Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Making Do



Choosing a life not centered around earning a high salary or going into debt, for us means making do with what is given to us or buying second hand.  Choosing to care for the earth means not buying new things often.

So in our living room area - we have two second hand chairs passed on to us - a couch that our friend gave us with a cover that I found in a free pile outside a thrift store that I keep applying patches to.

All new pillows including a big one for the floor that I sewed using a wonderful piece of moss green corduroy fabric and filled all with a giant bag of cotton filling from a factory that used to be nearby - all passed on from a neighbor that was moving.

The small rocking chair was mine when I was a child.

Sometimes it can be hard practicing contentment and not wanting  more or new - especially when visiting beautiful blogs or looking through pinterest.  

What helps, is to simply avoid shopping except in second hand shops and I sometimes find myself  closing my computer down shortly after visiting an online store and remind myself to be patient, remind myself about our family's dreams and goals (which require some savings), and remind myself where many of the items are probably made and that I will not be very kind to the environment by making a purchase.

How do you manage consumerism?  Are you content with what you have?  Do you like to take what you have and make new things?

(A new something can be a wonderful treat sometimes or entirely necessary , so, yes we do buy new on a  occasion.)

Warm wishes,
Tonya

40 comments:

  1. As always Tonya, thank you for being so honest. I'm sure many of your readers can relate to the simplicity of your furnishings.

    Let me tell you something: Your living room, although you feel it is quite humble, is much nicer than mine. Honestly! We have a scratched and stained leather loveseat that looks frankly awful, a secondhand chair that is stained and falling apart, and a rocking chair that is only half painted. As well, we have a secondhand coffee table which looks dreadful from water damange, and a secondhand tv stand which is liable to fall over any time. I don't say these things to complain in the least; I know there are more important things to worry about than the state of one's living room. I only want you to know that certainly not everyone has homes like the ones you see on Pinterest!

    I get the feeling that you often feel alone, and I just want you to know that there are many of us who have made choices which mean we can't have a lot of the "stuff" other people have. And that's okay - we make do!

    Like you, I usually only shop secondhand. It helps a lot financially, and in fact I like the idea of giving old things, which might have ended up in a landfill, new life.

    But I also have to be honest and say that I do sometimes not feel content with what we have. Consumerism is indeed a tough beast to fight against, these days. The message that we "need" more things is everywhere!

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    1. Laura- I just wanted to let you know that I used to read your blog, and I was happy to just find out that you did get to your country home! Congrats! We are working on the same thing... one day soonI hope.
      Emily

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    2. Hi Laura,
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. I neglected to mention that those white chairs are no longer white and I would love to be able to get some covers for them - but not a priority and I think I will wait and see if I can "find" something instead. Hope you all are well!

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  2. Hi Tonya, I make every effort to make what ever I have last as long as possible. I hate consumerism of any kind and do what I can to avoid it xx

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  3. It can be SO difficult to decipher between want and need sometimes. The two seem to become so intertwined when we are constantly bombarded with visions of lives filled with beautiful things! One great thing about the internet is how simply we can look up a way to create things for ourselves without spending! I would have to say resistance is not my strength (specifically with etsy). As for local shopping, I only visit thrift shops, simply (and thankfully) because that's the only kind of shopping that I enjoy!

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    1. I do appreciate the internet for ideas as well.

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  4. I have to say Tonya...I was raised in a house that had brand new furniture quite regular, beautiful window treatments that were commissioned, new cars every two years...to the outside observer, we had it all.

    Now that I am living a simpler life, I look back and realize how I truly did not like all the amenities. I was not able to be a child. And the upkeep!

    Your home is cozy, lived in, lovely and comfortable. It shows the visitor how much love lives there. How much family is nurtured there.

    In my humble cottage, I make pretty much everything I can, the rest, I purchase second hand as much as possible. We live in a very small home, so furniture and the like needs to be purchased knowing the size of our rooms.

    I sew and knit for the cottage. I paint as much as money allows. I embrace this life filled with its challenge, because I remember the coldness of my childhood home. And truly Tonya, I don't ever want to live in a place filled with brand new anything again :-)

    Contentment...it is something I have to remember daily.

    Maria

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  5. Material items are junky these days. You are so much richer in your home and land then most of us! And your cute children...my mom used to tell me, that the really giving people in the world, are the ones who give life by having a large family. Now that is generosity! Not to mention doing God's will, and that is what we are called to do.

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  6. We try to think out of the box, and do a lot of home-grown projects. Developing our own sense of style helps! I'm of the opinion that there are a lot of things that just need a coat of paint to be gorgeous, clean, and functional. We've found so many solutions that work for our family. My kids have expressed sorrow for those who can't "do" for themselves, and are limited to what they can find at a store.

    We're pretty blessed to have a circle of friends making similar choices, too, so home-made birthday gifts and other fun things are "normal" to everyone, and quite a lot of fun!

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  7. I love posts like this. Although many blogs have pictures of "decorated" or "designed" rooms, I actually like blogs that show real rooms. In my life, I don't see these blog rooms, I see people who for the most part, are making do and don't have matching furniture. Personally, I manage consumerism by staying out of stores, not visiting pinterest, and making lists of what I really need. A few years back, I purged tons of stuff and what I realized was that the stuff I got rid of was more often than not, stuff that was dumped on us by relatives, or stuff that I bought on a whim.

    Thank you for showing a more real representation of how people live.

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  8. Very inspiring thoughts, Tonya. I am constantly reviewing the challenges of consumerism, especially with having teens that are think they "need" all this STUFF!

    Been a solo mom of 3 has been financially challenging so I have learned to make and make do.

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  9. I so appreciate your wisdom shared here. I find staying out of shops and malls helps me avoid consumerism. Whenever (usually two or three times a year) there is a mall visit I find myself feeling badly about the things I have in the face of overwhelming purchasing options. Online community isthe place I need to be most mindful - spotting friends' yarn, toy, and book purchases sometimes make me wish for things I don't have. I remind myself, though, to live where we have chosen (where I want) to live.

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  10. Great post! We live much like you, getting by on two teacher salaries. Our furniture is mostly hand-me-down...now I actually have quite a few things "handed up" from my own kids! Our living room furniture probably cost a total of less than $100! Years ago, we had a brand-new couch and it wore out and fell apart quickly and ever since we have gone for the quality second hand things. I also shop for clothing and practically everything else at thrift stores, yard and rummage sales. You are a great example of the way more people should live...conserve, live frugally and save. I love the old saying "fix it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!" Have a great week!

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  11. I think this is an interesting idea to explore! I was thinking that I don't quite share your aestheticism when it comes to belongings but when I consider my home I'm not so sure! We do have things we bought new but they are essential, such as a bed! But we do invest in solid pieces and we expect them to last, perhaps even after we are gone, which is a nice thought.

    Now that we live in the country, and associate mainly with homeschoolers, I am so much more used to a modest approach to life. We live in a beautiful home that we build ourselves, but we did everything we could to make it simple and functional. Sometimes I feel that I should be more 'designery' about it all but it just isn't my priority. My sofa needs new covers (I've had it for about 10 years) and my cushions have seen better days but I find that less important than a hoop house to grow food in.

    We are not poor, my husband earns a nice income from a job he doesn't enjoy much, but we work hard to create a life that is important to us. We grow our own food and it is a LOT Of work, we educate our children which is also work and effort. Our spare money goes on the farm mostly and we try to focus on wellness as our priority.

    Our lives are not the same but I think many people can relate to the spirit of the desire to move away from "I want' and to focus on the quality elements that make a life worth living : ) I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!

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    1. If we had a larger income, I do think we would save to buy hand crafted pieces - like you wrote - that would last for at least one lifetime and support a family's business.
      Thanks so much for sharing.

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  12. It is so satisfying to me to recycle and reuse, and re-invent. Before I buy something I shop my home for it, I think about it for a while.....how much do I really want it...do I need it??.....can I make it myself?
    Waiting for it, making it myself (which so often can be done!) is so much more satisfying than instant and costly gratification.
    Really living in the moments and enjoying simple pleasures and simplifying, to me, brings great joy.
    I did homemade Christmas gifts this year and they were so much more thoughtful, so much more appreciated, I put so much more into them. And they were lovely.

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  13. We've been fortunate to find a lot of the stuff we require second hand. Both our daughter's beds (plus her initial cot) was second hand. Her new (second hand) double bed sat on the verandah for months, as we tried to find a mattress. These are difficult to find in good condition, so finally bit the bullet and bought one. But we got her new bedroom suite all second hand.

    She was reaching that stage where she outgrew her little craft desk and needed something bigger for studying. It took us 6 months to find everything and then finally set up her new room. Part of this is about saving money, but most is about saving the environment and living within our choices. Most of the furniture sold in Australia isn't Australian made any more. It comes from crates overseas. It's cheap and convenient, but very wasteful. We don't want to leave the legacy for our children, having to deal with all that poisonous particle board furniture, when we can simply re-purpose what's already in the second-hand system.

    I also made the big decision this year to drop all those blogs and websites which made me feel in conflict with my own choices. I used to read them because I thought they inspired me - but then I realised my life was lived in real time and I couldn't compete with all those instantaneous images. My life wasn't geared the same, so I removed myself from the source of conflict. I feel much better for it. :)

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  14. I think your living room is very Lovely.

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  15. This is a constant battle for us all, I think. For us, we are saving for a house. We sold our home that we had for 9 years when we moved to NH for a new job for my husband. We lost a lot of money, call it bad management or whatever you will, it's been hard for me to be renting when I want so badly to have a home of our own. We know that God is using this experience to show us how much we need Him, and to teach us and even discipline us for what may have been poor stewardship. Our rental is nice, but expensive, so we're not sure how long we can stay here. My desire to not be nomadic is keeping me very focused on how much we spend. One of my all time favorites is Amy Dacyzyn's Tightwad Gazette. It's a classic :)

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  16. Just a tip.Your slipcover on your couch.
    You say you keep patching it?I am not trying to insult your intelligence,you probley already thought of it.But if you ever get a large amount of fabric ,you can take the slipcover a part at the seams and use as a pattern .and have a new one when you feel you need it.
    Usually its not recommended to make slipcovers like that,But it will work good enough.how I made my first slipcover for a friend.
    all the fabric doesnt even have to be alike.

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  17. Yes content with what we have. Do I wish for other things, yes sometimes, but then I look around and remind myself that we have exactly what we need live a full and happy life. I tend to stay away from the shops, I don't like shopping so it isn't difficult.

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  18. We have just moved to Northern Vermont- could possibly be close to you-not sure. Being so far away from the city and big sores has helped us save money since we have moved here. I have always bought most of my boys clothes at thrift stores, but now I am finding I really only need go out if it is a necessity.

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  19. Even though I am not like you at all, I enjoyed reading your blog- it took me hours to read from the beginning. A little bit about me- I am a retired teacher, an atheist, a mother and grandmother who only grows some vegetables- weather is too cold and wet because we live too far north; I CHOSE to have only 2 children- even Catholics in our country (UK) now use contraception,my daughter has 2 and my other daughter will have 2 at most.My father passed down to me- if you don't have money you need Education and it is so true- my kids were educated privately ( I CHOSE to do this) for which we sacrificed a lot but it was worth it as they are both highly successful- my grandchildren will be too. I was the one who never bowed to pressure to have everything- they didn't have TV's in their rooms,nor designer shoes. I make cards, made the girls' wedding invitations, knit (now for my grandchildren), recyle, reuse,buy in charity shops,spend little on Xmas (have got all Christmas 2013 presents at 75% off in the January sales)and never buy ready meals. I was a great supporter of Amy Dacyczyn and her 'The Tightwad Gazette'. So as you see there are other ways of being happy and managing consumerism. You have to equip your children for the 21st century - even the Amish have found that out (and believe me I have studied them- they have gone into business because there are not enough farms to go round.)

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment and thoughts and sharing.
      It is so neat that people that have all different beliefs can come and share their experiences.
      We also believe in equipping our children for the world, but we also believe in showing them that they don't need to be "of the world" - actually our oldest did well enough with his homeschool "grades" and SATs and application to get accepted to college and receive scholarships - it was his choice to go but we helped to make sure he would be ready for college. Also, our family supports ourselves with our home business that gets just about all its sales through the internet - so we do combine modern technology with old.. That is what has worked for us.
      Warm wishes,
      Tonya

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    2. I am from the UK too and agree that children need to be equipped for modern life but that doesn't mean following the same path as others. I resist plenty that many many families give their children as the norm - nig birthday parties, game consoles, tv's in rooms, mobile phones at 9 years old, sexy clothes originally designed for adults on little girls, designer trainers, chocolate, sweets and crisps every day as the norm for lunch..... the list goes on! I think standing firm against these things equips them for life as they can see to believe in themselves and what is right rather than aimlessly following a crowd!

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  20. Even though I am not like you at all, I enjoyed reading your blog- it took me hours to read from the beginning. A little bit about me- I am a retired teacher, an atheist, a mother and grandmother who only grows some vegetables- weather is too cold and wet because we live too far north; I CHOSE to have only 2 children- even Catholics in our country (UK) now use contraception,my daughter has 2 and my other daughter will have 2 at most.My father passed down to me- if you don't have money you need Education and it is so true- my kids were educated privately ( I CHOSE to do this) for which we sacrificed a lot but it was worth it as they are both highly successful- my grandchildren will be too. I was the one who never bowed to pressure to have everything- they didn't have TV's in their rooms,nor designer shoes. I make cards, made the girls' wedding invitations, knit (now for my grandchildren), recyle, reuse,buy in charity shops,spend little on Xmas (have got all Christmas 2013 presents at 75% off in the January sales)and never buy ready meals. I was a great supporter of Amy Dacyczyn and her 'The Tightwad Gazette'. So as you see there are other ways of being happy and managing consumerism. You have to equip your children for the 21st century - even the Amish have found that out (and believe me I have studied them- they have gone into business because there are not enough farms to go round.)

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  21. I wish more people would think this way. Such a throw away , disposable society now. Makes me very sad. I make do with what I have for the most part. I don't even like shopping. And certainly don't want to spend big bucks on anything just because. More people should realize that you really can be happy with so little. Best wishes to you, Tammy

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  22. Yes we are content with what we have. To fight against consumerism we avoid window shopping or in allowing our thoughts to go window shopping. We keep our focus on what we have been blessed with. The only time I ever feel a twinge of 'I want' is if I have ventured into a huge mall. Fortunately England has few of those and those that we do have are usually in major cities. I'm content with the traditional markets and high streets. The charity stores are always full of the consumer societies cast offs and I have picked up some amazing items, even a brand new pair of shoes never worn for my daughter. I paid about £2.00 for them, they would have cost around £20.00 otherwise.

    In spite of considering ourselves thrifty and generally careful, we still find everything costing so much. I am constantly striving for better and more frugal ways of doing things. I feel like I am always on a learning curve :o) but love the challenge!

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  23. Yes we are content with what we have. To fight against consumerism we avoid window shopping or in allowing our thoughts to go window shopping. We keep our focus on what we have been blessed with. The only time I ever feel a twinge of 'I want' is if I have ventured into a huge mall. Fortunately England has few of those and those that we do have are usually in major cities. I'm content with the traditional markets and high streets. The charity stores are always full of the consumer societies cast offs and I have picked up some amazing items, even a brand new pair of shoes never worn for my daughter. I paid about £2.00 for them, they would have cost around £20.00 otherwise.

    In spite of considering ourselves thrifty and generally careful, we still find everything costing so much. I am constantly striving for better and more frugal ways of doing things. I feel like I am always on a learning curve :o) but love the challenge!

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  24. We have a large family with a small income. 99.8% of the furniture, dishes, utensils, clothing, shoes, accessories, vehicles, books, toys...even hba items have either been gifted to us through "hand me down bags" or found for free or purchased second hand. I used to covet what other people had or feel i had to have new. I learned a valuable lesson when we redid our kitchen .....new everthing; walls, floor, cabinets, counters, appliances. We even bought a top of the line front loading washer/dryer set. 8 years later....the fridge is dead, washer/dryer set dead, cooktop exploded (literally), double wall oven dying, countertop cracked and peeling, fancy sink...cracked and gross, faucet dead, cabinet doors breaking.
    Now I look at antiques and second hand and am happy to find a fridge for 50$
    I do not have a matching bed set or matching linens, nor do any of my kids.
    We have one bathroom for 12 people and 2 closets in the entire house.
    People feel sorry for us.....they don't get that we are...HAPPY.
    Small houses breed close families. Doing without and making do breeds teenagers that are not self centered or greedy. Not spending tons of money on "stuff" means less stress if it gets ruined. Not having new vehicles...lower car insurance. Living with less means your spouse doesn't have to be a slave to a corporate job.

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    1. Please write on your blog. :)
      Kim

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    2. I can't imagine one bathroom for 12 people. We had bathroom for 3 people for several years and couldn't stand it. Now we have three and I'm in heaven!

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  25. For what it's worth, I find what you share on your blog much more inspiring than Pinterest any day.
    I too mainly avoid shopping in stores to limit what I buy. As Tammy above mentioned, I'm saddened at the throw-away mentality of so many, and I make an effort to not consume in that way. I love the creative energy of repurposing items. And if I'm not content with something, then I first try and think of a way to make what I have better. But it's not always easy... Thank you for your inspiration.

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  26. I relate to the issues you face; my home has been unfinished for 7 years and it's likely it will be completed just in time to sell this spring. It was my prayer to have this home be mine and a reflection of me...it likely won't happen but I am grateful b/c I have had more than most. I am thankful that I have electricity, having grown up in a village without. I am realizing it's the state of our spirit that is more important, more than the state of our rooms. Hugs, more are like you than you imagine. Pinterest is for dreams and not all are meant for achieving. Not all are practical either!

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  27. Thank you Tonya. We do buy new things as well as have given things in our home. I think long and hard about purchases and can never quite make up my mind about consumerism. It IS out of hand but if no-one ever bought new then no-one would ever be able to gift things to others to allow those others to live the simple life they do! And with the volume of the current population if there was no consumerism, then many many people would not have an income. I see both sides of things an deplore the 'have it all' culture of buying everything new on credit. We always save up for ours and buy within our means, and carefully chosen and move things on responsibly when we no longer have a need for them. I think I would like even more simply but when married one has to meet one's husband in the middle about things and so I do!!! Having suffered from PTSD and PND I do make purchases purely to ease my day to day living sometimes as I manage my wellness to ensure I don't go back to that horrible place! I am looking forwards to your posts about your choices! With love, Jenni

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  28. Most of the furnishings in our house our antiques from when my various grandparents gave up their homes. Love them! My daughter attends a high school in an Ivy league town where most of her friends are looking at very, very expensive colleges. We refuse to let her or us go into debt for an undergraduate education and are opting out of even looking at what we can't afford. We have good salaries but not great salaries which put us in a position of not being able to afford what the colleges think we can afford. This is hard for her and is definitely bucking the trend. We'll be taking a serious look at Johnson this spring.

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  29. I agree. I get my books from the library, or ebay, or free!

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  30. Hi Tonya,
    I really enjoy your blog. One thing that has changed our consumerism is our conviction to not support any business/company that supports Planned Parenthood. There are SO many companies that support PP and in turn fund the killing of the innocent.
    I realize we probably do buy from some companies that support PP but if we find out then we no longer support that company or business. Truly, this alone has changed our entire idea of shopping/consumerism.
    The Lord has been working hard on me, specifically, about contentment. It is one of my favorite things to study and read about. I am so thankful for all He has given our family. When I feel discontent it usually means that I have not spent enough time in His Word. He is changing me from the inside out:)
    Blessings,
    Tina
    God Bless you,
    Tina

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  31. except for the couch and one matress all my furniture is hand ne downs. Iron bed frames, a corner hutch and dining room table, a book case someone built for me when i was six...

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