Friday, May 6, 2011

The Saga of the Seeds

I have a black thumb.

There. I've admitted it. I have not kept any plant alive longer than 6 months. The most depressing example of this is a Christmas cactus my grandmother gave me, that was once her mother's. This plant was older than me. It stayed alive through 5 presidents, 1 war, and 4 moves. 6 months in my house, and today it looks like this:

So you may be surprised to hear that I have decided to try my hand at growing some vegetables this spring. I do not have a lot of hope. The only thing that might save me is if Mason & Emma remember to water them. I mean, really kids, start pulling your weight in this house.

This is what they looked like on April 10:

This is a week later, on April 17:

And a week later:

And this is how they look this week (May 7):

Not too bad, overall. Although you may notice a strange discrepancy between the second and third pictures. In the April 17th picture, there is a thriving bean plant just beginning to sprout two beautiful leaves. In the May 7th picture, the same plant has been mercilessly decapitated.
There is really no excuse for this, except to say Mommy needed a time out and mistakenly thought Mason could "water" the plants by himself. How this sad little bean plant met its sad demise is anyone's guess.

We do have lots of leftover seeds, so I planted a new one in the same container, and it is just beginning to sprout. I have left the sad headless stalk in the tub as an ominous warning to the other vegetables.

Actually, I'm just not sure if I'm supposed to prune it, cut it, or what. I told you I have a black thumb. Any suggestions?

Why I buy cheap toothbrushes.

Toothbrushes are one of those necessities of modern life I haven't been able to find a more eco-friendly way around yet. I'm not at the point -- nor do I think I will ever be -- when I revert back to pioneer days and clean my (1 or 2) teeth with a cloth rag. Anyway, toothbrushes are one of the drugstore items I always try to get free or near free using coupons and sales.

My best price (other than free!) is 5 for $1 at the dollar store. But, through the magic of double coupons, I got a fancy toothbrush for free a few weeks ago. I just used my coupons, bought it, and brought it home. Imagine my surprise the first time I used it, when it started vibrating in my mouth! I have never used anything other than a manual toothbrush (for reasons too lengthy to get into here), and I was shocked and not unpleastantly surprised by the sensation.


The honeymoon period with this vibrating wonder did not last long, however. I soon realized that this particular toothbrush shed bristles like nobodies business. Every time I brushed my teeth, it seems, bristles would get stuck in my teeth, on the roof of my mouth, and left in the sink. Annoying, but not a big deal.

Until yesterday.

I was distracted while brushing my teeth, and finished the job quickly, not paying attention to what I was doing. A few minutes later, when I tried to swallow, I realized to my dismay that a giant bristle was stuck in my throat. Not choking me or anything, but literally jabbing into my tonsils. Well, I actually don't have tonsils. But where my tonsils would be. It was just far back enough so I couldn't cough it up, no matter how hard I tried.

I gargled with salt water, shaking my head back and forth, making sounds barely human. If the neighbors chose that moment to look in our kitchen window, they probably would have called a Catholic priest.

No luck. I never thought I would be in a position of *wanting* to swallow something plastic. Ugh.

I will never buy a toothbrush from anywhere but the dollar store again.

From May 6, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Oh, hey there!

Welcome to Mindfully Frugal Mom!

Before we start, I'd just like to lay all my cards out here. I can't tell you how to refinance your mortgage, consolidate student loans, or negotiate a better interest rate on your credit cards (well, maybe the last one!). What I can do is help you manage your family's time, resources, and energy more efficiently, while keeping an eye on how all our household decisions affect the larger world. As moms, our daily life is a microcosm of the external world, and it is easy to get wrapped up in the day to day minutia of life with small children. It helps keep us healthier physically. mentally, and spiritually, to remember that our "minutia" has wide-reaching consequences on the world at large, and small changes that we institute in our households not only help our lives run more smoothly, but can very well grow into something earth-changing!

When my husband and I both chose to attend expensive private colleges, we weren't considering the fact that hefty student loans + teacher's salary wasn't the best equation for solid financial footing. Add to that 2 children, and our decision to become a one-income family, and it has certainly required some fancy footwork, and yes, sacrifice, just to keep our heads above water. Do I wish that we had paid more aggressively on our student loans before we got married, had a mortgage, and I stopped working? Of course. But hindsight is 20/20, and since there isn't anything we can do about it now (except keep making those monthly payments *sigh*), we've decided to change our lifestyle. Is it the same as when I could go out and spend $85 on a pair of jeans on a whim? Not by a long shot.

It's better now. While our splurges currently consist of trips to Starbucks financed by gift cards from my husband's students, our lifestyle is more thoughtful, frugal, and considered. In between 2008 and 2010, we made the transition from a 2 income family with no children to a 1 income family with 2 children, and I can honestly say I've never been happier. I have learned to be a better steward of the resources I do have, and feel a greater sense of purpose knowing my choices will make the earth a better place for my children and their children.

I'm eager to share the things I've learned in the past three years about saving money on the things we buy everyday, cooking in a way that saves time, money, and is healthier than using prepared foods, and living an eco-friendly lifestyle -- on the cheap! And all the tips I will give you are things I already do -- I would never endorse a way of doing things I don't personally practice. Thanks for taking this journey with me.