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The peasant with fabulous shoes

I found an interesting post via a link from Heidi, the Minnesota Mom.

I am an observer and reader of many “simple living” and frugal-oriented blogs—but not necessarily someone who has bought into the whole lifestyle.

You claim it is simple to do X, so why does it take 10 hours and cost $100?

It’s the appearance of being simple that is valued in certain circles today. There, I said it. Someone who truly lives a simple life would find it ironic and embarrassing to write about being simple.

My takeaway from most of these blogs is that simple living is quite complicated. Still, I find the idea inspiring and awfully photogenic with the quilts and cakes and cakes on quilts. Who isn’t drawn in? I am. I won’t stop reading them and bookmarking recipes I’ll never make. It’s toile and molasses porn, it’s dreams of holding a bento box just once and knowing what the heck to put inside.

P.S…If you really think about it, complicated living is very simple: You know you have to go over the top, be shiny & expect to die young from clogged arteries and plastic poisoning. Easy peasy.

14 comments to The peasant with fabulous shoes

  • I’m going to have to think for a minute on how to respond to your thoughts here (as someone who is a little invested in the “simple” thing), but i have to tell you that “It’s toile and molasses porn” is just about the best darn thing I have read in quite sometime. Made me laugh out loud, it sure did.

    Back when I’ve gathered a few, um, simple thoughts.
    .-= Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last blog ..some faves of mine – websites =-.

  • Gretchen the Complicated

    I can’t wait, Megan! 🙂 I have a lot of internet pals who fall into this category and I hope I haven’t made anybody angry or offended. If I did, it was a failure in communication.

    My gripe is when simple is not simple. It’s faux simple. It LOOKS simple but required a trip to a hardware store 50 miles away because they are the only ones who carry emerald green barbed wire. For example.

    I love “Real Simple” magazine. I DROOL over the pages, I eat them up. I read about organization and it’s really quite expensive to do, you know? I could do the same thing with an Eggo box in my garage. It just wouldn’t look pretty.

    So there is another factor: Being PRETTY. Must I? Must my boxes? Must my boxes be pretty pretty boxes?

  • Well, as you know Gretchen, I absolutely adore you and you are a mentor to me in so many areas. I hope you’ll know I’m not at all being argumentative – just sharing my perspective. And I’m glad I read your response to my first comment, as that clarifies a lot.

    What I was going to say initially is that I think much of the “simple movement” is more about honoring the process rather than achieving the exact same outcome with less money or time. It’s a reaction against a culture of convenience and fills a void for those yearning for something that is meaningful. I think, too, it’s a reaction against consumerism and cookie-cutter aesthetics and a climate of stuff. Rather than being an antithesis of “complicated” life, I think it’s more a movement against “cluttered” life.

    Or for some it is, anyway.

    And i know that in choosing the tag line for Simple Kids, we chose “uncomplicated parenting in a complex world” so I’ve pretty much just contradicted myself there. How ’bout them apples? But the idea is the same. Enough with the stuff. Let’s get back to basics.

    As for Rachel (of Small Notebook, whom you linked to), she is as truly authentic as it gets. I’ve known her since very nearly the beginning of Small Notebook when there were like six readers instead of thousands, and her style and approach has changed very little since then. I think she’s always been very clear that she is not perfect and their life is not as calm and serene as it might appear in each post.

    nowwwwwwwww . . . I completely understand and agree with what you are saying about the faux simple stuff. MAN, that emerald green barbed wire is tricky to track down! But yeah, I myself am more of an Eggo box in the garage kind of person. I WANT the pages of Real Simple, but it’s really not happening in my life right now.

    I think there are a few camps in the simple mini-culture (as someone in the comments on that post referred to it). I think there are those who truly are led to find simple or frugal or meaningful alternatives and approaches to life, yet manage to keep both feet planted in reality. I think, particularly in the blogging world, but perhaps in other forms of media, there are those for whom simple living is a highly edited, spare-no-expense competition to see who can do it and do it ALL more beautifully.

    does this even make any sense? I’m sitting amongst the scattered remains of McDonalds Happy Meals while my child plays computer games in the backgroud, so my thinking is a little muddled. I own these choices, but will I be bold enough to blog them?
    .-= Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last blog ..some faves of mine – websites =-.

  • Gretchen the Skeptic

    Ahhh. Makes sense, completely!

    I have no issue with Rachel or Small Notebook and don’t question her authenticity in the least.

    The comments in that post got the wheels turning in my head—particularly one about having the wrong chickens (and others, too). It’s absolutely foreign to me that anybody could criticize someone else’s CHICKENS. I had no idea there are right chickens and wrong chickens. To someone in the slums of Sao Paulo, all chickens are equal. That’s what slaps me across the face: Only someone living in 21st century western/northern hemisphere could think: “Wrong Chickens” or “Uncool Chickens” or whatever.

    Our family has made a lot of frugal choices and decisions regarding simplifying our lives recently—with an eye on “not forever” even if we have to wait until the next world, you know? I appreciate tips and wisdom from bloggers and websites and have used many. For example, Mary at Owlhaven always has fantastic advice. I respect her very much because I know her motivations and where she’s been. She’s the real deal.

    Then, I’ll go to a “frugal” or “simple” site and see her idea of an inexpensive homemade birthday cake (Beatrix’s is coming up and so I am on high alert) involves 5 layers, expensive ingredients, and a cake decorating associate’s degree from the community college. Spare me.

    Do women who go over-the-top with the simplicity schtick realize what crazy luxury they have to do it? How it really. isn’t. simple when it goes beyond Step #17 in the GORGEOUS tutorial?

    Why can’t they just admit: Yeah, it’s complicated.

    I know why: Simple sells. In this economy, it’s a virtue.

    Being a good steward is ALWAYS a virtue and is commanded of us.

    ALSO (pop, can of worms now open) I think some of the advice I’ve seen on “simple” blogs is based on junk science—namely regarding food and food production. People swallow the most unbelievable, non-sensical stuff when it comes to what we put in our bodies. For example, carbonation bubbles don’t enter our bloodstreams, causing bloating. I actually read that on a “healthy living” blog and only ONE person out of dozens called the person out on the information.

    Has society gone mad?

    Megan, you are one of my fav’s and go-to bloggers. I actually do a pseudo oil cleansing thing and have since your original post! See! I’m teachable! 🙂 And I am using a BIODEGRADABLE laundry detergent these days and am loving it! I am not a lost cause.

    Just a skeptical cause.

  • Oh my goodness yes. You’re touching on the same things I want to write about next in the series, just as soon as I can figure out how to do it without hitting a nerve.
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..Baking Shortcut: Make Your Own Mixes =-.

  • Without taking the time to read what I’m sure are very valuable comments, I’d like to stand up and applaud, but instead will do the simple thing by simply sitting here and thinking about applauding.

    We try to be frugal in some areas, but as you said – the work involved is sometimes not worth it. But sometimes it is. We pick and choose.

    But it is rarely, very rarely ever simple.
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..Well, the Dyson People Never Called =-.

  • Gretchen

    Amen. It’s appealing, but in practice that simple stuff isn’t really simple.

    Another example for you, I grow pumpkins, just for the purpose of carving them each year, saving the seeds, and planting those for the next season. It has been suggested that I can the pumpkin for pies. But you know what? I make a whole 2 pies a year. A can at the store is $1.50. It is just not worth my time to save $3. I know I know, those pumpkins in my yard going to waste. But not. worth. the. time. Oh well. I did use the zucchinis to make lots of bread. 🙂

  • Ha, oh I say I get this completely. BUt never said it or even thought it out loud. Until now.

    .-= Adventures In Babywearing´s last blog ..I’m calling it: today is going to be a good day. =-.

  • I didn’t read all the comments yet (long much?), but I think part of the problem lies in the terminology used. Homespun? Handmade? From scratch? Yes. Simple? By today’s standards of convenience, most definitively no.

    Like you, I have no problem with this movement, and pine after the photos and the amount of available time that seems to accompany this lifestyle, but it is not realistic for me at this time. I can’t spend all summer growing my own fruit (weeding, watering, harvesting), making and canning jam. But I can buy a can of organic preserves that someone else has made and appreciate all that went into it.
    .-= Minnesotamom´s last blog ..A Wall Re-Do =-.

  • No one has ever accused me of breviloquence, that’s for sure. 😉

    Good discussion here.

    The chickens comment on Rachel’s post ruffled my feathers.

    (Lord love me, I couldn’t resist! SORRY!)
    .-= Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last blog ..some faves of mine – websites =-.

  • To be honest, I gave up most of my “simple” blogroll a LONG time ago. I love reading about homesteading and , but it took me awhile to realize that my interest ddn’t extend beyond that. I don’t mind the work involved, it’s just a different way of doing things and we pick and choose what we’re willing (veggie garden) and not willing (bleeding out a chicken for dinner) to do in our home situation. The other stuff I just can’t keep track of. I prefer to figure out my own ways to be frugal – with tips from friends – than to read about it on a blog.

    Maybe the problem is that we all have different definitions of simple? For me, simple is getting back to our more working-the-land sort of basics.
    .-= Sarah @´s last blog ..I would like my instruction manual, please. =-.

  • P.S. I cannot thank you enough for your support on my breastfeeding posts. I keep meaning to write an e-mail but oh my goodness complete days just fly by me lol. So in the meantime, THANK YOU.
    .-= Sarah @´s last blog ..I would like my instruction manual, please. =-.

  • This is really thought provoking for me. I’m going to have to sort through it all and read these comments (at some point:) because it makes me realize I’ve been buying in a bit to the whole illusion of being simple. It’s something I’ve been weighing this summer especially, how I want to appear versus what I want to accomplish…
    .-= Beth – Total Mom Haircut´s last blog ..Count Down to Culinary Bliss =-.

  • Oh, Gretchen. I am laughing so hard.
    .-= Rach´s last blog ..OCD =-.

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