DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are over 8000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

25 April 2008

Our simple lives

When I'm reading comments or emails I often wonder how others live and what I can learn from the people who contact me. You see, most of the emails and comments thank me for my contribution and assistance, but I know full well that given the chance I could learn from that person in return. We all have our own story - everyone has something to teach. The thing is, you never know what it is others need to learn. Everyone seems to pick up on different things.

So here is my plan. I want us to blog today about our simple lives. I'll give you a concise rundown of how I live, I want you to do the same, on your own blog if you have one. Write about your life on your blog, put up some photos and give us a link to it. If you don't have a blog, tell us in the comments section. Tomorrow my post will be the links and descriptions of our simple lives. Sharing how we all live, showing others how far along the path we are, might open up a whole new world for some readers or give others ideas on what they could be doing.

I know that many of you would like to live as Hanno and I do, and you all know I wouldn't change our lives, but the truth is, the way we live is only one version of simple living. There are many other ways. I hope that by sharing all your stories, the readers here will see the variety and be encouraged to give it a go, or to keep doing what they've already started. I think that as soon as you start, you're living simply. We all come to this way of living for various reasons, some want to be greener; some see the need to cut back to basics and live a frugal life; when you live simply, you do all those things. This is a journey, not a destination, it is never finished, there is always room for improvement or things to change when new and better ideas present themselves. So let's get to it. Let's open up this sometimes mysterious world of simple living and see how many ways it can be done.

This is our story: I retired early and Hanno is on an aged pension. Our plan is to live an ethically and environmentally sound, frugal life for as long as we are able to do the work that supports it. We left the rat race behind and don't work for a living anymore, but we do work for our lives. The amount of work we do at home now is much more than what we did when we both worked. We stopped buying convenience and the time other people put into what we need and we put that time in ourselves. We have an acre of land with a creek, so we're well placed to grow vegetables and fruit.

These photos were taken yesterday afternoon.

We have a flock of hens that supply us with eggs and will soon give us enough to sell. Selling fresh free range eggs doesn't bring in heaps of money but it does pay for their food and allows us to replace them when they die with other pure breed chooks. We support seed saving, heirloom seeds, keeping pure bred poultry and dogs. We hope in some small way we help keep these old breeds going for the children of the future.

We eat from our backyard as often as possible but we also supplement the backyard fresh food with stockpiled simple food bought as cheaply as possible as close to home as we can. We support local food - our main local groups here are dairy farmers, so we always buy local milk, cream and cheese. We don't eat meat. We use our resources sparingly and I keep a close watch on our electricity and water meters, making sure our usage doesn't quietly rise.

A simple sweet rice pudding. Recipe: one cup of raw white rice, three cups milk (I used powdered milk), a splash of vanilla and two tablespoons of sugar. Mix it all together and let it heat up slowly. Cook for an hour on low. It's ready when the rice has absorbed all the milk. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Serve with stewed fruit.

I cook from scratch, making sauces, jams, preserves, bread, cakes, biscuits, tea, cordials, stocks and soups. I make our own cleansers, knit dishcloths and recycle old towels as cleaning cloths. I knit mend and sew. We try to use as little of everything as we can. Almost everything now is either made with, or transported by, fuel/petrol/diesel, so using less of everything means we are reducing our dependence on oil. We have a small car, we use it sparingly. Hanno does most of our household repairs and makes most of what we need in the backyard from recycled materials.

We live debt-free. We have given up a lot of the entertainments we used to reply on in days gone by and are content with reading, talking, knitting, TV, radio or surfing the internet in our free time. We live on $400 a week which covers all our needs, including health and other insurances. It's getting harder to cover everything with that amount, so we've been cutting back even more in some areas.

My philosophy is to love and nurture my family, to be kind and generous to others, share what I know, volunteer some of my spare time to a local charity, remain aware of my community and my world and to do my fair share in all things. I am content to live as I do, I am happiest when I'm at home and I look for the beauty that surrounds me. It's sometimes difficult to see, and often surprising, but it's always there.

And now it's your turn, either write a short story about your way of living in the comments section, or write about your life, with photos, in your own blog and give us the link so we can visit you. Tomorrow's post will be about all your stories ...

69 comments:

  1. Rhonda Jean,

    I put together a collection of posts that give a really good picture of our life here on our homestead.

    I hope that will be ok.

    Kim

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  2. I'll write a post tomorrow; but for now:

    I grew up on a small, organic farm. My mother has instilled in me many values form the Green movement, and may perhaps be called a radical.

    Right now, I'm in college, living in campus housing, with multiple roommates, so I am not able to be as green or self sufficient or simple as I otherwise would be. Still. I've shut off the heat vent to my room; I open the windows when it gets to hot instead of using A/C. 95% of my clothes are secondhand, and of the remaining 5% that aren't, 3% were gifts (Not exact figures ;-)). I compost my food scraps, and help do the recycling for the entire campus. I have a bike now, so when I have a job over the summer, I will bike to work, instead of drive (7 miles each way). I raise awareness on campus about how to conserve and reduce. Additionally, I'm working on finding a graduate program, and eventual profession that will mesh with my beliefs about simplicity and the environment. I am an ecologist.

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  3. Hi Rhonda Jean. You are very inspiring. We haven't really started our simple life journey properly yet, but I've written a little on my blog about how I've been motivated to begin making real inroads.

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  4. Hi Kim and welcome just trying to be green. Thank you.

    Yes, Kim, it's exactly what I was hoping for. It's nice to see that we do many chores the same way.

    just trying, I'm looking forward to reading your post.

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  5. Hi Rhonda

    I have joined in (ofcourse)on my blog about my journey towards a more simple life. As I was writing it actually made me realise quite how far we have come even though we feel there are a lot of things we would still like to change.

    http://lizzieshomeworld.blogspot.com/

    Kind regards to you and Hanno
    Lizzie

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  6. Hi Journeyer, I've just read your post. Excellent! Thank you for telling your story.

    Hi Lizzie, I'm just about to head over to read your post. Thanks for taking part in this. I'm sure it will be a real help to many people.

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  7. We're a long way from "arrived" yet (I guess for most people simple living is a journey rather than a destination). Anyway, my journey initially started with a quest for frugality that would enable us to pay off a house without me returning to paid work. It was then fast-tracked when I had a nervous breakdown and "things" suddenly seemed less important to us than life itself. In a way it was similar to a "near death" experience. We sold what assets we had in order to pay down debt and since then have continued to live a frugal lifestyle. With the sale of a couple of small assets and some VERY careful saving, we ended up paying off our home in about 2 years. We've just come through 6 of the worst years farming has ever seen and yet we seem to be in a stable financial position due to our desire for "less stuff" and "more life". Frugality has been our saviour in many ways.

    I wrote a series on my blog "our journey toward simpler living" a while back which details my nervous breakdown and the changes we made to our lifestyle as a result of that. The links for this series are in my sidebar on my blog.

    I know for many our level of "simple living" is nowhere near the level many people are at. And yet the changes in our life have been significant and we're making slow and gradual changes each year.

    My DH has just gotten enthusiastic about the benefits of my vegetable garden (health wise more than anything). I'm hoping that'll lead to him getting going on our chook run which I want to turn into a kind of permaculture set-up. That will allow me to grow more vegies than we currently do which would be great.

    For me it's all about baby-steps toward a more sustainable and frugal lifestyle. :)

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  8. Hi Lightening, thanks for taking part. It was great to read about you paying off your debt. I hope you get your permaculture and chooks soon.

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  9. What a great idea Rhonda Jean! I do not have a blog but absolutely LOVE reading other people's stories and gleaning from them as much information about simple living that I can!

    We have a farm here in Nebraska and we live as simply as possilbe. We raise a huge garden every year and I preserve a huge portion of our own food. I can tomato salsa, tomato soup, whole tomatoes, green beans, dill pickles, berry jellies, and sweet relish. I cut corn off the cob and freeze that. I also freeze as much brocolli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and herbs as possible. We raise our own meat --beef and chicken -- so we know what goes into our meat.

    We entertain ourselves at home as much as possible. We have just the very basic satellite package for our television as we cannot receive "free" television here and we do like to watch the news and some sports programs and public television. I make my own laundry detergent and only line-dry my laundry unless it is 20 below outside as it sometimes gets in winter here. I have started using only homemade cleaners. Organization is the key to simple living and I have purged so much unnecessary clutter from our house.

    My kids go to public school and the bus picks them up in our yard and delivers them each afternoon. I limit them to one or two activities a year -- anymore and we get too bogged down with activities and no LIVING!

    We are not debt free yet but we are working diligently on that. Times are so tough for everyone now and they are only getting tougher. I think it's so important for all of us who want to live simply to work together and encourage each other with kind words and advice. Thanks so much Rhonda! You're an inspiration!

    Kristina in Nebraska

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  10. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I'm a regular reader of your blog - I love it!
    Here is my post on what I'm doing in my little corner of the world.
    http://www.homesteadblogger.com/littlebournefarm/
    Rachel from New Zealand

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  11. hmm this will be challenging. Not sure if I'll get to that now (Thursday night) or tomorrow (Friday) as I am hosting my book club tomorrow night. But I shall see what I can squeeze in.

    I'm hardly off the grid but I do try and do my bit.

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  12. Rhonda Jean,

    We are in the process of getting ready to sell our big home in an affluent suburb of NY so that we can "downsize" to a more modest home in a more modest town. My husband's commute will go from 1 hr. 15 min. each way to 25 minutes door to door! We will be able to pay off all our non-mortgage debts and take on a smaller, 15 year mortgage (rather than 30). It will be a little tight with 4 kids and (hopefully) more to come, but we are thinking of it as "cozy." Our new town will not have the "top rated" schools the current one does, but our children will be exposed to many different racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups.

    When we bought our home 5 years ago, we were thrilled about how "impressive" it seemed - but the only thing impressive now is how much it costs to maintain, and how hard my husband has to work to do so. Thank you for being an integral part of our newfound, simpler-living philosophy. Thank you!

    Kate

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  13. Rhonda Jean -
    I was able to throw a somewhat disjointed post together on my blog while at work this afternoon. I hope to polish up a bit tomorrow.
    Carla...Carla Jean, actually! (smile)

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  14. What a great idea Rhonda.

    Well....My family is at the beginning of trying to live a simple life. We have two small children (3 & 1). I left a high paid job to care for them as I could'nt face leaving them with a stranger. Since Christmas, when I realised that we were living beyond our means, I have discovered your website and have begun my journey to a simpler life.
    During the day, I bake my own bread, cook all meals & puddings from scratch, I have converted to your laundry powder and cleaning products. I have made my own soap, took part in the Tote bag swap which introduced me to a sewing machine for the first time in my life. I next plan to do one of your stichery patterns and also take up knitting.

    I work in a local supermarket three nights per week to help pay off our debts a little quicker. Working in the evening is demoralising, but it is a better option than leaving my children in daycare.

    I love my new way of life, I do find it alot of hard work as cooking from scratch take alot of time, and with coping with two small children, it can be tricky, but we get there.

    Most of the changes I have made are through reading your blog Rhonda, so I doubt there is anything new here. I just wanted you to know how you have changed my life and made me see the light. I am 32, and hope that withn the next 5 years because of your help and guidance, we will be debt free and living a sounder exisitence.
    All my love and respect.
    Steph xxx

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  15. I live (alone) in a tiny rented property in a village (England) and have no car so my outgoings are fairly straightforward. A few years ago I became too ill to work and needed to get a grip of my finances. Now I work to a budget, keep track of my spends and, just by this one change, my life became simpler and less stressful.

    I reduce, reuse, recycle as much as possible; since early last year I haven’t bought any new clothes (apart from underwear and socks!) but instead I’ve sourced elsewhere - ebay, freecycle, charity shops, etc.; this has filtered down to other areas of my life too and I’m currently reworking curtains to fit my new home.

    I couldn’t manage a vegetable garden on my own but I’ve had success growing a good variety of vegetables in pots and this year I’m also planning a small herb garden. I’m enjoying cooking again, I make my bread, preserves and even make butter sometimes; I’d forgotten how much satisfaction there is in home cooking! Having been through some very lean times when my kids were small I like to keep a very well stocked pantry but now I buy ingredients rather than ‘ready made’ and I’m lucky that I can buy good quality food from a local butcher and greengrocer.

    I’m rediscovering old skills that I’d forgotten - making rag rugs (like we used to when I was a child), sewing and knitting and I’m getting a lot of satisfaction in being able to provide for my own needs.

    As you said, Rhonda, ‘This is a journey, not a destination…‘ and I’ll find many more ways to simplify a I go along.

    I’m looking forward to reading other people’s stories. :)

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  16. Hello Rhonda,
    I must confess, I read your blog every single day for the past couple of months... but never leave comments (and I should). I was part of your shopping tote swap and I enjoyed it very much.

    I've posted a summary of our Simple Live on my blog for those that are interested :

    http://frenchyaddict.blogspot.com/

    I can't wait to read what everyone else has to say.

    Thanks for coming into my life (even though it is through blogging).

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  17. Thanks for the oppotunity, and the recipe. Here is my post.

    http://www.homesteadblogger.com/ourlittlehouseintown/95370/

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  18. http://www.homesteadblogger.com/
    ourlittlehouseintown/95370/

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  19. Hi, Rhonda Jean. I do not have a blog and I rarely ever comment. I do read your blog daily and enjoy it so much - I refer to you as my Australian friend - and you don't even know me! I live in the bush - Alaska, USA that is. We live 33 miles from a town of 1,400 where my husband drives daily to work at the post office. We had homeschooled our children and they are now with their own families and we look forward for them coming home to visit. Our son is a US Marine and is gone a lot. We try to live as sustainable as we can. We garden and I can and dry a lot of vegetables (tame and wild), we gather wild as much as possible - fruit, herbs and meat. We have no shopping centers around us to tempt - the closest city to us is a 4 1/2 hour drive. This is our year of trying to pay off debts - our truck - credit card. We live without electricity - we have a generator when we need it -
    and haul water from my Mom's which is next door to us. We have in a 3 mile radius two full time neighbors, other than my Mom. I'll keep this short -I'm not good with words - just wanted you to know how much I enjoy your blog and thank you for all the time you put into it. I want to start making soap too!

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  20. Hi Rhonda,

    My philosophy for simple living is based on an old fashioned approach. I have made a blog entry as a summary at
    www.avisionsplendid.blogspot.com

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  21. Dear Rhonda,

    My little 4-year-old son Ben helped me make a double-batch of your rice pudding for our large family tonight--so easy! The children all agree it would be delicious for breakfast!

    Thank you for the recipe, and for all the inspiration, every day. :)

    Robin in Ca.

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  22. Hi Rhonda jean I made my post tonight. I linked back to you on my blog.
    Hugs,
    Elizabeth
    www.elizabethsimplejourney.blogspot.com

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  23. rhonda jean said...
    Hi Kristina, I too love reading people's stories. It sounds like you're living really well.

    Hi Rachel, thanks for taking part. I'll be checking out your blog very soon.

    Kate in NY, I think what you are doing is sensible and commendable. Well done! Your children will get a much broader view of life and I'm sure they thank you for that when they're older. It's an added bonus to be growing up in a close knit family focused more on each other than on status. Best wishes to you and your family.

    Hi Maggie, I just checked out your post. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    And you, Rosie. Your post showed me that we can do this anywhere, in tiny apartments or anywhere else. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Take care.

    Hi Vicki. Love your story and your photos. It shows us how widely spread this way of life is.

    Carla, have already checked out your post and it's wonderful. I was amazed at the photos just one week apart, but so different. Isn't this weather crazy. Your pussy cats are as gorgeous as ever.

    StephB, I read your comment to Hanno. We both admire you so much for what you've done. Keep walking your path, it take you to places unexpected.

    Linda, Very interesting. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope it's not too cold there yet.

    Anonymouus @ 13:37. Your story is wonderful. Sitting here in my home, it's incredible that we've connected but geographically we're so far apart. If you ever have some photos of your local area, I'd love it if you would email me some. Thanks for sharing.

    Hi Busy Woman, I checked out your blog and saw your great lists. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    Hi Robin and Ben! I'm pleased you like the rice pudding. Hanno often has it for breakfast.

    Thanks for taking part, Elizabeth. I'll be reading your blog very soon.

    I hope I haven't missed anyone. I'll be back to check soon. I have some outside work to finish off.

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  24. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks for your blog. We do the best we can and I'm gradually incorporating simple things into our lifestyle. We are still in "the rat race" but here are some of the things we do:
    My husband takes the bus to work.
    I make his lunch every day so he doesn't have to spend extra on lunches.
    I bake our own bread, and cook meals and bake from scratch as much as I can.
    I stay home with my children - my mother-in-law helps me out sometimes too.
    I use cloth nappies, I breastfeed, and I don't buy jars of baby food.
    We don't have a vegetable garden but I buy farm-grown produce whenever possible, free range eggs and butter from my butcher.
    We recycle what we can, and I can sew and mend clothing.
    I'm about to try making my own cleansers.
    We don't have a credit card debt. We save for what we need before buying it.
    We don't have pay TV but we do enjoy the internet!

    You're an inspiration and it's also fun to read your blog. Thank you.
    Maria :)

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  25. Rhonda, It's been so long since I commented, I feel remiss.
    I always enjoy reading about your simple ways of looking at things. I work a full time job out of the home, so my daily schedule is faily boring, I have however thought about getting the real captain of our ship, my wife A~, to write a guest entry for us talking about all the things that she does. Good suggestion Rhonda, I'll get on that this weekend for sure.
    P~

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  26. Hi Maria! thanks for sharing your life with us. You've made a grand start and you prove what I've known for a long time - simple lives can be lived anywhere.

    Hello Patrick, good to see you again. I'd enjoy reading about A~'s perspective of your lives together. Just don't tell her it was my idea. ;- )

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  27. I'll try to get a post done here shortly - I've got a busy few days of meetings lined up through Sunday. As for me, I'm living a childhood dream. I read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie books - I wanted to be a pioneer and live in a home where my husband and I made and did everything. And here I am.
    More later. ~Sadge

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  28. Hi Rhonda
    I am a lurker on your site and have not posted on my blog for a fair while. You have given me the motivation to post again. I have put together a bit about me and how I have got to where I am at the moment. I hope it is ok.

    I love your site and am also a lurker on ALS where I first got to "know" you LOL.

    All the best - Rachael

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  29. Hi Rhonda, I'm just about to write my contribution.

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  30. Hi Rhonda,

    Here is a link to my blog http://oursimplegreenhouse.blogspot.com I have updated my blog with a small story on our journey towards a Simple life. In a couple of years we hope to be in the position to move to small acerage out of the city to continue our journey on a larger scale.

    Tracie

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  31. Hello Rhonda, I'm going to put my contribution here....have a rather hectic day ahead! My journey started six years ago when I moved to Cornwall after nearly twenty years in London. I live on my own in a little granite cottage, along with my two current dogs (rescue golden retrievers who've been with me for nearly a year). I'm fortunate to have a garden (a lot of people in my small town only have tiny yards)which I've just started to work on, with the aim of having a small veg patch and eventually a couple of chickens. Some things I've done for years - green cleaning products, though another step, I'm now making my own,organic gardening, recycling etc. I don't have a tv - when I moved here the tv licence was an easy thing to say no to! I read a lot, and since having a computer at home, I use the internet too. I've always cooked from scratch, and I love cooking, so that side isn't hard for me. I also make jam, marmalade, chutneys etc. I've just taken up knitting, and am learning how to use my sewing machine properly. I love crafting, especially with paper, and like to make my own cards etc. I'm quite a solitary soul, and self-reliant, so not going 'out' is not a problem, I do love being at home! However, while all that sounds good , I am carrying a lot of debt and am slowly slowly making progress on this, but it's a big mountain! I think I finally 'woke up' at the start of the year. I used to be a consumer, beyond what I could afford. Happily, I've seen the light!! I do several jobs to make ends meet, but need more work. Cornwall has a very poor economy and wages are very low compared to the rest of the country - particularly the south east. I'm proud of the progress I've made in the last few months, and am really enjoying this journey. Rhonda Jean, I have to thank you for all the inspiration. Visiting Down to Earth, and reading your posts along with all the comments from your readers gives a wealth of information, guidance, warmth and friendship. Happy hugs to everyone! Diana

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  32. Hi there
    I dont have a blog im afraid but i will tell you a bit about me. I have recently become a SAHM to my four kids- it should have happene years ago really. I have chooks and a vege patch and love growing herbs. i make my own clothes washing goop and use bicarb and vinegar for most of the other cleaning. I make a lot of stuff from scratch- it tastes better and you know whats in it- its also cheaper. We live on a large suburban block and we are surviving on hubbys wage and doing ok thus far (fingers crossed). I am loving having time with the kids and the garden and not having the daily anxiety attacks from going to work. I sew, knit and crochet. We dont have pay tv but we do have broadband ;-). I buy a lot of our stuff secondhand and make a point of never paying full price for anything- shopping around and waiting for sales.
    Love your blog!

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  33. Hi Ronda Jean

    I never thought of our life being simple or otherwise until I became ill and the doctor told me it was all due to stress. While I was supposed to be 'recovering' and away from work I started reading about how to make our life simple and less stressful.
    I haven't returned to work because of the changes we have made in the way we live I didn't need to.
    My darling husband now works withhin walking distance of home.
    I have the time to make our bread and cook all our meals from scratch. I can go to the farm shop but I do still use the supermarket. I have the time to think about menus etc before I go, therefore I don't buy on impulse. Laundry is much simpler as now I can hang out on the line to dry during the day.
    We make do and mend many things. Darling husband has always had a workshop where he tinkers. I have started sewing, kitting and stitching again. We stay at home in our free time, reading, making, watching TV and of course using the internet.
    I am in the process of making a small veg plot but this will still be about half of our garden. I feel I need to be growing some of our own food.
    We stopped going on hotel holidays and bought a tent. Never had so much fun in all my life, camping is just brilliant.

    We aren't debt free because with four children going through school and some to uni we needed to offer asssistance. That has ended this year so hopefully debt will become a thing of the past very soon.

    There are other things we need to address to help us on our road to the simple life. I am working on simple cleaning at the moment. Using less shop bought products and making my own. Love to try soap making next.

    Just a little taste of how we are trying for the simple life.

    Pippa.

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  34. Rhonda Jean,
    I am off to blog right now, and now I know what I am going to blog about! Count me in!
    Love to you,
    Chas

    http://www.homesteadblogger.com/chas

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  35. Hi Rhonda:

    After twenty years of the rat-race, my husband and I decided to down-shift and simplify.

    House:
    We live in an old farmhouse in the UK that is heated by woodstove. Our goal is to get ourselves off the power grid by the end of this year, as we are still reliant on supplied electricity. We are adding a wind turbine to our "green energy" arsenal.

    Garden and food:
    We have a large veg garden and a greenhouse, with 2 apple trees. We just put in grape vines, and I have planted blueberry bushes and some hardy apricot and plum trees.
    As Rhonda knows, we will be reintroducing chooks into our garden (we have foxes, and the last batch succumbed).

    I bake our own bread and cookies/biscuits that my hub takes for lunch, and we eat meat once per week now, as I am a bit anemic. I'm learning how to preserve food again after a bit of a hiatus. What we can't grow, we buy from the local farm shop, milk is from the local dairy. I am negotiating with the farmer down the road to "rent a ewe" so we can have lamb this next year.

    Entertainment:
    We have broadband, but no television, though we do treat ourselves to a season's worth of cheapie seats at the symphony, because we both love music. We take holidays in our 25-year old caravan in the Uk and on the Continent, and neither of us has flown for the past four years. I hope frankly I don't have to get on a plane again, and I think hub feels the same way.

    Careers/finance:
    We both still work, hub full-time as an engineer, and me part time as a university lecturer/historian but have enough emergency savings we could get by for a number of years without a job. After lots of years of saving, we now have no debt and a rental property that provides us income. Mainly we are still working to save more in our pensions and diversify investments.

    Transport:

    We have one paid for car that is high efficiency diesel that husband uses for his 5 mile commute to work. I take the train.

    Goals:
    1. to get off the power grid
    2. to increase vegetable/fruit production for total self-sufficiency
    3. to learn enough about canning/bottling food to do without a refrigerator and freezer.
    4. to be proficient as a basic sewer, though, by gum, I can now knit a dishcloth and mend! ;-)

    thanks for the blog Rhonda. It is a wonderful creation.

    Best,
    Anna Marie

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  36. I posted my current life story on my blog for all to see. I hope I don't bore you to tears as being a military wife does not leave a lot of room for all the things many lucky people are able to do. If you have any suggestions to help me improve my life or make better choices, please share. I am taking small steps just to make sure what I do will be something I can stick to and hopefully I can offer help to some of the folks living in rental homes.
    Here's a direct link to the post. http://motivatedtochange.blogspot.com/2008/04/life-on-homemaking-army-wife.html

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  37. MMM rice pudding, my husband loves it. He would always tell me how his mother made the best rice pudding which was much better than mine. I got the recipe from her and made it her way - she had sweetened condensed milk and sugar, he told me it was horrible, that I must have gotten the recipe wrong so I went back to making it my way - same recipe as yours, Rhonda, thanks I had lost mine. One day we visited his mum just as she made a batch, she gave him a bowl of his favourite pudding. On the way home he turns to me and said that my rice pudding was much better than his Mum's.

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  38. Hi Rhonda Jean,

    I suppose I'm more of a lurker, I have made a couple of comments before. I wrote a little on my blog of what I am doing

    Pip

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  39. Hi there,
    Well, I live on an 85-acre farm, but sadly it is no longer cultivated, as we made a loss every time we tried to grow crops for sale. We had to hire contractors to plough / sow / harvest and it was more expensive than the value of the crops. So for now we grow a little bit of veg for the family. I want to keep chckens, but because my husband is ill, this has been postponed for a while - one more responsibility too many! I bake our bread and buy beans, flour etc from a wholefood co-op. We eat meat because my kids are dairy allergic and a vegan diet feels like a step too far while they are growing. I make my own clothes... and it sounds like I make a lot of excuses too! I love reading your blog - it is inspirational!

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  40. Hi Rhonda,

    I read this too late to actually do a specific post about our simple living on my blog, since I've just written two posts tonight anyway, so I thought I'd do a quick summary here. There are lots of pictures and stories on our blog about our lifestyle change though.

    We moved from an apartment in the city a little over a year ago, and are currenly living in a garage while our house is being built. We have bought 3/4 of an acre in North Brisbane, have bought our first chooks, and are starting a vegie garden. I love making our own clothes and household items, and even have a spinning wheel and plan to spin our own wool. We will begin homeschooling our nearly 4 year old daughter formally next year.

    Though neither DH nor I expected to be going down this road, we are really loving it, and DD often comments that she loves our new home. Every day is an adventure, and you never know what it will bring.

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  41. I've bee a frugal homemaker for 32 years and I'm still learning. I was reading a 'posh' woman's magazine last night and they were extolling the virtues of being a career driven granny "many of my colleagues have photos of their grandchildren in their briefcases" the journalist wrote. What have I missed out on? Maybe the back of the mag was a clue. Pages of adverts for nannies, live in help, gardeners, carers for the elderly. Only the elite can afford to 'have it all'. And at what cost? I prefer what I have. It's authentic. Even if it's patched ;-)

    Charis

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  42. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I've just recently discoverd your blog, and totally empathise with your lifestyle. I live in Scotland, UK, and have recently moved from a lovely simple, crofting lifestyle on a small island to a bigger village with a metropolitan attitude on the mainland. My children are all home-schooled and are now flown the nest,(my partner also - flown, that is!) and i'm trying to establish my simple life here among neighbours - trying to recreate that very haven of peace that is home. I am very rich, except in money, live frugally, i make, mend, sew, knit,read,grow veggies and much more. I miss my goat,chucks especially, and am having to re- learn my skills to suit my new environment, eg learning about food growing in a confined space. I am lucky enough to work from home, making fishing creels and also having a small etsy store, and aim to make just enough money as I need.
    Lovely to meet you
    Pauline :-)

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  43. I was brought up for part of my early life on asmall holding where as much as possible was grown. We kept pigs and chickens and also had my uncles heffers grazing on our fields.

    My first marriage was a long one, but try as I might I could not get my husband to get interested in any form of gardening although he was quite happy for me to do it.

    I had 4 chidlren and much as I wanted to stay at home I ended up going back to work in term time, to put shoes on their feet and clothes on their backs, althoug I still cooked from scratch, knitted and sewed, made bread etc.

    In 1990 I decided I had enough, all the chidlren were grown and living their own lives so I left.

    My now OH and I lived togetehr for 7 years before we were able to marry. We mananged to buy a house and as far as possible grew what we could, we did not have the opportunity or the cash to do what we wanted to do, which was to buy a house with a large garden so we could be as self sufficient as possible.

    To cut a long story short, we had to move into assisted living accomodation last year. We have an allotment where we grow as much as we can, we have fruit and veg on there. I cook from scratch, bake, make bread, preserve mostly by freezing.....I am thinking of going back to making my own clothes. We live on a very restricted income as pensioners. We use the local transport to buy our food, shopping on the local market for what fruit and veg we cannot grow. We are reliant on a supermarket.....I haunt the reduced shelves picking up what I can which is either frozen or cooked straight away. I shop for staples one a month. I find I spend less that way.

    For years I have used a monthly menu list and I have a shopping list on the computer which I use to check my store cupboard before buying new stock, always bringing old stuff to the front and putting new at the back.

    I use no chemicals to clean. dusting is done with a microfibre cloth slightly damp and furniture is then buffed up with a dry cloth. I have old flanellette sheets which I cut up and overlock to use for buffing. once every 3 months I use a beeswax polish on my furniture and then again buff it up. windows are cleaned with a spray I make up of white distilled vinegar and water, spray on the window and buff off with a dry cloth. I also use vinegar to clean the bathroom and kitchen, I do use bleach in the loo just once a week. the rest of the time the loo is wiped each day with a dmap cloth.

    I make my washing powder by using the cheapest powder I can find and mix it with a bag of washing soda, just half a cup to each load of washing.....I have a friend who was sceptical about this until I put a load of her washing in the machine without any added powder, there was enough soap residue in her clothes to do a wash. She now uses the same mix as me and there is no difference in results.

    I could go on for ages, but this post is long enough.........

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  44. I wrote some about our life on Tuesday on my blog. There are so many reasons we do these things. We do them because we want to be good stewards of the environment. We do them because we want to be debt free. We do them because we have always done most of them, they just seem to be coming the in thing. I was raised what some call "plain." They are a part of how I was taught. At times we have begun to find ourselves drifting towards worldly materialistic ways, but we always are pulled back.

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  45. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks for the opportunity to share our simple lives. I am enjoying reading what everyone else has written. I have left a post for you at my blog.

    Tania

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  46. Me again! I meant to say also I buy local - often from the farm gate, and from June to February I have a locally produced veg box - all the produce is grown four miles up the road from me. I don't use plactic bags, ever, it's something I feel really strongly about, and water in plastic bottles. I'm just starting to knit my own dishcloths....so much pleasure in a simple thing like that! I spent a year working in and managing a farm shop (this was a couple of years ago) and learnt so much about the food industry, and the journey our food takes to reach our plates. It was a valuable experience. The other thing on the road to simplicity is clearing the clutter - not only not consuming, but getting rid of the excess - ebay, car boots, freecycle and charity shops. This makes life so much simpler, makes home feel bigger, and easier to organize and clean, and makes a few pounds in the process. I'll stop now! Diana x

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  47. Hello Rhonda,

    Vist my blog to read about our simple way of living......

    Blessings to all ,Shelley

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  48. Thank for the inspiration. My post is at Coffee Coffee Coffee - my blog. Christina

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  49. Hi Rhonda,

    I've posted mine too and now I'm off to bed!

    altercutlery.blogspot.com

    Lis :)

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  50. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I enjoy your blog. It's inspiring for me! I began trying to live simply when my husband went back to school full time and we needed to cut back on expenses. We lowered the temperature that we heat our home and covered the windows with blankets in the winter. I line-dry our clothing outside when weather permits and use lines in our basement otherwise. When our youngest was born, we went with cloth diapers instead of disposables (I love them!) I've been composting, too, and my husband is building raised beds to grow our own veggies. I'm so excited! It's been amazing to see how much less we put in the trash when we aren't throwing away food scraps or diapers. Eventually we want to move from the city and have a small farm where we can do a LOT more as far as sustainablity.
    Thanks for the invitation to share!

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  51. Hello. We live in town and are really mere beginners at this journey but this is what we are accomplishing so far. I enjoy cooking and baking from scratch--no box products for me (although I do seem to have a weakness for box cakes mixes-oh well!); growing tomatoes and peppers; canning same tomatoes and sauce, jam, peaches, pears, applesauce and freezing peppers; making own cleaning products; composting leaves and yard waste; keeping home a bit cooler in the winter months; working closer to home; packing own lunches.

    I enjoy learning things from these blogs so much! I would love to learn from you girls how to make a good "green" carpet cleaner (not just a freshner but for a deeper cleaning); also some kind of "green" lawn weed controller--we don't use chemicals but I yearn for a lush lawn; lastly for those of you who refuse the plastic bags--I know you must have some trash--what do you put it in?
    Have a wonderful day. I have enjoyed the blog so much as well as the comments.

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  52. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  53. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I do have a blog over at http://www.cottonwoodherbals.blogspot.com and will be writing a bit more on simplifying over the next week.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to post about your life. I get so many ideas to implement into my own home. I don't have any land to have a garden but we do have containers full of herbs we use. We put up tomatoes and apples we purchase from the local farmer's market.

    I'm teaching my children about recycling and making healthy choices. We always purchase organic when possible, turn the lights off, use less water and be ever mindful of not wasting anything.

    Each week we introduce something new to add on to what we are already doing. It may be making our own shampoo and conditioner, I already make our own laundry soap and herbal remedies. It may be using the back sides of paper for my 6 year old to draw on, it may be making our own bread (thanks to you)

    All the little steps we take add up. I teach my children it isn't All or nothing. For us, it is baby steps and hopefully I can share what we do with others.

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  54. I am inspired by all the things that I have read here, I am fairly new to the idea of simple living but I think I have been doing some of it most of my life. The concept of a disposiable world has always bothered me So reusing everything possible is my mantra. I have recently started using homemade cleaners and laundry soap,wow not only supper cheap but no more plastic jugs in the recycle bin, they just keep getting refilled. It is interesting to read what others are doing and hopefully I will move into a greener life as I go along. Keep up the inspireation we really enjoy it.

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  55. Hi
    What a fun post - I've enjoyed reading other peoples simple lives.

    Done A BIG blog entry on my blog - will need a pot of tea to read it hahaha http://www.homesteadblogger.com/atthegoodlife/

    Simple living is very much how we live, just wish I had your flair of words & writing -

    Love Leanne NZ

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  56. Hi Rhonda!
    I am a 63 year old new widow who lives with my vegetarian grad student son on an acre and a half of land in Bath, Ohio. In a way, we were never wildly into consuming, but as I was older, and my husband ill, I began to do things like buy paper towels for convenience. I am just beginning to redesign my changed life. I'm not sure how long I will live here, certainly until Andy finishes his degree. I am trying to recycle and am giving away many things as we have much to much.........But we have lived here for 28 years and it will take a while to streamline things...But I am working on it. We have always believed people are more important than things and I want to be involved again in work with local refugees. I am debt free, I guess. (Well, I just had to buy a new car and it will be paid for in two years. I din't want to pay for it outright since I want to keep my money together. I could have, but got zero per cent financing. I wish it got a little better mileage, but it could be worse. We garden, Andy and I, but in Ohio one can only garden from about April to October.....We belong to a local CSA farm and I buy locally from a lady who raises chickens....I'm diabetic and try not to eat too many carbs, but eat a lot of tofu and am trying to increase this......So far I am not a vegetarian but can see I might end up closer to this. I do buy from and donate to thrift shops. People are more important than things was something Paul and I always tried to teach our children and I think we succeeded. My kids don't really watch tv, and I am being more selective (partly because there is so little that's any good and I don't want a cable package. We have a 99% efficient furnace and pretty good insulation.....I have a freezer and a pantry and stockpile stuff. I'm not a fanatic, (don't mean the term to make being green sound bad!) but find myself doing more and more greenly. My blog is not active yet. That may change this year......

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  57. Hi Rhonda Jean,

    I posted a quick bit about my simple life on my blog.

    http://myimaginaryblogspot.blogspot.com

    Now I have to scoot because I have company coming for dinner! I cannot wait to read about everyone's lives though!

    Laura

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  58. How funny! I just posted on this very thing yesterday!
    http://kimberlys-cup.blogspot.com/2008/04/simple-update.html

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  59. I live on an acre section in a tiny coastal village of the West Coast, North Island, New Zealand. Living is easy here, proximity to the ocean provides abundant shellfish and fish, the river has whitebait and trout, the riverbanks give us blackberries and mushrooms, there are even wild plum trees in the village.
    Like most I have a large vegetable garden,but am fortunate enough to also have an orchard, greenhouse with hydroponics, run a few chickens. Preseve most of our fruit and vegeatbles, make cordials, wines and whisky!
    Have been living the simple life for over thirty years, keen spinner, and weaver, and knit, sew and crochet some of our clothes.
    Our house is sited to make best use of the sun, and we have installed a woodburner for the colder days ( wood is freely available along the riverbanks )
    Our lifestyle is frugal by choice, we make our own cleaning products and reduce, reuse and recycle wherever possible.

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  60. Rhonda Jean, My story is available on my blog.

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  61. Is it to late to be added?
    I love this idea and can't wait to read your post tomorrow.
    http://mrskaos07.blogspot.com/

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  62. I hope I'm not too late. Just today I have written about my simple life on my blog. Thank you for your blog. It has been very inspiring!
    Aubrey

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  63. I'm on a break from blogging, but I'll post this as a "comment"....I realized about 2 years after buying our home that it is too big. We collect too much stuff. We've been purging and purging JUNK--kid's junk mostly, but mine too. We begun to simplify. We get rid of stuff before NECESSARY purchases--like when kids outgrow their clothes. We try to shop second hand, but in our area it's pretty limited. We pass on clothing. No more magazines or newspapers. We have our seedlings started for the garden and have a small compost started. We no longer drive a big van [silly for 3 of us!] When/if the real estate market improves our house will go for a smaller one. We have made little changes, too--cloth napkins, menu planning and other things to be moe conscious of waste.

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  64. Forgot!! Most important!!! We ditched kid sports leagues and other "run you ragged" things like that! Kids PLAY. Yes, P.L.A.Y. now. Even my 13 year old loves to play wiffle ball baseball as a family!!!

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  65. Rhonda, may I ask why and when you started eating meat? Do you have a post about it? I'd prefer not to eat meat and it is cheaper. My family wouldn't though, I can't seem to entice them at all with pulses and beans. Was the transition hard for you, financially? Do you have a local supplier of ethically grown meat? (I'm from Brisbane) Thank you for your time.

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    Replies
    1. Anna, Hanno missed meat and wanted to eat it again. We originally stopped eating meat because he had a couple of health issues. I went along for the ride and found I didn't miss meat at all. I found it incredibly difficult when I travelled for my work though. I often had a few days or a week in small towns and I'd spend the entire time eating boiled egg salad because that's all I was offered. But we went back to meat after about eight years being vegetarian, mainly because Hanno wanted to eat meat. The transition wasn't hard. We live near a lot of beef cattle farms and we have local butchers who supply local meat. Try http://www.barryfamilybutchers.com.au/index.html at Beerwah.

      I felt healthier when I started eating meat again but even now we only have meat maybe three times a week.

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  66. Thank you Rhonda. I appreciate your time. I will look up your butcher :)

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