Sunday, August 28, 2011

Why Pineapple? Why Piggy?

When I started this blog, I was focusing on saving money. Period. Yet the real-life me was having to deal with how to save the money while maintaining a fairly active social life. A main part of that is that my husband and I live in a central location, and we oftentimes host gatherings. So when I recently redid my blog design, I wanted a visual to promote the balance of a gracious life and a frugal life. Thus the pineapple on one side of the scales and the piggy bank on the other.

The piggy bank's symbolism is obvious--saving money.

The pineapple might not be so well known as the symbol of hospitality to everyone, so here's an answer from our friends at

The pineapple has served as a symbol of hospitality and warm welcome through the history of the Americas.

Christopher Columbus wrote the first account of a western encounter with the pineapple in the journal of his second discovery voyage across the Atlantic. He and his men landed on the Caribbean island of Guadalupe where the sailors enjoyed this sweet, succulent new fruit, which had already become a staple of native feasts and religious rites.

In 1493, Columbus first brought the pineapple back to Renaissance Europe that was largely devoid of sweet foods, including fresh fruit. The pineapple's exotic nature and sweetness soon made it an item that soon acquired both popularity and curiosity for centuries after its European arrival. For two centuries, as European horticulturists struggled to perfect a hothouse method for cultivating pineapples in Europe, the pineapple became even more a coveted commodity. In the 1600s, King Charles posed for an official portrait while receiving a pineapple as a gift.

In colonial America, hostesses would set a fresh pineapple in the center of their dining table when visitors joined their families in their homes. Visiting was the primary means of entertainment and cultural exchange, so the concept of hospitality was a central element in colonial life. The pineapple, then, symbolized the warmest welcome a hostess could extend to her guests, and then often it also served as the dessert for the meal. If the visitors spent the night, they would be given a bedroom with a bed in which pineapples had been carved on either the bedposts or the headboard -- even if that was the master bedroom.

Creative food display became a competition among the hostesses, because it declared her personality and her family's social status. Hostesses tried to outdo one another in creating memorable dining events. In larger, more affluent homes, the doors to the dining room were kept closed to create an air of suspense and excitement over the preparations of the hostess. Colonial grocers sometimes rented pineapples to hostesses desperate to create a dining experience above their financial means. Later, once that hostess had returned the pineapple, the fruit would be sold to more affluent clients who could afford to actually buy and eat it. Regardless of ones financial ability to actually buy and eat the pineapple, however, visitors to the homes that displayed the pineapple felt particularly honored that the hostess had spared no expense to secure one in their behalf.

By the Gilded Age, which was the era in which Samuel Couples lived, through the present day, the pineapple became a familiar symbolic image of welcome, good cheer, and warmth and affection between all who dwell inside the home.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Work or Not To Work

Coming from a family with strong single women, finding a husband would be a plus but not a requirement. If I did so find a spouse, the anticipated path would be to graduate from college, work until the babies come and then complement my husband's career with whatever I was doing at home and provide an increased enrichment experience for our children.

Well, I did find the husband in college. We married before I finished, and we will be celebrating our 37th anniversary in December. I did stay home after baby number 1, but I needed a breather.
More about that in a future blog.

If you have never experienced staying at home with infants and toddlers, believe everything you read about it. It is challenging, it is frustrating, it is sometimes lonely, yet it is satisfying and gratifying beyond words. However, there is something in the self of the typical American woman that craves production. Hence the popularity of mommy-blogging, of which I suppose I am technically a part.

In today's Wall Street Journal insert in the Knoxville News Sentinel, columnist Katherine Rosman writes about having to leave her children to present to a mommy-blog convention. I see great irony in this.

Please check it out:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I lived SOME of "The Help"

Starting yesterday, millions of mature Southerners are engaging in cinematic mirror-gazing as they view "The Help." I am one; although as I want to write that my recollection of my community's relationships weren't mean-spirited-base as portrayed in the book/movie, the accepted class system was wrong, wrong, wrong. We know that now and in our heart-of-hearts we knew it then. The situation has changed and continues to change. Unfortunately in the meanwhile people suffered beyond the gross inequities to the ultimate sacrifice of dying -- lynchings, little girls in the basement of a bombed church in Alabama, Freedom Riders, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr. . . .

I attended the movie with my small group (typically "small groups" are mini-groups of church members, but at least four churches are represented in our small group.) Most special, though, is a couple in our group are the proud parents of Shane McRae, who portrays one of the husbands in the movie. Shane's dad taught at Mississippi State for years, so Shane got to go back to the state of his youth -- yes the movie was actually filmed IN Mississippi.

To my peers: Go see the movie. We need to recollect from whence we came.

Thrifty Footnote: We got one of the tickets free through our Regal Crown Club membership!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Finding $5,291

I have written about this before, but $5,291 was the annual salary of my first full-time job after college. Just for fun, I have targeted this amount to "find" savings. I keep starting this little exercise over and over, and here I go again.

Today I went to CVS. It's interesting that when I first started couponing, Walgreens by far and away had more savings. However, they eliminated a rebate program and don't have the incentives that CVS has to stack savings. The main difference between Walgreens and CVS is that CVS does have loyalty cards. The Big Brother of CVS tracks your purchases, but I have nothing to hide--track on, CVS!

So, here is my first step in identifying the $5,291:
Bought four boxes of Kellogg's cereal on sale, saving 5.86
used Kellogg's coupons: 2.20
3 boxes of Hefty Bags on sale, saving 9.00
1 Maybelline Mascara on sale, saving .50
Used a $1.00 Maybelline coupon I got at the store 1.00
Extra Care Bucks earned because I bought a certain
amount of cosmetics 5.00
Previously earned Extra Care Bucks applied 4.00

All these purchases went to the $30 purchases
earning me $10 in gasoline credit 10.00

Total $37.56

Balance to save: 5,253.44

Please note that I didn't buy a whole lot. I can't keep track of a lot of items when I am stacking the coupons. I typically do two or three trips to Walgreens and CVS on a weekly basis.

Balance: The Path to Contentment

There is no doubt that we have been blessed, but we are sharing in the current financial challenges. On a day when the stock market plummeted again, I can't help but feel unsettled. However, the Scripture that I hang onto, day in and day out, is Philippians 4:6:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

The word I focus on is "everything." There are opportunities to save, to enjoy, at just about every turn in life. I try to save whenever and wherever I can; but if the opportunity presents itself to spend time with good friends at a restaurant, I'll be careful in what I order. If a new business in our downtown community is just getting started, I'll buy from them once in a while because their presence contributes to the neighborhood's character.

When I first started this blog, I was on a spend fast. For a year I basically bought nothing for myself--no new clothes for a year. I embraced couponing and started stockpiling. Now I buy an occasional piece of clothing, oftentimes from consignment stores; and since I have gotten accustomed to the cycles of sales, I am not as inclined to go overboard in buying specials.

My daughter gave me a blog revamp for Mother's Day. It has taken this long for me to contact the designer and get it online. To use a house analogy, my old blog looked like a used mobile home while I like to think of this new design as a cozy cottage.