DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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4 November 2014

A small world

My world is small. Many weeks of the year my world is happily contained within the boundaries of our property, and with the gate closed, I feel as close to satisfied with life as I am ever likely to be. Although we live alone, we have frequent visitors - family and friends, and, of course, we look after Jamie, one of our grandsons, three days a week. Our small world is busy and populated not only by people but also visiting wildlife such as birds, reptiles and many, many insects. There is a biodiversity here that I find pleasing. I think the visiting wild life see our place as a bit of an oasis where no poisons are used, there is fresh water to drink and places to take up residence, if they choose to. 

This is the wood stove in Tricia's home.

Inside our home there is busyness too. At the moment I'm going through things to see what I can take with me on my trip to Tricia's. One of the highlights of the trip will be reacquainting myself with Tricia's grandson, Johnathan, and meeting his sister, Alanna, for the first time.  Like many young couples, Danny and Laura work hard to provide for their children and I'd like to help them if I can. Tricia asked me to join her in teaching Laura a few of our family recipes as well as the tricks and tips younger homemakers often don't know about. Laura asked Tricia to help her with sewing so I've gone through my stash looking for fabrics she might be able to use, and yesterday I went through my cook books and found some to give to Laura.



There was a time when older women would do this sort of thing as a matter of course. They would share their recipes with the younger girls, swap cleaning tips, share resources such as fabrics, fabric scraps, buttons and such.  I'd like to give Laura her first button jar and I've been walking down memory lane here sorting through my buttons, making decisions about what to give her. They may just be buttons, but to me they're symbolic of my mother and the role mending and sewing played in our family.


There are many things available to young people now that weren't around when I was their age but the one thing they sometimes don't get now is this kind of practical support. I'm not talking about financial support, although I'd give that too if I could, I'm talking instead about unique and direct support, sharing family recipes, the shortcuts of basic housework and the encouragement to do it. It's often these sorts of conversations that help younger women transition into homemakers and creative, crafty mothers. It might all seem quite common place to us but for young women just starting out with their families, often they just need to understand how housework fits into this new life and to know they don't have to be perfect. 



What I hope to show is that life can be made better by doing what you can at home, taking control, making plans, working to routines and being an active participant in your own family life.  Sometimes we just need time and encouragement to work out where we are, where we want to go and how we fit into the scheme of things. I think sharing knowledge and showing support are core ingredients of stable family life. This is especially true when we welcome new people into our family. And it's not to make sure they do everything according to how it's already done in the family, it's to help them ease into the family unit; to not only say I love you, but to show it too. When that new family member is settled and feels a valued and important part of a strong family, they can take their time and stitch their own ideas and values into the family fabric. And then the whole family will be stronger for it.

What are your experiences with either being a new member of a family or of making that new person feel at ease?

28 comments:

  1. I too, am happiest at home, surrounded by family & animals. :) x

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  2. Hard to say.. I never learned from my mother or any other familymember. I recently started figuring things out. Just because I had the guts to follow my inner voice; that one that said I was able to make and do all by myself.

    And here I am, hoping to be an example for others. Together with my partner we hope to show people how much fun it is to be undependend.

    But I must say Rhonda, you were and still are a great example to us!

    Love from Holland

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  3. What a lovely story to help the younger generation...beautifully written Rhonda. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

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  4. Love what you're doing, love this post, love your wonderfully-meaningful life purpose; keep up the excellent work, Rhonda!

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  5. A button jar full of memories is a lovely gift to give, Rhonda. You can't buy that at Spotlight :-)

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  6. Laura is a very lucky lady indeed, such wonderful role models to learn from

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  7. Our latest edition to the family is a new daughter-in-law (albeit now 2 1/2 years in the family).

    My own mother-in-law was not always kind to me. I know she had a lot of issues she brought from her own childhood and her insecurities that caused her to act the way she did but it was still a difficult relationship. And my daughter-in-law's mom did not have a good relationship with her mother-in-law.

    So I have been careful not to criticize my daughter-in-law, remembering how clueless I was as a young homemaker. I remember when my own daughter got married (now many years ago), she knew she could always call with a question. I've let my daughter-in-law know she can do the same.

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    1. That is very kind of you Brenda and your daughter-in-law is very lucky.

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  8. When my Great Great Aunt Lilian died my mother inherited her estate and I 'inherited' her button jar. It was large and full of the most glorious buttons. I treated it like treasure. I was only about nine but I still have some of those buttons and treasure them but also use them. It thrills me to see my daughter wear a dress fastened with a button from across the generations. I know Aunty Lil would love it too.

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  9. Often when a new person comes into a family, (and I'm talking mostly about partners, husbands, wives etc) the main times when they see the family are when there are family gatherings, with a LOT of the family. This can be quite overwhelming, because families have lots of history together, and the new person can feel quite disconnected and left out.

    I've been quite conscious of this in my own family, so whenever a new person comes along, I like to actively involve them during those gatherings, instead of just leaving them to sink or swim on their own. But I also try to connect with them on a more intimate basis - one on one, or just me and my husband. That way, they can get to know us individually instead of just as part of a big, noisy crowd.

    Those times when we can have a quiet chat and get to know each other are lovely. Gradually, they will learn about us, and we will learn from them. And we are all the better for it.

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  10. What timing! I spent last night on the phone with a lovely younger friend giving suggestions as to how she could manage her home and budget better to make things smoother and less stressful. It was clear she hadn't had this sort of advice before as she thought it was all amazing and revolutionary - to me it's just how you do things!!
    Anyway, although she's not a part of my actual family I would love to give her as much support as I can. She's a wonderful solo parent to two kids, and I know that getting some systems in place will help her enormously. It is a bit sad that homemaking/managing skills are a bit of a dying art - I am sometimes surprised how little younger women know, and grateful that I picked up these skills from my mother and all of the wonderful resources now available if you search for them.

    Madeleine.x

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  11. g'day
    great post as usual rhonda
    i didn't learn anything much from any parents either, though I went a bit rebellious with the "i'm not slaving in a house for no man" attitude for a long time, then i had kids, my step mum wasn't very good at teaching the homemaking either, she also didn't do much other than a bit of cooking, cleaning & mostly crochet & knitting which she taught me, wasn't one for preserving or much in the way of vege gardening either.
    after discovering you & your blog & the wonderful folks on the forum , i am slowly learning about true homemaking & that it's as individual as we are

    selina from kilkivan qld

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  12. My Aunty taught me to sew when I was a school girl, and how to follow a pattern. This set me up for years as I made all my own clothes and when I had the boys I made their clothes too when they were small. Even made them both matching suits for a wedding.

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  13. I'm not sure what to say, but something about this post touched me very much. What you describe here - the passing down of recipes, the nurturing and sharing - I think is something I have craved as part of my own homemaking journey. And some days it feels I could desperately use that reassurance or guidance in "real life." We have so many online resources these days, but I think for the younger generation, it can still feel like we're reinventing the wheel. I often feel sad about the knowledge that was lost with the passing of my grandmothers....
    -Jaime

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    1. Jaime, I have 'known' you for years now, a knowledge built upon our written words over time. I'm sorry to read you don't have this kind of personal support in your life, and I know I can't take the place of your own mother or grandmothers, but if I can help in any way from such a distance, I invite you to email me for a private conversation.

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    2. Aw, Rhonda, thank you! That is so kind and I may take you up on it :) Visting you in this space and being able to learn from the wisdom you so generously share here has indeed helped me many times over already!

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    3. I totally agree with and understand what Jaime is saying. I never knew my grandparents and my mum died when I was 26, my mother-in-law was lovely but we weren't close enough for me to learn from her, sadly as she raised a large family on a very small income. So I don't really have elders to guide me and I often feel as though I'm alone in this journey. This blog, Rhonda and the forum are fantastic, but I still miss the real life connection.
      cheers Kate

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  14. Rhonda, I love the kind and gentle voice that comes through in so many of your posts. What a lovely thing to do for the young mother you will be seeing. Have a good visit.

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  15. I too enjoyed your post and it made me think about whereIi have learned the cooking, housework, sewing/knitting/crotcheting skills that I have. I realised that it has been through a process of osmosis: housework, managing money, gardening from my Mum & Dad; sewing, knitting and crocheting from my paternal grandmother ( who was a trained tailoress although I never learned any sewing skills directly from her, just by seeing her sew I guess), my eldest sister who was able to sew and knit amazingly well, even reupholster chairs, a skill she taught herself; pursuing my own interests, as since 1997 I have been a mad keen Patchwork and Quilter, like minded friends who share their knowledge with me etc etc. I think my nickname should be The Button Lady as I love buttons and have a vast store of them. I inherited my mother-in-law's button tin, also, my husband's aunts vast collection( which has marvellous buttons from the 1930s, large coat button sets etc), one of my daughter's work friends gave me her mother's button tins when she died a few years ago, a lady I helped to sort out her over stuffed house gave me a large button tin too. I didn't have my mother's tin of buttons but some of my first memories were of that tin of buttons and sorting through them. I love to be able to use buttons from my tin and often give them to family and friends to use. A few years ago I met a lady who made knitted jackets for premature babies and I sorted out lots of sets of small buttons for her to use as she said she was always given wool to use but having to buy the buttons herself was getting too expensive for her. I think my contribution would have made many many little jackets complete. I have tried to show whatever skills I have learned over 43 years of marriage to my daughter, but she isn't really interested. Recently she tried her hand at a bit of patchwork and another project is in the pipeline but has no urge to knit, crotchet and cooking is a chore rather than an enjoyment. I guess we are all different!

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  16. What a beautiful post. I often wish I had taken the time to learn more from my grandmothers, I lamented this myself in a post a week or so back. They both died before I became a homemaker myself at a time when my work meant I had live in accommodation. My mother however is always a source of inspiration to me, I have a close relationship with her and have often asked for her advice over the years it always given without bias or opinion. She has been so careful to ensure that my two sisters in law have been welcomed and integrated in our family our family gatherings are always fun, I know I am lucky to have such a wonderful family despite us being geographically separated.

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  17. I just love your blog, Rhonda. Traditions, recipes, knitting, sewing were never taught in my family. Since deciding to become a full time stay at home Mum I have enjoyed the challenge of learning these things (as well as feeling utterly overwhelmed by them at times!) It has been sad to see the reaction of many people in my local community at this decision. My husband proudly tells people that his wife has never worked harder in her whole life, but doesn't get paid for it! The usual comments are along the lines of how boring it must be, and how they could never do it as they need more stimulation. On the contrary, learning how to efficiently run a household, budget, cook from scratch, garden and raise two small children means there is never a dull moment. My children will learn, and are already learning, valuable life skills. When they move out of home they will know how to make bread, to darn a sock, to stretch a meal out for a few nights and how to grow basic herbs and vegetables. It's a pity this role is now so under valued due to the money wheel and "convenience" products. Our income has halved but I have never felt richer.

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    1. It's a very wise investment you're making in your children's future, Sara. Don't stop and don't listen to the naysayers. You can't do anything about you not learning life skills in your family but you can make sure your children don't miss out. Keep up the good work. It WILL make a difference.

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  18. Older I get or should maturing into middle ages. I like things more simpler, smaller, and nice.
    Coffee is on

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  19. I am dreaming and planning for the day when, I too can close the gate and be happy just puttering around my property in my new home and making things to make it mine and my daughters. I am envisioning the smells of freshly cooked meals and breads and the cheeses I will be able to make. I am smiling to myself as I type this thinking about what is going to happen in less than a year!
    My welcoming a new member to our family was as simple as a photograph that my daughter wanted to do for my father one Christmas. She wanted all the grandkids and great grandkids to do a picture for him. She planned and gathered, replanned around schedules and finally got everyone together for picture day. My nephew's wife, who had actually been in the family for years was reluctant to join in the picture. I asked her why, she told me that she was just married in. I had to tell her that in my mind, when she joined my nephew in marriage, she joined the entire family and that we all loved her as though she had been with us for lifetime. She finally relaxed and joined the fun. Hopefully after that she realized that she is in fact a big part of this family!

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  20. This post resonates with my thoughts just a couple of days ago. I was thinking how unfortunate it is that many young mothers have to pay experts in a given field, e.g. lactation specialists in order to learn what I consider basic skills which can be taught by older female relatives. I am not belittling experts, but I think it would be nice to have some knowledge passed down from generation to generation.

    I believe that what you do on this blog is also a way of passing down knowledge and encouragement even if you may not know your readers personally. Keep up the good work. (By the way, you remind me so much of my mother - an equally hard working woman who lives and works on a smallholding.)

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  21. Thank you for a beautiful post Rhonda. I loved reading all the comments too. Such lovely stories. I have a quilt on my bed that my mum made for me when I was ten. She sewed a lot for herself and for us and all the off cuts are in the quilt. It is a tapestry of memories of curtains, shirts, hankies, dresses and pillowcases that we had as children. I love to tell the story of the quilt to my children.
    Before I got married my wonderful mum organised a 'wise hens tea' with all the women I had grown up with. They also compiled a book of their favourite or most treasured recipes for me.
    Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on these beautiful gifts. I am now thinking of what I can share. One of the comments has given me the idea to invite my brother and his girlfriend over for a casual dinner instead of the family do's which I know she finds challenging.
    kxx

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  22. Your post hits close to home -- my world is small as well and I rather enjoy it that way. I see the wider world because of my blog and because of my British son-in-law but I actually live my life in a very compact setting. I am afraid that I have failed miserably at trying to incorporate my daughter - in - law into our life but not because I haven't tried. I have had to learn that sometimes people aren't going to mesh together well in some circumstances. Not the best situation but one I have had to learn to live with. My son-in-law has been more compliant as we are the only family he has this side of the Great Pond!

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  23. Thank you for causing me to slow down and have a few moments of quiet with you.

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