Weekly Finds: Simple Pleasures & Frugal Living

Frugality, thrift and simple living in this week’s media:

Urban foraging for crabapples – Frugal & Urban
I especially liked how many people stopped to talk with her as she was picking apples.

Two-cycle billing – Get Rich Slowly
Make yourself aware of two-cycle billing, weird grace period cut-offs and other credit card maneuvers that will cost you money.

What Cooking Skills Would You Like to Learn? – Mother Earth News
Readers answer the question in the comments section — interesting.

Plastics: What’s Dangerous, What’s Not – Mother Earth News
Helpful breakdown toward the end of the article of what to avoid. Yikes.

Roundup: Repurposed Mail Sorters – Apartment Therapy
We actually repurposed a mail sorter/magazine holder into a drying rack for baking trays and cutting boards.

The Many Reasons to Make Do with Less – Wise Bread
A nice perspective from one writer who has cut down on consumption.

Enjoy Homemade Butter in Less than Five Minutes – Lifehacker
I never knew it was so easy! I’m curious how much the recipe makes and if it’s cheaper than buying butter.

Top 10 Tricks MacGyver Would Be Proud Of – Lifehacker
These are great! Except for storing your food in a plastic cd case. Perhaps they need to read the Mother Earth plastics article linked above.


What’s for Dinner?

I’ve noticed a lot of cheap and tasty broccoli at our local farmer’s market lately and since we’re trying to eat healthy food on a budget, I’ve been trying to figure out new and tasty ways to cook it.

Martha has one easy idea that we’ve come to love — roasting broccoli with garlic and lemon slices.

I have tried this a few times recently (so far, sans cauliflower), tossing the roasted veggie with pasta, a bit of Parmesan cheese, and some rinsed white canned beans for a quick and nutritious dinner.

Definitely don’t skip the lemon slices — they make the dish!

No Bag Left Behind


I love to wrap gifts.

My husband can attest to this fact: Sometimes, I spend silly amounts of time finding just the right piece of wrap or ribbon to create a pretty little prize for the intended recipient.

Sometimes, I’m even more excited about the wrap than the gift itself. (Although if the wrap happens to be around a gift I’ve also made, then it’s a double-whammy of DIY bliss for me!)

And I rarely buy wrapping paper, instead preferring to reuse some of the more beautiful pieces I’ve received, as well as ephemera I’ve collected.

So, when I was considering the millions of brown paper grocery bags we’ve managed to accumulate — in spite of diligently bringing our own cloth bags when we shop — it seemed like a no-brainer to repurpose them into something a little more fun that might give them a second use before they hit the recycling pile. Like gift wrap!

vignette80I started by making paper bows, layering cut flowers of the brown paper and decorating some with ink. Next, I moved on to gift tags; a few forgotten mini potatoes that were languishing in our pantry and an inkpad later, and I had some simple little block prints to embellish them. I cut and folded some tiny gift cards, which I also stamped.

Like a conscientious hunter using all the parts of a prized animal, I was determined to reuse 100% of that bag. What to do with all the scraps of my cut-outs and punched holes? I soaked them in warm water overnight, found an old screen, and used the pulp to make one single sheet of 8-by-14-inch textured wrapping paper which I also embellished with my trusty potato.

I probably ended up throwing about 25% of the bag into the recycling pile — mostly bits and pieces that had industrial glue on them or ink blotted from my stamps. Not quite the full animal, but close! Next time….

Top right photo: paper bow. Bottom left photo: top row of wrapping paper (top), gift tags (middle left), gift cards (middle right), more bows (bottom).

Bike to Work and Get Paid for It

Read all about the tax credit for commuters who bicycle to work. Good thinking!

Fun Find


I found these charming little birds in our local thrift shop for $1 each and scooped them up for my daughter’s bedroom. They look like they just flew in from a storybook, don’t they?

Free Things: Summer Weekend Fun

We’ve had some really lovely summer weekends around here lately. Here are a few of the small and simple pleasures we’ve been enjoying:

Our local library
I love the library and could write an entire essay about why — another post, perhaps! Although it’s open all year round, nothing beats taking a leisurely stroll in the warm summer sun to the land of free books. It reminds me of being a kid on summer vacation, oh so long ago.

The petting zoo
We are lucky enough to have a free petting zoo in our area. Again, it’s open all year long, but it’s extra fun to enjoy it during the golden days of summer. Our daughter has just started to notice animals and we snapped some pretty cute photos of her staring down the cows as they checked her out.

Training wheels
We watched a neighbor’s kid lose his training wheels this weekend while his mom ran next to him holding onto the bike so he wouldn’t fall. Priceless.

I don’t know if there are more of them lately or if I’m just noticing them more. Either way, they’re wonderful. They almost make up for the absence in my life now of lightning bugs, which are an indelible part of my childhood summer memories.

Our generous neighbor has huge blackberry bushes in her backyard and has kindly offered to let us pick them. There is one hanging over the fence in our back area, so my husband harvested some of the deliciousness yesterday — and made a cake! Scrumptious.

What’s going on in your world that’s free, fun and summery?

Weekly Finds: Simple Pleasures & Frugal Living

Frugality, thrift and simple living in this week’s media:

The Queen of Coupons – The Boston Globe
I have never been much of a coupon-user, but this woman is and she’s amazing!

President Shifts Focus to Renting, Not Owning – The Boston Globe
A shift away from the “ownership society.” Especially interesting for those of us who are still renters.

How to create fresh, natural and frugal household cleaners – Design Sponge
I must try this; perhaps it will inspire the same “cleaning fastidiousness” in me that Ashley is lucky enough to possess. Ha!

Instant Air Fresheners for Small Spaces – Apartment Therapy
A sweet little trick to freshen up a tiny space.

30 Summer Pleasures You Can Enjoy Today – On Simplicity
A lovely list of simple summer pleasures, many of them free.