Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

February 7, 2008

The joys of living simply!

Filed under: reusing — theburts @ 5:15 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

We interrupt this series to give you…a fun and interactive post about the joys of living simply. More specifically, the joys of being unattached to stuff, and the joys of old, out of date products. I’ve never really written a post asking readers to chime in, but this is one. It’ll be fun, I promise.

I had a conversation the other day with the baker at Costco about the freedom of driving a less than perfect automobile. Then my cousin Jennifer said something about old out-of-date ice cream makers. Brain wheels turned, light bulbs flickered, and this thought was created…

The influence of advertising, our keen interest in technology, our consumption driven economy, and our desire to keep up with the Joneses always tells us we need the new. Be it a new car or a new ice cream maker, we begin to believe that having the new thing will make us happier. We know that’s not true, but…have you ever considered the ways in which the exact opposite is true? Marketing covers all the advantages of the new product, but nobody seems to point out the advantages of the old! So what are some of those advantages or benefits of out-of-date stuff? What are the joys in keeping the old?

So this is the part where we brainstorm and everyone posts comments or stories. And, though there are more serious reasons not to buy new things…waste, greed, contentment, overconsumption, consumerism, global poverty, etc…let’s try to keep this strictly about the lighter, more fun side of sticking with old products. Please use humor when necessary, and don’t be afraid to reminisce!! Ok…one…two…three…GO!



  1. I’ll start with the two things that initiated this post. Maybe it will spark something for you…or at least give an example of what in the world I’m talking about!

    Old cars. If you have a really nice new car, I can just about guarantee you that you’ll 1) worry about it, and 2) be upset when it gets dented. I bought my car new…after it went through a tornado. It has dents all over. The guy from the bakery has a beat up old van, same thing. We’ve both been in an accident where it wasn’t our fault, and it was very minor. The person made a mistake and scratched / dented our car. I cannot explain the joy that comes from telling someone not to worry about it. Making sure they’re ok, then saying “it’s fine, it’s just a little dent, no harm done.” It’s also funny to see their reaction. :) Most people don’t have this detachment from their cars, so it kinda freaks them out a little.

    Old ice cream machines. I’ll just post what my cousin Jennifer said…”Aaah, yes, the ice cream in Mena — I’ll never forget. You know, part of the deliciousness of that experience was how long it took. I well remember running around the backyard and playing while we waited for it to finish, anticipation building the whole time. How much we would’ve missed if we’d simply scooped it out from a store bought box or pressed a single button to do all the work for us — and not just in taste. Thanks for the great memory.”

    Comment by theburts — February 7, 2008 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  2. Furniture, especially if you have young children in your home. We buy ours at the Goodwill or Salvation Army. It is usually in good condition, but i care less about Roman or Avery coloring on it when I know I only paid $30 for the kitchen table than if I had spent $600 or whatever it would cost for a new one. I don’t even know how much a new one would cost!
    Also, my mom kept most of my baby clothes, up through size 5. Avery has been wearing clothes I wore when I was little. We only recently began needing to purchase clothing for her. Talk about a huge money saving experience. And, she is totally hip in her little 80’s dresses that are true vintage, not Gap style. :o)

    Comment by Dawn — February 7, 2008 @ 5:34 pm | Reply

  3. Awesome, Dawn. I don’t ever remember being yelled at for coloring a wall or kicking a hole through a door (for those kids out there who wish to try placing a stuffed animal in front of said hole, trust me that it doesn’t work for long). But you know that it happens…people can go ballistic when it comes to their prized possessions. So sad, but the opposite is so great. I see this lived out all the time at my brother’s house, too. FOUR DAUGHTERS will eventually put marks on the wall or hide remotes or other crazy things. It’s wonderful to see how their love for their kids is vastly greater than their concern for furniture.

    Comment by theburts — February 7, 2008 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

  4. I drove a $500 1981 Ford Courier pickup truck for a couple of years. It was a stick shift, it got about 28 miles a gallon, and it got the most looks, waves, and thumbs up of any vehicle ever! Like with the baby clothes, it seems that the trick it to use stuff that’s 20-25 years old, and everybody thinks it’s cool! It is kinda sweet driving a vehicle that’s 5 years older than you are!

    Related to vehicles and living less, check out http://www.junkycarclub.com. A club of people who drive older vehicles so that they can give more!

    Comment by lukewil86 — February 7, 2008 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  5. haha I drove a 1952 Chevy pickup truck to high school one or two years. I wasn’t exactly cool for it, but it gave me a true appreciation for the way they built vehicles back then. I actually ran into our woodpile and knocked probably 50 pieces of wood down (oops, I bailed to get away from a wasp, heheh) and it didn’t even dent it!!

    Comment by theburts — February 7, 2008 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

  6. one of my favorite old things is jeans. everyone’s favorite pair is the one that is well worn,
    right? they even sell them already worn in now.
    but why buy a pari like that for $80+ when you can get
    a great used pair from goodwill?

    Comment by jody — February 8, 2008 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  7. what fun!
    Yes, furniture is a big one in my book. Then again, I think just about anything that isn’t new is pretty swell.


    Comment by Ariah Fine — February 8, 2008 @ 6:02 pm | Reply

  8. Books, some of my favorites are ones I read over and over. Plus the library is AWESOME!

    Food – Cheese: it doesn’t go bad, it goes good.

    Comment by Josh — February 9, 2008 @ 5:54 am | Reply

  9. mmm cheese mold. :) And the library is a great one, what a great place of community and reusing…I definitely don’t take advantage of it enough. I wonder, the way things are going, how long it will be before libraries close down because everyone just goes out and buys new books.

    Another thing on the furniture: making, fixing or refinishing old furniture is so much more fun and enjoyable than just going out and letting the furniture store tell you what will look good in your living room. All our furniture except our two couches is either passed down through generations or redeemed from the trash, and (we think) it looks great together! Woot!

    Amanda and I were talking about this subject, trying to think of other used things that brought more joy than the new product would. The conversation shifted slightly to items, like ice cream, that we just buy already made, when before we had to make them. How fun it was to make jello, pudding, chicken and dumplings (amanda’s favorite thing to make when a kid), pizza…you name it, everything can be bought already made today! We miss out on so much parent/child time spent in the kitchen making food, and we also miss out on the joy of eating what we made from scratch, all for the sake of convenience. Boo! :)

    Comment by theburts — February 9, 2008 @ 3:15 pm | Reply

  10. Hey, Jennifer, after the ice cream freezer broke, guess what it became……a neat nest for our favorite little hen and her babies! Don’t know if this fits the idea for this post, but I hate to see interesting craft stuff tossed, like out-of-date wallpaper books. They give them to you for free and they are a great source for children’s art…why buy paper when you can get it for free and a whole lot more textures and patterns? I’ve even used it to make “false picture frame mats”. I took a walk through our house just now and found 14 furniture items I made, sometimes with trashed lumber. You can find it at nearly any construction site and they are thrilled to have you cart it off for them. I just stopped this morning at a place where the highway department was cutting cedar trees and they need a place to dump them, so guess what….I get them for free! Hmmm….may even start a business out of this one….”Carol’s Cedar Crafts”!! Seriously, we have stacks of firewood in our yard that was cut for roads and would have rotted and we use that for “free heat” since we rely primarily on wood to heat our home. We also turned some of the prettier hickory logs into good table legs for a table we built. The neat thing is that we were “warmed twice” by all that woodcutting and it was a free exercise activity that didn’t require a membeship at a gym.
    Last, but not least, the art of breadmaking is a grand children’s activity and seems to calm the nerves….kinda like milking a cow. When Daniel’s cow had her calf years ago, I decided to give milking a try. I loved the simple rythm of squeezing that ole’ girl’s milk makers while she crunched her hay. How many of our kids willl ever have this experience. Okay, I’ll quit.

    Comment by Carol "Mama" Burt — February 20, 2008 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

  11. I could name alot, but a couple of my favorites besides the aforementioned vehicles are…

    Used wallets are great. They’re such a pain in the butt (literally :P) until they get broken in. I’ve dug up and carried my Dad’s or Grandpa’s old wallets most of my life.

    Tools can be good too. Sharp corners get rounded down so they don’t catch, cords get more supple and tangle less, and handles get smoothed and shaped for fewer blisters and better grip(anyone who’s ever used a new shovel or set of post hole diggers should know just what I’m talking about). Oh, and I prefer to call them ‘experienced’, not ‘used’. They seem to help make up for my lack of it sometimes.

    Comment by Justin — February 25, 2008 @ 4:53 am | Reply

  12. Comment #1: Let’s hear it for the original Nintendo! No games too difficult to get the hang of and no intricate graphics to distract you from Kicking some Tetris butt!

    Comment #2: And let me just say… I have told just about every guy I’ve dated that I do NOT EVER want to be offered a large, expensive engagement ring. If I had one and something ever happened to it, I would be PISSED and feel far to GUILTY.

    Comment by Christen — March 6, 2008 @ 6:52 pm | Reply

  13. Christen,

    I know what you mean about Nintendo. I can’t even play the 1990’s Mario Brothers because I have a bad sense of direction and get lost in the 3D. It’s literally exhausting and a waste of time! The old 1980’s version where I can only go backwards or forwards will do me just fine.

    Also, babywearing. I don’t know if this counts because I did buy them new, but I have slings I carry my baby in. Some women can even use a SPOC (simple piece of cloth) to make a baby carrier. Babywearing is an ancient practice and no one has been able to make any modern device to one-up it. Not the Snugli, not the Baby Bjorn, and definitely not the stroller!

    Comment by Jenny — March 13, 2008 @ 7:49 pm | Reply

  14. I know I’m jumping in a few months late…but…

    1. Old houses rule. It’s gotta be 50+ years old–back in the days when people built their own houses (the house we live in now was built in circa 1957 and our ol’ neighbor fella helped build it, yeah!). Also, people took pride in their crafsmanship back in the day as well–we love our hardwood floors and plaster walls!

    2. Old toilets are better too

    Comment by Grant — August 4, 2008 @ 9:49 am | Reply

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