Thursday, August 5, 2010

Help Yourself: Be Thrifty: How to Live Better With Less, edited by Pia Catton and Califia Suntree

I always find these types of books compelling (I can save money!? How!?). I like the idea of saving money, but I don't always follow through on the execution. This book has inspired me to try. There's nothing like a down economy to get you thinking about your situation, whether you have problems or not. And truly, much of the advice is practical in a good economy.

The main principles of the book:
1) Make it or do it yourself- sometimes
2) Choose and buy carefully
3) Fix it if it ain't broke
4) Use wisely and avoid waste
5) Save for the future

The book is comprised of essays, recipes, directions, etc., that have all been written by experts on the particular subjects, so you can jump around to topics that interest you. The advice is pain-free in implementation and confidence-boosting as a result. Learn how to fix simple plumbing issues, grow your own vegetables, or make bread and broth. The simple cleaning methods make sense, not only financially, but also for your health and environment. For at-home family entertainment, card game instructions are included (try "Spit"- it can be a raucous good time).

Interspersed throughout the book are little anecdotes from predominantly depression-era people. Their stories are quite, well, depressing. What a way to gain perspective. . .
It Was Meat
During the Great Depression, we ate squirrels and rabbits and even groundhogs, all of which had to be boiled well before they were browned and roasted. Preparing a groundhog was not easy. It took a special process to make sure the meat was safe to eat and that its “wild” flavor was removed. You had to scrub it first, then boil it in water, and then put some baking soda in the water, then rinse it off again. Then sometimes you’d scrub it and boil it again, but usually after one time you were ready to brown it and stick it in the oven. It was meat, and we ate it.
– Valetta Barraclough, born 1918