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8 May 2009

Home made

I often write about being a homemaker and the satisfaction I gain from that role. I enjoy being here and making my home a place of comfort and regeneration. I know that if I feel weak and fragile when I'm out and about, that feeling will disappear as soon as I return home. There is a feeling of peace and tranquility here, I feel secure and protected and that all things are possible when I'm at home.

There was a time when I didn't want to be here at all. Before I married, I was either at work or "out" somewhere. Home was merely a place to sleep, bathe and change clothes. For me then, the real action and excitement was far from home. I barely remember that stranger in my past. I live with a softer heart now, I feel that my home made me a better person.

I wonder sometimes if a home has the ability to nurture; surely that is a human quality. But when I think back on how I have changed by being here in my home, I feel there may have been a lot of nurturing going on - while I was homemaking, my home was making me.

The nights are colder here now so we have flannel sheets on the bed. I changed from cool cotton sheets to our cosy flannel ones at the beginning of the week. It's so warm and comfortable in our bed. It's been raining for a few nights and being there, wrapped in our flannel sheets and quilts, listening to the rain, has been a true joy. It is those humble but conscious actions of my days - like changing to warm sheets, that add in small ways to the nurturing I feel.

As I go about my daily chores, as I make the bed and run my hand over the sheets to smooth them out, as I change the sheets to replace them with sun dried clean ones and make sure the bed is just right, I know that those small actions help give us a good night's sleep and make us feel warm and secure while we listen, half awake, to rain falling on the roof. None of those small actions is important on its own but they add up to more than the sum of their parts. Each small step, like the small steps of a simple life, lead to something better.

All the tasks Hanno and I carry out during the course of each day help us in our quest for self reliance. He tends the gardens and does most of the outside work, while I cook and clean and make as much of what we use as I can. When I taught myself how to bake bread and make soap, I knew I would be better for it because it was a healthier alternative to most store bought products, but I didn't know carrying out those tasks would change me. Every day I make our bread I know I'm making a significant contribution to our health, while reducing the costs of feeding us. Every time I make soap, I know I am making a product that replaces shampoo, moisturiser and general cleaning products. Making those two items helps us live with fewer chemicals and helps me focus on our priorities. And every time I make them, they make me.

So as I look in my cook books for new recipes, as I cook our meals with backyard produce, as I sew and knit, while we sip tea and talk on the front verandah, as I make crumpets in the shape of hearts (just because I can), as I harvest and skin luffas, when I sow seeds, and feed the chooks and watch birds and sweep and wash up, I don't feel it happening but at times, like now when I think about it, I know that being here and doing all these things made me the woman I am today. I know now that the tasks of a simple home make us.

And I am more than grateful that I have the ability to write about our home life and that doing it connects me to you. I get up early to write my blog so it doesn't impact too much on my day. I have a lot to do most days so I try to get the blog written before I start my daily tasks. Writing here has given me a reason to reflect on what we do and, no doubt, helps me stay focused on living this way. I feel encouraged knowing there are many others living as we do, working towards a better life every day. Thank you for your comments this week. It is a pleasure to read them. Welcome to all the new readers. I am slowly visiting the blogs who left links and replying to emails sent. Please me patient with me, it takes time but I get there in the end.


  1. Hi Rhonda Jean, I would just like to say thank you for your lovely site. I wave off my husband every morning, make a cuppa and sit and read any new blogs. It helps me start my day in a positive state of mind, and keeps me centered on what it important in life.
    I had a little chuckle when I noticed the River Cottage Cookbook. I drive my husband and son mad watching River Cottage each week!

  2. It's lovely to hear from someone who takes true pleasure from their home.

    I look forward to the day when I achieve the same state of pleasure and satisfaction with my home as you do with yours.

  3. Rhonda, I've read your posts on soap; that you use it to wash dishes with. Although I make our own soap, I haven't used it for dishes. I'm hesitant, but don't know why. My question: do you use the bar soap for hair washing? What a savings, and no laurel sulfate, either. I think I need to try this.

  4. Hello anon. I love watching River Cottage but I don't get to see it much since we gave up on pay TV. I wonder what he's up to now.

    Hello Steelkitten. :- )

    Sue, yes, I wash everything I can with my soap, including my hair. My hair is shiny and healthy and doesn't need conditioner. Give it a try.

  5. Hi Rhonda,

    I enjoy reading your blog very much. I wish I could have chickens. It seems like so much fun and how nice to have fresh eggs.

    I love that pincushion in today's post. It looks like it was made with two squares for the top and bottom, and rectangles for the sides, sew together and fill with stuffing, correct? Is there anything on the bottom to keep the pins from going all the way through, or anything else I'd need to know to make one?

    Thanks for sharing your life and wisdom with us, and congratulations on the upcoming wedding!


  6. I love flannel sheets too, but here in the UK, we are just putting ours away and getting out the cool, crisp cotton ones for the warmer weather! We have had two chicks hatch out today under a broody bantam, and some fresh, warm rain so spring is truly in the air here - living closer to nature as we do really makes me appreciate the changing of the seasons these days. And I bought yogurt today so that I can make your lemon cake tomorrow for a church social - hoping mine turns out as good as yours!


  7. Hi Rhonda,

    I have particularly been enjoying the last few days entries, and wanted to thank you for the pleasure they have brought me. My next project is soap, but I've got to make sure that my 1 & 2 year old boys can be occupied for the duration of my first attempt.

    Actually, my husband lost his job two weeks ago, but thanks to us living simply, he is able to make enough doing odd jobs to stay off work as long as he needs/wants (he is currently suffering depression), so we are finally getting to the jobs around the house he never had time for before.

    Thanks for the gentle reminder not to rush through getting all the housework done.


  8. i think you can still watch the river cottage episodes online @ love your blog! Susan in San Diego

  9. Rhonda, It's nice to find you. I love your goals and they way you feel about being at home. Now I've found you, I will visit more and read some more about what you've learnt about self sufficiency. harvesting loafas? soap making? I'm sure there's lots I can learn from you. PS I like your new format.

  10. Good Morning Rhonda
    I had to smile to see Hugh sitting on your bookshelf as from where I type he is watching me also. I love his enthusiasm for food, growing it, finding it wild, cooking it and eating it. Also as an allotment holder he is a hero of mine for his campaigns for more allotments.


  11. Susan, that's right on the pin cushion. I didn't add a non-pierceable bottom to it but it would be an excellent addition.

    Hi Morgan, I hope you like the cake.

    Hello Angela, I hope you do make soap. It's such a great skill to have and you get the best soap possible. I send my best wishes to you and your husband. Those times of great hardship have the knack of bringing you closer. Take care.

    Thanks Susan, I'll try that.

    Hi Tamara, thank you.

    Pippa, I think he a genuine and caring man who seems to have a knack for teaching what is needed. I wish he was on our free channels.

  12. Oh Rhonda, isn't it just so true. If we give our homes time to work their magic all the things we do to care for and make a home in the end care for and make us.

  13. Rhonda,
    You have quite wonderfully put into words how I feel about my home.Thank you!
    I am daily working at more simplifying and believe me you are a great inspiration.
    What a great comfort it is to know you have such a place to feel warm,safe, and truly yourself.
    Hugs and God bless,

  14. Lovely lovely words and thoughts, thank you Rhonda. Have a great weekend.

  15. Hi Rhonda, I've been lurking awhile, but now must let you know how much I enjoy and appreciate your great blog. Thrilled that your son has found a job! I've gotten my hubby to create a garden space for me and am already seeing carrots and spinach poking thru. Gradually, we are finding ways to simplify... From making homemade applesauce to heating with our Lopi all winter.... It is truly a calm alternative to the rat race that the world offers! Thanks Rhonda, for sharing your simple life with us! I feel as if you're my next door neighbor! - KEW

  16. Hi Rhonda,
    I just found your site and love it! I'm hoping to start on the bread recipe. I'm learning alot!
    It's also strange to read how your putting on the flannel sheets and we are just taking them off.
    Happy Blogging

  17. Hey Rhonda!
    First off, I have to know what a "crumpet" is!
    And, does it ever get really cold where you are? Like "snow" cold? Are you able to grow crops year round?
    Your blog has changed recently, you know. Much more introspective, I believe. I like it. Makes me think. And makes others think.
    It is always a treat to stop by and see what you are up to!

  18. Hello Rhonda Jean. I have been following your blog for some time now and I wanted you to know that you have been a big inspiration to me. I am just starting out on my "simpler" life and am waiting for the day when I, too, can spend my days at home with my partner. Your words always seem to comfort me and make me feel better about myself and my life. Thank you. Kathryn (aka Mad Beach Maven)

  19. Hi Rhonda.
    I have been reawakening my long lost knitting skills and have whipped up my first perfectly imperfect dishcloth over the last few days. Though you often write about knitting It has never stirred an interest in me but something in your post on Monday, lit a light in me and had me searching out my needles that have been tucked away for at about 20 years.
    Thank you for linking the pattern on the homespun living blog.

  20. What a lovely post. Reflective, cozy and insightful. I tend to be in a busy season with 8 young ones home and homeschooling but do many of the same things as you. Although I rarely think of the the overall picture in my busyness, you have expressed so much of what is true for me also.

  21. What an absolutely beautiful post! It warmed my heart and gave me a few soft peaceful thoughts to ponder. Thank you.

  22. It is because of you that I face each task of my homemaking differently.

    There used to be tasks that I would dread and put off and think, "Alas, this is the burden I must bear for the privilege of staying home."

    You wrote a post that seriously changed my life. When I slow down, as you've suggested, and live in the moment, I am joyful. In each task, I get the wonderful reward of a job well done.

    I love being at home, but because of you, I have found a greater satisfaction and peace.

    Bless you.

  23. Another that you like to say thank you for your incredible web site. As we have had to scale way back on our lifestyle due to a precipitous drop in income, I take lots of new information from your blog. But much more important, your blog brings me peace. I find a little contentment from your writing. I hope to find that contentment too. But at this point, I am living off of yours vicariously. Thanks.

  24. Beautiful sentiments! I enjoy your blog and look forward to it each day.

  25. GREAT POST..i couldnt agree with you more. Have you ever read the Nearings book "The Good Life"? Im pretty sure you would enjoy it!

  26. Hi Cyn, a crumpet is a sweet or savory bread-like treat, similar to a pikelet. They are made, then toasted. I love crumpets for breakfast with honey. Now "really cold" is relative. Here really cold is 5C. It never snows where we live but it does out west and down south. We can grow many crops all year. Autumn and winter are our best times, the end of summer is the worst.

    Thank you all for such wonderful and kind comments. It is very enriching to read that my writing helps you in your own lives.

    Catherder, yes, I've read that wonderful book. :- )

  27. Rhonda, would you care to share your crumpet recipe? I've never seen one with a good rating online. The crumpets we get here in Ohio have a shelf life of about a thousand years and the taste and texture of bicycle tyres. I'd love to make my own.

    Thanks heaps.


  28. Rhonda Jean, I would love to have the recipe for the shampoo and moisturizer. Would you be willing to share? I just love your blog you are such an inspiration to me as I read through each post. Hugs, Bobbi Jo

  29. Rhonda, you have spoken my own may sound silly, but you brought a tear to my eye....I love your way with are a Blessing to me, thank you for all you share, Janice

  30. I have been at home this week since we are now working with one car. My son has his college finals and my husband is working his seasonal job (at the campus bookstore the beginning and end of semesters).

    It has actually been wonderful to be at home and alone, which doesn't happen often. I've been able to get a lot of work done.

    I had to comment because I am in the process of switching out the flannel sheets on the two beds for the crisp, cotton sheets now that warmer weather is coming.

    We are still having a cool spring so the switch probably won't happen until next week.

    Thank you again for your writing.

  31. Beautiful and true. Lovely post.

  32. What a wonderful blog and tribute. You are an inspiration. It's so strange to hear you changing to flannel sheets when soon we will be changing to jersey or cotton. Spring is just around the corner for us!

    Love, a fellow Homemaker

  33. You've summed up very nicely what staying at home means to me, too. I just got back in near nine at night from an errand that had to be run and it is SO good to get back to the nest. I DO feel safe and sheltered here. And yes, making a home has made me.

  34. I love how put it "you're not making your home, but your home is making you". How true! I knew exactly what you were saying. Sounds like a peaceful, tranquil home for you two. I'm working towards that end with 1 & 1/2 kids out of the house. It's still a bit of a zoo around here sometimes - not very tranquil and not very peaceful. But someday soon...
    I really enjoy your blog and the encouragement it gives me!

  35. Thank you Rhonda, it is all that I can say!! You have a special gift.

  36. It's always a joy to read your blog Rhonda. It encourages me to stay on the simple path.
    I love those heart shaped crumpets. Cooking simply can still be a work of art.
    All the little things I do to make our home running smoothly gives me such joy. I try to keep the right attitude about doing housework..of course some days are better than others!
    Pretty pincushion!

  37. What a wonderful post again.
    It is so inspiring to read about the pleasure homemaking gives you.

    Thanks for sharing!

  38. Hello Rhonda, It has been a long time since I have left a comment but wanted you to know I feel the same way about my home. We are so fortunate to get it. It is the simple things that fill my heart like yours. Have a wonderful day.

  39. Yet again, you put my desires into words so perfectly! There is something so affirming about how I am beginning to embrace this simple life, when I read your blog and the responses from others! I feel as if I have moved into a neighbourhood with similar people who are exploring and discovering this "freedom of embracing life" although we all live around the world!
    Thank you Rhonda!

  40. Hi Rhonda,
    Me and my husband love being at home too.
    What I'm struggling with at the moment is how I can take that feeling with me while being somewhere else.
    We are planning a family visit (a wedding). We will be there a couple of days staying at a hotel.
    Of course that's nice, but I do miss my home and my daily routines...

    Do you have any tips about being away from home and still feel peaceful?

    Thanks for reading this.

    A big hug from the Netherlands,

  41. I feel exactly the same way about my home - that feeling of being vulnerable out in the world sometimes, then returning home and feeling secure and cosy again. I am such a homebody.

    There is so much that I love about this post: the soap, the crumpets, (oh my!), do you have a recipe for that one? (sorry - I'm cheeky). Love your cookbooks, and recognise a few of them there on my shelves. The River Cottage books are a delight, and so family-friendly.

    I'm just changing over to flannelette sheets this weekend. They're deliciously cosy aren't they?

  42. What a beautiful post, and thoughtful meditation on what makes "doing it yourself" so satisfying.

    My daughter's class recently hatched some chicks (and a duckling) borrowed from a teacher's small farm, and it was so lovely to see all the children (and parents) so excited about one of the least-modern, least-techy processes in the world -- new life. It gave me a similar sigh of satisfaction.

  43. Dear Rhonda,
    I truly love the fact that you love your home and being at home! We have taught our children that home is a place of love, relaxation and nurturing and even though they are busy teenagers each one loves to come back home at the end of their day to relax. They all get a home cooked meal and homemade bread as well as crawling into their clean, line-hung flannel sheets. How much better can it get? My prayer is they bring this way of life to their families one day.
    I love reading and implementing your suggestions/ideas! Keep them coming!

  44. Hi Rhonda Jean
    Love your blog. I´ts so inspiring and positive. I´d love to live in a little warmer place.

    Best regards

  45. I, too, love my small and humble home and I have had many homes over the past years due to circumstances beyond my control. But, to me, it is the feeling of home that makes me feel so secure...the way I personalize my space, the large outdoor porch where I spend most of my time and the feeling of comfort each time I step inside. While I love to explore the world around me and find much inspiration in nature as well as my city streets, the world of home always draws me back in.

  46. Thanks Rhonda.

    I read your blog every morning. Unfortunately I don't get to be a full-time homemaker. I work my 40 hrs a week and then take care of my kids, husband and house after that. But I do the best I can! :) It's my dream to be able to do it all myself! I'm inspired all the time by your blog. I usually open yours and about 20 other blogs each morning before I start work!

    As for the crumpets, I'd also love your recipe! I've always heard of the British & Australians eating crumpets with their tea and would love to try that myself here in Canada.

    Thanks! Keep up the good work!

    - Callista

  47. Rhonda,

    What a wonderful Post! The photos were so comforting. I am especially glad you included photos of luffas as I had no idea they were a "real" grown thing and didn't know what they looked like to start with. I live in the southeastern area of the United States and we have had so much rain the past couple of weeks which has made my garden grow to beat the band! I'm so excited every day just looking at it! Thanks for all of the encouragement you bring!

  48. I'm sorry Rhonda but when you compared a crumpet to a pikelet it left me wondering..what is a pikelet like? :) I have never heard of it. :) I have never had a crumpet but they must be very good as I have heard so many write about eating them. Jody

  49. I heard someone talk about the word home. There is not true defination of it like the feeling we all have when we think of home. We all know the feeling it has for us. What feelings it conjours up. It is all you wrote about and more. When we are out we cannot wait to get Home. Home is the end all..the place we want to be. Yes I love your comment that your home is making you. It draws us in comfort. We love our home too. Best place to be. Yes just to be home is wonderful isen't it...and it seems to get even better as time goes on. I love reading your thoughts on yours and Hanno's life. Thankyou for teaching us the real joys of life. Jody

  50. I bookmarked your blog a long time ago and only now just came back to it. Thank you for the beautiful post and the much-needed reminder that the little things indeed are important!

    Many Blessings to you!

  51. You are such a blessing! I always enjoy reading your blog and am inspired. Thanks for sharing recipes, too. I plan to try the lemon yogurt cake today or tomorrow. Today's picture of the pin cushion and darling pins - where did they come from? Did you make the cushion?

  52. I really enjoyed reading this post. I have to work full-time, so my house isn't as well cared for as yours, but I agree that it's the little things that we do for each other that make a home nurturing and special for everyone under its roof.

  53. Hi Rhonda Jean and everyone else.
    My son and his girlfriend have been with us for a meal this evening. They called in on the way home after a day out and they had lunch at the River Cottage canteen. They thought the meal was excellent.
    I hope to go there myself sometime soon.

  54. Hi Rhonda,

    I've been reading your blog for a while now and wanted to say how much I enjoy reading it. My husband and I still work full time but love to live more simply when we are at home. He built me three new garden boxes this year and all our veggies are growing fast here is South Carolina. I am taking my first knitting class tomorrow. I've crocheted for more than thiry years but want to make dishcloths and socks.Oh, I almost forgot, I planted luffas this year for the first time after reading about them here! Can't wait to see how they do. Thanks for all that you do.


  55. Rhonda, just loved the look of those heart shaped crumpet's,yummo!!!!Just love your site, i, like everyone else look's forward to reading your blog daily,gives me so much incentive to keep on top of everything in my humble life,i'm trying so hard to go back to basic's and you are the one that has put me on the road to living my much simpler life, now i'm trying to convert my sister

  56. Another great post with lovely photos, thank you Rhonds.

    I especially enjoyed enlarging the shot of the cookbooks to see what you have there and which we both have - Nigella Lawson (mine was a gift from my dear sister), River Cottage, and the very distinct spines of Aussie Womens' Weekly cook books. Some of the spine colours are the same, and some differ from what I have.

    Thanks for the info on the pincushion - I admired it too

    I hope your weekend is going well, Michelle in Wellington x

    (p.s. - thoroughly recommend the beetroot soup recipe in the River Cottage coolbook - delicious hot or cold, or even the remains as a dip eith other veg and bread/crackers. It freezes really well too)

  57. You put my feelings into words... For the past year and a half or so I've been working my way toward simplifying things for myself and my family...growing some of our own food (still learning and starting small, but starting nonetheless!), we got four chicks in March that are now living happily in their hen house in my backyard (I live within city limits...hen keeping is controversial...but I went for it!) and little by little we're making changes for the better.

    Your blog is one of the first I found over a year ago...I am envious of your year-round growing weather. Just a few weeks ago I was going through old towels and t-shirts...they weren't worth donating so rather than adding them to the landfill (one of your posts popped in my head at this time) I cut them up into cleaning rags! And wasn't I surprised at how such a simple task could make me feel SO GOOD. That little thing was one step in making a BIG difference.

    ALL of this to say...thank you for putting into words what I've been feeling lately. I'm at peace when I'm at home. I feel safe. Coccooned. Like I can take on anything. And all is well. I was wondering if something was wrong with me...but being home is good. I think we've gotten so far away from what LIFE is about. Home, family, love and care. Thank you for sharing your life with me...and others!

  58. your post brought tears to my eyes... i'm not sure exactly why, but it touched me deeply. oh, that my home would be a place of safety and nurturance (is that a word? spell check says not,lol) for all who enter. and that i might truly find my fulfillment here.

  59. First I would like to say thanks for all the tutorials,I have successfully made bread for the first time,I wasn't kneading enough.I also made the yogurt cake ,yum.
    I really loved this post because it sums up how I feel each day as I go about taking care of my family,it could be mundane but living this lifestlye makes little moments out of just about anything.I am grateful for all of them because I know it benefits us in such a special all be it simple way.From newly hatched chicks,to rising bread,picking veggies or listening to the birds while sitting on a stump with my baby.Thankyou for sharing your life with all of us,it inspires me to try more and more to live closer to the earth in such a simple way.
    Thanks again..

  60. What a delight to have found your blog today ~ such blessings I've received from reading for the past hour! You truly have fed my soul! I have loved living simply and enjoying home and all that it entails!
    Somewhere I noticed you make your own soap and moisturizer... might you share your recipes? or possibly I've overlooked where you've already done just that? I am so looking forward to reading all you have on your blog! Thank you for your time and energy to share and mentor us!

  61. Hi Rhonda! I also love reading your blog too! It helps put life and its problems into perspective. Today I visited the Eden Project in Cornwall and managed to buy some seeds to grow my own Luffas! Ever since I saw your own 'homemade luffas' Ive wanted to have a go! Keep up the good work!

  62. I have been catching up on your blog while waiting for my milk to cool down enough to mix in my starter for my own homemade yogurt which I have been making once a week for the past two years and so I had to chuckle to myself upon reading your most recent post. Yes, there is a lot of satisfaction that comes from doing as much for yourself as you can.
    For me, it's been easy as I learned a lot from my mother who, died 32 years ago. For her it was just the way things were done at that time. There were no other options as is today. So doing for yourself today is really about choices, not necessities as it was back then. I find the older I get the more satisfying "homing" is. I enjoy my little home so much that I have little desire to venture into the world beyond my home. It's where I find the most comfort!

  63. Your lifestyle represents how my maternal grandparents lived and my ultimate dream. I only hope to have the needed patience while things are being reorganized and redone, due to my husband's layoff. He's happy to finally have time to do things yet challenged to juggle financial means in order to implement our ideas.
    I really appreciate your attitude and look forward to using your tutorials some day!

  64. Warm kisses to you, dear Rhonda. You have an impact on all our lifes !

  65. I just recently discovered your blog, and I love, love, love it. Did I mention how much I love it? Thank you for your heart for home :)


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