Art is the Handmaid of Human Good

Life in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA

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There’s more to life than books, you know. But not much more. But not much more.

Attention readers! The annual Friends of the Pollard Memorial Library Book Sale will take place on May 16th – 18th! What does that mean for you? More books (and CDs and DVDs, too!)

The prices are great, and all proceeds from the sale benefit the Friends of the Library, a volunteer group dedicated to supporting Lowell’s awesome Pollard Memorial Library and its programs. The largest program they support is the museum pass program, which allows patrons to visit museums either for free or for drastically reduced admission.

If you aren’t already a Friend of the Library, you can learn more about becoming one here. As a Friend, you not only get to be a part of a great and friendly group of Lowellians, but you also receive membership benefits. Some of the benefits of being a Friend are that you get to attend the Friends Preview Night at the Book Sale *ahem, the very best selection of the sale, ahem* and you also get to participate in fun Friends events, FOR FREE,  like Winterfest Trivia Night. Basically, you’d be a fool not to join (not that I’m judging or anything 😉 )

I hope to see you at the sale!

Friends of the PML Book Sale



My new favorite thing – seriously – DIY Deodorant

Guys, I have had a serious hippy epiphany and I am obsessed with making my own deodorant. I’m not even kidding here, I’ve become something of a DIY deodorant evangelist.

It all started with a casual conversation, which led to someone passing along just enough of this magical stuff to get me hooked, and now I’m making deodorant for myself and passing it along to anyone who expresses the tiniest glimmer of interest in making their own deodorant.

It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s totally natural and non-toxic, and – most importantly – it works. It’s held up under the most trying conditions: bike commuting on a super-humid and gross 90°F day.

Basically what I am saying is that you should make this now. Right now.

The ingredients:
DYI Deodorant

  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 5 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of corn starch
  • A few drops of essential oil for scent – this is totally optional but nice

The method:
DYI Deodorant

Add the baking soda, coconut oil, and corn starch to your mixer (or a mixing bowl.)

DYI Deodorant

Cream them together until the consistency is to your liking. Add a few drops of essential oil and mix it in. Put your new, awesome deodorant into the container of your choice.

How to use it:
Grab a dime-sized dollop and rub it into your pits as needed. Feel smug and frugal/green/hippy-like while smelling fresh all day long.


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