Like most, I learned much from my mom. The majority of my beliefs regarding living green, spending money wisely, and being self-sufficient (MSG's mantra) stem from things my mom taught me.
In honor of Mother's Day, I've compiled a list of the top six ways Mom taught me to be MSG. (I know, most lists are five or 10, but six felt right to me.)
1. There's a right way to thrift/bargain shop. Mom taught me how to check out clothes for stains and holes, and always went armed with her trusty tape measure to find out how big those pants really were. Most importantly, she taught me that you shouldn't buy something just because it's cheap. She'd say, "If you wouldn't buy it for $20, you shouldn't buy it for $2."
2. Cooking and baking aren't as tough as people will have you believe. I frequently bring leftover spaghetti to work, and I can't begin to count the number of times I've been asked if I made the sauce myself. The first few times, I answered (somewhat confused), "Well, I did start with tomato sauce..." My brother gets a similar question when he bakes a cake. People can't seem to believe he didn't start with a mix. I've baked cakes both with and without a mix, and I'm going to reveal a great big secret. It's just as easy to make a cake from scratch.
3. The joy of barefoot gardening. A big reason I want a house is so that I can have a garden. There is nothing I've found that will connect you with the Earth better than feeling dirt between your toes. And when you eat something that you grew from that dirt, you truly understand how you depend on the natural world to survive. Once you have that connection, it's impossible to not care about the environment. You care about the Earth's well-being as you care about your own.
4. Don't waste food! Mom saved cereal crumbs for meat loaf, bacon grease for frying eggs, butter wrappers for greasing cake pans, and so on. I somehow lost some of these lessons for a while; I just starting saving my crumbs in the last year. But now I'm back on track. By the way, cereal crumbs are a great way to sneak in some extra fiber, especially if you eat high-fiber cereals such as raisin bran or shredded wheat.
5. Fix it first. I watched my mom darn socks, sew buttons, patch holes, and even take apart the telephone. Mom taught me that many things that are damaged still have value, and can be repaired or repurposed.
6. The amount of money you have has nothing to do with being rich. As you may be able to guess from the first 5 lessons on this list, I wasn't born into money. I'm the youngest of four and we frequently went without "things" growing up. But I know that tomorrow, when we're all at Mom and Dad's, loudly laughing and talking over each other around the dinner table, not a one of us would trade our great big family (now at 12 and counting) for cable TV, a super nintendo, or name brand jeans.
Thanks Mom, for all you've taught me. And you always said you weren't good at teaching!