Monthly Archives: December 2015

Scrooge or Sensible? True Thrifty Happenings

Illustrated by John Leech in 1843.

Illustrated by John Leech in 1843.

How do you view the thrifty? Sensible or like one of Dickens’ most famous characters, Scrooge. Perhaps this will help you to make up your mind.


Thrift For Thought

I first became interested in thrift when my late uncle sagely announced that he never let a grocer weigh the tomatoes until he insisted that the stalks be removed.  If that seems extreme, it soon becomes obvious that it is nothing to what has gone on in the past.

Thrift in the nineteenth century was a well-rehearsed skill from the highest seat of society down to the lowest.  One of the perks of being a ladies’ maid was getting the mistresses’ gowns whilst other unused pieces of cloth would be collected together in a ‘rag-bag’ and household servants would often be allowed to keep these.  They would be passed on to a street buyer, rag and bone man or rag and bottle shop.  Linen would be separated to be sold to a paper manufacturer as paper was made from linen and rag well into the nineteenth century.

Bring out your rags.

Bring out your rags.

Used tea leaves would be utilised to clean carpets and then passed onto cleaning ladies who sold them to dealers.  With a bit of artificial colour thrown in, the dealer would then put the tea leaves (which had been on the carpet) on sale as fresh tea.

Who claims the fat

Each servant appeared to have their own expectations of the booty they could claim and the fat from the roasted animals was earmarked by the cook.  The dripping, as the fat was called, would be used like butter by the poor.

Even bones were sold onto the rag and bone man for fertilizer and household ashes and dust were marketed to help make bricks.  It seems that nothing was thrown away, as soot from chimneys was vended for manure and insect killer.

As people were not aware of how germs were transmitted, it was a regular practise for the very poor to collect dog manure or ‘pure’ as it was politely called.  This was sold to tan yards for the processing of leather for the soft kid gloves so beloved by the rich.

Where there is muck there is brass.

Where there is muck there is brass.

Mrs Child, an American housewife, advised in 1828 that after old coats and pantaloons for boys had been cut up and were no longer capable of being converted into other garments, the housewife should slice them into strips and use the leisure moments of children or domestics in sewing and braiding them into door mats.

Waste is an act of treason

By 1915, thrift in the home was the order of the day.  “Waste is an act of treason when every penny saved helps to save your country.”  This reminder was on the bill announcing the opening of the Patriotic Thrift Exhibition at Hamilton Rooms, Park Street, Bristol 25 – 30th November 1915.  The exhibition was organised by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies who offered a range of lectures on domestic subjects which represent war service in the home.

A familiar theme concerning thrift is that of the wealthy preaching to those less well off.  At the Exeter Society in 1923, the president, Lady Rosalind spoke on women’s extravagance.  She warned of the ‘melancholy spectacle’ of cheap pianos, cheap jewellery and cheap furs bought by women who could not afford them.

During World War II, women found it difficult to get hold of stockings.  Stockings were made of silk as nylon wasn’t invented until 1938 and initially only on sale in America from 1940.  As silk was used to make parachutes for the wartime effort, silk stockings became a rare commodity as both manufacturers and retailers charged high prices and asked for too many clothing coupons for them.

What you have to do.

What you have to do.

Snatched the stockings

In 1944, a bus conductress from Truro found herself in court after being thrifty over silk stockings.  On June 28th, she acquired two pairs from a bus driver without surrendering coupons.  Captain Craze for The Board of Trade snatched the stockings for disposal but they were later seized by the Customs and Excise Department.  Craze opposed this measure saying that he would have to take further instructions from The Board of Trade.  The case was adjourned for a fortnight; thrift can end up causing a lot of expense.

It seems that thrift is here to stay.

 

 

 

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Being Buoyant – Enrich Your Life – Don’t Forget Yourself

Don't give yourself a dog's life.

Don’t give yourself a dog’s life. Enrich your life.

If you’re feeling fed up or that life isn’t great, has it occurred to you that you might be neglecting yourself? You may praise your cat, your children or your partner and go that extra mile to provide all sorts of little treats for them but when it comes to you – zilch. Now be honest about this and I don’t mean that you have just bought yourself a lovely bottle of bubble bath – I’m not talking about shopping. We need to go much deeper.

Think back to being a child – what did you love doing? Really try hard to remember. Perhaps it was being in the woods or drawing. It could be anything but dig deep into those memories. Do you still do it? I can see you shaking your head. Next, you will start explaining that you don’t have time to do that anymore; it’s just for kids; you’re not fit enough or any number of other reasons. Lots of people say they don’t know why they don’t do the things that they enjoy anymore too. Yes, I do go about asking lots of questions.

Whoopee! We're having a great time.

Whoopee! We’re having a great time.

I could list more excuses because I’ve heard more of them than there are signatures on a popular petition both from other folks and from myself also. I won’t list them because I don’t want to fuel your reasons not to do the things you love.

The point is that doing the things that you enjoy will enrich your life. There is nothing like stating the obvious but it’s amazing how when we are battling through the jungle of life, we can’t see anything for all the trees and bushes that get in our way. For trees and bushes think bills to pay and time commitments to the day job, picking up kids from school and the dreaded dusting. It’s enough to make us all collapse in a heap.

if I could just get this washing done, I could go on Facebook for half an hour.

If I could just get this washing done, I could go on Facebook for half an hour.

This is not about collapsing in a heap though; this about you questioning why you don’t do the things that you love anymore. Let me give you an example. I love walking in the countryside. I am not talking 10 mile hikes; I am talking about a reasonably paced stroll that might take in between 30 minutes to an hour. When I home educated my son, I fitted these walks in between doing my  job and educating him because I wanted him to get fresh air and exercise.

When I finished home educating him and he was no longer at home all day, I stopped doing what I love because I felt guilty about taking the time from my desk. In essence, I made myself a self-imposed prison because it did nothing whatsoever for my physical or mental state of health. Since I have given myself the gift of going for a walk every day, I feel like a different person both physically and mentally.

A muddy but glorious walk.

A muddy but glorious walk.

Basically, what I am saying to you is to give yourself a daily gift doing something that you love. If other folks like family and friends start demanding your time while you are doing it, you simply have to tell them this is your gift to yourself – enjoy.

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BEING BUOYANT – BEGIN TO BEAT THE BULGE

Being Buoyant is my stab at helping you to keep your spirits up by taking control of your life.

One of the easiest ways to begin to take control of your life is to do it with your body. Okay if you feel bloated or flabby, you may not agree with me. However, let me tell you – the cost of living may go up and you can do nothing to stop it; politicians may do things that make you want to pull your hair out or maybe theirs; your boss might make you redundant and your partner may have mood swings quicker than politicians back paddle and there is not a lot you can do to stop it. HOWEVER –

Feeling like this is no good.

Feeling like this is no good.

YOUR BODY WILL ALWAYS RESPOND TO YOU.

Your body wants to work better – that is a rule of nature. This means that if you take little steps to help it, you will feel better and look good too. The secret here is not to make grandiose threats to your personage – you are willing yourself to fail. Take tiny steps that are manageable or else you will give up.

This seems somewhat complicated.

This seems somewhat complicated.

GIVE YOURSELF THE DESIRE

Okay, first of all you have to push yourself into action. The first step is get naked in front of a full length mirror and bounce. By that I mean jump up and down. Have a good look at the result and keep that picture in your mind’s eye. This is what is going to keep you going. You should do this at least once a week so that you don’t conveniently lose what is at stake here.

If this seems like a harsh step to follow, particularly if you look more cherubic than you would wish to, you must tell yourself that this is the worst that it will get. From now on you are taking of control of your body.

And Tigger said "Bounce!"

And Tigger said “Bounce!”

TINY STEPS

The areas that folks tend to be most concerned about are their buttocks, their stomach and their chin so this is where you should start.

Buttocks

Remember, we are doing this so that it will not impinge on your life so that you can keep it up. All you have to do is clench your buttocks ten times, three times a day. So you need to work it into your daily routine. For instance, when your clean your teeth, you could be a buttock clencher then. This means that if you clean your teeth twice a day, you only have to find one other time to clench. Perhaps if you write a daily list organising your day, you could incorporate clenching and listing together.

A Victorian buttock clencher.

A Victorian buttock clencher.

If you hold your tummy muscles in for the count of ten, three times a day then you will also start to see an improvement without having to go mad. This will also help you to relax as we tend to do deep breaths when doing the grand tummy drag.

Your chin line can be improved enormously by simply lifting your chin up to the sky and feeling the pull around your neck. Do this ten times, three times a day and it will take years off your appearance.

Taking these simple steps all add up and when you keep doing them you will start to see a difference. This difference will not just be about the physical you but it will also be about the you that feels better about yourself. The reason for this is that you are doing something that puts you in control.

REMEMBER YOUR BODY WILL RESPOND

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Being Buoyant – How to keep taking daily exercise

If you start an exercise regime, whether it is simply a 15 minute walk a day or a yoga session, and find that after a short while, you give it up, you need to change the way you think about your exercise time.

Looking good.

Looking good.

Most people start exercising because:

  • It will help them to lose weight
  • It will lower their blood pressure and cholesterol
  • It will give them a sexier shape
  • Other people do it
  • It will make them fit.
  • You too can look as sexy as me.

    You too can look as sexy as me.

I think that most of us have been there and, after a while, the regular exercise has fallen by the wayside because:

  • We are too busy
  • We are exhausted
  • The weather is awful
  • We hate it and it stinks

I know about these excuses because I have used them trillions of times. However, when I changed my thoughts about my daily power walk across muddy fields in all weather, my attitude to it changed too.

Instead of doing the walk to help lift my depression and get rid of my back pain, I did it for another reason. I do it because sometimes I feel as if I have no control over my life. I may get rejections for my writing, contracts may end prematurely, editors may ask for changes, the cost of living frightens me to death as my bills go up again and I worry about all the dreadful things that go on in the world but there is not really a lot that I can do about most of it.

When all of these things snowball me, I have to make myself feel that I have some control in my life and that is where the daily power walk comes in. It is up to me whether I do it or not. It’s a simple as that. It’s all about me feeling in control of something.

When you actually tell your subconscious this, it suddenly looks different. It is not about something that you feel that you have to do because it is entirely up to you. So go for it.

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