Just for To-day; 1921

Strength for to-day is all that we need,
As there never will be a to-morrow;
For to-morrow will prove but another to-day,
With its measures of joy and of sorrow.

Then why forecast the trials of life
With such sad and grave persistence,
And wait and watch for a crowd of ills
That as yet have no existence?

Strength for to-day! What a precious boon
For the earnest souls who labor–
For the willing hands that minister
To the needy friend or neighbor.

Strength for to-day–that the weary hearts
In the battle for right may quail not,
And the eyes bedimmed by bitter tears
In their search for light may fail not.

Strength for to-day, in house and home,
To practice forbearance sweetly,
To scatter kind words and loving deeds,
Still trusting in God completely.

Isn’t that a fine poem, sisters? It means a great deal–do you not think so? I used to get so blue and discouraged I did not know what to do, going on in the same old treadmill, with no possible “let-up” or change of view; at such times I would stop and read this poem over slowly, trying to get the inner sense of every line; and then I would say to myself: “Well, there’s one comfort; I have only got to get through to-day and do the best I can. The work that is right ahead of me now is all I’ve got to look out for.” And after I had reasoned things out this way with myself, I found I could keep at what I had to do and not get half so tired.

Now we are getting along splendidly, have started payments on our own place, and you couldn’t find a happier household anywhere. So I say, sisters, when you get to thinking of the work piled up ahead, and of troubles that may come–just don’t! You’ve got the strength to go through to-day, and you haven’t anything to do with to-morrow until it arrives–and then it will be to-day. It surely does make a great deal of difference how you think about things. If you say to yourself that everything is sure to come out all right, and there’s nothing to worry about, and act as though you believe it, going around smiling and cheery, you can’t think how much happier you and everybody else will be, and how the clouds that look so dark will really break away. I know, for I have tried it and have proved that “the trick works.”

The Frugal Garden

I recently watched a YouTube video on frugal living. In the video, someone asked if gardening and canning was a good money-saving option. The woman recommended that people have a garden only if they enjoyed maintaining one as a hobby, because it wouldn’t necessarily save any money.

I was surprised. Isn’t having a garden classic frugal advice? Isn’t that why gardens were so common during the Great Depression? This woman went on to say that if you factor in the cost of canning jars, lids, seeds, fertilizer, tiller, plus your time, you might as well buy a few cans of vegetables and save yourself a lot of hassle and hours and hours of work.

The more I think about her advice, the more I disagree. Sure, if you calculate the worth of something by cost alone, you could argue that gardening and canning doesn’t always save money. We’ve all observed the people who’ve bought a flat of strawberries, ingredients, and all the canning gear, only to make 6 jars of jam, at a cost of about $10 a jar and complain that canning is expensive. I believe that if it’s done well, however, gardening and preserving your harvest WILL save money, and quite a bit, too.

Here are several ways to maximize your savings if you have a garden and want to put up the harvest:

  1. Grow the produce yourself instead of buying it, unless by chance you get a fabulous price or make a beneficial barter. Beyond growing produce, start seedlings instead of buying expensive starter plants. Seed packets hold fewer seeds every year and cost a little more, so harvest and save your own seeds for the next season.

  1. Grow the produce that saves you the most money, especially if space is an issue. Potatoes and carrots are relatively cheap in the store and don’t always yield the best return for the space.  For me, I couldn’t afford to buy all the raspberries that we’re able to eat by growing our own.

3. Use your produce in ways that maximize your savings. A can of store-bought generic whole tomatoes is pretty cheap. A can of tomatoes with added jalapenos increases the cost significantly. Tomato sauce with herbs added becomes spaghetti sauce, which is also more expensive. If I didn’t have the space to grow many tomatoes, I would focus on canning things like spaghetti sauce and salsa. As a bonus, every jar of spaghetti sauce represents a meal during the winter. It’s an efficient way to meal prep! A few cups of berries might makes one small jar of jam worth a couple of dollars, but those same berries infused in a jar of balsamic vinegar is a bargain compared to that ridiculously expensive specialty store product.

4. Canning jars and lids are an unavoidable cost. However, you can often find jars used so they are cheap and sometimes free. Reusable lids are more expensive, but if you use them regularly, you decrease their cost. Occasionally, you can find lids at garage sales, too.

5. Produce doesn’t have to be canned! You can eat out of your garden from spring through fall. A single packet of lettuce seeds will provide you days, or perhaps weeks worth of summer salads. Canning is great for long-term storage, but it does take more time. Freezing is much less laborious.

One lemongrass plant, started from seed

Freezer bags are super cheap, and like canning jars, the cost of a large freezer (if needed) will decrease with every year of consistent use. And don’t overlook drying. Dehydrators are relatively cheap and easy to find in thrift store and at garage sales. You may not even need a dehydrator for everything. The mint plant I got as a cutting from my neighbor years ago provides me with more than enough mint tea for the winter. I just cut the stems, tie them and hang them upside down until they dry and crumble.

These are a few ways that gardening saves me money–can you think of more?

I also think there are more benefits of a garden than simply saving money. But that’s a whole other post. 🙂

 

Peggy and Bill–Be A Kind Neighbor; 1935

May I say a word to the readers about the little bride who lives in the house down the road? Have you called on her yet? And did you tell her how to regulate her life and household so that it will be an exact replica of your own? Perhaps the next day the neighbor from over the hill visited her and gave her a similar line of advice, but not in line with yours.

A few more visits from well-meaning neighbors and the young husband will come in some evening to find his wife in tears. And if neighbor Number One should happen to see the trace of tears, how the news will fly that Peggy and Bill are finding that married life isn’t all it’s “cracked up” to be!

About this time another neighbor makes her first call. It matters not to her whether Peggy’s kitchen is done in blue and white, or in henna; whether she does fancy work or patch overalls; whether she uses rouge, or doesn’t. She admires everything about the new home and leaves with the admonition, “Don’t be afraid to call if you need help any time.”

Just think back to your own “bride days” or your “first baby days.” Don’t you remember how that wealth of advice overwhelmed you? Your head was in a mad whirl. You were longing for friends but you had to fight the impulse to say, “Won’t you please just attend to your own fish-frying?”

So let’s quit wondering if Peggy is satisfied with Bill, and with life in general, and resolve that Peggy and Bill shall not be disappointed in their neighbors.

 

 

A Garden–A Declaration of Independence, 1870

…the garden does begin to yield…It is kind of a declaration of independence. I have never read of any Roman supper that seemed to me equal to a dinner of my own vegetables, when everything on the table is the product of my own labor. -1870

I agree and know the feeling of that same independence when I raise, harvest, and store my own food.

It’s a game I play often. When we sit down to eat a meal, I often point out the ingredients and where they came from. Of course, I do this most often when a majority of the meal’s components are homegrown, but it’s fun when I’m able to identify even minor ingredients that come from our own hands and property.

I had my own little “declaration of independence” day this week. Every morning in the summer I do a daily tour through the garden. I assess the progress of the produce to determine how much time I’ll be spending in the kitchen in the afternoon. If I’ve brought a container with me, I’ll gather any produce that’s ready, which inevitably includes Our Daily Okra.

I’d been planning on making Butter Chicken for dinner that day–one of my favorites. But when I looked at what I’d picked, I knew I needed to re-think my menu. It only made sense to eat what I’d just harvested, instead of processing it all for the winter before pulling dinner ingredients out of the cupboard.

So, Butter Chicken became Pesto Chicken, grilled okra, pickles, and bowls of raspberries with whipped cream, using our own basil, okra, cucumbers, and raspberries.

Dinner, in a theme of green

From backyard to grill to table in a matter of hours. And it tastes even better when I’ve done “all by myself.”