Frugal living loves cheap entertainment.
Rain has, at last, come to Northern California. Just when it seemed like we were going to be forever stuck in this strange weather pattern of two hours of winter per day, followed by eerily spring-likeÂ afternoonsÂ (climate change, anyone?), along came a good old-fashioned winter storm. I thought I’d celebrate it with my favorite forms of cheap fun.
1. Bake bread.
Baking bread is SO easy and you probably have almost everything you need in your cupboard, except the yeast, maybe. Yeast is cheap! Go pick some up and then try a virtually effortless method like this. Put your dough somewhere where you can see it, and you will be astonished at how much it rises, and how fast it grows! And instead of buying a loaf of $6 artisan bread, you can eat your own for something like 8 cents a slice. Plus the house smells fabulous while it’s baking.
2. Cook up a pot of beans.
As regular readers know, I’m going local with my family’s food supply. This week, I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) program, and for $20 a week I get a huge box of fresh, organic, local produce. This week I got a pound of dried heirloom beans plus some cabbage, carrots, and onions (among other yummy things). I had some polish sausage in the freezer from my local meat CSA. I threw it all together for a nice slow simmer. It was de-lish. Virgo Man said, “Wow. There’s something to t his locally grown food thing.”
3. Watch back to back episodes of TV series online.
I am now thoroughly addicted to Sons of Anarchy. Is there any other television series that manages to convince you to feel the baddest guys (the ones who trade illegal guns for money with a rogue IRA cell, and who shoot and shiv rival outlaw gangs with abandon, and who carry around brown envelopes stuffed with unmarked small bills) are actually the good guys, while the feds and all the cops except the dirty ones are despicable? And please, can I be like Katey Sagal on menopause? Pretty please?
4. Play games.
I love the Daily Jumble and Entanglement, both of which can be played for free. If I have disappeared for an hour, my family knows exactly where to find me: in front of the computer, jonesing on word puzzles. But heck, play any game! All of America has a closet where the old Monopoly and Yahtzee games are silently gathering dust. Break ’em out. Make the kids sit down and play with you. Bribe them with popcorn and hot chocolate if you have to.
My all-time favorite way to spend a Saturday is reading, and I will never run out of books I already own. If, somehow, I did read every book already in my possession, I’d turn to the internet. I’d go to StumbleUpon and plug in some topic that sounds interesting, and be directed to endless and endlessly entertaining free content to read. Or I’d download sample chapters of e-books from Amazon.
6. Think, dream, and plan.
The gift of a rainy Saturday means time to ruminate. You know that cows are ruminant, right? That means they have two stomachs, and they slow-process their food intake to wring maximum nutrients out of it. We humans can do a mental version of that, only we never have time. A wet, windy, rainy afternoon is perfect for that. Get a notebook and a pen and scribble down whatever is going through your head. It’s like your own personal brainstorming session!
7. Dream of spring.
The author Katherine S. White wrote about her blindingly cold and dark northeastern winters spent in the company of seed catalogs, dreaming about what she would plant in the spring. Mr. Tomatoes does the same thing, only he’s looking at tomato seeds instead of flower seeds. If you’re not a gardener, you can dwell on other spring pursuits, like baseball, salmon fishing, or that first afternoon sitting outside with your face turned up to the sun.
8. Control what you can. Let go of the rest.
You know those books where the poverty-stricken family lives in a spotless hovel and wears meticulously clean and pressed rags? Those people are practicing the principle of controlling what they can. I have found this principle to be heartening, productive, and zen-like for its be here now quality. It’s also the antidote for the dark side of #6, where your thinking, dreaming, and planning get invaded by worrying, fretting, and obsessing. I might have no idea how I’m going to send my boys to college, but I can clean out the refrigerator. And sometimes, doing just that presents me with solutions and ideas I never thought of before.
I tell you what, World of Dreamers. Sir Empath and O Psychic One, like teenagers everywhere, often complain that they are bored. I remember making that same complaint myself when I was a girl. But truly, a rainy Saturday is great for reminding a person that the world is chock full of entertaining things. May your Saturday, rainy or not, be filled with cheap entertainment.