Raising the virtual barn

2 October 2009
I am not always the sensible and relaxed person I appear to be on my blog. Sometimes I am stressed by the pressures I face during the course of my normal week. I see families at times who break my heart; I meet people I want to help, but can’t. When Hanno is sick I do his work and mine and hope that tomorrow will return to our normal. When I am sick I wonder if I'll ever return to how I used to be and that maybe this is our turning point; the time when we go from being capable and hard working to letting go a bit and relaxing more. I always think I can do more than I can. My mother used to call that biting off more than I can chew. I've always done it, I doubt there is a cure for that kind of self belief and optimism but doing it all through my life has rewarded me with interesting and exciting times, full of challenges along a road less travelled.

Work in progress - various dishcloths and a jumper for Hanno.

Overall, the life we have built for ourselves here runs along smoothly. I surround myself with like-minded souls and I reap the benefits of that. I shield myself as much as I can from advertising – even now it can create an unhealthy yearning for material possessions. I remember the kindness and generosity of my mother and try to walk the path she did. As often as I can I read blogs and books that enliven me and urge me on, I collect photos to use as virtual wallpaper to remind myself of my goals. I try not to meet too many new people and I stick to what and who I know. I do everything I can to stay on my chosen path. Sometimes that's easy, sometimes it's not.

The outdoor sink with celery, cosmos and sweet potatoes ready for planting.

There is a simple kind of wisdom in being with your own kind. You are given the support you need and in turn, give it back, you have people to bounce ideas off and sometimes you see someone do something you want to do but believe you can't. That kind of example is as close to inspiration as I get and when I see difficult or complex tasks being done, it gives me reason to believe that I can do it too.
The pecan tree is bursting into life again.

I have been really heartened to see the Down to Earth forum build as it has. I hoped for a place where we could all find the support and affirmation we need, it's there. I wanted members to contribute their ideas and stories - that is happening. For my own sanity, I needed it to be a peaceful place where respect and generosity featured in abundance, and where members could be anchored, feeling secure, in a safe haven. Tick.

Quentin and Quince having an afternoon snooze near the back door.

It was a risky business leaping forward into the unknown believing that people who are living simply, even though they are unknown to me, would combine into this wonderful and interesting community of friends. It's paid off though. With the help of Sharon, devonia, TammyJ, LashyLashla, Hibiscus34, BarbInGA, guenhwyvar, katheek77, KimberMama, Darroch, Whacky, LeanneNZ, happy2bme and all the members there now, we have built a meeting place that affirms the values of simple, green and frugal living and supports those living true to those values.

One of the aspects of the forum that I love is that those new to this way of life are fostered and encouraged by those who have been living it for some time. We may not be able to raise a barn but we can endorse the ideas that support such a great enterprise and we can gain the strength and confidence to live as we wish and to go into our own real communities and help them towards a sustainable future.

Thank you for another week full of interest and sharing. I hope you spend the weekend doing what you love.


  1. Rhonda, you'd better fix the typo in the title!

  2. Just wanted to say that I recently found your blog and I love it! Here in the U.S. we are in a huge recession and it has really hit home. I'm being forced (kicking and screaming) to start being more frugal and generally more sensible with 3 teenagers to feed. I work outside the home too, so I am sifting through ideas and tips that will work for my family. This is a great site and keep up the good work!

    Molly in Sumner, WA USA

  3. What a nice phlosophical post to chew on today. Google Reader seems to be a bit slow on listing your new posts this week -- if I had the foggiest what to do I would suggest it. Have a lovely weekend Rhonda dear.

  4. Sadly, in my own life the only people who are like me are those I know in the blog world. I've yet to meet any one else on the path I am on in my day to day life. I am glad for the blogs, or it would be really lonely. I have learned so much!!!
    I just pulled the rest of the garden. Our first freeze is forecast for tonight. I've never SEEN so many tomatoes in one place in my life. Here is to hoping they continue to ripen off vine. I'm looking for a warm place to keep them as you wrote the temperature would help more than light. I am leaning toward the garage. It is dark, but stays warmer than anywhere else.
    Thank you for your teaching and encouragement! It has meant a lot to this simple gal on the other side of the world.

  5. I live in a small town, bedroom community. I know more about people on blogs than I do right here in town. It's one of those places where new people just don't fit in until they've been around for a long, long time. Gets depressing sometimes.

    Hope you feel better tomorrow. I'm having one of those days, too. Liz

  6. Thank you for your blogs, i read them every day and dream of changing my life to be more simple, unfortunately my partner is against saving money when it comes to food etc. it reminds him of when he was a child growing up in a family with little money.
    I've tried to explain we will never go without, we'd just be doing things differently. This has become more important to me since recently purchasing our first home.
    I'll just do my bit for myself.
    Again, thank you!

  7. Rhonda,

    I just wanted to tell you how wonderful the new forum is. I get up each day and can't wait to log on and see what everyone is doing. It is so nice to spend time with such a supportive like-minded group of people.

    Have a great weekend,

    Melanie (happy2bme)

  8. great post rhonda! so true to your "down to earth" title ... in more ways than just one! glad we inspire you, as well.

  9. Rhonda, in your photo you mention that you have sweet potatoes ready for planting. I am curious as to how you go about planting them from what looks like fully grown sweet potatoes. Could you let us know how you do this as I would like to try. Rhonda your blog has inspired me to live a more self sufficient simple life and I now have a huge vege garden and other happenings. Without your blog I doubt I would have been so inspired so I am so glad we have "blog" world where we can meet like minded people. I too do not know many people who live a frugal/simple life so blogs like yours are like a lifeline.


  10. P.S. My breadmaker packed up on Wednesday. After panicking about how I would make bread, I followed your tutorial and it came out perfect.
    Kneading the dough is very meditative and I have a bigger workspace now the ugly brute is gone. Why didn't I try this before?

    Birmingham UK

  11. Great post (as always, Rhonda). It so mirror what I feel so much of the time. I continue to bite off more than I can chew AND I tend to set the bar far too high for me. Little by little, I have a hard time remembering that. I hear now that I need to really work to shield myself from advertising because it does so encourage unhealthy and unneeded wants and desires.

    I read your post AND the comments for encouragement. It gave me heart to read others who feel lost. I had a hard time getting onto the forum. I think I need to try harder. Thanks for the post. I think of you so often in my life for encouragement. I shall think of you with love and encouragement today in return.

  12. I love your blog. It gives me hope and inspiration to live a better life..a simpler one.
    Thank you.

  13. I love this post, thanks so much for it, just what I needed today.
    Sometimes I get insecure about the path I'm taking. When I think about it, it's not the path that makes me insecure but the way I think other people look at me. I know it shouldn't matter, but sometimes...


  14. I have only recently found your site and love it. It is encouraging without being pushy. Gentle and motivating. Thank you

  15. Rhonda, thank you so much for your honesty in sharing your thoughts and life with all of us. I get up in the morning, turn on my coffee, feed my kitties and when my coffee is ready I fire up the laptop and scroll to your site. I start my day with inspiration and much to think about. For me it is all about coming full circle and also discovering much that is new to me. Hope you have a great weekend, looking forward to Monday!
    Karen from CT

  16. Just a quick question. I thought I had posted the other day, but I guess I am even dreaming of your site now- at least their sweet dreams =) Anyway, I was wanting to know what you call the little jar covers. I would love to find instructions on how to make one like the embroidered one with crocheted edgings. I have googled every way I can think of but to no avail. Seems like you mentioned them before, but couldn't find it on here either.


  17. Thanks you all for your kind comments.

    uvuz4, here in Australia we call them milk jug covers - they are a relic of a bygone period but as you know, I believe in using all that old stuff when it still has relevance. There is a pattern for one here, although the kiwis call it a bowl cover.


  18. Hi Rhonda..i read your blog everyday & love it...i would like to join your forum also & have tried without success to do this...i dont know if its were i live or some other reason, there does not even seem to be any where to log onto it...could you help me please..Joy, U.K.

  19. Hi Rhonda

    Am I missing something with the forum? I had signed up and was happily reading posts until this morning. Then I had to validate my Yuku logon to try and reply to a comment - now I can't read the posts without having to apply for membership to each section! I could read them yesterday!

  20. Thank you,

    That is the only pattern that I could find. I'm afraid that if I bite that off, it may be more than I can chew, I'm a novice crocheter.
    I will keep it bookmarked for when I feel more confident and no the lingo better. Thank's again,


  21. Hi I am Lee and I live in the United States. I found your blog a couple of days ago. I found your blog refreshing to read. Please read some of my blogs, I am trying to go national. My blog is http://1frugalqueen.blogspot.com
    Keep writing, I'm enjoying the blogs. :)

  22. I just want to say CONGRATS on your Burkes Backyard article !! I've just had a quick read of it whilst visiting my parents place. My mother had just suggested driving up to woolies to buy a cake !! I replied with 'lets cook one ourselves' !! so with determination, I'll try to do that. Thankyou so much for your blog, I thoroughly enjoy it and love the ideas !

  23. Yes, well, I vacillate between sticking with like-minds and stretching my comfort zone. I think my life needs a combination of both, but I really, really need roots. And roots come from those who are "with me," so I get what you are saying. Thanks for making me think. C

  24. you are always inspiring people. keep it up!


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