Thursday, January 22, 2009

There's thrifty, and then there's my parents.

Thanks for all your comments about my "time out" episode. Now I know I am in good company!
Do you wanna hear about our crazily thrifty childhood? I was the youngest of nine children (Mary Anna is the second-to-youngest) and our parents deliberately rejected the consumeristic lifestyle that they percieved to dominate the 60's, 70's, and 80's. My Mum sewed and cooked, and kept a huge garden that fed us most of the time. My Dad kept chickens and swapped eggs for honey and all manner of other things, and was a junk-shopper/recycler extraordinaire. I can see that I have inherited many of these characteristics, and they are oh so very satisfying!
Both parents were quite extreme in their way, but they didn't really make a big fuss about thinking the things they did about recycling and reusing. Here's an example: Mum saved all the mutton fat from the Sunday roasts and made soap from it. She mixed sand into some of it to make sandsoap (for washing the floor) and the rest she used for washing clothes, grating it into the washing machine on an old grater like washing powder.
Lately I've been making all our household cleaners, so I became interested in how Mum made that soap. She gave me this recipe, saying "It's pretty close, although I didn't bother with the Lux flakes".

And here is another page from an old recipe book I remember well, and loved to cook things from. Can you tell it was well-loved by nine children all learning to cook?


  1. Yep, thrifty alright. But it's a very useful skill to have, don't you reckon? It's good to be content with what you have, and use your imagination and resources to conjure up what you don't. I

  2. Wow, what an interesting childhood, and inspiring. I've made homemade laundry detergent before and it didn't turn out too well. Maybe I'll give it another shot.

  3. My own personal cookbooks already look like that. Only thing is, there isn't nine of me. I'm just very, very messy.

    I'm wondering about where one could find caustic soda. That sounds dangerous, doesn't it? No swearing or I'll wash your mouth out with casutic soda! I'll bet that would put an immediate end to potty mouth.

    VW- soping

  4. "It's good to be content with what you have" is the oft repeated lesson in my house. Next to that, perhaps more so than that, is "share what you have" and "let go" (or don't hold onto what you have), two lessons which I believe are the same or closely related. My parents love to shop... for themselves. I grew up believing that more is better. Now that I have my own family, living on a small budget and in a small house, I'm learning right along with my kids these lessons. I'm not suggesting that if I were to have a much larger budget and a larger house that I would feel better about consuming more. Really, when I had excess funds, I bought myself a few pairs of really pretty shoes . . . which are still looking pretty in the closet, being untouched for so long. I know that when I turn forty my feet would be a bit wider, and those pretty shoes would be a testimony to me.

  5. Hi! I just came for the first time via Filth Wizardry. I look fwd to reading more :)