It has been a pretty normal weekend here in the Frugasaurus household. As I am typing this, Mr. E. is pondering away on his own computer and I have been spending the morning puzzling away at sidehustles.
I would like to buy it. A part of me stops with a finger above the purchase button. I just don’t buy that much stuff any more. But I want this book. I want to buy it, write my name in the margins and then lend it out to the world. To encourage friends to write their name in it and then lend it on, hopefully leaving them inspired.
But for the moment, my finger hovers above the purchase button. I still have several tasks to finish today before the day is done. Work before play and all that.
I like the way she writes. Her style flows effortlessly off the page in a kind, non-judgemental way.
The essence of Tara’s book and mission was to create a webpage where people can go to find items that will last them a lifetime or even generations if taken good care of.
That is certainly an idea that appeals to me. I consider myself a very lazy consumer. I would much rather spend some extra time and money researching a quality item that will stay in my faithful service for years, without the need to purchase a new one any time soon.
I dislike shopping with a passion, and avoid it as much as I can. I would much rather the things in my life just perform their desired task and leave me to live my life.
But am I going to throw hundres of dollars at something for that privilege?
Well, yes. We have on occasion, like the time we bought a kitchen machine, or the recent purchase of new bras that actually fit.
Those two examples are both things you would be hard pressed to find used. At least in our area. The items which are easy to find used, such as furniture and cutlery, have all been sourced for free from various parts of the city, and with few to no second thoughts about how long they might last us.
We curate an interesting mix of free, used things and a few expensive thins with more of a “Buy it once” mindset.
I think such a dual mindset can be helpful to any frugal person trying to live more mindfully. In my experience, buy it once tend to be items that could very well last a lifetime, yes. But often they will do so only if taken proper care of.
Take my beautiful blue cast iron pot as an example. It is not a Le Creuset or any such famous brand. In fact, there isn’t even a brand stamped on it.
It was given to me one Christmas from my mother, and I loved that little pot to pieces. It serves us well in our years in London, and I left many other items behind when we moved back to Norway in order to carry that heavy cast iron letter weight back on the plane.
But I had no idea how to care for it. Not truly. I had a vague idea that you should be careful with the enamel, and only use wooden or plastic utensils. But one day after a particularly bad set of burned-to-the-bottom stew, I went against my better judgement and took a steel scrub to it.
Cringeworthy, I know. But it didn’t stop there.
Rewarded with a clean pot and no obvious damage to the enamel, I thought to myself that maybe I had been wrong about how fragile the enamel was. Maybe it was all right.
So I kept doing it whenever there was burned residue at the bottom. I stopped thinking about it, until one day I realised that the brown spots at the bottom that I was working so desperately to scrub off were not burn residue, but the darker colour of cast iron peering through my cream white enamel.
I had worn the enamel away. My beautiful pot would never be completely cream-coloured on the inside ever again.
Buy me once and other quality mindsets takes knowledge and experience to care for. Knowledge we had a couple of generations ago, but has now been worn away much like my pot by the convenience of items that are meant to be bought, break and replaced.
Quality items, on the other hand, require patience and time.
I can oil our leather shoes and mend our clothes. I have just started canning in earnest and knock on wood, not a single jar or bottle has gone bad on me – yet!
But there are so many skills I do not yet master, and I think trying to do them all at once would be nothing short of completely overwhelming.
I still have that little blue pot my mother gave me. We still use it any time we make stews or casseroles. The iron is still solid, and the only thing I found online was that it could be an issue if you get chips of enamel in your food. But we have never found a chip, as the bottom is more or less sanded down.
It is a constant, humbling reminder to google first, and act later. Something I must admit I am notoriously bad at.
“For some, the path is created as they go.” My mother would tell my little brother when he asked her why I never followed recipes. It exasperated her, an avid recipe-reader, to no end.
I recon if we are to get “back to basics” as it were with a house in the woods, there are a great many more practical and housekeeping skills we need to work on, and practice is the only thing that helps.
But which life are we talking about? We certainly use the things we buy until the end of their life. Often they are given new life as rags or patches as well. We try to balance somewhere between rescuing free stuff from the landfill, and one or two precious items that needs to be purchased, but once we do, will last our lifetime. If we learn to take proper care for them.
What is your attitude to “buy it for life”? Do you follow it? Disregard it? Consider it irrelevant to a frugal lifestyle?