4 January 2009

A self-made life

Regular readers will probably be pleased to know the white Christmas tablecloth is washed and back in the cupboard. ; - )

No one will hand you the life you want to live on a silver platter. The only life that is there for the taking, without modifications, is today's "normal" life of spending, debt, credit cards and never ending work to pay the bills. Most people, including me, usually fall for that one. A simple life needs work and requires that you step up and build, for yourself, the life you want. And because it is self made, simple lives are always slightly different to each other - anything home made and one of a kind is like that; it's one of the many charms of the unique when you don't settle for mass production.

When I envisioned what I wanted my life to become, I wanted to be as independent as possible from the shops and provide as much as I could from my own home. To do that I undertook a period of solo reskilling, usually with my friends telling me I'd gone a bit loopy. They didn't understand the need for sourdough, or any other kind of home baked bread, when there was plenty of bread available for the taking at the supermarket. They didn't understand making soap or jam or cordials or growing food and preserving it. They only started to understand when they were invited around and were delighted by the taste and freshness of what I served them.

When I stopped using cleaning products and started using vinegar, bicarb and washing soda, they really thought I'd lost it. I didn't care. I was on a roll by then, I knew what I was doing was good for us and saving a lot of money. I also started feeling pleased with the progress we'd made and that I didn't have to run to the shop for everything. As the months progressed into years, I could quite easily produce most of what we needed here in my home. It felt good and it inspired me on to keep going.

But a simple life can be many things. It doesn't have to include gardening, sewing or baking, there are many ways to build a simple life that suits you exactly. That is one of the benefits of it, you build the life you want to live.

Inspiration is a wonderful thing. You get it from your successes and by seeing other people work towards the same goals you have set for yourself. There will always be naysayers around and people who don't want you to change or succeed. Never listen to them, listen to your heart instead, it will keep you true to your purpose. I hope the biggest kitchen table will provide the inspiration and knowledge you need to take that next step, whether it be the first one in your simple life, or one much further down the track.

Linda, I think the gardening posts will work because gardening is the same world-wide. Yes, the severity of our seasons is different, but we will have many northern hemisphere gardeners taking part and I'm sure they'll fill in any gaps in my knowledge. And I will encourage them, and all others, to post about what works for them.

There is the facility in Blogger to disallow anonymous comments and after some recent anonymous comments I was tempted to use it. However, I am aware there are many people who read here who do not have a blog, nor do they want one. I am also aware that some people with blogs hide under 'anonymous' when they want to criticise. I have enabled comment moderation, and will keep it on from now on, but out of courtesy to me and to the other readers here, when you comment as anonymous, please add you name to the end of the comment so we have a rough idea of who you are. Thank you.

And now, with that unpleasantness out of the way, let's all work towards a better life for ourselves and our families. We have some wonderful people reading here and I know the biggest table will be a great way for us to share our knowledge, to support one another and to encourage all of us to live to our true potential.



  1. Hi Rhonda,
    I'm glad you have kept the anonymous identity, I don't have a blog but am a faithful reader, and I always sign my name.

  2. I have an analogy (I think that's the right word) to go with your blog today...

    I am a terrible driver in snow. One day, snow was knee-deep and schools didn't cancel classes.

    Since my child didn't ride the school bus, I was responsible for picking him up. There was no way I was driving in that much snow!

    So, I started walking...with toddler in my arms (the snow was too deep for those little legs).

    I got to the school and traffic was snarled, buses were blocking cars and there was nowhere to park because of plowed snow piled alongside the road.

    After school let out, I gathered my child.

    Then I merely walked, using my muscles to carry my youngest...and yet we bypassed all the traffic mess and quietly walked right on home.

    Working hard at sccworlds.com

  3. I had to do the same thing. I've found since I have been moderating comments, I haven't had one bad or snarky comment.

    I guess when one has no audience, it isn't worth the time.

    You have definitely become a favorite of mine. :)

  4. Hello Coleen, yes, you are one of a group of lovely ladies who posts under the anon tag but you always include your name. Thank you for that and for your continued support.

    Hi Kris, that's a good analogy. Hard work pays off. Boy, would I love a walk in the snow today.

  5. Hi Rhonda,
    I'm another one of your faithful readers without a blog too. I am finding we're a minority now. It's weird and I'm not sure what offensive post you received but I can never understand people who need to be nasty. I love all your posts and thought yesterday's one was a particular winner!

  6. Hi Rhonda
    I am a regular reader although I do not always leave a comment I have learnt a lot from your blog and I am very much looking forward to the first post round the kitchen table.

  7. I loved your post for today... it's something that God has been putting on my heart a LOT lately (http://intostillwaters.com/2008/12/11/my-perfect-life/), (http://intostillwaters.com/2008/12/27/becoming-a-woman-of-virtue/) and I'm glad to see that concept re-affirmed for me here. I love your blog, and I love the life you've made for yourself. I'm taking baby steps in that direction, and am grateful for the encouragement I find here.

  8. I don't have a blog. Please consider keeping the anonymous identity. Comment oderation helps. There are some of us who having been targeted for identity theft need the privacy that anonymous posting allows. It's not all about posting nasty comments. I will always sign my name.
    I may consider blogging some time in the future. Denise

  9. Hi Rhonda, the comments about following your purpose without worrying about the 'naysayers' are important for me now, in the early stages of my simplifying.
    On anonymous commenting, I have used anonymous once on another blog's comments as I wanted to share something a little too personal without the possibility of anyone who knows me being aware.
    In this day and age, moderating your comments is wise because unfortunately a minority of people will hide behind the anonimity of the internet to troll at will.

  10. Dear Denise and Joanne, don't worry, I'm keeping my regular anonymous posters and will look after you. I am happy to have all of you here. I can easily discard the rubbish before it gets to the comments box.

    Brenda, I think you're right in that it's an attention seeking behaviour. Thanks for your support.

  11. Good morning Rhonda,

    I also feel that moderating the comments is good and keeps us all focused on the important things. You are helping many people with your posts and creating a network of like minded friends. Who knows were this all might lead. I do know that its a very positive step forward for me and I'm sure we can make a difference in a world that seems to be spinning out of control. Thankyou for going the extra mile.

    Blessings Gail

  12. As someone who has reached a bit of a crossroads in life, I find that reading about the path you have taken, and the choices you make with everyday living, is a source of inspiration (and hope) to me.

  13. Hi Rhonda
    I don't have a blog,I read yours every day and you have inspired me greatly,I now have a vegetable garden, make my own bread,have a planner and think before I go to the shops I would just like to say thankyou I now have direction in my life.

  14. Dear Rhonda
    I'm another who is glad that you are keeping the anonymous identity, I can never remember my Google password! But although I don't comment often, I do read every day, and always sign my name. The information that you provide is always gratefully received by me, and I've been able to implement lots of your ideas, and I thank you so much for what you do
    Take care
    Judy (in Adelaide)

  15. Hello my friend :)

    I've been reading faithfully, not commenting often, but enjoying and learning from you, as usual.

    I LOVE the kitchen table idea, and look forward to participating.

    Happy New Year to you and Hanno

  16. Thank you for keeping the anonymous id Rhonda. I don't have a blog either but love to read yours and many others I see listed here. Also love the new frugal site and all of it's contributors! Keep writing!!

    central Illinois

  17. Hi Rhonda,
    I really dont understand why people bother to put up unpleasant comments at all. You dont force anyone to read your blog, therefore if someone does not agree with you they can read something else. So simple.
    I hope you and your family have a happy, healthy and productive new year.
    Best wishes, Eileen. (in England).

  18. Hello Rhonda, Like everyone else I love your idea of the large kitchen table discussions. Your busy brain is serving you well!
    I am another who loves to read your blog every day but dont have a blog myself. I am in my 60s and still finding my way around the computer! I dont feel I know enough yet to have a blog. Maybe one day.
    I do comment occasionally and always sign my name.
    Regards Patricia Gold Coast

  19. I am quite saddened this morning to read that you have received some not-so-nice comments (I didn't actually see any and don't want to). Your blog, and you yourself, is an inspiration to me and many wonderful people out there!
    I started on my own home management journal thanks to you and am looking forward to a more organised year ahead. Rhonda, thank you for your blog!

  20. Patricia, if you want to start a blog, it's quite simple and free. Blogger is a basic, yet quite powerful, platform if you want to look into it. If you need help, email me and I'll step you through it.

    Hugs Bec, thank you.

    Hi Niki! Hello everyone!

  21. I love your blog and visit daily. I have really learned alot. Your such an inspiration and I'm striving everyday to live my life more simply. I'm looking forward to the kitchen table. Thank you for all the hard work you put into your blog for your readers.

  22. Hi Rhonda,
    I love your blog! I am a very recently single mum of 3 young kids and I need every cent and homemade trick I can muster! I aim to teach my children a life of need, not want and your blog inspires me that I am on the right track. Everyone laughs at me with my vinegar & bi-carb but I know why I'm doing it ;0)

  23. I am a daily reader that has never posted before. I look forward to every post and am sure the kitchen table posts will not disappoint. Even my family knows about " that internet lady in Australia". Keep up the great work!!!

    Michell in Texas

  24. Hi Rhonda, sorry to hear that you have had some nasty people leaving comments on your blog, this of course is a worry for anyone with a blog.
    Hope whom ever left you a nasty note will just disappear!!
    I have been thinking about the stock market lately. If one puts money in a 401k or invests in stocks, naturally one would hope that their investment will grow...allot. But is this counter-productive to a simpler lifestyle. By investing, is one hoping "others" will stay in the rat race of consumerism and the "investee" reaps the money rewards?
    I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


  25. I read every post. I guess it's about time I let you know how much I enjoy your blog. I'm in my 50s and have introduced my mom to your blog. She loves it and reads it almost every day. You certainly reach across all ages.


  26. Rhonda,

    Great post! It is hard having a blog and trying to please everyone.

    I believe this year will be your best yet!!!!



  27. I have been very touched by all the previously unknown to me people who have taken the time to connect with me now, even though they've been reading for many months. I noticed quite a few new names over the last few days and I thank you all for taking the time to say hello. It really does mean a lot to me.

    Now is probably a good time to tell you all that Down to Earth is now #2 on the Top 100 Australian Women Bloggers list. My good friend Julie from Towards Sustainability is also on the list. : - )

    ELP, I'm no financial adviser but I'm happy to tell you my personal feeling about stock market investment. I think it can be a good thing. Many people come to simple living when they retire, or are about to, and they often have money in the stock market. As you rightly pointed of, much of the 401K funds, which are our superannuation funds here, owe their growth to the stock market. Hanno and I have a small investment which Hanno follows closely on online and has quite a bit of fun with.

    I was criticised recently for saying we should stop spending at the shops. I believe we should, but I know that no matter how many times I say that, only a tiny fraction of people will ever hear it, or do it. Mainstream life will go on and most people will not stop spending. I won't though,and I know a lot of you won't either. I think investing in the stock market, if you have the spare money to do it, is a way of helping our economies, we might not be spending in the shops, but we are investing, even if it's only a small amount, it is something. And the good thing about investing is you don't come home with all those plastic bags and packaging. ; -)

  28. Hi Rhonda,

    I am a regular reader of your blog but I don't think I have ever left a comment. Your blog is wonderful, I have learned a lot from you.

    Willamette Valley, Oregon

  29. Hi Rhonda,

    I have to say 'me too'. I have been reading your blog for a long time and occaisionally leaving comments- always anonomysly but always with my name at the end. As for having my own blog - i am not sure about that yet. Maybe one day. I do get a lot of encouragement and support from yours and several others too. And when I can, I leave a supportive comment as well.
    Kind regards,
    Juanita Richardson - Stokes Valley, Lower Hutt, NZ

  30. Hello everybody,
    seems that I'm the only German here...? I hope to become a useful member of the kitchen table club :-). Tonight we've got deep-knee snow and traffic is a chaos! Good to know that we have got two feet to walk.
    Have a nice day.

  31. Hello Juanita, I remember your name, welcome.

    Claudia, there is another German lady (Hilde) here now. I lived in Germany for a couple of years. We were married there and Shane was born in Hamburg.

  32. Hi, Rhonda!
    I'm thinking that the 'kitchen table' idea is really going to be a big hit. Like many of your readers, I get a lot of funny looks from others when I say that I bake my own bread, make laundry soap, garden, can/freeze every thing I can get my hands on...
    but with lots of hungry tummies to fill I want to make the most of my resources. I laughed when you wrote that you'd like to take a walk in the snow today...I've been moaning about the 10" that we got a few days ago. Will gardening season ever come?!!! I'm anxious as can be to play in my gardens. LOL Well, after moaning about the snow for awhile...I called a friend
    who lives in Idaho (I'm in Utah) and she said that since the 1st of Dec. they've had 66" of snow. I'm not moaning anymore!! For all of you that have gardens going right now... have fun! Another post about the cordials you make, Rhonda, would be appreciated. I tried last summer to make some lemon cordial, but it didn't seem to have much flavor...what did I do wrong?
    Hugs, Aunt Bea

  33. Hello Rhonda,
    It turns out I wrote an extraordinarily long comment yesterday... Sorry for that long reading!
    To the topic of not buying: I decided to sew all of any necessary or desirable new clothing this year. I'm curious whether I manage to keep to that...

  34. Rhonda, I'm glad you decided not to allow "freedom of speech" to anonymous trolls. Sometimes people can be just so tactless.

  35. Good Morning Rhonda,

    My husband and I were commenting on the changes in our life this past year...we had our first garden (we just ordered some seeds that we did not have for this year), we have quail (for the past 9 months) and just started chickens (1 month old, we will have to give away the roosters, we live in a subdivsion), we make our own bread, cheese and yogurt. We will can for the first time this year. Your site has inspired us to live simply

  36. Hi Rhonda, I hope there is room for West Texas and South Plains fans at your table. And thanks for keeping the site open to those of us who do not have blogs. There are tacky people everywhere and the internet is no exception.But you provide such an important link between us all and offer such useful ideas, I can't imagine not starting my day with your posts.
    And speaking of ideas, thanks to you I am making good headway on my homemaking journal.
    Thanks for all you do, JudieJ

  37. Hi Rhonda,
    Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. My husband and I are in our 6os and retired on a modest income. Because of you I'm cleaning with vinegar and soda and making bread & hubby is gardening. Thank you for that "extra layer of richness" that you have added to our already good lives.

    Jackie in Texas

  38. Thank you for keeping the anonymous option.

    I so look forward to seeing your garden pictures and commenting when I can although my life has gotten a bit more complicated the last two months due to a job change, for the better, but I'm now starting to get some balance back to my life.

    My simple life includes a huge amount of balance.

  39. Here is yet another comment from a non blogging reader! I don't remember how I stumbled across Down to Earth (linked from a garden blog, maybe?) but have visited it faithfully every day since! It is so full of useful ideas and good philosophy, and it is inspiring to know there are so many like minded people out there working toward a more sustainable life. Our journey started with my husband's diagnosis with multiple chemical sensitivity, and has led us on to a quest for a cleaner, saner, more self sufficient life! Your blog is an invaluable resource...just wanted to say thanks! Kelly in Texas.

  40. Rhonda,

    Your postings are always a favorite. When you wrote about the book a friend sent that you were just savouring, that is the way I feel when I read your words. It is always so warm and comforting to read your thoughts. I am a little late adding my voice, but the big kitchen table sounds wonderful. I am excited to learn more and more from so many different people! Thank you for all of the efforts you go to in bringing more knowledge to each of us.

    Being from Utah also, I had to laugh at Aunt Bea's comment about your wishing your could be walking in the snow. My back would definitely let you take over the shoveling here :-) Thanks again for all you do.


  41. I just wanted to say thank you for keeping the anonymous identity on your blog. While I do have my own blog, I prefer to stay anonymous. I am a very regular reader here and have been visiting for about four months. I have left a couple comments before but mostly I've been a lurker. :D

    I guess from now on I will sign my name! :)

    Country Girl,
    Willamette Valley, Oregon

  42. How funny! I just posted on all the life changes we've made in the last year. Many are the ones you've been doing for years. Your blog is one of my inspirations!

  43. Another non-blogger who reads your blog every day but until now have never commented (nothing worthy to say as yet). I just love your blog and have recommended it to friends. I am a strong supporter of your way of life and also try to live by the same beliefs. It is so important for families to get back to the grass roots of Australian values and lifestyle. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of a wider section of the community, and may it spread much further. Carol.

  44. I love the uniquness of s simple self-made life. In a world of mass everything, people honestly believe they're unique, but inside, they sense there's something missing.

  45. i have been reading your blog for awhile, but i don't think i have commented before. i just love it.So much that i added you to my favorite reads list. i love your ideas and your writing is so beautifully put. I love the idea of a self made simple life...that is something i am thinking about for my family this year, and i hope that i can get some great ideas here.

  46. Hello Rhonda,
    I have been enjoying reading your blog each day for a couple of months now. I've decided it's time to stop "lurking" and say hello.
    I'm glad you have kept the anonymous identity, as I do not have a blog.
    I think your blog is wonderful. Written with warmth, humour and exceptionally informative.
    Looking forward to learning more from your wisdom and experiences this year.

  47. Hi – My name is Carolyn, I live in New Jersey, USA. I have been a faithful reader of your website for a while now. It is a great source of inspiration and information for me. I look forward to checking in and seeing what is going on in your world. For that I wanted you know who I was, the anonymous reader on the other side of the world.

    I take inspiration from you because my story shares similarities with yours and I guess a lot of your readers. I am a mom of a large family. I was a career gal for 19 years and was the kind of consumer driven person typical of this generation. By the end of my career I did not even recognize myself. I was not happy and was starting to make a mess of my life. Almost 5 years ago, I quit my career to be a stay at home mom. I did not realize it at the time, nor was I able to articulate my story well until I read your web site but I basically took on the simple living life-style. I am 4.5 years into the lifestyle and it is finally coming together. We have made many drastic lifestyle changes and I have many more opportunities in front of me.

    I read your site for hints and help – I love your advice – thank you. I feel like someone ‘gets’ me, even if you are on the other side of the world.

    For all your help, thank you.
    I wish for you and your family a peaceful 2009,
    In Faith,

  48. Hi Rhonda,
    I just want to say thank you for your wonderful blog. I love reading your inspirational ideas and links to other gems you have found along the way. You have opened up a whole new world of possibility for me and I am most grateful.

    Tracey,Kooralbyn QLD Australia

  49. Hi Rhonda,
    I have just resigned from my job so I can become a SAHM with my 22 month old son. I have to say that I was a little nervous to leave full time employment to come home and be a home maker. At 40 yrs of age I have spent the last 22 years in full time employment or some type of full time study. strangely though I have just made it through my first week and have surprisingly enjoyed every minute of it so far. Finding this blog by accident I knew I was onto something after reading 2 mins into your profile.

  50. Today I made the laundry liquid and tomorrow I am going to try my hand at the basic bread recipe. Next week when I feel more confident I would love to give the soap making a go. Thank you from one mum to another for showing me the value of good healthy homemade cooking, tried, tested and safe home made cleaning products and most of all home made mums. Thanks again...Melinda!


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