Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

Life in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA


Frugal and fabulous…

…or something.

A piece about my crazy cheap ways ran in today’s edition of The Boston Sunday Globe. The very talented Kathleen Pierce did an excellent job taking my non-stop babbling and making it sound thoughtful and smart, and the photographer managed to snap a couple of shots of me not grimacing or throwing my hands in my face as she snapped pictures of me grocery shopping (I do not envy famous people the paparazzi – being photographed at the grocery store, even when you have planned for it, is awkward.)

I think the article did a nice job conveying how I feel about money: that it is a tool that can (and does) improve my life but that it also isn’t a driving factor in my pursuit of happiness. I like knowing what I have and using it to get the most enjoyment out of it.

Cooking is obviously a huge part of that equation – I have realized that while cooking at home saves me money, it is really the enjoyment that I get out of it that matters.  An example that was alluded to in the article was of Gist and I getting done with a long day at work, being cranky and going out to eat but not really enjoying it. I have since learned that what I really like to do after a long day is come home, turn on my music, pour myself a drink, and cook dinner – by the time it’s done my mood is always improved. And while it didn’t make it into the article, we also talked about the fact that I commute by bike a lot of the time.  Riding my bike to work/play/run errands obviously saves me money but the real reason I do it is because it is fun and I always arrive at my destination happier than when I left.

Another thing that Kathleen and I talked about that didn’t make it into the article is the idea of value vs. savings. I strongly believe in my power as a consumer and try to spend my money in ways that make the most sense to me. Being frugal is a part of it, but so is shopping locally, buying handmade, buying the best quality that I can (whether it be new or used), mending things and using them until they wear out, supporting farmers and artisans, and assessing the environmental impact of my purchases.

I am also so lucky to live in Lowell where I have access to tons of fabulous artists who sell pretties that I can purchase for myself and others (visit Western Avenue Studios the first Saturday of any month, you won’t regret it!) Lowell also offers museums, film, theater, restaurants, bars, cafés, farmer’s markets, CSAs, festivals galore, lectures, and live music. These are all things that I loooove to spend money on because they both make my life happier and they also make my community a better place to live (which in turn makes me happy, you see how it goes 😉 )

Talking to Kathleen about money and happiness has really brought the fact that I am both very lucky and very blessed to the front of my mind. I am able to live a life that I love and I am incredibly grateful for that fact.

Anyway, the article can be found here, and my tips can be found here. Let me know what you think, and please share any tips of your own because I’d love to hear them!


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Fennel & Carrot Slaw

Carrot & Fennel Slaw

Seeing as summer is almost over, I should tell you about the best slaw ever.  What makes it the best slaw ever?  Fennel, one of my favorite flavors, and a lack of mayonnaise.  Oh, it’s easy too. Continue reading