Tips from a New England Yankee

Let me get this straight I am not a NY Yankees fan, rather I was brought up by a woman in New England that lived through the Great Depression and knew how to “make-do”. I went to auctions, and used furniture stores and antique shops my whole life and can remember bemoaning the fact that none of our furniture matched. So I guess she was ahead of her time. I will say the carefully curated eclectic look is a tad different than the hodgepodge of furniture we had. The funny thing  is my mother came from a long line of artists and my father was a very talented interior designer/architect/artist, they clashed a bit in that respect. Furniture styles aside my mother knew that every item that she had in the house had or was going to have another life or purpose. Antiques are the original recycling although just because it is old and valuable doesn’t make it useful for all.

I recycle and watch the things I buy for longevity as well as multi uses. I know someone that wants to go without using single use plastic for a month which is great, but throwing away all you have and replacing it with non plastic items seems just plain wasteful. Use up, reuse and then recycle. I recently just recycled my last piece of plastic food containers but before they made it into the recycling bin I checked to see if I could use them elsewhere that did not involve food. I did find some uses in my office to hold things like push pins, paperclips etc. They were small enough and they can fit into a drawer so as not to be in view as they are not the best looking items. I mean these things were already made and I have swapped over to glass for my food storage needs so there were a multitude of different uses for them. A lot of things that are made to use in the bathroom are made of plastic and for safety reasons it makes sense, just make sure you can recycle the containers ( is a great resource).

Paper is easy to recycle so people don’t even think about using it for something else first. Someone gave me one of those page a day calendars and the backs of each day were blank, well they are a good size for notes, lists, short directions etc. My mother used to use the backs of envelopes for lists with coupons or dry cleaning tickets inside.

I have had quite a few people give me candles in clear glass holders or florist vases that were clear. I decided to make a grouping of those by painting them a single color. I will post those when I finish them. Don’t just assume that once the original use of an item is over that; that is the only viable choice.

I was taught that you waste nothing as children in China were starving! I am sure most of us have heard something along those lines. I never understood why we just couldn’t send those poor Chinese children my lima beans, too cruel perhaps? Hand me down clothes were a staple for me as I was the youngest, old socks were great for dusting or going over your shoes in a suitcase, old t-shirts were cut up for dusting rags. Everyone had a rag bag. My mother likes to tell the story of being invited to a bridal shower when she was new in the neighborhood and she put together a rag bag as she figured a newlywed would not have access to anything suitable. The old farmers wives thought this was great although the younger set thought she was just strange.

I always think twice before I throw anything away, practice asking yourself the following:

  1. Is the item totally used up?
  2. Can it be safely used for some other purpose?
  3. Would it be of use to someone else?
  4. Can it be recycled?

You spend hard earned money on these things so think before you buy, or throw away. My mother wasn’t cheap; as a matter of fact, she had a strange relationship with money. Some things she would splurge on and others not so much. I do know that she lived everyday with a style all her own.

This entry was posted in Mother, New England, recycle, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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