|A hearty home made meal from scratch just like the old days|
complete with lace tablecloth.
Despite a lifetime of consumerism, I was brought up by frugal parents and a two Nan's (grandmother's) who raised 9 children and 4 children respectively smack-bang in the middle of the depression. Many of their frugal ways are resurfacing in my memory, nearly as if they have been laying dormant until needed.
So, just for fun, I thought I would make a small list of some of the frugal things I remember them doing. I'm pretty sure you all might remember some similar things too.
|Yorkshire puddings made from scratch|
- During drought time I remember my mother disconnecting the drain under the kitchen sink and placing a bucket there to catch the water for the garden or the toilet.
- The Singer sewing machine (1940's?) with the wooden box and the knee operated electric motor and my mother expertly giving the pulley a spin to help the motor start. I remember sitting under the big kitchen table with material scraps everywhere, tracing paper patterns, tailor's chalk, pins and cotton all around and playing with the big L-shaped hem ruler. Lots of sewing got done from what I can remember in the early days of my childhood. My mother could draft patterns from scratch as she learned to do this at night school after work as a teenager.
- I distinctly remember my Nan discussing with my mother about cutting bed sheets down the middle and turning the edges to the middle and resewing them up to extend the life of sheets.
- Wet tea leaves from the teapot being sprinkled on the floors before sweeping.
|My Nan made my auntie Mona's bridal gown, the bridesmaid's dresses|
and the two flower girl's dresses from post war
parachute silk she bought from the army disposal store.
My mother is the flower girl on the far left.
- The button basket - buttons got removed from old clothing and placed in a beautiful wicker lap basket about the size of a big bowl. I learned all my colours as a little chap from playing with that button basket too.
- Grandmother on Father's side was an avid knitter. Socks, with all those little knitting needles for the heels. I am pretty sure she knitted socks during the war for the soldiers. I also remember her knitting a purple wool skirt using a set of metal knitting needles with a wire connecting the back of them so she could knit in a continuous circle (I think).
- There were always big veggie gardens every single year. I can also remember my sister being 'pulled' away from her exam studies to help plant potatoes (there's a story right there of course!).
- Bees. Smoking puffers. Veils. The overwhelming smell of bees wax and traces of honey everywhere.
|Pan gravy from scratch. I can remember this being made|
as far back as my memory goes.
- My father butchering cows, pigs, hens and sheep (all of which I had named and become 'friends' with!). My job was to help vacuum pack, label and freeze all the meat. It always took me a fortnight to even want to eat meat again after butchering time as the smell of raw flesh, blood and sawed up bone and marrow would permeate my sense of smell.
- Milking - we had some lovely Jersey cows across the years of my childhood. Cream rising to the top. Butter making. Cottage cheese. Yoghurt.
- The hen house which father built from scraps. It had a small hay loft above it too where summer grasses where mowed and bailed. The hens had a massive run too and I used to sit on the log in the middle of the run and just enjoy being surrounded by these simple creatures. Eggs. Lots of eggs.
- Picking up cow pats with a shovel and the wheelbarrow to be made into liquid fertiliser. Father made this 'brew' up in an old 44 gallon drum that he'd got from his job at the wharves and he painted it with tar pitch on the inside to stop it from rusting - liquid manure will rust metal really fast.
- Fixing washing machines. My uncle owned a washing machine repair shop in the Blue Mountains of NSW and my father would of course always fix up our old Malley's washing machine when it broke down. Bearings were replaced, timers reconditioned, spin belts replaced. In fact after he retired he used to recondition old washing machines for extra income (and fun too I think - he was a tinkerer).
- My mother has a 'President' model fridge that she bought new in the late 1950's. It was still going strong well into the late 1990's. I remember helping to defrost it once a month - everything out and the all the doors open and the fan blowing on it and towels on the floor. This was years before auto-defrost was available. It had a blue interior with beautiful gold anodized shelves and label badges. Mother would wipe it down with warm water and vanilla essence after defrosting. It also had a strange little drawer directly under the freezer compartment labelled "Linen".
- Winding the kitchen clock.
- We had a Hoover vacuum cleaner which also was bought around the same time as the fridge in the late 50's - still going strong for 30+ years. It was a gold and silver Hoover with all metal attachments and a sturdy hose - nothing like today's plastic rubbish. I can never remember this having to be repaired.
|Toby the dog is plumb-tuckered-out form all this blogging.|
Hmm - he's blending with the carpet, or is it the other way around?!
- Leftovers. There were always leftovers for a meal the next day. Bubble and squeak.
- Lunches wrapped in wax paper. I see wax paper is coming back in as trendy alternative to plastic recently. Gosh.
- Secondhand furniture - painted or polished. My mother knew how to French polish and her entire bedroom suite (also bought in the late 1950's) she stripped and French polished. I visited mother last weekend in QLD and that very bedroom suite is still being used. It is late Art Deco styling with Bakelite and mirrored chrome handles (very swish). As mother would say "it's still serviceable dear" - and that would be that.
- Woolen jumpers drying flat in the shade.
- Invisible patching. I remember watching in awe as my Nan used to darn tears or rips in good clothes invisibly. I've never seen it done since and that was over 40 years ago.
So, just some random frugal memories folks.
Take care and stay nice.