7 April 2009

Find your path

Pebbledash picked it up, I am turning 61, not 62! Thanks Diana. Meryl, one of the volunteers I work with picked it up too. When I mentioned at lunch yesterday that my birthday was coming up, she said it didn't seem so long ago we celebrated my last birthday. Then it hit me, they gave me a morning tea for my 60th, I'm still a mere slip of a girl - I'm going to be 61.
:- )

I removed the email subscription yesterday. I have to apologise for mucking you around. Those 30 or so people who subscribed yesterday will have to do so again when I find another widget. When I went to change a setting on the old one yesterday, I found they send advertising with the email. I won't be a party to that. Apart from not wanting to promote things you might spend money on, I don't know what sort of advertisement they might send. It could be anything. So I will look for a new widget but I can't do it today. And again, I'm sorry for this inconvenience.


I have been touched by the number of emails I've received lately from new readers wanting to live a life similar to ours here. I'm asked all sorts of questions about the type of chooks we have, how many water tanks, what food we eat on a day-to-day basis and how many loads of washing I do each week. Some people ask about when I go to bed, when I get up in the morning, do I drink green tea or black, what would I buy if I had the money and how do I cope with living on a restricted budget. It seems to me that these questions are about one thing - they are trying to find "the formula", they want to know how to live simply. But simple life is different for everyone, there is no formula, no one way to do it. The secret is to decide how you want to live, work out what values are important to you, then work towards the goals you set.

If you do that, if you develop a set of values that support how you want to live, it will be easier to pinpoint areas you can change in your life to reflect your values. For example, if you decide that one of the values you want to embrace is to live a more healthy life and buy local, you'd probably have to look at what you're eating and change how you shop. Instead of shopping only at the supermarket, you'd also need to go to local markets, find out with other local food is produced and then work out a way to buy it. You'd also look at the chemicals you have in the house, get rid of them and work out what alternatives you could use. If one of your values was to be more frugal, and through that work towards paying off your debt, then you'd probably start by tracking how you spend your money and work out a budget. Then you'd go through your bills and work out what you could do without - pay TV, the second car, ballet lessons for the children, your magazine subscriptions etc. Then you'd work out ways to save money in the home.

Shhhh, it's a worker in the front garden.

A few days ago, I made a big pot of pea soup that will keep us going for about seven evening meals, plus the occasional work lunch. That soup cost me four dollars to make and works out to be about 57 cents for the two of us each dinner time. Some people will look at that and think eating pea soup for a few nights in a row is boring and some would just refuse because they want to eat steak and three veg or roast pork. But I don't think like that anymore. That soup supports our simple values in many ways. The truth of it is that eating that soup helps us stay on budget, it frees up other money so we can buy fresh local milk, cheese and fish, it saves us money on utility bills because we only have to heat it up each day, it saves time because I don't have to cook a meal each night and it's a nourishing and delicious meal that we both enjoy.

Native violets have naturalised in the gardens and are spilling over into the lawn.

Some of the things many of us do during the normal course of a day include baking bread, walking to the shops, sweeping the floor instead of vacuuming, washing up by hand instead of using the dishwasher, stockpiling to save money and time, making yoghurt from scratch and growing some of our own food in our backyard. Now if I were new to this way of living, and I saw many of those common tasks of a simple home, I'd probably think it was too much work and why bother. Why do all that work when I can easily buy what I need. But the fact is that doing those things support the life I want to live, so doing them is not a bother to me. So you see, working out what is important to you, knowing what you want to include in your own life, and then doing those things on a daily basis, will help you live more simply and even though it will be tough at times, you'll stick with it because you're working towards your goals.

Hanno is preparing the front garden for the wedding.

Simplifying will never be about the colour of the chickens in your backyard, the brand of breadmaker you own, how many jars of jam and relish you put up each year or how many acres you 'own'. It is always about the way you think about your life and how you express those thoughts by how you live. I am flattered that many of you want to do things in a similar way to how we do them here and maybe some of you will settle into a life very similar to mine, but I encourage you think about your life, think about what is important to you and then set about building your life to support your values. We don't all have to be carbon copies of each other. In fact that is one of the things that is so appealing about this way of life - we can all express it in differing ways and still be part of the whole.

A Cecile Brunner rose, a tiny rose the size of a finger nail, is growing over the garden arch.

I don't want to put you off your changes, and I'm not saying don't copy what I do. I am encouraging you to be very clear about what is important to you. Before you start changing your life, you'll have to think about it a lot. Don't just dive in and do what others are doing. Think about what you hope you life will become, think about what you consider to be important, then the path you need to take will be clear. Often the first step is the most difficult, in this case it isn't. Your first step is to make a cup of tea, gather a pen and paper, then sit in your favourite spot and think about what you want and how you would like to live, write it down in bullet points. You might need a few sessions - just you, your thoughts and your pen and paper. When you have a list, go through it a couple of times and cross off what's not really important, keeping only those points you think will make you happy, fulfilled and content. That is your map, my friends. Once you have your map, then come back here and ask questions that will help you follow your map. I am happy to answer your questions, and many of the other readers are too. If you ask something in the comments, you'll get opinions from a few of us. But that's one of the beauties of a simple life. It's about communities working together to help each other, and we have a wonderful community here willing to help you.



  1. Thank you for your encouragement and willingness to share your "secrets" to a simpler and easier life.
    Your words continue to encourage. Oh, and I think I'm gonna sit down with my pencil and paper in my little corner tonight.

  2. Another lovely post....we each have to find our own path. And I have to laugh about your birthday..I just remember the excitement of building up to your big day last year!
    Blessings to you Rhonda.
    Diana x

  3. Thanks for this post Rhonda. A few weeks ago I was reading your blog and thinking "yes, I will get up at dawn and start my baking of bread then, and do this and that...just like Rhonda".

    Then I realised that it was impossible for me to do that as I am in a completely different stage of life! I have a 2yr old who still wakes 2-3 times at night and I need as much sleep as I can get.
    It is near impossible for me to be baking early in the morning as that is the time my little boy needs my help getting breakfast, dressed, playing with him etc.

    I realised that I have to find my own rhythm of life to suit my circumstances. I have been taking it step by step, using lots of your advice (such as sweeping rather than vacuming when appropriate) and am making steady progress!

    I love that my son is learning how to grow vegetables - how to sow and look after them. It is wonderful that he will know how the various foods grow. I didn;t realise things grew the way they did until I began my on vegie patch 4 years ago. (capsicum in trees! cucumbers on vines! who would have thought!) I love that he knows to put food scraps in the compost, and that he can always find worms to play with in there =)

    Thanks for your hard work and wisdom Rhonda. I look forward to reading your entry every morning, and have been encouraging many friends to start reading.

    Have a great day.

    PS. My parents and brother just moved to Tanzania as aid workers and they said that the people over there (including small children) spend their entire day simply working to grow food to eat that day! They don't even grow enough to sell, they own the bare minimum. And yet they are so much more content and happy then the average Australian. Interesting.

  4. I LOVE your garden(s). And these posts of yours, such as this one, has helped me to eat healthy/naturally again. To pick up the squash, rice, tomato, cheese at the market over the processed foods. I see it is one step at a time. And when i master eating naturally again, I am off to practicing with eco friendly laundry soaps. It's all about moving one step at a time. There is no race... Its my journey in soul searching. Thank you, Rhonda.

  5. Thank you for being so honest. I love your blog. For years I have wanted to live frugally and a simple life. Simple is beautiful in my eyes but not to others and for years I have let others influence me and went off course.I have learned such wisdom from young and old. Thank you for being such a inspiration...Lisa

  6. Thanks for the insightful post. I find that there are times when I too am looking for the right formula thinking, "If only I had ____" but you made a good point that each person has their unique abilities as well as needs. I love that you are able to take something and make us think and reflect - I really enjoy reading your posts!

  7. Simplifying will never be about the colour of the chickens in your backyard, the brand of breadmaker you own, how many jars of jam and relish you put up each year or how many acres you 'own'. It is always about the way you think about your life and how you express those thoughts by how you live.

    So nicely put. Thanks Rhonda!

  8. Loved your advice. But I'll put this up for discussion. So many people are afraid to actually do their own thing. They have been followers because following everyone else is easy - no thinking involved. Just do what you see. Actually sitting down and thinking through what you want is a scary thing, especially in this world of too many decisions. Overwhelm abounds.

    But for those determined to make a change, and willing to face that challenge of self introspection, they can do it! It is doable. Just take small steps, and don't expect your life to be instantly transformed. It does take time. :-)

  9. I'm brand new to your blog, but love it already!

    I love the things that you are sharing but also your message, "your like does not have to look like mine in order to simplify."

    It is easier to take a pattern & cut out our lives to match someone else's - or at least the concept looks easy. But if my cloth (of life) is not the same size as yours, your pattern may not fit at all. Thank you for encouraging folks to use your pattern if it fits, but to realize that we are individuals & are more individual than what a cookie-cutter life allows for.


  10. With your encouraging words, and those of others who have similar lives, I have tried and been successful at starting to grow some herbs. They are coming along nicely. I have four tomato plants that are staying green so far. These were given to me, so in order to have fresh tomatoes for free, all I have to do is be mindful of taking care of them. I also bought some seeds for vegetables that we eat quite a bit and a mini hot house to start them in. It's not the greenest way to do it, but I am just starting out and I want to learn, this seems the simplest way for me right now.
    I bought a large smoked ham the other day. It will be dinner for my daughters and I for quite a few nights and the bone will be used to flavor either split pea soup or a large pot of beans. Not to mention the wonderful sandwiches I can take to work with me. The ham cost me nine dollars. I am not sure yet how many meals I will get from it, but so far, it is only three dollars for each of us, now to just split that between all the meals we will have.
    I love to see how much I can get from my dollar, it a good challenge for me. It's fun and saves me money!
    Thank you for all the wonderful posts you do. I know how much work you put into them and I really appreciate the help and warm words from you.

  11. Pease pudding,
    Pease pudding cold,
    Pease pudding in the pot,
    Nine days old.
    Sorry! Just couldn't resist. Cherrie

  12. I just did that last night; sat down with a pen and paper and wrote out what living simply means to me and what the key components of that would look like. It really did help me clarify my thinking about why I'm doing these things and learning these skills. I can easily see that if you'll just take the first step, then another, then another...things will come together in time. For instance, we've been focusing on keeping a well stocked pantry along with extras of cleaning and hygiene supplies. It costs a small fortune every time we have to re-stock. I started thinking that there had to be a less expensive way to do this, so now I'm learning to cook more things from scratch and make my own cleaners. Those things suit my goals in a number of ways and they make sense to me now, because of my pantry stocking lesson. One step at a time will get us where we need to go.

  13. Great post Rhonda, that's one of the attractions of the simpler life for me, we all get to make our own pattern!

    In winter I love to make a big pan of veg stew with dumplings, and that gets warmed up (portioned in a dish in the micro these days) for the best part of the week. :) Rosie

  14. Hi Rhonda
    Thank you for great inspiration and truer words were never written ...the path is yours and yours alone to walk and each of us must walk it in their own way and add and reject things as we go... from all different sources... it would be a strange world if everyone were the same.. I have knitted nine squares so far and have started on the tenth also have knitted four dish cloths..made laundry liquid and joined 'diggers club' for my seeds.. going to start a vegie patch
    Regards ELLIE

  15. He, he. I sometimes get confused by my age too! It's nice to be younger then you think you are.

  16. Good morning Rhonda. Hanno is creating a beautiful landscape for Shane and Sarndra's wedding.

  17. EXCELLENT post. Just wonderful. I learn something everytime I visit. Sometimes I learn, sometimes what I'm doing is validated and sometimes I come, read and am refreshed. I always come away with something from your words. I find it doesn't matter where we are on our journey, we are always learning and improving. Thanks so much. Hugs, Heather

  18. I was sent a link to this site yesterday, and I have had a good look at it and love it. I have, at odd times through my life, tried a few of these things, discarded some and kept some, but now I am sick of the supermarket stock and now want to go back to basics again. This site has given me the how of the method, and now I am beginning. Thank you for all the info, now I just have to remember that I can't do it all in one day. Small steps, and try not to get discouraged, and give up,when the family don't follow through with my efforts (or appreciate them in the beginning)

    Again, thank you,


  19. I appreciate your words. They help me remember everyday to be mindful of my values and wants. Thank you especially for emphasizing there is no "go big or go home". To put it in a somewhat trite phrase, every path is started with a single step. This is what I often have forgotten.

    I hope all the wedding plans are humming along nicely.

  20. I just want to say that I truly love to read your blog , it is very inspiring and so interesting . Since reading your blog I have gone back to washing the dishes by hand , it really doesn't take that long and it is one way I can change .I will be a regular reader so please keep up the great work .

  21. Thank you for your words of wisdom. I get a lot great ideals off these blog but I know there not all for me.
    It might not work for me but bits and piece does.

    Coffee is on.

  22. Rhonda, I've jsut recently discovered your blog, and every time I read, your words *so* speak to my heart. I am a single mum of 3 young kids (blessed with a large community of family and friends around me who are part of the 'village' raising my children!!), and am a traditional homemaker at heart, even though that isn't evident in how we live. Ever since I was a child, I've wanted to do the 'homey' things, and have crafted and baked since very early in my childhood. That has waxed and waned over the years, but enver completely gone away, and as a young homemaker, even before my children came along, I longed for the 'successful' veggie patch, the gorgeous garden, the home filled with handmade craft. All I can say is taht life 'got in the way', and whilst I made attempts at all fo these in fits and starts, modern conveniences became, well, convenient. But my desire for 'stuff' has abated over the years, my desire for simplicity and things produced by human hands is becomeing more and more evident - as a Christian who follows God in my walk each day, I am called to be 'in' this world, not 'of' this world, which is what I see in the stories of your life. That decision to live as your heart is desiring, not as the world expects, even at the prospect of ridicule and lack of understanding. I wish I could have a veggie garden that even just grew tomatoes, but living in a rental puts that to rest (I have tried the box gardening that produced great lettuces, but everything else failed!!), but when I stop and look, I can see where 'simplicity' is creeping in. I've been making bread for a while now, and that simple task brings such a sense of pleasure and 'wholeness', even if it is taking some time for my kids to get used to bread that actually has a taste as opposed to store bought cardboard, lol!! Knitting and sewing have been a part of my life since I was about 5, and that simple act never fails to soothe my soul (even if it does bear me the nickname of 'Nanna' at the ripe old age of 32!!). I am seeking simple more and more, and your blog has really been an encouragement. Maybe one day, I'll be posting about my simplicity adventures....

  23. I have been a reader for quite some time but this is my first comment...I love the new format! It is so easy to find topics! I want to especially thank you for making a simpler life seem appealing and lovely. I was raised with a frugal mother, but her way was cheap and sloppy. As soon as I left home and got a job I wanted nice and expensive. I have loved seeing that simple can be beautiful, and frugal can still include quality. I really resonate with the idea of making my home a sanctuary for my family. Thank you so much for your posts!


  24. Your gardens are just gorgeous! I love reading your post and check them daily! You have inspired me to living more natural than I already do! I am a young mother of three living on one income. My husband and I chose to live this way so I could raise our children and school them too and we are trying to find more and more ways to live simple and below our means! Thanks for your post!
    Your gardens are just beautiful!

  25. This is really one of the aspects of your blog which I appreciate most: the insistence on the authentic individual approach to what one does to be more simple, green, frugal. And one doesn't have to know all of it to begin. One can begin with one thing and see how that goes. I'm 64 with a fair amount of arthritis. I have no debt, really. I garden some, and belong to a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm. I'm trying to "bless others with my stuff" which is what one of my daughters calls the work of getting rid of the far too much stuff I've accumulated in 30 years in one house! It is a joy to see so many people, especially young ones, embracing these ideas.

  26. Hi Rhonda

    Another great post with lots of things to think about. And yes, I questioned your age when I read that you were 62!?
    The front garden is looking great, very tranquil, and I'm sure it will be a very pretty wedding. How exciting.

    Cheers - Joolz

  27. Reading your blog daily,has helped us become better citizens of this earth.
    With my husbands job loss last year we have month by month evaluated our bills, decided what is necessary and what really isn't.
    With that said, our consumption of gas, electricity , water, sewage has dropped drastically, and we haven't felt like we've lost anything at all.
    It was an eye opener as to what little you need.
    I now menu plan, write out grocery lists, stockpile when there is a sale on items I frequently use. Basically have used all your advice, to our way of life, and we are so much happier and feel freer than ever before.
    We can't wait to break soil for our garden.
    Thank You ,Thank You, for your wonderful , educational blog.

  28. I'm loving your new layout!

    I love your insporation, even if exactly what you do isn't what I do it's lovely to get another glimpse at what works for others.


  29. I have read and re-read this post.. and don't have much to add that hasn't already been said.. except: if I had to sit down to pot of home-made pea soup for seven nights in a row, I would be happy. yum.

  30. I also , like Mim, was thinking "I'll do this and that....if Rhonda can, so can I" and your life does sound so nice! But after a while, I realised we are at very different stages and to get up at dawn and bake bread sounds wonderful but in reality I think it might kill me! I have 3 young children, two of whom are not good sleepers and I confess to staying under the covers as long as I can to get more precious sleep. But there are other things I do that are setting me on the path to how I want to live. Like starting a vege patch- - the seedlings went in last week. It's easy to stockpile for me - buying several of whats on special has been a start, and I have all the ingredients to make up your washing powder (maybe this weekend?).
    Your blog has made me think of ways to save. Now when we have a roast chicken as soon as we are done I put the carcass in the pot and make stock -easy, and then it might be risotto for dinner the next night. Slowly everything you write about is seeping in , in so many ways and todays post was a great reminder to be aware of how you live and to adapt things to suit your own circumstances.
    Thanks Rhonda :)

  31. I have been following this new life for just over a year now and I think it is time I re-viewed my 'map'. Although I have been slowly changing the way I lead my life over that year I have not sat down and though about it in depth. Am I following my path and is this path right for my family? What are our next steps? Thank you for this lovely post.


    ps Can never remember how old I am either.

  32. Well said Rhonda. We can look to you for guidence but ultimately have to walk our own path to simple living.
    I finally posted the knitting pattern to you yesterday, everytime I would get to the PO it would be shut and I had to check the stamps I put on it. sorry about the delay.
    Bec xxx

  33. As a mother of 3 young boys,cooking nutritious,home made food is very important to me but washing up by hand isn't! My dishwasher frees up precious time that I can spend playing with the kids.
    Thanks for reminding us that everyone's "simple life" will be different. There is no "one sie fits all".
    P.S. Better to be one year younger than one year older!

  34. 'I encourage you to think about your life, think about what is important to you and then set about building your life to support your values. We don't all have to be carbon copies of each other.'
    Sounds like a straighter road to happiness to me ...
    June in Oz

  35. It's a bit like faith. Each person has to work it out for themselves. Other's can advise, inspire and encourage you, but it is up to us to make it real, relevant and workable in our own lives.

  36. This is so true. Everybody has to find their own path, matching their own circumstances.

    I love the picture of the rose.
    So perfect, these tiny rosy rose petals.

    Again, thanks for all your encouragement. I look forward to read your blog every day.


  37. This was a really lovely post, Rhonda. Your house and gardens are so beautiful and inviting. The wedding will be beautiful.

    I have been trying to weed out my life for several years now, when I realized I had food allergies. The start of the cleanse was with food. It is amazing how much nasty stuff goes in mass produced food. Give me a fresh salad from my garden any day!

    My mother and others wonder why I do things the hard way. I tell them I choose to because it's fun. I share my soaps, baked goods, crocheting, hospitality, etc. Not one of them complains when they come over for a meal or a visit.

    Thank you for being a kindred spirit in this venture, even though you're in AU and I'm in the US. Through your posts, it seems like I personally know you.

    Take care. I wish you and yours the best of everything.


  38. For years I have wanted to try to live more simply and try a lot of home-maker skills: bake bread, garden, sew, knit, cook all homemade, can, etc. It's through your blog and others that I was given the drive and motivation to start trying. And you know what? Although it's not the same as everyone else, it works for me AND it makes life just a little simplier and more enjoyable. Who knew that if you just try, you can succeed. :)

    Since this past winter, I've started cooking in bigger batches for leftovers and freezer meals. What a money and time saver!! Baked chickens for leftover meat and homemade stock, big pots of chili perfect for pulling out of the freezer for last minute easy meals, boiled hams, seasonal fruits, the list is long and I never thought that just a little more time and planning could result in such savings and bounty.

    Thank you for all your ideas! While sometime I do start with a copied idea, I find it only ever serves as a starting point for the many branches of new thoughts and skills that result. :)

  39. Wow! I love the new look.... I have not been here in a few days. All looks great and of course reads very well too! Thank you for all you share with us.

    cathy c

  40. What a wonderful post! You really get to the heart of the matter...sitting down and writing a list of important values before you begin your journey.

    Blessings to you, Hanno and your family,

  41. Thanks Rhonda! I don't know how many times I searched for the right "living recipe". I finally realized not too long ago that we all start with different ingredients, so it can't be the same for everyone. I also finally realized that I'm not going to make all the changes in one day. One step at a time in the right direction will get me there faster than planning my journey but never starting out. Our first step? Our own maple syrup from our own maple trees! What fun! By the way, I LOVE the new look of your blog. Thanks for all you do.

  42. Wonderful post, Rhonda! Something I have been thinking about as well, as I receive similar emails and comments.

    I use Feedburner's email subscription service. They don't have ads in the emails, and you can use it for both email and feedreader feeds.

  43. I have forgotten my real age several times too! Actual age is not real important in the scheme of things but when the doctor asks your age and you give one older than you are {and I have done this} you wonder if they realized you are wrong!! :)
    I wonder at times if I am doing that much in our road to simplicity. One time I noticed someone had listed what they were doing and also a list of where they wanted to add {rather subtract!} from the world's way of life. So I sat down and made a list and the list kept getting longer of what we already do. It has been a journey or many years and not complete by any means. Some days one thing leads us to learn a new way to do the next thing and such. It starts to come naturally. I guess that is a good word for it... naturally. I so enjoy reading of your own journey. You and Hano have much to teach us but the journey is ours to start where we are right now and start on that path to freedom .. freedom to make a lot of our own basic needs ...freedom from the world's "got ta have it mentality... freedom from so much stress...freeom to choose what we think is important...freedom to have the time to share our time and talents and products with others... and on and on. Freedom is never easy but so worth striving for and so gradifying to your soul to attain. Through it all though know you are not alone. God is still in control. He is also always with us. He is there for us all and is always ready to lift us up when we need it if we just humbly ask. Jody

  44. Super post! Part of what is so encouraging about your blog is the fact that you insist each person find their own way to a simple life :)

    A few weeks ago I did just as you suggested in this post and thought about what values were important to me and narrowed it down to three areas. I wrote those three in the front of a notebook and each day I write down one thing that I did to work toward those goals. When I'm feeling frustrated I just look in my book and am once again encouraged by the small successes achieved over just a few weeks!

    Thanks for all of your wonderful advice and practical ideas.

  45. Julie from Georgia (USA)April 08, 2009 3:16 am

    I just found your site a few weeks ago. I found it to be so inspiring & encouraging. I had already been thinking about how I could begin to break free from our materialistic and consumerism society. I had begun to realize that so much of what society (and sadly, often friends, co-workers and our churches) promotes is to buy more, buy certain things, live a certain way, etc. No creativity, no real freedom and enslavement to debt is overwhelming so many people. Thanks so much for your site - again it is so very inspirational!! ~Julie

  46. Your yard looks awesome and I can imagine how beautiful it will be for the wedding..I like all the greenery. A little 'starved' for that here as we have had snow for so too months!
    Yes you are right Rhonda, we all have to find our own ways of fitting into a simple life style...it will vary with everyone..you have many great ideas to get people started.
    I learned many of these 'simple ways' of life as a youngster..it was called survival then! grin

  47. hello Rhonda,

    I's sitting here at my computer this morning with a real sense of hope for the future. What an inspiring post this is. I could not agree with you more. We are all heading in the one direction but the mode in which we travel that path will be different for us all. No two lives are the same and they should not be. We are all individuals and should really not compare our life with someone elses. Lets all learn the good lessons and adapt them to suit ourselves and then let us all go for it. Great post once again.

    Blessings Gail


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