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Sunday, July 1, 2012

The frugality of not doing

by Lili Mounce

This past week was one of those busy, busy weeks. We had the great delight of my father-in-law visiting us for the week. I was involved in a lot of active frugality in the days leading up to his visit and all throughout the week. My level of busy-ness was akin to the week leading up to Christmas. This coming week, even though it is a holiday week, I wish to have it easier. Less stress, less fuss, less doing.

When most folks think about frugality, images of baking or cooking from scratch, repairing home and car, and scouring the stores for bargains come to mind.

There's also a simpler side to frugal living -- the not doing. For me, that means, the sitting out on the deck under the umbrella on a sunny day, sipping a glass of iced tea, and just enjoying the beauty of the extensive greenery which is our backyard.

The not doing is every man for himself breakfasts of toast and milk or coffee, and me enjoying the quiet of the morning without a rush to be off somewhere.

The not doing is a fire in the fire bowl in the twilight hours, on the patio, with the family gathered about sometimes in conversation, sometimes in thought.

After a week of a lot of activity, I find I need to be still for a bit. This may be the week to dive into my pile of books from the library, spend an afternoon looking for shells and sea glass at the quiet beach near us (we have two beaches nearby, one always busy, another almost undiscovered), or spend a bit of time outdoors cutting an armload of flowers to bring inside.

Home Depot's slogan is "More saving. More doing". Well, maybe I don't want to follow the Home Depot model this week. A week of not doing seems to be on the calendar instead. Or maybe not. It could be I just need one or two days of calm to rev me back up for new projects. What are some of your favorite ways to be frugal while not doing?

My slogan for the next week? "Still saving. Not doing."


  1. I'm a big fan of not-doing, but I don't not-do enough! Your week of not-doing sounds great and I want to come and sit on your patio under an umbrella or round the fire bowl right now! And you have TWO beaches nearby? We're nowhere near the beach here so I'm envious!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      I'm looking forward to a few days of not a whole lot on the calendar! We really are fortunate in our area, as far as beaches go. A good deal of the Puget Sound waterfront is publicly owned, so many beaches around. We visited the busy beach this last week, but I'm looking forward to the quiet one for an afternoon. Searching for sea glass and shells is a summer passion of mine! Thanks for the comment!

  2. I have one more week to go before I can not-do and I am SOOOOOOOOO looking forward to it! Usually the week of the fourth of July is slow for us, as we choose not to go anywhere due to the crowds. This year my husband's brother's family of six is coming for two days and then my side of the family is having a party during the weekend so my parents are spending the night here. I love overnight company but I have a feeling I will just collapse on Monday! I will also do a lot of reading and going to the beach (Lake Michigan is a fresh water lake so the opportunities for finding shells are minimal and sea glass is nonexistent!). It sounds crazy, but if the weather is cool enough, baking is also relaxing to me. Does anyone else like to read cookbooks for fun?

    1. Hi Kris,
      Yes! I thought I was the only one who "reads" cookbooks! My personal favorites are older cookbooks. I love reading all the household tips and menu plans, getting an idea of how life once was.
      You are going to have a busy house for the week! I'm sure your kids will love having their cousins, aunt and uncle and Grandma and Grandpa come for a visit. Hope it isn't too hot there. We'll trade you some cool for some heat! Have a great week with family. And thanks for the comment!

    2. Kris, I totally read cookbooks for fun!

    3. My mom gave me her Betty Crocker cookbook from when she was a newlywed. I get a kick out of it--the baking sections are well-used and the vegetable/salad sections are like new. I can tell what she liked best to prepare! :) The cookbook gives a history of many of the foods and it's so interesting. One of my favorite recipes when my kids were toddlers came from there--monkey-faced cookies--a soft molasses cookie--the kids put 3 raisins on the top and when they baked they resembled ... monkey faces ... they still get a kick out of baking them.

      Quite hot here, but that helps heat up Lake Michigan making hanging out at the beach much more comfortable (unlike our camping trip a couple of weeks ago when I waded in 55* water!).

    4. Kris, I have my mom's 1957 Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. It was a wedding gift from an aunt of hers. And I still use it for reference. It's great for really basic stuff and good old home cooking. My whole wheat sandwich and toast bread (that we eat every single day) comes from a recipe in that book. My mom passed away when I was in my 20s, so her cookbooks are one of my links to her. I love seeing her handwriting in the margins, saying how she changed a recipe, or what was especially good, etc.

      The other type of cookbooks I enjoy are history of foods cookbooks. Especially American cookbooks. We've gotten away from eating seasonally. These sort of cookbooks always emphasize how people ate both seasonally and locally. And here we are today, rediscovering that eating seasonal and local foods is not only less expensive, but better for us and the environment.

      Here in the Seattle area we may have lots of beaches, but the water is always very cold. Enjoy your warm lake!

  3. This sounds wonderful, Lili! I also really enjoy just sitting back and not doing. You don't have to be productive or on the go all the time, and there's a lot to be said for relaxing at home and enjoying what you have.

    1. Hi Pamela,
      I know! For me, having down time revs me back up to tackle new projects. Giving yourself permission to not be productive is sanity saving. Now where have I heard that before. Oh yeah. Right here (sorry its cut and paste, can't figure how to link in the comment field)
      For those reading these comments, Pamela has a great post on giving yourself permission to not do it all! Well worth reading!
      Thanks for commenting!

    2. I recently read Mary Pipher's book The Middle of Everywhere. It was written post-911 by a psychologist discussing the influx of immigrants to her hometown and the transitions in our culture they had to make. One of the things that really struck me was the comment made to Mary by several different immigrants from different cultures about the frenetic pace we Americans keep--that we never just sit and relax and enjoy quiet time. They got that right, didn't they?

    3. Kris, that sounds like a really interesting book. And so very true.

      So many people I know go on vacation then come home and say they need another vacation because the last one wore them out. We don't even seem to know how to relax on vacation any more.

      I think part of the problem is all the technology we have available now. We haven't figured out how to balance our lives within in this electronic age.

      One of the things I love about summer is sitting around our firebowl in the evening. No phones, no ipods, no gameboys, no ipads, just us, sitting by the fire, looking for the first star to come out, or listening to the birds and frogs. It's so simple and basic.



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