Frugal re-entry.

thMy trip back from a couple of conferences and family visits took some 17 hours from door to door, thanks to the first plane leaving almost two hours late. Boy, was I ready to be home.

And boy, was I glad that we live only about six minutes from the airport. A guy with whom I chatted during the delay told me he still had to drive to Ninilchik, Alaska, after we landed. That’s more than 180 miles south of Anchorage. All I had to do was look for DF’s car outside the baggage claim area.

Thursday found me somewhat punchy, since long trip + fewer than five hours of sleep = dormant brain cells. But I made it a point to get back on track, money-wise. 


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thToday is National Thrift Store Day, which I’d forgotten. Strictly by coincidence I wound up discussing secondhand shops with my younger great-nephew, who is far more stylish than I.

B waxed rhapsodic while describing the leopard-print winter jacket he recently got at Value Village. Just $8 to be both warm and cool at the same time.

He also recently bought some really high-topped Converse sneakers (think “mid-calf”) there, along with a T-shirt emblazoned with cartoon sushi and a simple summer frock.

(B is a gender non-conforming kid who’s been wearing “girl” clothes full-time for several years, although his older brother explained to me that there’s no such thing as girl clothes or boy clothes.)

He loves the variety as well as the price. Where else is an 8-year-old in Anchorage, Alaska, likely to find affordably priced black Dr Martens boots of shiny patent leather black with pink stitching and laces?


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A good wash day.

Definitely turning into my mthother: I am now identifying sunny, windy days like today in terms of laundry.

For the past couple of months I’ve called every balmy and breezy morning “a good wash day.” Because that’s what it is.

This has been a particularly warm summer and DF and I have used the clothesline to the maximum. If it isn’t laundry we’re hanging out, it’s the bedclothes and pillowcases: They smell so marvelous after a few hours in the air and sun.

I’ll even cop to looking for laundry where there is none, e.g., “Is it time to do a load of towels and bathrobes?” or “Have we washed the comforter lately?” Failing that, I’ll put the bedclothes out for the second day in a row.

My mom would approve. Like us, she hardly ever used the clothes dryer. None of the adult women I knew did. Why add to the electric bill when sun and wind are free?


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Putting food by.

GetAttachmentThe photo is a glimpse of harvest mania at Chez DIY. Those underachievers in the small glass dish are strawberries picked from our tiny patch, which we hope to expand in years to come.

In the bowl and large measuring cup are four quarts of raspberries that DF and I picked in an evening, quitting before we’d gotten them all. We’ve already frozen 14 quarts of the things for his oatmeal and my homemade yogurt, and also to eat the Alaska way: only partially thawed and with a big dump of sugar.

On the left are jars of jam I’d made from a previous session; it’s the second batch I’ve made this year. Seeing those jars gives me the urge to make another one.

Not that we need a third batch, or maybe even that second one; we’re still using up jam from last year. But I don’t want the backyard bounty to go to waste — and part of me doesn’t even want to give them away.

That’s the part of me that feels, every year, that primal urge: Winter is coming. Put food by.


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thThe response to my early-June reboot of “Surviving (and thriving) on $12,000 a year” was humbling. It was great to see reader comments about the impact this piece had on their lives.

When the post originally ran (January 2007) it got more response than anything else MSN Money published that year. The editor immediately said, “Write another one.” So I did.

The headline I chose was the one you see above; it got changed to “Living ‘poor’ and loving it.” (I refrain from comment.)

I’ve decided to re-boot the second piece as well, again in its original format vs. the MSN-edited version. Once again, asterisks indicate that updates can be found at the end.

Comedian Dick Gregory grew hungry and cold in an impoverished home. Yet his mother always assured the kids, “We ain’t poor, we’re just broke.”


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