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Cultivate Simple 12: Buy Better

December 31st, 2012

Our topic this week is about buying better. We discuss the processes we use when determining if and what we want to spend our hard earned money on.

Donald Thomas Carter
Christmas Eve presents opened, Christmas morning presents opened, Just a few hours in and 50% of them are already broken. Darn Chinese and the crappy toys they make! Sun Zsu would be proud of you… you are winning the war and we don´t even know we are losing it, let alone in one.

Filson – Might as well have the best!

The goods we quote must not be confounded with the cheap and vastly inferior grade with which the market is over-run. Such goods are not only useless for the purpose for which they are intended, but the person wearing them would be better off without them.”
— Clinton C. Filson 1914 catalog

America is a nation obsessed with finding personal happiness. But the person who sets out to find happiness rarely succeeds. He or she may achieve occasional and temporary satisfaction through financial success or a busy social life, but rarely true happiness. Happiness comes to those people who concentrate on the opposite – who do things for others, who set out to produce beautiful paintings or delicious meals, or who engage in projects that bring beneficial change to the world. Such people not only contribute to a better world as a result but also achieve unexpected happiness. These are the people who move through life with ease, in spite of obstacles and misfortune.

Thomas S Cowan, MD (The Fourfold Path to Healing)

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for” -Epicurus Greek Philosopher (341 BC – 270 BC)

Insomnia and HSP & introvertedness – This melatonin from Radiant Life I have found to be most helpful.

Our Coffee Roaster

If This Then That – Brian’s geeky website that saves him tons of time

So tell us, what would you like to hear in future podcasts and how are you going to be cultivating simple in 2013?

23 Comments to “Cultivate Simple 12: Buy Better”
  1. Maybelline on December 31, 2012 at 8:44 am

    I love trivial facts an historical stuff.

    My mother suffers from insomnia. Her doctor only prescribes more pills that don’t work. Do you know if melatonin works?

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

    • Wendy on December 31, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Melatonin works BUT not forever for some -. Do some research and determine what kind of insomnia. Different deficiencies cause different types. .If you read Prescription for Nutritional Healing it can help determine. For me-melatonin quit working after awhile – my body no longer responded to it.

      What has worked long term for me – it was a calcium magnesium deficiency. So, I take a calcium magnesium natural supplement just previous to bedtime and that has worked long term the best.

      Reply to Wendy's comment

    • Susy on December 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      Melatonin works perfectly for me, it has also been proven to help reduce risk of cancer and boost immunity. That being said, it’s best to take a natural form of it instead of the synthetic chemical variety. It does depend on what causes your mom’s insomnia. I believe that my body doesn’t produce melatonin very much naturally, I’ve been an insomniac for as long as I can remember, even as a little kid. I have found melatonin to be very beneficial for me.

      Other things also work like, herbal teas, getting rid of CFL and LED lights in the house, limiting bright lights, TV and computer for an hour before bed, etc. I have also found some gentle stretching to help me sleep better.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Heidi on December 31, 2012 at 9:38 am

    One thing I am going to do to keep my life more simple: Keep my dining room table free of ccrrraaaap. It seems to be a gathering place for papers, mail, a random screwdriver (or hammer), and other odds and ends. It is a snap shot of the chaos of our life. :)

    Reply to Heidi's comment

  3. MountainMisty on December 31, 2012 at 11:43 am

    You had my mouth dropping when you said it would be your last podcast, haha. I’m happy it was only a joke…on me. You don’t even know how much I look forward to it every week. You guys rock!

    Speaking of simple life…we moved into a 662 sq ft townhouse in order to pay off all of our bills and save within 2 years for a small house with acreage. 2 adults and 1 child living in 662 sq ft! We definitely have had to simplify. We have a huge deck and I’m making plans for a wall-to-wall patio garden. I think I’m going to be amazed at how much food will come from a patio garden. We’re paying off debt, saving and learning a huge life lesson in simplifying.

    What am I giving up now?
    When we simplified back in August, we canceled cable TV, expensive hair coloring appointments, satellite radio, we cook and eat out rarely. The last “subscription” type thing I’ve been holding onto since simplifying back in August is a monthly massage membership. I guess I was scared to cancel it, because occasionally I do get pain in my shoulder. I’m going to go cancel my memership and get back $50 a month plus $20 tip. When I’m in extreme pain, I can always go get a single massage, but that only happens approximtely 2 times a year….so I can save monthly by canceling the membership and get those dollars back into our budget to pay bills.

    Reply to MountainMisty's comment

  4. KimH on December 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I had to laugh at the toilet paper comments. I just noticed this past week that my new 36 count package of toilet paper seems a LOT shorter and smaller.. It was shocking! I tend to buy about a years worth of tp at a time when I find a great deal too.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  5. Chris on December 31, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I just sat down to write my aspirational list for 2013 a few days ago, and funnily enough, buying better came up as a major theme.

    To simplify the changes somewhat, I broke the groups into pantry, freezer, menu and storage. Instead of buying what I want come shopping day, I’m going to decide what seasonal meals I really like the most, and only buy simple ingredients in bulk. I’ll organise my pantry and freezer to accommodate and buy/acquire sensible storage solutions.

    Buying better is great, but “using” the things you buy is even better. For me, that requires better organisation. I’m looking forward to it though. I have already been gifted a vintage Sunbeam mix-master by my mum. I was only thinking about it last year – I remember this old beastie machine from my childhood. I loved to lick the cake beaters! Without mentioning it to her, my dear mum gave it to me a few days ago. It still works like the old beastie I always knew it was.

    Before I was gifted this wonderful item however, I went out and purchased a Bamix stick blender. I knew this newer machine from my childhood too. I spent way more than I could on a normal stick blender, but Bamix (from my childhood anyway) is something you can pass on to your children. It’s made well. Mum’s Bamix was gifted to a well deserving friend a while ago. But I had no hesitation parting with the money for an item I know works. My mum got quite a delight this Christmas, when she saw my Bamix displayed proudly on my kitchen counter.

    I’m guessing that’s what inspired her to pass on the Sunbeam mix-master. Good things last though, don’t they. :)

    Reply to Chris's comment

  6. mandie on December 31, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    This blog has inspired me so much, throughout the last year/year and a half that I’ve been reading it (!!)…and I had minor heart failure when I thought you were ending the podcasts! I listen to them on my drive to work, since there’s no gardening to be done currently (in my apartment).

    I’ve been simplifying our (husband included) lives since I started reading, I evaluate and start new “resolutions” throughout the year. We’ve been mulching leaves on the garden at my parents house, growing heirloom vegetables (not very well this year, ah well), cooking more simply and not going out, buying better quality items, shopping around more…the biggest change I’m hoping to make in the coming year is getting into our own house, and finding some local dairy to support.

    Really, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your lives in so many ways and inspiring people who want to cultivate simple, but aren’t sure how to start. All the best in 2013!

    Reply to mandie's comment

  7. Wendy on December 31, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    I want to simplify in 2013 by continuing to get rid of all the junk we don’t need! I’d like to hear an entire podcast about chickens–my daughter is starting her first flock in the spring and has listened very intently to the times when you’ve talked about them. Also, I’d like to hear more about year-round/4 season gardening. And thanks so much for the podcast on introverts–I enjoyed listening to information that made me feel a little less “weird” :). Glad you made it to episode 12–looking forward to many more! Happy New Year!

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  8. stacie on December 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    I so enjoy your podcasts..thank you and I too panicked a bit when I thought it was your last! :)
    We have simplified a lot since we moved last year by starting our own flock of chickens (5 hens), and created a huge garden. We are hoping to figure out this year how to preserve better and to eat more seasonally. I love the idea of interviewing people in your local area. How fun that would be. We live in MN and have long winters here too and need some ideas on how to keep the garden/preserving going, the lifestyle of simple going when you are on your second week of negative temperatures. You are so encouraging as we are in a subdivision now but will be one day, hopefully, on some acreage. Be blessed this year!

    Reply to stacie's comment

  9. Olivia on January 1, 2013 at 4:49 am

    Thanks for another great episode.
    This year I am going to simplify what I eat. I want to cut out sugar, plus eliminate a lot of the processed food.

    My husband and I have been talking about spending a bit more to get quality – one of my xmas presents was a watch with a metal strap. My old one had a plastic strap that cost over half the price of the watch to replace. We also got some home kill bacon off a friend – so much flavour compared to the supermarket meat . We have the name of the butcher so will source bacon from there now.

    Have a great 2013 – I’m looking forward to more podcasts

    Reply to Olivia's comment

  10. Lavonne on January 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    In your most recent podcast, you asked for show ideas. I have a few.
    I would love to hear more about your beekeeping as well as maple syrup collecting and processing.
    I also think a great idea would be an episode on food preservation (canning, freezing, dehydrating) and some pointers about what methods you use.
    Thank you and happy new year!

    Reply to Lavonne's comment

  11. Nebraska Dave on January 1, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Brian and Susy, another great podcast. I think that Brian should have a geeky spot every week. I had 6 recipes up on “IFTTT” before the podcast was over. Great Website. It has endless possibilities that are relatively simple to piece together. I’m always amazed at these awesome Websites that are free to use.

    Have a great New Year and I’m looking forward to more podcasts.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  12. DebbieB on January 1, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Love the podcast – keep it comin’! This one was right on. We’ve been working this year on buying less short-lasting junk from big-box craaaap stores and making more thoughtful purchases of long-lasting ‘tools for our toolbox’. No more particle-board furniture and bookcases. No more cheap plastic storage containers. I’m a weaver, and I’ve handwoven our dishtowels, dishcloths, napkins and placemats. They’ll never wear out, and I get to choose their colors and structure, so they also decorate my kitchen. I’ll be weaving wool blankets for our beds and living room, too.

    Our stove is at least 30 years old – it’s an old gas Tappan that was in the kitchen when we bought the house. I dread the day when it dies.

    This year we’ll be working on tossing out useless clutter (like the votive candles you mentioned) and only keeping what’s useful for now and for the long haul. We’re planning to move to Montana at the end of the year – your remarks about cold-weather gear are most helpful!

    I liked Brian’s “Geek Corner” – I’ll bet he has a zillion good tips helpful for living in this electronic age. I’d like to see this as a regular feature, please!

    Oh, and I agree with Susy’s remark that it’s good to glean what’s useful from resources, even if you’re not sold on the whole philosophy – I’ve read many resource books where I rolled my eyes on occasion but still found good nuggets of info to use.

    Happy New Year, you two!

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

  13. KimP on January 2, 2013 at 1:01 am

    I plan to simplify a bit by no longer spending time on things that really aren’t a priority for me right now. I have a mental list of things I plan to take up again when my children are raised (and I’m no longer working and homeschooling and being a wife/mom/and-all-the-things-that-come-under-that-heading). They DON’T include being stuck to a computer scrolling through the headlines. So why spend my precious time on those type of things now?

    Reply to KimP's comment

  14. Amy P on January 2, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Your podcast is wonderful. Keep it up.

    My problem with buying quality items is finding them. How do you find quality things? For me I was trying to buy a quality toaster that would last me more than a year or two. I went with Kitchen Aid because I thought it was a quality company. The toaster died after a year. I gave up and went back to the big box stores.

    Reply to Amy P's comment

    • Susy on January 2, 2013 at 9:32 am

      Sometimes it’s all about thinking outside the box. My toaster is a 90 year old cast iron skillet!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  15. daisy on January 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I wasn’t even aware that there were companies (or individuals) that you could buy appliances or household things from in the USA. I love the idea of supporting Americans and being able to fix things when they break ourselves. I will be doing more research very soon!

    Although I enjoyed the podcast, I wish it had been broken down into two shorter ones. All good info though.

    Reply to daisy's comment

  16. Jennie on January 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    I haven’t listened to all of the podcasts yet since I’ve been skipping around, but I really do enjoy them… even if you do ramble on (rather endearingly). This year I am looking to invest more in experiences and less in stuff.

    I just listened to all 1:48 of the most recent episode – and don’t have the energy to go back and find this: could you post the three criteria you following in considering a purchase? You repeated “time” several times, and I think cost was one – but I forget the third.


    Reply to Jennie's comment

  17. daisy on January 4, 2013 at 8:07 am

    I’d love to hear about the PROCESS you use to find the quality products you purchase.

    Reply to daisy's comment

  18. Kiskin on January 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    A wonderful episode! Yet again! I am also a firm believer in things of quality, that last for a lifetime (or at least for a long, long time).
    We are coffee lovers to such an extent, that we bought a cafe-type quality Swiss coffee machine on our trip to Germany 10 years ago, and brought it home. Our friends thought we were mad then. But it has served us wonderfully for those 10 years, has been serviced only once and has saved us huge amounts of money that we would have otherwise spent on gourmet coffee at good cafes.
    And I also love the classic or timeless look of things (for example a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer or most key pieces of the furniture in our house) Those things could be described with a wonderful anonymous quotation I read somewhere: “Things of quality have no fear of time”…

    I would like to thank you, Brian, for the “ifttt” website, it is a real discovery!
    My promise is to try to declutter my life in all aspects this year.

    Have a wonderful and productive New Year!

    P.S. I also have a question – what is the difference between such leafy greens as kale and collards? The British books and sites are discussing only a vegetable called kale, while American sites and books talk about kales and collards being distinct and different things. And yet they seem to have the exact same latin name… It is very confusing.

    Reply to Kiskin's comment

  19. Lea on January 6, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    This episobde really rang true to me, especially after christmas and my year olds birthday party. I am often too frugal and find it hard to convince myself to spend more on an item

    Reply to Lea's comment

  20. Sheila Nielsen Rocky Top Farm on September 23, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    loved this! thank you!!

    Reply to Sheila Nielsen Rocky Top Farm's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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