I've never been able to just sit and watch television. Maybe it's because I learned to read before my parents got a television set, or maybe it's just a personality quirk. Either way, the only exceptions are Friday night movie nights with my Mom and sister, Saturday night movie night with friends (and sometimes we play board games instead), and the rare times when I'm just too sick to care. Even when there's something I've been waiting / planning to see, like a new Dr Who episode or a new Discovery Channel or History Channel documentary, I still need to be doing something while I watch it.
The result is that I get a lot of things done in front of the television ...
Knitting. Paperwork. Coupon clipping / organizing. Garden planning. Writing. Quilting. Wrapping gifts. Grooming the cats. Doing beadwork / embroidery / Fimo work for the craft fairs. Folding laundry. Rolling coins. Reading.
I also love to do challenging crosswords and jigsaw puzzles.
But my personal favourite - the in-front-of-the-idiot-box activity I get the most satisfaction from - is mending.
Yes, mending. By hand.
Mending really warms my frugal soul.
Replacing zippers. Replacing buttons. Repairing buttonholes. Patching jeans. Fixing gaping seams and sagging hems. Replacing worn-out pockets (Big Guy is really bad with pockets, for some reason). Re-hemming frayed linens. Fixing snagged sweaters. Altering thrift-store finds. Even darning socks.
Last night I was asked why I bother, and it got me thinking. Why do I bother?
First of all, I love to sew. I always have, ever since I was a little girl - I think I was about five or six - and Mom got tired of my constant demands for more doll clothes and started teaching me to make them myself. I was hooked from the very first lesson!
I hate waste in any form. I just don't understand a mindset that says it's okay to throw something away that only needs a couple of buttons, or a new zipper, or a few minutes with a needle and thread to make it perfectly good again.
As strange as this will surely seem to many people, I hate shopping. I especially loathe shopping for clothes. I'm kind of an odd shape - extremely short-waisted, short-bodied, short-armed and long-legged, and also quite overweight - and it's unbelievably difficult to find off-the-rack clothes that fit properly. So being able to stretch my wardrobe budget by fixing things instead of replacing them has a lot of appeal.
I feel a deep sense of accomplishment whenever I turn a basket full of unwearable garments into a neatly folded pile of clothes that are good again. Especially when Big Guy comes to me complaining that he doesn't have any heavy work socks, or any coveralls, and I can say "Oh, yes, you do!" and hand him half a dozen pairs of socks or a stack of coveralls with newly reinforced side seams and nice new hole-free pockets.
I'm contributing to my family's financial well-being by getting more of our money's worth from our clothes and linens.
I'm improving our living conditions by keeping our sheets and towels from getting ratty.
I'm keeping more things out of the landfill.
So the next time you're faced with an evening (or morning, or afternoon) of so-so shows, boring reruns, or that vague nagging feeling of guilt over "wasted" time ... don't just sit there, fix something!