Mom's and Grannie's funny frugal practices

patserOctober 10, 2008

Is there a frugal practice that your parents or grandparents participated in that you thought was funny and somewhat ridiculous? What are those practices? I'm interested in hearing ways that those who lived through or were impacted by the Great Depression saved money. I'll start -

1. My mother NEVER bought paper towel. Any old cloth item went into the rag bag. I grew up using cloth rags only.

2. My mom curled my sister's and my hair by ripping those rags into strips, and then she wrapped and tied the strips around chunks of our hair. No curlers in our house.

3. My mom darned holes in our socks until I got to be a teen.

I'm hoping to gain suggestions of things my family can start practicing....I don't think the next few years are going to be too much fun.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I save leftover vegetables and meat all week and use it for a pot of soup on the weekend. Sometimes I add extra tomatoes or other vegetables to spice it up a bit, but it's usually delicious and it's like getting a free meal. Just add some crackers or hot bread.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 12:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My mom save all the grease from cooking meats and used it to fry other things like eggs. Eggs weren't bad. Believe me her pancakes tasted terrible. The worst was chicken livers fried in hamburger grease. Mmmm, whats for dinner? She even used old grease in cookie recipes.

The only time she bought butter was for Christmas and she bought one stick and set it out on the table for everyone to enjoy with breads. She watched it like a hawk and reprimanded anyone who 'took too much butter'.

Bacon Grease Cookies

1 c. bacon grease
1 c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp. molasses
2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon

Sift dry ingredients together. Stir in bacon grease and egg. Roll in balls. Roll balls in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 1:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My mother wouldn't allow me to wash my unmentionables in the washing machine. I had to had wash. ?? :)

My paternal step-grandmother took the opportunity at Christmas to give us a fabulous gift every year! What, you ask? A package of brown paper lunch bags! Yep, that's what we got year after year. :(


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 3:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My grandparents had an outdoor toilet, and we used the Sears catalog to wipe with~~I sure hope we don't have to resort to those days again. They cooked with lard from killing a hog. The byproduct of the lard rendering was cracklin bread yumyum :)~) They used a potbelly stove and burned coal to heat the house. Composted manure was the only fertilizer they knew. No such thing as Roundup - they used a hoe. No such thing as insecticides either - they used a flyswat and picked bugs from the plants with their hands. They went to town once a month, and my grandmother did not know how to drive. She was always busy cooking, sewing, gardening, canning and cleaning house. She cooked three meals a day and her house was spotless. For fun we sat on the porch in the evening with paper fans and listened to them tell about the olden days. They still found time to go to church on Sunday.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 6:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My grandmother was a great sewer.....birthdays everyone got an apron (boy or girl), Christmas the same but with some old notepaper she'd received from someone else. Most of the aprons were made from old shirts or sheets or something she had on hand. She also used to rip out all the candy bar adverts from magazines and send them to me.....what for? I think she wanted me to make a scrapbook of them, they stayed in the envelope and got thrown away.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 6:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Budster I can't resist. Maybe she was sending you something to use in the privy (smile) (chuckle)

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 7:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My dad, in his last years would not buy a roll of paper towels. He had one roll that lasted years, unless I was around and I usually would replace the roll anyway. He'd grab a fistful of napkins from everyplace he was at and had a 2' stack sitting next to the sink of all shapes, sizes and labels. He'd reuse the foam trays from meats for years until they literally fell apart. My favorite was that he's put 2-3 beverages in the refrigerator at a time, instead of the whole case. I suppose he thought it was cheaper. And for some reason he had a stainless steel bowl in the freezer. Empty. Never did know what that was about.

My mother would always save bacon grease, but that grease was gold! Nothing like cooking in bacon grease! Pork fat rules, as Emeril said, pre-Martha.

I still remember the kitchen drawer with all the washed, folded up pieces of aluminum foil and of course, bread bags! They all would be reused. There's lots more but I don't remember them. They just seemed so normal.

Lexi7, you bring back a lot of memories! But I don't really consider a lot of those as strange or funny. I think a lot of those and others would benefit us all a lot if more people would do it today.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 8:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My grandparents had a lot of frugal practices. In a lot of ways, I think they were smarter than we are. I wish I knew more of what was common sense to them.

My grandfather built a lot of things out of materials that would be waste to us. My understanding is that he built the walls of a house with barrels he hand poured with cement. The house was torn down a few years back and it took a week to do it because it was so sturdy. My grandfather also built a wood stove out of a barrel in one of his houses. It was cut in half lengthwise and had some sort of hinge and a handle for opening. It worked. He cooked on it too.

My grandfather also used to acquire old bikes and fix them up to sell at his perpetual garage sale. He had over 200 when he died. He would plant over 200 tomato plants and some other veggies each summer. My grandma canned some, gave some away, and he sold some at the garage sale. My dad said my grandfather also used this as a way to give something of value (food) to people who needed a little help.

My grandparents never gave us gifts for birthdays, Christmas or anything like that. They always brought us stuff from their gardens or boxes of stuff that they had bought us from the thrift store. I think the funniest was when my grandfather brought us some shoes and polyester clothes from the 70's. It was the late 80's. My grandmother made my grandfather give us the clothes because she said they were too 'fancy' for my grandfather.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 10:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Dilly, that is hilarous!
My mil as a child had a doll made from a corn cob and a baby bassinet made from a quaker oat box and she treasured them. Breakfast for the family was cornbread and buttermilk. She still has hundreds of cool whip containers and margarine tubs. When she gives me some food, she likes to have the tubs back.
She never bought anything that wasn't needed. No such thing as impluse shopping, retail therapy or even keeping up with the trends. Harvest gold still reigns in her kitchen.
I would like to think she would appreciate that I wash out ziploc bags...but she never uses them.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 10:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I thought we all had doll beds made of oatmeal boxes, and dolls made of stuffed socks. Sandy

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 1:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I still save bread bags for freezing smaller portions of fresh meat, and will reuse aluminum foil, but not to the extent that my mother did/does. I swear at holidays I still recognize some of those very same pieces of aluminum foil she uses as being from my childhood. Really.

When we opened presents sent by others we had to be sooooo careful not to rip the paper and get yelled at because my mother would reuse the wrapping paper for other gifts she gave out. She didn't just reuse paper once but over and over and over among family gifts. It really looked ratty. She gave me some gifts to deliver to her friends once a couple years ago and I rewraped them, as it was too embarrassing they way they looked with worn creases and wrinkles.

Getting used underwear as a kid was not so bad as we thought that's what everybody got. My mother actually gave me USED underwear for my bridal shower. I opened it up in front of everybody and was soooo embarrassed. It was obvious the stuff was used as the elastic was stretched out and there were faint stains in them which my mother swore I was imagining. My mother sat there bragging that she "only paid twenty five cents". I also got a nightgown with a rip that had been hand sewn to fix it from her. She said that one was "on sale".

All the Christmas cards she received she recycled into cards she sent out. She cut off the front with the pretty picture and glued it into a folded white paper and wrote a message inside. She also handmade Christmas cards. I don't think it was a popular thing to do during that era. She did it to save money as we did not have much. I remember being embarrassed about it as a kid, but now I wish she had saved some of those handmade cards for memories. I can still remember helping her cut out green triangles to glue on folded paper and using a punch thingy that my dad borrowed from work to punch out little round "ornaments" for the "tree". The cards would be all spread out all over the dining room table waiting for the glue to dry and the message to be written in them.


cynic, I keep a bowl in my freezer because a lot of things like whipping cream or making pie crusts, require that it be done in a cold bowl. I also keep a marble slab in the freezer for rolling dough and using to set cheese out on for serving.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 2:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My grandparents had an outdoor toilet, and we used the Sears catalog to wipe with haha I hated the slick shiny stuff & the dull newspaper well, sometimes the ink came off LOL ") but by the time I was a teen they had indoor plumming ") My Grandma used to save pennies for me & my sis, she would take me alone into the bedroom & sit me down on the bed & say " I have been saving these for you & Patty, now you share with her." & them smile at me ") Pat is 10 years younger so I got control of the money.LOL ( it was usually around 25 cents wrapped up in a bread sack ) My Mom would sew all year on Barbie doll clothes, we would never see her do it, so it would always be a "suprise" to us, but we could allways count on that shoe box full of Barbie clothes. She would even take our old panties & make Barbie panties out of them. We done all the other stuff also, saved foam cups & never threw away a straw ") our old towels she could cut the good part around the ends into squares & crocet around the edge to keep them from raveling & we had wash rags that way. There was not much that a wet rag, hugs & kisses couldn't fix back then. ")

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 6:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cynic, you want funny, ridiculous and frugal all wrapped together hum letÂs see.

My grandmother expected everybody to use the same towel. When I was around twelve, I told her that I didnÂt like drying my face with the same towel that somebody else used for their butt. I got a spanking. One could abuse kids back then.

I thought it was strange that she picked dandelion greens from the yard for salad, but maybe not, since they sell it in Spring Mix today at the grocery store. They really did eat poke salad too.

She did not trust "electric power" so grandfather had to turn the power off at the pole every night. It was black dark, but a bed full of cousins had fun telling ghost stories.

This is probably a location joke, but it is still side splitting funny to us today. Grandfather always drove slowly so as not to waste gas. We were with him hauling a load of pigs to market. A/C was not an option on vehicles back then. Two truckers came up behind us holding their noses. They blew their air horns, but Grandfather just kept both hands on the wheel and eyes on the two lane road in front and said, "If they donÂt like it they can go around!" A few years later, he got a ticket for going too slow and thought it was just awful what the world was coming to. We secretly wished the truck drivers could have driven by while he was getting the ticket.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 9:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This thread is for me, I still remember a lot of the old ways ,My Dad was the resident and neighbor Butcher, He skinned, Scaled and I remember I had my own knife and I was right beside him. My GM used to fry everything in Bacon grease and I use it today to favor my Turkeys and chickens when roasting, them, Also The catalogs were for wishing to while you where in the Outhouse, Also very cold to go out at night and also scary because always a good way from the house, we had a rooster in the chicken yard and everytime I went to the OH he would chase me. He chased my brother one time next day he was a roaster instead of a rooster. One GM was so good at cooking and her spring fryers were so delicious and the other was so miserly that she would take a piece of screenwire and a stick and sew it to make a fly swatter. Also instead of buying new shoes she would sew , everything she sewed instead of making or buying new, for Xmas from them I always got Camasoles or underwear. I wished I had paid more attention to the old ways because now I think that we could use a lot of the old ways.
We never went to town except on weekends and My mom would take me to Feed store and exchange eggs for feed in pretty print bags. I got to pick out the bag that I wanted for a dress.My day hunted and trap and we ate all kinds of game and fish. My mom was very good at fixing the squirrels and rabbit, fish , ducks, and when my dad butchered for us she never wasted anything, I remember her taking the heads of the hogs and cutting off the ears and taking out the brains and then cooking head and making HEADMEAT sort of like a pre-lunch meat, Well I guess I have shared enough. This was a great topic, brings lots of good and back memories

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 11:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It's not just your moms and grandmas who saved bread bags. I'm "only" 60, but I've always saved bread bags, cereal bags, foil, etc. Why throw them away and buy new? Same with lidded glass jars. I'm much more frugal than my mom ever was.

How's this one. When pantyhose get a run in one leg, I cut off that leg and save the panty and good leg until I have a run in the other leg of another pair, then wear the two good legs and panties together. The legs with the runs get used as a lint filter on the drain hose of the washing machine or as ties on plants that need staking.

And I compost everything from the kitchen and gardens all year long, never have to buy dirt. I don't keep grease, though.


    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 3:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A bread bag is useful to cover leftover food in a bowl put into the fridge. Also to carry various things, e.g. garden stuff. My bread bags are becoming more precious, as I've been using a bred machine for well over a year, now. I'm not sure whether I'll have the courage to ask neighbours to save them for me, when I run out ... but I think that I'll manage it, somehow.

That was supposed to be "bread machine" ... but I understand that they have machines for the other function, as well ... seems to me that they have machines for dang near everything, nowadays ... even solitaire!

I brought home some bacon grease from church supper a while ago ... so guess that I'll make some "Bacon Grease Cookies" ... thAnks, dilly.

Paper towels get dust on them in the holder, around here - a roll probably lasts a year or so. I collected some garage wiper cloths when I worked as security guard in the trucking co. (until 9 years ago), which are good for a number of times that one needs a cloth. Cut-up towels do, as well ... as does stuff from the rag bag.

My dish rag, the one that uncle had when I was here after his wife died, five years ago, is wearing out, so I'll have to see if I can find an old towel in the rag bag .... do you recommend an old face towel - is a bath towel so heavy as to make it so ungainly that it'll be difficult to manipulate?

I haven't darned any socks in quite a long time ... have about as many holey (holy?) ones as intact ones (or more) ... sure makes a lot of sense to have a dozen pairs of identical socks - operational a lot longer, when one of a pair gets a hole.

Several pairs of pants (mainly ones for use in the garden) with holes that need repair.

I got some denim on sale a while ago, so am going to try my hand at making a pair of pants ... sometime before too long.

Looks like I have several winter projects ready to fly.

I'm hoping to use some broken hockey sticks to make a pull-out tray to hold my keyboard and mouse ... as when the mouse plays on the desk-top, there's no room for writing anything.

You should see me, with a piece of that veneer-coated particle-board sitting on my knees, writing stuff from the computer (e.g. cookie recipes, prices of stocks, etc. ... speaking of stock prices ... I'm quite a few thousand dollars poorer than I appeared to be, last week).

I should have put out the word, some time ago, that if some folks were disposing of canning jars, that I could use some - I'd like to can a bunch of tomatoes (do tomatoes come in "bunches"?) soon ... if I can keep 'em operational till they get red. I guess one could say that the cherry tomatoes, some of which I have, could be said to come in bunches.

We had newspaper and catalogues for use in the outhouse ... one didn't like the shiny pages. And just how one could tell that some of the print came off ... is more than I can tell ... one would like to ascertain what research method they may have used.

You've checked my research project, reported here some time ago, on re-use of toilet paper (wrongly titled as "recycled"), I assume? As of Oct.11, it's about half way down p. 3.

Our "outhouse" was inside - one of the seven bedrooms in winter, and in summer a cubbyhole off of a porch behind the back, "summer" kitchen. My first experience with a flush toilet in my residence was when I went to Univ. (1947).

Use back of letters printed on only one side for making notes, calculations, etc. I hope that the credit union staff don't get troubled about my using them when I mail a deposit ... I scratch out the material on the non-functional side!

Pantyhose, that operate sort of like the wind-directional sock at small airports, make great lint-catchers on the end of dryer vent hose when directed inside to warm and humidify the house in winter (on not more than two loads at a time, without checking on the hygrometer, to avoid incipient mould). Need to shake them out and wash them fairly frequently to avoid getting lint everywhere.

When it comes to aluminum foil ... it's sequentially, "Reduce, Reuse ...," ... then, " ... Recycle", isn't it? Putting aluminum foil into the "Recycle" bin after one use is a serious over-use of precious resources, isn't it?

Same with gift-wrap (with discretion).

Enjoy your (frugal) weekend, everyone.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 11:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

joyfulguy said: "I brought home some bacon grease from church supper a while ago ... so guess that I'll make some "Bacon Grease Cookies" ... thAnks, dilly."

You're welcome! Bacon grease cookies aren't bad. They have a lot of spice in the recipe. After all, bacon grease can't be any worse than butter or lard for cookies healthwise. Getting free bacon grease is a frugal score to boot!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 1:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

cjm70142, I remember head cheese as it was called around where I'm from. I guess that is what you are referring to as headmeat. We did not make our own. Neighborhood stores sold it. If anyone wants to know what the totally economical meal of head cheese is, see the link below and check out the yummy photos.

For tips on how to remove the bristles and eyes and clean the ear canals before boiling and making head cheese see this link:

Reading these links is frugal (!) as you won't have an appetite for a week after viewing head cheese servings and recipes. "Mmmm, what's for dinner mom?"


My relatives lived out in the country and all hunted, as my mom did when she was younger. We lived in the big city. No hunting. My siblings and I would go to the neighborhood store and ask for old beef liver, that they were ready to throw out, for catching crayfish. Then we would go to the city park and tie the liver on a string and hang it in the rocks of the lagoon. Crayfish would latch onto it and we'd catch them. They would be boiled up for eating. I hated crayfish. They looked like boiled bugs and tasted like the bottom of a lagoon.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 2:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

CJM in our neck of the woods Hog's Head Cheese is called Souse. You can still find it at the grocery store around Christmas.

Crawfish is a delicacy around here. We love them.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 9:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes I am sure everyone in the rural areas has some form of the headmeat/cheese that was made, my point is that really nothing was wasted if it could be used.
I do not think that crawfish would be to far away from Shrimp in some stages. I know here my DH used to siene for them to use on Trout lines to catch fish in the River.
I think we have become I guess I want to say refined or culturaled I guess( if there is such a word. ) who knows what we would eat if we had to. It is times like these that at least we know the possibilities that we can survive with out the conviences that we have all gotten use too. Well enough preaching, I have so enjoyed this subject. can wait for more. Also someone mentioned Cracklings, I still have the tool my mom and dad used for squeezing the liquid lard from the fat. she would put hot fat in feed sack and use a wooden tool to squeeze out all the liquid and then wa la cracklings. was a treat when we had them, crunchy and good.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 10:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love these posts! Thanks everyone. I've been reminded of some things that I'd completely forgotten about - re-using Christmas cards, cereal boxes for doll beds, bread bags and foil, my aunt always re-used wrapping paper. My mom also used to water down shampoo so that it would go farther....I still do that today.

I'm a city kid so some of the rural ideas are a bit foreign to me, but my older relatives all spent time in the country (that was my dad's and aunt's vacation destination when they were young) so I've heard of much of what you wrote of.

Seriously, though, some of these ideas are things that I'm going to put into practice. Thank you. One thing, though - I will be keeping one of my lifelong practices in tact - I will not be sampling headmeat/headcheese. YUK!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 12:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My mom would always unwrap the new bars of soap as soon as she purchased them and let them dry out. She said that the new soaps had too much moisture in them and drying them would allow you to get double the amount of wear from one bar.
Oh and definitely the bread bags and twist ties were always reused.
I also grew up with a rag bag of old used clothes.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 11:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Drying out bars of soap will make them last longer. Another trick to do is to rotate the soaps that you use and let them dry out completely after use. There is less waste when in use, and soap does not get wasted by going soft and ending up in the bottom of a soap dish only to be rinsed down the drain.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 11:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I was younger, my father was the frugal guy in the household, but not because of lack of money, he was just raised Mormon and has never been able to "shake it." He saved and rewashed ziploc bags and foil and bread bags, and almost all of our "tupperware" was old yogurt containers. At one point, my mother bought a water carbonating machine (to make soda with) and my dad would water down our juice with it for dinner, and tried to play it off as a special treat. He would also hem and haw over using too much salt on your food, not because it's bad for you, but because salt's expensive. We also only used single ply TP.

My soon-to-be-mother-in-law is also pretty frugal with things. She won't turn the heat on until November, regardless of how cold the house gets. She had a friend from out of state visit this year, and her friend got very cold so she turned on the heat, but made it clear that since the heat was on for a week BEFORE November, she'll be leaving it off for an extra week to make up for the week of comfort. She's also had the same washer and dryer for the last 30 years. They're brown, and the washing machine gets out of balance at least twice per cycle and makes this terrible buzzing noise until you come and fix it, and the dryer squeaks constantly as it's running. They've been repaired more times than she can count, and she won't leave the house while they're running because it's a valid concern that one of the two may at some point catch fire.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2008 at 6:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

laurell, please talk your future MIL into having her dryer checked by an applaince repair person. That constant squeak may be a bad bearing. If so, it WILL catch on fire; a lot more costly than a service call! As a former property manager, I know. Nearly lost a whole building & endangered other lives by a resident failing to properly maintain a dryer.

I love this thread & keep checking back for new posts,

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 1:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My mom baked our bread, so we had no bread bags. Plastic food storage bags were not yet available, but for winter school wear, when orlon yarn sweaters finally became available as we were allergic to wool, we got sweaters and they were wrapped in plastic bags. We washed and re used those bags forever. I remember unwrapping soap bars, and you put them in your dresser drawers to scent your clothing until they were dry enough to use and they lasted longer that way. Bacon grease was reused to fry eggs or potatoes. Little shower cap type tops were purchased to put over bowls in the refrigerator. Socks were darned. Runs in nylons were stopped with a little clear nail polish. If something did finally wear out, the buttons were cut off for reuse before the item was turned into a dust rag. Old undershirts were valued as the best rags, and flour sacks made wonderful dishtowels. Stale bread became bread pudding or French toast. Left over rice became rice pudding. And left over egg nog became baked custard. Left over mashed potatoes became fried potato pancakes. If packaged crackers or cereals got stale, they were heated in a low oven for a couple of hours to freshen them. Our neighbor picked dandelion greens for salad and made dandelion wine.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 9:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Like many of the posts my mother saved bacon grease and since she was avid baker saved the old wrappers from leftover butter & margarine which she used to grease the baking sheets. Cheaper then buying PAM.

My MIL from IA - so says my husband, was notorious for reusing wrapping paper. He even had tales of her reusing old gift boxes for clothes 3 to 4 years in a row! This I can believe because I received gifts myself in some of these old boxes.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 7:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

These posts bring back memories of my grandparents. Personally I cannot remember the things they did - but reading these examples triggers my memory.

Thanks for sharing - I've laughed out loud at a few of them. The stained second hand underwear at the bridal shower has got to be the funniest and probably the most embarrassing.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2008 at 3:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I disagree about thinning the shampoo and drying the bar soap.

It's much easier to put a couple drops of shampoo in the palm of your hand when the shampoo is thick than when it's thin, and less likely to spill. I use the cheapest thick shampoos I can find, about 99¢ a 16 oz bottle. Seems like a wasted effort to me to thin the shampoo. What's the ratio?

As for bar soap, it seems to take a lot more water and rubbing when the soap is dry, like when you're down to the last slivers of soap that have developed dry lines in them. When you're standing in the shower, that can be a lot of hot water wasted working up a lather. I don't throw away the slivers, but I hate using them. I pile them together in a very thin washrag, but it still takes a lot of water and rubbing to get a decent lather.

I do lots of the other things, though, and have never bought a gift box of any size in my life! Or white tissue paper, either.

I love this stuff!


    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 2:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Like many (most?) of you, these are things I did or remember parents/g'parents doing. My youngest said one time he & his bro heard every Christmas "save the bows" (yep, from me) to be used again! I haven't bothered with bows on packages for years - and they're not missed - but he hasn't forgotten.

Washcloths from old towels; ragbags; button jars; darning socks (still do). Saving the waxed liners from cereal, washing & storing so I can use when I bake Christmas cookies. I have wire cooling racks, but some are just better cooled on waxed paper, IMO.

I've made curtains from an old sheet (desparate times call for creative thinking, and now it's accepted if you use *new* sheets!)

I let my soap bars dry & get harder, too, and wash & re-use aluminum foil *unless* it's been contaminated with raw meat. Then it's trashed. Do not like twist ties so very few of them are saved.

I use plastic tubs (oleo, cool whip) but recycle them when I get too many OR they're not safe to use again. They are good for taking a meal to a neighbor when I cook ahead as she doesn't have to worry about remembering to return it.

As others have stated, things are going to get worse before they get better. And it just makes sense to not be so wasteful. Sadly, we've largely become a throw-a-way society. And on that note, I'm off the soap box!

Look forward to mmore on this topic.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 3:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This brings back memories and honestly I do a lot of these:)
My grandmothers both saved boxes, bows and paper as does my mother. I save boxes, bags and tissue. No flat bows for me.
Washing and reusing plastic bags - yep. They all did and I still do. I even have the hubby and sons in on it.
Saving and reusing plastic tubs - yep.
Drying soap, the pantyhose soap holder/ scrubber, towels intowashcloths, onion bag pot scrubbers, reusing aluminum foil, saving bacon grease, souse/headcheese- the sugar cookies however were ALWAYS lard. We did them all and still do most of them.
My grandmother even went so far as to wash and reuse styro foam plates and cups. As a kid I thought it was normal until I went to a friends house and was shocked to see everyone throwing not only the plates away but, horror of horrors, the plastic silverware too.
We gardened, composted, made simple skirts and reused everything possible.
My mother and aunt came over last week and saw my baggies drying on the counter next to my kitchen compost holder and started laughing. They said I was channelling my grandparents:). It may be strange but I think they would be proud.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 5:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This thread is so cute. It brings back so many memories. You reminded me of my Mom using colored fingernail polish, when she was out of clear, on the toe or heel of hosiery if the run was where it could not be seen. Toothpaste used to come in a metal type tube and we had to squeeze it from the bottom and roll it up to use every drop. Grandmother would not let us dig for worms for fishing. We had to catch crickets boy were those things loud at night. Sometimes we could not find crickets, so she made dough balls for fish bait. I wish I had the recipe now. She boiled it on top of the stove and it had bacon grease, cornmeal, onions, cotton and whatever. She put it in a little short coffee can and we rolled it into balls and put it on the fishhook.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 6:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, those little short coffee cans with the key and uncooperative tin strips! Sandy

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 11:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

washed aluminum foil and saved breadbags/twist-ties was a way of life for us. saved wrapping paper too. i still wrap our kids gifts in the sunday comics... why not??? i try not to save all the plastic containers tho... esp. the recyclable ones!!!
my grandmother was funny and very frugal. she used to sew alot and it was a game for her to see how little fabric she could use for a pattern. i think she thought she was much wiser than the pattern companies... fitting patterns on fabric was like a puzzle for her. the funniest thing i remember about her frugality was when she was once babysitting me and we finished a grapejelly jar... i was ready to throw the jar away and she said, no...there's still alot of jelly in there. she added alittle water, shook it up and shared the liquid with me saying it was like grape juice!!! i can assure you that it tasted nothing like grape juice!!! ugh!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 12:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Being from europe, back then we had no paper towels or paper plates. We used old towels as rags for cleaning and dishes. Many times toilet paper was in short supply in the store so my mom was collecting tissue paper from shoeboxes etc. It was quite soft, compare to newspaper. Sanitary pads were hard to come buy and expensive so we had to use cotton-like the one for cotton balls.What a dissaster that was! We ate ham only at hollidays (that cost 120 bucks a kilo)and so oranges and bananas and pinneaple. Rice was considered delicasy-it cost 15 bucks for kilo(about 2 pounds). I grew up on lard, very little butter, milk,eggs,potatoes,veggies from garden and lunchmeat that my mom stretched w/cream to make sauce. And spam - still is my favorite too, fried. We had chickens and rabbits so we had some meat but beef was expensive. We ate lots of organ meat and horse meat too. Drank tea and water w/homemade fruit sirup.And fake coffee made from grain. Cocoa and pastries were for sunday. We were allowed to take no more then 2 baths a week and no, we had no deodorant back then either. We had to wash ourselves in the sink every night, that saved electric. Plastic bags and jars were rewashed. When we had anything w/bones in it, the bones were put back in pot for soup stock. We were mending soaks and I learned to sew and make my own clothes.Water from rinsing laundry went to water the garden. We had no dryer so we had to iron everything. Our curtains were lacy, mainly homemade and after washing they were starched and put on the wooden frame to dry to give them the form and size back. Every spring we took all rugs out and had to beat the dust out of them. We had electrolux vacuum but for some reason we needed to beat the crap out of the rugs out too. I guess keep us kids bussy.I remember having just one bra, I had to wash it every night.
My God,seems like everything was such a chore.
Now I use paper towels, have machine for just about anything and buy me new soaks whenever I need it. I have 35 pairs of jeans, 60 pairs of shoes and closet full of clothes I don't even wear. Every time I see a bargin I go nuts and we buy in bulk and split things w/ my friend to cut cost.I am so happy to live here now but I am thankfull for everything I've learned in past.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 1:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Off Topic: Reading these makes me wonder how we became such a germophobic society. We used to use old clothes as rags to clean and occasionally they would be used on food surfaces too. You only used one towel when you took a bath. It was good for your hair, face, and bottom. Horror of horrors...more than one person might use the same towel and it hadn't been washed yet. In fact, that towel might be used for more than just one day. Dish clothes were used more than one time. You simply hung them up to dry between uses.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 2:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Maybe this one is a good topic to be separated but then again I guess it's related. I remember my dad making a similar comment when I chastised him a bit about not washing utensils between meals. He'd sometimes just run a little cold water over them, give a quick rub and set it on the counter to dry. I told him dish soap is cheap and you don't have to fill the sink but some hot water and soap is far better. His comeback was that back on the farm they just washed with cold water and no soap. Well, yeah, but how many people died early deaths in those "good old days" too? Yes there's good things to be learned, and used these days. But there's also a lot of things to learn from and not repeat mistakes.

I don't consider myself a germaphobe, but I do make a concerted effort to wash my hands often. Started doing it more and more years ago and have had far fewer colds, flu and upset stomach issues.

Oh, and I remember not drying myself completely. One towel was all you used and those d@mn things were cheap and thin to start with and after 15-20 years of use, they got thinner yet! I stood in front of the heat register a lot of times to dry and especially dry my hair back when it was longer. Boy could it stand up on end with the static electricity! So of course then take a wet comb and comb it! Made a lot of sense, huh?

I have to admit a weakness for coffee cans and ice cream pails. It bugs the daylights out of me to throw them away! I do use them for a lot of things but how many do you need?

I had nearly forgotten about those "key" can openers attached to the cans. Boy would they be razor sharp lids when you've opened them too! And BTW, does anyone use wax paper anymore? I do. Better for use in the microwave, although I usually use a covered bowl for cooking in there anyway.

And the old can of bacon grease. My cousin still keeps his grease in a coffee can at the lake. Not at home for some reason... no idea why. And every now and then there's a nice smell of bacon, etc, wafting through the place when preheating the oven... I imagine you can guess where it's kept. :)

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 10:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Bacon grease in a cup. That got me thinking. In my fridge at this moment sits my Grandmother's old grease cup which she passed onto me over 25 years ago. (No I didn't get her old grease in it). She figured I could use it and she didn't need it anymore as she was going in a home. I see it everyday and yes I use it, but it's been a long time since I connected the thought back to it having been most of her generation she knew alot of frugal ways (some she shared with all the grandkids) thanks to you all for making me think of the grease cup and the wonderful lady who passed it (and many more things) onto me. Thank you friends.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 1:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Boby Huffard

Oh yes, the bacon grease! My mother always kept hers in a recycle Wispride cheese crock, so that's where mine is too. I remember an old Newhart show where he was on the phone (of course) with Emily asking her where something was. She said it was in the refrigerator by the container of bacon grease, and asked if he knew where that was. He replied "Yes, I know where the bacon grease is, I just don't know WHY it's there."

We are strong believers in the "reduce, reuse recycle" concept. Here is one that came about by accident: I washed my husband's jeans not realizing one of those blue shop towels was in a pocket. It went through the wash and dryer just great and come out soft--making a great polishing cloth! I've kidded him a number of times about washing his paper towels for him. If others accidently get washed, I save them for him.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 10:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My grandparents were master reusers out of necessity - they were dirt poor! Both sets couldn't have found two dimes to rub together between them. My mom's mom was the best cook EVER. And her secret was, of course, lard. Her pies were the best I've ever tasted and it makes my mouth water to think about her friend chicken. She died in 1984 and I haven't had decent friend chicken or pie crust since. My other grandma was born in 1894 and lived to be 90. She was 70 when I was born. When I was really little, she had a privy. She thought indoor bathrooms were disgusting - think about it her way, human waste in the house? They are pretty gross! When she was 80, my dad and his brothers insisted on installing a bathroom in her house. She allowed them to build in part of the back porch & make a tiny bathroom with sink and toilet and no heat. You went out the back door on the porch, then opened the bathroom door. :) She cooked on a wonderful wood stove. In about 1970 my dad and his brothers bought her an electric stove, but she used it to store her pans and never cooked on it. And that woman could COOK! She took a bath on Saturday night by heating water on the stove & used the wash tub to take a bath in the kitchen. She was so hearty and happy, and lived in her own home until the week before she died. And of course both my grandmas saved back grease!

I have a funny story about bacon grease. I save it and use it to fry eggs, and also add to green beans. I took a big crock pot of home grown green beans to a Boy Scouts potluck for my sons' troop. As I was going through the line, the lady in front of me looked at me with such a happy smile on her face, and said, "I am so glad you brought these beans! I'm a vegan and it's so hard for me to find something to eat at these potlucks." I didn't burst her bubble - and later she told me how delicious the beans were. I guess she hadn't had bacon in so long she forgot what it tasted like!

Button jar! I have a huge glass jar full of buttons. It is from Mrs. Green, who lived next door from birth until I was 9. She was probably 90 when she died. She had this wonderful huge glass jar of buttons, full to the top. When my mom visited her, I would play with the buttons. She went into a nursing home a few months before she died and she gave me the button jar. My own sons used to play with the buttons when they were preschoolers. Mrs. Green had cut the buttons off worn-out clothes her entire adult life. They are wonderful! I have the jar on my dresser now and add a few buttons now and then. This was the most fun "toy" anyone could have ever given to me!

My mom has been reusing the same boxes for Xmas gifts for more than 30 years. It's fun to see all the stores that are no longer around on the box tops. I save Xmas wrap and use it the following year to wrap smaller presents. Same with birthday wrap.

I don't have any extreme tips to add but wanted to thank everyone for bringing great memories to mind!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2008 at 4:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is a bit more extreme, but I still have a crocheted bed cover made by my grandmother during the depression, that was crocheted entirely with the bits of string that came from the top of feed bags. You know, the string used to keep the bags closed, like the ones used today on large bags of dog food. I can only begin to imagine the time & patience it took to complete a project like that. It's a beautiful cover, and is sized to fit a 3/4 bed.

I have really enjoyed this thread !

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 9:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh my, I must be a throwback! I have saved aluminum foil, bread bags and even brown paper bags for years. Our compost pile is full of scraps, but only the ones the chickens won't eat. Paper towels are a great luxury around here--my husband has a roll in his workshop because of the grease/oil he gets on his hands, but we use rags in the barn and house. I have a dryer, but also clotheslines which get MUCH more use! We ask our neighbors to save egg cartons which we recycle with our own eggs (the neighbors get eggs in return).
I do remember my grandmother using flour sacks to dry dishes. Just wait until I find flour that comes in a cloth bag!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2008 at 1:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That white thread/string is used to sew 10 lb. potato bags closed, as well. My landlod gets about 40-lb. bags of grass seed that are sewn closed using that string, as well.

I've kept it and used it to darn white cotton socks - that seem to get holes in them from time to time.

Durable - it ain't!

On the other hand ... possibly ole joyful's expecting the socks to last for 5 years or more.

ole joyful

P.S. The women in our church recently started a project of cutting up the plastic bags which carry three more durable bags filled with just over a gallon of milk ...

... to cut up, then weave into mats to send to Africa as sleeping mats for people who now sleep on the hard, cold (in season) earth floor.

o j

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 4:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You all be careful eating bacon grease!!!! Remember we dont sweat as much these days (A/C, antiperspirants, most not out working in the fields, push mowers, remote control, use of mixers- when is the last time you whipped a cake 400 strokes by hand?) My point is that it is a much more automated world and bacon grease and lard is not going to be as tollerable as it may have been to some in the past. Is bacon grease delicious, YOUBETCHA. But please be careful. Heart disease, HB, and strokes are not delicious.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 2:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Do they still have "Lay Away" today? People used to live within their means because credit was hard to come by. Instead of just charging what they needed, they tried to think ahead and put it on "Lay Away." Some stores charged a small fee for the service, but most did not. Most people paid a small amount on their "Lay Away" every week and took possession of the item when it was finally paid out of "Lay Away."

Does anybody remember the decoration and hot plates made from sewing factory thread and bobbin spools? How about white hosiery?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 11:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Layway has come back. I've seen it at KMart on TV recently.

I wanted to add that I am not that old and I have been washing and reusing ziplock bags and plastic containers for ever. My mom does. too. My grandparents are still alive and make us laugh as they routinely swip entire containers of sugar and papernapkins when we go out. I thought ALL grandparents did this! They also re use and darn everything. My grandfather used the elastic from his old underwear to tie up his tomato plants in the garden.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 12:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I reuse paper and plastic bags, although I have cloth bags so there not needing to recycle too many of those.

My mom, 74, has been saving plastic dishes to use at home. She will save the plastic cup a McDonalds parfait comes in to reuse. Her cabinets do have a few pieces of corelle but they mostly use paper or plastic that she has collected. She also goes to events and always snags a table decoration. Then she gives them to my kids or me- "because we can use them". Us kids keep talking about breaking in and taking all the plastic #$%#$ and leaving behind a simple stackable set of storage containers and a complete set of corelle, all matching. But she would be so furious no one has had the guts to do it.

I think I can claim to be a modern frugal. I had a really nice sectional in old house. When we moved it did not fit in the new room because it was not a square room, one corner was angled like a stop sign, not 90degrees. Rather than sell and have to spend way more to purchase something else, I took the longer side- the section that did not have the armrest- and I literally removed one whole cushion section. Peeled off fabric, cut down frame, reattached fabric. Looks like it was always like that. Saved 100s of dollars.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 1:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I guess if I die happy and full of bacon, it's far better than dying unhappy with brocolli stuck between my teeth! ;)

But the only caution I have is this: A friend of mine is a "veg" and hasn't eaten meat in 20 years. (How we became friends IDK!!) He's become so sensitive to it that if he eats the tiniest amount he gets sick. He went to a restaurant recently, ordered the vegetarian pasta and they had a meat mixed in the sauce somehow, or they mixed it up or something, I'm not totally sure, but he said it didn't take long before he was running to the bathroom and barely made it before Mt. Vesuvius erupted. I have no reason to doubt him but I did tell him he needs to ween himself off that silly diet and eat a burger now and then. Personally I think part of it at least is psychological, but he supposedly didn't know about the spaghetti. I did some limited research and there are a few who do seem to have that issue, though not by any means all. Nevertheless, projectile vomiting could take the edge off a church supper couldn't it?? And these days it's getting more fashionable to have some special diet whether it be gluten, carb, sugar or whatever. It's hard to offer people food these days!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 12:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Shortly after DH and I first moved in together he was about to toss a jar of pasta sauce. He looked at me like I had 2 heads when I grabbed it, pulled out a spatula and scooped out the rest of the sauce (and then washed the jar). Now he does it out of habit and even saves aluminum foil =D We don't buy the sauce very often anymore, and I miss those jars! We have good intentions of washing and reusing zip lock bags, but somehow we are never sure of what has been cleaned and what has been used for raw meat, etc and they end up getting tossed. Need to do better on that one. Rarely buy paper towels or napkins - but they are nice to have when the cat has an accident. I need to look up how to darn socks. What a waste!

Thanks everyone for all these frugal tips and memories! I always wanted to hear about the depression from my GM, but she didn't like to talk about hard times. I hope to read more!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 5:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Thanks for the chuckle Cynic!

What concerns me about saving bacon grease is the possibility of it turning rancid. Fats that are heated turn rancid quicker and those are even worse for you (same thing goes for frying oil). We have bacon maybe once a month and the extra grease is poured on the dogs food. He certainly enjoys it.

Some things have changed since the Great Depression making some of the practics impractical. There was a time when you could cook potatoes in the rendered fat from your pork chops but now pork is much leaner. My grandmother was dirt poor during the Depression but her standard of living greatly increased over time and she responded by living it up so that she would not have to be deprived again.

Other ideas that come to mind that are still practical today is not taking a shower every day unless you are truly dirty. How many people take a shower when the most they have done is sat in a cubicle all day indoors. Another very practical consideration is how often things are washed. If I have been roaming around the house all day, my jeans can be worn another day (thereby saving me from having too purchase as many jeans). Dh's dress wool pants can be hung to air out and we steam them ever so often, never paying a dry cleaner. Another thought is aprons, you can wear them while cleaning and cooking and preserve your clothes (whether from oil splatters or bleach splatters). These may not be funny frugal practices but they certainly are not as common as they once were and they are simple measures that most of us can take.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 11:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Great stories, my grandparents weren't as interesting as some of these. One thing I remember was an aunt that had a dispenser that had new bread bags. It was similar to a plastic bag dispenser at Walmart. I always wondered why she had a thing of 100 new bread bags (instead of plain bags). I assume it was so common and useful that you could eventually buy bread bags w/o the bread.

Another thing was Jars that became drinking glasses. My grandfather also had a fasinaction with saving old jars and screwing the lids to the bottom of shelves, then screwing the jar full of trinkets back on the lid.

The xmas paper reminds me we had a large gift bag that used to get exchanged every xmas for years in our family. It was always a surprise who would get the bag that year.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Maybe a wise idea to pay good attention to the ideas registered here.

With so many guys being laid off from the car plants and other well-paid manufacturing jobs ...

... at age 50 or so ...

... then going to look for comparable work, with minimal success ...

... these ideas for coping with peanuts for income may come in handy.

Not many among our population are qualifying for those million-or-so annual salary rates ...

... that seem to figger that the rest of us should bail them out when their unrestrained greed gets them into trouble!

Our newly-elected Prime Minister just increased his cabinet by 6 ... great measure of frugality, that!

ole joyfoul-mouthed!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2008 at 12:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The grandparents did get gas much cheaper than we do today. I remember it being 29.9 cents a gallon. The service station where they told the attendant, "Fill er up" also cleaned the windshield and checked the oil at no additional charge. If they were not busy, they would even sweep the floorboard and check the air in the tires. Full service is a thing of the past. Sigh~

    Bookmark   November 5, 2008 at 7:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I talked to a lady today who grew up in the great depression. She said they raised cotton for a living and at harvest time, they picked all day. Her mother brought flapjacks to the field for them to eat for lunch. She said her mother had twins, but did not know she was having twins until they were born. She said they did not go to the hospital to deliver babies back then. Some people had a midwife, but they did not. They lived 25 miles from town, but the kids were only taken to town once a year to buy shoes. Some years her mother drew the outline of her feet on paper to get the size rather than take her to town. Can you imagine how much money they saved by not taking their kids to town?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

On the topic of showers, another thing is to substitute sponge baths. Old time campers know this frugality, yet rarely do any utilize this in daily life. After a couple days camping, yes, a shower would feel great but in the woods that's not always a viable option. But a dishpan of water, some heated is a treat, some soap, shampoo and the like and you can wash up and feel so refreshed. And you won't stink or smell smokey from the campfires.

When I had a broken hip as a kid I was a bit afraid of the bathtub, knowing how slippery it can be. So I'd sit on the toilet (lid down) and with a sink full of water, sometimes a refill, but I could spongebath myself as clean as taking a shower or bath. And considering this is what hospitals use most of the time, it must be sanitary.

I'd do this occasionally when I didn't feel like a shower, was in a hurry or something. Amazing how clean you can get with a washcloth, shower gel and a sink of water. Then when I broke my shoulder a few years back I realized the apprehension again. This time though, I knew I had problems walking and should I take a tumble, with a broken shoulder (and didn't realize at the time BOTH shoulders were broken!) I thought it more prudent to get out the washcloths and stay by the sink. Uses less water, is quicker and the results are the same.

My parents grew up during the drought and depression. They came by their frugality honestly. Buying used was the norm. Repair, repair, repair. Hang on to that, it may be useful someday. etc. etc. Some are good ideas, but I agree, not all are.

There was a show on PBS that's called something like Death of a Dream (Farmhouses in the heartland) that was about the demise of the family farm and all the old farmhouses being torn down. It was an interesting home since the balloon frame house is well-known to me. My dad grew up in one that sits in disrepair now. It's sad. But my point is that they had a part in there that talked about the simpler life. And they had footage of a guy who lived alone in his last years. They showed the stack of bags from oranges and the ones who now own it said there would be stacks and stacks of newspapers for you to make a path to get through. He didn't throw anything away. Oh how I know that!

Used to be you wouldn't throw away what most these days would call trash. Now you throw good stuff away and buy new. It always makes me chuckle seeing people buy garbage bags, put them into a grocery bag, and when they get home, the grocery bag gets crumpled up and sometimes can't be thrown away until a new liner is put in the waste basket... then you can throw that grocery bag in there!

Also people buy special lids to put on cans to use in the refrigerator. Or put the contents into a plastic bag or container. I use one of the sidecutting can openers (some call them a "safety" can opener) and put the lid back on and it's a nice acceptably tight seal for the 1/2 can of veggies or whatever.

This is a great thread. It jogs the memory for memorable moments, some funny, some practical, some obsolete, some useful to this day. The Statler Bros. song Do you remember these just came to mind...Saturday morning serials chapters 1 through 15
Fly paper, penny loafers, Lucky Strike Green
Flat tops, sock hops, Studebaker, "Pepsi, please"
Ah, do you remember these?

Cigar bands on your hand, your daddy's socks rolled down,
Shticks, snow globes, and aviator caps with flaps that button down
Movie stars on Dixie Cup tops and knickers to your knees
Ah do you remember these?

The Hit Parade, grape Tru-Ade, the Sadie Hawkins Dance
Pedal pushers, duck-tail hair and peggin' your pants
Howdy Doody, Tutti-Frutti, the seam up the back of her hose
Ah, do you remember those?

James Dean, he was keen, Sunday movies were taboo
The Senior Prom, Judy's mom, rock and roll was new
Cracker Jack prize, stars in your eyes, ask daddy for the keys
Ah, do you remember these?

The boogey man, lemonade stand and takin' your tonsils out
Indian burn and wait your turn and four foul balls you're out
Cigarette loads and secret codes and savin' Lucky Stars
Can you remember back that far?

The boat neck shirts and fender skirts and crinoline petticoats
Mum's the word and a dirty bird and a double root beer float
Moon hubcaps and loud heel taps and "he's a real gone cat"
Ah do you remember that?

Dancin' close, little moron jokes, and cooties in her hair
Captain Midnight, Ovaltine and The Whip at the County Fair
Charles Atlas Course, Roy Roger's Horse, and "only The Shadow knows"
Ah, do you remember those?

Gable's charm, froggin' your arm, loud mufflers, pitchin' woo
Going steady, Veronica and Betty, white bucks and Blue Suede Shoes
Knock Knock jokes -- who's there? Dewey! Dewey who?
Dewey, do we remember these? Yes we do!
Ah, do we, do we remember these!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 11:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You guys are great. Thank you for all that's been posted so far. I've had some laughs and I've picked up a few ideas that I'll be incorporating into our routine. I had forgotten another one - when mom washed windows, she got the white vinegar going, but instead of using rags or any type of towel, she'd grab yesterday's newspaper and use it for rags. I still do that today - no lint on the windows!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 6:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

No lint perhaps, but plenty of black ink on the sills and frame. That's one tip I know is popular that I won't use.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 9:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Maybe we were too ungenerous with the vinegar added to the water ...

... but we didn't have trouble with ink on the sills and frames ...

... so I guess that we got a bonus!

(That we weren't aware of at the time - imagine ... it taking this long to find out!).

There's usually something extra to be thankful for, each day. Sometimes it takes maybe some digging ... or to wait a while to find it!

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 11:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh my! I had kind of forgotten all these things from growing up, but most of them ring true. I can see now why my daughter chided me for having 11 bottles of shampoo when she helped us move. She told me that I wasn't raised in the depression. She didn't realize that they were purchased on sale for .99, with double .30 coupons! I am 53 but reading these posts, I feel a lot older...I was thrilled as a teenager to have a friend a bit bigger than me, because she always had the best handmedowns. I know grandma had an outhouse, but honestly I don't remember ever seeing the inside and I spent plenty of time at her house! I even remember getting the bottle of Castoria and thinking that it was so good, I sat under the tablecloth and drank the rest. It is probably a good thing that we repress bad memories...
I still "save" the good stuff, (for the Pope) as my oldest dtr says! She always gets me 2 of each,thinking that I will not be so conservative about using it!
I cannot throw out a coffee can, Love those plastic ones!!! Wash the chinet plastic at my sisters get togethers, save all the mismated socks, but will not let anyone wear mismates. I had 3 knee socks for a 10 yr old girl until they were both out of college and married! ( save all the beautiful ribbons that they tie on the Christmas and Birthday gifts in a Nell Hills box, (Saved from the dishes!) and they have caught me digging in the bag of wrappings in case I missed one. They both have lovely things and think I am crazy sometimes but they still love me. I think. In some ways I am so thrifty, but like another poster, I have probably 30 prs of socks, most never worn, and so many things with the tags still on them. I guess I think I'll need them someday, and growing up with out much, I guess we make up for it as adults. My grandchildren have more clothes and toys and books at my house than either of their parents.( Grandma=
good protector/provider). After thinking about this I think I need to unload about 80% of my junk. Think I'll jump right on it!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 4:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

It must vary by region with the ink ...I have to wash my hands everytime I read the newspaper and I never lay the paper on the sofa or it would be filthy.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 11:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Don't know about Grandparents' habits. A lot of these things I do myself. When I was younger it was to save money and now it's to save the planet. I have always had a compost heap and I have never bought paper towels but use cloths. I use icecream tubs rather than purchase plastic boxes and I reuse all plastic bags. I can't see the point in buying bags when they come unrequested with so many things. Another thing I do is keep the paper from butter and use it to grease cake tins for baking. MY jams and preserves go into reused jars. I keep the dripping from meat. If you clarify it it does not go rancid. Basically I just feel bad throwing things away. And do you guys really change the towels after every use? We are all healthy despite reusing our towels. I think there is something to be said for getting used to a few bugs around the place. Kids with pets and non sterile homes suffer a lot less with allergies and asthma. But one thing I don't do is my mother's trick of cutting up the side of the toothpaste tube and opening it out to get the last bit of paste out. Nor can I stand her bars of soap made from the squashed together ends of old bars. They never seem to lather properly.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 5:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just found this forum!

I'm old, so I guess that makes me that mom/grandmom you're talking about here.

Paper towels, DH buys them, I try not to let him go into the stores. I don't use 'em. We have plenty of old t-shirts, sox, sweatpants. By the way, I have a Swiffer mop. I love it! I don't buy the pads, make my own out of sweatpants and toss them in the wash.

I hadn't thought about souse in years.

You're my kinda man, Joyfulguy!

When I buy new towels, I always buy two extra. I can get 8 washcloths out of one towel, I use the zigzag on my sewing machine to go all around the edges. Much nicer washcloths than you can buy, thicker, last longer and lots cheaper.

Fitted sheets always wear out before the top sheet does. I can make a fitted sheet out of a top sheet by cutting off the corners into a curve and sewing on recycled elastic from DH's worn out "tidy whiteys".

If my bacon grease went rancid, I think I'd know.

I wash zip-lock bags, if they didn't contain raw meat. Bread and cereal bags get wiped out and used one time, then I throw them away. I don't darn socks since I buy them for 25 cents a pair at garage sales usually. If I have to buy them I like the white ones with the gray heels and I do get 'em all alike cause they're like 8 in a package.

Butter tubs are OK I guess but the mis-matched sizes drive me a little nutty. (its a short trip) I can never find the right sized lid.

Sorry but I've gotta have my bath every night before I go to bed. DH and I trade off saving our bath water for each other. I guess that's unsanitary but we share most everything else. And trust me, I've known stinky office workers. Retired now, yes, I will wear today's jeans tomorrow unless I got in the mud.

I reuse plastic shopping bags all the time. I line my trash cans with them, tie the handles together when they're full. My garbage collectors are in the habit of reaching down into my trash can and picking up all the small bags by their "ears". I saw a think on the Internet where someone put several layers of these bags between two pieces of poster board and then ironed with a hot iron. The bags fused together and she made a purse out of the "material". Look out Santa! LOL

Newspapers and vinegar water or ammonia water are sometimes used to clean windows here. DH thinks he has to have Windex, been trying to re-educate him but he is stubborn on this. At least he buys it in big bottles and will tolerate an off brand, but not without grumbling. I hear you can also buy windshield washer fluid for washing windows. If ink is a problem, does your local newspaper office give away their end rolls?

A few years ago it was fashionable to drink out of mason jars. Some were even sold with handles. I still have some, but we prefer those insulated cups with handles for our coffee and our cold drinks. They're ugly but durable, keep the drink the right temp longer and come in several sizes, even have lids for if you're going to be carrying it somewhere.

I really like the new plastic coffee cans, too. I pack 'em full of cookie dough and stick in the freezer. Since I never like to run my oven unless it's full, I can scoop out a tray of cookies with the ice-cream scooper at the drop of a hat! Also the coffee cans are good to freeze beef or chicken broth in, and yes I save the bones for that. Making chili or soup and have a lot left over? Freeze the extra in a plastic coffee can. I use one to put scraps in for the compost pile. I keep a plastic coffee can in my freezer, for bits and tads of vegetables, beans, etc. When the container is full, I make soup. It's always different, sometimes needs a chopped potato or a jar of home-canned tomatoes or some such, depending...

When I was a kid we went to see grandparents every other weekend, 200 miles away. Rather than stop at a hamburger joint for a meal, we'd stop at a grocery store, buy a loaf of bread, a bag of chips, a package of lunchmeat (mom's fave was souse). No mayo, pickles, lettuce. We'd make our sandwiches on our laps in the car. Everybody got a bottle of pop to wash it down with.

I still dry laundry on the clothesline, whenever I can. I remember my mom hanging clothes out in the winter. They'd look so funny hanging out there frozen solid. When they weren't frozen anymore and were flapping in the wind, we knew they'd gotten dry.

DH is not very frugal. Sometimes that gets on my last nerve. He'll tear something down and throw away the lumber and then buy new lumber next time he wants to build something. Won't help me eat leftovers. Thinks he has to have meat at every meal and will go back and eat any leftover meat in the evening. Consequently I don't cook many pieces of meat, and if I do because they came several in a tray, I'll freeze the extra, after cooking, for another meal before he sees them! He's a big dessert eater so I try to have a dessert handy so I can say "Save room for dessert" when he's looking around for another piece of meat.

One thing I learned well from my mother that has stood me well. She and Dad never bought things on credit. They had a credit card but paid it off each time the bill came. They never bought more than they could afford to pay. They always put a little back "for a rainy day" and this came in handy when the car broke down or the roof sprung a leak. When I married DH, he had all kinds of debts and it just drove me nuts. I picked out the smallest debt, paid that one off, then the next, then the next. Eventually we were paying extra on the house payment. We've been debt free for years and it feels good.

I've always been a garage-sale freak but to tell the truth there's not much now that we need, and with gas so expensive it's almost not worth it to go. Sometimes I'll do my grocery shopping on Saturday morning and stop at garage sales along the way.

Our son seems to never have money at Christmas time. We buy him stuff, he feels bad because he didn't buy for us, he says. We made him a deal: go out and buy something for yourself, call it from us. We'll do the same and call it from you. Then I make him up some packets of pancake mix, biscuit mix, cookie mix, etc. and give that to him in a basket. Just in case he didn't have the money to buy himself something and call it from us. Our daughter loves Christmas and makes these cool baskets with different things in them. Last year I gave her my mom's ruby ring that she'd been wanting for a long time. This year she'll get Grammy's square-cut crystal necklace. I don't wear these things anymore, she might as well have them now instead of waiting till I die and having to ask for them. It's not that I'm too cheap to buy things. It's just everything is so.... what's the word? "Poorly made?" "Over-marketed?" "Ordinary?" "Garage Sale Bound?" .... all of that. When I go to garage sales, I see all kinds of stuff, still in its original box, I know it was a gift not suited to that person's taste. Sometimes if it's something nice I'll buy it and stick it in my presents drawer for if I have to have an impromptu gift. I don't know what I'll buy for DD when I run out of things I have that she wants, but let's see... at 62 I probably only have 40 more Christmases, at the most....

I cut my own and DH's hair. We wear mostly jeans, sneakers and t-shirts.

One thing that has really paid for itself has been my digital camera. Remember how expensive it used to be to take pictures? Flash cubes, film, and then the developing, even if the pictures didn't turn out for some reason!

We don't go out to eat much. When we do it's usually breakfast. But seriously eating out is just so much hype. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me to get dressed up, drive somewhere in the car, sit at a table some stranger sat at just moments earlier, I don't know how well the table was cleaned, let some girl serve us who flirts with DH right in front of me (well, not so much of that any more) and then expects a tip because she poured my coffee.

I think we've gotten spoiled. We've been lulled into spending money we don't have on things we don't need and won't want tomorrow. Whole businesses have sprouted up in the last few decades, just to cater to people's wants and not their needs. Now that things aren't looking so great for all of us, those are going to be the first places that will go under. Ummmm.... what will I spend my $50 on? A fancy handbag or several days' worth of groceries for my family?

Laugh at me if you want, I'm glad to bring a smile to anyone's face. --Ilene

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 6:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This thread is so funny. I think I have remembered every money-saving means that my grandparents used, and then somebody will write something that triggers a memory. I just love this thread.

My grandmother did not have money for plastic bags to save and rewash. She set a plate over a bowl and put it in the fridge. She only had one sink, so she washed dishes by hand and rinsed them in a dishpan of clean cold water. Back then the kids had to wait until the adults finished eating before they could eat. My Mom vowed, when she was a child, never to do that to her children. My grandmother could not understand why she fed us first. Grandmother never used paper towels. She had cloth dishtowels. Old cloth diapers served as dust cloths. They had no disposable diapers back then. Cloth diapers were washed and dried on the line. Rubber pants were used over the diapers. My mother froze hosiery to keep them from getting runs. Cigarettes were fashionable back then. My aunt bought them by the carton and put them in the freezer to keep them fresh. My grandmother always wore a wool headscarf in the wintertime. She tied it under her chin. They would put bricks near the fire, roll them in cloth, and use them to warm the bed. They had a well, but grandfather always took a bucket of water and a dipper to the garden with him. It was fun to drink from the metal dipper. He said when he was a boy; the dippers were made of gourds. We picked berries, ate them fresh from the vine or bush, and took the rest home for making jelly and cobbler.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 10:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

my mom still makes 'jam tea' with the stuff left over in the jar - drop a tea bag into the empty jam pot, pour boiling water over it, let it steep, and you have strawberry tea, or something.

my aunt made my party frocks for me - her legacy to me were six dresses in graduating sizes, the largest being a copy of Dorothy's dress, down to the lace-trimmed bobby socks that I wore 9 years after she died.... I was an adult before I noticed in old photos that the year before she died, she mysteriously replaced the blue gingham curtains in her kitchen with cheery yellow ones : )

my toys were all hand-me-downs, from the Lambchop hand puppet to the sad old clown with the rubber face (that Emmett Kelly, Jr doll would be worth a fortune today, but he was loved to death somewhere along the way) to the raggedy bunny who was made entirely out of old towels and bath robes - he had (metal) zippers in his belly, and under his chin, and his stuffing came out so he could get washed.

cloth diapers... 'nuff said.

there was a running joke that my mom could boil the same chicken down for soup four days in a row, and serve it roasted on Friday for Sabbath... which was backwards, since she roasted the chicken, then boiled the carcass for soup...I remember she tried using onion grass to cook with once, rather than buy chives, but that didn't last long.

for all she was a country girl, she didn't have a lot of wood-wise stuff to share besides how to tell the raspberries from the poison ivy..but she farmed me out to the dairy farmers across the road, who taught me when and how to hunt for mushrooms, how to get the husks off walnuts without dying my hands brown (and how to color things with walnut husks, onion skins, and 'ochre' shelf fungi) how to press ink from pokeberries, and how to build a stone wall, or dam the creek.

and then - PONG happened, and it took me years to remember that outside was more fun than inside.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 4:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I went to my favorite thrift store today - I was in the neighborhood, which isn't often any more, so I stopped in. I found 2 baggies of vintage buttons - wonderful buttons probably cut off coats, suites, blouses, etc by some wonderful lady over the years. One was $3 and the other $1. I bought both to add to my button jar that I've now had for 36 years as my legacy from Mrs. Green. I could feel her smiling down on me when I added those wonderful buttons to her collection. :-)

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 10:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love buttons - older ones best - but I tend to buy any that are cheap.

I think I have a plastic tub full - not one of the really tall tubs.

When I was a child, my Mom would thread a needle and knot it and hand me the button tin. I would sit and string buttons for hours.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 10:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Aaahhh, the buttons! My Grandma, Dads side, always cut off the buttons to save... have some that look like grape bunches, picked them out of the button jar when I was 8. Mom's Dad, he was featured in the newspaper once, he had strung buttons on fishing line and covered the South and West side of his porch. I guess to keep sun out? The reporter was amazed to find out that he had 2 huge TRUNKS of buttons in the DR, and boxes of costume jewelry. I have a couple pairs of earrings and broaches, and some turquoise jewelry that was his. Found out years later that his mother was Indian, but since he was so old when I was a child, I never knew her. I guess that explains my keeping/saving stuff/can't get rid of.....

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 1:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Does anyone but me remember making button toys? You take a string, thread it through a two-hole large flat button, and tie it together securely. Then hold this front of you about two feet apart, with the button suspended in the center and the end loops, one in each hand, looped over one of your fingers, if I'm remembering right. (I hope this makes sense, it's hard to describe) Then you move your hands, both at the same time, in a circular motion out away from your body, making the string spin out, winding the button up on the string as it spins. Before it gets too tight, allow it to start unwinding itself, while increasing and decreasing the tension of the string by moving your hands further apart. The string and button will make a humming noise. Maybe someone with more computer talent than I will demonstrate this on U-Tube or something. --Ilene

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 5:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ilene, yes!!! We called them whizzers. We used big buttons for that.

I used to help with estate sales. There were always some clothing that had to be thrown away. We cut the buttons off and put them in a baggie. They always sold.

The families were always so amused that we went to that much trouble, but I always enjoyed finding new homes of people's things.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 2:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ilene, yes! Button buzzers! A few years ago, I showed a friend's grandkids how to make and use them. They were amazed, especially the littlest ones, and played with those simple toys until the strings broke.

BTW, I have some old buttons..nothing special probably..but would be glad to send them to anyone who wants them.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 8:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Nan - can I have the buttons? I would love to add them to my button jar - email me & I'll send you postage:

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 11:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

ilene_in_neok, welcome aboard! I hope you post often. I sure didn't find anything to laugh at you about. On the contrary, I was nodding my head through your post!

I find now that I prefer to get some sandwich fixin's and make some sandwiches for a long trip rather than a tasteless boring burger. I usually get some buns, deli lunch meat and a squeeze bottle of salad dressing, some chips and I usually have coffee and water with me. Occasionally I'll grab a couple rolls or something too. Sure it's more than one trip through a drive through but I have several meals there, better tasting and saving time.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 3:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ilene_in_neok, welcome to the forum. I, too, am glad to have you here and have never laughed at you. This is a nice place to share ideas and find encouragement for tight wading. If someone can use an idea, that is great. Nevertheless, they can discard the idea if it does not work for them. It amuses me sometimes the ways some people interpret certain posts. Their translation is often very different from what the original poster had in mind, but that is ok too, because it brings up new ideas. My grandmother lived several states away from us, so we were always glad to get the sandwiches she packed for the long trips home. Sometimes, I pack a sandwich and tea for shopping trips to the mall. The food is better for me and cheaper.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2008 at 11:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, kids...

I'm enjoying it here. I normally hang out on the Oklahoma Gardening site, as I'm from Oklahoma. They're really nice people too. I like the Cooking site too but a lot of them cook too fancy for me. I tried the Canning site and they just fight too much. I'm normally pretty thick-skinned, I do what works for me and I try not to make anybody mad or hurt anybody's feelings but sometimes I accidentally cross the line. I just hate to read the posts when they're fighting.

I worked for four years for an ophthalmologist, as the transcriptionist. There were 27 women working there and almost all of them but me had husbands with high paying jobs. The girls were working to have something to do. Not me, I was in there slogging away trying to pay for DH's insurance and prescriptions! I just hated the holidays because they would always lavish gifts on one another. Christmas, birthdays, valentines day, easter.... Can you imagine having to buy gifts for 26 other women who never used store brands and looked down on those who did? It was TOUGH! The first Christmas, I wrapped 26 different presents and wrote a poem about how Santa left the cart in my care and said to choose their gift, open it, and if they didn't like what they got they could trade with someone else. Our Administrator (the only man, other than our doctors) thought it was great. But the girls took a dim view of it. One of them even told me she didn't take anything because she unwrapped everything and couldn't find anything she wanted. So I took a stand. I told everyone not to give me anything as I just could not afford to reciprocate. They all decided I was *CHEAP* and let me know it, but all of them were people I wouldn't have chosen to hang around with if I didn't have to work with them, so I just rode the tide. Eventually a few of them came around, privately told me they'd do the same thing if they had the nerve, and one of them gave me a lead on a much better job with better salary, where I was easily hired and fit in much better. I always found it amusing that they looked around so hard for people who needed "help" to do their "service work", and they didn't even realize they didn't even have to walk out the door. Instead, I was forced to contribute to those, and there was always that envelope being sent around for baby showers, grand-baby showers, wedding showers, gifts for people leaving and flowers for people that were sick, etc., etc. I felt like they always counted the money in the envelope before and after I had it so they'd know how much I put in (or maybe it was to make sure I didn't take any OUT). I just hated that job. I hated my life while I worked there.

Things are better for us now. DH got on Medicare and then received a nice inheritance which we invested in rental property. We didn't get rich but I got to retire.

I resolved after that to be who I am and to never again try to change myself in order to fit in. I recommend it. Sometimes people do get a giggle out of some of the things I do, and if they do that's perfectly ok with me.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 12:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Marcia Thornley

Once milk was sold in clear plastic bags that is what Mom used as sandwich bags. She would wash those clear bags in hot soapy water with the dishes then pack my lunch in them. Then she'd seal that bag with a bread bag clip that she saved in a large mason jar. I used to laugh at her, now guess who has a mason jar full of bread bag clips in her cupboard?
Grocery lists were written on strips of cardboard cut from cereal boxes and the waxed paper liners were saved to wrap sandwiches in. Knives were stored inside paper towel cores in the drawer so little hands would not come into contact with the sharp edges.
I used to think Mom was cheap. Now I know she was smart!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 7:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is a great place to post - and yes, if you like the idea, use it, expand on it, or not. That's what it is all about. What works for one might not work for another.


I'm so glad things are better for you now.

I love your posts and we are almost kin - I'm from Texas, hubby is an Okie.

The work situation has happened to me as well. When I had children, I had to work a few times. When I worked after children, it was because I absolutely had to - and unless I could make them, no new clothes, no eating out, no hairdresser, etc.

When they would come up with all these 'gimmes' at work, I had to tell them I was working because I had to as I would much rather be home with my children and I could not afford to participate.

Mush, I am not even organized enough to have the bread ties in a jar - I have a catch all drawer that gets them.

My kids think I am so cheap, but I just don't like waste.

My son just cringes about some things. When I got my computer, I bought a huge box of computer paper for $2, another lady gave me a box, and I bought another for $1 - all at garage sales. The kicker is, that it is the folded kind with the holes along the edges. I have to tear the side pieces off, and separate the sheets. That doesn't bother me - I do it while I'm watching a movie, etc.

Also, at an estate sale once there was a large box (several reams) of letterhead stationary of the man who had passed away. I bought the entire box for $1. For things I'm printing for myself, I just print on the back side.

My son says, 'Put, Mom, paper isn't that expensive.'

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 9:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, Lady Texan, I knew you and I thought alike. Who knew we were almost kin? LOL I was born in KS but DH was born in OK. Maybe THEY are kin. LOL

That place where I worked had three specialists that came from 50 miles away. One by one, when their contract was up, they broke off their associations and new specialists had to be recruited. We had their names on our letterhead so each time that happened we had to get new. Rather than throw it away, I took the old letterhead home each time so I have several reams of it now. I use the backs to print on. Sometimes I do origami and it calls for square paper. If I use my paper cutter to trim off the top and the bottoms, I have nice origami paper with no printing on it whatsoever! I don't write letters much any more but it also makes good letter stationery if you trim a little off the side too. Paper is $3 or $4 a package, isn't it? You can tell I haven't bought any in a long time. LOL

I find it hard to go to the hairdresser for lots of reasons. It seems like every time I get someone "trained", she moves away, retires, gets married...etc. Then I'm back to square one. I have thick, straight fine-textured hair that "packs". When all the girls were ironing their hair so they could look like Cher, I was good to go. But I have a heart-shaped face, so I really look better with some volume that a perm provides. The "test curl" never is a good indicator of when the neutralizer needs to be put on so they wait... and wait... and wait... and I end up with the frizzies. And certain brands of perms just don't take at all. Not to mention they're always trying to sell everything from hair products to other cosmetics to jewelry to vitamins. And then there's the obligatory tip on top of what has already been an expensive thing for me.

Mush, I wash out my milk jugs, put water in them and stick them in the freezer as it starts to get empty. Then if we have power outages they help keep things cold. And they say a full freezer takes less energy than a partially empty one. I also cut out the bottoms and secure the top part of the jug, with the lid removed, over seeds I plant in the winter (variation of winter sowing). I can write on the jug with a china marker so it helps me remember what I planted. Lots of seeds have to be cold stratified and this saves me a lot of time and effort. Planting directly in the ground in winter eliminates the need to transplant in the spring. Some people also fill milk jugs with water and build a "fort" around tender plants. When you plan to freeze water in a milk jug, though, remember that it expands so allow space for that or the ice will bust the jug and drain out as soon as it begins to thaw.

I write my grocery lists on used letter envelopes. I don't use coupons often, but if I do, the coupon gets tucked inside the envelope. The receipt goes in there, too, which is helpful if I go to several stores.

Someone I worked with lost her grandmother and the only thing this woman wanted of her grandmother's was her big ball of twist-ties. -- sorta like saving string, she would hook one to the other and wrap them around each other. When she died the ball was about eight inches across. That's a lot of twist-ties! It was actually kind of decorative, resting on a candle pedestal, sitting on the corner of my co-worker's desk.

I think what we all know is that "If you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves". Some of these things don't seem like they save very much money. But over time, and combined with other frugal habits, they do make a difference! --Ilene

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 9:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My grandmother used to decorate her tree with all those lovely handmade school projects she inherited from the grands who lived close enough. She always took the paintings, the cards, the popstick crafts and at Christmas she would cut the paintings down into circles or hexagons and other shapes, with her one pair of pinking shears, hang them with ribbon or string and onto the tree they would go. Yes she had some storebought decorations but they didn't dominate the tree......just all these brightly colored papers and odd shaped "things".

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 10:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

LOL - ladytexan and ilene, I am your sister-in-kind. DH and I were born in Arkansas, so we were almost neighbors. From reading your posts, it sounds like we lived similar life styles.

Yes, I laugh at some of the posts, but it is with kindness and great memories of my grandmother Mama Alice. My mom's own life stories, and I still have an uncle who rants begrudingly about the biscuit and gravy sandwiches he took for school lunch.

When Iworked, I cooked a pot of rice on the weekend, put 1/2 cup in each container and topped with cooked or frozen vegetables. (sometimes leftovers) They were then frozen, and I had a great lunch every day. I like them cold in the summer and would heat them in the m/w in the winter.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 12:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Calirose, welcome to the family...LOL

Those sound like great lunches. When I worked I used to do something similar -- especially when I was dieting. I fail to understand how people can pay $3+ for these little frozen diet entrees that are maybe only one cup of food. I can make my own low-fat meals, portion them out and freeze, and have a whole week's worth for the price of one of those things.

I've travelled to AR many times. The scenery is just gorgeous in the fall. My mother's grandparents lived there. They died before I was born but remnants of the family still live in that same area. Her grandfather loved to write humorous poetry. He wrote about Arkansas, local politics, events of the day. He had many of them published in the paper in Gentry. I went to ?Jeffersonville? -- it was many years ago -- and visited the college research library. They had some of the old Gentry newspapers on film there. I found ten or twelve of great-grandpa's poems printed there that I had never seen before. Anyway, he just loved Arkansas. Gentry was big into produce growing then, everything from tomatoes to strawberries. He said it was like being in "the Garden of Eden".

My mom can top your uncle. --LOL-- She sometimes took biscuits with lard spread on them to school for lunch. She was born in 1910 and lived to be 93.

Budster, when I was a kid we used to string popcorn and cranberries to decorate the Christmas tree. We made small paper lanterns and paper chains out of construction paper and we cut stars out of cardboard Mom had saved through the year. We'd glue macaroni and rice on shapes with flour and water paste and hang them on the tree. We also made flowers out of crepe paper and pom-poms out of yarn scraps Mom saved from her knitting projects. When my own kids were little, I'd mix up some home-made play-doh (flour, salt, water) and my kids would work at the table for hours making things. My son made some of the cutest Garfield and Kliban Cat ornaments when he was about ten. We baked them and then they would get painted. When they were dry, I dipped them in polyurethane. My son's 40 so that tells you how long they've lasted. They still look great, though Odie's tail broke off.

If anyone's interested, I found the same recipe I used to use and some handy instructions on this site:, although I never tinted the dough and my kids never cared that they weren't bright colors. I linked a site that has instructions for the lanterns we used to make, although we never actually put lights inside. There's also a cool origami star how-to at

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 8:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh and I forgot to mention paper snowflakes!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 8:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We made the paper chains and popcorn ropes. And of course snowflakes!! Thanks for the site.

Arkansas is a beautiful place. How wonderful that you had your mom for so long. I know you must have enjoyed finding those poems by your great grandfather. I love reading stories and poems of old.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 2:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My Grandmother used to cut out the garland of people. I don't know how to explain it, but she folded the paper, cut them out, and when unfolded, they made a row of boys or girls, connected by their hands.

I absolutely never got the hang of doing that - haven't tried since I was an adult - but it made pretty decorations.

Oh, I love Arkansas. We actually bought some land there for retirment once. During one of the 'back up and punt times', we decided it had to go.

Talk about 'kin' or some such.

When we were looking at land in AK, the realtor took us to one place. When we met the folks, I thought 'that name is so familiar'. After we looked at the place, they invited us for coffee. As we talked more, we found that the owner was from the same part of South Central Texas I had been raised, and had been friends of my Stepfather when they were teens. His father had been a witness at my Stepfather and Mother's wedding. I remember seeing the name so many times in their Bible. Small world.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 5:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Did any of you ever make Tussie Mussies? The first Christmas after we got married we were broke. So I wrapped small boxes, mostly matchboxes, decorated with pretty bows and hung them on the tree for ornaments.

At the library today, I saw an article in a magazine about quilted ornaments. The lady folded and pinned cloth to balls to make beautiful ornaments. It looks to me like hot glue would work better than pins. This is a sales site.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 5:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Those ornaments are lovely. Reminds me somewhat of the temari balls and the ribbon pinecones.

I remember the chain link of people!

What wonderful memories this brings!!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 11:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just reading through everyone's posts. There is always something to catch my eye and bring back a memory.
My grandmother had the most beautiful tree topper I had ever seen as a child. It was an art deco looking red globe with silver swirls with a long narrow cone also with silver swirls on top. She was so proud of it every year it went on top of the tree with such ceremony. She would tell my grandfather to be careful with it. I always thought it was blown glass the way it was treated. As frugal as my grandparents were I was always amazed that they had such "expensive" ornaments.
The christmas before my grandmother passed away she gave me two boxes of all of her "fancy" ornaments. There were glass balls, scratched and worn, a couple delicate homemade snowflakes and at the bottom of the box carefully wrapped in paper towels was the tree topper. I ever so carefully unrolled it honored to be given her special ornament. The topper rolled out and I found that it was shiny red plastic and the beautiful silver swirls were glitter glued on to it. I put up my tree that year with all of her ornaments and it was beautiful. I called her and told her how great it looked and she was happy for me. She died a few short months later. Somehow, her topper was and is still as beautiful and special to me as it was to her. We don't put it up every year - we alternate with the DH's topper. But every year I get it out and treat it like it is delicate hand blown glass.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 4:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Loved the tree-topper story.

I remember the "people" chain. My mother always called it a "paper doll chain". I have a pattern somewhere that I copied out of a Southern Living Christmas book that was teddy bears. They were cute. Instructions were to cut them out of large brown paper bags. You know these things were all such good ideas to keep the kids busy during and help them pass the time till Christmas. We were always so proud of our tree after we'd covered it in stuff. Does anybody still buy those shiny silver "icicles"? Just strings, really, of metallic stuff. We'd try to take it off to save for next year but almost always it went out with the tree.

Those quilt Christmas ornaments are actually a variation of "folded quilting". My sister made everybody some hot pads for the kitchen one Christmas with this technique about 15 years ago. You start in the center, folding squares into triangles, diamonds or squares and sew them on in layers. I looked for a pattern online but all I could turn up was fabric origami, which is apparently big right now.

One Christmas my mom gave all of us a package of crocheted snowflakes. I still have mine. I used to have a pattern for crocheted Christmas balls. You made it in halves, then joined them together to cover a styrofoam ball. Festooned with crocheted flowers, ribbon and beads along the seam and trailing up and down here and there, they were very victorian and beautiful. I made those and gave all of them but one away. Then when DD grew up she talked me out of that last one.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 5:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The stories in this thread are fascinating, educational and oh so heartwarming! Some of these shared memories are sweet enough to bring tears.

The human spirit and ability to cope show tremendous strength, but I do wonder what some of todays young people will do if really, really hard times hit...they roll off paper towels like they're free, buy disposable diapers, fast, frozen, convenience or restaurant food & what DH calls "designer water" to match their designer jeans & tennis shoes. It's almost rare to find one who knows how to stretch a meal or a dollar.

I hope you will ALL keep adding memories 'n tips here...

I love it!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 7:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Great thread! My grandma used to use the cloth strips to make what she called ringlets in my hair before church every Sunday too. Visiting my aunt, a sprite 93 year old, a few years ago, we made boiled hotdogs, and as I was about to pour out the water she yelled, "save the wiener water." She thinks it has nutrition - I suppose some, but . . . and uses it in something else. I guess I've picked up some frugality. I use the soapy water from cleaning cabinets or walls on the floor before I throw it out. And I like to jest sometimes that I'm the one who started that fashion about wearing jeans with holes in the knees.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 9:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, I forgot about weenie water. My mom was big on that, too. She'd pour it into stews or cook beans in it.

We all got so we hated to bring our families over to Mom's to eat, we never knew for sure what we were going to be ingesting. We eventually started requesting "favorites". Mine was biscuits and gravy. Truth be told, she probably mixed powdered milk into the weenie water and made the gravy with that. LOL

I let the dog drink it, he loves it. But I make sure he stays outside a long time or I'll take him for a walk in the park after a bit, because out there he thinks he has to pee on everything.

That gets me thinking about other kinds of 'water'. Potato water -- do you throw yours out? I save mine and use it in place of the liquid in bread recipes. It makes the rise better.

I never had my hair set with rags. We used hairpins and made pincurls. It was really the same results as using brush rollers and stick-pins, which were popular when I was a teen, but they were SOOOO hard to sleep in! After many years of putting up with that, I rediscovered hairpins and found that it's actually the same way of rolling up hair, except at the end, you fold it down to lay flat on your head. And there are two kinds of hairpins -- those that are bent tightly together and those that aren't. I could never figure out to use those ones that aren't. Must be some trick to making them stay in your hair.

Yes, I wonder about our wasteful youth, too. I tried to get DD to use cloth diapers but she hated them. Too much work, too much stink, leaking, having to change the baby too often. And I learned, disposable diapers are actually better for the baby if he doesn't get changed quickly and often. One of her babies got a terrible diaper rash and that developed into a staph infection. So I never brought up the topic of diapers again.

You try to teach your kids, but when they get away from you they do what their peers do. I've heard that marketers target the teen to early 20's group because they have the most "disposable money". But then when they have children and finances start getting a little tight, they come to places like this and learn from people like us.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 10:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love what everyone has posted here. Thank you. I've also wondered if the next generations will learn about/use some of these tips...and I recently found out that my sister with her girls has started reusing plastic bread (and other) bags for their school lunches. The younger of my nieces thought that idea was "so cool" - and she said that if the kids she eats with get too goofy, she reads the writing on the bags so that she can ignore them!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 9:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

LOL, Patser. In my childhood, I would've been embarrassed to bring my sandwich in a bread wrapper. Isn't it wonderful, this "green" movement, so the kids can get respect instead of ridicule for recycling things?

Plastic bread sacks made me remember something, though. When I was a young mother, I lived in a trailer park in Indiana. I had befriended another young mother and we and our kids were together quite a lot. Neither of us had families around. Our little postage-stamp sized yards were really muddy when it rained. We didn't have galoshes so we put bread wrappers over the kids' shoes. It wasn't perfect and it wasn't long till we found the money to buy galoshes, but it worked in a pinch. We also would improvise mittens out of sox, if they got their regular mittens wet from playing in the snow.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 11:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm in my 30's and remember my mom making my brother and I put bread bags on our feet before putting them into winter boots to walk to school -"to keep our feet dry." I was so embarrassed!

My grandmother has the family over for Christmas Eve each year. She puts out a "main course" and we all bring a food dish--it's quite casual. My dh and children are fussy eaters, so I always casually ask what she's making so I know if I should feed them before we go. Last year she said she wanted to make it easy, so it was just going to be pizza. I thought that would be good--everyone likes that. Well, grandma pulled some cheap-o pizzas out of the freezer and then "fixed 'em up" with extra cheese, veggies and (ugh!) sliced-up leftover hot dogs!!!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 4:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When my mom was the District Coordinator of the School Nurses, she had them get used twin sheets from Goodwill to use on the school beds in the office...
So they gave her some as a gag gift at her retirement party...
20 YEARS LATER, when I cleaned out her last home, there were still a couple left, that she was using as dust covers on the furniture, so the cat hair wouldn't mess up her good things!!!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 7:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roselee z8b S.W. Texas

I happened on this great thread when looking around the 'That Home Site'. Reading it brought back a lot of memories of my grandmother saving bacon grease in coffee cans, making sun dresses for me out of feed sacks (yeah, and I got to pick them out :-) So here is my frugal practice offering.

Back in the depression days it seems there wasn't much to do except go to church every night. The big old barn-like Taylor Tabernacle (with wooden benches and saw dust floors) had the best show in town anyway; plus it was free. So okay -- here's a super dupper gas saving tip (we can all use one of those, right?)

Since the church was DOWNHILL my grandmother, aunts, and the boarder, good ole Bob, (remember when people would take in a boarder if they had a spare bedroom?) PUSHED Bob's old Ford to church to save gas and cranked it up (literally) so that after church, when it was dark, they could *drive* it UPHILL to get back home!!!

And the neat thing was nobody thought a thing about it! It was just business as usual -- saving a nickle whenever you could. But the way they laughed about it for years afterward much more than doubled that nickle's value!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 7:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can remember just about all of the above with fond, fond memories.

Does anyone remember the early oleo margerine? My DS and I would take turns breaking the small capsule in the bag of white oleo and knead the bag until it turned yellow. It tasted awful. To this day I'm not a margerine lover.

We still had an icebox well beyond when most of our neighbors had gotten a 'fridge. My job was to empty the water from the catch basin.. I got the job because my bedroom was beyond the kitchen. But to get to the bathroom, I had to walk past the fridge in the kitchen. Forget to empty the water pan and you would walk through the COLD over-run on the floor. Only took once to remember to keep it emptied before turning in.

My Dad had built a wooden box to fit outside the bottom half of the kitchen window. During the winter our milk and other dairy was kept in the windowbox as the icebox was small and did not hold very much in the way of food. The milk would often freeze, so enough was put in the icebox for morning coffee and cereal. Back then we really had milk. It wasn't homoginized so we had the cream on top. My favorite at home and up on my Aunts farm. I just loved that cream on everything. Coffee was often mixed with other stuff back then like chicory. Love oatmeal and cream of wheat and wheatina now...but as a youngster...not so much, especially when it was varied with oelo and powdered milk. back then powdered milk wasn't what it is now.

My Mom also made our clothes from adult clothes that were outgrown or passed down, She did some beautiful work and I do wish I held on to a few of the timless pieces. Did any one have to wear those BIG 6 to 8" bows in thier hair. They were wide satin ribbon and had six to eight loops. They were used over and over and re-bowed after hand laundering and ironing. Always hanging lopsided after school.

We had a produce market, butcher, grocery etc. all separate small businesses. The produce owner would save all the green tops that other shoppers didn't want, like turnip and beet greens etc. and give them to my Mom and other "best" customers for soup greens at no charge. The butcher didn't charge for suet for the birds or marrow bones for soups or dogs to chew on either. You got your meat cut to order too. Often he would save the end pcs. of meat for his best customers and
send them home at no charge for soups, stews and sauces.
You sure won't see that nowadays.

For all that time was hard, it really was good!!!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 1:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Yes, I remember the white oleo and coloring it with the capsule of orangie stuff. Also remember the ice man delivering ice in an open bed truck. In the summertime we kids would tag alongside the truck until he would chip us a piece of ice, wrap it in a piece of brown paper, and give it to us to suck on.

During WWII everything was rationed, even shoes. How precious the little coupon books were -- as valuable as money. I remember my mom having to go to the ration board, show them how worn out my shoes were so she could get a coupon for another pair. She didn't know I wore them out sliding down a section of smooth concrete at school. But if you canned you were given extra sugar coupons so you could make jelly and preserves.

A week before Thanksgiving we'd go out to farmers in the country and buy a live turkey which was tied by the foot in the back yard. It would be a pet by the time thanksgiving came, but my pleadings not to kill it fell on deaf ears. Oh well, I had my grandma's chickens to play with. I had them all named and painted their toe nails. Once a laying hen had mites and when I collected the eggs I felt the mites run up my arm into my hair. My grandmother rinsed my hair in kerosine to get rid of them. I don't know what they doctored the chickens with.

Anybody remember separating the thin aluminum layer from paper chewing gum wrappers and saving them for the war effort? Also every little piece of string was saved by wrapping it in a ball.

Even nights are hot in Texas, especially in the upstairs bed rooms when the attic had no insulation. With no AC in those days, or even an electric fan, we'd make beds in the back yard and sleep outside. Oh how bright the stars were in the city back then and what fun to 'camp out' in your own back yard. BTW, I was born in 1936 and love every minute of my life.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 8:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I remember the early powdered milk. We moved "to town" from the farm when the oil drilling job my dad took to make ends meet moved into Oklahoma from Kansas. It was only supposed to be temporary but my parents ended up selling the farm and staying there in town.

What a culture shock it was! We were right on the highway in town. Our cowdog found it too foreign and he ran away. We never knew what happened to him. Gone were a lot of things we had become accustomed to, including the food. No more fresh milk/cream. Mom bought powdered milk and it was like water. I hated the blue color. But it was all we had.

We would walk about six blocks to "town" (which was only a block long) to get our mail at the post office and to buy a few things we needed at the little store on the corner in between major grocery shopping trips to the next town. This was when my mom discovered how to make chili. Buy a greasy red brick at the store, add some canned tomatoes and !voila!

I do genealogy, which requires a lot of reading of census, and I can vouch for the fact that many, many families took in roomers for decades. Their hired hands also lived with them. It may come to that, again, with so many losing their jobs and becoming homeless. Nowadays though, it would be quite a leap of faith to open your home to someone you didn't know.

Does anyone know what "Shank's mare" is? In the 1920's and 1930's, my mother said she was accustomed to walking long distances to get where she needed to go. When someone asked her how she got there, she would say that she "took Shank's mare". I never knew if it was a regional thing or a common expression. There were no athletic shoes then. You walked in whatever shoes you were wearing. Many times she walked long distances in high heels.

I remember a lot of things about that farm we had, even though I was only seven when we moved. Mom had a wringer washer that she would pull out of the smokehouse on wash day. The water would be pumped from the well, which was right in front of the smoke house. I know she heated the water, probably in that smoke house, but I don't remember much about that. She would wash the whites first, run them through the wringer, and save the water. Then she'd wash the colors in the same water, run the clothes through the wringer, and save it again. The last load would be Dad's work clothes in the same water. Then she would dump out that water and fill the washer with hot rinse water. She would rinse in the same order, using the same water from the whites as a pre-rinse for the colors. New rinse water for the second rinse of the colors and finish up in the same water for Dad's work clothes, only that one rinse. It seems strange to me now that she would only have three loads for our family, and maybe she had more and I just don't remember right. We wore the same clothes for more than one day, but there were five of us kids. I remember not getting a bath every day. We took our toothbrush, a glass of water and a little baking soda in our hand out to a rock in the back yard, dipped our toothbrush into the water and then pressed the bristles into the soda in our hand. Brushed our teeth and spit it out as far as we could from the rock. Finished off by rinsing out the toothbrush in the water glass and then rinsing out our mouths with the water, spitting it out on the ground. Such economy.

Weekends we almost always had company. Dad's brother used to bring his huge family over, usually unexpectedly, right at dinner time at least once a week. We were always aware of how much we had when they came over. The kids were always dressed so poorly. One time the cousin my age had on a shoe that had a loose sole. Every time he took a step, he'd have to flap it out so he wouldn't trip on it. Mom had my sister go upstairs and find a pair of our outgrown shoes to give him. Turns out a pair that had belonged to the sister just older than me fit him. Fortunately it was a brown oxford and he was thrilled to get a "new" pair of shoes even though they were girls shoes. We always bought Buster Browns. I don't think they had "off brands" then. Because that was a pair I would have grown into, I probably got a new pair when I grew to that point. And I do remember at some point going to the store and getting a new pair of Buster Browns, how good the new shoes smelled! Normally, though, I was the 4th girl in the family so nearly everything I had was a hand-me-down from someone.

Grandparents usually came over for dinner on the weekends. My mom's dad didn't like my dad's mom (she had been a single mom and was used to running things and he was an overbearing man who thought a woman had her place -- so they never saw eye-to-eye), so they would come on different days and Mom's meals were always big so one or two more places at the table never made much difference. It was noisy and like a party when someone came to visit.

We had a radio, but no TV. I remember everybody playing Monopoly. I always got to be the banker because I was too young to play. My sisters would hurry to get the supper dishes done and then pop a huge bowl of popcorn. Sometimes they would make a batch of fudge too, and we'd all lay on our stomachs on the floor and play Monopoly till bedtime. Other times Mom would play the piano and Dad his guitar and we would all sing. In summer we would sit out on the porch. We'd catch fireflies and crickets, and watch the June bugs hurl themselves at the screen door.

Going to town was a big thing. Many Kansas towns were built around a square. The center square would be a park. In Iola, Humboldt and I think also in Chanute, there was a gazebo in the park where bands would play sometimes. All around the center square, across the street, would be the shops. We would go to the feed store, the dime store, the grocery store. We butchered our own meat and had our own milk. Mom made cottage cheese and butter. We had chickens and pigs and Mom grew a garden and canned. So I don't remember much about the grocery store, or anything at all about a butcher shop. But the dime store! Mom would always give us a little money so we would shop and leave her alone while she got the things she needed.

Those were simpler times for sure. We girls shared bedrooms and didn't fight over the territory or have messy rooms because all we did in there was sleep. We played outside. In winter, we made our own paper dolls at the dining room table, or we sat on the couch in the living room and read books. Every Christmas we got a new doll. One year, when times were hard, there was no doll, but Mom made each of us a whole new wardrobe for the dolls we had. We had small closets because we didn't have many clothes. One pair of shoes at a time -- using the previous pair for work shoes. We always got white sandals in the summer though. And we went barefoot most of the time while we were home. Ever had "chicken chike" between your toes?

In 1954, I started first grade in a one-room school house that housed grades 1-8. It was about a mile's walk on a gravel road. During school, if we needed to go to the outhouse, we'd raise our hand, holding up one finger or two, depending on need. I never understood why the teacher needed to know that much detail. Sometimes there would be parties at the school house in the evenings. We always had a halloween party (heavy mugs of hot chocolate, bags of candy corn, bobbing for apples, a Christmas party (the tree lights Mrs. See would always fuss over because if one light went out, none of them would work), and there would be box suppers (full of fried chicken, and bread-and-butter sandwiches, maybe a pie) the box decorated with crepe paper) a couple of times during the summertime.

Now people just turn on the TV or go to the mall.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 8:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

After that last long post I'm sure y'all are just sick of me....

But here's something I noticed and maybe you have too:

Doesn't anybody under 30 know how to get the last of something out of its container?

Paint, mayo, peanut butter especially. A couple of days ago I baked a big pan of brownies. Today most of them are gone, (I've had two) but there are bits and pieces in the pan. I took the remaining brownies and put them in a zip-lock bag, then scraped the pan and poured the flakes and pieces into a bowl. Tonight when I have my scoop of vanilla ice cream, I'll put it in that bowl, along with a spoon of shredded coconut. DGS saw the bowl and said, "Are you using bowls for dustpans now?" Ha, ha. Very funny.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 12:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

ilene - your posting reminded me of an incident the other day. I was buying some packages of reduced cookies.. these were almost out of date and are very much like animal crackers in taste....but for a quarter a box, I went for it. A lady in front of me said her family really didn't care for the taste but she just threw the cookie contents into the food processor and made a graham cracker like crust out of them for a custard pie. FORTUNATELY my family likes the cookies but once again it was a think outside the box moment for me....cookie box that is.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 11:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Not to be disagreeable, but I will throw away the last brownie or whatever if no one else is going to eat it. I also try not to eat off my kid's plate just to save something from going to waste. It's easy to pop food into your mouth without realizing it. I don't need the extra calories. Sometimes a few bites of a food will stop the cravings. I throw it away instead of freezing it to reduce temptation.

I always look through the clearance bins for stuff. I get some really good bargains that way. I found Crest Whitestrips for $1 a while back. They were at their exiration date. I found bottles of Gatorade for $.50. I don't like the high fructose syrup in it on a regular basis, but Gatorade is good to have around for cold and flu season. I found some decorative gourds for $.25 last week. Those will be good for the kids to paint into snowmen over the holidays. I've bought packs of pencils for $.10. The teachers are always requesting those. Earlier this summer, I found the pocket size spiral notebooks for $.10. I bought about 50. They are great for the nursing home gifts and occupying the kids in the car.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 10:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My cousin and I were talking about the colored oleo just a couple weeks ago. I don't remember the mixing of it - we never did, but I remember the big 5¢ tax on colored oleo stickers on the margarine boxes. It always amazed me how people who grew up on farms, and used so much butter, being used to butter, would scarf up that margarine! As a kid I never ate much margarine. I never liked the taste. I'd melt it into toast and occasionally a tiny bit on boiled potatoes but that's about it. Never wanted it on sandwiches. When I moved out I started to experience real butter and have used it ever since. When it gets overpriced, I don't buy and don't use it, but when I want it I want real stuff.

The gum wrappers reminded me how my sister used to make gum wrapper chains. I don't know who chewed all that gum (I've never been much of a gum chewer) but she had 10-20 foot lengths of those gum wrapper chains and she'd make separate ones from the foil and the other wrapper.

Even these days when camping there's the brush teeth & spit with a glass of water, although I do use toothpaste. Never really tried baking soda. Don't know why.

DGS saw the bowl and said, "Are you using bowls for dustpans now?" Ha, ha. Very funny.
Yes... sorry, but that IS very funny!

One thing I never figured out. With all the frugality in my family growing up, especially with my dad, he would never carry a lunch box (or lunch pail if you prefer), even though he carried his lunch most every day of his working life. A skinny little fart who could eat all of us under the table. He always had a good appetite. Would really please people cooking for him. But I digress. He always wanted lunch bags. And they'd be store-bought. Ma would have to stuff it just right to fit everything in there. 2 big sandwiches, chips, 2 pieces of fruit (a banana and an orange were favorites), and 2 kinds of dessert (usually a piece of cake and 3-4 cookies). Fit THAT in those dinky bags! Sandwiches wrapped in wax paper, well most everything was. And he'd bring that bag back home to be reused until it fell apart. Then take a thermos of coffee with him and off he'd go. But he was excited that they were providing coffee in the later years so he didn't have to carry the thermos. -30° or +100° didn't matter, that thermos of coffee went with him after the bacon and eggs breakfast.

I carried my lunch most of my elementary school life. I guess I started on school lunches in Jr. high. I was a fussy eater. Guess I still am in some ways. But didn't realize there was a desire to reuse the bags. Didn't bother me to bring it home again, but I wasn't as obsessive about it.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 1:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I remember the little pill in the oleo bag. Actually, I lived on a farm, so I remember it from visiting relatives.

Margarine is something I never learned to like either. We grew up on a farm and I raised my kids on our 'farm', so it's been butter mostly. I did try the 'healthy' margarine - yuck!.

We decided butter was better, even though it costs a little more. We really don't use as much of it, as we did the margarine.

Of course, home churned would be better and the benefit of all that wonderful buttermilke - OK I'm hungry, now.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 2:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've enjoyed all the stories and tips. This thread has brought back a lot of memories for me too.

Ilene, my DD's in-laws were from Chanute, KS :)


    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 7:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No kidding, Vegangirl! What a small world. My mom's parents lived in Chanute and so did one of her sisters. My dad's mom lived in Iola and so did his sister. His brothers both moved to California. There was a huge exodus of people from around the Iola area to California. In fact I was told there were so many people living in this one neighborhood in CA that had come from Iola that they called it "Little Iola". LOL

Ladytexan, I don't like margarine, either. I buy butter and blend it in my food processor with olive oil: 1 pound butter to 1 C. olive oil. You could use any kind of oil you wanted but I prefer the olive. It spreads better this way. Yeah, it's still fattening, but maybe a little better for me.

Cynic, I remember making Juicy Fruit chains. We had everybody saving their wrappers for us. I think people chewed gum more then than they do now.

Adella, I guess I could've thrown those last few brownies away but it doesn't make much sense to me to bake if I'm just going to throw part of it away. I'm raising a grandson who eats constantly (no he's not overweight). If I don't have something for him to snack on, then he's in the refrigerator eating things that I would otherwise use as ingredients for a meal. And Cynic, if he hadn't had those brownies in the baggie to eat, he would've been eating my crumbles in the bowl that he made the remark about. LOL! I know that it's a relative thing, but when I make brownies I make a huge pan of them. And they are almost all gone in a couple of days. The grandson did eat the brownies I had put in the ziplock bag, and I ate the crumbles with a little shredded coconut and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was quite good. We're all different. However, I wouldn't think tooth-whitening products were a bargain at any price. I think they damage tooth enamel. Not to mention that stuff that you accidentally swallow while the strips are on your teeth. But to each his (her) own. :) --Ilene

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 11:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just 'had' to catch up on all the tips & memories today. They have brought a smile & "I remember" more than once :-)
Ilene & vegangirl - I have Chanute connections, too. My mother grew up just S of there & father in same general area. Mama's bro still lives there. And Ilene, I'm in NEOk, too; born in KS. Cousins in Ark. Mmm, nearly related &/or it's a small world :-)

I've used soda or soda/salt mix to brush teeth with the glass of water (no running water). And the wringer washer with water heated over an open fire. Ahh, memories! I am very thankful for my aging washer/dryer. My g'kids wouldn't know where to start with a wringer washer, tho I think the youngest g'dau might figure it out fairly quickly, while the oldest g'dau would think it 'beneath her'. Rather sad, really.

I've enjoyed this thread & will check back to see who may have added more memories.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 3:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Jayokie, are you familiar with a place called "Lee-Anna"? I don't know how it's actually spelled. When people would ask where our farm was, my mom would always say it was near there. Our little one-room school was called "Prairie View". I ran under a swing on the playground there, playing shadow tag, and got a bad smack on the head. Had to have stitches. I remember bleeding in the car on the way to the doctor. That was back when swings had wooden seats, and is the reason why they don't, anymore. My older sisters rode the school bus to high school in Elsmore. Two of them met their husbands there. By the time I and the sister just older than I were dating age, we were in Oklahoma, so our DH's were Oklahoma boys.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 9:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I'm going to try the olive oil and butter thing.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 1:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ilene I've tried to send you an email via Garden Web. If it doesn't come thru, pls let me know. It's a 'first' so ...
fingers crossed :-)

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 3:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


What a trip down memory lane this topic has been. Thanks to all the posters.

My grandparents (from Italy) used to have us kids trap pigeons on their roof. You always knew what supper was going to be. Living in the big city, they had just a tiny back yard. No matter. Every inch was devoted to the most delicious fruits and vegtables, many of which I had my first taste of through them.

Cookies,pies, etc. were only for special occasions. Otherwise it was fruit or nuts for desert.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 11:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Jayokie, I got your e-mail and responded. --Ilene

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 4:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Just a note about adding olive oil to butter is to use extra light olive oil or the taste of olive oil will overcome the taste of the butter. I like the taste of olive oil myself, but hubby didn't, so now I use the extra light.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 12:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

roselee, thanks.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2008 at 11:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

LOL, you'll all think this is funny.... Turns out Jayokie and I live in the same town, not more than a few blocks from each other! --Ilene

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 12:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh ilene and Jayokie - that's too funny - and so very nice.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2008 at 12:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm (a young) 68 but reading the above makes me feel older than dirt as there is very little in them that is unfamiliar to me.

I had to bring the aluminum foil that my mother used in my lunches home, to much derision from the girls that I ate lunch with in high school. Rarely could I buy lunch at school. I remember the orange button for oleo during the war years. My father absolutely refused to eat margarine after the war was over - only butter for him, which he spread on everything (even angel food cake). He stayed physically active his entire life and lived to be almost 81.

Yes, I made that button toy. Had forgotten all about it. And I wonder about disposable diapers. Would never have been able to afford them for my babies (altho' with the 2nd child, I would buy a dozen for times we traveled - very rare and very expensive). Diapers made the best rags. When my grandson was born in 1996, I searched and searched for cloth diapers. Finally found pre-folded ones which DIL used as burp cloths, etc.

During WWII, I vaguely recall my father riding a bicycle to work so that gas could be used for pleasure. Also, I remember what a treat marshmallows and gum were, due to sugar being rationed. We lived in a town in Iowa but my parents planted a vacant lot and shared the produce with the owner. We ate very well but I was not aware of it at the time.

One year my father (who couldn't resist a "bargain") bought a case or two of canned green beans from a salvage place (damaged goods sold by the railroad). I came to absolutely hate canned green beans.

All this brings back such good, warm memories. I know how to live very frugally - had to when first married and my first husband was attending college and I was working at a secretarial job to support us and our first child. Still do a lot of frugal shopping. My present DH is not nearly as frugal and is embarrassed that I try to save money. He gets especially upset that I will return something he buys that we don't need. Oh, well.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2008 at 1:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was searching for information about furniture and somehow stumbled on this Forum! I didn't know it existed! I'm a frequent poster on Kitchens and less frequently on a few others, but this one is one I've never seen before!

Well, I just read this entire was so interesting! I do remember some things and I realized that I used to do some of them myself but have gradually, over the years, succumbed to society's disposable attitude.

Yep...I remember saving the plastic bread bags, washing out the "zip loc" bags, and several others.

One of things I remember the most when growing up is how my mom saved money on milk. We were a family of six children close in age and went through at least 2 gallons of milk per day. My dad would buy milk at a local dairy on the way home from work and my mom would then "double" it by making it half "real milk" and half milk reconstituted from dry milk + I disliked that stuff...but in those days you drank it anyway b/c that's all there was (and my parents made me!)

I also remember whenever we went anywhere we always made our own picnic lunches...we never bought food or drinks when we were out...whether it was going to Niagara Falls for the day or to a local state park or the drive-in movies...we always brought our own food...breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack!

The very, very few times we went to McDonald's it was a huge deal and we were so excited to "eat out". My kids, OTOH, have eaten out so much that they hate it...they always want to eat at home! [That's starting to change as we go out much less now than we used to!]

One thing that I still do that drives my DH batty...I'm a pack rat! Growing up money was so tight that we saved everything in case it could be used for something else and so often it could! I would need something for school or whatever and if we couldn't afford it I visited the basement to find something to "make do" or convert to the use I needed. I honestly think that that in and of itself taught me to think "outside the box" and be creative when needed. I can "see" how something can be adapted to another use. It frustrates me when my children can't do it as well...b/c they never really had to. I'm still a pack rat, but I haven't been as diligent at "making do" as I could be since we're much better off than my parents were and haven't need to. But, b/c of this, my DH doesn't see the reason for keeping things around. [He grew up in a family that was comfortable and never saved anything...he thinks it's not worth saving stuff b/c it takes up room.] Occasionally I've "made do" and pointed out that this is why...but I don't do it often enough to seem worthwhile to him.

I have to say, though, that I think all this is going to be changing for many of us... The economy is so bad for so many people and I think it's only going to get worse. Whether it'll get as bad as The Great Depression, I hope not, but I do think it's going to get bad.

I plan to visit this site frequently for more ideas! I think we're all going to need them and we need everyone who either does these things or remembers them to remind us of what we can do to get through the next few years!

Keep it up everyone and thank you!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 1:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

dockside, I'm 67 plus - whether a young one or not, I'm still making up my mind.

I do remember the war and rationing. I remember Granny and Grandad talking about giving up sugar in their coffee so the 'babies' could have their cocoa. I remember going to town in a horse drawn wagon or buggy because either there was no gas or the tires were too bad. We were pretty poor, so I'm not sure rationing affected us in too many ways. I still have my Grandad's ration stamp book.

buehl, I'm a packrat as well. My husband used to say, 'if you haven't used it in a year, you don't need it'. Now he comes to me and asks, 'do you have any so and so'?

There have been times my packrating has saved us, and others, money. I'd save more if I could always remember where everything is squirrelled away.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2008 at 4:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This thread is wonderful. I am 60 and my parents grew up during the depression, so they saved everything. My mother tried to stretch stuff - she had us tear the paper napkins in half - we each got half. My sister mortified her one night in from of company by asking if she should tear the napkins in half. Mom also added water to the last of the syrup to make it go further. We grew all of our own vegetables and fruit. We (the kids) had to pick everything. All summer, we picked veggies and fruit. To this day, I can't stand green beans.

My father's parents were very frugal. Grandpa made his own fishing nets. He had a bottling plant for a while, his brother had a dairy. My grandmother would unravel sweaters, etc. to make new sweaters or rugs. I still have a rug she made by sewing rolls of yarn onto a heavy duckcloth like material. She made a lot of our school clothes, stuffed animals, etc. Grandpa made our teeter-totter, our wagon, and our child sized furniture. When my nieces out-grew the furniture, my SIL gave it away. Mom was furious, but who has room these days to store stuff for nostalgia?

My parents still save everything. We learned after my MIL died and the house was full of stuff she had never used; we have been going through our clothes, books, etc. to donate stuff or sell on CL. When we have to sell my parent's house, there will be a heck of a yard sale. My dad even has the wool coat he wore in college - he is 87 years old!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 2:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My parents never "wasted" money on glue - you used flour and water paste. They considered staplers, paper clips, etc. to be the height of depraved luxury. We did have ONE pair of scissors that you had to make a big case to justify why you wanted to use them. Ditto for our one roll of Scotch tape. Pens and pencils were kept track of, lest they be "lost" and my biggest treat at grandparents' house was to be allowed to use the set of colored pencils (on the back of used paper, of course.)

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 10:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I usually hang at the Garden Forum, but came over here and this post hooked me!

I am 43 years old and both of my parents were born in the depression.'d think I'd live through it!

Bread bags, ziplocs - save them all and reuse.
Clothing - I think my 14 year old has finally worked out all her hand-me-downs from her 16 year old and 21 year old sisters. Now...they sell all stylish items that they outgrow at "boutique" thrift stores to get the cash and go to the "normal" thrift stores to buy "new to them" jeans. Other items include sweats and hoodies with their team names and numbers on them, so they never get tossed (have to figure out how to make them into quilts).
Kitchen Scraps - I have two large coffee cans on the counter that collects everything from coffee grounds to Veggie clippings and out to the garden it goes!
Bacon Grease - we don't have bacon too often, but when we do, whatever we are having for lunch and/or dinner gets cooked in it.
I grow all my vegetables in the summer and have moved my herbs inside for the winter (and use what is left from the cats! Did you know cats like lemon thyme, parsley, cilantro, and mint??)
All meat bones are cooked for stock...we had ham for xmas and had to figure out what to do with it (made awesome potato soup!)
Wood ash from the fireplace goes into the garden as an "amendment"
Dryer? My DH has been out of work for a while now, so we don't have a dryer. The only thing that kind of stinks is the towel issue...they're a bit stiff. But other than that, everything smells "fresh" and our clothes are lasting a lot longer ( girls are happy since their jeans get more $$$ at the boutique thrift stores!)
Our dishwasher needs new wheels, and cash is tight, so we hand wash. They're cleaner and we use less water.
I collect all the yogurt containers from my DH and will use them to start my veggies for the Spring.
Although I compost, I use way too much of it, so I get it for free from the Fairmount Park Commission in Philadelphia...this stuff is beautiful and my garden was awesome last year!
Wood - when driving if I spot wood, I stop and throw it into the back of my car, haul it home, so we can burn it in the fireplace.
I buy in bulk...when the kitchen cabinets are empty-ish, I start to get nervous (here's that depression-era behavior I mentioned above!) and start hording canned goods and dried pasta when it's on sale.'s the kicker...remember the 14 & 16 year old I mentioned above (the 21 year old does not live with me)...THEY "seek and find" wood for me to go get (16 year old has actually made her boyfriend stop the car and bring me the wood!), they know all about the composting and help, they have made curtains for me from scrap material, they are fully aware of what the "clearance" rack is and only shop there (if not in the thrift store), they LOVE the Philadelphia AIDs thrift store (cool items very cheap), enjoy homemade bread and ask when I'm baking more, etc. They do not think it is "odd" when I talk about saving the Thanksgiving turkey carcass, xmas ham bone, or chicken bones for stock (and talk about it freely with their friends like they are sharing a well-kept secret!).

We frequent CraigsList in order to recycle and we (the girls and I) enjoy garage sales.

DH...well he's one of those "grazers" and will eat everything in sight. He has not always been as frugal as we'd like him to be, but he's learning. Mr. "Let's have the compost delivered" realized last year that we saved HUNDREDS of dollars by hauling the free compost ourselves - I have a chevy equinox that can handle 5 "recycle" cans in the back of it....25 cans total full of compost. Recycle center is 8 miles from my house...I used less than a tank of gas. Even with gas at $4 a gallon, it would have been $50 for a full tank of gas total. Now...he listens to me. :o)

Oh, and I do remember the button dolls! I have a bucket from my mom's house when we cleared it the time I wanted to toss them but the girls said "NO...THEY WERE GRANDMOMS!" and I kept them....and I'm glad I did now (I have no idea what I'm going to do with them, but glad I have them).

Pam Brigandi
Havertown, PA

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 11:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This will gross you out, but when I was a teenage girl, my mom and I shared clothes, including underpants!
Unfortunatly, she wore them until they were falling apart, elastic coming off and generally rags. I was mortified. Finally I saved enough babysitting money to buy my own, just before going off to college.

Well, when I got to the dorms, all the girls were running around in their underwear and I was the only one who wasn't wearing bikini panties. Mine were granny panties, practically up to the armpits. I took some of my book money and bought new bikini panties. One luxury I always allow myself now is nice underwear. And my daughter and I don't share.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 11:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Some heartstring in me just had to respond to this thread. Many of the stories made me chuckle and some I bordered on crying. I have to add a recent conversation I had with DS who's now 26. He called and asked why did I buy DGS fruit rollups where as I had not bought them for him as a child? My initial response was that they were not invented. He proclaimed that was not so and explained when he was little all the other kids had fruit rollups in their lunch bags, but not him. I responded that he had better--homemade cookies, fudge, cake, etc. I felt badly because he said that he remembers coveting their fruit rollups. All I could think about afterwards was hoping that there was no permanent damage done. lol Oh, I did offer to buy HIM some now.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 12:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

My mother would occasionally entertain us about her teen and college years - and the biggest horror was having to wash her hair in laundry detergent. Grandmother thought soap was soap!
She had one new pair of shoes each year and one new dress. And they were a prosperous family- grandpa was a plant manager for many years.
I think this is what made her a clothes-aholic years later and rebounded with me- made me frugal.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 3:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm 45, and even in the 60's and 70's when I grew up, we got one new pair of shoes each year. I usually had a pair of "school shoes" - brown lace-up shoes, a pair of sneakers, and a pair of Mary Janes for church. I wore my older brother's work boots to play in the snow.

I have 3 sons - each have a hiking boots, tennis shoes, basketball shoes, church shoes, snow boots, reguar oxford shoes, slippers. We are DROWINING in shoes in my tiny house! And compared to their friends, they each have very few pairs of shoes.

I think, as a percentage of income, shoes cost a lot more back then as compared to now.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 10:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Back in the 40's when I was small, we were taught to polish our school shoes each liquid stuff, it was wax & buff. A pc of newspaper was placed on hearth & they were all lined up & ready for school the next morning.

My Dad was a real stickler for clean, polished shoes all his life and I am too.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 9:57AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Does anyone remember bluing? Anyway my grandmother always did the final rinse of white things in blue water. The bluing came in a bottle, a blue one of course, and it only took a capful to do the rinse.

She used it as a rinse for her white hair too :-)

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 7:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh yes I remember mother swore by it and still does at 84! Remember all those lacy doilies? Big change EVERY week and having to starch all those darn doilies ..... and my mother liked colored the neighbor would notice the change from blue to pink or whatever. God forbid you put out blue ones following a week of blue one would notice!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 6:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
roselee z8b S.W. Texas

How cute about the colored doilies Budster! But I didn't know they still sold bluing since we now have modern detergents and enzymes to brighten the laundry. We're always learning about something old, or new, around here everyday. Thank you everybody!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 9:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I bought some bluing recently to use to grow crystals on a sponge. Remember that from elementary school - salt and bluing on a sponge? I did that experiment with my boys. I found bluing at the grocery store.

Speaking again of button jars, I lost a button off my favorite sweater this weekend. It has 8 buttons and I had to replace them all as the ones on it were very distincitive & I couldn't find a match. I looked through my button jar & the wonderful box of buttons nan_ne sent me recently - and there were not 8 matching buttons of the right size, I ended up having to go to Joann's and buy buttons! So just WHY did our grannies save all those buttons? To add frustration to their lives?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 9:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

mommabird Our mothers and grannies saved all those buttons to provide hours of entertainment to the kids. We would divide them up into piles by color and size. We practiced our counting and our adding and subtracting. Never needed to worry about missing markers for games, grab a button! We did crafts making whole scenes out of buttons glued on with the old four and water paste glued onto the cut up cereal boxes. Sometimes Grandma would see a certain button and have a story to tell - "I remember that button came off your dad's workpants when he drove the bus." The hours of entertainment those buttons provided. I'm sure we all have button jars somewhere, but now a days the kids need more complex forms of entertainment it seems. Did anyone else have emergency surgery done on their stuffed animals by having button replacements sewn on for noses and eyes after the factory one had fallen off or got lost? I'm sure half the stuffed toys I had as a kid had a replacement somewhere on their body. Those were the days!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 12:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm only about a third the way through reading all the posts in this thread but I am enjoying it so much. And as I've read, and recalled things my mom and grandma did, I wrote them down. Even added some things I still do. And recalling all those things and writing them down is just as much fun as reading all of your posts. I've got to quit now, and make supper shortly, but will come back and read again later. for now, here are the great memories you've brought back to me.

My mom took lard sandwiches to school (the few months of the year she and her siblings were allowed to go to school instead of working on the farm). They were homemade bread spread with nothing but lard. When they came home from school, their after school lunch was sourkraut from the crock that my grandmother stored in the root celler.

She always saved margerine and cool whip containers to do her freezing in.

My grandmother was the interesting saver though... she saved rubber bands, pieces of string, and even the aluminmun top that she cut off her coffee cans with the can opener. The rubber bands and string I can understand but I never did figure out what she was going to do with all those sharp edged circles she cut off the coffee cans!

Oh, and she gave each of her grandkids a dollar for Christmas, rolled up in the cardboard from the middle of a roll of toilet paper!

Grandma made applesauce cake and cookies for all her kids and grandkids for Christmas. She'd start out with the same basic recipe, but if she didn't have enough applesauce, she'd add some other kind of mushed canned fruit, and on more then one occasion she filled in with tomato juice! Odd thing was, no matter what she used instead of (or mixed with) the applesauce, the cakes were always moist and delicious! Then when she had measured out and baked cake, she'd take the rest of the batter and add extra flour to it to make the cookies. They were always great too.

My mom raised chickens and she'd can the old hens once they no longer laid eggs. That canned chicken made the best milk gravy. I love it over biscuits and mashed potatoes to this day! And Mom would save the chicken fat and use it for the shortening in pie crusts. That yellow chicken fat made the prettiest and flakiest pie crusts you ever saw! Chicken manure was the best fertilizer too.

Mom always had a garden that was about an acre in size too. She raised strawberries too. I remember picking strawberries and green beans by the 5 gallon bucket! And sweet corn.. we'd pick a pickup load of it and all of us girls would blanch it, cut it off the cob, and freeze it (in all those saved margerine tubs). The guys would usually help out with picking and shucking it.

Oh, and the cracklin's that a couple of folks have mentioned. They are the best ever when heated up and served with pancakes. I haven't had those in YEARS! Ok... haven't had them in DECADES! But they sure were yummy.

And we didn't wash styrofoam plates (of course Mom only used those in her later years) but we always washed plastic 'silverware' and used it forever, or at least until it broke.

We had an outhouse when I was growing up and although we used toilet paper (not magazine pages) my dad, who was a farmer, always used corn cobs. I guess he did that when he was away from the outhouse and had to go, but then he also kept some corncobs in the outhouse and used them there too. Not exactly sanitary and definitely NOT soft!

And when they had their first icebox, my father in law wouldn't let my mother in law or the kids freeze icecubes because it would cost to much.

I guess I've inherited some of their frugality.

We always reused wrapping paper. Even now, I can hardly stand to rip the paper off a gift. People get impatient waiting for me to find the tape and remove it :-)

My step-daughter had jeans that ripped... all the way around each leg. The only thing holding the legs on was the inseam. We bought a pair of old jeans at the goodwill that were nearly the same shade, and I cut sections out of the legs (after matching up the width of the legs) and sewed them into the original jeans. She loved them! She wore them to a school dance and got all kinds of compliments on them!

I work at home, doing telephone support for a software product, and it's necessary for me to take lots of notes. I save ALL of my scrap paper, use each side, and sometimes (if I didn't have a lot of notes for a single customer) I turn the paper upside down and use it from the other end too!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 6:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

budster- now I have tears in my eyes. My original button jar came from Mrs. Green, our elderly neighbor when I was a kid. When she and my mom would visit, I'd sit on the floor and play with the buttons. I would sort, count, etc just like you described. She also used to give me a darning needle and thread so I could make button braclets - and there are several still in the jar that I made when I was 5 or 6. She gave me the jar when I was 8 or 9, when she moved into a retirement home. It was, is, and always will be my #1 prized possession. You are so right - the point of the button jar isn't to have a button, the point is to provide entertainment. She also used to give me a darning needle and thread so I could make button braclets.

I wish I'd let my boys play with the botton jar more - but I was so afraid they would break the jar or loose the buttons. I was too caught up on MY memories of it to let them develop their own. I did let them play with it on occasion, so maybe they will remember those special occassions.

Nan_ne sent me a whole box of buttons in plastic bags. Does anyone have any idea where I could get a large, thick glass jar with a screw-on lid to make a button jar? Mrs. Green used a giant sized Mallow Creme jar - the lid still has the Mallow Creme logo & recepie for Mallow Creme and PB sandwiches. Food just doesn't come in jars like that any more - giant sizes of stuff comes in cans now.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 9:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you want a large jar, check out the huge pickle jars like they have at Wal-Mart. They are with the extra large cans at our Wal-Mart.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 10:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mommabird, they sell big jars at K-Mart, too, for use as canisters. They're under the Martha Stewart brand and they look like the old coffee jars. Hold about a gallon. I think there's also a smaller version that holds about a quart.

You can also go to restaurants and ask them for jars that they get pickles or marashino cherries or hot peppers in, although some of these things come in plastic jars now.

Garage sales are a good source, too, but you may have to go to several before you run onto one. Try flea markets if there are any near you.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 7:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Bluing works wonders on whites! I discovered it 3 or 4 years ago; now I use bluing in every load of whites. Wish I'd known about it when my kids were little. Makes a very big difference. I use Mrs Stewart's.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 10:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mommabird - I have some of those jars you describe, my MIL got them when she worked in a hospital kitchen. Any large establishment should have some - start calling around and I'm sure you will score a hit. Like you I wonder why I too didn't let my child play with the button jar more. I guess like some one else said, it was we were worried they'd swallow them or something just as awful. Funny that wasn't even a consideration when I was small. Guess we just knew better? I did purchase a little toy for my child about 30 years dumb was this - the toy was a jar of oversize buttons and a plastic needle (also oversize) to help with hand eye co-ordination! They were to thread the buttons through one eye, one on top of the other and then go back up through the second hole. Some of the buttons had 4 wholes, some had 2 but they were to be separated and made into two strings as the child advanced. Oh yah, a therapist reccommended this toy and my child did enjoy it but just how dumb is that?? Oh well, I donated it to a preschool after we were done with it. But really how silly!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 2:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There is a very large nursing home in my neighborhood - I'm going to call and ask if they can give me the jars! I called them once when I needed giant cans for a Cub Scouts project for my den. I asked the kitchen manager I needed 2 large cans. When I went the next day to pick them up, he had about 40 cans for me!! I hope they recycle all those giant cans if they use that many in a day!

Budster, I'm laughing about they toy because I bought something equally as silly when my sons were toddlers. It was a kit with a big plastic needle and felt shapes. They were supposed to sew the shapes together - like whip stitching. I thought after they opened it, this is dumb - I have plastic needles from sewing pieces of afagans together, left over yarn, and felt squares! I had everything in the house to MAKE that toy. It was a "frugal slip" to buy it.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 4:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've LOVED all these stories, brings back old memories. My kids and grandkids now automatically hand me the boxes, bows, gift bags, and ocassionally paper from holiday wrapping when we are opening gifts, along with a "funny" look, but they've also asked me on occassion if I have any wrapping paper or gift box lying around if they are in need of such. As for the bacon grease, of course, I can't imagine anyone not saving it. My kids sure like "Granny's green beans" and ask me to bring them to any add a dish. I would really like to have a good book with "recipes" for making all natural things such as shampoo, laundry detergent, etc. if anyone can suggest one.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 3:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Bobo, I recommend Rodale's Book of Practical Formulas: Easy-to-Make, Easy-to-Use Recipes for Hundreds of Everyday Activities and Tasks, edited by Paula Dreifus Bakule and put out by Rodale Press. You might try to find it on Amazon. --Ilene

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 12:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm 50 and grew up in the Chicago area. A few memories are:
--making those endless gum chains, for no real purpose. Did we really chew that much gum??
--also making endless yarn-rope chains with that neat little contraption (a spool with four nails in it) and a hook. I guess we were supposed to then sew them into a round rug, but we only kept making colorful chains.
--my mother sprinkling then rolling up my dad's white shirts and putting them in the refrigerator (?) until ironing them.
--typical school box sandwiches were liverwurst or peanut butter. For both, my mother spread mayonaise on the other side of the bread. (Peanut butter and mayo? Amazing that I'm still alive).
--my German/Czech grandparent spread lard on bread, then dipped it in chopped parsley for a sandwich.
--that super thin onion-skin-like overseas letter paper. You wrote on every inch and then the recipient lost a lot of the message because it always tore when trying to open the sides and top.
--some of my favorites memories were long, hot summer days with mom and grandma sitting outside on the porch swing and fanning themselves while we ran through the sprinkler. And warm nights with the windows open and the crickets' songs and fire flies everwhere. Where did all the fire flies go? I don't even think we had electric fans.
--some luxuries in the house were the occasional magazine my mom bought, paper towels, any beauty product besides Johnson's baby shampoo, Tame cream rinse, Ponds' cream.
--powdered milk. We hated the stuff, but went through several years of it. Had to make it freezing cold before we could drink it. Yuck!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 8:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks so much for the tip on the book Rodale's Book on Practical Formulas. I did go to Amazon and found one for $.54 + 3.99 shipping, talk about frugal. I'm sure I'll enjoy it and get lots of info.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 10:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You're welcome Bobo!

Marita, I saw fireflies just the other night! It took me back, too. We lived on a farm when I was little and I remember those evenings on the porch. We kids would chase the fireflies with a jar and try to save them. One Hot evening, as we all sat out on the porch, eating fresh, hot buttered "roast n'eers", it clouded over and started to rain. We kids played out in the rain and got soaking wet, but it was SOOOO refreshing after such a hot day.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 10:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just "surfed" in here.
When I was about 8 yrs old my uncle gave mother a parachute.
She made panties for us. I hated those, as the had the elastic in a casing and not sewn on like the store bought.
Lord forbid that I look different than the rest of the girls.
I don't know about now, but back then parachutes were made from 100% silk.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 4:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, my gosh! I had forgotten all about the parachute! We had one too. I was about five or six when I first became aware of it, so that would be about 1952. It was huge, and I don't remember whatever happened to what was left of it. My mom had a picture of my oldest sister in her prom dress that was made out of it! My sister was 16 when I was born and so that would've been about 1948 or 1949.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 5:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

And how often did you run around in just panties, for the public to see whether the elestic was store-bought sewn-on ... or enclosed in a tube???

I have a current problem.

I have briefs whose elastics have got older and tireder than even I ...

... and when working in my garden in my coveralls (with cotton sheet between cap and covderalls to deter mosquitoes) ...

... or running errands in town ... or doing whatever ...

... it becomes somewhat frustrating to have them slide down till they hang around my knees: the only thing worse that I can think of in that departement is were I to be wearing a dress, and out in public!

I've been trying to figure a way to make an elastic belt for myself to hold the briefs up. Portable ... because I have about half a dozen pairs of briefs in such condition. Trouble is, I've been wondering what to use as a fastener ... but think that a couple of pieces of velcro fastened to the ends would work well.

Too frugal to throw those old briefs out ...

... well, at least until there's such holes in the bottom that they look as though they'd suffered through jet-propelled diarrhea.

I have some bean seeds, saved from last year's crop - stored in a carton that held choc. milk a while ago.

Hope you're having a great week - I just spent part of yesterday and today visiting with my brother and wife from the Prairies ... down in this area to attend their son on the birth of their grandchild. It's always as joy to spend time with them.

ole joyfilled

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 3:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was referring to gym class and sleep overs.

When I was in HS Mother used old panties as a dish rag.
A friend of hers came to visit and took them off the clothes line and took them home with her.
When Mother's birthday rolled around, she received a package from her friend. It was those panties. They frequently did those type of gags to each other.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 9:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Joyful - it sounds like it is time to throw in the towel on those briefs! LOL

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 11:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hey go with the velcro Joyful......and each extra wearing will give you a smile. Budster

    Bookmark   July 26, 2009 at 2:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Loved the post about making the milk go further by mixing real milk with the powdered kind. Not bad if it got ice cold, but as you I had 5 brothers and sisters so it hardly ever did. So many other posts remind me of my grandmother "Nana", who would never throw out a paper towel if it just wiped up a splash of water, put it over the towel rack and let it dry and it can be used again. Make two cups of tea with one tea bag, who could taste the difference. Using old nylons to tie things, reusing almost anything that was purchased really, certainly not the disposable society we have created!!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 4:48PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Need Ideas-Extra Space/Supplemental Income
My wife and I recently had twins which upped our kid...
hail damage
is it necessary to have hail damage insurance in MN...
kitchen sink size???
What is the best size for a kitchen sink? I am thinking...
Holiday decorations
Hey all, I've got a great money saving tip for everyone. You...
credit card question
I have a large amount of credit card debt from various...
Sponsored Products
'Mom Since' Personalized Stemless Wineglass - Set of Four
$31.99 | zulily
APA Marketing by Whalen Bell Tower TV Stand - Dark Ash Multicolor - BEL-TV54-RTA
$299.99 | Hayneedle
Outdoor Lanterns. Stewart 1-Light Outdoor Black Incandescent Wall Lantern
$62.25 | Home Depot
'Good Moms' Wall Sign
$12.99 | zulily
Safavieh Area Rug: Courtyard Sand/Black 2' x 3' 7"
$29.97 | Home Depot
ACF by Nameeks ACF C02-W Cubical 22-in. Single Bathroom Vanity Set - Wenge Multi
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™