Yankee Thrift: Spending with Love and Not for a Love of Spending!

Let a man have a genius for spending; and whether his income is a dollar a day or a dollar a minute, it is equally certain to prove inadequate. — Horace Greeley, 1850

I’m looking forward to spending money this spring and summer! There are restaurants and places that were off-limits due to Covid in 2020, so we saved that money to spend that much more this year now that we’ll be vaccinated and restrictions more relaxed. (Yes, we will still be masking up when not dining and distancing per CDC.) We have “spending money” in our budget and it’s reserved for those things we don’t need but certainly love to do, but it is always within our means. We invest it in experiences that enrich our lives or satisfy our appetites that also support our local economy. Whether that budget is a hundred dollars one year or thousands another, the focus is on what we love and not a “love of spending”. I’m like you and so many who will say that they love so many things so that how can one not be good at spending beyond their means?!

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Pretty Things, Ugly Attachments.

I roasted a chicken last night and I decided to put out a very special tablecloth that I hadn’t dare used since I first scored it at an estate sale over a decade ago…

It was a beautiful late spring morning in Portland and for once I had beat the other early bird pickers, those old-timers who had been doing it since they were kids. I was standing in the lush green yard and asked the lady having the sale if she had any linens? Yes, she said. “I’ll buy them all.” I learned that early on. There’s no time to ask how much, just claim them! Seconds later one of my main competitors showed up. I have to tell you that this part of picking is the most fun…that is, when you are the one winning! The woman having the sale proceeded to bring out gigantic boxes stacked with vintage, never used linens! She only wanted $15 for everything! This competitor in particular is very good-natured, not all of them are, and she was shaking her head but also smiling for me. It was Christmas for weeks at home as I sorted through them all. I sold most since that was a side hustle for me but the very special pieces I’ve kept, like the tablecloth I used last night.

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Food Chat: Julia Child, Calories, Cake, Corn on the Cob

When I post photos and recipes to my blog or Instagram I sometimes receive messages from people wondering how I can eat cake yet maintain my weight. Did you know that beginning in her early forties and through the rest of her life Julia Child counted calories and weighed herself daily? She was an “assiduous calorie counter” which is exactly what I’ve been doing since I turned forty and documented in my vintage diet book American Women Didn’t Get Fat in the 1950s.

”I used to feel that the more I ate at every meal, the healthier I would be,” she (Julia) said. ”But I started putting on weight when I was 42. I weigh myself every morning.”

Her diet includes a lot of fruits and vegetables, few desserts, small portions and six tablespoons each day of fat or oil, including two of saturated fat. ”I like marble steaks, and I like butter,” she said. ”I am very careful to eat two tablespoons of saturated fat a day, with greatest pleasure.”

To me it’s no different than maintaining a budget by spending wisely. When you know you can afford to buy or eat something it can be much more enjoyable! And really, as a former apple orchard boss lady shared with me when I worked at her farm stand in the mid 1980s, it’s always a good day when you can stand up and take nourishment! At the time I didn’t really get it but since then as I’ve grown older I know how deep and true it is. To be well enough to eat and enjoy a nourishing gift as “simple” as a freshly picked apple is a good day! We don’t need apple pie.

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Layer Cake for Breakfast, Controversial Homemakers

January and February are when the sun shines brightest in my kitchen and I create new recipes. As Julia Child said, with cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude. I decided that I wanted to make a delicious, healthy breakfast cleverly disguised as a decadent dessert layer cake. Why haven’t I done this sooner, anyway? With organic oats, eggs, Greek yogurt, bananas, dates, a twist of Meyer lemon juice (Wayne’s brother gifts us lemons every year from their tree in California) and a few other secret specifics I did it! It’s light and lovely!

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The Frugal Housewife By Mrs. Child: “Time Is Money”

Lydia Marie Child was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, Native American rights activist, novelist, journalist, and opponent of American expansionism. She was also a New England housewife famous for her book published in 1829, The Frugal Housewife. The introduction offers a very interesting glimpse into how much has changed in our mindset since that time:

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Yankee Thrift Explained, The New Yorker, 1961

Take thrift, that presumed state of misery and penny-pinching. Proper Yankee thrift, on the contrary, feels delicious. In my experience there is a kind of nausea that attends too long a time of buying too many clothes for too much money; of paying more for restaurant dinners than they are worth; of disgorging lavish tips for which one is not even thanked (as who doesn’t have to, these days).

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A Prayer for Radiant Beauty

The Supreme prayer of my heart is not to be learned, rich, famous, powerful or even good, but simply to be radiant. I desire to radiate health, cheerfulness, calm courage and good-will. I wish to live without hate, whim, jealousy, envy, fear. I wish to be simple, honest, frank, natural, clean in mind and clean in body, unaffected – to say ‘I do not know,’ if it be so, and to meet all men on an absolute equality, to face any obstacle and meet every difficulty unabashed and unafraid. –Elbert Hubbard