Monday, 16 February 2009

Little Luxuries

Beauty That Moves
What things do you love? Living simply, consuming less, slowing down, these choices are not based on deprivation, they are based on consciousness.

I often feel like I practice some sort of backwards mentality (according to the typical world view, not my own, probably not yours either) when it comes to consuming. I avoid the mall, I don't understand designer handbags or shoes, I will never buy a new car, I prefer smaller homes, apples for apples I will always choose second hand over new... but when it comes to what goes on or inside my body or that of my family... well, that's a different story. Quality matters.


I cook from scratch, make most of our own cleaning supplies, shop from our local farms and food co-op, etc., but let's face it, life is too short for inferior olive oil, and it is just not produced in New England! All of the goodies in the picture above were collected from around the house, and I trust them. I guess that is one of the questions I ask myself when purchasing goods. Do I trust it? Do I trust the company? Do I want to support the company? Does it provide something that I can't provide for myself? Those sort of things... conscious consumption. These little luxuries that I choose to bring into my life, they are not all local and they are not all inexpensive, but they are purchased with awareness and appreciation.

I love this shirt from It could also read Live Like You Give A Damn... or Consume Like You Give A Damn... I guess for me, that's 9/10ths of what this life is all about. Being awake and making deliberate choices. That will play out differently for each of us, and that's okay. The key is that we each find a healthy balance for our own well being, and the well being of our planet. I'm happy to keep a drawer in the kitchen of various sized rags for general clean-up and household use, avoiding the purchase of paper towels.... but you won't find me sitting around on a Saturday night separating 2 ply toilet paper to make it last longer. But that's just me.

There are a few things missing from my photo... Green and Black's dark chocolate, Equal Exchange's Mind, Body and Soul coffee, and my once a month stop to my favorite sushi place. If you were to take a photo of your own little luxuries, what would it include? Maybe it's a high end set of cookware purchased because you know it will last three lifetimes, or the once a year tropical vacation you take to restore peace of mind, for some it might be an indulgence of going to concerts or plays, because spending money on the arts always feels good.

What things do you love and fit into a simple life? We are not judging here, only sharing! :)


mamawhatthe said...

I suspect my list would change a bit depending upon what my current focus is... But, generally speaking, on it you would find: my one week per summer at the Chautauqua Institute in New York; well designed and well made garden tools; a coffee mug that holds a generous enough serving to last through my morning rounds without refill, while keeping the coffee warm; the natural dog food I've finally found that both my dogs will eat without suffering strange and unpleasant side-effects; comfortable, supportive shoes; and, I've recently realized, access to the blogs I like to follow. I haven't met any of you, but I learn so much from you and feel part of a community.

Fleecenik Farm said...

My little luxury is good yarn to knit with. I am lucky , in that most of the yarn I buy is also produced locally. But I pay a premium for it because I know the garments I make from it are good quality and beautiful to wear.

Anonymous said...

I loved this post. I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer 2 years ago and that experience really awakened me to what I put into and on my body. I have become very conscious about what we eat, wash with, bathe with, clean with. I think we owe it to our bodies and our environment to make wise choices.

jimmycrackedcorn said...

I learned an excellent quote from a car guy a few years back that will be something I repeat to myself for the rest of my life.

"The Quality will be remembered long after the Price is forgotten."

Pat aka Posh said...

I had to think hard to come up with an answer because I'm a lot like you, I like small homes, used items, hate designer items, hate shopping.. but then I remembered the one item that I really will not skimp on and that's good quality shoes.. one pair at a time.. I'm no way a shoe freak.

Billie said...

I would buy a new car because I have run into many problems buying used. Now of course... I keep that car for years and years. My last one stayed with me for 12 years and I let it go to a friend that couldn't get a car loan or I would still have it.

My little luxuries:
Finding some kind of moisturizer that will MOISTURIZE and be natural. Still searching.

General Foods Coffee

Sewing Machine - I love sewing and after 25 years, I bought a new one.

Fabric - I love to get fabric for my quilting stash.

Over the last several years, I have noticed that I don't want much - new or used. My husband has noticed it too and says that I am very hard to shop for. But when I get it into my head that I want something... I buy it after much research. So when I decided it was time to get a new sewing machine - I bought one.

I am not anti-consumerism but I think people don't think enough about their purchases.

Hana said...

Hm? My little luxuries? I'm afraid I still have many luxuries I don't really need, but some I don't want to let go are definitely the access to internet, as mamawhatthe already mentioned, because it brings me new ideas and contact with people; some fabric from time to time (recently I bought my first NEW silk fabric, and it is something I really love); and books and films on DVDs (although most of the time I buy them cheap). And our cats. They eat a lot, I guess we should give some of them to someone else, but at least good old Bisha HAS to stay. We used not to have cats, but one day we found a little kitten on our pile of coal, and since then our life wouldn't be full without cats...

(Oh, and I think the making of 2ply toilet paper last longer you mentioned actually won't make it last longer... just a side note in a totally humorous tone. The single ply is usually too thin, so you use more of it. :D So you're right not doing it.)

Willo said...

My own luxuries include essential oils, organic blackberries and rasberries, and nice organic hand cream. And I want that shirt very much.

Chiot's Run said...

Mine are:

a good knife
John Masters personal care products (LOVE LOVE), good olive oil
good balsamic vinegar
raw milk
pastured meat & poultry
local and homegrown veggies.

mrs green said...

Oh, great post - I too live a 'frugal' life and I love that, but there are things I will not go without.

A computer and my internet connection is a biggie for me.

I too, will not buy cheap shoes; it's Birkenstocks all the way, but I have just four pairs of shoes to my name - all Birkies :)

I buy organic and local food where possible (Willo, I'm hearing you on the organic raspberries!) , although I deem that a necessity ( a self sufficient lifestyle to me, means self sufficient health care too; and that begins with a good diet)

I don't skimp on essential oils either; but feel I deserve them for my sense of wellbeing as well as my physical health.

Oh, I bought myself a lightbox too and it was the best money I have spent.

belle said...

Oh, such a good post, and I loved reading about what others' luxuries are too....I love good olive oil, Australian, organic tea, handmade delicious smelling soaps, comfortable, good quality shoes, but only one pair at a time.

I wouldn't give up my internet for all the reasons already cited, and I buy 2 mags every 2 months...Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors. I used to get all the crafty mags, but have stopped now, but am not ready to give up my favourites yet.

I also save scrupulously to go overseas every couple of years, usually India, but the US this year, to spend summer with my daughter and g/ that I can't do without.

mamak said...

Not necessarily in this order:
1.Fair trade organic Paul Newmans coffee apples and lettuce birks I've had forever. One pair of sandals,one pair of clogs.
(I did however just get a pair of earth shoes and wow are they comfy).
4.all natural cleaners for my home

Barbara said...

I love to cook so my luxury is
the best quality ingredients.
And I still buy books on subjects
that really interest me - second hand if possible. There's so much else I'm willing to do without
to have those things.

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous post. Thought provoking and inspiring; a call to arms about living deliberately, thinking profoundly about how we live each day .. I'm motivated!
My list would include organic butter, biodynamic/organic milk, the best eggs I can track down .. food focus I know. Really good soaps would also make the cut. And the footsie indulgence of Birkenstock sandals. Thank you for your post.

Rose said...

Numi Rooibos Tea
Juniper Ridge Soap
homemade yogurt using 1/2 and 1/2 (you can stand a spoon in it, so thick)
Sweet Creek pickled beets
Raw coconut oil
Equal Exchange Extra Dark chocolate
the New Yorker magazine

heather said...

i am LOVING all of your comments! i have to say i'm giggling a little as they are mostly quality food and sensible shoe related... reminding me of what a good friend once told me... "all you really need in life is good food and good shoes, everything else is fluff." :)

i find all of your lists very interesting, thank you for sharing!

Jenn said...

It's nice to know there are so many of us.
Our biggest splurges would be internet for both of us. I buy yarns that I love in moderation and from companies I trust. I also have a few magazines I always read cover to cover and go back too and have shelved for easy access to patterns and ideas.
We are avid readers, but most of our books are bought second hand and we trade those that we decide we won't be reading again. I also make sure that we have quality toiletries that don't irritate our skin and make most of my own cleaning supplies. We buy quality shoes to last and we have never bought a new car (in the process of buying a newer used car since our old one is getting way to expensive to maintain). And again we buy from local farmers/farmer's markets for fresh and organic foods.
I did forget that I refuse to buy single ply toilet paper, but I also use coupons and sales whenever possible for goods and food (love that the grocery store gives us 5 cents back for every recycle bag we use). And I bring home scrap paper from work for our oldest to draw on since it will only go into the trash if left there.

Sharon said...

I loved your post. I have to have Birkies (I even have purple ones), I have to have good shampoo and conditioner (I have thick waist length hair), lotion, a bit of Chanel perfume to put on every once and a while, good coffee, good fabric to sew (if I spend the time to make it I want it to last),books and dvds (I never go to the movies), the internet, my cell phone (I have hearing problems and use it to text-you don't have to hear to text) and my dogs and cats.

Samantha said...

Tea, good quality, biological tea.

Books, I read several series that aren't available in the library, but then again, I can read those books over and over again without getting bored.

2 festivals a year, one which is just fun, the other where my favorite band plays. Can't give me more pleasure than that!

Desiree said...

Luxury in my house is my fair trade, organic coffee from a local company, real local butter, and a once every two years trip to our favorite upscale bed and breakfast, "The Captain Lord Mansion" in Kennebunkport, Maine. It's so expensive, but to be able to relax and feel like you are living a spa dream for a couple of nights, it rejuvinates the mind and body. A good quality cup of coffee and a vacation/getaway once a year is a little luxury I would suggest to anyone.

ChristyACB said...

Well...I admit to a great many luxuries still.

Shoes: Love them. However I have now discovered that my BCBG and Guess shoes are just as hot as Prada. That is progress!

L'Occitane: I shop there for most soaps and such. Bath and Body Works too, but only during the big sale.

Cable TV: I admit that I love the noise and the ability to choose what I like to watch.

Excellent Cooking Items: My kitchen is my Mecca and I treat it like a place of worship! The best arbequina oil to the finest pots. And, my garden produce to fill it.

Loved reading the responses everyone had. I'm glad I am not the only one with a desire for good kitchen ingredients!

James said...

My luxury items are varied. Visits to loved ones, Great fresh food (mostly home grown in the summer), a set of wood carving knives and diamond sharpening stones, a new computer every 6 years or so, family day trips, sponsoring orphans in Ethiopia, going out to dinner with friends to celebrate birthdays.

Joanne said...

Broadband internet- I'm not sure what the carbon footprint of an internet connection & time spent using it would be, but I'm pretty dependent on my link to like-minded people.
For myself, I am working on fully equipping my kitchen to make-from-scratch so good knives, a crockpot and a meat grinder are on my wish list. If I can't find good second hand, I will pay for good new.
My children like computer games- thankfully not the kill-or-be-killed type, rather building and strategy type games. I don't mind them saving their pocket money for new games as I know they will get a lot of pleasure from them.

JessTrev said...

Ah...great question!

Speaking of olive oil - my cousins in California grow and press organic olive oil! Closer than Italy. I love it (Preston Vineyards in Healdsburg).

Music, lately. We have this wireless device called a Squeezebox that allows us to pull down internet radio and Pandora and all the music on our computers. Electronic gadget, yes, but one that allows me to skip buying cds. AND lets me listen to music in my kitchen while I am puttering! Also? My beloved hoarding partner used the carcasses of all our old stereos to cobble the system together.

Exercise. I just joined the gym again. I am loving working up a sweat.

Allowing myself to not clean my house. Or to get a mother's helper to play with my kids while I do so.

Reading! I have gotten a zillion books out of the library lately and am enjoying getting sucked alter worlds - letting myself take the time.

Seeds and planning my garden, starting seeds (got lights to start plants in my basement).

Mushrooms from the farmer's market (not cheap but ahhhhh...delicious).

Karen said...

i'd have to add my $300 leather cowboy boots. they match everything from jeans to dresses, and YES they are leather ... to LAST and to keep my feet warm and to wear that same pair of shoes for 25 years as opposed to buying a new pair of junk from China every year, thank you very much!

i don't skimp on quality food and body care products, either. i'm continually amazed at how many "organic" products have parabens, lauryl/laureth sulfates, etc. in them. be careful! (burt's bees does rock). i reorganize my priorities (no cable TV!! not a hard one to give up, in my humble opinion) so i can "afford" to do this. it's worth it! i love that t-shirt, too. ... oooh that's tempting.

Hana said...

Thinking about something similar recently, I came to another thing I would not give up... those Mark Knopfler's concerts I've been to, and any other if he ever comes to my country again! And now, being in love with the music of Hungarian band Misztr√°l, I want to save up money and buy all their albums... plus I want at least one painting by this wonderful Polish artist: - whew, that'll take some money and some time. But it will be very much worth it!