I come from a family of seven kids. Because my parents had so many kids, they had to find clever ways to make food, clothing, and everything go farther. My mom made powdered milk, homemade bread from wheat she ground herself, and canned everything from our backyard garden. My father even made rootbeer from dandelions.
Even though I’m grateful I came from a large family, I often wished we didn’t have to be so thrifty all the time. I just wanted to be like my friends who wore new clothes from department stores and drank “cow’s milk”. Now that I’m older, I still prefer “cow’s milk” to sugary sodas.
The reality is, I greatly admire my parents for teaching me how to recycle before recycling was popular. Boyd K. Packer, American religious leader and educator encouraged families in the 1970s to “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” My parents took this saying to heart and raised me to think twice before making a new purchase. This may explain why I still have an iPhone 8.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
— Boyd K. Packer
Last fall, I bought my very first house (blog post coming up) but ended up spending more than I had planned. Suddenly, I realized my dream of finally purchasing some really nice furniture (I hadn’t bought any new furniture that wasn’t used or slightly damaged in almost 20 years) wouldn’t be possible. Although I was a little disappointed at first, I took this as a challenge to make my home beautiful in spite of a limited furniture budget.
One of the things I had really hoped to buy was new master bedroom furniture. You see, when I got divorced, I let my ex take the bedroom set because he had made the original purchase and really loved it. Unfortunately, this left me with a 20-year old mattress and two red dressers that had once belonged to my daughters. For four years, I enjoyed this simple “master bedroom suite”, but when we moved to a new home last fall, I was hoping to finally upgrade my bedroom.
Upon moving into my new home, I recalled the thriftiness of my parents and could hear them saying “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” After thinking it through, I decided I would refinish the red dressers (#2 on my List of 50 Things) and make them work for my new home.
I had actually always wanted to learn how to refinish furniture so here was finally my chance! Since I knew nothing about refinishing furniture, I decided to watch some YouTube videos and learn. After hours of “lessons,” I decided I was finally ready to refinish (paint) my red dressers. I purchased all of the equipment I would need (including a mouse sander and paint sprayer) and moved the dressers to the backyard where the magical transformation would take place. However, what proceeded to happen over the next several hours and days was definitely not magic.
I moved the dressers to the backyard to have plenty of space to paint. What I hadn’t anticipated were all of the bugs that also occupied that same space. After the first coat of paint, I discovered so many bugs stuck to the sides of the dresser! No matter how many times I tried to remove the dead bugs and paint over them, it just got worse. So finally, I gave up and decided to hire someone else to finish the job. They ended up making the dressers look brand new and I added bronze knobs as a finishing touch.
Although the dresser refinishing (painting) did not turn out how I’d hoped, I learned a lot in the process. Most importantly, I discovered that painting furniture is not a talent of mine, and I don’t really enjoy it (much to my surprise). But thanks to my List and my parents teaching me how to be thrifty, these dressers are a lovely edition to my master bedroom. Now, if only I could find a bed!