The New Frugality – Fad…or Forever?

coinsI look with bemusement, on the number of people  jumping on the frugality bandwagon now that we are in an economic recession.  Their ardent, new-found lifestyle is met with amazed declarations like  “Wow, you can really save money by making coffee at home!” or “CFL bulbs actually put out just as much light!”  Bemusement, why?  Because I have always lived this way, and always will.  It is seemingly an innate philosophy that is deep within me – I would be leading a disingenuous life if I did otherwise.  They are not telling me something that I don’t already know, and live each day.

Believe me, I am happy when others discover the value of thrift…and I do understand the enthusiasm of the newly converted.  But the cynic in me wonders whether most of this is a temporary thing, to be shoved aside when the money once again, starts rolling in.  I’m sure there are some who feel ‘put upon’ by having to make changes, and can’t wait to get back to their old, excessive lifestyle.

Living frugally, for me, is not a lifestyle of dull austerity.  Quite the opposite!  To me, it takes more thought and action to actually do things rather than ‘sit back and be entertained’.  It is a lifestyle of  thinking and doing. And to me, thinking and doing is very fun!

It remains to be seen if more will fall off the wagon once the economy improves.  My wish is that more will actually realize the pleasure in remaining thrifty, no matter their income level.  I hope this is the case.  But I do know that it may be just as hard for some to remain frugal as it would be for me to suddenly become a spendthrift shopaholic!


Cashmere, Mohair & Angora Sweaters – Wash Away!

sweaterFall is right around the corner, and soon we will be bundling up in our sweaters to ward off the chill.  I am a real sweater lover.  I have stacks and stacks of them in every color, style, fiber, and weight.  My personal preference is cashmere, as I can wear it against my sensitive skin.  Wool, angora and mohair tend to irritate me, so I wear a layer in between.  I also have a fabulous vintage beaded cardigan collection.

I will admit that one of my biggest pet peeves is the dry cleaning of sweaters!  Please do not, I repeat, do not dry clean sweaters!

Dry cleaning leaves the fibers stiff and flat.  The natural fibers were never meant to be chemically cleaned.  When was the last time you saw a sheep, goat, or angora rabbit being run through a dry cleaning process?  No; they are out in the elements.  Water is certainly not going to hurt!  In fact, a gentle hand washing in cool water and gentle cleanser will bring out the natural beauty of the fiber.  It plumps and fluffs up the yarn and brings out incredible softness.

I air-dry the sweaters on special flat sweater dryers.  These are good because you can shape and block the sweater before it dries.  They are mesh, so both sides dry evenly without turning.

Vintage sweaters have always turned out well for me being hand-washed.  Even delicate beaded sweaters flourish.  I wash them all!  In fact, I have a stack of sweaters waiting to be freshly washed for the cooler temps, so I must heed my own advice soon.

So even if you see the dreaded ‘Dry Clean Only’ label…ignore it.  Tell ’em Marilyn said you could hand wash!

Get ready to wear those fabulously sexy sweaters, girls!


Clotheslines + Vintage Clothing = A Perfect Match

clothesline painting

I air-dry all of my laundry, so I’m a bit biased, but I believe that the clothesline is the best way to care for clothing, especially vintage clothing.  When you think about it, the dryer is a quite recent invention, coming into wide usage in the 1950s and 60s.  Before that time all drying was done the “natural” way; usually on a clothesline of some sort.  Everyone had a clothesline, be it in the city, country, or suburbs.   Clothes were strung up and no one gave it a second thought – it’s just the way it was done.  It was the only way it was done.

So especially if you own and wear vintage clothing, this is the manner in which they were originally meant to be dried.  Not tumbled in high temperatures, being coated with a film of softener from a dryer sheet.   Dryers are hard on clothes, wearing them out prematurely.  Just take a look at the lint generated after one dryer load – that is fiber from your clothes being worn off.  Air drying preserves the fibers so your clothes last longer.

I wash in cold water, a gentle environmentally safe detergent, and then hang dry.  I don’t use fabric softeners of any kind; they leave a film coating that attracts dirt and eventually wears your clothes out faster.  Clothes love being dried out in the fresh air and sunshine – I’m convinced!  Usually there is no need for ironing, they dry crisp and quite wrinkle-free.  I can’t remember the last time I used my iron, it is gathering dust in the closet.  Then there is the fresh outdoor linen scent on dried laundry that only nature can produce…heavenly.

Don’t be afraid to wash your vintage clothes – they can take it.   Do not, I repeat, do not use a dryer!  Air-drying is the time-honored way to dry laundry that has been done for centuries.  It saves energy, money, and extends the life of your clothes.  It can also be your own personal contribution to making the earth a little greener in this modern world!


Suffering From Allergies Like Me? A Neti Pot Can Help!

I have been using a neti pot for about a year and a half now.  Practically every day without fail, I prepare the simple solution of non-iodized salt and warm water in my neti pot.  Then I perform the cleansing rinse of the nasal passages by pouring the solution in one nostril and out the other.  It’s weird, to be sure, but I soon got used to it and now I actually look forward to it.  I like having allergens and gunk actually being washed away.

Being a long time sufferer of sinus troubles and allergies, I had been aware of the neti pot for years.  Being pre-internet, and before Oprah and Dr. Oz got on the neti pot bandwagon, I for the life of me couldn’t figure out how to use a neti pot from a book!  So I suffered from chronic sinus infenetipotctions and terrible allergies come spring and fall.  Dousing myself with allergy medications and trips to the doctor for antibiotics when a sinus infection set in.  Well, thank goodness, there was a resurgence of the neti pot about two years ago.  Dr. Oz demonstrated how to actually use it on the Oprah show.  YouTube videos on it’s use also abounded.  So I purchased one, started using it, and never quit!

The neti pot is actually a Yoga practice that has been around for 5,000 years.  I figure that anything that’s been around that long without negative effects is worth a try.  Not only does it help my allergies immensely, it seems to have a calming effect and I definitely feel cleansed.  I still have my allergies, but I’d say my allergy medication use is down about 75%.  My sinus problems have almost entirely cleared up, with only an occasional sinus headache.

There is a humorous side effect of neti pot use.  Sometimes, hours after using it, when I bend over a flood of water will come rushing out of my nose.  Where has this water been all this time?  In some recess of my brain?  I do have to remember to now, after using it, to bend over and blow all excess solution out of my nose to avoid this.  It happened once when I was at the library bending over to get a book on the shelf…I was madly grabbing for tissue, anything, to stop the flood!

It’s definitely worth spending a few minutes a day performing this age-old practice.  Practically free too.  Incredibly effective…can’t beat that!


Adventures in DTV

tv tower

Since I am not a huge TV watcher, with the recent conversion to DTV I decided to give up my cable subscription and ‘go free’.  That is, getting a converter box and antenna.   I never watched much, if any, of the cable shows anyway.  I usually ended up watching PBS or the local channels.

So I dutifully got my coupon towards a converter box and purchased one…along with an indoor antenna.  My techie son installed everything , and voila…we started getting the digital signal…absolutely free!  I held onto my cable for about a month, thinking that somehow that DTV might not work – but we never used the cable channels.  So I canceled my cable service – but not without a spiel from the service rep about how I could purchase a huge cable package for an ‘incredibly good price’ (right…).  When a cable co. service rep called me a couple weeks later for another attempt to get me back on cable, I was saying how happy I was with plain old DTV.  He then was interested in how it was set up…to help ‘a friend’ who wanted to do it (right…)  Hey, I help any way I can!

DTV is interesting, to say the least.  I think the picture comes in much clearer and sharper than with cable.  I get the basic channels, with a lot of “interesting” extras.  The Retro channel is very cool…reruns of ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and ‘Wagon Train’ are fun.  The two PBS channels I get are now divided into six PBS channels.  Lots of Spanish-speaking channels (I can do yoga in Spanish now…) a movie channel, and a lot of religious programming fill out the rest.  Amazingly, there are none of the shopping/infomercial channels.  I had thought they were everywhere…apparently not!

So the switch has been fine for me – actually, an improvement. With not much on, I don’t feel compelled to watch anything.  It’s a very freeing feeling…and no cable bills!


A Clothesline Is Needed At The White House! (And In Your Backyard!)

I am quite passionate about my clothesline and air-drying in the sense that it’s best for my clothes and the environment.  I love the aesthetics, simple beauty and act of hanging my laundry.  I guess I’ve been blissfully unaware, until recently, that this simple process is quite controversial in several states and in many HOA’s, where it is outlawed.clothesline pic

I’ve recently gotten involved with blogging (I’m a Clothes Pegger!) for a  fantastic non-profit, Project Laundry List,  Project Laundry List is working to make air-drying acceptable in more places.  They are also promoting it as a way to save energy and money.  The Executive Director of Laundry List, Alexander Lee, has told me that there have been several states that recently passed ‘Right to Dry’ legislation.    Vermont’s is in effect, Maine and Hawaii have passed legislation and are awaiting gubernatorial signatures.

There is also a push to get a clothesline installed in the White House.  I mean, they have a garden now – a clothesline would be the perfect compliment!  What better way to spread the word about energy-saving clothesline use than by having President or Mrs. Obama (or even Sasha or Malia) hanging laundry!  Ben Davis at Right 2 Dry, is conducting a campaign to petition the White House to hang a clothesline.  I urge you to sign the petition…and put up a clothesline in your own back yard while you’re at it!

Governor Davis (Republican) of Vermont uses a clothesline.  Governor Schwarzenegger (Republican) of California has spoken out for the use of clotheslines in his Earth Day speech.  Maybe there could be some good-natured, all-in-fun competition to the Democrats in Washington to do the same!

Alexander Lee’s wish is to have a clothesline in the White House by September 9th, when he will be in Washington.  Ever-practical me thinks it should be up NOW…think of all the lovely summer drying-weather that they will miss otherwise!

Meanwhile, I will continue to hang my laundry and enjoy the fabulous drying-days of summer.  Why don’t you?