Things I Wish My Grandma Had Taught Me

Things I wish My Gradma Had Taught MeI had two amazing grandmothers! They were two great role models to women, today I am going to tell you about my Baba because she would have been the most popular blogger in the world, I am talking Pioneer Woman Ree’s kind of star power. I think about her a lot when I write and she died when I was in high school. She was green without meaning to be green.

My Baba was a widowed mother of two in the depression era. So imagine raising two boys on a fixed income, she knew how to be thrifty, save and not waste. She found a use for everything and at this point I think you are imagining that she is hoarder, not so, but that is not to say she did not have a garage full of things (imagine Monica from Friends and the closet… the house was spotless but she had a lot of stuff in this one place). Here are some of the main titles I would give when I think of Baba:

Gardener

She taught me about WWII Victory gardens. This was probably my first lesson in sustainable agriculture and I was probably only 6 years old. She told me how they planted their yards with as much food as they could grow. She talked about how she shared with her neighbors and how they saved their seeds for the following year (they even shared seeds). When she explained to me that rationing and the high food costs it seemed only logical that people would be growing food in their yard to actually feed their family. My grandmother lived on a little less than an acre and she made the most of it. She gardened into her 80’s and I know if she was here today she would have a million tips to share with all of us on how we could improve our gardens without all the chemicals that are so easy to get now.

Me and Baba when I was about 5 years old

Me and Baba when I was about 5 years old

Seamstress/Crafter

I still have the quilt Baba made me that matched the curtains she made me for my childhood room. She could sew anything and if she did not know how to do something she had an endless network of friends who could help her. I feel like she had the real life Pinterest back then, she would get together with the other ladies and they would make things. They would make things for one another, for parties, for the kids in the neighborhood, for members of the church, or anyone else who needed something. She used to get together with the ladies for quilting bees and they would make several quilts in one night, by hand!

Master Chef

I still remember my favorite dishes that she made and the last time she cooked for me I was probably in 6th grade. I still purchase stuffed cabbage and peirogies from any Polish deli or vendor I can in search of the same meals she used to make me. Do not get me wrong not everything she made was exciting and fantastic but of any family member who has ever cooked for me I had more favorite meals from her than anyone else. I think it is because everything she made would be defined today as “Real Food” and I guess I appreciated it even then. If she had a blog she would be sharing her recipes every week and I am sure she would have a great meal plan for all of us to follow on a very tight budget.

Penny Pincher

She did not waste money (or at least that I am aware of). The depression and being widow with two growing boys I am sure MAKES you that way even if you did not want to be that way. She penny pinched in a way that I admire, she still ate food, was dressed nicely, and still made time to help her friends and family. I am sure there were meals that none of us would eat but were super economical and that she did things that no one else would know about that saved money in her home (thermostat real low when there were no visitors…etc.) but she never skrimpt to point where you worried about her. She made decisions that I think she was ok with. I am sure she wished she had more money, everyone does, by my young child’s view of it did not show me a jaded women who wished she had more she seemed content to live in a frugal manner.

Environmentally Friendly

She did not own a car, she took the bus to visit us, she walked every where she could, and she squeezed the useful life out of everything before she replaced it. I do not remember her house changing at all. Looking back at pictures from her house I do not think she even moved anything around in her house, if it worked it stayed. She was a master canner, she used to make me pickles and bring me jars every time she would see me. I used to bring the pickles with me everywhere I went for lunch, all pickles to this day are judged against she bread and butter pickles. She canned so many things because that was the thing to do. I do not ever remember seeing a disposable anything in her house including napkins and paper towels. Obviously in her time this was the way you did things but she seemed to get it, and do it well.

I think she could have taught me so many skills and now as mother of two kids of my own I cannot imagine how hard it was for her to do what she did at the time in our history that she did. She was very determined woman though so I am not even the slightest bit surprised she did it successfully. So I think if she was around today she would be telling us how to can, sew, re-purpose, and grow the best garden in the most no-nonsense tone she could. I am sad she left this world when I was so young but she did live into her 90’s, I was just too young to know what to ask her before she left because trust me her advice would be something we would all love to have today.