The Frugal Fanatic

Saving money and living green are so cool these days. So why isn’t it cool when I do it?

Sometimes this frugality thing goes too far.

So says the Son and Heir, who is singularly unimpressed by the toys I magically create for Toddler out of nothing (“junk” he calls it), but maybe he’s just irritable because it’s his job to take the trash out each week.

It's not junk, it's stuff, admittedly not as cool as the stuff in this painting, but cool in its own way. Out of Africa by Steve Henderson

My latest conception — a tambourine and a drum and an interactive puzzle – which to the uninitiated looks like six used thread spools rattling around in an empty 50-CD disc holder, kept the child entertained for, well, a good 45 seconds, which isn’t bad considering that the average $20 purchase at the box store lasts 10 seconds longer than that.

When you remove the thread spools from the CD case and if you aren’t too particular about authenticity, you now have great little people for the doll house. On another day, they’re aliens.

My fascination with plastic products stretches back decades, when my childhood bath time companion was an empty dish detergent bottle that, except for the spout at the top which was disappointingly too small for a head, looked like a lady in a white dress. When she wore out or ripped or caved in beyond repair, another was always ready to take her place, and sometimes, when there were two at a time, I had a jolly tea for three.

Me, and two empty Ivory dishwashing soap bottles makes three. I think I like grown-up tea sets better. Tea by the Sea by Steve Henderson

While on the one hand this stuff is garbage, think about it for a minute: if you were alive in 1365 and carted your macaroni and cheese around in ceramic pots and someone handed you an old, bright yellow margarine tub with a lid, wouldn’t you get excited? It’s lightweight, doesn’t break, and seals in freshness. What’s not to like?

My preponderant weakness is for the metal canisters that hold flavored coffee – small, cute, modular – every time I see an empty one of these I think, “There’s surely got to be something that we could do with these things.”

I must frequently speak the sentiment aloud because the Norwegian Artist, while he can’t effectively cross the street to evade me, does avoid eye contact when I pick up the empty boxes and eye them.

“No,” he has lately taken to saying, circumventing the issue before it becomes one. “I can’t use them in the studio, paint tubes won’t stack in them, brushes would fall out, I don’t use crayons, and I can’t see any possible reason why I want or need them.”

Once in frustration he counterattacked: “Why don’t you see if you can use them in the sewing room?”

Not a bad idea, that, only I couldn’t find anything to fit in them other than used thread spools, and I’ve already got that one covered.

So with a sigh I throw them away.

Whether it's a plastic coffee tub or ancient pottery -- it's still a container. Chimu by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

The other day someone gave us a flavored coffee box of monumental proportions, and while it’s not metal, it does have a lid, and it sure looks like something you’d put things in after the coffee powder is gone.

Do you remember the Winnie the Pooh story about Eeyore’s birthday present, in which the sad little donkey spends a pleasurable afternoon dropping a broken balloon into an old honey pot, and pulling it out again?

Everybody thinks that Eeyore is cute. Pathetic, but cute.

But I’ve got it, and the Norwegian doesn’t have to panic, because the box is the perfect size to hold a stack of empty 6-ounce yogurt cups, which everyone knows make great drinking glasses.

The paintings in all of my posts are by my Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson, and they are available as originals,  as well as archival quality limited editions of various sizes and prices at Steve Henderson Fine Art.

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
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12 Responses to The Frugal Fanatic

  1. Jana Botkin says:

    Carolyn, this might help clarify things for you and the Norwegian Artist: “Stuff is the junk we keep, and junk is the stuff we throw away.”

    Clears things right up, yes?

    • I’ll pass this on to him, but I have a feeling it will result in That Look.

      By the way, I finally posted the greeting cards in a more efficient way on the Steve Henderson Fine Art website — and Last Light in Zion is there!

      Happy Weekend AND Happy Valentine’s Day!

      • Jana Botkin says:

        Thank you for letting me know about the cards – order placed! I thought about selling my car to buy the original Last Light in Zion, but good sense took hold. It is a little tricky finding the notecards and then a little tricky going back to them to select another card. Used the back button, but there might be an easier way. No matter – if someone is determined, as I was, they’ll follow through!

        • Hi, Jana — order received and will go out Monday — thank you!

          I certainly don’t want you car-less! Last Light in Zion is on our list of works to offer as Limited Edition Prints, and when that happens, I’ll let you know.

  2. Patty says:

    It is a good thing we are not neighbors. You sound so much like me. My younger daughter staged an intervention, came over and had a major toss-out so I have a simi-cleared room(so I can put more useful stuff in there Shhhhhhhhhhh!)

    • Patty: if we were neighbors, I would bring you over little squares of brownies tucked inside of yogurt cups. You would make snickerdoodle cookies for me nestled in the modular coffee tins. Between the two of us, at least, we would USE these things!

  3. Chimu art! That’s from here, Peru!

    • That it be indeed — my family lived there, oh, a few years ago when I was three, and my father worked in LIma researching tropical diseases. What do you know about the Chimu? I’ll take any information that you’ve got.

      • How interesting! To be honest, I don’t really know a whole lot about it. Just that they were conquered by the Inca only a short while before the Spanish arrived, so a lot of the history is written down and preserved. But Chimu is from the North of Peru, in the Trujillo area. The one thing that I do know about them which is very distinctive is that their pottery is typically monochromatic and all black and shiny. They also worked with metal, but had a more intricate and finely detailed style about it, in comparison to Incan metalwork.

        • Thank you — this adds to my stash of knowledge of these intriguing people. Steve especially likes the animal headwork on the pottery. We have had some viewers say that it reminds them of work from the northern people in Alaska.

          • Their potter is pretty amazing…actually all the pottery from this area (Peru) is pretty amazing. If you ever have the chance to visit here (or at least check it out online) the Larco Museum in Lima has an extensive collection of pottery spanning different cultures and styles over the years (I’m talking like 40,000 pieces).

            Some are of animals, and others have faces. Each face is different, like the clay warriors in China. Additionally, they have potter depicting people missing eyes, or ears, or blind or diseased (i.e. elephantiasis). They also made (curiously) clay pots depicting various sexual acts between men/men, men/women, alone, and also showing venereal diseases. It’s sort of like they recorded everything they saw in pottery. Not sure I’d like to pour my water out of the pot with someone pleasuring themselves on it, but to each their own!

    • I cannot believe that I forgot to mention that Chimu is available as, not only an original oil painting, but in several sizes of prints, from 8 x 10 on paper for $55 to full sized on canvas, and everything in between, not to mention a note card as well. AND, we ship overseas.

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