About Me

Life is learning. Life is change. Life is good. Life doesn't have to cost a lot. I want to make my life greener, healthier, and thriftier. And I want to enjoy doing it!

Monday, January 31, 2011

An Eclectic Lifestyle

My dictionary defines "eclectic" as "choosing or accepting from various or diverse sources".

"Eclectic" defines us perfectly ...

Last year we saved up and bought our first piece of new store-bought furniture in over twenty years  -  our elderly sofa finally died and we replaced it with a lovely cushy comfy mushroom-coloured one  -  with, of course, washable covers on all the cushions.  The rest of our furniture is a collection of "rescued" pieces from when my parents sold their house, pieces that we each had when we met, Ikea bookshelves, and yard-sale acquisitions and donations from friends who were moving, downsizing, or upgrading.  Our huge entertainment centre / china cabinet was built by Big Guy and a friend from lumber they salvaged when a local store was torn down; that's also where all the fluorescent fixtures in the basement and workshop came from.  Oh, and the microwave cabinet and two kitchen chairs are dumpster finds that Big Guy refinished.

Our sheets, towels, and assorted "soft" furnishings  -  pillows and so on  -  are likewise a mixture of old, newish, freebies, and hand-made by me.  Some day they might all match, but if they don't I won't lose any sleep over it.  The collection reflects our thrifty values and habits.  Cotton towels and face cloths are used until they're starting to look worn or frayed ... from the house they go to the camper until they're really ragged, then they come back into the house as cleaning rags or to the garage/workshop as shop rags; when they're too worn and ragged even for that, I shred them for the compost.  I haven't bought a dishcloth in over twenty years; why should I when I can get a ball of cotton yard at a thrift store for a dollar, and knit anywhere from one to two dozen dishcloths from that?  Though I did buy new fabric for the living room drapes  -  on sale from a remnant rack!

The kitchen, naturally, follows the same pattern.  Our dishes match  -  well, most of them  -  only because I found a treasure trove of Denby stoneware at a local thrift store, in shades of blue I really love.  The serving pieces are a mix of old family pieces and dollar-store dinnerware.  The cutlery all matches, for a wonder (he found a killer sale), and there's a big mug full of extra mis-matched teaspoons for coffee, dishing up cat food, lunch bag use, and so on.  Cooking and serving utensils live in a collection of big stoneware bean crocks I rescued from my parents' basement  -  Mom was going to throw them out.

"Eclectic" can also be used to describe the things we do ... some people have described us as "full of contradictions".  I suppose they mean the contrast between the modern twenty-first century stuff and the "old-fashioned" skills most folks don't seem to value much any more.

I'm on the computer every day.  I do all our banking, bill-paying, and money management on-line.  I participate in a couple of social networks and a weekly on-line role-playing game (no, not WOW).  I read, I research, I shop.  I read the news and check the weather forecast.  I watch television episodes and movies and lecture series, and listen to music.  I hunt down patterns and craft instructions.  I reserve library books.  I correspond via e-mail with distant friends and relatives.  And, of course, I blog.

I have a cell phone, an mp3 player, and a digital camera.

I have a sewing machine that does everything but change the baby, and I have a serger.  But ... I also have an ancient treadle sewing machine that I keep in good working order.

I knit  -  which is becoming popular again, by the way.  I've just started learning to knit socks.

I sew  -  clothing for myself and the family, drapes, slipcovers, pillowcases, small things such as oven mitts and table linens (for us and for craft fairs).  I also mend, which is something most of the people I know don't bother with any more  -  they either pay someone else to do it, or they just toss the garment.  I have a standard price list of what I charge for simple repairs such as replacing buttons or zippers, hemming, repairing split seams, patching, and so on.  And I darn socks.

We recently replaced our old inefficient hot water tank with an in-line, electronic-ignition tankless water heater ... and we heat the workshop and the main floor of the house with wood stoves.  Both of which we got free.  And as soon as we installed them Big Guy befriended a couple of tree-removal companies, so we get all our wood free.  We don't pay for firewood, and they don't pay dump fees or add to the landfill.  Win-win.

I'm currently saving up to replace our old washing machine (when it finally dies) with a front-loader.  I'll save water, soap, and electricity, and our clothes will last longer.  Especially since everything will still get hung up to dry on either the outdoor or basement clotheslines.

Now that I think of it, there are a lot of things we do that some people think of as old-fashioned, eccentric, or "just hobbies" ...

We make our own jams, jellies, pickles and relishes.  We have shelves in the basement full of home-canned fruit, fish, and tomatoes, and home-dehydrated herbs, soup veggies, raisins, prunes, apples, tomatoes, and jerky. 

I refuse to have a dishwasher.  Instead, the dishpan of soapy water gets used to flush the toilet, so I almost never have to scrub it.  The pail of rinse water gets used to water the houseplants and the vegetable and tomato planters.  Or to wash the car, or scrub the bathtub and sink, or wash the floors, or gets poured into the washing machine when doing laundry.

Worn-out clothing turns into patchwork quilts, potholders, table runners, braided mats, and shopping bags.

Economical?  Frugal?  Thrifty?  Absolutely.  Downright cheap?  Possibly.

Financially and environmentally responsible?  You betcha!

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