, but I think the news could have waited another 10 minutes!

Two of them hatched on just Monday and arrived today -- Wednesday.  I think the orpington is a day younger. She is a little smaller and appears to be slightly less developed and aware.  I do hope she is alright.

Periwinkle and Pansy started eating immediately, so there's no concerns in regards to the two older girls. 

I've been waiting to have my little flock of chicks for about two years now, so I'm so happy to have chickens back in my life again. They are rewarding little creatures, with the ability to soothe and entertain.

My two dogs are very curious as you might guess.  The schnauzer, Truffle, would like to play with them and lick them "hello." Delli, my dachshund, on the other hand, would prefer them in nugget form.

As I write, Petunia is nestled just inside my shirt as she is comforted by the warmth and perhaps even the sound of my heart.  Pansy and Periwinkle are chirping delightfully on my dining room table.  What a beautiful song!

All three babies.

Babies in a buggy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Grandma Dot's framed quilt piece (foreground)

Wrapped in Love Again and Again and Again

It has seen us through 9 homes, more pets than I can confidently count, hundreds of hours of snuggling, movie watching, sick days and afternoon naps.  The quilt made by Grandma Dot lasted 16 years longer than the marriage it was gifted for! It was a mainstay, a constant source of comfort for the growing up years of my two children, now 17 and 19.  Of all the afghans, quilts and blankets in the house, this was the one most sought after, for it brought with it the greatest comfort of both body and soul.

Grandma Dot came into my life while attending graduate school.  As part of a summer internship, I was given the opportunity to live with her for the season. She was recently widowed and for a variety of reasons, we both needed some looking after.  She made my meals and even did my laundry. I drove her to and from a handful of places and stood with her when she went to the cemetery. Dot, in her late 80's had the heart of one who is ageless, even besting me in a pillow fight.

This quilt she made of left over fabrics from around her home.  She didn't go out and purchase a new pallet of fabric as we often do today.  Making do with what she had, she created a treasure for me and mine.  Though my children never had the joy of meeting this precious woman, they always knew her by name and her ongoing gift.

It was a sad day when I realized the quilt now in tatters, way far beyond repair. Bits of stuffing hung out in an unflattering sort of way. Tears where there should be solid fabric gave way and just made an ugly mess.  One could no long wrap in the quilt, but only get tangled in its uneven shreds.

On a day when neither of my offspring could protest, I took scissors in hand and began to cut away the useless and salvage a piece here and there.   There was enough to place in a frame of remembrance and honor.  That will go on the wall, with a photograph of the one who was "Grandma Dot" to all who knew her. The rest of the pieces will go into several other quilts and Christmas tree ornaments -- keepsakes.  From one keepsake comes many more. She would be thrilled to know that her gift of love and handiwork is being recreated and will go one to be treasure for generations more.

Love is like that.  Once a gift is given, it's hard to stop it.  Once love is given, it can't be stopped.  That love might take some odd twists and turns and a circuitous route to land at home -- but it always keeps giving and loving.

Monday, October 1, 2012

You Just Never Know . . .

Overlooking the 50th Annual Ohio Gourd Show
There sat a beautifully ripened gourd -- the type you drill a hole so that a bird might take up residence. For only $4, I made the purchase for an older gentleman at the farmer's market.  I was immediately smitten with the world of gourds. A day or two later, I was in search of a mystery to read at the local book store.  Maggie Bruce's "The Gourdmother" caught my eye.  By the time I finished reading the book, I was desperate to attend the annual gourd festival in Ohio. I wanted to make my pilgrimage and learn more about this art.

I happen to have a willing husband, so Dave and I took off in search of gourd adventure. And there were people from all over the Midwest who grew gourds, sold them, carved them, burned designs on them, embellished them, painted them and more.  This was brand new territory for me. I was only familiar with the little gourds that I placed in my fall decorations and then tossed in the garbage as the season ended. There are gourds of all sizes and shapes -- from smaller than an egg to the size of a sitting golden retriever.  The flesh molds and rots, then has to be cleaned.  What is left is a hard wood-like material.  It can be used to made all sorts of decorations, musical instruments, and the aforementioned bird house.  They are especially known for use as purple martin houses.

It must have been 8 years ago when this adventure first began.  It all started with me saying "yes" to the beautiful green gourd from a farmer's garden.  I've been crafting and selling, teaching others and enjoying them all this time.  You just never know what might happen when you say "yes" to something new.

Gourds fresh from the garden

Me (left) receiving instruction on how to make the pins
pictured below.

Pins made from gourds

More gourd craft.
Beautiful musical instruments crafted from gourds