In thrift gear

Every now and then, when the large figures on household bills loom larger than any figures have a right to loom, my brain shifts in to thrift gear. It determines, with complete and utter disregard for reality, that, if I save a little money by making, say, my own soap powder or fabric softener, this will magically  translate in to a less overwhelming invoice. No matter how many times my little forays in to thriftiness are squashed like a fly under a swat, the thrifty portion of my mind refuses to die quietly. Thriftiness is engrained, engraved, stamped and imprinted deep in my being; it’s inescapable and, when thrifty thoughts power forth, I find them irresistible. Such was the case yesterday.

I had barely swigged my morning coffee (yes, I swigged it,) before I was off to the garden to gather fresh thyme and sage for a room freshener and a scented drawer sachet, the inspiration for which came from ‘Household Wisdom’*  .  I dried the herbs in the microwave, crushed them between my fingertips, tossed them into some baking soda, and seasoned the mixture with a few drops of lavender oil. And there, in a trice, was a lovely fragrant powder for a dainty dish, with enough to spare for a sachet.The sweet smell of thriftinessPlease note that, whilst searching for something to use as a sachet, I realised that my brown paper package,  pink tissue paper and green ribbon from my Lizzie Rose purchase was the very something required. It was the ideal receptacle for home-made freshener. And ‘Household Wisdom’ informs me that by wrapping dried herbs in tissue paper I  will always  have scented paper on hand to enfold a special gift. How wise 🙂

But onwards with my day of inspired thriftery… (sorry,  but I was getting tired of the words thrift and thriftiness and I didn’t want to be a penny pincher, which sounds mean.) Next step was to gather up the runty and disfigured early season apples from the front yard and transform them in to stewed apple and apple cake……..Cake + Apple = Apple Cake

but, wait, that’s not all …I  then took the apple peelings and added a few  handfuls  of Chilean Guavas aka New Zealand Cranberries from the hedges by the door, Guavas or Cranberries, take your pick.

and simmered them together in a little pot of lemon flavoured water. After some minutes , the resultant slush was strained to obtain a pearly  pink base for a delicious fruit cordial ( yet to be made!)Pink Lemonade?

What next? Why a thrifty supper, of course. One of my favourites; mini meatloaf muffins. Meatball muffins

The recipe I use is related to a basic meat loaf recipe but my version includes grated carrot and zucchini and plenty of my home-grown herbs for flavouring.  I make small individual meat loaves by baking the mixture in muffin pans. Why? It’s nothing to do with being sparing.  It’s a visual thing. I prefer the look of small portions. Yes, weird, but I digress.

We ate our meat with home-grown corn, tomatoes and beans. We did not have to eat the string or herbs. There are limits to how far my thrift extends.

So, that was my day in full thrift throttle. I am sure I saved cents by the dozens. Yet, despite my best efforts and enthusiasm  those fat, fulsome figured bills remain determinedly fixed and undiminished. They haven’t shed a penny.  Might have guessed. SWAT! SPLAT!

Footnote: I started this post as an idle exploration of life fueled by thrift. However, it has raised a more serious question, and that is, no matter how thrifty and hardworking we are ( and thrift requires a great deal of hard work and dedication), saving money real enough to pay bills can only happen if we have the opportunity to earn, at the very least, a living wage. If that is not possible,  either through personal, unavoidable circumstances or because economic models prohibit full employment, how do we, as a just and moral society, ensure that  non wage earners are provided with a decent living.  I find these articles written from an Australian point of view, very thoughtful and interesting. and

I don’t know what the solution is but I do know that, as it is on the road, so it is in life. To make the best of the conditions before us,  we  need to change gear from time to time or we will grind to a horrible halt.

*’ Household Wisdom’ by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming

© silkannthreades

17 thoughts on “In thrift gear

  1. Mrs. P

    Another post that slipped by my reader. 😦 I’ll have to keep an eye out for this.
    You have appealed to my thrifty sense. I especially liked your sachet recipe and I also prefer mini meatloaf to the standard size, plus they cook up much faster. I have add cheese to my recipe to add a bit of richness to the taste.

    As far as the Welfare State pondering. I’m not sure what the solution is either. So many people in the US have chosen to live on the dole and it saddens me. Mostly because working generates a higher sense of morale and it is apparent that the US morale is at a low point, not as low as during the Great Depression, but low nonetheless.

    I personally fall between the cracks by being too wealthy to have assistance but not wealthy enough to be affordable. The alarming part of this is that I make twice what people in my industry make and being a tourism town, there are lots of people in my industry. I wonder how they do it. As mentioned in one of the articles, I have forgone benefits that I used to take for granted when I worked in the corporate world.
    On the other hand, I have chosen the freedom of working half days so that I have time to pursue my other interests and live in a multi-generational household in order to do so economically. I’m lucky to live in a large enough home where I can live with relative freedom of movement and privacy. For us it was a win/win situation.

    As National Health Care approaches, I will have to find ways to supplement my income to ensure that my income/bills ratio still allows me to have leisure time in my life. I don’t mind living a modest life and have done so for many years but I don’t favor being a slave to work either…and by that I mean having to work, just to get by.

    In my country, I think that any solution must include a crack down of Welfare fraud, including those who abuse the disability system. Both of these areas consume extreme misuse of funds, which then take away from people who genuinely need it.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It’s a complex issue which requires the careful thought illustrated in your reply. There is a balance to be found somewhere in the maze of solutions put forward. I am sure part of the solution lies in cheese in meat loaf, multi generational living and thrifty suppers ie personal responsibility. I too fall in that uncomfortable crack. It’s quite painful at the moment as I am faced with household repairs in the 4 figure range. Yikes. One of our political parties,in the last elections, stood on the policy of a warm insulated dry house for everyone. It seemed an odd election platform but ,really, a good solid home is a huge benefit to an individual. Most of the problems I have in mine are the long term results of cheap and shoddy workmanship, and it’s costly.

      1. Mrs. P

        We had a problem with poor workmanship after hurricane Andrew destroyed an entire development. It literally looked like a bunch of matchsticks spread out over a few square miles. and that resulted in much stiffer guidelines for builders.

        But contractors hire subs and unless the contractor oversees it carefully, people should be aware. Even some of the multimillion dollar homes have problems. Rick did some handiwork at one place and the subcontractor left an electrical box completely open (no sheet-rock), he stuffed his building debris in the hole and the owner never knew because the bar fridge covered it up. This same house had pipes that ran uphill.

  2. Pingback: In the pink with juice and jelly | silkannthreades

  3. lizzierosejewellery

    Thanks for recycling the elements of my packaging! I notice the herbs tied with the string too. That’s exactly what I had in mind when deciding which materials to use. Aren’t you lucky to have fruit on hand to make delightful cakes and juices with! Reminded me of the fruit trees in my garden in Portugal, I do miss them…. Cath

      1. lizzierosejewellery

        They tend to fruit in the Spring (european Spring that is!) so the plums will be starting now and the peaches a bit later so they are mainly gone (or VERY ripe) by the time we get there in June. Shame…

  4. Clanmother

    We are hearing a lot about austerity these days. I think a better word is thriftiness. Austerity signifies, to me, a poverty in spirit whereas thriftiness suggest a way to live abundantly. This year, I have leaned to de-cumulate instead of accumulate. I am enjoying the process,

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I like your style 🙂 I used to volunteer in a thrift shop. It was one of the happiest times of my life. It would have been awful if we had called in an austerity shop! It was such a fun place and full of excitement and wonder and thriftiness.

  5. leapingtracks

    Such helpful tips and a good reminder that we might make more of an effort to live in this way. Quite how far we need to go to make a real difference is interesting. Is it not worth making any effort, however small if that helps overall?

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Any effort at thrift is usually more helpful than none at all but sometimes when the big bills come in the little acts of thrift seem so puny and helpless. I guess one could strengthen the power of thrift by doing the “for a price of a cup of coffee” trick and say if I save $3 every day of the week that’s $21 etc and then extend the calculations up to 10 years and then you can go WOW, that’s quite a lot of money. But if you haven’t got the money to save in the first place that’s another story again. Have a lovely day and be as extravagantly joyful as you please. Don’t be thrifty with joy and music.


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