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Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Use it up
Wear it out
Make do
Or do without
~old depression era motto~

The weather has been glorious the week.  In the seventies, sunny  and breezy.  The perfect days for hanging out laundry on the clothesline.  I've been taking down the heavy insulated drapes and replacing them with the white Cape Cod style curtains.  Seeing their crisp, starched ruffles just fills my heart with joy.  Also, washed and starched some of the pretty linens that I've collected through the years from garage sales and thrift stores, replacing the more somber woven table runners that I use in the colder months.  Everything is looking so bright and cheerful.  So often I  see boxes of beautiful linens at auctions that someone was "saving" for special occasions.  The never get used.  Use your lovely things now.  Use them up and wear them out!  You'll always be able to get more at auctions because most people don't follow this credo.

While I was hanging my laundry, I noticed that I had quite a few towels that were looking the worst for wear, so I cut the good parts into washcloth sized squares and hemmed them on the sewing machine.  If you want to get fancy, you could hem them by hand or use a fancy stitch if your sewing machine has such things.The remainder of the scraps were put into the scrap bag.  The scrap bag and button box are old-fashioned ideas that should be revisited.  Before tossing out old clothes that are in too bad of shape to be donated to charity, check to see if there is anything that can be salvaged such as buttons or material.  Pretty fabrics are placed in one scrap bag that I use for making patchwork projects and doll clothes and even an occasional patch on a nightgown or work clothes.  The  uglier fabrics such as old t-shirts and stained fabrics are put into another bag for use around the house for dusting and wiping up spills.  I rarely use paper towels.  Old flannel diapers make the best dust cloths!  I've even considered buying a package of new ones just because they are so handy.  An old nightie that has become threadbare was repurposed  for dustrags.  If the fabric was in any better shape, it could have been salvaged to make a toddler sized nightgown.

I inherited  my grandmother's button box.  As a girl, we never purchased buttons.  It was much more fun to go through my grandmother's collection.  She salvaged them from anything she could get her hands on, even old military uniforms.  On a rainy day, my mother would keep me busy by making me sort buttons and stringing the sets together. 

Another make-do project for this week was these little trifles that I made from some Oreo-type cookies that had softened due to all the steam that we had from canning asparagus and rhubarb.  Just crumble the cookies and layer them with some whipped cream and a spoonful (or two!) of ice cream topping.  Placed in a pretty teacup and it's a dainty enough dish to set before the queen!

The picture at the top of the page is from my white garden.  I got the idea for this garden from The Little Woman Treasury by Carolyn Strom Collins.  Such a garden was created  in memory of Beth to symbolize all her sweetness  and innocence.  I wasn't sure how an all white garden would look, thinking it would be a tad bit boring, but I love it.  It is so restive and serene.  As other plants die out in the garden, I am replacing them with white and silver leafed ones.  I have a garden  behind my garage  where I plant all the freebies that I receive and those deeply discounted perennials  that are purchased at the very end of the season. Plus flowers  that are started from seed.  A true cottage garden.  When a white plant pops up, I tag it and replant it in the white garden in the fall.  It has certainly been a make-do week!


  1. We loved to play in grandmama's buttons, too. She kept a large tin of them and usually a jar or two hid about the house. Of course, she could also draw out a pattern on newspaper -- do all the necessary work to create a garment and have it fit. I seem to have difficulty at times making one fit using a pattern I didn't have to

    I do the same thing with our towels. I had a few that were fraying on the edges that were wedding gifts from almost 19 years ago. These were far nicer towels than I ever would have purchased, but they are still going strong. The edges had begun to fray and all I did was hem around them. My goal is to see if they can make it another 4 or 5 years.

  2. Did you ever put a string through two of the holes of the button and wind it to make a whirlygig type toy Shara? That amused us for quite a while when I was a kid. What we did for fun in the days before video games! LOL! Those must have been some good quality towels to last so long! I would rather make things like towels last, than spend money on them. There's too many much more beautiful things to use my petty cash on, like plants and antiques!

  3. Hi Jane, your white garden sounds lovely. Years ago, it was probably early 1990's, Victoria magazine had a beautiful article about growing an all white garden with breathtaking pictures. I have never forgot it. I always imagined how wonderful an all white garden would look under the moonlight!

    I like your idea about cutting up the old towels for wash cloths. They are so expensive these days and the little cheapy ones tear up in no time. Your wash cloths made from the old towels are probably better quality and will last for years.

    I rarely use paper towels too. I made the decision last year to use no more than one paper towel rolls a month and not to by paper napkins. I keep a tall stack of dish cloths folded near the sink and we just grab one. People ask "don't they get stained?" Surprisingly not very often, most everything that I wipe up in the kitchen comes out in the wash, even tomato sauce. The family was so use to grabbing paper towels right and left for everything, it took a while to break the habit. I figure I save about $15 a month, that's $180 a year! That will buy a lot of yarn! :) It really adds up. Have a lovely afternoon!
    Delisa :)

  4. I just had a fun experience Jane when packing up things to move for my parents. My Mom has a flanneled lined tied patchwork quilt that my grandmother made years ago. It brought back such memories as I looked at all the cotton fabric in it that had been originally used to make my daughter sun dresses and play sets 35 years ago. I must have given my Grandma a bag of my scraps. I intend to make sure I get that quilt eventually!! What a treasure!

    Also, I LOVE your white garden. What a neat idea!!

  5. Hi Delisa! My sister actually has introduced as "my sister that doesn't use paper towels"! I guess it's as foreign to her and her friends as saying I was born on Mars. They must have been gossiping about me and my "strange" ways. She also call as says "I suppose I caught you while you were canning" in an accusatory tone like she caught doing some major sinning or something. No one that visits ever ask to help with the dishes so I don't worry about the stains. All those little things add up to some big savings.

    Sandy, what a lovely find! Hope you are the recipient when the time comes. I'm making a quilt for the new grandbaby, Spending a lot of time looking at those scraps sure brings back memories. How are your parents doing?

  6. Dear Jane (the Sister that doesn't use paper towels),

    I love this post, and I love my rags! With a baby, small children, a dog, and chickens, we use LOTS of rags, especially old towels. I turn old t-shirts into cloth diapers; it's such fun!



  7. Marqueta, thank you for reminding me about the diapers. When one of my sisters was expecting and her finances were low, we sewed diapers out of flannel. I could have used that old nightgown for that. A good sized nightie from the thrift store could net quite a few diapers. Especially on all you can fit in a bag for a buck day. Bet I could make some pretty snazzy ones!

    The sister that doesn't use paper towels :)

  8. I love using cloths instead of paper towels. I even use cloths in the milking parlor instead of paper towels like every one else I know! Your white garden sounds Just Lovely!

  9. I just love that quote! And think living by those words are more than just a challenge but a gift. I love all of the ways you put these words to use!

    blessings, Debbie

  10. Thanks Matty and Debbie! The next question after people find out I don't use paper towels is, what do you do with the rags after they get dirty? Answer, that's what the wonderful invention bleach is for. Really, I wonder how some people would have ever survived the Great Depression.

  11. dear jane
    you asked me how the jelly taste....sweet, i think
    like honey.
    i make the same with my neighbour laughed over me,they says i am crazy.
    your white garden looks wonderful.
    have a nice weekend,
    blessings, regina

  12. That's how the dandelion jelly tastes too Regina. I say let the neighbors laugh. My uncle used to say, "let them hold their noses in the air, I'll hold my pocketbook!". You have a nice weekend also!

  13. I love that depression era quote- wonderful idea for old towels- I have a few that I could do that with. I love button boxes- I have one of my own- when the kids were little we would use them for sorting games as well- buttons are like little treasures. I love your white garden- how beautiful. Great post!

    May 27, 2011 11:02 PM

  14. Popped over from Sandy's this morning.

    Enjoyed my wee visit with you. I noted from your profile that you like classic movies with pretty settings and wardrobes.... Me too! And NO! I don't think that's being shallow... I think that it's because our souls love beauty in which ever way it is presented.

    Mmmmm... you mention hanging out laundry on the line. Haven't had an opportunity to do that for years. I used to LOVE the sound of clothes flapping in the summery breezes and almost lose your breath for the airy fragrance when you brought them in.

    Thanks for a lovely's wishing YOU glimpses of heaven in those unexpected places today.......

  15. Thanks for sharing the photo of your lovely white garden, how you are creating it and its background.

    “Use your lovely things” is such sage advice! I waited until my children were older, so they would learn proper use and care for the items.

    Patching small holes, rehemming frayed ends, reinforcing edges extends the life of our towels [and is my “fun.”] Purchasing towels in similar colors makes it easier to use some to patch the others. Threadbare/ thin old cotton clothes/sheets were cut ‘to size” and repurposed as reusable diaper liners when my children were in [cloth] diapers.

    Love button boxes! Mine is a flat plastic tackle box with many divisions,from an estate sale, and buttons from my mother and grandmother, too. The grandchildren love to sort through it. Keeping button “sets” on safety pins makes it easier to keep the sets together and for people who have problems using the “tied thread” method.

    1. Hello again Carol! My grandmother kept her sets of buttons on safety pins too, and old paper clips that she twisted. People used to be so resourceful!