Monday, March 16, 2009

Some people take their alternative forms of transportation very seriously.
Like my Dad for instance.
But has anyone else noticed how Mapquest directions favor automobile drivers?  You can attain directions for trips via mass transportation, but as I found out, many details are omitted that can leave you stranded waiting for buses with limited schedules or underestimated walking times.  
For those of us who spend most of our commuting time on mass transportation, walking, or biking (or biking and canoeing), is the answer!
Click on your city and like in Mapquest, enter your starting and destination address or intersection, time of travel, and walking/transfer preference.  It gives you estimated travel time as well as information you didn't think you'd need!  
Though so far, your canoeing destination still might be "off the map".

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mea Culpa?

I have heard nervous news anchors and economists cite  cuts in consumerism as a possible downfall for the worldwide economy.   Should we feel guilty for being thrifty?  
I just left a comment (in response to some fear mongering comments) on that I wanted to  share here:

It makes me feel safer that we are all talking about economy and politics now!  Discourse is good for all of us.  
For what it's worth, my thoughts about the recent economic downturn are this:  We shouldn't feel guilty for being frugal.  
American hasn't always had an economy that was based on oil and product consumption.  There was even a time it was based on slavery and tobacco and rum trading and thank God, we eventually, slowly changed.  Change is possible, especially if we are all willing to dive into what we're afraid of.  
And let's face it:  Less consumption, and responsible consumption, is probably a Hell of a lot better for  the environment as well.  
My two cents (and that's still a bargain!)
Our ability to fill up our lives with unnecessary products shouldn't make up our worth as human beings.  There, I said it!  Let's forgive and move forward.

Extreme Cheapskates

Not that we needed it, but a recent article featured on Yahoo News is giving us thrifty folk some affirmation.
"If you can't make money, then you can spend less-- and that's the equivalent of making more money."
Other blogs about saving money were listed, including and   You don't have to be extreme, but it's good to know that in our search to live well on a budget, we're not alone.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

National Bitch and Swap Month

You read it first here.
I'm declaring March a national Bitch and Swap Month.
So the economy is bad and our incomes seem smaller in comparison with our outgoes.  We can't go shopping at every whim but let's face it:  Sprucing up and changing our our wardrobes could help lift our spirits.  
Here's your job:
  1. Pull everything out of your closet and do a purge (read the first part of my post to Lady Godiva about purging)
  2. Fill a bag with clothes, shoes, purses, accessories, jewelry that you would otherwise donate to a thrift store.
  3. Invite your girl friends over and have them bring a favorite snack and drink (remember to refer to my favorite wine under ten dollars post).
  4. When they arrive, everyone piles their clothes in the middle of the room and dives in.  Have a space for trying things on, mirrors.  
  5. Have a blast!
  6. Take the leftovers to the thrift store in the morning.
  7. Leave your comments after this post and tell me how yours went!  Can't wait to hear what amazing one-of-a-kind items you've been looking for your whole life that you added to your wardrobe!
P.S.  Thanks to my friend Garrett for inspiring this fabulous idea!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

It's in the Bag

We need some new habits.
We need to save money.
We need to save money by not buying plastic bags.
There are too many plastic bags in the world.  We have grown to expect them, count on them, but they are made of petroleum and are filling up land fills around our country.  
Now it's about making a new habit of carrying cloth bags or reused bags  when we shop.
It's about not buying bags if at all if possible.  We get them free everywhere anyway, sometimes even if we ask to NOT get one.  Grocery bags can hold our trash.  If we need a zip reclosable bag, we can reuse bags that saved from products we've already consumed (tortillas, etc.).  
The only person in my household who gets brand new bags is my dog and they are the bio degradable kind, for cleaning up after her on the street.   That's right, she's spoiled!
We can save money AND save the world at the same time!

Wedding Wildflowers

If you have started your wedding planning, then you've already discovered that there is a magic word that will automatically quadruple any price quote:  "Wedding"
But if you're like me, you don't feel comfortable lying.  Or at least you're just really bad at it.  
Either way, there are ways to cut costs and you can choose all of them or just some.  No doubt, you've started to prioritize about what you don't want to skimp on.  
Now I love flowers and greens, but with our limited budget, I decided early on that I was not going to hire a florist.  At all.  With a July wedding in the Poconos, I knew that there would be enough foliage in the natural setting that we had chosen.  
First, I obsessed.  Every time we were driving around near our location, I noted flowers:   Where they grew wild, which ones fit our color palate (cranberry and butter yellow) and kept a look out for interesting textures, all growing in fields and along roadsides (never someone's garden! Hello!).  There were so many varieties, some I'd never noticed before.
Next, I gathered some and made my first practice bouquet.  It was not only beautiful and simple, but seemed to reflect the setting we'd chosen much more than store bought roses.   
Then, I gathered my Renaissance Girls.  
When shopping for other decor, I found the perfect cranberry velvet ribbon and my magical sister-in-law Marie (who also decorated the arbor, pictured here) bought artificial berries that represented the wild blueberries that Ted and I often pick together (We decided real blueberries could stain...).
The day before the wedding, I put three oversized vases with water, two pairs of garden shears,  and my friend Elizabeth (now on tour in Xanadu.  Hi, Elizabeth!) into the car and drove around the countryside to the places I'd remembered had the flowers I liked.  We spent about an hour filling the vases with ferns, tiny daisies, and 
beautiful wild flowers.  Then we put them in the cool basement where they stayed fresh overnight.  
The next day, Marie arranged most of the flowers into vases for the reception and Elizabeth and I created the bouquet that I would carry down the aisle and tied it with the ribbon.  It was a perfect compliment for my antique home-made linen wedding dress and Ted's pinstripe grey suit.  
Now,  some people want to hire a florist and avoid  this extra work, but in the end, picking and arranging flowers with my girls was an incredibly wonderful way to spend the morning before my wedding.
And let's face it.  So was knowing that I saved thousands of dollars.  
(Wedding Photography by


Do you have stacks of interesting prints, artwork, or old photos and sad, empty walls? 
  You're not alone.  Frames are expensive!  And who knows how to make mats and cut frames to size?  Not me.  But you can get creative (and get rid of the stacks).
When you're at a yard sale, antique shop, or thrift shop, look for fabulous worn old frames with or without paintings or prints.  They don't have to be the exact right size or have glass intact.  I had a stack of amazing black and white photographs that my Grandfather took on his travels in the 1950's.  I found this amazing collection of old frames at a yard sale (all for about $20) and added them to a few I had already acquired over the years.  I don't recommend cutting the photos to fit the frames, but in this photo, you can tell I got creative with how they stay in the frames (strings, even leaving the backing visible).  Notice they are all different, but have a similar color palate (gold, earth tones, and terra cotta).  The black and white travel theme helps make them a unified collection as well.  
Once you get your prints in the frames, lay them out on the floor first and experiment with different arrangements.  Put the most striking pieces at eye level and in the center of your wall and then think creative cluster, not spreading out to fill the wall.  
Don't let your walls be sad!  It's time to frame.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Little Money, Big Joy

One of my photographers, Sarah Sloboda, has a blog about Optimism called The University of Sarah.  Check out her post,  Little Money, Big Joy  that is all about living well on less.  
Who couldn't use a little optimism right now?