The Best things in Life are Free (or less than €3.00)

The walking path on Greystones Beach, looking north towards Dublin.

After a week of Doom and Gloom from our recent budget, I have decided to try and cheer myself up with a reminder of what will not change in a "recession" economy. You see, after 10 years of Celtic Tiger boom times, Ireland has joined the rest of the world in progressing from a credit crunch into 4 quarters of negative growth (shrinkage?) which I believe dumps us in a recession.

A lot of people are not working, the banks are being guaranteed by the government as people panic about their savings, and there are still a lot of "For Sale" signs around as people jump ship from mortgages that they can't afford.

And the Budget, brought forward to shore up an ailing exchequer, went after the very people civilised society is supposed to protect; The Elderly, Children, The Disabled and People with Special Needs, and they threw in a 1% levy on People on Low Incomes.

But I talked about that already in my post about Joe Behan. All I will add is that Joe called me tonight on my mobile to say thank you for the blog and all your comments. In his own words he was "gobsmacked" at our support.

So, I have decided to have a think about what we can still enjoy without risking penury.

No 1, is to go for a walk with my Mr Hammie. We head out at about 5 o'clock when our Angel arrives to mind Boo and Bratty; and we walk all the way down to the beach, along the sea wall and up to what used to be our Harbour. (developers are building a marina but we won't talk about that)

The same path looking south towards Wicklow Head, at twilight.

On the way we talk through all the problems of the day. I have recently started working again, from home, and I need to run a lot of things past Mr Hammie to make sense of them and understand the inference and subtext. Good exercise, good for our mental health as no one is shouting "marmeee", (at us at least) and as our Angel would be there anyway, it's free!
We often go by the supermarket and shop for dinner that night grabbing whatever is on special. You can get some nice luxury foods that way that you wouldn't normally justify buying.
Speaking of foods you wouldn't normally justify:

2.Plain Chocolate Brownie from The Butler's Pantry: €2.50

Before I started working again I used to go out for a walk during the day and buy one of these little beauties as a treat. You have a choice of plain or with walnuts and I always go for plain. As you can see the counter is covered in single serve treats and Free Samples. I actually order a Mocha latte at the coffee shop across the road (or Mocha Frappethingie in Summer) and eschewing their brownies, run over to Butler's while they are making it to buy the superior version.

It is a lovely open and airy shop, the staff are very friendly and the cakes are super. And If you need a to buy a present for a hard to choose for person, A Butler's cake in a pretty box with a ribbon is a winner, every time.

Yes, it would be more economical to go home and bake brownies myself, but I don't bake and I am afraid I might eat too many. So, best just to buy-as-I-go. And if Butlers want to reward this shameless promo with a free brownie tomorrow; I am willing to accept it.

3. Towel Hugs

Another thing that I am truly grateful for each day is my kids. But since they do cost quite a lot to run, and earn nothing (so far) I cannot really count them as "free".

However, everyday I get to do something that reminds me how much I love being a Mum, Bath time. Not the bath itself which involves a great risk of flooding and, as they get older, a lot of prompting to "wash this, wash that, don't do that, What Are You Doing?!!!" type stuff.

But afterwards, no matter how big they are growing, I get to wrap them up in a super sized bath sheet and hold them like a little swaddled baby on my lap. With Boo I get a bonus "drying of a small boy's wet hair", so it ends up all spikey. But with Bratty I just hold her like the little Eskimo baby she was on Day 1.

So there you go, three things for under 3 bucks to make you smile in these troubled times.

I am waiting for Number 4 (child sleeping peacefully) to materialise.

But since neither Boo nor Bratty is obliging me with a kodak opportunity I will post that another time, check back later if I succeed.

More "steps" another day.

Have a great weekend!



Brownies!!! I bought a nail polish today as a budget friendly treat. I wish I had bought a brownie instead.:-)

Towel hugs sound nice too.

Hope you have a lovely weekend!
Vaklam said…
That's a great list! Especially the towel hugs.

As we are under similar financial circumstances, I plan to shamelessly steal your idea and post something similar.
Seeker said…
I say like LBR - Brownies!!!!!
They're always great treats ;)
Towel hugs seem so great!!!!!!

There are, however, many wonderful things that are free. In other words, don't cost us any time or money. The first kiss... priceless. Your dog's wagging tail...priceless. Love that is unconditional, that is there waiting for you always...priceless. Watching the sunset with “the” loved person...priceless. Making both crazy things and feel like the song “Still crazy after all these years”...priceless.
In our lives we have "needs" and "wants". Our "needs" generally come with a price tag, as do our "wants". But our memories have no price tag.
They just are.
Sometimes they are wonderful memories and sometimes they are painful. But these memories, they are ours. For us to pull out and look at when we need to, without cost. Even the painful memories are free, for we hope that as we were going through the pain, we were learning from it, we were growing.

If we leave this world packed with memories...I guess "The Best Things In Life Are Free"!

Have a wonderful weekend, my dear.
Love (free)
Cathal's Mammy said…
what a lovely post. I have a smile on my face :-)
Songy said…
I'm all for the towel hug.

Being a parent is the hardest and most rewarding thing one could have and that's what everybody tells me. Now I just have this huge respect for you and all other parents out there.

well must admit I can't say no to brownies.
ATenorio said…
I love this post! I try to remind myself of this sentiment on a daily (hourly?) basis. I am not always so great at it, but I do try.

And I do hope you get your free brownie!
Nan P. said…
My priceless moment today was little Cathal slowly falling asleep in my arms for his afternoon nap, while I walked the ground floor of his parents house, gently rocking him and whispering a (French) lullaby to him. It was lovely the way he was snuggled up to me, listening, his eyes fighting to stay open and keep looking at me. His total trust in me had no price, it was way beyond that.

A truly precious moment!
Nan P. said…
Oh yeah, I forgot to say: my freebie yesterday was, on the way home in the evening, the most beautiful COMPLETE and DOUBLE rainbow. Pity they were so many cars behind me, and no safe place to pull in, I was so tempted to stop and look, and look, and look. The colours were so vibriant. Nature can be wonderful when She wants to.
Anonymous said…
As frightening as the times are, financially speaking, there's something grounding and good about being forced to remember that happiness isn't all fine wine and new shoes. You've picked some great cheap thrills, my Hammie, and given us all a good reminder to be grateful for the free happies we can get just from living our lives. And occasionally visiting the local bakery.
Elizabeth said…
This was beautiful and uplifting. Thank you, Hammie!
K.Line said…
Aren't your babies gorgeous!! I loved this post. Loved hearing how you take a walk with your husband to talk about the happenings of your day. You've really got a good thing going. And I can't wait to hear more about your terrific new job. I'm sure you are changing the world every day. Money will follow soon.
Half rabbit said…
I love free stuff too. Free software, free dvd's, free horsie riding (well it's $25 a year so not technically free).

Do your kids like been wrapped tight in towels and other things. I just got a compression top and it's helping me with sleeping and just general anxiety
Make Do Style said…
Walking, brownies and bath towel wraps what more do you need! Whilst I wouldn't wish anyone to suffer during these hard times at least we can all reclaim a bit of value that isn't monetary and make it count again.
Lisamaree said…
LBR: I could have put in a new lippie but I only like dear ones like Bobbie Brown. Brownies are much cheaper.
Vaklam: work away, the more we think about these things, the more we repel the fear. Which seems to be half the battle in the "downturn"
Seeker: While you may be younger than me., you are much more advanced in your spiritual journey as Buddha would say. I have only begun to have room to breathe and appreciate properly recently. I will work at it. The only certainty is change.

CM: See? I can do the shameless photo of a gorgeous looking child blog post too. Wait til I get my hands on a costume to rival that lion outfit on Cathal.

Songy: Thanks for that, but I think we all just have to find the balance between what is possible and what we have to work at. Towel hugs are easy for me. Getting children to sleep, well hmmmm.

Pearl: it's hard in the first years, you have to make so many adjustments to who you thought you were. I wonder was it easier for our Mothers who grew up expecting to be, well, Mothers?

NanP: you should meet The Seeker. You both have such a philosophical view on life. And I hate to wish it but maybe one day soon you will be able to stop to admire a rainbow. Because the roads are getting quieter, and maybe people will find time to smell the roses again?
Sal: a fellow thriftfrug speaks my language. I would have to give up a lot of Brownies (about 120 of them) to justify the over the knee black leather boots I saw and coveted today. Will wait and see if the downturn reduces them. (I might be eating cornflakes for lunch all winter until then)

Enc: thankyou.

KL: thanks for noticing that bit. Yes it is a joy to have some time to talk to each other each day. Now the darker nights are here I imagine Mr H will go back to the gym. And the job, too soon to tell! thanks for askin'
Phillip: that is great feedback YES! We have been trying squeezy vests at school. I will investigate it further. And €25 for a year of Horse riding is Amazing. We pay that for one session!

MDS: thankyou, and yes, you are not the first person to wonder if the reduced means of many will see a return of culture and appreciation. A lot of the disposable "labelled", orange faced, statement bagged, BMW X5, GHD'd driven excess of the last 5 years has sickened me, to the point where I just dropped out and went thrift.
I hope we can start looking out for each other a bit better again, regain the village if you like?

Anonymous said…
We are all gonna be the new hippies, tuning in and dropping out, I'd best go iron my kaftan (oh no, hippies don't iron do they?). It looks like you live in the most beautiful area, another thing to be thankful for?
Sister Wolf said…
This post made me long to be you, Hammie, if only for one walk with the Mister and one towel hug.

You are so wise to treasure each moment with your children.

If only I could get one of mine wrapped in a towel! Instead, I have to settle with stroking their hairy chins.

Cal said…
what a great post! those pictures make me want to hop on a plane and head back to ireland...i <3 dublin! i'm not a huge brownie fan but this weekend i ended up with a big bucket of apples for free and bought a $2 apple crisp mix so that was my budget treat this weekend!
towel hugs are the best. my mom used to wrap us up in our towels, hold us on her lap and sang "Rock a bye baby in the tree tops..." when she got to the part about the bough breaking she would let us slip down her knees and we would shriek with delight.
Sesame said…
Where do u get ur inspiration from Hammie? this is such a lovely simple post...yet it highlights (to me at least) things we almost take for even in simple u do thought provoking so well...pure genius...
as for 'the seeker'....WOW
EJ Willingham said…
Great list. Beautiful kids. Can you hook me up with a transatlantic brownie?
WendyB said…
I'm another brownie fan!
Lisamaree said…
Cybill: I hope so, not for the Kaftan (can I wear a belt?) but for the "enjoy what we have", rather than "grieviously resent what we don't attitude".

Sis: I am gonna keep buying bigger towels!

Cal: I do that but I rock them over the bed and then they fall. I do wonder about that nursery rhyme; like many it is kind of dark.

Sesame: go visit the Seeker and see for yourself. This is why she got my first BB award, for the comments. As for inspiration. The post wrote itself!

Emily and WendyB: thankyou, would send two but I don't think they would keep?

Thankyou all for the props for this post. I hope we can all keep thinking of the good things and stave off "the fear"

Anonymous said…
Great post and love the brownies. But one of the first items on my 'beat the recession' list is to start baking again - puds for padding, that's my motto. Satisfying to make, delicious to eat, and just what's needed after a brisk walk along Greystones seafront.
Lisamaree said…
HI Ro, thanks for dropping in. I wonder, where did you hear of the blog?
Anonymous said…
Can't remmber - probably a link from another blog. But I really enjoy your descriptions and insights - and so nice to discover you're living in my own part of the world.
Skye said…
Towel hugs are fantastic - as is walking down to the sea. I could not live as well as I do without either!

A friend said to me the other day that we (she and I and our families) will be fine because "we know how to live lean and we know how to be poor." Unlike a few of the orange-faced types you speak of, who are in for some tough surprises.
jazzygal said…
Lovely thoughts Hammie....and photos. I was trying to think of a similiar post believeit or not! Couldn't have done itas well as you though. Anyway too cold in this friggin house to do any bloggin! Gonna go before my fingers fall off!

But not before I say a big YAY to towel hugs! Well ANY excuse to hug my child TBH...he's demented with me huggin him when I can! he loves it really! Also a walk on the beach does it for me too.

May you get as many Towel Hugs and beach walks as possible. XX J
Half rabbit said…
Unlike a few of the orange-faced types you speak of, who are in for some tough surprises.

I searched google and found nothing. Urban dictionary indicated you might be talking about people who get fake tans. Am I correct in assuming that or are some people orange faced in another way?
Lisamaree said…
Thanks Skye: lovely to hear from you.
Yes I guess that is why I didnt notice the recession last time; in fact is was easier being poor when everyone else was too!
Jazzy: post away. more feel good posts the better.
HR: Yes, the orange faced people are those who use too much fake tan in the wrong shade for their skin, they also use excessive bronzer which is a brown powdery or cream makeup that looks awful when it is not blended properly and leaves a line on the chin.
The orange face in winter is meant to be a sign of wealth, but it made a lot of people with more money than taste stand out.They also wear expensive designer labels like Abercrombie and Hilfiger, and straighten their hair.
To see a parody of what I see in the Dundrum Town Centre, which has Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser stores, every weekend, try googling "Ganguru".

Nick McGivney said…
I'm late to the party but I'm glad I caught it. I feel like i just nibbled a brownie on my little trip around Greystones. And there are some lovely Kodak moments already in this post.
Hugs at ya.