Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Black-Out Weekend #1

In retrospect, I really wish I had named this a "Frugal Weekend Project" or a "$20 Weekend Project;" but it's too late now. The "money-free" aspect is an illusion. It seems no matter now carefully I fill up our gas tanks or load up on groceries on Friday nights, we still spend money. This weekend, my supportive, deeply committed husband was beginning to feel the pressure of my project. No man works hard all week just to be told that he can't spend any of his loot on his two days off. Additionally, my sister had suggested having a monthly "Black-Out Weekend" in which we did what we wanted and spent what we wanted without feeling the need to share it with the virtual world. As she pointed out, there is nothing wrong with occasionally spending the whole day in bed and then getting up and going out for an expensive meal. And that's hardly something anyone should be blogging about. So let us draw a curtain across this weekend's money-spending dubauchery and focus our attention on other matters.

I had originally planned to do a special post on sugar-free recipes, but Matt encouraged me to spend the time on my novel instead. It has been slow going! I struggle with getting the ideas down on the paper in a rough draft form. It is too tempting to edit just one page to death without never moving on to the next page. The extra two hours afforded by not blogging afforded me three pages of novel! However, next weekend will be another fabulous frugal weekend, and I can't wait to write all about it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Money-Free Weekend #4

Last weekend was so busy and full, that this will be only some of the highlights. Matt, the hard working banker, had to put in a half day of work. I kissed him goodbye and then did some cleaning. The whole time wondering, how does the house get so dirty during the week? We hardly spend any time in it! At 9:00, three of my girlfriends showed up for a money-free spa party. I asked everyone to bring something for breakfast and some spare spa and bath products. I organized the products on the counter and made a little gift basket of samples I've seemed to accumulated over the years. We soaked our feet, and gave ourselves manicures. Then we ate a delicious healthy breakfast. It was as much fun as the spa, and much cheaper. Not to mention, I got my bathroom closet cleaned out in the process!

When Matt got home he changed and we ate lunch. Then we packed up our camera and headed up to Ceasar's Head. When we go there, the parking lot was under construction. We weren't sure we'd be able to make to the overlook, but we asked permission to cross the construction site. Two rangers came out to watch Matt, Henry and I struggle up the sandy hill. Every once in a while they would call out a suggestion. It seemed to take a very long time to cross that parking lot. It was a hazy day again, but we still got some breathtaking views of the mountains. And our plant pictures seem to benefit from the overcast conditions. We experimented with different settings on our camera and tried to take pictures of all striking plants we saw on our hike.

We started driving back down the mountain just before the rain that had been threatening all day poured down with vengeance. On the way home, we stopped at Walgreen's to get some of our pictures developed. It was still pouring rain, so we got absolutely drenched getting out of the car. We squeaked our way through Walgreen's, and took about twenty minutes trying to figure out how to use the picture developer thing. While our pictures were being developed, we ran over to the grocery store where I had to pick up some apple cider vinegar ($3). Then we went to pick up our pictures and got, if possible, even more wet. We were very happy to get home and get in some dry clothes. After dinner we finally got a start on our nature journal. We had a journal we'd purchased when we were dating but never used; so with that and all my scrapbooking materials, all we needed were our pictures ($7). We pulled out some field guides and started to identify some of the things we'd found. Right before going to bed we watched a movie we'd been wanting to see for a while.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Money-Free Weekend #3

Last weekend was busy, sweet, and everything I hoped to get out of this project. For a while I’ve wanted to get up early to watch the sunrise together. Matt thought it was a good idea, so we set out alarm clock for 5:00 (sun rose at 5:56 am last Saturday) only half believing we’d actually get out of bed that early. We woke up easily enough when the alarm went off, so we got up and made our way out to watch the sunrise. Matt was all ready for the day, but I stayed in my pajamas. Our sunrise plans were hindered a bit by a heavy fog, but the mountain forests were eerily beautiful in shades of gray and green. We drove up the mountain until suddenly we drove out of the fog and the sun shone all around us. When we rounded a bend, we caught a glimpse of Greenville that took our breath away. Down below the mountain Greenville was covered in a swirling white cloud with just little green peaks of baby sized mountains peaking through the top. Matt swung the car around so I could see it again. I stared at it until a car came up behind us and we had to start moving back down into the fog again. The sun was up in earnest at this point, and the fog glowed in its light.
Matt asked me if I’d be interested in going to Stax Original for breakfast. It’s a local restaurant with a bit of a diner feel that Matt and I used to frequent when we were dating. At first I obnoxiously pointed out that going out for breakfast would completely defeat my attempts to be money free on the weekends, but the look on his face reminded me why I’d allowed a $20 exception for the project. I was still in my pajamas, but Matt assured me that it wasn’t obvious. I certainly hope that was true since we saw about a dozen people that we know. Breakfast was perfect. And it only cost $7. There is something so satisfying about sitting in a booth sipping coffee out of ceramic mugs while ceiling fans spin the scent of bacon, eggs, and pancakes around your head.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Money-Free Weeeknd #2

Before heading off to work this morning, I had to say goodbye to my parents and my three youngest siblings who have been visiting us this week. Since leaving for college nine years ago, my time with family has always been marked with relative brevity and goodbyes. It doesn’t seem to be getting any easier to say a meaningful “goodbye” or to translate my love into a parting hug, although the tears have decreased between my freshman year and now. I am so grateful that they put the time and effort into visiting as frequently as they can. One of my sisters lives in town and another sister lives two hours away, so they are able to fit many visits in one trip. This visit they also extended trip down to see some friends on Hilton Head Island. They left Thursday and had intended to return Friday night, but Matt and Dad put their heads together and proposed that we drive down Friday night, stay with them, and spend Saturday (Matt’s birthday) together at the beach. My mom’s first response was to ask, “What about the money-free weekend?” I am flattered that at least one person takes this so seriously, but I figured I would just do a special “mooching” edition of Money-Free Weekends and enjoy my weekend at the ocean.

Hilton Head Island is my favorite place in the world. I love the salt-marshes busy with frisky fiddler crabs watched by unmoving snowy herons; I love the sea food prepared fresh by unpretentious cooks; I love the bike and running trails that stretch on for miles and miles shaded by trees and dotted with “Don’t Feed th
e Alligator” signs. Most of all I love the beach. The grey waves of the Atlantic sweep in and out of the white sand which at low tide is packed as hard as concrete. At Coligny Beach there is a wheelchair mat laid out from the boardwalk to the water line. Matt can wheel down the beach as easily as he maneuvers the bike trails, and we can take walks down the beach hand in hand as naturally as anyone else. Our preceding times in Hilton Head were in the off season when the beaches are nearly deserted. We make our way down the beach hand in hand until we come to a small pools skimming rippled sand where Matt looks for orphaned sea creatures to throw back into the ocean and I read a book until he’s saved all the ocean life he can and is ready to move again. This was our first time being there in the summer, and there was a drastic difference. I still loved it, but I loved it with about three thousand more people.
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