While the world is abuzz about the Duchess of Sussex “stepping back” from her royal duties (seriously, though, I didn’t see that coming and apparently neither did the Queen!) I’ve stepped back in time and from the fancification of Duchess potatoes with this simple, frugal 1915 recipe found inside a Portland, Maine elementary school book. All that is required to make these tasty little puffs are three ingredients plus salt and pepper for seasoning.
Yes, I’ve just completed another thrifty “makeover” for our bedroom! This time I wanted bright colors to help offset the prolonged darkness of the short Maine winter days. I also ended up returning the heavy wool blanket we bought online last year because it turned out to be falsely advertised as being free from mothproofing. The label on the blanket stated otherwise, in another language! Sneaky!! To the merchant’s credit they took it back past the return date once I explained why I “waited” until then. Before I share the specifics of my thrifty purchases for the newest vintage makeover, here are past snapshots:
I wasn’t planning to post anything until after the New Year but feel moved to share this. Last night Wayne and I watched the 1972 Lawrence Welk Christmas special, and we actually watch Lawrence Welk on Saturday “nights” (5:00 p.m.) when it’s on Maine PBS. I’ve had a rough week but watching this last night was so helpful in rekindling the Christmas spirit. Unapologetically*, here are the top six reasons why I think this show is balm for the soul:
Yes, it does feel strange to have Christmas without assembling and enjoying my vintage aluminum Christmas tree! We both miss it! If we had the space I’d do two trees, but that’s not an option in our cozy little 1,200 sq ft house. However we are really enjoying having a real tree this year. Good news is that in addition to supporting the local economy, our tree will not be going to the dump in January but will be brought into our woods to provide a home for wildlife and provide nutrients for the ground.
Here’s our cute tabletop tree decked out with vintage trimmings for 2019!
(In case you missed it due to a technical glitch that may have prevented email notifications going out I recently went behind the scenes at Maine Wildlife Park!)
In October I wrote about pickpockets lurking in the billing departments of some phone providers after I discovered Wayne had been overcharged for years. This past month I noticed that my AT&T cell phone bill had gone up about $5 so I logged into my account to see what was up. Turns out I was “given” a “bonus” of 3GB I’ll never use or wanted that comes with an added price of $5. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t a bonus something received vs purchased? My old plan was phased out so I have no choice but to pay an extra $60 plus tax annually. Such is the way of 2019. However, I dug a little deeper in AT&T’s website and found something very disturbing.
“A snug and a clean home, no matter how tiny it be, so that it be wholesome; windows into which the sun can shine cheerily; a few good books (and who need be without a few good books in these days of universal cheapness?)–no duns at the door, and the cupboard well supplied, and with a flower in your room! There is none so poor as not to have about him these elements of pleasure.” -Samuel Smiles, Eliza Cook’s Journal, 1850
There was a lone late October rose growing on one of the bushes that I cut and placed in a stem vase today. I came across the above quote minutes afterward! It really speaks to me. One doesn’t need to be poor or have a large, modern kitchen to enjoy the many riches to be found in the simple things! Here are some more gifts I’m appreciating right now:
I took some photos of the foliage in our woods a couple of days ago before the storm (“bomb cyclone“) hit last night knowing that many of the leaves would be blown off the trees. The winds packed a powerful punch with gusts up to 60 mph. I got out of bed at 3:00 a.m. and made the coffee knowing that a power outage would be likely if not imminent. Forget bread and milk–dealing with a storm without that hot morning cup is just…no. The winds were literally roaring outside just like the storm two years ago that knocked down a large tree in our yard. Around 3:45 the power predictably went out. The house was silent which made the noisy mayhem of wind and rain outside seem even louder. As long we didn’t hear any snaps, cracks and thuds of falling trees and…
“What was that? Was that you?” I asked Wayne who was in another room.
“No, I thought it came from the kitchen.”
This simple, wholesome recipe for New England Brown Betty is made with a handful of ingredients and is adapted from my 1936 copy of The Boston Cooking School Cook Book. It’s a good way to make use of stale bread, too, which I happened to have handy. Speaking of handy things, I also made my first-ever batch of 100% hand whipped cream with my new rotary beater! It wasn’t difficult at all!
I purchased the vintage 1950s percolator above new in the box at a rummage sale three summers ago for $1 and I’ve made wonderful coffee in it every morning since. It’s a relic from an era when things were made to last. Now planned obsolescence is part of our consumer economy over which we have little control forcing us to spend and trash, spend and trash.
Most recently I had to buy a new computer (and may have to upgrade my Office for an annual subscription fee of $70 [you can’t just buy Office 365], subject to price increases, of course). When I bought my house ten years ago the wall oven died shortly thereafter because a computer component malfunctioned and they stopped manufacturing the replacement. The entire oven was therefore trash. My washing machine stopped functioning properly a few years ago, and that, too, was due to a computer part that was no longer available. The replacement cost for both combined was about $2,000, all due to planned obsolescence.
When it’s possible to not pay into “the cost of living in today’s world” I’m on it! Here are some recent examples:
Up until two years ago I had hired “lawn care” companies to “treat” my yard with fertilizers, herbicides, aeration and reseeding. For about $400 a season the grass had many dead spots and would turn brown in the summer despite watering it. When I’d contact the companies to ask why I was told that the grass had gone dormant for the summer. I went through three different companies over eight years. Besides being expensive, harmful to the environment, beneficial insects and wildlife it was making our yard look worse! I told Wayne last spring we would cease paying and spraying and came up with a plan to save money and the living things: