Monday, May 29, 2017

Frugal Finds and Fixes: Four Weeks In

We took possession of our apartment two months ago. Our move-the-furniture date was almost four weeks ago. Two months, or four weeks: both go by pretty quickly.

We are lucky to have a washer and dryer in our unit, but a lot of my own and Lydia's clothes are better hung to dry. We bought two drying racks: a standing one and an over-tub one, and I can't say enough good things about those. They both fold up small enough to slip in beside the washing machine (a very small space), and the tub rack can be also be used flat. If the clothes aren't dripping, we can set the standing rack up by the balcony door to catch the breeze. Drying racks actually would have been useful in our house, even with all the furnace-room clotheslines; I could have used them on the back porch when we no longer had an outdoor line (it blew down in a storm).

I'm rereading Erin Boyle's book Simple Matters (borrowed on my tablet from the public library), looking for help with some minor storage issues that we are still working out. The simplest solution to lack of space for something is to get rid of it, but that's not always possible. Another strategy is to use what you have, including existing cupboards and drawers. This morning I fixed the ongoing spice-jar problem, and the solution was the simplest one possible, other than just leaving them on the kitchen table (where they've been since we moved in): I put the jars in a drawer, the same way I had them at the house. Yes, we're still short on kitchen drawers. But it was better than hot-gluing magnets on baskets to stick on the fridge, or screwing holders to cabinets, or searching for a rack to fit my fat little jars. Besides, the drawer solution was the free one. The utensils that were in the drawer were moved to other places, and the spice space hog has been tamed.

Moving next door to an everything-under-the-sun chain store has been a bit of an ethical dilemma. On the "bad" side, we can assume that most of the clothes, household things etc. are sold without much thought for where they came from and who made them.  There's also the temptation to impulse buy: you go in to buy milk, and besides the obvious snack foods and cute/funny seasonal things (right now it's patriotic M&M's, who knew?), they get some nice baked goods in, and the strawberries look good, and oh look they have Noah Martin summer sausage. There goes another five dollars.

On the "good" side, having the store so close means we save on car trips, and do not have to keep a deep pantry. It's just as easy to walk over there and buy hamburger buns fresh when we want them, as it is to keep a package in the (small) freezer. I have a hard time finding shoes at all, never mind whether they're expensive/cheap/ethical/used/new, so when I saw a rack of comfy running shoes and summer slip-ons, I bought a pair of each. (Also a bathing suit.) In the past, Mr. Fixit has bought jackets there (think plaid flannel), and we've sometimes found good DVDs and small housewares. The discount store won't be our major source for clothes, but it is helpful for food and for small things like greeting cards.

The main way we've been frugal over the last month has been, mostly, not to buy anything much new. Other than human-and-guinea-pig groceries, and a couple of new things for the apartment, we haven't been bringing too much in. We stopped at a couple of yard sales on the weekend, but couldn't see anything we needed. I guess that's a good thing! We have also made use of the freebies that come with the apartment building: the swimming pool, outdoor barbecues, and a pool table (Mr. Fixit and Grandpa Squirrel, and occasionally the Squirrelings, like to play pool). There is a bring-one, borrow-one library in the room with the pool table, and I noticed a couple of interesting books in there along with all the Clive Cusslers.

Life several stories up is not bad, especially now that they seem to have gotten the fire alarms to stop ringing for an hour at a time every other day. Or night.

Well, it gave us a chance to meet some neighbours.

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