Years ago, I tried to explain the difference between "frugal" and "cheap" to my uncle, who's native language is Portuguese. The four of us--my titio, my brother, my husband, and me--all had a good laugh about why calling someone "frugal" may be more polite than calling them "cheap."
I definitely prefer "frugal" to "cheap."
As an adult, I have mostly prized my skills in frugality. My creativity blooms in a limited-resource environment, especially now that I'm home all day, every day. I concoct new ways to bring ingredients together for meals and reduce food waste. I use scraps of fabric to sew napkins and, now, homemade masks. I repurpose paper and cardboard tubes for M's art projects.
Now, I can see value in the limited-resource environment where my skills were born.
I grew up with an understanding that my family had less than many of my peers’ families. I didn't have health care--or visit doctors or dentists--for most of my adolescence. Most of my clothes were hand-me-downs, and I didn't have my own bed until I was 10 years old. There were a few winters I kept my feet dry by wearing plastic bags over thin socks before shoving my crinkle-wrapped feet into the same holy, worn-out tennis shoes I wore year-round because they were the only shoes I had.
I tried to hide evidence of living with less. I lied to my fifth grade teacher about having a VCR at home because I didn't want to say that my family couldn't afford one. I avoided shopping at thrift stores with my mom fearing a classmate would see me and assume we couldn't afford to shop anywhere else. I pretended to prefer the school's hot lunch menu, so my peers wouldn't know that my family accessed the free lunch program.
As a youth, I probably wouldn't have told anyone about my attempt today: to use an almost-expired container of yogurt in a cake recipe. It could have revealed I was "less than" in some way I can't exactly articulate even today. However, the world around me has evolved. Thrifting is trendy and green, and now I'm writing a full blog post about the origins of my frugality and its connection to chocolate cake.
Certainly wisdom and confidence grows with age. I am now at a point in my life where I feel a bit more comfortable sharing some harder bits of my past. Now I can see and appreciate how grit has bubbled from adversity, and I am grateful for how that has bloomed into the life I have today.
Today my #bakingchallenge was to bake with something about to go bad in my fridge: a container of yogurt. I found this Sour Cream Chocolate Cake recipe from Justin's Grandma Eslinger's 1953 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and substituted the sour cream for the yogurt. The cake tasted great, although the texture was more dense than I prefer.
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