DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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26 September 2013

Partial self sufficiency - self-education, mindset and common sense

When I first started living as I do now, I made lists of skills I wanted to reacquaint myself with or learn anew. It was not until I'd been working in this new way that I discovered that simple life has a way of telling you what you need to learn next. You learn something new, and then you see that it is connected to many other things, and often you must know about them too. All too often, I started learning about a new process and it opened up much more than I expected and lead me to on to a more comprehensive lesson and a deeper understanding. So I threw out my lists and just went where I was taken. For instance, when I enlarged the vegetable garden, I had to learn how to harvest properly and when the food was inside the house, how to sort out what to use fresh, what to freeze, what to ferment and what to put into jars.  It seems simple but unlike the common monocultures that make up specialist farms, I wasn't harvesting an acre of lettuce. I was picking the outside leaves of spinach and silverbeet, florettes of broccoli, 12 radishes, two carrots, a turnip, six lemons, two tomatoes and half a basket of beans. What do you do with that!


Freezing wasn't just freezing. I had to learn about blanching, make up a blanching times chart, learn how to package vegetables to retain quality, and learn, through trial and error, how to store food in a freezer. Fermenting was the same. It wasn't just collecting a couple of recipes for ginger beer and sauerkraut, I had to read books about fermenting, learn about fungus and moulds and then put that into practice in a way that added value to the food we grew and bought.


Baking was certainly not as straight-forward as I expected it to be. I had to find a reliable supplier of good flour and yeast, learn about water-flour ratio, temperature and kneading, then put it all into practise. I had to make my fair share of mistakes and not be disheartened, or waste too much.

There was trial and error involved in making cleaners too. I'd make up a recipe and see if it worked the way I needed it to. If not, I'd modify it, try it again and keep modifying until I had a product I could use again and again. Once made, they also had to store well and be able to do the job after sitting on the shelf for a while.


I spent hours outside monitoring electric and water meters, recycling various items, making compost, sorting out worm farms, sowing seeds, working out the best way to water them while nurturing them to seedling stage. We've saved seeds, peeled loofahs, broken open rosellas, plaited garlic and watched on while crops were damaged by the wind and rain. We planted some plants in full sun and some on the shady side of a trellis or tall plant, I helped position Hanno's shade tunnels, stood back and watched while he built a greenhouse.  We realised early that to make a success of what we wanted to grow, we had to create microclimates, extend growing periods and go beyond what we read to see how far we could push it in our backyard.


There were many hours given to mending and knitting. When I started knitting again, I undid so many stitches, but it taught me the valuable lesson of patience and that some tasks take the time they take. Over the years I felt a need to teach as many as I could the various old and new skills I'd become familiar with. This lead me to volunteering in my community and travelling out to various places to meet so many of you, to talk about this life and hopefully encourage and support others in their own transition.


We still have a lot we can do here. There is always work to do, we're not perfect and we have to always be mindful of what we're doing. The one thing I always have to watch is that tendency to slip back to convenience. I want these changes to be permanent for us. I want to continue here, living as we do now for as long as I can. I don't want to go back to mindless consumption, this is much better.


The most difficult part of this for me was the initial change of mindset and then maintaining that mindset even when it was easier not to. There are so many distractions, so many temptations. I carry on because I have been made happy again living this way, I am convinced that having everything you want is not good for the soul, I believe hard work builds character and I know that I have to give back some of what I've taken. I can't return those dozen pairs of shoes, the dresses, all the computers and TVs, but I can care for the land I live on, teach what I know to others and motivate people to live their best life. I know that the rampant consumerism we live with is killing the earth and I know that it will eventually change us. But how can you tell third world countries that they can't have the things we've had for the past 50 years because it's bad for the planet? How do you convince friends and neighbours that we should all be living with less? How do I look Jamie and Alex in the eye if I don't? They and their children will bear the consequences of what we've done. My way of answering those questions is to continue along our simple path and to show rather than preach. I want Jamie and Alex to see us living here, doing our work, making the place right for us. If we can start repairing past damage, hopefully those ripples will move out into the world.


But the message I'm really trying to give to you is to use your common sense, don't rely on others, read books, do your own research, push your own envelope and find out what works for you in your climate and in your home. Look after yourself and your family, know everything you need to know to do that and don't expect everything to be easy. Because this isn't just a few recipes for laundry liquid and orange cake; it's much deeper than that. If we're all going to make a small difference by living cleaner, greener, healthier, thriftier and by being more aware, we'll have to change our ideas about what success is, stop buying everything we want, localise our lives, connect with our communities and work hard.  And that is easier said than done.

How are you coping with the transition from old ways to new?

... to be continued.

43 comments:

  1. Hi Rhonda,

    'don't expect everything to be easy' - never was a truer word spoken! Even though I've been on this wonderful path for many years now, there is always more to learn and do, and I don't always want to do it! Yesterday I needed to net the almond tree. Not a big deal, but I was tired and it was very windy, and I knew if I didn't do it straight away we might lose the whole crop to birds as we did last year. The thing I'm learning about nature is that she usually doesn't wait and things have to be done whether you feel like it or not:)

    Today I need to shift half a tonne of soil to fill some new garden beds because the seeds I've raised inside are almost ready to go out. Again, you can't be lazy with nature.

    I think having to do things when I don't feel like it has been the hardest part of the transition for me, because work and children already involve so many 'have tos'. But there's nothing like the satisfaction I feel when I actually get the job done, even if it's just another good meal on the table where I've successfully used up every leftover in the fridge.

    Learning not to rush is another big lesson for me, one you've spoken about so wisely many times. I'm currently mastering a new knitting pattern and kept making mistakes until I slowed right down and kept my mind in the present moment. I think it may be better than meditation! And nothing quite matches the joy of achievement when it's done.

    It's a wonderful path we are all on Rhonda, and I'm thankful every day for your insight and encouragement.

    Madeleine.X

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    1. Madeleine, I could have written your comment. We share a lot. I love it when things are difficult and I know if I push through I'll be rewarded. Knitting helped me slow down too. All those one stitches, over and over again. That is mediation 101. Thanks for commenting. xx

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  2. Rhonda,
    Where can I order good flour. I don't like just wheat flour and yet want to buy what is good for us. I'm hoping maybe Amazon will carry what you buy? Thank you for any help you can give. I appreciate you and your blog. It reminds me to do my best and all will be ok. Thanks!

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    1. Rita, I don't know where you live, I don't know what your tastes are. This is what I mean about doing your own research. You have to find your own supplier - start with your local stores and work out if you don't find what you want. And keep going till you have exactly what you want.

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    2. Hi Rita,
      Like Rhonda said, I don't know what sort of flour you are actually after, but 2brothersfoods is a good online source of different flours, with reasonable postage. I used to buy lots of gluten free flours from them when I was on an elimation diet. Hope this helps :)

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  3. Hello Rhonda,
    Another great post. I do looking forward to reading all this. I check daily.
    Without sounding like a goody, goody I have been fairly frugal most of my adult life. Not that I do all that you do, you're incredible. One thing in my favour is that I don't like shopping. I tend to do only food shopping, I do baking etc.i think the reason for my dislike of shops is because when I was young if I bought things which I did then, there was a novelty factor. Life has taught me that the novelty factor wears off very quickly. I'm sure I 'm not the only one to find this. I much prefer doing other things, I'd much rather sit on my patio with a good cup of tea in my hand, than go near a shop!
    I'm so pleased that judging by the number of people that come to your site, many others are finding the joy of the simple life.

    Love
    Angela (south England) UK

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    1. I don't like shopping either, Angela. Hanno does 95% of our shopping. I only go when I need something special or when Hanno isn't sure of what we need. Keep up the good work. xx

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  4. I am learning and learning. And I start to allow myself to spend time - a lot of time - on this, doing things instead of buying. Making, repairing, taking care of. Reading and experimenting. I am a freelance writer, and this is easy to combine with my work to take care of our home, our children and learning more everyday.

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  5. I still find juggling work and home duties difficult but that's a common story. When it works it is wonderful so I just try and focus on that. Like you said above, you can't convince others by preaching to them, you just have to live your truth and hopefully they will see how it is possible and fulfilling.

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    1. I too found it difficult to juggle the work and home duties but it is getting easier the more proficient I get at what I am doing around the home. I really love the transition from professional worker to greenie/hippie weekender mum. You and I are setting ourselves up for when we don't have to work...and won't that be wonderful :)

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  6. Yes Rhonda, I agree the transition is not always easy! I find it more complicated at present as we sold up & moved...... A long distance which did not work, then had to move back, but to a new home where we have had to start again from scratch...& the other house only just now 3 1/2 yrs later, looks like a sale will go through! So with 2 mortgages, we have both been working as well........this takes a lot of time away from things needing to be done here, which makes the transition very hard, & sometimes moves backward when I'm just too tired to do both! Hubbie works 6 days & I have to trave a 90 km round trip to work...thankfully only 7 days a fortnight now. Praying the sale of the house in Townsville goes through ( idle to market slump the buyers are getting it $30,000 less than what we paid for it in 2009), but it is killing us with the financial burden! Hugs Sharm

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  7. Fantastic post Rhonda.
    You're very right that it is hard to stay focused and not slip back to old consumerist habits. I'm constantly trying to work on that.
    Just now I have a bad dose of influenza - after 5 days bedridden I'm starting to feel a little improved. Needless to say, my dear husband and girls (age 6 & 10) have been taking care of me very well. But the house is a mess, no washing being done, and they have been resorting to takeaway for dinner.
    Now that I'm feeling a bit better it's just dawned on me that we have a freezer full of home cooked meals they could have been eating! It's so easy to slip back to old habits in stressful times!
    Have a great day.
    Sarah from Jimboomba

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  8. Self-sufficiency skills are not so hard in themselves, but the richness of variation in personal taste, family size, income, climate, and more are the gems in the kaleidoscope that make it such an adventure to use those skills. I was blessed with women at home in my life and worked to give that to my children. Self-sufficiency, my grandmothers taught me, was also the health of a community. When the Depression hit, they were a strong community, with home and work skilled people at every turn and those who had nothing shared their work and those who had something shared their goods until it was all over. It's so sad to see a world where people are puppets to want and businesses and governments who are so willing to keep people tied up with strings as if consumerism was the backbone of the economy. But it's so healing to see women and men taking back their lives from that lie.

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  9. Hi Rhonda,

    At the end of the year, I will drastically reduce the number of days I work. I have been reading your blog, your book, others' books, collecting ideas and recipes and tips from everywhere as I prepare for such a transition to working and earning much less. I am excited and very nervous at the same time...my husband keeps telling me "Rome is not built in a day" and I think that's what I'll stick with - researching and introducing things slowly so that I waste less and don't get too disheartened. I've already experimented with growing things - my lunch this week has included lettuce and beans from my one little garden - and I made a risotto the other night that fed us and made enough leftovers for two lunches the next night! (After writing that, I've realised that I've already begun!) More than anything, I am looking forward to peacefulness during my days at home...and a rhythm that nourishes my family. Thankyou for all your words of wisdom and advice. I read every word and learn so much!

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    1. It sounds very exciting. I can understand why you are nervous though.
      Hope you'll let Rhonda know how things go.
      Angela (south England) UK

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  10. Rhonda
    For me I struggle with trying to get everything done in one day. I find it hard to let go a bit...but I wouldn't go back to my old life of consumerism. I love gardening, canning, knitting, chooks and more.

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  11. I love your comment about knitting, and how it taught you 'the valuable lesson of patience and that some tasks take the time they take.' This is exactly the lesson I have learnt, and it has made a profound impact on the way I live my life now. I had always been a bit impatient, starting many things but never finishing them because they took too long. I needed instant gratification, but since taking up knitting, at first to make a gift for my friends new baby, I have learned this valuable lesson too. It actually makes me feel relieved to have learnt it!! I don't have to rush anymore, or expect instant results. I have learned to slow down.
    Thank you for this wonderful blog Rhonda, reading it each day keeps me 'Down to Earth'!

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  12. For us starting along a simpler path was like coming home, home to a place or sentiment l had longed to be in for years. There still are many temptations and an enormous amount to learn, but we definately are on the right way. I hope our children will eventually see what we are trying to do and why we are trying to do it. There is a lot of preassure on them from society to live hectic consumer lives and l think they tire a little of our simpler thinking and environmental talk, at least the oldest three as they have seen the change. The little guy is perfectly happy and content with having less and trying to live greener. For me it only dawned on me six-seven years ago, how infinately much it had meant to me and what an enormous impact my parents and grandparents simple living had had on me. My husband feels the same. The hardest thing really is not knowing anyone with the same ideas and similar goals. I am very glad to have found several people over internet and thus seen in a global perspective we are not alone. Pam

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  13. What a great post. Rhonda some time down the track it would be great if you could tell us how you wrap items for the freezer.

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  14. Rhonda, thank you as always for what you share. You are so right about research. I recently discovered that although knitting the english way was a disaster for me, even with lots of patience, the continental method seems to suit me better and I now feel much more confident that I will soon be successful in what I want to knit. Why did it take me so long to do that little bit of research I do not know.

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  15. Rhonda,
    I love your comment that some tasks take the time they take. How true! I have been wondering about Christmas this year as we will not be having it at our place where we used to have a secret santa. I am hoping to be able to handmake gifts, and better get started becuase those handmade tasks take time!

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  16. I am glad you set out on your simple life journey because I am now reaping the benefits of your trials, successes, mistakes, research and knowledge. I was not brought up on a rural property, nor were my parents or grandparents, so I have had to learn all the skills necessary to make this transition. I am still very green and thank you again for your blog as I find most of the things I want to know how to do you have already covered. Your point today about making up for the past is very relevant to me. I feel guilty that I did not recycle for many years and your words make me realise I shouldn't because I am making up for it now...baby steps at a time. Thanks Rhonda.
    Cheers
    Tanya

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  17. Dear Rhonda,
    This year, the year I turned 49, I finally got the job I've been working toward for many years. A wonderful and rewarding job that enjoy. I have thought for a long time that I would not retire. Just keep working, doing 'important' work. My parents retired and spent a lot of time with their grandchildren (such a blessing for all) but when the children grew they became sick and old. I don't want that for my family. My answer was to work and buy what you need, keep going till the end, don't stop.
    I have been working full time, studying and raising children for more than two decades. In my final year of post graduate study, the year after my youngest finished high school, I worked only part time and studied full time. That was the year I discovered your book and then blog.
    I have now tried many of the ideas you have shared and mentored me through (without you even knowing). I make all my own cleaners, cook from scratch when I can (I work 50 to 60 hours a week), make yoghurt, dog food, and am learning to knit dish cloths. I have made soap and vinegar and look forward to trying other self reliant skills. Even if they must wait to become regular features of my days, I have begun to increase my skills.
    We have had chickens as pets for many years but now they have taken an even higher place in my esteem and I plan on breeding a heritage breed in the near future. My grown up son spent two days with me and together we have built a magical vegetable garden that is bursting with promise and potential.
    I have discovered that I really dislike shopping. Our disposable 'newer, bigger, better' consumer attitude now makes me feel ill. Thanks to the stockpile cupboard (another of your lessons) I have to venture into those once hallowed, and now endured, halls far less frequently. I prefer to spend that precious time in my home. Yes my home, not the house. I now long for the days when I can spend time here. I love to potter and 'fluff my nest'. I've slowed down and I think maybe I've come down to earth!
    Thank you Rhonda, and all those that contribute to your blog, for showing me a brand new life.
    Retirement will be a whole new adventure and one I hope won't be too far away.
    With warm gratitude
    Jenni

    PS I'm really sorry for such a long post.

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    1. It sounds like you're well and truly on your way, Jenni. When the penny drops it's incredible how differently it all looks. Good luck with your future plans.

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  18. I really struggle with being patient and also doing things that I am not good at - I want everything to be perfect NOW! So this simple living stuff is good for me :) I've had plants die because I haven't watered them, had plants eaten alive by bugs, fermented salsa that went off because the weather was too warm and have just bottled a cider that I'm pretty sure won't carbonate because I left it to ferment for six months and the yeast died (it still tastes good though).

    But now I am reasonably confident in fermenting food, which as a one-person household had really helped me reduce food waste. My kale is finally growing in my container garden, and I am fairly confident cooking any cut of meat after being a vegetarian for most of my life.

    I really like the idea of writing down skills you want to acquire for simple living - I might make my own list :)

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  19. Hi Rhonda,
    I loved this post. My move to self-sufficiency has been slow but steady over the last few years as I master one new skill at a time. My latest - baking bread - came about not because I wanted to learn, but because of inconvenience! We needed a loaf, but I had run out of cash (not even enough parking change left in the car). Rather than drive to the nearest ATM just to get money for bread, I Googled bread recipes and found one that looked easy and for which I had the ingredients.
    My first loaf was amazing and I was hooked. Through trial and error I've modified the recipe so that I bake a small fresh loaf every day - enough for sandwiches and a little with dinner. Any leftover (rare!) gets turned into breadcrumbs, so nothing is wasted. It took me about seven loaves to get the recipe exactly right for what I wanted. Baking bread has just become another part of my daily routine, with the added bonus of saving money.

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  20. Hi Rhonda,
    I've learnt to take my self-sufficiency journey very slowly. I tend to want to do it all and want to do it right now! But I have three little ones and a few other things I am deeply committed to. So, in a moment of feeling guilty about everything I wasn't doing, I wrote out my life goals. Self sufficiency was on my 'life time' list but not on my 'while the kids are young' list. But since I wanted to start and knowing these were important lessons for my kids too, I aligned a few things into my current goals. Making your laundry liquid and eating as close to the source as possible eases my daughters eczema (aligning with my family health goal). I already sew clothes for my kids but I have given up buying extra clothes for them for at least six months (aligning with my de-clutter my house/life/brain goal). I have planned to pick up a new skill each year (aligning with my creative home goal). The list goes on a little but I guess you get the picture. I am trying to create a self sufficient life by starting where I am and making it work for me and my family. Your blog really helped me to understand that I could make small changes without having to move to the country and start my life over. Thanks!

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  21. I really connected with this post. Sometimes we forget just how far we have come in our journey of self sufficiency. When we have people who visit the farm we often have people say 'Oh I could never have a vegetable garden like this .... I would like one but ..... ' and the reason they are feeling overwhelmed is because they are looking at something that has taken 10 years of trial and error to make and they think that is what they will have to start making instantly.
    It is all about baby steps . It was really nice that you reminded us that you had to learn all these things. Sometimes I think you must have instantly known how to do it all too. A good teacher is someone who tells you where they started.

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  22. Hello Rhonda
    I am doing it all the other way round! From partial self-sufficiency and an idyllic life in the country to life in the city outskirts. Smaller vegetable garden, no orchard, no chooks. It is hard to adapt and get into a mindset that does not include shopping at a supermarket just 10 kms away. Life is much easier though and being close to the city has its advantages. We have started a vegetable garden and hope to get back to some kind of partial self-sufficient living. We are now much older too and you need strength and youth to live fully or even partially self-sufficiently. We have done that! I still buy my clothes at the op shop and buy frugally. Just habit I suppose! I love our new life!!!!

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  23. Rhonda I want to say you that simply I admire you and I follow your posts every day.... From Italy!!!! So far so near

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  24. As I was reading your post, I was thinking "I don't do that much." Upon reflection of the last 24 hours of activities, I realised I've made a good start. Yesterday we had left-overs for dinner, I cut our lawn with a reel mower, picked apples off my tree, accepted a bag of windfall apples from my neighbour, made strawberry jam with cheap, end-of-the-day market berries, froze raspberries from same stall, picked up some in-good-condition, second-hand cars and puzzles for the grandkids' Christmas, while crocheting a blanket to sell and a scarf for a Christmas present. This morning, I put on my many times mended jeans, got my son off to school, fed my sourdough starter, then made whole grain soda bread, hung clothes on the line to dry, fixed a cabinet door and glued a chair together, and ate my fresh soda bread with a selection of my homemade jams. Later today I'll be making stewed apple with my counter full of apples, baking homemade goodies for my son to munch on when he comes home from school, and cooking a filling homemade meal for dinner. I'll be making pear preserves, fig preserves and raspberry jam with fruit from my garden in the next few days. What a simple yet glorious and fulfilling life I'm lucky to have!

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  25. I noticed we are using the same soap mold - the silicone cupcake mold in the shape of a rose. One of my favourites.

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  26. Hi Rhonda,
    I have tried very hard to like knitting. I can do it, but I have not connected with it like a lot of people do, finding it soothing and peaceful. My closest friend is a fabulous knitter and I have been lucky enough to receive knitted items from her as gifts. She does not grow vegetables so I supply her with fresh food. I love how that works! Making these connections in our community can really help us be more self sufficient. Thanks for the post. Sue

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  27. Rhonda,
    Every word you wrote resonates with me. For health reasons, I committed to eating an organic vegetable based diet and at first I was overwhelmed at how much I had to learn. As you so lovingly wrote, learning one skill leads to learning another. This process has made me painfully aware of how far the West has strayed from basic healthy living. Your posts are an encouragement to us all.

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  28. Well said! Madeleine's reply describes me,too. I tend to want to do things on MY time schedule and just can't do that! LOL! But I think that letting go of "control" is a very good lesson to learn. Also,I tend to be very impatient,so having to slow down is another good thing for me,too. I just keep at it,no matter how many steps back I take for each step forward.

    Rhonda,you help me keep on trying when I get discouraged and all the wonderful friends who comment and share their lives here.Thanks to all.

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  29. Hello rhonda, I'm Sandra from France. I love reading your blog and what I make today here in France echoing with your storie. It's my daugther birthday today. She loving eating chinese but we live in the moutain and haven't chinese food here!!! I'm learning to cook a chinese meal from the scratch. She also love vanilla/ nutella frosting cupcake (cost in the cake shop about 3.40 one piece). I was on the web and search about those cupcakes. I have know 21 cupcakes in my fridge. Today I learn how to make the frosting, how to piping the cupcakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm 43 years old and I think we can learn all the time and that also learn our children that we can make so good that in the restaurant or in the cake shop (my son try a cupcake and said they 're amazing good, I know I try one before!! lol).

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  30. I make all my bread in my bread machine which I love. If you have all the ingredients you need on hand at all times and set everything you need on the counter before you start, and you have done this many times so it seems second nature, it becomes much more convenient than going to the store, more peaceful, less frantic. There's very little to wash up afterwards. You get something where you control the ingredients (and actually know what they are!), that costs less, tastes better, has a better texture, is better when toasted, freezes better (more convenience), and is always available in about 3 hours - time you spend doing other things. What I especially love is the freedom of being more self-sufficient. It is not freedom to have to run to the store all the time and buy what some big business wants to feed you filled with ingredients that are there to meet their financial and transportation needs not your nutritional needs, or to have to see and hear advertising that tries to sell you something for their, not your, benefit, and that challenges your very sense of self worth to do it. I want to escape from that and this is just one of the ways I can.

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  31. Funny thing is I kept accumulating 'stuff' till the age of 45, plateaued till when I was 50 and then the decluttering bug grabbed me big time. I couldn't chuck out stuff fast enough. I felt like it was caving in on me. Vinnies and Salvos did well from me. I wonder if it's an age thing. Might sound strange, but I feel more calm and breathe slower when I don't have all this 'stuff' around. Simplifying my life has definitely been a good move. I'm coping very well with wearing the same shoes till they wear out instead of changing it up every day depending on the fashion. I'm coping well being seen in the same outfit day after day after day. I'm coping well with needing to 'darn' clothes again. Instead of fashionable 'rips' that cost a fortunate, I need to patch up rips caused from Hubby's hard work on the farms. I'm not coping well with the lack of good quality Australian made clothes we once took for granted. I support Australian made wherever I can.

    I'm coping well with excess fruit; instead of letting it rot I'll work like crazy for a couple of days turning it into a preserve or a tasty perishable which I happily give away to friends. Just made a batch of Mulberry and Lime Jelly with the last of the mulberries - so delicious. And it feels good. I was disappointed the lilly pillies on the farm didn't yield very much this year or last year. I'm missing my lilly pilly jelly. But that's life. Make good when there's aplenty and make do with what's available.

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  32. Thanks for this post!

    I love how you describe this way of life as one of discovery. Finding out how to do things in the best way. It is okay to make mistakes, and learn from them. I think that is what I love most about trying to live a simple life. It is okay to have an epic fail. Just learn from it and continue to perfect your technique.

    Though I am far from living the simple life I have in my head, I am doing what I can now and I know I will get there eventually. Times and seasons seems to be my personal theme.

    Thanks again for your blog. I read it daily and find it so inspiring.

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  33. I agree that living simply isn't always that simple! It takes years to develop a load of skills needed! I first started with growing my own vegetables in a raised garden bed. Then I learned to knit (but still go to classes). Knitting lead to interest in wool and I learned about the spinners and weavers and joined to learn to spin my own wool to knit with. I'm still learning to spin but am getting there nicely and it shouldn't be ling now and I'll be knitting something with my spun wool.
    We recently move to another rented home where the owners (who are our old neighbours) say we can do as we like. We got the approval to use the old gardens here to grow everything we could. Today we put our raised garden bed together and the sugar cane mulch has gone in - we are now ready for the soil! I bought a little greenhouse to grow my seedlings (which some are already to go into the garden bed). Our dwarf fruit trees have all been potted up and are good now.
    I find time management is most important! You have to manage your time to do what you need to and want to. I think you start with what interests you most and you build one skill at a time from that. I can now grow my own vegetables, make jam and sauces, knit, spin and ply wool. I have learned to shop only once a month because I have stocked the pantry. Our new home means we can grow more than have ever been able to in the past!
    You can't do everything so you just have to do the things you are lead to. For instance with me I found I could knit far better than sew. It would take me years to sew so I decided to knit instead and love it!! Maybe sewing will be on the agenda in the future but, for now, I'm happy to knit and spin wool. I can't do everything but I do what I need to and can get by with. Sometimes something will intrigue me to learn how to do it (like making my own lipstick) and I will learn about it but you can't do everything so start with what you are interested in and see where it leads. Remember the start of a long journey begins with one step.

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  34. It is hard to describe to others, and in fact you can feel like a real oddity in the real world, the challenges and joys of doing things yourself. Because it can bring such a sense of satisfaction to "push that envelope" like you said. It is all a continual learning process and adaptation, just as life is. I feel I have so much more to learn, but it is part of what keeps life interesting. I too worry about the legacy we are leaving our children and I worry about the great reliance on technology and supermarkets. Getting back to simple things is such a challenge as a family because life just isn't geared up that way anymore. Aiming for partial self sufficiency can feel like you are taking some control of your life back in your own hands.

    Thank you very much for your kind comments Rhonda, it meant a lot and came at a low blogging point. I too wonder if certain comments came from the same source. Mine were suspiciously in a cluster over a few days. I must harden up and use that delete button!

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  35. "If we're all going to make a small difference by living cleaner, greener, healthier, thriftier and by being more aware, we'll have to change our ideas about what success is, stop buying everything we want, localise our lives, connect with our communities and work hard. And that is easier said than done."

    Yep! That.

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