In the past year, with so much leisure time at home, I've found things that I didn't think of as missing. About 30 years ago, I started taking a newsletter, The Tightwad Gazette, an ingenious guide to techniques an average person could use to save money.
Founder, brains, practitioner, and even illustrator, writer, editor and distributor of this master's class in thrift, Amy Dacyczyn explained the drive behind her wealth of knowledge: She wanted a big family, a New England house (with attached barn), and a lifestyle with enough money and stuff to support both. Her concept and tagline were perfect: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle.
She became a media darling in the 1990s, the subject of lifestyle articles in major newspapers and magazines reaching far beyond her small town of Leeds, Maine. Her newsletters transformed into even more success with books by the same name. I imagine you can still find them, dog-eared I would guess, in libraries throughout the land, if they haven't been placed in Friends of the Library sale rooms and snapped up by now.
I found the binder filled with newsletters, including the premiere issue. I've been reading through these, and I'm here to say that her observations about building a life, not just a bank account, and enjoying one's personal choices in thrift and sacrifices to meet greater goals, hold up over time.
I've been trying to find out what Amy's up to today, in likely her grandmother years now, rather than the young-family era when she was on the country's collective radar. There is a Facebook group I've joined for fans of hers, The Tightwad Gazette Fan Club.
New to the site, I've already picked up tips about the very question I've had on a way that WORKS in cleaning the grease, smudges and collective grime from honey-oak cabinets. (Recs came for Scott's Liquid Gold, Awesome Cleaner and -- a surprise -- Goo Gone.) Disclaimer: If you try any of those, start with a SMALL area. I don't want you ruining your oak-cabinet finish with products not actually meant for the task. Just saying. I can't endorse any of them yet.
I hope to find "the rest of the story" about Amy and her life today. An update on her "grandmother wisdom" would be a must-read in lifestyle journalism.
Meanwhile, being a new retiree (I haven't gotten to try that word out in real social settings yet, just on here), I have a renewed interest in thrift. Something I've anticipated about retirement is finding a day other than Friday or the weekend to do the grocery shopping.
If you have an opinion on this, advice on the optimum day to go where the crowds are down but the inventory up, please share!
Son Ben and I recently visited the Aldi grocery store in Carmel, where he lives. I had not been in an Aldi for at least a couple years, more than that for using a quarter-cart (refundable after loading groceries in the car and returning cart to its stall). I was pleasantly surprised by the new products and fresh produce.
Wanting to see if this was just the Carmel store, I visited the Anderson version a week later and found everything as it was in Carmel. A few products particularly impressed me: the single-serve moist-canned dog food; the bottled pesto sauce and this, Root Vegetable Fries. YUM.
We also like their sliced, packaged cheese with a nifty resealable overlay -- better than the zip-style I've bought in much more expensive cheeses elsewhere, and their packaged bread.
Do tell. If you are an Aldi shopper, what are your favorite products?
I also enjoy clothing-consignment shopping. I love our Pendleton store, The Sister Exchange Consignment, as well as New Castle's Classic Collections. Soon I hope to try out a friend's favorite consignment shop, Clothes Mentor in Fishers, and her other favorite, Simply Chic, also in Fishers.
I've always found secondhand clothing and accessories that I actually like more than paying full price in the malls or online.. There's everything good about consignment shopping: recycling, easy on the budget, unique clothes, an armload of finds for the price of a single item new.
What recommendations do you have for cool consignment shops?
We're still filling our home with light, and enjoying candles. I have some tiny candles in our stash and decided to drop one into a Ball canning jar. It seems safer than a small candle, and it hides the label and adds a little country-farmhouse-Midwestern cred, if that's a style you like. I do.
I wanted to change up the centerpiece on our kitchen table with found-objects from around the house. First I looked for and found the stoneware snowman I've had for decades, then added the red pot (I have no memory of where it came from but I would say a yard sale); and some "summer" floral fakery that I wouldn't typically think to put with a snowman.
The tablecloth is courtesy of Cleo Winters! Cleo was a staple in my growing-up years. My sister-in-law Jeannie bought this tablecloth at the auction of her belongings after she died. I bet it's been 30 years, Maybe 40. I love this tablecloth and think of Cleo. She'd be 120 if she's a day. Now a resident of heaven.
Shop your own shelves first!