Financial Friday #14- Taking a Little Spice Out of Your Life


Clarity will come.  Walk with me.

The Spice Disaster

COVID pandemic and social isolation lend themselves very well to cleaning cupboards.  The longer it goes on, the more inclined you will be to delve into areas you never delved before, and for me this week, it was the spice cupboard

Before. Note the oozing onto the counter.

The pic above details our spice cupboard before the clean, flowing onto the counter, spreading itself farther and farther into the kitchen.  Every time the cupboard was opened to locate a spice, jars and containers would hail down upon the searcher’s head.  I considered a helmet for protection when going in, but they don’t sell spice helmets on Amazon.  The closest I got when I searched the internet was an Old Spice baseball cap which doesn’t provide any cushioning but smells great.

The Spicy Goal

Today, I determined to get tough on my spices.  The goal?  To fit all the spices in the cupboard with no overflow.  The intention was a clear counter and clear labeling of spices.  No more nose tests to play What Spice is This?  Interestingly, you will find that pepper does not yield the consequences of sneezing as reported by reputable cartoon series.  It burns.  Besides any respiratory compromise by inhaling anything up your nose is probably not in your best interests, especially now. 

Now, what do spices and organization have to do with financial fitness.  Again, stay with me.  I’ll wrap it up with a neat little bow at the end.

The Embarrassing Facts

On first pass of my cupboard, I made a few discoveries.  I had repeats of multiple spices.  I also had spices which were as old as our time in this house which we inhabited when my youngest son was 2 (he is now in his late teens).  One of my takeaways was the knowledge that I have spices that I have only used for one recipe, e.g. dried chili peppers, lemon pepper and fennel.  The other was the unidentifiable spices…what the heck is fenugreek?  What would I have used it in?

Now, we all have different spices which make a regular appearance in our homes.  For us, they are cumin, paprika, chili powder, thyme, basil, oregano and cinnamon to name a few.  These are our go-to spices.  When something needs to look pretty with green flecks, I go straight for the parsley, and when the recipe says Italian, I liberally scatter oregano and basil.  My Tikki Masala and Spanish rice require copious quantities of cumin, and chili powder is self-explanatory. I am not a fancy cook, just a utilitarian one who occasionally likes it to look pretty.

My cleaning was merciless.  I was determined to get those clean counters.  Many a spice ended up its days as compost.  Those microbes are going to make some well-seasoned loam.  Admittedly, I hate throwing out food, but have learned from my mistakes and made a few rules to avoid future waste. 

Spice Rules

  • I am not allowed to buy massive packages of spices which I rarely use (Has anyone ever found a small packet of garam masala? Problem solved below.). 
  • I am not allowed to buy spices which I know I will only use once.
  • Label spices immediately once they are put into a reusable container.
  • Make mixes of spices instead of buying when possible and LABEL.

The Big Picture

The point of financial independence is to look at everything in your life and see where you can stop the leaks.  In the scheme of finance, spices would not have a big effect on our bottom line, but I have learned that the small things add up.  It also creates habits of thinking differently and mindfully about what you spend. Instead of just purchasing a spice when it comes up in an interesting recipe, I will pass on by.  It’s about making conscious choices and being respectful with our money and our spice collection.

Besides, my frugal soul loves the idea of a DIY spice.

Spice Mixes

Here are a few helpful recipes so you can avoid cupboard clutter…

All Recipes – Pumpkin Spice

Budget Bytes – Taco Seasoning

All Recipes – Garam Masala

Gimme Some Oven – Italian Seasoning


There’s nothing worse than fenneling your money away.  Basily, be mindful of where money is going because it may be thyme to whip those finances into shape.  Pepper your life with joy and don’t as*salt* your finances with unnecessary expenditures.  Gingerly spend and live a well-seasoned life.

(mic drop)

Hot Damn!

Itching for the Environment

Sitting here at my desk writing, a nagging itch creeps up my scalp.  I scratch at the discomfort gently noting how it now moves to a new spot.  Periodically, I check my shoulders for the flaky evidence of my itchy scalp, so far so good.  I’m clear. Still, it will be awhile before I don any black sweaters.

Why, you may ask am I sitting here in discomfort when a quick rinse with the newest dandruff/itchy scalp shampoo will take all my problems away?

It’s all my son’s fault.

Let the revolution begin!

Recently, our city changed from blue bag recycling to one large blue plastic container bin.  Who would have though this small change could have held to an uncomfortable conviction.  With this change, I became acutely aware of how much we were tossing into recycling, and while delighted that our recycling was always more than our garbage, I had a nagging feeling that much of my recycling just ended up in the same landfill as the rest of my garbage.

Then, the youngest member of my crew decided it would be a great idea to show his mom a picture of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Lesson: Don’t let your kids show you things.

I now had visual evidence of my nagging feeling.

Thus, began my personal war on single-use plastics in our home.  I will list the tenets of my war in another post soon.

For me, lasting change takes time.  If I try to institute change quickly, I quickly burn out, become overwhelmed and give up.  I love the self-awareness that comes with getting older!

The battle began in the bathroom since I was running out shaving cream for my legs. At a farmer’s market, I purchased a bar of vegan soap wrapped in paper as a substitute.  The beautiful-looking bar smells absolutely lovely but dries my skin out.  I will use it up since I refuse to be wasteful; however, I will be experimenting with a locally made goat milk soap next. 

My second project was my hair.  This was hard for me because I tend to get an itchy scalp and have been using dandruff shampoo for years.  Conviction really is the pits.  First, I made my own shampoo which turned out remarkably better than I thought, but with the change in the season and the weather getting colder.  I am now more aware of my scalp which is one of those body parts you’d prefer not to have an awareness of.  I’m giving it a good solid 30-day run though while at the same time researching cures for itchy scalps which may include adding a few drops of tea tree oil.  Any suggestions are welcome.  I may try out a shampoo from a refillable product store which is about 45 minutes away; however, the shampoo cost may be prohibitive.  Stay tuned!

The conditioner was a big of a shock…apple cider vinegar.  The other conditioner recipes were too complicated and involved bringing in ingredients not readily available.  This has been my biggest success in that I don’t come out smelling like a pickle after my shower, and my hair really is nicer for it.  It almost calms the itchy scalp though does not take it away completely.  I will experiment a bit more with it when I re-dye my hair and when I perhaps change shampoos to see if the conditioner works with these.

Sometimes, my itchy scalp (and legs) feels like a high price to pay for such a tiny drop in the environmental bucket; however, anytime I live in alignment with my values, there is always the rewarding ripple effect, be it the fabulous Facebook groups I discover along the way who are 10 steps ahead of me, the local producers who take a little extra time to tell me about the product they are making, seeing your children make a different choice taking plastic into consideration and the many unexpected rabbit trails. 

At least that’s what I remind myself when the discomfort creeps in…just  sec, I have to scratch.

This is just the children’s…Ugh!