The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect


Living #4

Miscellaneous Stuff.

When I was really deep into keeping us on track and didn’t need distractions from the world of products around me here are a few things I did.

Magazines. All those so cute Pottery Barn, Eddie Bauer and Crate and barrel catalogs along with any other clothing magazines went straight into the trash. I just didn’t want the longing to have any of that stuff. I don’t subscribe to any magazines other than ‘Organic Gardening’ and ‘This Old House’ for the same reason. I can keep my life simple without all those way too cute distractions. But, I am human and American and weak so I do have my moments of drooling over the Crate and Barrel catalog…love their kitchen wares.

Grocery Store. Of course it’s best to have a list and a plan, but I can only seem to do that a few times a year. I stick to the outside edges. All the packaged quick foods are in the center, avoid them at all cost. Name brands are the enemy to me. I don’t see the sense in paying more for cleaning products, or food that the off brand does just as well or better. I’m sure I have some exceptions to this like; Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter (I avoid the sugary stuff, which is vital to me now) and low sugar jelly only made by Smuckers.

Here’s a list of items that we have given up at different times to save money.

Soda- I make lemonade out of lemon juice, water and powdered sugar. So much cheaper than buying the mix and no artificial flavors or colors, it’s really good….but I won’t ever be drinking that again… sniff sniff.

Paper Napkins– You can make a truck load of cloth napkins for the same amount that you would spend on a few large packages of napkins, they can be used (by the same person) for the entire day or days if you’re not a slob. Yes, it adds to the laundry, but no too bad. No, I don’t use cloth napkins anymore except when we run out of the paper, but maybe I should give this a go again.

Paper Towels– I still don’t buy these on a regular basis. My rags consist of Clay’s old athletic socks cut open and they work so well, cost nothing and again add to my laundry.

Toilet Paper– No, just kidding.

Cereal- I go through long phases of not buying cereal and then cave to the convenience. But, now since I can’t really eat the stuff, I think we’ll go back to oatmeal and other cooked breakfast meals. We save a lot of milk waste this way too.

New Clothes– My freshman year of college I challenged myself not to buy any new clothing. I made it to my birthday April 8th (why that’s comin’ up real soon now isn’t it?) and I treated myself to some green pants, a t-shirt and cool jacket from the Gap and then went out dancin’ with my best dance partner ever…Claystor! I think I’m going to try this again starting in the fall, cuz I don’t have but one pair of shorts that fit me and hopefully they will be too big given the forced “lifestyle”.

Living #3

Let’s talk about what the kids are wearing.

Clothes. I try to stand by this rule of mine. My kids don’t have more clothes than they can wear in a weeks time. Boys get a pair of khaki pants and a pair of navy blue pants to wear to church until they are too small.  Sometimes they don’t have either and we rely on the best pair of jeans until those are ruined. They have no more than three pairs of jeans, five pairs of shorts. The rest of their wardrobe is basic t-shirts, white socks and underwear. The girl is a bit more difficult but I still try to keep her clothing limited to what she can wear in a weeks time, she does have more shoes for obvious reasons….she’s a girl. I have to keep up on the laundry, but this rule really simplifies clutter. I have to admit I do buy them new outfits for special occasions such as Christmas and Easter with the hope that they get more than a few chances to wear the said outfit.

It is rare that I buy the kids clothes at full price. I take advantage of used clothing stores. I also sell whatever clothing I can to the consignment shops and use that money to buy new clothing. I have worked very diligently at keeping my kids label free. My daughter doesn’t know the difference between a pair of Nike’s and the Target brand of tennis shoes, yet she has worn both. I may not always have this luxury of ignorance so I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. I want my kids to be well dressed, but I don’t care if their clothes come from Goodwill or Talbots as long as they are decent.  edited to add: I am determined to start buying more from garage sales, thrift stores and ebay.

This is another good rule of mine that has stood the test of time. I buy simple clothes. Like solid color t-shirts, plain khakis, plain jeans and sweatshirts that can last through the ages and not be dated in a couple months. I avoid most trendy clothes for the boys since that is where the hand-me-downs have to sit in wait for a few years before #3 can fit into them.

BTW- I caught Oprah on Friday and she is doing a debt diet. I found it fascinating, I need to go check out the web sight. Some of the families were doing such obvious stupid things. The shocker, one teenager had 25 bras, 70 t-shirts and 17 pairs of jeans!!!!! DUH-HUR! And they can’t figure out why they got into so much debt. We Americans are BIG. FAT. PIGS! I know I’m guilty of excessiveness too, but I’m vowing to try harder.

Living #2

Top of my list to keep me in check is entertainment.

Cable. Can’t miss something I’ve never owned.  So, no glorified TV for us, if the giant antenna can’t bring it into the house, then it’s not meant to be seen.

Eating out. Clay and I challenged ourselves one summer not to eat out for three months. We did it. It was a lot of work keeping food ready and resisting the urge to go somewhere real quick, but now that we live out in the middle of nowhere it’s not hard to go a week or month  without going through a drive-thru. However, Clay you need to start packing your lunch again dear…really.

The Most Holy Place. In this family I own all rights to the kitchen. It is mine, no touch! I learned mega amounts of wisdom from two women in Kansas that have helped me turn a jar of mayonnaise and a few rocks into a delicious gourmet meal. Let me share this simple wisdom: In nearly every baked good there are five simple ingredients that cost far less than buying the ready made mix. So put that brownie mix, pancake mix, bisquick, cake mix, bread mix (see the trend?) back on the shelf and buy yourself some flour, eggs, oil, sugar and baking powder. Yes, you might have to spend five extra minutes getting out the cook book to make the pancakes, but eventually you will know the recipe like your favorite song and you won’t want to touch those mixes with the burnt end of your wooden spoon. You also stand the chance of hearing, “Mom, I like your pancakes better than Denny’s!”

Use it up. I don’t go to the store until all supplies are exhausted. All those cans of tomatoes have a purpose and that is to fill the bellies of the people I love. If I’m going to spend a hundred dollars on groceries then we’re going to eat a hundred dollars of groceries before I drag everyone back to the store. Have a plan. Use simple books like the once a month freezer meals to get you a core of meals that you can whip out of those last few boxes of pasta.

Vinegar. This is God’s gift to housewives. It has at times replaced all these items in my house; fabric softener, glass cleaner, multipurpose cleaner, floor cleaner, starch, odor killer. And I think a gallon of it cost a buck or less. If you mix it with water and a bit of dish soap you’ve got just about any cleaner you need. The trick is in the dilution.  Play with it, have fun, make it your own!  Also, save your Windex bottle and mix your vinegar/water/soap and tad  bit of lemon juice in that bottle and you won’t forget that it’s your window cleaner.

If you don’t shop there, you should. I used to feel like I needed to rush home and take a shower after I shopped there, but it has improved a lot. They have whole grain bread for $1.60. Next to God, Aldi’s is the reason I get to stay home with my children. End of story.