Monday, October 25, 2010

Frugal and Free..That's For Me

I try to go for a walk either for a half hour or an hour everyday that it's not raining. Usually I go by myself but on occasion a friend will join me. Some days when it's cold and windy it takes more persuasion with myself to get out the door but I usually win the argument with myself. I use my mother as my example as she used to try and get out most days for a walk even in the winter. It might have been only to go around the block but out she went. I think of mom in her seventies bundling up with a hat and scarves to brave the cold. I argue with myself: "if mom could do it, you can do it." She has passed on these many years now but she still inspires me in so many ways.

As I walk at this time of year I'm looking for branches that the wind has blown off trees or areas where the men from the town have been trimming branches on pine trees, spruce or fir trees. I try and wear an old coat as the branches can still be oozing that gummy, sticky substance that is impossible to get off clothes. That old coat also comes in handy when I'm doing my outside decorating for winter.

The reason I am looking for these branches is that I drag them home much to my husband's amusement to use for decorating my window boxes around the house, also in my old coal skuttle that I decorate out front and hanging baskets at each side of the carport. Hubby will usually drive me out to the country at some point if I can't find enough in town and to look for stems on a bush I've found covered with red berries that survive our cold winters. They go mushy inside the house however.

My hubby used to be somewhat embarrassed to know his wife was lugging branches from all over town home to decorate the ouside of the house but when I informed him how much that would cost at stores I think he saw the light! I used to feel people stared at me somewhat askance from time to time, seeing this very mature women dragging branches along the sidewalk but sometimes other women will ask what I'm doing. When I tell them some will say: "what a good idea, I should do that" you see I might have started a trend.

Mother Nature always provides me with all the free greenery I need each November. As I also love using grapevine branches to wrap around my little picket fence or around the front deck I've been seen dragging long brances of that home too. But Mother Nature being who she is, has provided me with lots of grapevine now right across the street from my house. I think we are kindred spirits.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not Enough Hours In A Day

There will not be enough hours in a day next week. I will have to make lists of things to do and check them off as each chore gets done. If all goes well and my husband gets me the airline ticket he found online last week, I'll be flying out to Prince Edward Island again. I know, what a hassle, but someone has to do it. That means my husband will be here alone after work each day and on weekends so I should prepare some extra meals and desserts for him, although my brother-in-law's girlfriend has already promised to make him a pecan pie. That makes me worry about my return ticket! If he delays getting me one, he might end up having lots of pecan pies!

The list will have to include lots of cleaning chores, keeping the laundry done, making yet another trip to the bank, maybe two trips and making sure the house is really tidy before I leave because it sure won't be when I return. When I returned from my last little four day trip away I returned to the most fragant smells coming from the kitchen. Dear hubby had an appetizing stew in the slow-cooker. The reason? If he made me a delicious meal perhaps I wouldn't notice how messy the house was. As if! But it did dull the pain of doing extra cleaning the following week.

I will need to make lists of things hubby needs to do while I'm away too, like watering all the plants I have, last count we had fifteen not counting the herb Rosemary I brought in for the winter. I think I read somewhere it takes fourteen or fifteen plants in your home to keep the air quality healthy. I also need to transplant two violets from a large pot and a spider plant. Did I say I would be very busy?

As I pack for my trip away not knowing how long I'll stay will be a quandry. I tend to always overpack but I want it keep it down to one suitcase. Since I'll be staying with family on the island I can keep my clothes laundered and wear the same things over and over..Boring! That brings me to another problem. My clothes are lasting too long, they are not wearing out and I'm so tired of some of them. Especially some of my sweat-shirts which having a long winter here means we wear them over and over. But I'm on my "not buying anything unless in dire need" so those boring sweat-shirts stay.

Speaking of not buying anything I will force myself to stay away from one of my favorite yearly shopping sprees held here at the Anglican Church in town each October. The Ten Thousand Villages sale event is a wonderful feast for the eyes and a terror on the pocket book. I usually buy bracelets, earrings, maybe a flower pot or lovely basket. Then food items for my son for Christmas and numberous other gifts for family members. Since my son still has coffee left over from last Christmas he and my daughter will get their usual Christmas cash and a book or two instead. This year is leaning towards a real book giving Christmas.

This upcoming Friday night will be my last "party" night in town for awhile, we have tickets to a Halloween Dance and Dinner at the Legion with friends. The big dilemna will be what to wear but I have several ideas swirling around my tired brain. A gypsy costume would be easy, well, okay, that's my only idea so far! This will probably be my last post for awhile on this blog and as I have no return date who knows when I'll be able to write again. Also when I return it will probably be to lots of snow, a real shock to the system as everything is still green here with lots of various flowers still blooming. I'll be in a fluster once I return as Christmas will be fast approaching but let's hope once I enter the house I'm greeted by a wonderful smell of something enticing simmering in the crockpot..oh heck, that signals another messy house.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Feel I Passed the Test

Last week I spent a very pleasant four days away in Port Perry. Three High School friends and myself spent an enjoyable time shopping, eating and gabbing. We try and get together at least once a year in different locations, trying to find places some of us have never visited. Since one of my friends lives in Port Perry she invited us to stay over at her place.

Now the town of Port Perry can boast of some really interesting stores to browse and shop in, as well as great restaurants. I determined ahead of time how much money I might need for meals knowing there would be occasions we'd eat out. Then I added a few dollars more for an item I wanted to purchase that was under five dollars. Remembering my promise to be thrifty this year I added an extra twenty dollars but hoped very much to bring money home to put in the "Savings" jar. It's a large, old canning jar which will take some time to fill.

As we walked from store to store on Thursday my only purchase was the dish cloth from the Swedish Store that I just love. They soak up water like a sponge. I use them so much I had to throw one out last week, so wanted to replace it. The ladies I was with weren't in a big buying mood either so that helped. We had a tasty supper that night at a Fish and Chip restaurant, but all our other meals that day were eaten at my friend's house. Savings!

Friday as planned after breakfast we drove over to Bobcaygeon where there are some truly awesome clothing stores. I clutched my purse tightly to my side, muttering: "remember your goals, don't fall into a trap and buy clothes you don't need!"..One part of a large store there sells shoes and I love shoes. But I resisted by spending very little time in there while being happy for my friend who did purchase a pair. The clothing section is divided into three sections, the special occasion clothes didn't tempt me as I don't have occasion to wear them much but the last section with jackets, sweaters, new winter coats and blouses was enticing. But I walked away once more.

As we approached yet another clothing store, I saw outside in a box strong plastic hangers for sale, eight for a loonie. I need hangers, what a bargain. Inside the store I spied a rack with a sign "twenty dollars"..upon looking closer I saw turtle and mock neck sweaters in nearly every shade. I quickly thought of my wardrobe back home and realized I was short a black mock neck sweater so bought one in my size. Purchase number two or three if you count the hangers.

We visited another couple of stores there, then drove over to Fenlon Falls. We entered another favorite store there, then stopped for lunch. This was our second meal I had to pay for. I looked into my wallet and saw money to spare. Money to take home and put in the jar. I was beaming. All in all with the temptation all around me for most of the weekend I felt that I passed the test quite well. On our way home we stopped in Bala at the Cranberry Festival and I bought a couple of jars of goodies for Christmas gifts. Never too early to start shopping for bargains.

When I realize all the things I have in my home and clothes that I already have to wear perhaps it wasn't so hard to resist all the temptation around me but it's early days yet on being thrifty. But for now I feel encouraged by last weekend and my ability to keep a tight rein on my wallet. As I poke around the house looking for things for next spring's yard sale I wince at times considering the things I bought that I didn't need, but fell under it's spell..A hard lesson learned.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another Winter is Approaching

Every morning now the grass is white with frost. September is such a beautiful month with the maple's wearing their coat of many colors but as October is approaching the half way mark we are reminded of what November will bring and it's usually snowing mid-November or before.

September and October are such bittersweet months, the joy of all the fall colors while we scramble to ready the garden and flower beds for winter. Everything in the yard has to be put away, lawn chairs stacked, b.b.q. covered with a tarp and all the pots put away in the garden shed. As I go for walks, the air is much cooler, brisk with the promise of colder days yet to come. Several times I've worn gloves while walking and always a scarf to keep my neck warm.

Winter is the time for resting inside, curling up with good books, puzzles, games of Scrabble with hubby, hot chocolate, popcorn and watching movies. But as we looked for ways to be more frugal I got the bright idea of getting rid of the movie channels for the winter. They were gone before nine p.m. last night. What a shock. No more Turner Classic treat each night after cleaning up the kitchen after supper. My husband reminded me not to whine too much as it was my idea, sometimes I think I should keep quiet..

When the snow arrives our colorful world turns into a more black and white world as we can really get dumped on. I heard my husband warming up the snow blower the other day to make sure it worked well..As I envisioned a winter watching my favorite old black and white movies which are now no more, I'll have to invent other ways to entertain myself. Perhaps drag out the sewing machine and start new projects. Set up a jigsaw puzzle on the table or even get back into writing some old fashioned letters on real paper with a real pen instead of emailing everyone. What a great lift to get a letter in the mail instead of a bill!

I can see myself trading DVD's with friends in order not to feel too depressed about losing the movie channel, but who knows it might open up a whole new world for me, one papered with entertaining more, playing games of cards with friends, cross country skiing, wondering what I ever saw before in being an "after supper couch potato"....

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Starting a New Trend at Our House, Being Frugal

I will be encouraging my dear husband to join the "Let's Be Frugal" train, me being the engine that gets up the steam to get us rolling. Let's hope we both enjoy the ride and it becomes a healthy habit. We have a wonderful reason for trying to do this, our dream of retiring on Prince Edward Island.

Now I'm a born shopper, as soon as I could walk I was looking into cupboards and secret hideaway places especially at my nana's looking for treasure. I started working when I entered High School, earning a pittance but it was more than my allowance from my parents. Once I started seeing the power of money, spending it had me in it's spell. A girlfriend bought me a small wooden shopping bag years ago with "Born to Shop" written on it..She knew me!

When I traveled to England with my mother in 1989, everyone on the bus tour was asking me to show off my purchases, they soon learned "I knew how to shop!" I love nothing better than showing off my stuff, my family often teases me, "oh no, it's show and tell time!" It's in my blood, what can I say?"

But after reading my brother's blog and my sister's blog about being more frugal and trying to decide whether we need a thing or just want it, the idea has caught on. I too will learn to ask myself these questions before buying another "thing" and try to weed out of my house many possessions that were bought on a whim. Many of my girlfriends look at everything before shopping, then make a choice. Not me, I buy as I go, loving nearly everything I see..Those days will now be over. One special friend always asks me when we go shopping: "do you need it and where will you put it?" I think she is on to something. She can help be my conscience.

It's actually turning out to be exciting to think of ways to cut corners and save money. Don't believe for a second that I won't have a melt down at one point and my friends will have to tie me down from shopping at all the stores in town. But I will set in stone in the forefront of my brain, our future goal of buying a property in dear beloved P.E.I. and keep away from downtown plus sort out my possessions for a spring yard sale and that should keep me very, very busy. You haven't seen my house!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Holiday on the Island

My husband and I have just recently returned from a holiday on Prince Edward Island. It is our favorite vacation spot. His brother and wife live there and as of August of this year, my youngest sister Jane has purchased a property there. It is bitter-sweet for her as she has to work for another four years before retiring but she can spend her precious summer vacations there. Being a teacher that means two whole months on the island if she choses.

I have spent many vacations on the island now plus helped our relatives move there almost ten years ago. They moved in the winter which that year was not unlike our winters here in Muskoka. Now their winters seem milder and shorter which I envy. We have vacationed there in August and September often being able to go swimming in early September. We enjoy exploring beautiful spots from the East tip to the Western tip taking hundreds of pictures especially of lighthouses, beaches and quaint white churches. The East end of the island where Jim's brother lives is more flat, whereas the West end has lots of high rolling hills and valleys.

There have been times I've left the island to return home with tears of sadness rolling down my cheeks as I feel I'm leaving "home"..The island is in my blood, tugging at my heart, the Altantic provinces seem to call me like a siren's call. It may well be the water, the waves pounding on rocks and beaches. I feel calm when I'm near water, it soothes me.

My son and I once spent a whole day at Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia, I never wanted to leave. The Cabot Trail was another experience I'll never forget, the beauty of the fall colors in October was jaw dropping. How wonderful it was to share it with my son on a holiday together.

It is always with regret that I leave behind the island with the friendliest of people, the harbours, rivers, red sand beaches where my sister-in-law and I go beach combing whenever possible. I often find myself looking at the photos I've taken reliving the precious moments over again. There are places that speak and call to us more than others, even houses I find I walk by invoke memories of home or a feeling of comfort and familiarity. Prince Edward Island has crept into my very bones. It keeps pulling me back so my thoughts never stray very far from the place I hope to call home one day. Fortunate we are when we find that one spot that tugs at our heart and mind beyond all others, lulls us into the peace and contentment we crave. I've found mine.