makeuse.jpg The other day I was thinking “I really need shoes” The simple “Mary Jane” kind to wear when I have to put on a “posh frock” (referencing my all time favorite TV ‘Urban Homesteader’ — Barbara Good) And that got me to thinking “when was the last time I actually went the store — to buy clothes or even shoes?” Uh, can’t remember. Months? No. Years, perhaps.

I have shoes under my bed that are nearly 10 years old or more – talk about “wearing out.” I’m far from going around shoeless (well, I do go barefoot a lot!) but when I do decided to “go into town for a pair of shoes” I’ll feel like my beloved pioneer counterpart, Laura Ingalls, going into town to visit the general store.

Matter of fact, I’m not the only one in the family who’s not into buying personal stuff for stuff’s sake. Justin informed me that he literally has only three pairs of shoes to his name…. what a simple guy!

So the point of this post? No point really.

Just sharing how growing up in a family where the value of living simply was practiced. “Making use and wearing out” are even more essential these modern times which are full of excessive, compulsive buying and commercialization.

Growing up in a simplistic family, we “young-ins” have, over time, built up resistance – resistance against wanting/acquiring more than is necessary for a good life. We all need stuff, but it’s about making a conscious choice of the “stuff” that you buy. We each have our vices – we are human after all. Mine for instance — I am easily tempted by yarn, fabrics. Solution, don’t open any yarn catalogs or go into any craft stores till I use what I already have. Good advice, huh?

Any of you have similar experiences… care to share?


  1. ValP says:

    Wasn’t The Good Life/ Good Neighbors a great show!

  2. LaVonne says:

    I have four pairs of shoes but really only wear two of them. Can’t remember the last time I bought shoes. Clothes–I invest about $100 every three years or so on several colors of the same style, then wear it out. I got rid of my dryer last summer and have discovered that clothes last even longer when you hang them out to dry.

  3. Anais says:


    We absolutely LOVE that BBC show. One of our ultimate favorite! In fact, when things happen here on the urban homestead they are almost eerily similar to some of the Good’s experiences.

    What’s your fave episode?

    Wish they’d make an updated version since more and more folks are choosing this lifestyle!

    To the GOOD LIFE!

  4. Anais says:


    Thanks for sharing. Good point about the dryer!


  5. Ruthie says:

    I think I’m transitioning… growing up in the suburbs I was bombarded by consumerism and was very not stylish dork. I always felt belittled by people who had vast expansive trendy wardrobes. Now I like to keep it simple, three pairs of pants, a few tshirts, a few skirts and dresses, a sweater and a rain jacket, all of them comfortable and flattering. All of them homemade or purchased used.

    Now when I go into places like Target I feel incensed at all the waste that goes into the production of things like vast trendy wardrobes! Why does society exert such pressure on people (OK, girls and women particularly) to have new styles and trends and outfits each season? It’s disgustingly wasteful.

    Anais I want to thank you for cluing me in to Little House on the Prairie. I love the books and have found myself asking in several situations “What would a pioneer do?” Recently instead of buying a spring dress I bought a pattern to make one. Almost like give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish. Now I’ll know how to make spring dresses for the rest of my life. Very pioneering of me. 🙂

    I’m also learning to cut my husband’s hair.

  6. Rena says:

    I love your site!! I am not doing this with shoes but with oils for soap. I keep thinking I am NOT going to buy any more oil until I use up what I have!!!

  7. Anne says:

    LaVonne, I really appreciate your comment about the dryer. Almost all of my family’s clothes are second hand. I buy them in the best condition I can find, and then don’t use the dryer. Many of the clothes still have years of wear left in them, but a dryer will drastically lessen their lifespans. (Think of all the lint that has to be cleaned out of the dryer’s lint screen!) This is true of sheets and towels too. Another thing that wears clothes out prematurely is commercial laundry detergents. They (especially bleach or detergents containing bleach) weaken the fibers, significantly shortening the life of the fabrics.

  8. Tara says:

    We made the conscious decision to buy used any/everything whenever possible. When we need something we first hit the thrift stores, Freecycles or Craiglist.

    Mix that with an ability to mend hems or holes, create new things out of old things (an old ratty t-shirt into a new top), and gentle washing and line drying and things really do last.

    I’m so happy to finally have my clothesline back up! Now I just need to find a more sustainable option for washing detergent (we use an enviro-friendly one but have to order it and have it shipped :[ ).

    • Teresa McCuen says:


      You might try making your own laundry soap. I’ve been making my own for a couple years and it is the best soap I ever had-not to mention it doesn’t irritate my skin like detergent. There are all kinds of recipes on the internet. I use 1 bar Ivory soap, 1 cup borax and 1 cup baking soda (supposed to be washing soda, but having good luck with baking soda). Good luck.

  9. Robbyn says:

    A kindred “Good Neighbors” spirit, yay!!! We love that show…don’t watch TV but do have the DVD set 🙂

    I smiled when I read about your shoes. I guess I’m a throwback…I go barefoot indoors all the time and cycle back and forth among three pairs of shoes. I keep from getting bitten by the moremoremore bug by tossing out the flyers and catalogs that come in the mail (except the homesteading ones and seed catalogs!) We live pretty simply. I deliberately snuffed out a lot of my compulsions to buy by simply not going shopping…unless I know what I really want. The internet has come in handy for that, and for researching what meets our needs best.

    I say that now. But I have a feeling when the day comes that we have a place for chickens and animals, not to mention heirloom tomato plants, I may go a little nuts 😉

  10. Anne says:

    Tara, here’s a simple recipe from Natural Home Magazine for making your own laundry detergent from grated bar soap, borax and baking soda:

  11. Stephanie Griffith says:

    Zach and I love Good Neighbors too! They show it on PBS here late at night.

    I’m trying to get better about clothes. I think I need to learn to sew so I can actually get clothes that fit. Most clothes are so cheaply made now that they wear out fast.

    I have this dream that someday I’ll have the money to have my clothes made by a tailor so they will be high quality and actually made to fit me.

  12. Laurie says:

    Compulsive buying is bad enough, then there’s the compulsive DISCARDing. It really hurts me to see the things that my neighbors throw away. A coffee table, trellis, solid oak desk chair, containers, flower pots, lumber: I’ve picked these and so much more from the curb. Crazy people….short attention spans. When I throw something out, it really is used up. I dream of a zero waste society!

  13. Wendy says:

    Oh, my, I LOVE that show, The Good Life. It is actually what inspired me to think I could homestead my quarter acre here in suburban southern Maine. It’s, ultimately, what caused me to seek out other “urban homesteaders” and what brought me here, to your website. My “homestead” is still in its infancy, but every day I think of some new way I can better use my limited space.

    One of my favorite episodes of The Good Life is when Barbara uses that orange fabric to fix the leg of her blue jeans. I have a pair of jeans that have a hole in them, and I’m going to cut off the legs and make them into a skirt. I’ll be thinking of Barbara every time I wear my “new” skirt. I also liked the nettles-died green wool suit episode. They were pretty creative, those two. I aspire to be just like them 🙂

  14. Anais says:

    Wow. Nice to see there are lots of GOOD LIFE fans out there! Everyone certainly has a lot in common with this show.

    We didn’t even know about this show until a few years ago when we, I believe, found a copy at the local library. We were like – that’s us! And this show was made when? Back in the late 70’s… that’s when my father left America and homesteading in rural New Zealand. We’d definitely come full circle.

    The GOOD LIFE/NEIGHBOR’S and still has so much relevance today.

    Barbara’s orange fabric jeans is definitely CLASSIC!
    The suit episode is a riot too.

    Everyone’s comments and stories are great. Had to smile and nod that Robbyn’s “THROWBACK” comment.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Yay for THROWBACKS… and barefooters, zero waste, second handers, recyclers, reclaimers, etc!

  15. Shawn says:

    I joke with my wife that all our family needs is three outfits and two pair of shoes apiece. Two work outfits, and one pair of work shoes. And our Sunday outfit and dress shoes. But our closet and dressers are over full, what do you do with the but I just wore that last week attitude 🙂

    I am going to try that laundry soap mentioned in Anne’s link. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  16. jawn says:

    I’m in the same department – I’ve conditioned myself not to buy things by simply not going shopping, unless I have found myself in need of something. Even then, I have a formula:

    Ask yourself what the consequences are of not buying it?
    Are they dire? Can you live with it?

    Ask yourself if there are any alternatives (Trading, making, borrowing, asking 🙂 )

    I’m a university student, so it’s not like I have much of a choice right now anyway. But when I do start raking in more than I spend, I hope to carry the values learned now into that period

  17. NEW BEGINNINGS | Little Homestead in the City says:

    […] the seed industry; encouraged people to ‘Say Ahhhh’; Liberate their Lawns, be a ‘Conscientious Consumer‘ or the change they wish to see with IMBY and listed our weekly homegrown, homemade menus; […]

  18. Erin says:

    I really didn’t think anyone but my husband and I watched The Good Life. It was the inspiration for our back to the land ideas early on. Did anyone read The Dome Books or Harrowsmiith Magazine??

    • Anais says:

      @Erin: LOL. These episodes are great and so true to the spirit! I’ve heard of Harrowsmith, think someone gave us a few copies (along with a bunch of other magazines) I’ll have to check.

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