Tag Archives: thrift

Turning Back the Clocks

In the still of Sunday,
I hear the tick of clocks,
Reminding me that time has been reset,
Back to the older hour.
Daylight saving is no more.
I am released to spend my thrift with time.

Like so, with flowers and verse…..

 

Roads  (an excerpt)

by New Zealand poet,  Ruth Dallas (1919-2008)

Once it was difficult to keep to roads,
Ditches harboured nameless flowers, and sometimes
There were frogs and tadpoles in cold ponds.

Nowhere. The roads led nowhere then, and time
Was safely shut inside the clock at home.

Now to put time back inside the clock,
Now to be able to forget the signposts,
To rediscover pond and nameless flower.

 

from An Anthology of New Zealand Verse, Selected by Robert Chapman and Jonathan Bennett,  published by Oxford University Press, 1956, purchased from St Christopher’s  new Dove Bookshop near St Paul’s on Harewood Road.

© silkannthreades

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Stitching Memories

In my much younger days, I was very interested in sewing and needlework. My mother, who believed she was not skilled with needle and thread, arranged for me to have sewing lessons with some of her more skilled friends. As a result, by the age of about ten or eleven, I became quite the little seamstress, cheerily making clothes for myself, my little sister and my mother.  My enthusiasm for sewing was at its peak in those years and, although I continued to sew in to adulthood, it was never with the same exuberance and excitement. Finally, at the ripe old age of 26, I stopped sewing.

I may have stopped sewing, ( anything more than a button on a shirt, that is ), but I remained in love with the idea of sewing; the wondrous process of turning one form of cloth into another shape and size ; the different stitches and seams, the cuts and darts and frills and facings. Not to mention the lovely ribbons and laces and trimmings, and the beautiful hand-made button holes with equally beautiful buttons, usually recycled from that ultimate household treasure trove; the button jar.

When we lived in New Delhi, I was privileged to be part of a group of women who employed a tailor, named Mr Singh. Not just any tailor. As far as I was concerned, he was the most skilled tailor ….EVER. As per our group agreement, each of us booked Mr Singh’s sewing service for a couple of weeks at a time, and, at the appointed hour, he would arrive on his bicycle, with lunch container secure on the handle bar, and his hand-operated sewing machine carefully strapped to the carrier. Then, quietly and efficiently, he would settle in his chosen corner…..and sew and sew;  everything and anything  I asked for. Everything and AnythingFor me it was magic; for him, I suppose, it was merely another day at the office.

Here is a little piece I wrote about Mr Singh in February 2003.

“Mr Singh. Bearded, turbaned, thin as a pin. There he sits, cross-legged, at his sewing machine, in the dim, back room. A silent figure, stitching his magic; making my dreams. I can see him still in the dim back room of my mind.

Why do I see him now? Because today, his stitches, and my dreams, are displayed brightly on the washing line. The duvet cover we created together, from dress scraps and my grandmother’s sheets, is blowing in the Christchurch breeze; glistening white in the glare of  a Christchurch sun. I look at the vibrant colours on white Colour on Whiteand remember the muted tones of Mr Singh; blue and grey,  grey on white, grey on grey, almost a shadow in the shaded back room. Muted Ah, yes, quiet, gentle Mr Singh; a master of many stitches.  I miss his serenity, his dignity, his creativity.”

The photos in this post are all of the duvet cover. I took them this morning in our bright autumnal sunshine. The colours are no longer bright; they have softened with age. Twenty three years have gone by since Mr Singh pieced all the different fabrics together.Marking Time

Sheet notes: the white cotton sheets used for the duvet are at least 50 years old now, and the coloured scraps range in age from  25 to 35 years old. The buttons on the cover would be close to  30 years old . I think they  were salvaged from a dress of mine, made in Zimbabwe!  The duvet cover spends most of its present life in the linen cupboard, snuggled in lavender, in refined retirement. It is no longer subjected to harsh wear and tear and the rigours of washing machine and sunlight.

© silkannthreades

In the pink with juice and jelly

The other day, when I was operating in thrift mode, ( https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/heeding-the-needing-for-thrift/ ), you may remember that I boiled up some apple peelings and a few cranberries to make a base for a fruit cordial.  Today, with the help of another brew of cranberries and apple scraps, and a small pot of sugar syrup, I did, indeed, make the fruit cordial; about 2 litres of it.  And I then had enough of the basic fruit juice  to make two little cups of apple cranberry jelly, as well. Now is that nifty thrift,  or what? A bit of this, a bit of that, sweetened by syrupy sugar and stirred with some moments from time and there it is ; complete deliciousness in the very pink of thrift and palatable pleasures. In the pink

And, for an extra helping of good feelings, I decided to add a slice of home-made ginger cake to my plate. Ginger it up

Sweet!

I have heard it said that the colour pink can act as an appetite suppressant. I guess that’s why, after my light refreshment, I didn’t feel like eating  dinner. 🙂 Oh wait, maybe that was the sugar hit.

© silkannthreades

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.  http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/payrise-for-dole-makes-sense-20130315-2g5oo.html and http://newmatilda.com/2013/01/30/stand-welfare-state

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

Favourite things still come in brown paper packages

My mail box doesn’t see a lot of activity these days, which, considering its earthquake battered state, isn’t such a bad thing.  It really wouldn’t take the strain of too much mail. However, I do receive enough real mail to make a daily check of the mail box worthwhile, even if, sometimes, the only occupants I  find are snails, attempting to establish a new residence. Yesterday was more worthwhile than usual, for what did I see but this…….a little package with a green customs sticker and….. no snails!…..and…….What's this?

exciting, exotic Singaporean stamps.Stamps of Singapore

I was pleased and surprised and amazed besides, because this could only be my order from Lizzie Rose Jewellery, posted a mere three days ago from far off Singapore. Postal services may be in decline worldwide but the Singapore postal service obviously hasn’t been told that. Such speed. It takes longer than 3 days for a letter to travel a few hundred kilometres within my own country.  But, back to the package, which I opened a little clumsily in my haste to see the contents. The haste was to no avail, as I discovered the contents were not meant to be revealed in a hurry.  This parcel was going to need  unwrapping with the same  consideration and care  with which it was put together. With hasty fingers subdued, I found, under a layer of thin cardboard, a small, impeccably neat, brown paper package, tied up with string, complete with bowBrown paper package

and a sweet, rosy label.Sweet  rosy label

String untied with ease, I delved, more gently this time, in to the brown paper package and discovered more delightful bows and ribbons. I began to feel as if I were playing that old-fashioned party pleaser/teaser, ‘Pass the Parcel’, but with more enjoyment than in my younger years because there was only one possible winner in this game; me!More pretty bows

Like every well-mannered party girl, I looked at the card and gift tag first (do you see the cute butterfly cut out that holds the ribbon?), so that I would know whom to thank at the end of the celebration.  And, as I looked at each detail before me, the ribbons, the string, the paper  and  the stickers wrapped and tied themselves around my store of wonderful memories of parcels past. In particular, I remember parcels from my grandfather and aunt, lovingly packaged in brown paper and tied with string and perfect, postal-approved knots.  Inside these parcels, there would be the excitement of kids’ magazines, jelly babies, and pretty stickers requiring stick, and, sometimes, real treasures such as exquisitely hand-made dolls clothes, or a hand-knitted hug me tight (shrug).  And these memories,in turn, fastened on to that tiny little prick of conscience I experienced earlier, when I tore into my mail, and reminded me of decades of diligently instilled old school traditions of thrift. So, when I returned to the present, I studied the pink tissue paper and delicate tape and shiny green ribbon and worked out how to open the pink tissue paper parcel without destroying the wrapping ……..Green and pink and gorgeousand, finally, there, before me, was my favourite thing;  jewellery, absolutely and perfectly made, just for me.Just for me

Thank you Cath of Lizzie Rose for adding colour and wonder to my day. It’s not my birthday till the end of the month but I feel like the party has already started :). Thanks, too, for making my shopping easy and stress free and for giving me confidence that real customer service truly does exist outside my memory bank.

Footnote: Here is the link to Cath’s lovely blog which I  enjoy for its creativity and its insight in to life in Singapore. It will also link you to her Etsy shop and her creative world.

http://lizzierosejewellery.com/

Anklenote: I also bought a beautiful anklet  from Lizzie Rose. I thought I was too old for such silliness but, I discover that one is never too old for some fun and frivolity. The anklet is light and comfortable and I am going to wear it till it’s time to put on my winter boots. Its tiny turquoise beads remind me of summer seas and skies.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/125679287/anklet-in-pale-turquoise-aqua-bronze

© silkannthreades