Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

August 14, 2010


Please ignore the Politically Incorrect child doing her best stereotypical Native American impression, fake tomahawk and all.

My purpose of this particular post is the actual kitchen itself. This was probably taken in the summer of 1969, when I was 4-1/2 years old, and right before I started kindergarten. We're talkin' "Stone Age" here. My cousins who read this will probably laugh, as I do, about the fact that my mom's kitchen has barely changed since this picture was taken. They had to get a new fridge and new dishwasher, and they changed the wall paper in the late 90's. Other than that, the stove, cabinets, table & chair, counter and sink, and the light fixture on the ceiling, are original, and predate this photo (the stove was bought in 1964). My parents were of the mind that, if it ain't broke, don't fix (or remodel) it. Over and above that, my mom has never been able to make a timely decision in her life. She will agonize for years over a wall paper pattern. The hallway stayed in it's slowly cracking sheetrock glory for about 6 years before she finally decided on a pattern. She's the first one to admit that she is very indecisive. And people wonder why I grew up to be impulsive. And also to have white painted walls.

My parents were extremely frugal. Why buy books when there's a library where you can get them for free? Tape the songs off the radio, don't waste money on the album. Rent the video, don't buy it. Coupons coupons coupons. Mom would tally up her grocery savings each week, and then put all the money she'd saved in a mayo jar under the hutch cabinet. They were generous with me because they only had one child, but I was not lavished, indulged and spoiled with all the latest crap that many of my schoolmates had. I may have been an only child, but I was no Nellie Olsen.

But now I understand how they were able to send me to college without burdening me with student loans, and for that I am grateful.


  1. Coupons are amazing. I used to be a "Coupon Queen" too. It was really helpful when I was a poor graduate student. The challenge was: what can I get free that's on sale with a double or triple coupon. Ah, memories :-)

  2. Oh, frugal - my mother held the patent!

    When she got back from shopping she would tally up what hse'd spent and her change with the amount she'd started off with, to the last half penny. She made her own dresses, and when the hems wore thin (through kneeling sown to scrub the floors, and so on) she would cut off the bottom few inches and replace them with a new piece - which of course was not faded like the rest of the dress.

    Partly it came from living through rationing during the war, but also from being from a very poor family.

  3. My mom was raised during the Depression and that's where she gets it from. And my dad worked hard and was really good with money.

    Last time I was back there, we were in an antique store. She says that she always wanted a home full of antiques. I retorted, "Since you have hardly bought anything new since you moved here in 1953, you DO live in a house surrounded by antiques!" lol

  4. My parents were frugal, too. The house I lived in from the time I was 14 still had the same carpet, cabinets, etc. until I was 35 when we moved to the mainland (dad had passed away and my hubby and I wanted to relocate for cost of living reasons and mom came with us). My parents also lived through the depression and they always save EVERYTHING. Old butter containers, jars, etc. I understand your parents completely!

    Btw, I love those old cabinets! They have character newer ones seem to lack, IMO.

  5. Music Wench, if you like those cabinets you should see the rest of that room and the dining room. Knotty pine wainscoat the whole way around the rooms. And the indoor porch walls & closet are knotty pine too.

  6. I love knotty pine!!! My in-laws had a kitchen with those cabinets in it, too. They also had beautiful hardwood floors. If their home weren't in the middle of nowhere - even more than where we live now - we would have bought it from them and lived there.

    Some things remaining the same can be a good thing. :-D

  7. Anonymous12:22 PM

    My parents are STILL 'frugal'. My mother is 79, my father 88. Anything that can be 'saved' rather than 'replaced' is fixed up and used to destruction or stored 'just in case'. Drives me nuts, but that's the way they were brought up and had to live.

    I'm an 'only one' too Jojo, and I most certainly wasn't 'spoiled'!

  8. ah but being an only child meant things bought for you were for you alone - i'm a twin - often didn't even my get own birthday card - they shouldn't make cards for twins - not fair!!!!! ::stomping foot::

  9. Anonymous3:56 PM

    I think my parents frugality is a result of living during the war in Holland. At times food was so scarce they had to resort to eating tulip bulbs for nourishment.
    I grew up in a very thrifty home. Most of meals included potatoes, because of their afford-ability, and is now the cause of my distaste for them.
    As for the "Indian" costume, I had one just like it, homemade of course, (I never received a store bought costume), right down to the burlap potato sack tunic.

  10. My parents did frugal bigtime too. I think it's a generational thing. In the 1930s the people who hadn't lost their jobs were scared of doing so. Then came the war and all the privations associated with it. It all adds up to a certain mindset.

    I have inherited this to one extent only - I hate seeing food going to waste. I'd sooner overeat than see any go in the bin. Could explain why I should lose a few pounds. Or is that the beer? ;)

    I do have to say, I hate brown in a kitchen. All due respect to your parents but...


  11. What can I say? Only this - being the baby of 11 is the best. I was spoiled rotten. I think that by the time I can along, my parents knew I wasn't having any of THAT frugality business. Birth order sure does have it's advantages. Cheers Jo!!

  12. And I younger than you, too, JoJo.

  13. Anonymous9:03 PM

    Use up,
    or wear it out,
    but if you don't need it,
    do without!
    That's my motto. Liz