DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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2 November 2015

House > home > sanctuary

I remember the first day I walked into this house and then roamed around the back yard. We went down to the flowing creek, looked at the many trees here and listened to the birds as it slowly dawned on us that this place at the end of a one lane road, surrounded by pine forest and rain forest, was the home we'd been searching for. That was almost 20 years ago. Even though the house itself was a plain and simple shell and there were no fences, solar panels, tanks, verandahs, gardens or out buildings, there was a powerful feeling that this was our place. Those feelings are still echoing through our lives and almost every time I walk into our backyard I feel thankful to be here.


Let me tell you about where I live. We're in a small semi-rural town about one hour's drive from our State capital. There is a handful of small shops, a couple of cafes, a pub, primary school, a small medical centre, a post office and a small independent supermarket. Most people who come here are on the way to somewhere else. Our closest town, 5km away, is Beerwah, home of the Crocodile Hunter's Australia Zoo. Further up the mountain is Maleny, a 15 minute drive. So even though thousands of people pass through here every day, few of them call this town home and even fewer are travelling to come here. To tell you the truth, Landsborough is considered a bit daggy. There are no 'macmansions' here, most homes don't have a swimming pool, the shopping malls are further away, and the boutique shops are in the mountains behind us. Here the house blocks are big so there's ample room for gardens and chickens; and even horses or goats if that is your thing. But people don't want that. It seems small blocks of land with large houses close to shops and other amenities are prime real estate now. 




During our first few years here, I didn't live the life that I have come to since, but in that first year we installed our first water tank, solar hot water system, put up fences, built a chicken coop and improved the soil to grow vegetables and fruit. We started to modify this place from day one so that it suited us and our sons. But when our lives changed and we used the house as a real home, spending time here, using the land to grow food and the inside space to make as much as we could, the changes accelerated. As life opened up, so did the house. It changed from being a place where we slept and prepared to go out to work, to the place where we did the work. That created a domino effect as we modified the house to suit what we were doing and it turned the house into a home and a home into a sanctuary.


By modifying a house and land to suit you and your aspirations, you create a place where you can do your best work while feeling comfortable and secure. There is no formula for this, just change what isn't right for you. You might reorganise things so you have a stockpile cupboard, or a craft room. You might bake more so you create a baking area in your kitchen where your ingredients are all kept in the same place and your baking tins are on hand. When you start knitting or crocheting, you may move furniture around so you can sit closer to the window where the light is brighter. Your focus might be on outside work so you change your garage or shed to better suit storing tools and working on outdoor projects. I want to encourage those of you who have bought a house that might not be quite right for how you want to live, to start modifying it. Nests have to be fluffed up and changes made and when they are, living is easier and a whole new world can open up for you. It can be life changing.



This is important work. Your home is a firm foundation for you and your children, a safe haven for all of you. It should provide you with the right environment to breathe out and relax. If it doens't, change it. I'm not talking about housekeeping or redecorating, this is about changing the bones of the house to make housekeeping and your life easier. It's worth the time and effort you put into it. And remember, this isn't something you'll do in a weekend or even a year.  This is a life's work. You'll keep changing as you grow older and if your home reflects those constant subtle changes it will always be the softest place to land.

27 comments:

  1. I love to hear about the changes you have made to your house over time. We moved to our new house almost 12 months ago and we're still moving furniture around, planting new plants and making plans so we can replace things like the kitchen - which is from the 1960's :) Melissa.

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  2. It shouldn't be long now and I'll be able to start fluffing my new home, my current house sold on Saturday after being on the market just 5 days. The woman walked in and said her heart was singing, guess she's ready to fluff a new nest too. Enjoyed the story of you and Hanno finding your home, and the accompanying pictures.

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  3. I know what you mean Ronda. Even though we live in a caravan, we have changed where things are a number of times over the last two years. We are baking more these days, so the baking stuff has been moved to a place where it is handy to get to and the ingredients have moved as well. You are right, it is the simple suttle changes that truly make a place reflection of who and what you are at the time...and it is ever changing.

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  4. I so agree with you, Rhonda. I wonder if literally putting down roots--planting and harvesting--as well as loving all that nature provides us, helps us to understand the meaning of a safe haven? We didn't have a clue how meaningful this type of life could be until we were able to move to our little acreage. It is a huge blessing, and I wish more people could experience it.

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  5. I'm a 1960s child and we are looking for a place that has much land and we can thrive on it with our own steam, reading through your blog each post is a step towards the right direction for us, so we keep looking to find the perfect property...i.e. one for sale with the right size and location

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  6. Have you any before and after pictures to compare? Also being close to the bush, do you have problems with wildlife?

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    1. All the photos I want to share are already on the blog, Janet. And although we have wildlife here from birds that live here and migrating birds, lizards, bandicoots, water dragons, echidnas, frogs and who knows what else, we don't see them as a problem. We do have large pythons here too and they sometimes decide to swallow chickens and eggs, so they're relocated. I've never thought of our land as exclusively ours. The wildlife was here before we were so we share what's growing.

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  7. Hi Ronda, I can certainly relate to this post! 5 years ago my husband and I packed up our suburban life and moved to a rural location in NSW. Our house is half the size of our old one & quite plain but we've got 7 acres for a backyard! We are slowly modifying & improving our home to meet our needs without making it bigger (less housework!). We have 20+ fruit trees, veg gardens, alpacas, chickens, goats and bees. Life is great even though we've downsized, are 8km from a small town and earning half of what we used to. I've been able to cut back to part time work but we still manage quite well. Sometimes I wonder what we did with all our money before we moved?

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  8. It took us 10 years to find our little piece of paradise - and it was worth the wait. Xx Gail, Louth Bay

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  9. What a beautiful post - a love letter to your home, and encouragement for your readers to work toward the same kind of place.

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  10. Oh so true! It has taken me almost 6 years to learn to appreciate my home and realise that everything doesn't have to be done at once! I do have a little 'impatience problem', but now I love it! Slowly and bit by bit creating our forever home.

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  11. This is an inspiring post, Rhonda! Actually all of yours are, but this somehow speaks to me in a special way....However, life changes. I'm a widow living in a largish house on two acres and I'm a bit older than Hanno.....So I think I need to begin again and rethink what I am doing. Sadly, I am not nearly as strong as I once was!

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    1. Hello Kristi dear. Strength is sadly lacking here too. We've cut back in the past year or so and although we're still growing, it's a reduced amount and mostly salad crops. It's okay to change, we all do it, the trick is to keep doing as much as you're capable of. Take care. xx

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  12. Although it is 11:30 p.m. here, it wouldn’t stop me from eating a plate of that stew if one were to fly in the window – it looks fabulous! I still remember when I drove up to my house for the first time. I hadn’t bought it yet, I was just going to the open house. It was an early spring day and the sun was hitting the front of the house in a certain way that was very appealing. It didn’t take me long to look around inside (the house is 700 square feet) and so I went out to the back yard. It was huge for a city lot (a little over 14,000 square feet). While I would have preferred more house and less yard, the price was right and the location was just what I wanted – one mile from the city’s chain of lakes, a bus stop at the end of the block to go downtown to work, and within walking distance of the grocery store and restaurants. I’m 60 now and have lived here 26 years. Even after all that time, there are still plenty of projects on my to-do/hope I can do list. I dream about retirement and having time to do more and really focus on my home, and I’m hoping that being able to do yard work at a more leisurely place instead of cramming it in on weekends will make it easier on my body. Thanks for a lovely post, Rhonda. You and Hanno have created a wonderful home. Beth in MN

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  13. Your home always sounds wonderful to me, a haven. I wish there were properties round our way that were small with lots of land they are like gold dust!

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  14. i'm still working on making this place a home, it just doesn't seem to have it for me, been here 15 years too. not totally happy here & would probably prefer to live a little further south back up in the mountains & closer to the kids, ahhh one day i will find my perfect home but for now i will try to make it do here.
    a wonderful post rhonda & it clarified a few things for me which i totally didn't get before (like thinking it was all to do with housework) so i will work on those areas & see if it makes a difference
    thanx so much for this explanation
    selina from kilkivan qld

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  15. A lovely and inspiring post dear Rhonda.

    Happy November ~ FlowerLady

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  16. Daggy or not, it's the place you have made home. And that's so important. I would love somewhere like where you are.

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  17. Just seeing your breadmaker on the bench reminds me I must resurrect mine and use it just for the kneading of dough - saves my poor hands/arms. The girls have taken a liking to pizza so we are now making our own dough etc.
    I always really connect to this type of post from you Rhonda. It is one of those back to basics type of posts which sinks right into my bones while reading it. Very satisfying and grounding. Thank you.

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  18. Love this. For what it's worth I'd choose your little town over a McMansion near a city ANY day!!

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  19. A thought provoking post. A home evolves and changes and becomes part of us.:)

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  20. Lovely post, I am in a big city, but have been enjoying growing veggies in Pots lately, cant wait to try more. I attended a wedding in Peachester Mango farm back in May and stayed at Beerwah Motor Lodge. I took an early morning walk down the nearby dead end street and thought to myself "this seems very much like Rhonda's area"! Had my hair done and a coffee in Beerwah and thought it was very nice and the people friendly.
    Warmest regards
    Tania in Melbourne

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    1. That motor lodge is about 3 km from us. It is a friendly area. When Steve Irwin was alive we often bumped into him in Beerwah. He'd usually have Bindy with him after school.

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  21. love all you have done and you truly are inspiring and absolutely love being part of your forum

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    1. thanks emme. We love you being there too. It's just the best group of people you could wish for.

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  22. Hello, Rhonda! I've been reading your blog since 2008, at least, and you have always inspired me in our journey towards voluntary simplicity. This post is really timely for me to read. I've just been writing about setting goals to move toward the life you want to live here: http://reedsontheriver.blogspot.com/2015/11/setting-our-homestead-goals.html Maybe it will give some of your readers who visit the comments a bit of inspiration in how to get those dreams onto paper. :)

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  23. Rhonda - another beautiful post. I too first saw my nearly 30 year old suburban home as daggy. embarrassing and not the type of house that someone in their early 40s would live in. Slowly, over time, we have converted this house to our home. We put in an above ground decked in pool so the kids could spend more time here with their friends. We put in seven new veggie beds so that we could provide for the family. We renovated the rooms and took down the 1980s wallpaper and painted rooms to cool, neutral colours. We made it our own. We put chairs out in places where we could relish amazing hilly views and sunsets. We began to think of our house as not a daggy house in a subdivision, but as OUR house that provides for us and nurtures us. Thanks for this poignant reminder.

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Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

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