Spring was long and wet this year, and summer came early in our neck of the woods. An attack of late housecleaning and early gardening made for a busy month. As a matter of fact it is time for a bit of simple rest and relaxation.
First out of the drawer is an Ontario government publication, listing festivals and special events, many of them street festivals with free admission. That s what I m looking for - reasonably-priced frolic on a nice sunny weekend. Take advantage of these well organized events that are held in all states and provinces. Usually there is lots of free entertainment. For true value, pack a picnic lunch. Resist the urge to buy souvenirs and things you don t really need. If you do "street eat" choose booths that support local charities and churches. You know that your money will go to a good cause if you buy sausage on a bun from a not-for-profit group.
We love live theatre so next on my list of "dos" is to take a good look at all summer theatre offerings. We cannot afford the nationally-known, big-buck whopper productions so patronize local theatrical companies, giving full attention to the various discounts offered for multiple ticket purchases. We also try to attend as many amateur community-organized music and entertainment events as possible. Add to this list the various reasonably priced church suppers held throughout the area.
While on the subject of rest and relaxation I must answer those queries about Y2000 vacation picks that give value and entertainment for money spent. Here goes: The Williamsburg area of Virginia is a destination that all Americans (and Canadians) should put on their "to do" list. After all, this area was the cradle for U.S. democracy - the seat of the struggle for independence from Britain. As such it is steeped in both British and American history. You will have to save your coins for this trip as it isn't a cheap destination. BUT dollar for dollar, it is one of the best vacation destination. What to see? How about Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory and Yorktown Visitor s Center, the James River Plantations, the fantastic family oriented Busch Gardens with its beautiful gardens, thrilling rides and themed "villages". For information www.visitwilliamsburg.com A hint, we stayed at Embassy Suites where rooms, that sleep five comfortably, are equipped with fridge and microwave - and full breakfasts are free for hotel guests. There are good parks nearby for those who like to "trailer" holiday.
Cooperstown, New York is a great family destination. For those not interested in all things baseball, including the Hall of Fame, check out the Farmer s Museum at www.farmersmuseum.org, Fenimore Art Museum with its marvelous Thaw Collection of First Nations artifacts www.nysha.org and Hyde Hall a restoration in progress www.hydehall.org Check out Cooperstown Fun Park and Glimmerglas Opera and the Northeast Classic Car Museum in Norwich, lake vistas, Indian burial sites and nature walks. We counted forty-nine deer on the scenic drive around Ostego Lake. For area information write Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, 31 Chestnut Street, Cooperstown, NY #1-607-547-9963. Recommended accommodation - The Inn at Cooperstown www.cooperstown.net/theinn and Hickory Grove Motor Inn #1-877-547-9874 (email@example.com)
My Canadian choice is our capital, Ottawa located in Ontario. This is one safe, easy city to get around in - and during the summer when parliament isn't sitting is relatively quiet too. There is much to see and do. How about 29 museums including the Museum of Nature, National Museum of Science & Technology, National Gallery of Canada, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Canadian War Museum. Be sure to take a tour of the Parliament Buildings. The best site to check things out is www.parliamenthill.gc.ca. There are accommodations and restaurants to suit all budgets and tastes. When we go, homebase is the Chimo Hotel www.chimohotel.com . We take public transportation into the heart of the city. Great Fun! Remember too, if visiting from the U.S.A, your dollar is so high against Canadian Currency, you get a real bargain at 40%-45% off!
Part of our summer fun is visiting produce stalls and markets where we stock up on the best our farmers have to offer. In keeping with the choice to live simply, we try to buy as close to the farm gate as possible. Remember that living simply does not mean going without good wholesome food. It does mean doing without the prepackaged gourmet meal-in-a-minute phenomena that are in every large store. Speaking of groceries, every two weeks we drive twenty miles to shop at a small town, friendly grocer for our staples as we believe in supporting independent business people. Sure we spend money on gas, but the river road is less traveled and beautiful at any time of the year.
During the process of helping an ill friend, I cleaned out her bathroom cabinets and counted sixty-three bottles of lotions, potions and "stuff", most nearly full. There was face, hand and anti-wrinkle creams, scented shampoos and conditioners, bottles of hair "goop", nail polish and remover - and the list goes on. My friend cannot afford all these items. She is a beautiful woman, from the inside out. She does not need the "additives and preservatives". We figured out that she spent more than $900. (U.S. funds) during the last year on frivolities. In her own words, she fell victim to advertising hype and to the turn-back-the-time syndrome. She looked in the mirror every day but didn't see her true self shine through. She said that she was not clever enough to realize that youth cannot be bought in a bottle. She felt so insecure she bought into all the latest "hype". But Jane still looks like Jane.
I know, all of you don t have 63 bottles of "stuff" in your bathroom. I'll bet you have more than ten. What do I have in my armory? - One bottle of reasonably priced shampoo, one bottle of reasonably priced conditioner, one jar of Vaseline, one large jar of cheap hand cream (I use it after working in the garden), one tube of tooth paste, a large bottle of vinegar and three cakes of unscented soap. I spend $120 max on this sort of thing per year. So, I have a few gray hairs. I am aging gracefully. I m clean, neat and tidy. I am comfortable in my skin, even if it is a bit wrinkly and crinkly. Who cares? No one else has to live in my head or body. No hairstylist figures in my budget, not that I have anything against hairstylists. Just think of the money I save - and what I can do with it? Why, of course, some of it goes toward a spot of summer theatre - or a nice weekend away with the old geezer.
Have any old pan lids lying around? Last week hubby found several lids for frying pans that we no longer possess. These lids are large, and have a nice "well" if turned upside down. Ingenuity reigned. He combined some tall, unused, hollow tent poles with a bit of doweling, a few screws, several blocks of wood and the lids. Voila! Bird feeders that squirrels cannot sabotage. Feeders that hold a generous amount of seed, and that picky birds cannot empty with a flick of the beak. Our backyard bevy of feathered friends took them right to heart. Today, neighbour Bob showed up at the back door with three lids. "Could you make some of those neat feeder for my wife," he asked? Why feed birds during the summer months? Isn't this an unnecessary expense? As bird habitat dwindles due to rampant urban sprawl, bird populations decrease in southern Ontario. There has been a great increase in nesting birds on our street since a few people started to feed the birds year-round. We purchase bird seed in bulk when it is on sale and store it in tightly lidded garbage cans to discourage squirrels, raccoons, skunks and other little fourfooted creatures. We don't have cable TV, call answer/call waiting or a cell phone. We choose to feed birds.
Periodically Pat Mestern provides us with frugal living tips from a Canadian perspective. You'll find some of her other musings at mestern.net. Her latest work of historical fiction is entitled "No Choice But Freedom" which takes place in England and British Colonial America c1750.
Take the Next Step
Sign up for our free eNewsletter Dollar Stretcher for Parents.
Looking for an answer to a frugal living question? Click here to ask a
Dollar Stretcher Stretchpert!
Copyright 1996 - 2013 "The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." All rights reserved unless specifically noted.
Contact the Dollar Stretcher at:
PO Box 14160
Bradenton FL 34280
"The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." does not assume responsibility for advice given. All advice should be weighed against your own abilities and circumstances and applied accordingly. It is up to the reader to determine if advice is safe and suitable for their own situation.