Wednesday, September 14, 2011
THE BREAD PUDDING PHILOSOPHY
The thought occurred to me the other day as I was preparing bread pudding, that the thrifty life is so much like making one. It's doubtful that very many people would choose bread pudding as their favorite sweet, given all the ooey goooey goodies that are out there. No, a bread pudding is one of those things you bake to use up the bread that's going stale, the milk that's nearing its expiration date, too many eggs. But once you taste it warm from the oven (hopefully with a dollop of cream), you realize how deeply satisfying and good it is. How rewarding it was to take a combination of ingredients that by themselves didn't amount to much, and making something delectable from them. How much fun it was to use your creativity.
And that pretty much sums up the thrifty lifestyle. Rather than being resentful that you can't afford things, you discover that it's fun and rewarding to use the old noggin to figure out a solution. For instance, this cottage was really ugly when we bought it. And when I say ugly, I mean ugggggly! Everyone thought we were crazy when we bought it. But the location was right, the size was right and most importantly the price was right. Was it the perfect little gray shingled cottage on Nantucket Island? No. But we knew we'd never be able to afford that and we didn't want to be a slave to the mortgage company anyhow. So we tackled the task of making this place into something closer to our heart's desire. Planting flowers started from seed to make beautiful gardens. Figuring out that with the addition of shutters and a flower box,the little kitchen window looked more in balance with the larger picture window on the left. Removing some of the ugly cabinets and painting the rest white in the kitchen made it look a lot more cheerful. Painting the ugly turquoise metal garage and putting on new doors (the old ones were as thin as rice paper) made such an improvement. Little by little, with very little money, we made a silk purse from a sow's ear. And because we were frugal, we managed to pay off the mortgage in less than five years too. Which allowed us to save up for the new siding that will be gray shingled, so we will soon have the house we envisioned.
Looking back, I've been doing this my entire life. As a girl, when we couldn't afford a new winter coat, I would remove the collar and add a "new" fur one found at the thrift store and change the button outs. Jeans that met with an unfortunate encounter with the bleach bottle were dyed back to a nice deep indigo. The little black dress that had to be trotted out for another season, was given a new look with the addition of a pretty scarf or brooch. When we moved into a house with an ugly turquoise bathtub, we applied a cheerful complimentary wallpaper to the walls (found at a discount store) to make it look like the color was chosen on purpose. We had Cath Kidston style before Cath Kidston! And you know what? It was fun! I actually feel sorry for people with unlimited resources. How dull life must be!