DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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13 March 2009

The Frugal Home

It seems to be agreed now, we are headed for a few shaky years ahead. Some are saying it will be the same or worse than the Great Depression, but the truth is no one knows what will happen. Some people feel secure because they have superannuation/401k plans, or stocks, but another stock market crash might wipe a lot of the value from those investments. Our governments are trying to keep us calm by offering stimulus cheques. They want us to spend those stimulus cheques on TVs, cars and other products they believe will help boost the economy. I hope anyone who gets one of these payments uses it to build a grocery stockpile, buy vegetable seeds, fruit trees and chooks, or build an organic garden, because no matter what happens, we all know we have to keep food on the table.

In hard economic times, the real currency is life skills.

I'm not sure if our economic conditions now are the same as they were during the Great Depression (GD); my parents lived through it, I didn't, but I do know that almost everything else is different. During the GD almost all women knew how to cook from scratch, make do, substitute ingredients, sew, knit, mend and live without electricity. Now very few do. During the GD, most men could do the repairs in the home, repair a bicycle, hunt, barter, kill and pluck a chicken or skin a rabbit, and would walk miles for a day of paid work. Now very few do. Most families then didn't have cars, no one had credit cards, there were no TVs or computers. The debt ordinary people carried in the GD were mortgages, other kinds of debt were uncommon.

During the Great Depression people were equipped to look after themselves using the life skills most people had then, now those skills are lost to many. They used to support each other, their extended family and the neighbourhood. If the economic conditions are the same now as in the GD, everything else is different.



If I were a young wife now, with children to raise, I would be learning everything I could about how to do the work in my home without modern appliances. I would learn to make bread by hand - good bread not just a get-by loaf; I would work out easy ways to do the family laundry - in case a time came when I didn't want to use electricity - once I worked it out, I'd go back to my washing machine; I would create a stockpile of groceries, and if I had a backyard I would learn to garden and raise chickens. I would teach myself to sew and knit. I would start mending clothes, I'd recycle and reuse everything I could. I'd start cooking from scratch with the intention of learning how to produce the most delicious and nutritious meals for the lowest cost.

If I were a young wife and mother now, I would take it upon myself to save every penny I could to pay off our debt. I would encourage my husband and children to economise, make do and learn to go without. My focus would be on the long-term health and prosperity of my family and I would hope to teach myself enough to give us the best chance in this tough economic climate.


It is often thought that the person who goes out to work has the important job in the family and will be the deciding factor in how well the family lives. And while that bread winner role is still vitally important, the stay at home partner is equally important. It is the person in the home who will feed the family, manage the money and pinch every penny until it hurts. It is an exciting time for homemakers. Our jobs have always been significant, more so than we were ever given credit for, but now we have the added responsibility of stretching our dollars to get the maximum value from them and helping our family get through the next few years while who knows what will happen. And if we come out of this quickly and unscathed, well, we'll have those skills to help us in the future. It's a win/win situation.

There has never been a better time to know how to run a home efficiently. There has never been a more pressing need to know the skills of the homemaker. If you still need to learn a few things, you'd better get cracking, because what you learn soon and what you know now might mean make or break for your family. Don't be scared, be energised by this. There are many ways to learn what you need to know. You could start by reading some of my archives, or visit the co-op, and read through any of the archives of the writers who have links to their own blogs there, or find a blog you relate to and learn from it. Books you might find helpful are Encyclopedia of Country Living, Nourishing Traditions, or (for Australia/NZ) Easy Organic Gardening,

And, as always, I'm happy to answer your questions.

I'm looking forward to a restful weekend, full of knitting and a little writing. For all the knitters in the knit-along, I've just finished my fifth square. I'll take some photos and show them on Monday. I hope you enjoy your weekend and have the chance to relax and unwind. Welcome to the new readers who arrived this week. Please drop a comment and say hello. Thank you for all the kind and generous comments left during the week. Take care, everyone.


101 comments:

  1. Rhonda, your approach is so common sense. The skills and attitudes that you suggest could make the difference between survival for a family or lots of suffering! Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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  2. It is just a shame that we have to come to an economic impasse before people do realise the value of the Homemaker.

    Now that I am working every day I am finding that the things I get done early actually stay doen until I get home so being organised and doing those basics joyfully ( which you have spoken about before) make the start of my days happy, I then go to work, then pick the boys up off the bus come home and do my other jobs - hey Rhonda think I 've found my rythym!!

    daisymum

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  3. We've made a lot of changes the past 12 months and it still hasn't been enough. Our budget the past few months hasn't changed but is no longer working and we know it's only going to get worse so more changes will need to be made.

    I was nodding as I was reading this as we had already decided that we are investing our stimulus money in a resources - in seeds, water tanks, fruit trees, kitchen supplies and other resources that will help us stretch our budget further as times get tighter still.

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  4. And may I add one suggestion to your many readers? If there something you want to learn in these blogs, copy and paste the teaching articles to your computer and print it out. Then add the hard copy of these wonderful recipes for survival to your home journal....

    If you reach a point where you have to give up your computer internet, you will still have access to the wonderful information provided by Rhonda and others like her.
    lilmom

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  5. Thank you for having such an inspiring blog and for sharing your knowledge!

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  6. I think you are right, Rhonda. I can do all those things (but I'm 64) and my daughters can too, but I think a lot of younger people have ignored them. In the days of the GD, people also knew how to entertain themselves and support one another in many ways. If we go back to that somewhat,as well as learning the basic life skills, I think it will be something that proves the truth of the saying that it's an ill wind that blows no good.

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  7. I've been a stay-at-home mom for years. I don't think our family could've lived as well as we have if we had tried to do it on one income. Who would've done all the cooking, gardening, homeschooling, washing, sewing, saving? My husband often tells me the women at his job are envious and wish they had a wife. I love your blog. I love the encouragement that homemaking is very important. BTW I've picked up so many good ideas from you. I LOVE the homemade washcloths. I'm going to be making soap here soon and I made my own laundry soap mix.

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  8. A thought provoking post. I have bought a bike and some underwear with my handout so far. Just thought I would let you know I have a picture on my blog about no awards that can be copied. If I remember correctly you said you wanted one some time ago and this one would match your blog colour wise. Cherrie

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  9. Thanks for the insightful post. I just got my first chickens this week and I love the fact that I no longer need to buy eggs. As a young(er) mom of one, I am wanting to learn these skills and I have the cooking and cleaning down but not the sewing/mending/knitting. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to start? I have my own sewing machine and my knowledge from 7th grade Home Economics, but other than that I am completely clueless! Any suggestions on books?

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  10. Thank you, Rhonda, for all of your inspiration. I have been reading your blog for almost a year.

    I am that young mother you are talking about. My husband works out of the home and I have been home with our four children for seven years.

    Your blog is the first place I go when I want to learn something new. Your kitchen table conversations, both chickens and canning, seemed to be written for me! With your gentle nudging, I have learned to make bread the kids will eat crusts and all, vastly expanded my garden, cooked most meals from scratch and talked myself out of feeling deprived everytime I pass up a purchase.

    Thanks for all of your great ideas. Thank you for showing us how to take pride in our skills. Thank you for making our homes and all the time we spend there more special.

    Warmest wishes,
    Rachel
    Illinois, USA

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  11. I'm not an economist, but I understand that the GD was bad was because governments stopped spending. WWII made governments start spending on personnel and materiel, which meant wages to start money moving around the economy -- and if I've understood, it's the movement that's important, not the amount, hence the encouragement to spend rather than save. I agree that the best things to spend it on are practical and preferably local, like food plants and car and house repairs.

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  12. Hey Rhonda!
    WOW!! i have never thought of my "job" like this.... makes you really think. am i doing enough for my family. i can sew, knit, crochet, cook and make things from scratch, clean (eck!) and i am starting a garden. i would love to have chickens but i don't know the rules on that as i live in the suburbs. i know how to make soap and other crafts. i need to learn how to stock pile. i buy enough to get by till the next check. i will be looking into your archives about that!

    i love your blog!!

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  13. Good morning Rhonda. One of our young employees (19) is of half Greek descent. Yesterday her Ya (grandmother) made pitta bread and she went to learn and assist. Some skills live on. :)

    Enjoy your weekend.

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  14. Thank you for your articles as always.

    I'm wondering if it could be possible to set your blog feed to "full" so entire posts could be read in a blog reader? That would be so helpful, thank you.

    Lyn

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  15. Although I'm not stockpiling food, I am leaning toward the simpler life in a lot of ways. I've begun canning food, can't wait for my garden, was looking at fruit trees last week (we have two pears and two peach trees), etc. We have cut back on a lot of things and make a lot of things in our house. The only thing I haven't really reduced are my children's activities. Right now they are important to them, and while I want to influence their values, we aren't feeling the effects of the economy to the degree that we need them to stop. I hate the idea of stimulus checks, and surprisingly don't qualify for them in the US. I think you're right that we are in for a bumpy ride, and a shakey future. Keep blogging and giving mom's of young children (like me) more ideas. Now if I could just talk hubby into some chickens....

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  16. Good Morning Rhonda,

    While waiting for my son to finish school yesterday the radio had a segment about going back to basics by cooking like our grandmother's did.

    They suggested finding some old cookbooks and trying some of the meals in them. This is what I have been doing and it is saving me money because the recipes have only basic in-the-pantry ingredients. And the best bit is they taste delicious, my family have no complaints at all.

    Thank you for this inspiring post as usual.

    Have a great day,
    Tania

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  17. Hi Rhonda,

    I read your blog quite a bit since I found you just a month or so ago (I also link to you). Thanks for the no-nonsense kick in the pants. I AM a young mother with no life skills to speak of and have a very small patio behind my town home. I will learn to do all I can and get cracking. I may hold my families lives in my hand...oh boy, what I would have given for some good old home ec classes instead of soccer and cheerleading (sigh).

    Keep posting they are a blessing to me and I am sure many others.

    Many Blessings :)
    Ace

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  18. I often think when I catch myself complaining, that I've never complained in such grand style before. If I were willing and able to live the way my parents grew up and with just the basic necessities of life, then I really wouldn't have much to complain about after all.

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  19. Hello everyone, thanks for adding your thoughts here. Please add any suggestions you have as well.

    Thaks willywagtail.

    Kimchi, check out this post for links to help you start sewing:
    http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2008/09/homemade-christmas.html

    and here for knitting links:
    http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2008/11/twirling-yarn-around-knitting-needles.html

    Basically, you start by knitting squares. If you use pure cotton yarn when you knit, your squares will become dishcloths that you use in the kitchen. After you've done several dishcloths, using a variety of stitches, you can progress on from there.

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  20. I just love your blog - as you know!

    This morning I stopped complaining about the weather, the dog, the lack of rain - stop using them as excuses for my poor gardening skills and went out, put up a rudimentary fence around the vegie beds I wanted to use and planted out my Mini Cauliflowers, lettuce and kale.

    I have come in, put the fleece that was soaking into it's rinse buckets, wound a large amount of handspun yarn off a bobbin, made morning tea for the babes and sat down to read blogs!

    Later I will knit a few more squares of Sophie's birthday present (a blanket for her to snuggle in out of my Mum's stash) and do a little bit of spinning on some sock yarn.

    There will be housework, stories, playtime and a trip to see the architect to confirm the modifications he has made to our original house plans.

    I love how you validate all that we do - so many people wonder at all the "hard work" we do but we love it and see it as a gift to our children...teaching them life skills as you suggest.

    I think after reading your blog I will call into the local police station for a copy of the gun license book - rabbits galore on our block so lots of good eating and a friend knows how to cure pelts so another skill to learn :).

    Thanks again for a constantly inspiring, every day blog!

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  21. Thank you for this post. I know that my 'job' is important, my hubby knows my job is important but it really seems that everywhere I go people think of me as unusual or 'crunchy'. I'm just trying to provide my family with the best, by that I mean wholesome, fresh, real, not flashy, expensive or stylish. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  22. So true...The homemaker is the spine of the family!
    Great and reassuring post!

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  23. Hi Rhonda,
    These particular posts from you help to refocus my eyes on what is important. Being raised as part of the instant gratification generation it is a continual struggle for me to lay those materialistic desires aside. I have improved since reading your blog and applying some of those suggestions, and the cold, hard reality of a mortgage has also helped. ;o)
    We so desire to pay off or at least reduce the mortgage and we have other things around our place that we need to get (like fences), and so we are having to think hard about cutting back on unnecessary things and perhaps limiting the children's extra lessons - private tuition is so expensive. It's such a hard thing to do, but at the same time it's exciting, because it's so way outside my comfort zone, so it's a challenge for me to see if I can do it and still cope. LOL!. I think I could do all those things you mentioned if I had to, but I balked at the washing thing .... could I survive without the washing machine? Then I remembered the women in the jungles of Indonesia I used to watch in amazement as they did their washing in the rivers with homemade soaps and nothing but their strong hands and a rock on the side of the river, and it was truly amazing how clean their clothes came out. I guess I could always do that - though it would probably take my unpracticed hands all day. :o)
    Thanks for another helpful, inspiring post.
    Rachel L

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  24. Thank you for this encouragement!

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  25. Thank you so much for all that you share with us readers. My dear hubby and I are in the process of starting chickens this spring, and improving and expanding our gardens. It's an exciting adventure and I am loving learning so much!

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  26. Rhonda,I love your blog and look forward to reading it very day. I have learned alot from you. I live in the US and can not get alot of the things you are talking about. Do you know of any similar blogs in the US? you don't need to post this wa just curious if you knew of any. Thanks so much....

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  27. Once again a great post Rhonda. Living frugally is my motto these days..your blog is on my daily check list, I keep getting more ideas from you..thank you!.
    Today I referred to my day as a 'Rhonda type day' (hehe)..when my mother died I inherited some fabric, little remnants of this and that and so I sewed up some napkins and bread basket liners, did a little knitting and the usual housework that made me hum with joy!

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  28. I'm a stay at home mum to 3 little boys in Vic. We have a substancial vegie patch and do heaps of preserves & freezing. We have been in our home almost 6 years - have been very frugle, go to lots of garage sales, thats where our gardening equipment, most toys, & clothes come from. Lunches are always taken from home (this adds up to heaps!) The boys understand no, we explain why and appreciate when we get something new - even if it is second hand. We have paid off our house this year, so don't owe any money & it's a lovely feeling. We saved hard when we both worked and it has paid off. Too many people live beyond their means, try & keep up with "the jones'" and are too stressed worrying about the financials to enjoy life. This year we are going on our first holiday since having children! Our holidays have previously been camping in the yard, projects at home and exploring local stuff. This years project is to get the chooks going.
    Thanks for your inspirational blog!

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  29. Wonderful post! I had never stopped to think that people do not have the same skills now as they did during the GD. After 11 years as a SAHM I have some skills reasonably well honed, but there is so much more to learn - and your blog is an absolute inspiration!

    Thank you :o)

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  30. You remind me of my dear Grandma. She lived much as you do, went through the GD. Made it work and work well. I have gained from her knowledge. I learned to bake bread from just watching her and she taught me to sew and mend, crochet and be frugal. She could make the best meals from such a little bit of this and that. I miss her, but I think of her every time I do something that she taught me. (Which lately has been a lot of things) I want to thank you for bringing her to mind in your posts and teaching us all how to do things the better way!

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  31. Hi Rhonda, I'm just back from entering a slab of goodies in our local show. I'll let you know how I go. (cake, jam, chutney, pickles, stitchery, sewing, fresh produce)

    I was talking with Mum this morning (she's at Buderim) - apparently there's oil on the coffee rock between Alex & Mooloolaba. Dreadful. I get the feeling the disaster management plan was a little slow to be activated!

    Lisa x

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  32. Wonderful post! As a young mother who knew NOTHING of gardening or of where my food came from, I've had to learn a lot. I think it's extremely important for my generation to go back to the basics and to learn how to garden, preserve, can etc. Not only is it vital to learn these things, but it brings us back that special connection to nature that humans as a whole, have lost. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  33. Dear Rhonda

    I just so love reading your words. I too am that young mother you speak of. Yet I am excited by these times for that fact that I do have many of these life skills and they have gone undervalued for so long. I grew my own business until I had my own children and loved it, but all the while feeling like I didn't have time for my life, my life at home, my friends, my family, my crafts, my creating, my being productive for life.

    Now I have a young family I can be at home and do these things as I choose to do but also see that the skills and knowledge I have will benefit not only my girls (and hubby) but also others who are seeking to learn in this trying time.

    I am excited because those things that I have valued are now seeming to be valued by society, albeit out of necessity, but, for a change, I can live true to what I know in my heart and not swim against the flow so much.

    I don't have to wonder why I don't like going to the shops when everyone else seems to. I don't have to cave in to pressure to buy something I don't need simply because others have told me I do, and then wonder why I feel unsatisfied.

    It is through reading your blog that I realise that I am already a frugal person and it is actually beneficial - not just being stingey and failing to provide.

    Thankyou!

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  34. Wonderful post! I feel like I have such great like minded friends here in internetworld!

    I want to add to remember your library for almost all your wants... internet to movies, books to music.

    Thanks Rhonda!! Enjoy the weekend.

    cathy c

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  35. Rhonda,

    You are so right!! I know that it is hard to give up things...for us it is getting harder. We have been trying not to spend but everything around us is going up, up, and up.

    I have been trying to stay on a budget and it has been just plain hard.

    We are going to try to start going to the store every 2 weeks....stay home as much as we can during the week and on the weekends.

    We have found that as soon as we get in the car we are about to spend money!

    I really believe things will get worse before it gets any better.

    Here in Kentucky you wouldn't even know we are in a major depression people are spending more than ever...the restarants are packed!

    We look around and wondering if we are the only family feeling this money crunch?

    ~Renee

    gardendesk.com

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  36. Rhonda, THANK YOU for your wisdom!

    My husband has been unemployed since July 2008, we have cut out all but the basics food, shelter,clothing,internet ( which is phone and internet and television in a simple combined package). As much as we would like to do away with the internet we need it to file his unemployment...and the phone for that rare time he gets called for an interview.
    We have very little debt to pay off (mortgage).
    To many people have an entitlement mentality which I wrote about recently on my blog.
    Living Well With Less is
    Liberating!
    Sincerely

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  37. Hello Rhonda,
    A while back, you posted a photo of some projects that included a red knit basket/box that you were knitting in the round. Would you be willing to share where you found the pattern? I've been looking for something like this to house my daughter's wooden food for her play kitchen.
    Thanks!
    Amber

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  38. Hi Rhonda,
    I've been wanting to make the changes that you speak about and in fact, have all the ingredients ready to make up your washing powder. Before I go ahead, can you tell me if it is possible to add anything to the basic mix to give it a nice smell, say a drop or two of lavender or rose oil? Or does the mix already smell nice enough? I really love reading your blog and appreciate all the advice that you share. Thankyou,
    Rachel

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  39. Dear Rhonda, thank you for another thought-provoking and beautiful post. You are an inspiration to us all! I went straight to the German Amazon and snatched up their last copy of The Encyclopedia of Country Living.

    Claudia

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  40. You talk such sense Rhonda.I am a mum to two young children and I only work four hours per week.  I spend the rest of the week playing with my children, digging my new veg plot, (I persuaded a kind gentleman to let me dig a spare patch of ground opposite my home), cleaning and washing with my homemade products, making my own soap, feeding my chickens (Who are STILL not laying :-#), and trying to think of more and more ways to rely on myself and my family rather than Tesco's and other money grabbing establishments.I still feel like I have a long way to go, re-teaching myself to stop pointless spending, I still have re-lapses and it also seems like you need to spend money to save money, especially with setting up my veg plot, but it will pay off in the long run.It was you that inspired this exciting journey I am currently on and it could'nt have come at a better time.  We have lots of debts that we are fighting to pay off, I am extremely grateful to you for your daily inspiration.Lv as ever, Steph xxx

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  41. HI Rhonda(waves)
    Love reading your blog..I have been a happy Homemaker for 23 year this year and even thou your preching to the converting with me I still love reading all you write..
    Cheers Mashelly

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  42. Thank you for such a wonderful blog.

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  43. As always....you have hit the nail bang on the head. I know and say all this but not in the choice way you do......

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  44. Storey's Basic Country Skills and The Self-Sufficient Life And How To Live It are great books as well.

    It would be wonderful if everyone could have a garden or raise chickens, goats, etc., but the sad fact is, at least in our immediate surrounding area, that there are very strict zoning rules in place and the majority of subdivisions are HOA (homeowner's association - deed restricted). The HOA's here forbid things like outdoor clotheslines and some even have "no gardening" rules (agriculture gardening). Most have mandated yard sprinkler systems that run off the city's reclaimed water (not purified and you certainly wouldn't want to grow food using it or let it touch food). The zoning laws forbid folks from having chickens, goats, etc. So......... people living in those situations have their hands tied quite a bit, yet there's still plenty they could do within their homes. Thankfully we haven't lived under those rigid conditions for almost 5 years now and are in a "rural" (as rural as it gets here, which is not really "rural" in the sense of other U.S. locations) area where we have no restrictions (for the time being - our town could always change that at any time).

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  45. I'll say an "Amen" to today's post!

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  46. I enjoy reading your blog very much.
    Thirty years ago, I was the young mother you write about here, and I learned all the things you talk about. Now I'm grandma, and I am finding that all the stuff I tried to teach my kids didn't stick. Actually, that's not true- my boys got it intellectually, but not viscerally (yet- there is hope, I see signs), but the moms of the girls they married didn't impart the same lessons. I would love to suggest my DIL's read this, but then I run the risk of being the pushy mother-in-law.

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  47. Hey Rhonda,

    I am a subscriber to the complete tightwad gazette, and I was raised that way so I am already doing 3/4th of what I read. I was out of a job for the past 3 months during which time I got really good at being efficient in getting all the house work done while looking for a job. Because I took care of everything for 3 months, my 7 year boyfriend/roommate/soon to be husband stopped helping me entirely. Well there was nothing for him to do, but now I have a job with longer hours than him, and the house work is piling up, the meals are getting harder and harder to make due to time and energy. I'm loosing my frugal habits to exhaustion and time and my wallet is really hurting. Thank god I don't have kids or I'd really be in trouble. Can you provide any suggestions for time savers that are practical for working women that are weekend warriors? Please don't tell me I'm just going to have to stop sleeping, because I'm running out of ideas, and motivating him is next to impossible. He is good about offering suggestions but for some reason they don't work for him. Some things I'm already doing is making meals at home with bulk items so we can just heat them up during the week. I'm also trying to do loads of laundry just before running out of the house. Any errands get run on my lunch hour and the routes are planned out so the least amount of gas is used. Any other ideas?

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  48. Along with food, pet, laundry making/cleaner and HBA stockpiling I have also started putting up books, school supplies, and what I already had--fabric and yarn, and games for both inside and outdoors.

    If the bottom fall out, we are going to need to entertain ourselves. Ask yourself, "What would I do without electricity, What would my children do?"

    I am going to Goodwill and getting .25 books and stocking up! I have a massive amount of fabric and yarn to work through already.

    Also, quilters out there, you may consider making up a few tops that can be hand quilted later not only for entertainment but WARMTH!

    I also picked up a few extra sets of bed linens in case things wear out. Sure, we will repurpose old sheets but you will need to replace what which is worn out.

    Another thing, don't forget OTC medications, first aide and bandages!

    HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

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  49. Inspirational & motivational!!!!

    Thank You!!
    Debbie
    central Illinois

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  50. This blog really hits home with what I've been working toward in my home. This week I put a raised vegetable garden in my front yard, something I was hesitant to do since I live in town, but it looks nice. I have a feeling we soon won't be so worried about what "looks nice" as much as what helps us get by. Also, I wanted to share this usefull website I found that has info on raising chickens in town... urbanchickens dot org

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  51. My husband and I are in our mid-twenties, with no children, living on one income. While we don't own our own home yet, we are fortunate to be renting an earth-friendly apartment from a woman who has offered garden space on her 1/4 acre for us to garden. Eventually we will build our own home, off the grid, and the skills we will learn now will really come in handy later.

    One of the skills I would like to pick up now is sewing. I have a machine, but no one to teach me. Are there any books you might recommend to a beginner? Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thank you so much for creating such a lovely blog; you are my inspiration!

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  52. True words Rhonda, I hadn't thought about how people are less equipped to cope with bad times.

    its really interesting reading all the comments and seeing how others are coping :)

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  53. I agree with every single think you have said. Even though I am 46 years old this year I am learning to make a container garden. I've never raised a garden in my life, but am anxiously waiting for it. I have already started my seedlings indoors and am loving watching them grow.

    I look for any way possible to stretch a dollar these days. And am couponing and storing away for hard times.

    you know while this has been challenging for me it's also been one of the most interesting fun things I've taken on to date. I have learned so much and know I am going to enjoy learning more.

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  54. Hi Rhonda
    I love your blog. It is very inspiring and has made me stop hating housewotk which has made a big difference in my life. We are interested in making dog food from scratch. Do you have any information you could share? Jenny

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  55. I come from a long line of homemakers who have always had to make do, especially in their younger years. I was fortunate enough to go to college and recieve my degree, I was only the second one in my family to do so.

    I worked for a few years but once I had my son, my priorities changed. I became a fulltime homemaker and mother. I began to align my life with the ways that have been passed down to me. Making each penny count and doing as many things for my home and family as possible.

    I have been thrilled to find your site and all of the wonderful practical wisdom and concrete knowledge you offer.

    Thank you for taking the time to share what you know.

    Rhonda

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  56. First of all I wanted to say how much I'm enjoying your blog - wish I would have found it before :)

    Its funny my husband and I have been going down this path for several years but now I hear so many more people feeling this way.

    Even my boss, who earns a very nice salary and lives in a big fancy house is realizing the importance to be more frugal.

    My hope is that our society will improve with so many people realizing this.

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  57. What a delightful blog! This was my first time to visit. One of my Facebook friends told several of us about you. It is amazing to hear the same concerns and worries from Australia as we have here in the US. Our garden and our chickens will go from being just a fun little side hobby to serious business this year. Where I live, we are not suffering, people are not loosing their jobs and services such as stores and restaurants are still open. We have some time to prepare for what is coming and I am grateful for that time. Thank you for these common sense strategies (with recipes--thank you!) to get through the years to come. May we not forget these gems of wisdom even when (if) we re-enter prosperous times.

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  58. This is my first visit to your blog. I love it. I really appreciate your advice. I am going to go look around some more. Just wanted to say hello and thanks.
    Angie

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  59. I really appreciate that recognize the value in the one who stays at home. So often, in our culture, emphasis is placed on how much money is made and not how much is saved. I feel like I provide a powerful and valuable service to my family by cooking from scratch, making do, finding new ways to use old things and tending the garden.

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  60. I have to say this post is fabulous. It is so true that we need to learn to do basic things for ourselves. I think that we have spent much too long feeling we need to have things. Having these things has sent us all into debt. Deep debt. It's time to suck it up and learn to live without.

    Enough women my age, 38, need to recognize the importance of being a homemaker. It doesn't make us any less ambitious or smart. It shows that our family and their well being are important. Thanks for making me feel like I am not alone in this philosophy.

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  61. Thankyou for this post Rhonda, I loved it! Recently I have been reading Little Heathens, which I think I read about from your blog???
    I am looking forward to a possible follow up post from this one - with more nitty gritty stuff in it, like washing by hand, notes on bread making (with links to your breadmaking posts), good things to stockpile (someone suggested bedsheets in the comments - very versatile, not just to be used for sheets).
    We had planned to invest our AU stimulus money but now I will keep som aside to purchase those apple trees in a few months time that I wanted to add to our young orchard.
    A recent visit to my MIL had her telling me about all her life making new clothes from old clothes, WOW. I marvel at the inginuetity of this. Some things would be easy to remake, like trousers being made into shorts or a smaller pair of trousers.
    mmmm something else you have me thinking of from your post is what would you do without no electricity. I will be on the look out for a working spinning wheel and a treadle sewing machine I think!
    I am part way through making a dishcloth, very pleased with how it is coming along. This is my first. I wouldlove to make socks, have you made any, can you offer a post on this maybe?
    Enjoy your weekend!
    Bec xxx

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  62. well done Rebecca!

    Rachel L the sense I have of you tells me that you're a pretty strong young lady. I think you could do whatever you set your mind to.

    Debbie, check out the writers at the co-op (my other blog), I think you'll find a couple of Americans there with similar thoughts to mine.

    Thank you all for your kind words. I really love that you've shared your stories here. I appreciate the time you take to do it and it always gives me a reason to keep writing. I'll do a followup post to this one next week.

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  63. Fantastic post! I've made qite a few notes from this and am looking forward to the follow up post.

    Thanks, Rhonda

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  64. Rhonda, I really love that you say not to be scared but to be energized by it! So many others focus on and promote fear. Thank you as always for sharing your wisdom - I'm working on learning many of the skills you mentioned and find your blog an invaluable resource.

    Manuela

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  65. Rhonda, I've been looking for a recent post you had about raising chickens, but can't find it. Can you repost the date for it, or email me offblog - kjalics at rocketmail dot com. I would really appreciate it.

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  66. Kristi :- )

    http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2008/07/keeping-chickens-in-backyard.html

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  67. My hubby said he hit the jackpot when he met me. I apply a lot of the principles from your post. We have chickens, a garden, etc.. I have taught my daughter a lot of the same things and having been a single mom before she watched and learned. Now she is married and I no longer hear, oh mom!!!! I only wish my stepdaughter could learn from your post! With 4 kids she could learn a lot. My hubby is also a lot like me in that he can hunt and do repairs on a lot of things.
    These days making sure you have enough stock piled whether it is food or other things is a good idea. Our grandparents did it and were quite proud of it! It is the survival mode.
    One thing though, I don't think I would like to wash by hand although I have done it. I do like my washing machine, but...I still hang things on the line! It smells the best!!!, and no fabric softner can top fresh air and sunshine!!!!!!

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  68. I found your blog somehow.. as you do while on the net.. what a fantastic blog.. a blog after my own heart and if I read correctly.. an australian blog?
    me too!

    I am going to read & soak it all up.. I have a vegie garden and your wisdom here will help me alot.. I have chooks too.. love them.
    thanks so much for sharing your knowledge here xo

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  69. An excellent post and advice, Rhonda.

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  70. Hello again Rhonda,

    I had a look on your blog for a way to email you, but couldn't find it? Anyway, I thought you (and possibly your readers) might be interested in this recently published interview with Amy Dacyczyn: http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineNews/tabid/181/ctl/ViewItem/mid/1858/ItemId/9689/Default.aspx

    She's pretty media shy these days, so it is nice to see an update on her. It has a couple of photos too :o)

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  71. thanks marjon, it's good to see she hasn't changed much.

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  72. Your blog is such a delight to me,everytime I read it. There is always something uplifting, or useful, or just plain enjoyable to read. It gives me such hope in a time of great uncertainty. I live in Florida (near Melbourne). I wonder if the east coast of Florida is much like where you live. I look forward to your writing about your simple adventures! Thanks, Kelly

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  73. Wow! I am so encouraged by this post. We have been moving this way for the past few years, but a lot of the breadmaking and growing our own has been for health and not so much out of necessity. This has really lit a fire under me, so to speak. I am so motivated now to do what I can to waste not-want not (as grandma used to say) and really make a lasting impact for my family and to teach my children. I e-mailed a friend with a link to this to inspire her as well.

    I just stumbled upon your blog through a link from someone else's just to get your lemon oil recipe. I could sit here for hours reading -- I love it all! Keep up the great writing and inspiration!

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  74. Thankyou.

    I'm also one of these young mums, and I was full of great plans 5 years ago when I stopped working to be at home with the kids.

    I was going to immediately launch a huge veggie garden and chickens and do heaps of bulk buying and preserving and and and...

    I gravely underestimated just how much time the children take up! Especially when they're toddlers :)

    Now that my oldest is getting older, I'm finding more of a rhythm with the days and weeks and have been able to incorporate a small veggie patch and some chickens. I bake sporadically and when I cook a casserole or soup I make double - one for the table and one for the freezer.

    I appreciate your wisdom about taking babysteps! There is always one small change we can take and make part of our lives. And then, once it is part of the way we do things, we can take another small thing.

    I still dream of being a super-energetic doing everything by hand type of woman, but in the meantime I'll settle for making achievable changes!

    Thankyou for sharing some of these small changes, and for dangling in such a tempting way some of the bigger changes for 'later' - you give me the confidence to know that I could do it, should the need arise :)

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  75. I know that if I get some money in the governments stimulus package, it won't be spent. I am using these troubled economic times as an encouragement to saving and making do. Having said that, when I do spend, I want to make my dollar stretch and help out the small/cottage industry when I can.

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  76. Thank you for such a *positive* but thought-provoking post. Once again, you reminded me that what I do is very important. You also reminded me that the economy is very serious, but that no one is completely helpless in the situation! (I think many keep feeling that way.)

    Wasn't it Teddy Roosevelt who said, "Do what you can, where you are, with what you have?" I think many of us have lost the knowledge of what we really CAN do, and what we really do HAVE already at our fingertips (at the expense of some hard work, of course!). Thanks, as always -- kristin

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  77. Just found your blog. I am going to be doing some canning later this year and haven't done it since home economics class in high school (long time ago). So I will be bookmarking your site to help me along the way.
    Thanks

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  78. Rhonda, I'm a young wife as you know (we just celebrated our first anniversary, and Shira is 2 months old!); can I say how uplifting this post was for me? I'm so glad I checked in with you today.

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  79. Thank you so very much for this post. As a young Mum with 3 kids, I find that I use the hard working traits instilled in me by my Grandmother. Thank you so much for this insirational post I no-longer feel like just another SAHM but one with a mission!

    Time to make our weekly bread!

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  80. Great post, Rhonda. We certainly live in interesting times.

    Kate

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  81. I'm almost there! MUST get chickens, must get chickens, must get chickens....

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  82. Just found your blog and wanted to tell you that you have really inspired me to start taking more pride in being a sahm and homeschooler. Sometimes i forget that i am blessed to be able to do this and reading your blog has reminded me of this! I am going to start working on some of you homemade bread recipes. I just started making my own laundry det, cloth diapers, hanging clothes on the line. I would also like to start stockpiling, bc it is a wise woman who prepares for her family. Amen sister and keep on bloggin! I look forward to it!
    Heather

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  83. Found your blog through Like Merchant Ships. Great post! I'm a full-time working mother of three, but am learning homecaring skills and the art of living simply yet abundantly. My mother was a wonderful homemaker, but was not a very patient teacher. So I guess now my daughter and I will be learning together!

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  84. This is a wonderful post! We are trying to figure out how to manage chickens in our yard and are expanding the garden this year. I am always trying to learn more.

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  85. Found you via a link on Like Merchant Ships. Thanks for this post. I've long considered myself "domestically challenged" being that I don't cook much or sew at all, but now that I'm a SAHM for the first time ever, I've decided to educate myself in these things. So glad there are so many resources in this economy.

    You have yourself a new subscriber :)

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  86. Rhonda - nice to meet you - Your blog has rattled my heart so, that I trust you can bear with my longwindedness... :)
    I found you via Meredith at 'merchant ships' - she is my absolute fave -
    In reading your posts - you are coming in at a reallllly close first and a half - why?

    These values that you speak of are what my country grandmas spoke of often - they have gone on to heaven now, and I now realize how very blessed I was to have them teach me at a young age sewing, pantry building- while helping them can in a very hot summer country kitchen - peel, blanche, freeze/can tomatoes and peaches - I didn't realize how invaluable such lessons were until now -

    My grandmas and you share in the same wealth of 'teaching the younger women how to make a good home = the old fashioned way' =
    Just like I told my sisters in a 'coupon clippin' class I hosted for my church women, "What's old is very new again - and it's really a good idea to pay attention to what has already been done!"
    I am in my 30s but realize the value of making your own, growing your own and sharing those lost values that helped our foremothers make a home - and keep their home!

    Pics of your jars took me back to 1978 - 1980 - of those yummy hot summers of homeade doing and how sunday was left to enjoy the bounty and 'rest' up for the week -

    Thank you for sharing these posts with us - I will be a frequent viewer - I am a mother of 2 young children- a christian wife who happens to be the sole wage earner (after he lost his job while I was pregnant 3 years ago) in the home with a career that keeps me traveling lots lately -
    but I certainly have a sweet spot for the simple things, outside of the fancy hotels and conferences I attend - and the highheels that carry me from meeting to meeting doing the things I do -

    What I enjoy most is being a wife and mother - while giving my best to my family - no leftovers!- it doesn't get any better than that - "Down to earth" - perfect.
    that's me and so many other women out here -
    and I make no apologies for it -
    be blessed!

    latrice
    working mama in the northwest

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  87. I've linked to you in a post I am putting up in the morning. Good thoughts here. My husband and I have a fairly large garden (50x120 feet), along with orchard and some other smaller berry patches, etc. We raised a beef cow for the first time last year and are enjoying the freezer full of meat. We are blessed to have learned a lot of skills over the years. We've been married 22 years and have 10 kids. I am sure we have saved a ton of money by being willing to puzzle things out and learn how to do things ourselves.

    Mary, mom to 10

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  88. I found you through Owlhaven.
    What you write is so true. I am one of very few of my friends of my generation - and many that are older than me - that know how to cook and preserve food, sew, garden, and clean a chicken as well as knowing basic around the house skills - threading a pipe, putting up wall board, etc. At work I get made fun of, or I used to, people aren't saying much about it now. I am a working mom, so I don't get to do as much as I would like, but we still have a home cooked meal every night. We don't have much yard, but we plant a small garden, and we just dug up the front yard this weekend to put in some more vegetables.
    My parents felt these were really important skills. My father tells the story that once when he was in his twenties, he went to meeting in Chicago that was all about making the world a better place. He went into the bathrooms of the place they were meeting, and saw that (and excuse me if this is too graphic) the toilets were broken and that people had kept using them. He just walked out and left the meeting. HIs explination, and something that I now use to judge those that are out to improve society, "If they can't fix a toilet, then they can't fix the world."

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  89. I would like to have a garden since we have a large backyard, but I'm afraid the deer would destroy it. I've planted many trees and flowers around our yard and I'm having a dreadful time keeping the deer out of them. Any suggestions?

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  90. Wow, what a refreshing blog you have! I found your blog throgh another one, and have now bookmarked it.

    I agree with you 100% and have thought simialr thought myself. I have some of these skills, although a bit rusty (!!) I can do it again!

    ~Debbie

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  91. This is my first visit to your blog and I love this post! I fall among the ranks of the domestically challenged so I'll be back to visit many times and let you mentor me via your blog. Blessings to you!

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  92. Such great points! I've been thinking a lot about the things you said, and your post was really inspiring. I REALLY need to learn to sew.

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  93. I couldn't agree with you more about being self sufficient. That is what I am in the process of doing now...baby step by baby step.

    By the way....LOVE the new look of the blog!

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  94. Rhonda , this is a great article, I must say. It's time to pack away the decorations and say goodbye to the Christmas tree. St. Louis has three locations in the city where you can recycle your Christmas tree. A cut tree should last as long as 5 weeks when watered properly. Remember to recycle your Christmas tree after you have enjoyed it.

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  95. Thank you so much for the encouragement! I just found your blog last night and this is the second time I've been here since then. I can't seem to shut down the computer. I feel like I have so much to learn from you. I look so forward to your book. Again, thank you. I'm determined to learn how to knit very soon. God bless.

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  96. "In hard economic times, the real currency is life skills."

    What a great message! So true and powerful because we have a lot of control regardless of how much money we have in the bank. Thank you!

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  97. I recently read your article on homemade dog food, and would like to make it for my 2 dogs. My question is, what is mince? Is it the same thing we call hamburger here in the US? Love you blog, and look forward to reading it.
    Norma

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  98. I just found your blog today. I am not a young mother bu I have young children. I will be rereading this post a few times I am sure-mostly as encouragement that I am doing a valuable thing by learning the htings i am trying to learn.

    gretchen

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  99. Hi Rhonda,

    You already have 96 comments on this exceptional post. I couldn't resist being one of the many who say, "Here, here!". I love the credit you give to the homemaker. She really does make a difference!

    Warmly, Michelle

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  100. I am a young single mother living in a remote country town. I am only 25, but find that women in the next generation are learning things from me! There is no bakery out here, so i bake and sell my own cakes, lemon butter and preserves. I learnt from my mother how to bake, and my toddler now sits on the bench while i bake so she will learn how to do things.
    My sister is the sewer of the family, and sells home made items, and we are both amazed that someone would buy items that we make for fun!
    there are children in my family, and we all take pride in being able to make things, or grow our own veggies (i have 4 chooks, my sister has 1) its enough to keep me in supply of fresh eggs. My brother is a baker - and taught us to make our own pizza dough, and i have my own bread maker, and make enough to get buy to minimise wastage.
    I dont know how people live in a commercial life where they spend all the time having takeaway every night. I eat takeaway every now and then, but always feel awful afterwards, really makes you wonder whats inside the commercial constructed food!
    Since becoming a single mother (through no fault of my own) I have learnt that i am now the bread winner AND the the homemaker! not so easy, but something I take pride in, my lawns are always mowed and trimmed, dinners are always at 6. Bed by 7.
    I use my slow cooker when i work (so we dont have to wait for dinner when we come home) and dont buy treats or snacks from the super market. I make my own, they might not last as long, but know whats in them!
    I thank you for sharing your ideas, and cant wait to check your blog regularly and love the fact there are like minded people our there!
    Emma (walgett, nsw, australia)

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