Saturday, December 21, 2013

Frugal Holidays: Celebrating the Winter Solstice and Marriage

December 21st marks two important events -- one important to all, the other to my little family.  As you may know today marks the Winter Solstice.  This will be the longest night of the year, with the sun setting here in Madison just before 4:30pm.  Starting tomorrow, we will begin our long crawl toward longer days, until we arrive on the Summer Solstice, which falls on June 21st, giving us the longest day of the year.  If you are frugal, we are now in the prime season to raid the chest freezers and use the bounty we froze during the growing season and harvest time.  From blueberries to cranberries to rhubarb compote, I've been making good use of the local goodness I preserved in warmer times.

And then there is the personal significance of this day.  Eight years ago, just at the sun set, my husband asked me to marry him on the following Summer Solstice.  The answer was obvious, and gives us great joy on to extremes of the year.  Knowing my frugal ways, he skipped an engagement ring and instead gave me an engraved key chain.  A delicate envelope hung from it, and inside was a small plate with words of proposal. Understated, romantic, original, and highly frugal.  Back then I was still carrying significant student debt.  Our wedding was just as frugal (just the two of us, a judge, and court employees as witnesses when we said "I do" on the courthouse lawn up in Bayfield County).  We began our life together on extreme frugal means.  Within a year the student debt was gone, and we built up a significant amount for a down payment on our current home.  Even after eight years we still enjoy the simple aspects of life, avoiding expense gift exchanges or pricey nights out on the town.  Here are a few pictures from our day together, with the children.  The Winter Solstice is the perfect time to pause, get outside (scatter bird seed in a local park), and enjoy the light.

We enjoyed a walk through the winter wonderland that is our neighborhood park.

Lovely berries, frozen for the birds....we scattered seed below.

Up to the Capitol to take in the holiday displays.

 Spent a few dollars on warm drinks at the cafe we went to on our first date

 Enjoying the warm light inside and the dark took over the was just after 4pm

 And two favorites from our drive through the John Nolan light display (also free)

 And home to a dinner over candlelight -- slow cooker chicken, cheese, potatoes and beans.


  1. Happy Winter Solstice to you - sounds like a special time for your family. The slow cooker chicken, cheese, potatoes and beans sounds delicious - do you have a particular recipe you use or do you just throw it all in the pot?

    1. Thanks for the comment! The slow cooker chicken was simply chicken, but your comment stirred my imagination today when I put in pork chops. I added mushrooms, onions and bay leaves. With children age 5 and 3 we tend to eat separate foods. And in their case, no one food touches another. So it was a little bit of everything, but not all at once. Thanks for reading!