September 29, 2010

The new website is ready!

I'm unveiling the new website today. Come on over!

I'm migrating from blogger to wordpress and I hope it will be a smooth transition. The blog will be the same as ever, with a more updated design and platform.

I hope you like it! Please let me know your thoughts with a comment or an email. And I apologize in advance for any kinks and ask for your patience. Hopefully there won't be many, but please contact me with any issues.

Click here to go to My Year Without Spending.

September 28, 2010

Frugal, At-Home Beauty Treatments

Gorgeous! Here I am testing out one of the Frugal Beauty Treatments I want to share with you. Because just because you don't want to spend spa-level money doesn't mean you can't have a spa-level experience. I'm also showing off the evidence of my recent shoulder surgery -- bandages and rashes across my collarbone. Sexy!

You can have beautiful skin and hair using ingredients you already have, without buying expensive products. The bonus is that this stuff is natural and organic, so in the long run it may be better for you, and it's definitely better for the environment. No packaging!

These are some great ones I've collected from magazines and around the Internet:

FIG FACIAL SCRUB/MASK: Mix together 1 cup brown sugar, 1/8 cup olive oil, 1/8 cup oatmeal, 1/4 cup mashed figs, 1 oz. vanilla and rub into face and neck. Rinse thoroughly or leave on until it dries into a mask and rinse. This is the mask I'm wearing in the photo. It left my skin very soft and smooth looking, and there was plenty left for a body scrub. Figs are loaded with antioxidants, but I would use this one without the figs when they're out of season. It smells good enough to eat!

LAVENDER BATH: Grind the following ingredients into a smooth, fine powder in a food processor or blender: 1 cup dried lavender, 2 cups oatmeal, 1/2 cup baking soda. Store in a clean, airtight container. To use, pour 1/2 cup as you run a warm bath. Baths are one of the cheapest, easiest ways to wind down at the end of a hard day. On top of being relaxing, this one will leave your skin silky soft.

BODY SCRUB: Combine 1/2 cup Epsom salts, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup sunflower oil and store in a clean glass jar. Sloughs off dead skin and gives you a rosy glow all over. Sunset magazine recommends this as part of a DIY gift basket that also includes slippers, an eye mask, and a homemade lavender sachet.

HAIR CONDITIONER: In a small glass bowl, mash 1/2 avocado, 2 Tbsp. honey, 2 Tbsp. vodka, and 1 egg yolk with a fork to make a creamy mixture. Apply to freshly-shampooed, towel-dried hair. Leave on for 30 minutes. Rinse well in warm water and shampoo and style as usual. This recipe is recommended for healthy, shiny hair by celebrity hairstylist Robert Hallowell.

HAND AND FOOT SCRUB: Mix 2 Tbsp. light olive oil or grapeseed oil and 2 Tbsp. sugar and rub onto hands and feet, focusing on calloused areas. Rinse under warm water and pat dry for silky-smooth skin.

FOOT SOAK: Fill a bowl with warm water and add a few teaspoons of almond oil and a couple of drops of essential oil. Soak for 15 minutes to relax and soothe tired feet. For a healing as well as relaxing experience, after drying feet, apply lotion or oil and wear socks to allow the treatment to penetrate dry skin.

My own DIY hair moisturizer that I've been using since I was a teenager is to rub olive oil into dry hair, leave on up to 30 minutes, and then shampoo. It might take a couple of shampoos to rinse out, but it takes out the frizz and leaves your hair shiny and manageable.

Whether it's relaxing or beautifying you're looking for, or both, these recipes fit everyone's budget.

What are your favorite frugal, at-home beauty treatments? Please share them in the Comments section.

September 23, 2010

Thrifty Threads

Welcome to Thrifty Threads, AKA Most Stylish Compact-y outfit, where readers model their favorite secondhand clothes.

A Compact-y outfit is used or recycled, from Goodwill, a thrift store, a consignment shop, a yard sale, craigslist, ebay, or anywhere else you find used clothing.

Today's model is Amber, who bought this beautiful wedding dress at a local consignment shop where she lives in northwest Tennessee for just $125. Her mom Karen made her bouquet from flowers they bought at a wholesale store, and Amber wore a pair of her mom's white slipper house shoes with the dress. Except for the $10 rental for the arch, the family used items already available at their church for their beautiful, frugal wedding.

Karen says their family has always been Goodwill, consignment, secondhand, and yard sale shoppers. Congratulations Amber, on your marriage (even though it was back in 2008), and for inheriting your mother's wisdom about secondhand shopping. That is a gorgeous dress, and you managed to have a beautiful wedding without going into debt.

Thanks Karen, for sending in those lovely photos, and thanks Amber, for letting me post them on Thrifty Threads. What a marvelous example to anyone who's thinking about getting married - you can buy a used wedding dress! And chances are, it's only been worn once! Have it cleaned, and get yourself a 90 percent off bargain!

Readers, it's your turn. Put on your favorite secondhand outfit, snap a photo, and send it to me at barton (dot) angela (at) gmail (dot) com. I love to see what you're finding out there, it's so much fun, and such an inspiration. And if you shop secondhand, tell us your best tips in the Comments section. And click here if you want to check out previous installments of Thrifty Threads.

September 20, 2010

Meatless Monday recipes

It's about time for some Meatless Monday recipe ideas!

Meatless Monday is a nonprofit initiative aimed at encouraging people to cut out meat one day a week for the sake of their health and the environment. Click here to find out all about it. My husband and I have been going meatless several times a week for awhile now, and it's no sacrifice whatsoever. The key to eating meatless is fresh produce and delicious recipes.

These two simple recipes have become staples in our household lately. They're both super-satisfying as a side dish or a main course, and they also go well together.


Leafy greens of any kind - we like arugula or spinach best (does that make us elitists?)
one small chopped tomato or several cherry tomatoes sliced in half
one half chopped cucumber
one half small red onion, thinly sliced and chopped
crumbled feta
10 kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half
Newman's Own Family Recipe Italian (you can use any Italian dressing or mix your own)
ground pepper

Mix and toss lightly with dressing. Go easy with the feta and kalamata olives in relation to the rest of the ingredients.


One 16-oz can or 2 cups dried cooked kidney beans
One 16-oz can or 2 cups dried cooked garbanzo beans
2 cups cooked green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
chopped fresh or dried thyme
ground pepper

Mix first four ingredients in bowl, then mix dressing in separate bowl and toss well with beans and onion. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Last night my husband made the Greek Salad himself in about 5 minutes. He says it's the only way he likes cucumbers. If you're not convinced that eating more fruit and vegetables is good for your health, check out this article about how a low-carb diet might help you lose weight but is bad for you in the long run. Apparently we can't hear it too often, because according to this article, most Americans still don't eat nearly enough fresh produce.

Do you have any easy meatless recipes you'd like to share? Please let us know in the Comments section and I'll include them in the next Meatless Monday recipes post. And click here if you want to look through previous Meatless Monday recipes.

September 15, 2010

What's next...

Thank you for all your comments and emails responding to my question about what you like best about this blog. Luckily you seem to be in sync with me about the direction I'd like to take things.

Here's what won't change:

I'll still be bringing you posts about living a non-consumer lifestyle, including thoughts and insights about purchasing decisions, getting rid of STUFF, and what makes us happy. I will continue with Thrifty Threads as long as I keep receiving your photographs. The feature is a reader favorite, and I love writing it. It is so inspiring to see how creative you all are in the area of buying secondhand while still being stylish. I'll also continue with Meatless Mondays and CSA deliveries, although probably less often. And the blog will continue to be ad-free.

What will change:

I'm working on a new design for the blog. I have finally caved in to the reality that wordpress is simply a more widely-used platform that offers more options and will make it easier for me to deliver timely posts. Also, I wanted to create a professional website and have the blog be connected to it, and that made wordpress the clear choice. I'm excited about the new blog, and the features it will allow me to bring to you. But I'm putting it together with great care so that you won't miss anything about the old blog.

I won't be doing regular Food Waste Friday posts any longer, although I'll still be watching our food waste. I still strongly believe in the cause so I'll probably mention it once in awhile, but I'm not going to be photographing and posting our waste and writing about it any longer.

I'll be posting less often, so that I can dig deeper into some topics, like I wrote about in this post last week. I'll still be posting regularly, not sporadically, but probably 2 or 3 times a week rather than nearly every day. Here are some of the topics I've been wanting to explore:
  • Our nontraditional, frugal wedding.
  • Birthday freebies.
  • Frugal, drought-tolerant landscaping.
  • Green drycleaning.
  • Frugal, at-home body treatments.
  • More giveaways.
  • Organic cosmetics update.
  • More non-consumer gift ideas.
  • Roadblocks, both interior and exterior, to simple living.

Those are just a few of the ideas for posts in the works...

I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you'll continue to stop by. Thanks again for your input!

September 13, 2010

Delicious and Nutritious Free Food

This is what I got from our neighborhood produce swap last week. My contribution was a freshly baked batch of peanut butter cookies, and I was thrilled with what I received in return.

A woman in my neighborhood had this great idea for the swap and she turned it into a reality. Once a month participants drop off whatever they've got to offer and get back a bag of goodies. It's called The Hillside Produce Cooperative and Hynden Welch is the organizer. It's been so successful that Hynden has been teaching people how to start a swap in their own neighborhood. You can read all about it in this post that I wrote last year.

On top of getting a free bag of fresh, local produce, what I love about this idea is how it eliminates waste. If you've ever grown zucchini or had a fruit tree that produces a lot of fruit, you know that it's nearly impossible to give away all that you can't use. And it feels terrible to let delicious, nutritious food go to waste. This is a great solution. It's also a fun community-building event.

What we got (roughly clockwise from the back): burning sage, zapote, avocado, butternut squash, lemon, a type of banana called saba, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, strawberry guava, banana bread, figs, and tons of fresh herbs including rosemary, basil, bay leaves, and chives.

Not only was I thrilled about the figs and the tomatoes and fresh herbs, there were three items I've never even tasted, which is incredible for someone who has lived in Southern California most of her life. My husband and I shared the zapote that very night, a delicious banana-like fruit, and both became immediate fans. The next morning my husband left me me a note: "I (heart) zapote!" The strawberry guava I grabbed for myself, and it tasted exactly like the name suggests, like a blend of those two fruits. And the small bananas are like plantains in that they're not supposed to be eaten raw, so I steamed them and we ate it with black beans and again, it was delicious. A much more subtle flavor than a commercial banana, and a more pleasant consistency.

An added bonus was that when I sent out a thank you to the group in which I mentioned that I was over the moon about the figs, the woman with the fig tree responded that I was welcome to come by and take more anytime I wanted because the tree would be producing for another two weeks and most of it was going to the squirrels. I took her up on it a few days later when we had a small party because I wanted to make this simple appetizer that my husband and I had loved so much. It takes about five minutes and looks beautiful on a plate, and it tastes incredible!

I highly recommend joining a produce coop or starting one yourself if you don't already have one in your own neighborhood. I couldn't be happier about ours, and feel so lucky to be part of it even though I don't have any produce to offer. I'm always happy to put my baking skills to use.

Do you have a coop or produce swap in your neighborhood? Tell us about it if you do. And click here to find out more about Hillside Produce Cooperative and how you can bring the idea to your own community.

September 9, 2010

Thrifty Threads

Welcome to another installment of Thrifty Threads, AKA Most Stylish Compact-y outfit, where readers model their favorite secondhand clothes.

A Compact-y outfit is used or recycled, from Goodwill, a thrift store, a consignment shop, craigslist, ebay, a yard sale, a clothing swap, or anywhere else you find secondhand clothing.

Today's model is Amy, who put together this adorable look for a formal occasion for less than five dollars, and that includes the shoes and jewelry!

Here's how she did it... The dress is from the Salvation Army, originally $6, but Amy got it on half-price day for $3. All of the jewelry came from the Goodwill "bargain room" outlet store, for a whopping 25 cents per piece! The earrings were new in the package, and the necklace looked new. I love the strappy sandals that set her back just 75 cents, also from Goodwill. And Amy says you can't see them in the picture, but her hair is being held up by antique hair clips that she picked up at a yard sale for 50 cents. I think that comes out to a total of $4.75. That's incredible.

Amy seems to have a particular talent for thrift store shopping, but she says she's blessed to live near super awesome stores in south central Pennsylvania, particularly the Goodwill outlet where nothing is over $2. This photo was taken in a friend's studio apartment, and even though Amy looks like a teenager, she's actually a 24-year-old mom of two little girls. You can learn her frugal secrets on her blog With Duck & Goose, where Amy posts recipes, ideas for frugal weddings, craft projects, and delves into issues like learning to appreciate her post-partum body (for the sake of her daughters as well as herself). I particularly enjoyed this post about how she went from an Eeyore to a Tigger (from Winnie the Pooh) and became an optimistic person. It's called Positively Positive (most of the time), and it's an insightful rumination on learning the difference between what we can control and what we can't.

These days Amy describes herself as a "happy-go-lucky ball of energy, in love with life and trying her best to make the most of what she has while she's here." Amy, we're glad you had the energy to send in that cute photo. You look great! How I wish I had known your secrets for dressing with style on a budget when I was your age. Thanks Amy!

Readers, send a photo of your favorite thrift store score to barton (dot) angela (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll post it on Thrifty Threads. Make sure you put Thrifty Threads in the subject line. And if you've sent me a photo and never heard back from me, I didn't receive it. I always respond within a few days, even if it takes several weeks for your submission to post.

Do you shop secondhand? Please share your best tips, plus compliments for Amy, in the Comments section. And click here to check out previous installments of Thrifty Threads.

September 7, 2010

Happy to be Back

Hello readers! I'm so happy to be back after a much-needed break. I've missed you. And if you're reading this, thank you for sticking with me. I hope everyone enjoyed their summer.

Lest you think I was lolling about in a hammock eating bon bons the entirety of August, let me tell you that was not the case. I still had a lot of work and other things to take care of, but my husband and I did manage to take a break in Northern California visiting friends, hiking in the redwoods and biking along the ocean cliffs. It was gorgeous, relaxing, and just what I needed. The photo above was taken beside the largest coast live oak tree I've ever seen.

I don't know if I had any earth-shattering insights during that time, but I did realize that keeping up with a daily blog was a self-imposed activity that had started to become a chore, another item on my to-do list. And since this blog has been so valuable to me and I want to keep writing it, I knew that had to change. So I've got a few ideas and I would love your input.

First of all, I'll be blogging less often, and without a regular schedule. That way I'll be able to delve into some of the posts I've been putting aside for lack of time. I think in the long run, I'll be able to write better and more interesting posts this way, by going more in depth. (This whole concept was explored brilliantly in this post by Betsy over at Married With Luggage. She talks about how the term peanut buttering, which refers to spreading your resources too thin, is not only ineffective, it actually kills creativity.)

With that in mind, I'll be posting less often, but I hope more enthusiastically. My intention is to kick-start this blog so that my best posts are still ahead, not buried in the archives. At this point, my best guess is that I'll be posting an average of 2 or 3 posts per week instead of 5 or 6. What still interests me the most is how to live a nonconsumer lifestyle in a consumer society, and raising questions about what guides our purchasing decisions, what we can do without, and what we really need to be happy. I'd love your input on which features and types of posts you like best, and what keeps you coming back to this blog. You can either leave me a comment or email me directly, but please let me know what you think. Which post made you visit the blog a second time after stumbling upon it? Do you remember some of your favorite posts? Do you want to see more or less of anything?

I'll add your ideas to what I've been thinking about the direction to take the blog and the types of posts I most enjoy writing. So leave me a comment, or send me an email at barton (dot)angela(at) gmail (dot) com. I look forward to hearing from you! And I greatly appreciate your time. On Thursday I'll have a brand-new Thrifty Threads post, and I've got some ideas in the works for next week.

September 2, 2010

Thrifty Threads: Celebrity Edition

Hello readers! In preparation for my return to blogging next week, I just had to share this tidbit I saw in the news: "Drew Barrymore's $25 Red Carpet Hit."

Drew Barrymore shops secondhand!

Here's the blurb that goes along with the photo:

Talk about mixing high and low fashion! What did the adorable Drew Barrymore choose to wear to host the Nylon magazine/Express party this week in Los Angeles?

This gorgeous $25 metallic-printed 3/4-sleeve shift dress from a thrift store paired with $760 Yves Saint Laurent "Tribute" pumps, of course! I love the 1960's vibe she's got going on; the psychedelic print, the cut, and the pumped-up voluminous feel of her hair is a total win.

It's so refreshing to see someone mix it up and have fun with fashion. Just last month she made an appearance in an Oscar de la Renta runway dress--a far cry, financially, from an Austin, TX thrift-store find.

Don't you love it when vintage Drew -- the irreverent, quirky, girl power praising, throw-a-daisy-in-her-hair Drew that we all idolized in the 90's--steps out on the red carpet?

How reminiscent of a Thrifty Threads post. Well, aside from the red carpet and the $760 YSL pumps, of course. There's no doubt that secondhand fashion is all the rage.

I'll be back to blogging next week, see you on Tuesday!