frugal february: the pits and the peaks

Frugal February ends today, and I'm glad that I did it. And I plan to continue the habits I have developed this past month. Even though I'm still not on a precise budget (next step, perhaps?), I have learned a few things about myself.

First: spending and not spending are contagious. When I'm carpooling with my frugal mister, I spend less on gas, on groceries, on happy hours. We go to work, and we go home. We don't stop at attractive and expensive grocery stores filled with organic veggies, free samples, local meats, and money vortexes (which I do when alone). We occasionally stop at a local produce market with fair prices or at a cheaper (and less sensorily pleasing) grocery store. Plus, having someone to wake up with at 6 makes it easier to not buy coffee, because he starts making the coffee and I finish it and off we go. We don't tempt each other with happy hours, because we're going home to make dinner together and spend time together anyway, so we don't need to pay for that privilege.

Second: I've gotten better at making food based on what I have at home, not what I crave or want to have. I've found that as long as I have a fair variety of veggies, I am satisfied and able to make something delicious for dinner. Case in point, last night when I made a quinoa salad from the veggies on hand, including an awesome spicy peanut butter, ginger, tomato, and cilantro dressing.

Third: I don't mind not going out to eat, but potlucks and spending time with friends can also be quite expensive if you're doing so 3-5 nights a week (I love my friends and we live close to each other) and it's always a wine and food fest. If I always feel obligated to bring wine and food (which I'm not obligated to do; it's in my head), that can be $50 a week just on wine!!! Outrageous! So that needs to change. Basically, I need to shift my thinking. Meaning, I need to stop feeling obligated, and stop partaking in the snacks and drinks. Don't contribute, don't indulge, save money. Choose two nights a week, perhaps, where I do contribute and indulge, and the rest of the time, drink tea or stay home.

Fourth: I'm not going into a fabric store in March! I have some amazing fabrics, and now I need to use them up. When used, I will return to a fabric store, but not until then. And Fabric Depot is the place to go. The smaller boutiques are money traps, and Fabric Depot has awesome brands and fabrics with major monthly sales and coupons.

I would like to persevere in March with these financial goals and habits. Any suggestions for contributing to potlucks and gatherings without feeling like a miser or breaking the bank? Any savings ideas that have worked for you? I would love to hear some tips.


friday fantastic

What is fantastic about this Friday?

It is the start of a 3-day weekend, and I have exceedingly few plans, which means I may be able to conquer some of my many goals, including grading 9th grade honors essays, finish reading The Time Traveler's Wife, start re-reading Lolita, take walks and pictures, go for a run, start my seeds, finish two current sewing projects and start two new ones, and clean my house. My grin will be fantastically wide if I manage all these. Perhaps I should close down and go get started!

I think I may spend some time planning my garden. I think I will need to scale down a bit this year, due to teaching 6 classes this spring. However, I do want to have fantastic heirloom tomatoes, lush teas and flowers, and an eclectic variety of peppers so I can quadruple (at least) my output of the dank hot sauce I made in December. I want to grow more of what I enjoyed, such as chamomile, lettuce, kale, sunflowers, and peas, but I also don't want to spend the money I spent last year on starts and seeds (so I say now). Must have self-control (something that's quite difficult for me when it comes to books, flowers, seeds, and starts).

Happy week ending!


raindrop tea

Peach Pie Tea

2-3 tablespoons dried peaches
1/2 t. cinnamon (crushed bark preferred)
4 cloves
1/4-1/2 t. ginger
pinch of lavender

This tea is one of my favorites. Spicy, lightly and naturally sweet, fruity, and calming. Yum.


Frugal February

Frugal February is going fairly well, although there are some bumps in the road. I sometimes feel like money and me are like oil and vinegar. But I haven't gone out to eat at all, and I've only been out for a drink once, yesterday, and those were cheap. My friend compelled me, oh vixen, oh temptress! And I haven't bought coffee, although I was sorely tempted the other day!

Here are some of the things I've spent money on:
A plane ticket home in March. This is the big one. I am hoping to pay this off after payday.
$28 at the local nursery on two 5 week old chicks (more on these later), feed, and potting soil.
Wine. I am not drinking out. I am drinking at potlucks and dinner parties.
Groceries, gas, bills, etc.
$10 on Lolita. (Despite my love of Powells, where I did spend some of my gift card, I had to order Lolita from Amazon. A five dollar price difference on a paperback is a big deal.)

Things I haven't spent money on (but wanted to):
I didn't go to the bargain boutique sale at the Crystal Ballroom and spend money on clothes and accessories from Portland boutiques. I went snowshoeing instead.
I am going snowboarding this weekend and am being gifted the lift ticket!
Gas money on going to Seattle for a friend's wedding reception. We decided to spend that money on a gift instead.

I think that Frugal Feb. may have to turn into Moderate March. I feel like I am building some great habits. I need to keep going with these new behaviors so I can save for a house, traveling to South America, driving across country, and all the other things that take, ugh, money.


for the love of books

It's been quiet on the blogging front, although there have been adventures galore to write and report on. Here's what I have been doing instead of blogging: reading!

This novel, set mainly in Portland during the 1980s, is so freaking sad yet beautiful, about a young biracial girl who struggles because she feels unaccepted by both whites and blacks while simultaneously struggling with the tragic death of her family and the guilt of being the only survivor. This might be a hot contender for lit. circles with my American lit. students next year. Apparently, the author wrote the book with teens in mind as it reflects her own background, upbringing (she grew up in Portland in the 80s), and that there were no books targeted to her.

American Lit. students are about to read A Raisin in the Sun, which I just reread for the 4th time, maybe. Maybe more. I love, love, love this play. I don't think I've ever taught a piece of literature that I love more than this play. Every page reminds me of how much I love it. Hansberry's characters' struggle for integrity and pride is overwhelming, and this play has such a strong message of empathy and love. I cannot wait to share it with students.

A few friends and I have also started a book club. Our first pick: Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov. I'm the only one in the group who has read it before, which is a travesty. They all must read it, and I will gladly read it again. Nabakov is a genius. Stay tuned in March for more on book club.

What are you reading?


raindrop tea

Sleepy Tummy

Equal parts:

a pinch of lavender

Steep for at least 4 minutes and enjoy!