2010 Cheap Things: January

11 Jan

Martha has Good Things. I’ve got Cheap Things. Here’s a list of the stuff (and activities) we can love whilst wallowing in post-holiday, post-car repair, post-ridiculously expensive education debt:

1. Playing Outside.

When it’s winter in the Midwest, you dread going outside because you’re only out there to wait for the bus or scrape off your car and it’s miserable. But going outside by choice can be a completely different experience. So bundle up lazy-face, and see what sort of winter mischief you can find for free. My niecey-poo and I made this miniature forest next to a miniature lake.

The forest, as you might guess, are sticks we found on the ground. Then we dug a tiny pond area and filled it with ice patches we found hanging off of the house: her idea, I can’t take credit for that. My nephew made roads with the snow shovel. We would have liked to finish the entire town, but then dinner was ready so, oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

2. The Library.

Spending more time inside doesn’t have to mean more Home Improvement reruns. The library has everything you need to plan all the new things you want to start this year. I like to check out home decorating books and get ideas to jazz up the apartment. Moving the living room furniture or reorganizing the closet can make it feel like a whole new house and stave off cabin fever for a bit. If you’re already anxious for spring, check out gardening books and start planning your crop now. Going to learn a new instrument? Check out sheet music there. Whatever skill you promised yourself you were going to learn in 2010, the library can ply you with resources. And when you inevitably quit, you won’t have lost any money. Quitter.

Tip: Since the recession, a lot of libraries have made their DVDs free to check out so if your 2010 resolution was to be even lazier, you’ve got a whole collection of TV on DVD for you to catch up on. Something for everyone at the public library.

3. Abuelita Hot Cocoa.

Just like your grandma used to make if granny was Spanish and awesome. The chocolate comes in big tablets- put it in a pot over the stove with some milk…mm hmmm tasty. Very rich with just a pinch of spice.

Tip: If you don’t want to use the whole tablet, pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to soften it up so you can cut it in half.

4. Felt Mug Warmer.

What’s better to wrap around your hot cup of granny than a felt mug warmer. Just cut a mug-shaped band out of felt, sew a button and accompanying button-hole (psh, those two!), and button up cuppa cup! I embroidered the words “hold me” on mine. You could also go with, “you’re hot”, “om nom nom nom“, “Drink me.” or “slurpy slurpee, babay”. All of those are options.

5. Resourceful Challenge.

The Big Frost can be a great time for what I like to call Resourceful Challenge. In other words, you’re too lazy or cozy or broke to leave the house to buy whatever it is you need so…Resourceful Challenge! Here are two examples:

Challenge: Need a spice Rack.

Resourceful Alternative!:

Old shoe box on top of the stove. There’s also a shoe box in the cupboard serving as two shelves for the bevy of lesser-used spices, like that one time I bought cardamom.

Challenge: Need a fancy hairpiece.

Resourceful Alternative!:

I found an old velvet scrunchie at Mom’s (no one’s coming out to claim that purchase) and pinned it into a pretty velvet floret, then had my sister bobby-pin that sucker to my head.

Man, I’m so awesome at these challenges, I could paint a big R on my chest and wear a cape made out of old bread bags while I go about my day. Resourceful Challenge is also a good game to play with bored kids. Resourceful Challenge: Mommy needs a creative way to hang her jewelry; get cat hair off of the furniture; find some peace and quiet for once. Don’t question it. Just do it.

6. Play Stranded.

This is the food take on Resource Challenge. Also great for bored kids and folks who forgot to pick up the spaghetti sauce on the way home and don’t want to go back out. It’s like Iron Chef, but with taco seasoning. Try to make a meal or a snack out of whatever you have in your cupboard or fridge, just as you would have to if you were stranded in a country cabin because of a blizzard. For the authentic version of Stranded, you should turn off all of the cell phones and the TV for the night. Play a board game and enjoy your feast of tac0-flavored baked beans over Hungry Jack mashed potatoes by candlelight. Serve that half a bag of chocolate chips and the last orange for dessert.

7. Creative Organization.

January is the month everyone plans on finally getting organized and, with no picnics or ballgames or (sigh) sunshine outside, it’s the best time of year to stay inside and get to filin’. But who said efficient can’t be creative? Alphabetical and chronological organization can get boring and/or uneven. I suggest organizing by feeling. I filed my record collection in this manner: Feelin’ like Singin’ And Dancin; Feelin’ like A Rainy Day; Feelin’ like Gettin’ Around; Feelin’ Like Drinkin’, etc. I’m planning on following this method with books next (Sappy Lovey, Sorta Creepy), then clothing (Funky, Fat, Ferocious), then bills (Head Scratchers, Nail Biters, Have A Good Cry). I might even label. Add a few cats and I’m halfway to creepy neighbor lady. Make sure your Halloween candies are wrapped, kids.

8. Tights.

Upset because you can’t go bare-legged out into the wintry mix? I love when Tights Season begins in the fall, but by January, I’m getting a little bored and my tights are looking dull from all the washing machine action (sorry tights, but you needed to hear it). Not-so-white and pilly-pink tights, even gray ones, can be revived with a little box of colored dye for about $3:

Bam. New tights. And new living room pillows, and new old t-shirt. Everything’s coming up purple. It’s like a Prince album in my apartment. And in all that snowy white outside, these tights are going to pop (pop it like it’s hoooot, pop it like it’s hoooot, pop it like it’s ha-ot).

9. Reminisce.

I know, New Year New You. But the combination of being stuck inside, organizing all your old stuff, and saying goodbye to the decade light the corners of my mind with, that’s right, misty water-colored MEMMMMORIES!!! It’s fun to reminisce about way back when. Read old journals and love notes, get Pete and Pete from Netflix, read the oldest email or Myspace/Facebook comment you can find. Today, I tried to open my email account from my first year of college and couldn’t get in because my security question was “Which one of my roommates is a jackass?”. I have no idea what my 17-year-old self was thinking, but my 26-year-old self can’t figure out the answer (I had a lot of roommates). I also started a Pandora radio station of 90’s music. Don’t judge. When’s the last time you teared up to some “How’s It Gonna Be”, hmmm? Pop culture remnants of my youth, it’s been too long.

10. Vaseline.

The ultimate Cheap Thing for winter because it softens all those dry crackly places on your body. Mainly, I wear it on my lips or face at night but I’ve pulled the ol’ Vas-o-line out on several occasions for these purposes:

-Mix it with your face powder when you run out of foundation. Mix it with your old lipsticks to make a pretty lip balm (See my post on how to make a pink lipstick!).

-Put it on your hands and feet overnight to soften them up.

-Apply it on the places you spritz perfume to make the scent last longer

-Put it on your eyelids before applying eyeshadow to make your shadow shiny.

-Rub a little bit on your polished nails after it’s been a few days and they’ve lost their gloss.

– I’ve heard, but have never tried, that it makes your eyelashes grow if you put it on your eyelashes at night. Couldn’t hurt to try, just wash it off before you get up for breakfast, lest your roommate thinks you got pink eye, again. What a jackass, that one.

Happy January-ing! Here’s hoping a Cheap Thing keeps you warm this winter.

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4 Responses to “2010 Cheap Things: January”

  1. loveinthehome January 11, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    I really enjoyed this post. I love cheap, creative ideas! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Mom January 11, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    Another great blog, Annie. We’ve been playing Resourceful Food Challenge for weeks now. Still got some of that 54 pounds of turkey from Thanksgiving in the freezer. We’ve got a houseful of new groceries now and I kinda miss being so creative. Oh well, I’m sure we’ll run out of groceries soon enough and I can come up with another Turkey Surprise.

  3. kelsy January 12, 2010 at 12:06 am #

    After many-a dance competition, Vaseline proved to be a great eye make-up remover. It’s less tear-inducing, and you don’t feel like you’re tearing off your flesh.

  4. ashley February 1, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    I’m totally going to re-purpose an old shoe box to put all my spices in. I have two spice racks filled already but somehow I have acquired more spices than space. Thanks for the great ideas annie banannie.

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