I hate being in debt. I like a good bargain. But I'm not a coupon shopper; rather than buying something at a discount, I will talk myself out of needing it or wanting it at all. My husband often jokes that our relationship defies traditional gender conventions: he urges me to go buy myself some clothes, and I urge him to go buy a motorcycle.
The effects of my genes are further complicated--or perhaps even amplified--by a borderline obsessive desire to reduce, reuse, and recycle. I'm the person who digs plastic bottles and toilet paper rolls from the garbage. I save tissue paper and bags and ribbons from presents, to use again. I write on the back of my shopping lists.
Which is why I love Freecycle.
If you've never Freecycled before, it works like this: you join a group in your region (a town, a county, even a workplace) where people post classifieds divided into three categories: OFFER, WANTED, and TAKEN. The categories are self-explanatory. People who want to give something away post it as an "offer." Interested people contact the poster anonymously through the site. The poster responds to the Freecycler of choice (usually the first one to claim the item) with information about location for pickup, and the Freecycler goes to pick up said item. Quite often the item is left on the porch or in a mailbox or on a doorstep. Sometimes the items are small: holiday decorations, lamps, salt and pepper shakers, DVDs. Sometimes the items are large: exercise equipment, laptop computers, etc.
Though I already have standing arrangements to pass down my kids' clothing, I've been Freecycling a lot more lately, trying to find homes for things we don't need (we recently gave away N's pack and play, and crib, and some toys, for example), and trying to find things I do need that others might not. And one of the things I could use are some new fall/winter clothes.
Don't get me wrong. We are not impoverished, and my husband has encouraged me to go shopping. He doesn't understand my fascination with, as he puts it, "clothes you find on the side of the road." I joke that at least I haven't yet found a dress at the dump, as his aunt did for her daughter's wedding. But I'm also aware that I'm not currently adding income to our household, and I hate buying something new that would be perfectly good used.
So I jumped when I saw the post.
OFFER: Large bag of women's clothes. Most size M and some S. Tank tops, long sleeved shirts, pants, shorts, a few gym clothes.
It was in a town about 15 minutes' drive away. Totally doable. I emailed the poster and said I'd be happy to come by if she didn't have any takers yet. To my delight, she informed me that I "won," and that she'd leave the bag outside for me.
After I put the kids to bed, I left S. holding down the fort, and ventured out. The house wasn't too hard to find, though it was dark, and I walked up to the door, squinting to see if I could locate said bag. In the dim light, I made it out, sitting on a chair. Much larger than I'd imagined. And, picking it up, I thought, heavier, too. WOW!
I drove home on winding country roads, listening to the radio, enjoying the crisp fall air, feeling extremely satisfied with myself, looking forward to the surprise of unpacking the bag.
And I was not disappointed; it was like Christmas! What great taste this woman had! What perfect colors! I began to sort things into piles of "RIGHT SIZE" and "NO WAY IN HELL CAN I WEAR THIS," already thinking about how I was going to keep the cycle going with the second category. Wouldn't it be great to bring some of these to the next women's clothing swap at church? Small, medium. Small. Small. Medium, but ... er, nope, that doesn't fit. Small. Medium that really ought to be marked as small. Medium that is skin-tight. Suddenly the "NO WAY IN HELL" pile was much larger than the "RIGHT SIZE" pile. And then, it had only two things in it. Well, shit. So much for Christmas.
I frowned, poking and prodding at my belly, which is a bit doughier than it used to be. I still love Freecycle, though. At least I'll have some great things to bring to the next clothing swap.
Healthy Pumpkin Pie Dip
Remember that really bad-for-you dip with the cream cheese and powdered sugar? Try this instead. Much more satisfying, and absolutely good for you.
1 c. canned or fresh pureed pumpkin
1 c. plain nonfat greek yogurt (vegans can also use coconut greek yogurt here)
1/2 t. to 1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. to 1 t. ginger
sweetener of choice: a few drops of stevia, a squirt of honey or agave
apples for dipping (though you can also use graham crackers or animal crackers or gingersnaps)
Stir together all of the ingredients except the apples.
Add spice and sweetener as necessary. Serve with apples to dip.