Becoming Grandma Kramer

The kids tease me all the time that I don’t throw things out when I should.  Here is me with a dishtowel.  I was folding laundry when one of the kids was here and I laughingly said, “Do you think it’s time for me to throw this one away?”  They snapped a picture of me with the towel.


I know there are some of you who like me, would keep this towel for another spill.  I really don’t use dish towels for wiping dishes,  I use them more for cleaning spills or wiping something off and honestly, a towel like this still works for that.

The kids have teased me that I have “turned into Grandma Kramer”.  Well, that’s true.  I am a grandma and my last name is Kramer.  But, they mean in a frugal way…

Grandma Kramer was notorious for not using anything good for everyday use.  We periodically bought her new towels.  Those would go to the bottom of the pile tucked away for days when there might be company.  Honestly, they never got used.  I used to laugh and tease her about it myself but look.  I think I have become her.

Here I am yet again with another of my “must save and use one more time” dish towels.

Grandma Kramer was so notorious about not using things that one year for Christmas we were going to get her a new flipper to flip eggs.  She made one egg every single morning for whoever was eating breakfast.  She would leave the flipper in the pan and the handle would touch the side and melt.  It had melted so badly over the years.  She wouldn’t get a new one.  It had gotten to the point that the metal under the plastic was showing and she would use a hot pad holder to hold the handle to flip the egg.

So Kramer decided he would get his mom a flipper for Christmas.  He ended up buying two.  He took one of them and before he gave it to her, he modified it.  He put my frying pan on the stove, turned it on, and set the handle of the flipper onto the side of the pan.  He let it melt some.  Then bent the handle.

For Christmas he gave her the two flippers…one with the burnt handle for her to use (HA-HA) and the good one if company came.  Everyone laughed when she opened it, including her.  The funniest part though is when Kramer got up, went to her utensil holder, and threw away the one that she was using that didn’t have the plastic on it.  We all knew she would have likely kept using that one.

So, you can see I am becoming Grandma Kramer.  If you knew her, you’d know, that even though the kids are making fun of me when they say it, I take that as a high compliment.  She was one of the nicest ladies I knew.  She treated me like one of her own and I learned so much from her.  I will always count on having her in my life as one of my biggest blessings.  When she passed, it was hard.

By the way, I did buy myself some new towels…

Aren’t they pretty?  Some are Pioneer Woman brand.  I love Pioneer Woman things…

The florals are so pretty.

I’ve had them now for almost a month.  I thought about putting them in the drawer…in the bottom of course.  Only to use if company comes.  But, for now, they are still all together with the packaging labels on.  I even bought new dishcloths too.

Yep, it’s official.  I’ve become Grandma Kramer.

So are you a Grandma Kramer too and keep things longer than necessary, I’d love to know if I’m the only one.

51 thoughts on “Becoming Grandma Kramer

  1. Bobbie Woodruff

    No Jo you aren’t alone. I buy new tops to wear then wash it and really don’t like how it fits or clings so I put it in my drawer because it’s new and I might wear it again but only if I have to because I really don’t care for it. Why can’t I just donate or throw it away? It’s nuts I have 3-4 drawers of tops and I wear maybe a dozen because I really like them. I wear them over and over. I also have company towels and wash cloths. I do put some dish rags in my cleaning bag but when they get there I usually only use them once and put them in the garbage.

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  2. RuthW in MD

    I found some dishrags that dry out very quickly after use (so they don’t stink). When they develop holes I fold and stitch them so the holes are not obvious. Eventually they wear out and are tossed. My dish drying towels are old cotton tablecloths I’d made. When they got holes in them, I cut them into dishtowels. They are getting raggedy, and I think I will fold them and sew them as I did the dishrags. They are excellent for quickly drying a dish or two, or sopping up the water on the glassware bottoms before coming out of the dishwasher.
    I do send off clothes to Goodwill, even new ones if I get them home and don’t like them and can’t return them. I can’t stand having things around that frustrate me. There’s just no point to it. Life is plenty frustrating all ready.

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  3. suzanne Yerks

    My grandmother kept things for “good”. After she had gone and we went through her things she had all sorts still wrapped from when she had been gifted them, never opened or used. I still have pajama pants that came from her hope chest. I do wear them. Use your new towels JO. Yes keep the old ones for rags or to catch spills but enjoy the new ones too.

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  4. karen

    Over the years I have decided that not everything needs to be saved for “when company comes”. I had a set of dishes I received when i got married and only took them out a couple of times a year, now I use them all the time because I like them. I have a bath towel that was given to me embroidered with my dogs name on it, it was supposed to be for after his baths but he passed and I use that towel all the time and think of him when I use it. I have helped clean out houses after a family death and all those “things” we were keeping for company just go to the thrift store. Use your things, enjoy them, If someone gifts you something new use it, it will make them happy to see you using the gift. We should enjoy our things.

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    1. Carla

      Agree, agree, agree. I try to enjoy what I have, regardless of its actual monetary value, and ditch what I don’t enjoy. I have my mom to thank for that. I grew up handling old things and learning that sometimes they break, but life goes on. Having said that, some family heirlooms are display only! But, displayed, not hidden.

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  5. Stearns Carol

    So funny! I got rid of a lot of clothes in January. Can’t even remember what they were and I definitely don’t miss them. And I replaced some dishtowels. Got new ones for Christmas from son. Some of those towels I had were really old. My MIL died in 2014. Still have some of her spices. She was a very good MIL.

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  6. Pat B

    Our landfills are full of things that could have been used much longer. I am in the use it up and then find another use for it. We all need those things that can be used to wipe a spill and we do not care if it stains. I remember seeing the question once, “if you are saving it for good, when it is finally good enough to use?” Many of us have purchased used items, especially linens that were saved for good and never used.

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  7. Judith Fairchild

    Jo, i can’t stop laughing. I find myself turning into my mother. I saved things for company. I reuse any jar that has a reclosable lid for reuse. But I do use them and toss when necessary. I live in a small place. Not a lot of storage room.
    My Mother was like you that way. S
    He c was thrifty to the max.

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  8. Barbara

    My husband is more of a Grandma Kramer than I am – he sees no reason to buy new bath towels when we have old, faded ones with strings that have pulled, bleach blotches from when he was cleaning something with clorox and it splashed, still wears tee shirts with holes or stains, thought our couch that had cushions which were almost flat was just fine. I’m more of a “it’s worn out, let’s get a new one” type of person!

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  9. Julie

    I am the same way but (sometimes) am trying to remind myself things need to be used, now. For example, I just now got back from the long arm lady my “Get Crackin'” tablecloth quilt (uses crabtastic fabric by Maude Asbury, pattern from Quilts and More Summer 2013) and spent a long five minutes obsessing over spilled butter. I even considered putting a clear plastic tablecloth over it before deciding to just enjoy and wash it.

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  10. LaNan Eldridge

    I too have some dish towels like yours! And I don’t use them for wiping dishes either!! It’s hard to get rid of things that are well used as they too hold memories! We had a lady in our church who always embroidered dish towels for our church’s harvest festival. So when I use one of those I think of her and since she has passed they can’t be replaced!

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  11. Whitney

    Yep! But once my kitchen towels get yucky, they go to the cleaning closet or garage for rags, then I treat myself to new ones! I’m really frugal when it comes to face lotion, etc, I cut the containers open so I can get all the product at the bottom out!

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    1. Dianne

      I cut the lotion open the lotion containers too (also toothpaste, first aide cream, ect.) We would buy my mom cute notepads and when we cleaned out her desk they were still there. She used the back of envelopes, junk mail, and whatever to write her grocery lists and notes. I find myself doing that too! I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

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  12. sew happy

    No I am not like my grandma. Plus I will not allow my mom to be like her mom. I will allow her to use Christmas dishtowels off season :-). I use paper towels to wipe up spills but it is just me.

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  13. Margie

    Oh Jo! I am exactly like that! Growing up we didn’t have much so we used what we had. And my mom put anything new for later. I can’t remember how many bottles of laundry detetgent my mom had stored in her bathtub when she died! I had done her laundry when she no longer could. I shared, but I had laundry soap for a long time! When I got married I became even more thrifty watching my mil. She washed out plastic bags to reuse. We didn’t have them growing up. She will soon be 98 and up until about 2 years ago lived alone with help from us. She is now in a nursing home and still sharp. Your post brings back memories!

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  14. Colleen Pflieger

    My dad had work jeans and took them to be patched till the lady said No More ! We all knew why. He said it was how he grew up. Yep he learned that lesson well and Grandma was very frugal.

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  15. Helen Reimers

    All my life, I have reused, repurposed, recycled. Now that I am getting older. I realize I would like to use the good stuff too. So I do. My kids would throw it out when I’m gone anyway. This way stuff gets used. We are both happy.

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    1. Tonia

      Most of us are kindred spirits! Loved your stories! My favorite “thrifty Gramma stories ” is about a quilt back. Gramps rolled his own with loose tobacco. Gramma saved those little gold bags, removed the stitching and re purposed them into a quilt back! That’s how she raised a family of 7 through the depression and two wars . and yes, we found brand new, nightes, slips and bras….Ladies lets try to use the “nice”….. and I have stories of my own..like the good dishes and silver. Just who, I ask my self is good enough to use those if not my sweetie and I? Love the blog, No, aǹd all of you who share along.

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  16. Joyce Coker

    When my mom passed in 2000 I realized all the things she prized and didn’t use. When my dad passed in 2019, my brother and I divided everything, not just between us but included our children. We all now have things treasured by our parents. But we now use them every day and remember their love each time we do. Don’t save it, use it.

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  17. Kay Dammast

    My mother used to her dishtowels until they were threadbare. One year at Christmas I bought her a bunch of new ones. We lived over 500 miles away so we didn’t visit very often. Next time we visited, here were the old threadbare dishtowels, with the new ones I had given her at the bottom of the drawer. I asked her “are you saving these for Daddy’s second wife?” She gave me a strange look, but the next time we visited, the old towels were gone and the drawer was filled with the “good ones.” Daddy passed before mom so there was never a second wife! I’m glad she realized she deserved the good ones.

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  18. Jannette B.

    I can hold on to things far beyond their usefulness, but more because I hate adding stuff to a landfill.

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  19. Lorraine

    I used to save things for good. But after cleaning out my Mom’s home and seeing all of her lovely, unused things, I am not going to save them “for good” anymore. I think it’s sad that she didn’t open the bottle of expensive perfume or enjoy the hand-stitched linens

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  20. Sandra Bogoniewski

    I had an egg flipper that I used for 30 years – until it broke at the bottom of the handle, so I COULDN’T use it any more. I kept it so long because I have yet to find another one I like as well – the flipper part was not metal, but it was very thin. Same with other kitchen utensils and towels I had gotten as wedding gifts. We moved this last year, and I did finally move the oldest towels into the laundry room rag pile. My kids gave me new towels for the new kitchen, not expensive ones, and I started using the plainest ones for everyday. Both to honor their giving the gift, and to give myself a fresh start in our new home. But I still smile when I use the old ones, too!

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  21. Paulette

    Thanks for the giggle this morning, Jo! I have some “holey” dishtowels too, but yours put mine to shame, lol. The hubs, since his retirement, uses my dishtowels more like bar rags to wipe up anything and everything, so I just keep washing them and using them until they get a few too many holes and then they go in the rag bag for dusting and polishing cars, etc. I too have “good towels” that don’t get used unless there’s company, and even then there’s a few that will probably never see the light of day. :) I draw the line at stinky dishrags or washcloths, though. If it starts to smell weird even after its washed, it goes away for good.

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  22. Shannon M in Texas

    My dogs love rags inside their dog beds. I have bought new dog cushions and sewed dog beds and they prefer the beds I make over the store-bought versions. Perhaps some of your well-loved spill-wipers could go inside a new bed for Rosie.
    My grandmother was frugal, too. When I was little, we used to wash the aluminum foil with the dishes. Good times.

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  23. Gail Key

    These days I have to use the new things, because if I put them in the closet or drawer, I’ll forget about them, and buy more when the used dish towels give up. Saving for company or good doesn’t work out, when it comes down to it, there nothing I cherish more than family so use the good stuff with them, they will know. I don’t think company appreciate the good stuff.

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    1. Susan

      Me too. I do use the old ones for rags. Also, I leaned the adage, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Also, “Use it up, wear it out, repurpose or recycle.”

      Reply
  24. Cindy in NC

    Guilty ‍♀️. The other day I went through my cleaning rags and set the worst ones aside for Goodwill. I understand they sell unusable textiles for pulp, so it isn’t a total waste. I’m betting Grandma Kramer lived through the Great Depression. Her son sure had a wonderful sense of humor.

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  25. Janice Brown

    Yep, I try to get the most mileage from dish towels, dish rags, bath towels and wash clothes. If holes start to appear, I darn them on my sewing machine . . . thread doesn’t even have to match. One of the reasons is, it is hard to find quality products to replace them. Some of the newer items just don’t feel and wear the same.

    Just a comment about worn out items that are 100% cotton: Check with your local Goodwill store if they take items for recycling, and what items specifically. The local Goodwill store near me does takes items for recycling. I put them in a separate bag clearly marked for ‘recycling only’.

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  26. Jean in NH

    I used to keep using dish towels etc with holes stains etc. But since I found out, at least in our area. the Salvation Army will take anything fabric to recycle I’ve become much more willing to ditch the old. Our Salvation army just wants the rags put in a bag and labeled “rags”. Turns out I just couldn’t stand to put things in the land fills.

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  27. Beryl in Owatonna

    Me too! have towels that were my great aunts, linen and hand embroidered, she’s been gone since the mid 70’s. I like them, thinking of her and they absorb better than today’s towels. I have some “new” ones, they are too thick. I am trying to downsize…it is very difficult. I usually use the same ones over and over so should get rid of some!! I am single and do NOT need all of the stuff I have, so hard to say good bye!!

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  28. Lace Faerie

    For my bridal shower, 37 years ago, my grandmother gave me a set of embroidered pillowcases from her cedar chest. She cherished them as they were given to her by her grandmother. They had never been used. Still haven’t. I’m going to pass them to the first granddaughter to marry….and tell her to use them!

    When I was growing up, kitchen towels and dishcloths were for kitchen/dish use only. Death loomed near-by should anyone use them for drying hands or wiping the floor. My dear MIL uses her kitchen towels and dish rags for anything and everything, even floors. And they all are stained and look like rags. Yuck.

    When we married, we found a good compromise. Dish towels (currently PW florals – love them!) are for dishes only. Dish clothes are for dishes. HAND towels are hung on the oven handle, they are for drying hands WHILE working in the kitchen. Death looms near by if ANY are used on the floor. Spill rags are in basket under sink. Paper towels are for pet messes and anything else that’s germy. I am not flexible about this at all.

    I was folding towels in front of dryer while furnace repair man was doing annual check up. While flushing the tankless water heater, he slopped water on the floor. I tossed him a rag towel, part of a blue beach towel. After removing an entire handful of lint, I remarked to myself, well end of the line for these threadbare rags. The repair guy said if you are going to throw them away, can I have them for my truck? My wife would kill me if I used any of hers! I said you are a wise man and gladly handed him all the pieces of that worn out towel! ;-0 hahaha

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  29. Deb E

    I don’t throw things away either — but they DO end up in the shop box for misc rags eventually. I have the decorative tea towels that you used to be able to buy when on vacation — only mine are all from Australia as that is where I spent 12 months as an exchange student many years ago. After that whenever my Mum & Dad (yes, they are my parents to me & have been ever since I met them 48 years ago, I love them so much) would give me Australian tea towels & cups & saucers (I’ve been fond of tea for that long, too), etc. I am still using those linen tea towels as they wear like iron. Plus, I buy the heavy cotton tea towels on Amazon and add scraps to decorate & those are to wipe dishes. I keep a separate towel just to dry hands, though, next to my tea towel. Those towels hold so many memories for me….

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  30. Janet Beyea

    I I am just like you! My mother had a stack of old towels that we used when we dyed or permed our hair. When I got married (over 50 years ago), I took one of those towels with me. I used that old towel regularly until I moved 4 years ago. I finally decided that 60+ year old towel needed to finally be thrown out. But I still have a towel that I got as a wedding present!

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  31. Candy

    i’m going to hang onto my old dish towels (holes and all) and there’s nothing left but a hole! All the new ones I’ve bought as replacements don’t dry worth a darn and they’ll be going into the rag bin! And have you bought sheets lately? We bought a new deeper mattress last summer, so none of my old sheets fit. I’d take that old mattress back in a heartbeat so I could use my old sheets. IF I’m lucky enough to find sheets that fit the new mattress, they’re either polyester (which they’ve renamed microfibre so people will buy them) or 100 % cotton that’s stiff, prickly and needs to be ironed! The moral of this story … hang onto your old sheets as long as you possibly can!

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  32. Jenny

    I totally “Grandma Kramer” my slippers! Every Christmas I will get a new pair of slippers and I won’t use them until the current pair just completely fall apart. My thought is “what if I end up in the hospital and need a nice pair of slippers?”

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  33. Jean Stein

    I have a little antique business I call “My Mother’s Things,” and I often go to estate sales and auctions. I can’t tell you how often I find perfectly good and totally unused dishtowels that the now-deceased owner received for wedding gifts and other gifts over the years. They were always too pretty to use. I’ve decided that I’m not going to die with unused dishtowels carefully folded in the linen closet — I’m going to USE them and when they fade away, I’m going to buy myself new pretty ones. You use them every day, why not splurge a little?

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  34. Margaret in North Texas

    I agree with Candy –these new fabrics don’t seem to recognize a drop of water! Stick to 100% cotton or close to it –if you can find it. The best dish drying kitchen towels were the heavy cotton sacks that –was it feed or something sold in them. I think a lot of us were recycling before it became a “household” word. I know my Mother was and I have done a fair amount myself.

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  35. Beth T.

    I am for sure like that, especially if there is any “sentimental value” to a thing. And if you’re wondering, there certainly can be sentimental value to a dish towel. I have a few that belonged to my grandma, lots from my mom, some that came from my aunt when she died and I was sent some of her dishes…you get the idea. I will use those until they disappear. Sometimes I have to tear them into two piece when they get too thin in the middle–then I have two rags! But there’s nothing wrong with that. I cut up old sheets and use them for rags, and I am unlikely to buy new drinking glasses because I prefer using hand-me-downs. John tells me I have “more treasures than anyone else I know”. He doesn’t always mean it as a compliment, but it makes me happy to pull out something during the course of the day and be reminded of someone I love (and miss). Sometimes I am reminded of them just because I’m being frugal (like the cutting up of sheets). Now I’ll think of Grandma Kramer. ;)

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  36. mpv61

    I have a separate spot for dust cloths and old cloth diapers (never used as diapers, but for burp cloths or rags). If a dish towel gets bad enough, it gets added to that spot instead of with the dish towels.

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  37. Joy

    My grandma was very frugal. She had to be raising a child on her own without any assistance at all, but even she would have delegated those towels to the rag bag. I buy same-as-new bath towels from the thrift store and have a supply of dish clothes and towels to last a lifetime that I’ve received as gifts. I too am frugal as I have jeans that I have patched three times but I also know that eventually those jeans will be too far gone for patching and then whatever is still serviceable will be added to my denim scrap box. As for the egg turner, I pick up the older ones at thrift stores and yard sales every time I see them as they’re much better quality than the new junk.

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  38. JustGail

    When towels (and some clothing) start getting thin, they go to the cleaning rag status. When holes develop and they are nearly see-through, they go to kitty house and car repair status, and when too far gone for that – to burn pile or trash status. For other items, I try to move the old out as new comes in so I’m not over run. I do have a set of dishes “for good” but since we haven’t hosted large family gatherings in years, they probably could go to a new home. Using them for everyday is not an option since DH hates them as they are not Corelle. They are too heavy, can chip, and are not microwave safe.

    Thanks to commenters about Goodwill and SA accepting tatty clothing for recycling, and that funny comment about saving things for the 2nd wife!

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  39. Kim J LeMere

    All of the responses were fun to read through. I used to save things to use only for special occasions or for company. Then we moved after 20 plus years and I said never again. I have lots of nice things and we are going to use them. If I don’t love it, it gets moved on since our space is now smaller. Old towels, dishcloths etc get sent to the shed for hubster. I keep only things that we use and truly love. It was brutal but so refreshing.

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  40. Janet Rice

    I fall into the same category as most of you. My mom was a Depression child and she saved everything and I mean everything. My children are very disposable and throw away things they have to end up rebuying. I’m somewhere in-between. If it has a use, I keep using it. If I’m done with it, I can donate it (if I have help to pack it up and take it to a thrift shop).

    In fact, I just noticed the new dish towels our granddaughter bought us for Christmas and thought I should get them out and start using them. I’d never want her to think I don’t like them because I do.

    Good to know we’re all in this together.

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  41. Susan the Farm Quilter

    I have some towels that were given to me as a wedding gift back in 1976. I am still using those towels and they still look brand new!! I’m waiting for them to wear out so I can use them for rags. I do remember who gave them to me (is that weird?) and I wish I knew where she bought them because they are quality!! I do have a problem letting go of things that have an emotional value to me, but I’m working on getting rid of things I don’t want or don’t use…donating to places that help others by selling them. I rarely throw away something that can be useful to someone else – donations are where it’s at!! How else would crafters find cool things to use to make their creations??!!

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  42. Maureen Toole

    Everything can be re-used for something. My fav – re-using food cans to start seedlings for indoor apt garden. Also grow flowers in them

    Reply

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