Hello dear friends! Anyone out there? I want to thank everyone that has written, e-mailed or left a comment since I last wrote a post almost two years ago. Every day I am astonished at how many are still reading old Hope and Thrift. It really touches my heart on many of you remember me, let alone take time out of your day to write. I've been spending my time away from the computer studying even more ways to live frugally. And creating! If I don't do something creative during the day, I feel out of sorts. Of course, I use the term "creative" loosely; creative can mean sewing or knitting, but it can also mean finding a way to save a dime. I apologize that I haven't been a very good blogging friend, my time on the computer is very limited. Computers just confound me and I don't enjoy feeling frustrated all the time, so the best way for me to avoid that emotion is to just stay away from computers all together. I don't even own a smart phone and have no idea how to text or use an app, or scroll. Sound pretty old-fashioned don't I? I tell you, we had several days without electricity this past winter and they were the most blissful days of the year to me! Probably the only one that would enjoy that EMP attack they are always predicting.
Which is why I'm writing now. For some reason this past week I've been contacted several times from people concerned about what is "about to happen". I'm not sure what is concerning people so much, not owning a TV, I'm blissfully ignorant of what is making the news these days, but I suspect it is something they are hyping up on TV and the internet. So, first, I've been around long enough to have heard all of it before, one of the blessings of old age. When I was a kid they used to show us films at school telling us that we'd soon be living in an ice age, have a nuclear war with the USSR, and if we managed to survive those two catastrophes we'd all be living underwater. By the time my sons were in elementary school, just twenty years later, we were supposed to have such horrific global warming that all the ice caps would melt and we should be swimming for our lives about now. Excuse me if I seem a bit jaded. You know, it isn't only the Germans of WWII and the cold war Soviets that use propaganda. News is in the business of making headlines. And have you noticed that most news these days is not news but opinions? Anywho, just my long-winded way of saying don't fret so much about all the impending doom the newscasters are foretelling. Did you ever notice how the weather channel always reports any bad weather as the storm of the century? News is the same way. Ha! How many people wrote to ask if I was safe during the "polar vortex"? Just a cold snap. It's a rare year when we don't get temperatures well into the negatives in winter.
So that is what I think of all this doom and gloom. But do I think people should prepare for hard times? You bet! Few people never go through a bit of misfortune in their lives. As I found out, even a lemon for a car, can upset the apple cart sometimes. It is good to know that at least you've got the next meal covered.
Well that's all good, you might be saying, but how can I stockpile any food when I'm just scraping by, you say? Scrape a little harder. I would be hard pressed to find a budget that doesn't have any wiggle room. On the weekend that you don't have to drive to work or school, stay at home and save the gas money. Put the meat back in the freezer and open a can of beans. Turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater. Collect cans and bottles to return for the refund, even in our tiny little village, we found seven dollars worth of cans this month. That's seven items (beans, oatmeal, dried fruit, bag of rice, etc.) that could be bought at the dollar store for your prepping pantry. And speaking of which, the dollar stores are not always the best deals, most of these items can be bought for less at your regular grocery store, I'm just using the dollar store as an example as every place has a dollar store (even you Canadians :)) Use those candles that you get as gifts in the evening and save on the electricity bill. Basically, just be very purposeful in every purchase you make. Is it a need or a want?
I wrote in a comment that I have almost my entire year's of groceries bought and it cost me a little less than $600. As you dear readers know, I can, can and can. I came across and amazing deal on ground round so I bought 20 pounds and canned it. Ham is on sale almost everywhere at Easter time (as are eggs). I bought 20 pounds and canned that. We bought all our basic supplies such as flour, sugar, yeast, cornmeal, dried fruits, oatmeal etc. at our Mennonite bulk food store. Enough for a year cost about $150. A local store always has a sale on beef roasts twice a year, when it's cheaper than hamburger, we always wait for that sale and buy around 20 pounds, which I can. I'm always on the lookout for cheap dried beans ( they last forever) and I found some on the reduced for quick sale rack at our local fruit market for 50 cents/lb. So I canned about 30 jars of them up. Ran caught a couple salmons this week, so that was also canned up, along with a pike (taste like albacore tuna). One of the thrift stores we frequent has all sorts of produce for free that they receive from the local Walmart. One day, the weather was really blustery and they didn't have very many customers and they practically begged us to take home a couple of the rotisserie chickens that the freeze and hand out, so I took them home and froze the meat and canned 8 pints of broth from the carcasses. They often have produce that no one ever takes, but when they have free baked goods they are gone in minutes. Priorities people! Ha! If I didn't garden, I could probably get enough produce there to fill some of the pantry. BTW, if you don't can, you can always dehydrate your vegetables, so keep a sharp lookout at the reduced-for-quick-sale bin at your grocery store. I used to feel funny about taking any of the food, but then I realized, we live near the poverty level also, we are just better at managing.
Which leads me to my next point. Get over yourself! People that say they won't take free food, shop at thrift stores and discount grocery stores better not whine around me about how hard it is to make ends meet! True story, I was telling a frien-emy about a discount grocery store that we like to explore. She emphatically swore that she wouldn't be caught dead buying outdated groceries, all the time sipping the coffee (that she had complimented me on earlier) that we bought there (three months out of date). Oh that is another thing we stocked up on, a year's worth of coffee ( we love our coffee) at $1.50 a pound, and it was good organic fancy-name coffee too.
Tthe next excuse I get is, sounds good, but I don't have the time or energy to do all that canning and cooking-from-scratch business. I spend about two hours a day cooking, baking and canning. Our motto is to never buy anything we can make ourselves, so we bake our own bread, crackers, sweets. We make our own soups, cereals, broths, noodles, etc. On the average it only takes two hours of prep work and while the bread is baking you can be doing the laundry or helping the kids with schoolwork. You can even be on your phone texting or looking at Instagram (which I have a feeling consumes a lot of people's time.) While the canner is jiggling the weight, you can be balancing your checkbook, or even reading. You get the picture. As for energy, I find that the harder I work the more energy I have. It's very invigorating to see your pantry fill with jars of home canned goods. Plus the harder you work the better you sleep.
Finally, and most importantly, just put your faith in Our Heavenly Father. Whatever may befall this old planet, hope is always with me. I pray every day that His will be done. When the news is alarming I go outside and listen to the birds and feel the sun upon my face it never fails to melt all the worries away. My favorite Bible verses that I endeavor to live by:
That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, as we command you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12