As you know, my Grandma Smith saved empty butter paper wrappers and used them to grease her pans. At the end of a meal, if there was a tablespoon of corn left in the bowl, she would add it to her vegetable soup container in the freezer--a Parkay cup with leftover peas, corn, green beans, each small spoonful eventually adding up until she would brown the ground beef and add her veggies proudly to the pot, a whole meal appearing from something we would have just thrown away.
For a while now, I've been searching for and attempting to live a life that uses every available gift, knowing that God has promised that even in hard times, He will shelter and feed us. So, this post is simply to share a few of the ways I've found to live more with less.
After Jesus feeds 5000 with 5 barley loaves and two fish, he says, "Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost." The only time I ever saw Grandma on the verge of becoming angry was in relation to her pot holders. My Grandma has probably made over 5 billion potholders, all put together with layers and layers of leftover cloth from her larger sewing projects. Once I said to her, "Grandma, do your think you can use all of these pot holders?" Her voice was almost shaking when she said, "Jesus told us not to waste a single thing, and I won't throw away that fabric."
My life is made of such fragments. But this is another blog post for another day. Right now, I simply want to share with you a few ways I've found to "gather the fragments" so nothing goes to waste. I just want to say these aren't "new" ideas. They aren't "trendy" or "modern" or anything other than what a lot of people have been doing for a long time, just calling it "common sense."
1. Compost, recycle, feed your leftovers to the animals you own. Since I've started doing this, I was able to cancel my trash service, taking a single bag of trash a week to add to mom's pile. Not only am I saving money, but the farm cats are healthy and happy and the garden is flourishing. I may add that out here in the country, if it's beyond repair, you just burn it so it doesn't take up space in your life or on the ground you could be using for other things. I don't recommend this for any of you folks in dorm rooms or apartment complexes. (There's a reason they're called "complex.")
2. Mend your clothes and don't be afraid of wearing second-hand or hand-me-downs. Most of Nora's wardrobe has been worn by at least 4 cousins before actually reaching her closet. And the secret to why I always look so groovy? Et. Cetera and not being afraid of wearing clothing made in the 70's.
3. Grow a garden and save what you grow. Can it. Freeze it. I will be eating all year off of 40 bucks of seeds and a 20 x 30 foot patch of dirt.
4. Save your seeds. Next year, I'll only need to spend 10 bucks.
5. Don't throw out those envelopes that come with your bills. I haven't had to purchase envelopes in a long time. (I should mention here, I do pay my bills. Online.)
6. Grandma always had a box of paper we'd use for playing "Dictionary" or drawing the pretty princess profiles of girls she loved to draw. Any paper I get from school that has a blank back, I cut it in four and throw it in the paper box. I haven't had to buy a notepad in...I can't even remember.
7. Make your own cleaning supplies. Buy a box of baking soda, Borax, and a gallon of vinegar. You can do all your cleaning with these three ingredients, you'll pay about 8 bucks for all of it, and it will last 6 months. If you're interested in the recipes, let me know. Oh, and all these cleaning supplies are edible. Bonus!
8. Keep a bag in the freezer to save the crusts you cut off of all those sandwiches, and every year you can use them in your Thanksgiving stuffing. Seriously. This is symbolic in so many ways.
9. Shop at Et. Cetera. (or your local second-hand stores) before running to Walmart. My books, my decorations, furniture, clothing, Nora's books and movies, silverware, VCR--75% of what I own came from Et. Cetera. Videos start at 50 cents and children's books range from 10-75 cents.
Okay. This is getting a bit long. I'll say "good night" for now and invite you to share any "gathering the fragment" ideas with me here.
God's peace is abundant.