Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.
I want to dedicate some time to frugality so I’m starting Frugal Fridays. I was always in awe of and I confess, slightly amused by my Granny who would wash those styrofoam trays that meat came on. She’d rinse and save absolutely everything. If a shirt had a hole, salvageable parts of it were saved as well as the buttons from it to use somewhere else. She saved tiny lengths of twine, the plastic bag the newspaper came in, and any container you or I wouldn’t think twice about throwing away because we considered it disposable. My Granny lived through the depression and she never forgot it.
I am learning to be frugal. It isn’t easy in a disposable society. I’m focusing on frugality as it applies to my home-making. I’m not so much motivated by the current economic climate as I am in being a better steward of the material gifts and resources we have. If you have an everyday chore and you can find a way to simplify the steps and materials so that you can repeat and reuse, that is being frugal.
So, let’s share ways we can practice being frugal in little and big ways – they all add up. Each Friday, post a simple way your family has found to be frugal. How are you using it up? Wearing it out? Making do? Doing without?
My Frugal Friday post is a no-brainer for most of you probably, but I *just* figured it out this past year. We use wapkins instead of dinner napkins at the table. Yes, that’s right, wapkins. It is a combination of the napkin and the washcloth – a wapkin.
We have approximately 20 in a drawer next to the table. We use them like cloth napkins, but they are made of a nice, soft terry so they are far more practical for a family that enjoys their food (read…..a family that is very messy). Each person gets a wapkin for breakfast and that same wapkin stays next to their place until after dinner that night. They are then washed with the kitchen linens. When a small face is especially dirty, simply wet the wapkin in warm water. Wapkins also make nice clean-up rags in a pinch.
My wapkins are a soft terry cloth and I find that to be a very practical material, but a soft flannel would work as well. Wouldn’t that make a lovely sewing project for a young lady?
Instructions: Choose a fabric like linen for a dressier wapkin or flannel or small loop terry for a practical, everyday wapkin. Shop in your existing fabric stash if at all possible – if that’s not possible check selvage sales and bargain tables for different, but coordinating or matching fabrics. 🙂 Cut squares of fabric approximately 12 – 14 inches. If you are sewing 20 wapkins, you will need 40 squares. Sew the two matching squares together (wrong side out) with a straight stitch around the outside perimeter of the inside-out square leaving a small opening. Flip the square napkin right side out through the opening. Press the napkin flat turning under the raw edges of the opening. Sew in a straight or zig-zag stitch around the outside perimeter of the square (this holds the napkin in a nice square shape after repeated washings).
You no longer need to buy a big package of napkins every week – you have the wapkin!
Share your frugal ideas – leave me a comment with a link to your blog if you post a frugal hint that helps you in your homemaking.
hello from one marianne daschwood to another. just stumbled upon your blog and i am dazzled by all of the lovliness….
I love it Jennifer – I’m sure I will have a post in the future! >>I am not a sewer — can you tell me — are your napkins the same size as washcloths or did you make them bigger, smaller…??
Oh, Maryan – I really can’t wait to see a post! I’m so in need of inspiration in this regard!>>I’m whispering this to you, so don’t tell anybody… 🙂 >>My wapkins are actually little tushy wipes that I purchased for Katie. But, Rob proclaimed that they were not soft enough for her precious princess tush. So… I made something else for her and the little tushy wipes sat for a month or so until I got the nerve to ask my husband if he would be embarrassed if those tushy wipes were living in the kitchen and working as a napkin??? He really had to struggle to say ok – but he did. The kids instantly dubbed it a wapkin and there you have it.>>All that was an extremely long winded way of telling you that yes, they are basically a washcloth! 🙂 So, you could always just purchase a bulk set at that big store that sells everything and use that as a wapkin!
Love it! Love it! I have been wanting to use more fabric napkins (like the Christmas Tree napkins) and NOT wanting to buy as many paper napkins! This will be a fun and easy project. Thank you for this wonderful idea – absorbent and economical!>>Frugal Fridays is a great idea and definitely worth my brainstorming time. I hope I can contribute, but I am wondering IF I am more like your grandmother SAVING WAY TOO MUCH, but never actually using the STUFF! 🙂 This STUFF is definitely what I am trying to part with. Do you have a post on DISCERNIG between give away, put away and throw away?
I was gushing about my wapkins and I could have given you some actually useful information…my wapkins are exactly 9 inches by 7 inches…so they’re a little smaller than a standard washcloth.
Oh HOORAY! For 2009, my goal is to be debt-free. And to save on all the little things, so that our money can go to the bigger things. With six children, this can be tricky, so hooray for Frugal Fridays! I’ll try to contribute as I can. God’s best to you and your family.
I’m just wondering out loud here…. while one may not be having to buy paper napkins, what about the expense of detergent, hot water and electricity to wash and dry them? Does one actually save money? And even though one may be “saving trees” and throwing away less in a landfill, what about the extra water and electricity use?
Renee – your point is a good one, but I confess I was just trying to limit what seemed to be the constant purchase of paper napkins in the store and make some room in the shopping cart while finding a use for something that was sitting in a drawer.>>I keep a small basket in the utility room for wapkins and kitchen towels which get very dirty. These are washed with my cloth diapers so the wapkins don’t necessitate an extra load of laundry…but I do wash on a sanitary cycle! I use the same amount of detergent whether the wapkins are included or not. So, after thinking about it, their laundry footprint 🙂 is pretty minimal. >>Good points to consider in the future though!
Renee, I think the cost of washing the wapkins is also offset by the lack of trash bags used – with a wapkin, one doesn’t have to discard packaging or the actual paper napkin. And the wapkin could also be line-dried, further reducing the cost. : )