Monday, February 11, 2008

Livin' Large, On A Budget

Tip Of The Day: How to live a lush life on a dime. Tips on luxury, for cheap.

Tip For Tomorrow: Make it last forever. No, not love. Your stuff – give it a longer life with proper care and feeding.

BRIEF INTERUPTION: I will be appearing on Fox 9 News tomorrow at 5 PM, and Kare 11 Extra at 10 PM on the 18th. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog.

Further Elucidation Of My Cheap Deal: My friend Larue gave me an awesome book for my birthday – Wear More Cashmere, by Jennifer “Gin” Sander. Now, cashmere items normally cost more than $20 (unless you find it on clearance at JCPenney), and some of her ideas were kind of spendy or impractical. Or fattening, like her recipe for homemade chocolate pudding. It makes me want to learn how to cook.

But the book did get me thinking of ways I can and do incorporate simple luxuries into my daily life. For example, I feel that the most luxurious thing in the world is a super-clean bed, from the comforter all the way down to the mattress pad.

However, because I sleep in the WORLD’S LARGEST BED, my comforter doesn’t fit into my washing machine. What to do? I could have it professionally laundered – for a mere $15. Eek. Or, I could take it to my local Laundromat and wash it myself for less money and more fabric softener (I like to use a ton of Target-brand faux Downey in my wash).

And here’s where I need to make a weird confession – I love going to the Laundromat. It’s so 70’s retro fabulous. Plus, it’s warm, it smells good, and my local ‘mat is empty most days, so I am guaranteed “alone time.” Which I can get at my house, but whatever.

I stuff the biggest front-loading machine with all my bedding, wash it on the highest setting, and dump in about half a gallon of fabric softener. Usually, I bring a book along with a good 70’s vibe, like an early Stephen King novel, and snacks (of course).

I also enjoy watching my stuff wash – it’s like a low-rent aquarium. Then, I dry everything in a dryer so big I could live in it, on the highest setting, with about 20 dryer sheets. Two hours later, I have perfectly clean bedding. Ahhhh.

Of course, before I go to bed in my perfectly clean bed, I have to be perfectly clean, as well. So, I shower and dress in fresh jammies first. Then I slide (alone) into bed and relish the smell of faux Downey, with the knowledge that NO BED BUGS WILL BITE. Or dust mites, or other icky things, because all that hot water and hotter air kills bugs DEAD. I also feel that a clean bed keeps the Bogeyman away. Truly.

Here are a few other cheap luxuries I love:
1. I carry nice hand lotion and lip balm in my purse. A good, sample size lotion costs less than $10 and a lovely tube of balm will set you back just $5. Knowing that I can moisturize anywhere, at any time, is a luxurious feeling.
2. I buy cashmere socks on sale at Target. They are SOOOOOO warm, and they don’t make my feet itch like wool socks do.
3. I have my clothes tailored (when necessary) by an inexpensive seamstress. She has hemmed pants, darted waistbands, and taken in dresses for me, all for less than $15 an item.
4. I actually eat meals at my dining room table. So often we eat our food either standing up or while watching TV. To sit down and consume a meal in a room set aside for that very purpose feels almost decadent.
5. I occasionally buy desserts for one from Target or Byerly’s. My faves are Sundaes to Go and Killer Brownies. YUM. And since there are no leftovers (aka evidence of my bad eating habits), I don’t feel guilty the next day.
6. I drink loose tea, usually Mrs. Kelly’s. This requires me to actually brew the stuff, not just sling a bag into a cup of hot water. It turns drinking tea to a ritual – boil the water, add the tea leaves, strain into a cup. I feel this makes tea A. taste better and B. feel more luxurious.

Looking at this list, you can boil what I consider luxurious down to three C’s – clean, cozy and comfy. That does it for me, what does it for you? What are your cheap luxuries? I hope everyone has at least one. If not, you need to go out and get one today. Life is too short to not feel lux now and then.

And now I will step off my soapbox, stable my high horse, and let you people get back to work.


Tiff said...

I like your tip of the day. You know how I like luxury. Your blog has really motivated me to think more about how much I am spending and to think first about the places I could spend less money for the same items.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. My favorite: a very hot bath in a squeaky clean bathroom, with some nicely scented bath goo, a glass of wine, and a good book.

Last time I did this I actually fell asleep, though, and did your brother come find me? No, he told me he actually lay in bed and idly wondered if I had fallen asleep in the bathtub (or drowned!!), and then decided to leave me there. Argh.

LaRue said...

What a swell friend you have, buying you such a swell book. Now if it had actually come WITH cashmere, then said friend would have been best friend ever.

But I digress. I too am inordinately fond of the clean sheets/clean body/clean pjs scenario. It makes me ever so happy. Kind of like the feeling you get in a nice hotel. I am fond of buying "hotel" sheets of very high quality for this reason. But as I have a big ass washer and dryer I can wash at home.

But the burning question is: Was the cashmere book better than Posh's book?

The Cheap Chick said...

Both Posh Spice's book and the book mentioned in today's article are wonderful, but in completely different ways. Did you know Posh's favorite food is toast?

SIL, I'm sorry my mean brother left you to drowned. He is sadly pragmatic to a tragic degree.

tundrababe said...

Wow - someone needs to give you your own show already!

Low-rent aquarium - that is genius! Hahaha. The washers in my building are big enough for my comforter and sheets, fortunately. I wash them once a week, doctor's orders (I have allergies. Damn dust mites!). I love that clean feeling too.

I love indulging in little luxuries. Spraying perfume on my sheets and pillow is one. Putting on clothes fresh out of the dryer is another. Aah! So warm.

The Material Girl said...

My laundry area is right next to my shower (old houses have their own quirks), so I love to throw my towel and robe into the dryer while I shower so they are toasty warm when I use them. It's fabulous during a cold Minnesota winter.