4 July 2011

One small step

Last week I received an email from a women who said she wanted to live a more simple life but she couldn't leave her job in the city until she paid off her mortgage; when she does that, she's moving to the countryside and will then get serious about simplifying. I have to question that course of action because it doesn't matter where you live, nor how much money you have, almost everyone can start simplifying right now, if they choose to. There is always something you can do, even if you're not doing everything you want to. Doing one or two things will start to make a difference in your life. This is not a competition but our days are numbered; you don't want to waste a day. 
Making sour cream and picking the first of the tomatoes in the backyard.
If you start with small modifications and changes, the big things will follow when you're ready for them. So you can't grow a garden where you are? Look around for a growers or farmers market and buy fresh fruit and vegetables  there.  You don't have the energy or the time to keep house or declutter your home? Start small by making your bed every morning and removing or recycling one thing per week. That could be as simple as giving a pair of your shoes or a dress you no longer wear to a friend or a local charity. You'd like to learn how to make bread but don't have the time? Learn how to make scones instead. It's simpler than working with yeast and it will get you baking and learning about how to mix flour with liquids and how your oven works. You can stop buying disposables and replace them with homemade dishloths, rags, sanitary products, modern cloth nappies and cotton shopping bags. You can't cook from scratch and don't have the time for it? Just stop buying takeaway food for now - cook your own food in your own home and see how much you save. You can start a budget, that will help you no matter what stage of life you're at. You can get rid of the harmful cleaning chemicals you use and start cleaning with homemade laundry liquid or powder, vinegar, bicarb, soap and elbow grease. You'll be surprised at how effective and cheap simple cleaning can be. And slow down, take time out for yourself to think and plan. That should be the easiest one but for so many of us, it's the toughest.

This simple life isn't a giant leap into the unknown for any of us. It's a series of simple steps that can be started in any way - you choose what you start with and how to keep going. What I write about here about my life with Hanno, well, it's just the way we've chosen to live. I know it's not for everyone and if we weren't the age we are now we'd be living simply, but in a different way. It's not an all or nothing way of life, in many respects, that's one of the attractions, because you can start with one small step and add others when you're ready. You'll find that some things you do now won't suit another stage. I have no doubt that Hanno and I will make changes in the coming years; as with everything we do, we'll make our life fit our capabilities and goals.

Knitting more Saartje bootees for the shop.
There are no simple living police watching what you do. Be kind to yourself and start small, add more when you can; if it doesn't work, don't be afraid to change things around until they suit you. I believe there are two big things attached to this way of life - it's usually a big change in attitude that gets you started, and there is a big payoff, in satisfaction and time and money saved, that keeps you going. But always remember it's your choice. Your life and how you live it should be about your choices, values, vision, goals and capabilities. Don't let anyone else tell you what you're doing isn't good enough, or strange. This simple life has the potential to be as beautiful and profound as you make it, and it all starts with one small step.



  1. So true. I don't expect to move to the country for the forseeable future, but my life is so different from my work colleagues already. They run after every chance for more money as they're in debt. I work with what I have. They obsess about holidays abroad, soap operas, "talent" shows, buy TV listings magazines and branded convenience foods. I haven't flown in over 20 years, and with the exception of a fondness for detective shows, my TV watching is factual programmes, my reading matter is non fiction and my shopping basket contains the ingredients to augment what we raise ourselves.

    They think I'm odd, and working too hard when I could just buy the things I make from scratch. But they look forward to me brining artisan cheeses from farmers markets, heritage apples from the allotment, and the half dozen hens' eggs on their birthdays.

    I call what I'm aiming for Un-Dependence, and enjoy every little step I take on the way.

  2. Here here!

    We are in our 20's and trying to live simply within our limitations, and it is working just fine for us. We both work, rent a basement suite, and don't really have a yard. So what do I do? I have 5 pots of tomatoes growing in our driveway, we make all of our cleaners, and we shop at the local farmer's market for all of our produce during the summer. I also can and preserve as much as possible for the winter, and we cook from scratch only. We have limits, but we make it work! Thank you for your daily inspiration Rhonda, it keeps me going on days when it all just seems too much! You make me remember that we are doing this for a reason, and it really is too good to pass up!



  3. I love the truth in your post , but I hear your frustration with those who have many excuses to not make changes for a better or simpler life! They are not understanding that your choices are not the perfect fit for everyone! Your posts are meant to be a guide line and a informational series for helping those who want this kind of life! I do want it and I am doing well with trying to start it! It is a slow process that is going well, it also has its limitations due to age! A better life yes it is, to just slow down and enjoy the world around us and no we do not have lots of money but we are substainable in that area! From many years working. For those who do not get it simple living is great!!! What things you are missing out on! The wonderful feeling of I did this myself and just for pennies!!

  4. Melissa in Oregon, USAJuly 04, 2011 5:30 am

    Thank you so much for saying that about there not being any "simple living police". That's such a good reminder. I don't really feel like I'm in competition with anyone, but I do feel like I'm being judged (by invisible simple living police, apparently) when I fall short of what I expected. I really value what I learn from your blog.

  5. I think the best advice I can give someone who is just starting to live a more simple life is to find your own way, keep on trying and never give up. If something doesn't work for you, don't worry about it, find a way that does. It's all about little changes initially that lead to a big change in lifestyle. We're reguarly changing the way we shop, budget and live to find the best way for us. we don't have a garden but I'm planning to have a serious container harvest next year once our flat roof has been reinforced!In the mean time I buy locally where I can and Fairtrade where I can't. We've only recently bought our first home and really want to pay off the mortgage early- for us that means living as simply as and frugally as possible, as it saves us money and makes life more enjoyable :) I hope the reader that emails you realises that leading a more simple frugal life can HELP her to pay off her mortgage early, rather than be an end result. Hugs Gillie x x x

  6. I totally agree! I live in a very small appartement myself, without an oven, and have a very small budget. And my DCD makes cooking really difficult. But I'm glad with everything I can do or make myself.

  7. Hi Miss Rhonda, I've tried making sour cream before, with no luck, how do you do it? Hugs, Espy

  8. Espy, I mix 600 mls pure cream and 200 mls of milk, together and heat it, then add sour cream culture. I leave the warm cream in a wide mouth flask for 12 hours and it's ready.

  9. Rhonda,

    what alovely post..I LOVE the simple encouragement to begin right where you are :) :) Even if you are not where you want to be right now, there is always something you can do. I'm a perfect example of that. I live in an apartment in the city. Someday I'll li ve in the country. In the meantinme, there's lots I can do now to le ad a simp ler life. I make all my meals at home, I make most of my cleaning supplies. It saves lots of money, which is helpful since summer has arrived...and I'm running the air conditioner :) :) Anyways, it's just a small example. There is always something we can do...always ;) :) Have a lovely week. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  10. Hi rhonda
    Great post today! Attitude, that´s a really big issue. It can create unnnecessary hurdles. (Mine for instance is HATING gardening- but I LOVE flowers, fruit and veggies so there is a constant conflict going on ;) !!) One delusion many people have is thinking things like: "I don´t have time, I´m no good at that, I don´t have money..etc" It doesn´t help at all, it´s better to focus on doing what you can with what you have, managing your time and money wisely etc. I have a very busy life at the moment, I´m a university student with 3 children. Yet I find time to cook from scratch and do some knitting( and browsing on the internet obviously) I like cooking and there are endless recipies out there for meals that are budget friendly, nutritious, easy and quick. Thanks for great blog ;)
    best regard

  11. Living simply while working towards your goal will get you to you goal even more quickly. All the money you save by doing and growing your own can come off your mortgage. You go girl.

  12. Well said!! I know one thing for sure...there will always be change and you have to embrace it and not fear it!! If something does not work for you-change it! Don't be afraid to try things,it is all an adventure! Enjoy life!

  13. Sing it Sister!!! I think that whenever we're contemplating a change in lifestyle, we end up focusing way too much on the picture we have in our heads of how it's all gonna look once we "get there". But the truth is that "there" doesn't exist.

    Simple living is a state of mind more than anything else, and you don't need anything more than a willingness to change to get started. I've been working at this pretty much my entire adult life, and am thoroughly convinced that there as as many different ways to live simply as there are people on the planet.

    I think it's very easy to fall into the trap of all or nothing thinking... I also think we use that thought process as a way of avoiding making changes. My personal opinion is that even though we may long for the simple life, we've often terrified of not having the distraction that all of the complications provide for us. After all, there's no time to be confronted with our innermost fears and insecurities when every moment of every day is filled with business.

  14. I decided that I wanted to go to bed each night feeling happy that I had treated the earth as kindly as I could - trying to give back as much as we took. We don't go to extreme lengths, but we have chooks, a small veggie plot and we recycle, recycle, recycle!!
    The other thing city people can do is look for a community garden - a great way to learn new skills and grow your own!

  15. Hi Rhonda,
    I've been reading your blog for around 2 years or so now. I spent hours last night going through lots of your old posts, particularly cutting back. See, I live in the country. We moved here for my husbands work, and for the first 2 years, he earned nothing, or close enough to it that it felt like nothing! We grew vegies, cooked from scratch (cooking is my therapy, it wasn't hard!, went without and I worked part time while my eldest went off to school and my youngest went to daycare on the days I worked. As a teacher, this worked well as casual work is very lucrative. Last year, I started doing fulltime 'blocks' (4-8 weeks of fulltime work). From there, I went fulltime this year (temporarily while the teacher I replace takes 12 months off). I am now halfway through this block and thankfully, on holidays! Career-wise, this year is so fullfilling. I have my own class and feel like I can really make a difference in their lives! On the home front, I'm pulling my hair out! Only on of our 2 vegie gardens has anything in it, and it's a mess. We recently got chickenc, and that's just added to hubby's responsibilities (the kids help, but can't do it on their own). I muck out the shed on the weekends, so that's added to my housework. I miss all school assemblies and the kids are limited in after school activities, as my husband picks them up, feeds them, and heads back outside to continue working and I get home around 5.30!

    So my plan? See out the next 6 months of my contract and then cut back. We can now live off hubby's wage as long as I average a day or 2 during the school term to supplement the yearly neurologists, ophthalmologists and GP visits and prescriptions that come with asthma and epilepsy.

    I put it this way, I want to be out of debt as soon as possible, as does my husband to an almost obsessive point! But I don't want that at the risk of missing my kids lives! I can pay off debt and cut back later, when the kids are teenagers and want nothing to do with me! Or I can go without those new shoes that look so divine but where will I wear them if I'm not working full-time anyways? I got through uni while having both kids and barely working, if at all. If I can do that while renovating a house, I can do it now, right?

    Thank you so much Rhonda for all of your advice and your example to me. I haven't a mum or mum-in-law to guide me, so I'm really grateful to have you. You tell me that it's ok to not want every'thing' but to be the woman i wish to be. To anyone who 'disses' my choice and suggests I pay off debt first I say, "My mum died at 32. I don't imagine she died wishing she'd worked more!"

    Sorry for the long comment :)

  16. Thank you for this post. It is inspiring and encouraging. I have naturally started the process of simplifying out of a personal growth experience. I have suddenly found myself emptying my wardrobe of things I don't wear or need. My house too. Then I started a budget just to see where our money goes. Actually recording where our money is going is so eye opening...also helpful in making choices about what to cull. This post has inspired me to push further along this line of living, so thank you. x

  17. You're so right Rhonda...we all need to slow down a bit...Great post.

  18. Rhonda & EcoCatLady, well said. I agree, we so often do focus on the final picture and not the actual journey, when really, the journey is everything - those small day to day moments that work together to create the whole. The end picture is just some vague image we create in our minds and we'll never achieve it unless we start now. Today is all we have. Warmest Regards, Miki

  19. Rhonda, for some reason this is one of my favorite posts of yours. It spoke to me with you breaking it down to simple steps. Each one I read and thought to myself...I can do that, or I already do that without realizing I was simplifying.
    Thanks for having this blog. You really inspire me

  20. I love the way you think, Rhonda.It fits in nicely with a permaculture principle "start at your back door" which applies nicely to gardening but also to life in general,I think i.e. start close to where you're at and move out little bits at a time.

  21. Every word is a truth! While our ground is unsuitable for extensive gardening [lack of water and hot dry weather for months on end] I do grow basil [love basil!] and other herbs, and flowers to lighten the spirit.
    TV? Dont have it and certainly do not miss it. I sew, knit, cook and only buy basic ingredients from the supermarket, buy many of our veges from the market.
    And some folks think we have little, when in fact we have such a lot:)
    Lovely posting, thank you.

  22. What a fabulous post! Change can be overwhelming so suggestions of how to get started in simple small steps is very helpful. Imagine how many people will make small changes after reading your post. My Gran used to say to me when I was overwhelmed with homework in year 12..."just start, 10 mins will do" and sure enough once I got going I didn't stop and the work would get done, much to my relief. Wise words :)

  23. Well said Rhonda, I wish I could have a home with a garden that I could put preserves and freeze veggies from but that won't happen for a while.

    I am simplifying though both in my life and in the gifts I give. I rarely buy a new product for a gift. I make dishclothes, jam and pickles (I did in the past and I am going to start again this year). I visit the farmer's market weekly and make things like my own strawberry rhurbarb sauce that turns plain yogurt or pancakes in gourmet treats. :-)

    In general I am trying to live less on credit and actually save money for the future. Small steps for now but it was reading your blog that really kickstarted my dreams a couple of years ago.



  24. What a good post and so many great comments! To Kristy,don't worry about your veggie patch not being kept up. I worked extra days at the end of last year and needlessly beat myself up because I couldn't keep up the garden too. Simple living really doesn't have to be all or nothing, you just do what you can manage at the time. Trying to keep up being competely self-sufficient and working is a recipe for stress - surely not what are aiming for when we commit to simplifying our lives?
    Eco cat Lady - how right you are when you say we never get 'there' - life, including the simple life, is valuing every step of the journey not just the destination. Today is the only day we have.
    have a beautiful,simple day everyone.


  25. A wonderful inspiring post as usual Rhonda,i live a very simple life now,i don't live in the country,i live in a very tiny unit,so small it's only big enough for me and my little Cat,i had to down shift big time,due to circumstances out of my control,i have gone from a rather extravagant lifestyle,to now living on a very tiny fixed low income,i cook everything i can from scratch,i grow what i can in pot's,i make all my cleaner's,bake bread,make jam,live off my very strict budget,i cut corner's wherever is possible,i do not feel deprived,i feel happy and contented,i don't need new clothes,i go to Op-shop's if i need anything now,and that's fun,my one thing i splurge on is having the Internet,i spend more time on this than watching tv,and i listen to the Radio,the very first blog i can across when i was looking for a simpler way of living was your's Rhonda,and you have inspired me ever since,thank you for putting me on this wonderful road to happiness,and every morning i look forward to your post,and all the comment's,all my love, Carol

  26. I appreciate what you have said in this post. I have been feeling a bit discouraged about living more simply and not being at the place where I would like to be. I live in the middle of a city in an apartment and felt that unless I could grow my own garden and start making my own clothes (I can barely sew a button!) that there wasn't even much use in trying. After reading your post, the encouraging words, it feels possible. In a slow, but steady way, to make real, lasting changes. Thank you for your common sense words of wisdom =)

  27. I am really grateful that you answered this lady's email Rhonda-I have been reading your blog for awhile now, and garnering little tidbits...I now make my own wash powder and liquid, green clean,and do cook as much as I can from scratch. We are in the process of upsizing, from a household allotment to acreage, and I cannot wait-chickens,vege plots and Comfrey here I come!!! I was however overwhelmed, sounds daft, but where to start? I think I am on the right track:) I think I should start blogging to remind me how far we have transitioned , once the place is ours. Thank you so much for every pearl of wisdom you share-my family I know is going to be so much happier for it.

  28. I like to tick off things that I can walk past in the supermarket, I get a little smile on my face every time I can walk past another product knowing I will never have to buy it again because I can make my own or have a more natural alternative. It started out one product at a time, but now there are whole isles I can walk past :)

  29. This is a lovely and important post Rhonda. The planet can not wait for everyone to move to the country - nor is this even possible. What is possible and imperative is for city folk (just like me) to feel like they can take important steps to slow down, simplify and connect. City folk are in the wonderful position to be able to choose to support local farmers growing food sustainably and organically......through farmers markets and programs like food connect, and to create green spaces for food production (even if it is just pots of herbs) just where they are. We NEED sustainable cities and the only people that can make this happen is the people living in them!

    I love the idea of just one thing - grow just one thing, do just one thing, and then, once that thing is done or happening, do another!

    Duckie xxx

  30. Wonderful post:) For me it was visiting the farmers markets weekly that started us off in the direction of simple living. It was one thing at a time, and though there is much more I would love to do, there is a great deal of things I do now that I didn't do four years ago.

  31. I'm very much trying to remember this myself. Truthfully, I've made a lot of small changes, but sometimes I want to just go for broke and jump in with the big changes. Realistically I know that this isn't practical right now, but the temptation is still there at times. Until then, though, other than a few moments of wishful thinking I'm very happy changing what I can when I can. I'm absolutely one of those who could afford to take it easy a bit more, though - perhaps that's the next thing to work on.

  32. As always, you inspire me every time I read. Many, many thanks. And also, thanks for the 2 blogs you mentioned. I am making citrus cleanser and rosemary hair rinse right now.

  33. Well said Rhonda! Sometimes it's taking the first step that's the most difficult especially if you're seeing the landscape view at the end and not the verandah view that you can start from.

  34. I too am new at setting some new changes in my lifestyle and I have no choice but to accept that this will be a slow process for me but a worthy learning process. Lessons I learn from this blog and all your dear followers I'm getting to know will teach me how to live simply. Then thanks to all of you I can pass what I know onto my (adult) children and hopefully one day my grandchildren will have a much better knowledge bank on how to look after this planet like it was meant to be. Sincere thanks to Rhonda and friends.

  35. I too am new at setting some new changes in my lifestyle and I have no choice but to accept that this will be a slow process for me but a worthy learning process. Lessons I learn from this blog and all your dear followers I'm getting to know will teach me how to live simply. Then thanks to all of you I can pass what I know onto my (adult) children and hopefully one day my grandchildren will have a much better knowledge bank on how to look after this planet like it was meant to be. Sincere thanks to Rhonda and friends.

  36. Hi Rhonda,

    Couldn't agree more. We recently bought an electric meat saw and we are now butchering our own meat. We have started with goat as our neighbours breed meat goats. The first one when dressed (cut up and packed for the freezer) worked out to be $4.66 per kilo. Soooo much cheaper than the butcher or chain stores. Tonight I am cooking Lambs (goats) fry and Bacon. Such a reasonable meal and so tasty. We are also getting more veggies going in the garden. The more varieties we can grow the better the selection each day.
    Taking one step at a time is certainly the way to go. Start with a corner of your garden and get that going and then move on to the next part. I also like to keep some herbs etc growing near my back door. Easy to water and easy to pick at dinner time.
    Yes we are living the good life.

    Blessings Gail

  37. I think that sometimes we think that we need the complet picture in order to live a simple life. We live in the suburbs and truly hate most of it particularly really close neighbours and council restrictions on having chooks, but like you say we do what we can. I cook almost everything you can think of from scratch and use this to pack my children's lunch boxes and hubby's for work. Cleaning is now either basics like vinegar and bicarb or enviro products. Part of living simple for me would include organics but one a single small income it is just not possible. We do have a bit of a veggie patch on the go...learning every day. I like minimalist, a bit industrial mixed with worn wood, contemporary style which is far from country, vintage, shabby-chic but with careful selection I can even find ways to furnish my home simply and with a tight budget. I think we all wish that we could move rural tommorrow but realisticlly a lot of us are where we are because of employment. Maybe simple living is a 'state of mind' a bit like contentment as opposed to happiness. Chrissy :)

  38. Dear Rhonda, I look forward to your blog each day. One small step I made last year has bought me a lot of joy. I grow my own herbs in pots on my small balcony but discovered the pleasure of joining a community garden. They are popping up all over the place in Brisbane, not sure about other towns and cities. But as well as being a healthy occupation, the social side is so rewarding, and it's wonderful to share the organic veggies with other volunteers.

  39. You're so right, Rhonda (as always!). It's all about making do with what you can, when and how you can. It's all small steps, and it's probably easier to do it in small steps. Imagine making all these simple living changes all at once! You'd probably never be able to stick with it, because the change would be too stark. I'm making small changes for our household, and although even with these small changes I get strange looks from friends and family, there's so many more changes to come - when we're ready.

    Thanks again for your words of wisdom.

    I thought you (and your readers) might be interested in this article over on Offbeat Home - about giving up the 'big G' (the grocery store / supermarket) http://offbeathome.com/2011/07/no-grocery-store

  40. Another great post :)

    For so many years I put off/ held off growing my own vegetables, preserving my own food etc because for some reason I had in my mind that I couldn't do it while living on a 405m2 block in the city so I left it until we moved to the country and acreage. Now, for one reason and another, we're back living in town yet I have a bigger garden on a smaller block and a pantry filled with more homemade preserves than ever before!

    I only wish now that I knew then what I know now - I feel I have wasted so much precious time waiting until things were 'just right' to do them. I now realise I didn't have to wait at all - it was always in me just waiting to get out and didn't need any set of 'conditions' to be achieved!

  41. I think this is a really important point. Simplicity looks different for everyone! We are kind of going the other way; we will eventually be moving into the city, so that we can walk to everything we need, and get rid of at least one car. That means having less square footage/property to take care of, though I'm hoping for a balcony for a few tomato plants and herbs! So I think it's great to remember that simplicity is not just country living - it's a state of mind!
    Thank you, Rhonda, for sharing your wonderful and encouraging words.

  42. Awesome post Rhonda-thanks for the daily encouragement.

  43. Thanks for the encouragement to take things one small step at a time, Rhonda! This is what we have been doing slowly over the past two years. I have started baking my own bread, switched from most disposable products, and I love our weekly trips to the farmer's market! Cooking with really fresh produce is more fun. :)

    I often feel as though I still have a long way to go, but then a gentle reminder like yours keeps me from feeling discouraged. Thank you!

  44. Thank you Rhonda for showing me that we really can start where we are. I am living in the middle of an inner-city council estate in UK. It's not what I would choose but this is where I am for the moment. I have been reading your blog for a couple of years & it is your blog which has inspired me to change the way I live. I struggle with perfectionism & in the past I haven't even attempted things because I thought I might not do them right but one of your earlier posts said "do what you can, where you are" so I decided to have a go. I grew some herbs on the kitchen windowsill & used them to cook from scratch. I cut down on disposables & I am trying to think about packaging etc when I buy food. I have started baking which I love (so does my hubby) & I am using vinegar & bicarb to clean my home. A big part of simple living for me has been learning to live intentionally, to decide how I want to live & not to be led by what other people say or expect. One day, last week, I had just taken some scones out of the oven & I was watching some sparrows playing in our (very small) garden among the strawberry plants & I realised "this is it, I'm doing it, I'm living the life I want" Yes, there are lots of things I haven't got round to yet, I still want to make soap & make vinegar & knit dishcloths but this simple life is a journey & not a destination & I'm on the journey. Thank you Rhonda for all your practical guidance but most of all for your inspiration & encouragement. Anne in UK

  45. I just want to give you a BIG BIG hug!!! Gerry from France

  46. Here, Here!!!! I'm with you Rhonda!!!

    You only have one life so you may as well make the most of it and live the best possible life that you can where ever you are...

    Jodie :)

  47. Hi Rhonda,
    Great article. I live in the city and due to medical necessity will probably never live in the country, but do lots of things to simplify. Made a small square foot garden out of recycled bricks, vegies are even amazing the family, have a worm farm, cook from scratch, use library, simple green cleaning, make soap occassionally, but would like to more often, share recipes with others, try to limit my buys, recycle, and find time everyday to enjoy the beauties of nature. Because I encourage the birds I have no need for any insecticides they take care of it all.
    Hi Ian,
    I love that mentality of walking past items on the supermarket shelves that you will never have to buy again! I know I do this, but not as consciously....will start! This really put a smile on my face and I think I'm going to keep a list on the pantry door:)

  48. Love this post, Rhonda. It is so encouraging. It is often a bit overwhelming to read about making soap from scratch and so on, but this reminds me that cooking our own meals and growing my own herbs is a genuine start and that is good enough for now. "From little things big things grow" as the Paul Kelly song says .

  49. Things I do in my city apartment:
    - knit scarves and hats and socks
    - sew dresses and skirts (some)
    - buy clothes and books and stuffs second hand for cheap =)
    - grow herbs and raspberries and garlic and onions and radishes and lettuce on the balcony (not enough to sustain us, but every bit helps)
    - grow a lemontree inside the house (sprouted it on a damp washcloth over the heater)
    - save some seeds from good food, sprout them - we've got baby apple trees now to plant all over the city (it's called guerilla gardening ;))or to give away :)
    - make creamcheese and cottage cheese and ricotta cheese (tip: you can use lemonjuice or vinegar instead of rennet)
    - bake all our bread with sourdough starter
    - cook meals from scratch
    - make yogurt in a thermos
    - send dear beloved off on fishing trips ;)
    - bake all pies and cookies myself, make applesauce when apples are for cheap, etc.
    - shop at the market
    - sweep, not vaccuum
    - linedry, not machinedry
    - clean with vinegar, not poisons
    - use old pillowcases and tablecloths and such for cleaning, or to make aprons with
    - buy fabric samples from the curtain store (much more cheaper)
    - HAVE NO TV (yay!)
    - prepare by reading reading reading so I'll know what to do once I do get that lovely little country cottage (fingers crossed!)

    Just some ideas! I'll be taking up soapmaking once I got the space for the extra pans and I'm learning to crochet for pretty things, too, and I might get dear beloved to make me a makeshift cheesepress. We're students in the city, but it works so far. Babysteps...

    Much love!

  50. So true! We are about to move at a completely horrid time of year to start anything growing and there are some things about the property that don't suit my ideas of the kind of self-sufficient lifestyle that I would like to have. Additionally, I am in my years of pregnancy with small babies to care for and I have to be realistic about how much time and energy that I actually have available. BUT there are so many things that I can do either in the cracks of time that I do have or by modifying some of the things that I have to do anyway (like diaper laundry). For example, I probably won't be making our applesauce this year because of when the baby is due but I can focus on canning earlier season fruits and just generally work with the resources that I do have available to me right now, right here. It's astonishing how many those are when I really focus on those rather than what I don't have or can't do. I hope that someday I will have the space (and sun exposure) to do more. However, it is good for me to be learning and practicing the skills on a smaller scale now.
    Kristy, I also agree with the principle of working to pay off debt as quickly as possible. However, you are even more right to note that your children are more valuable and precious and that your time with them is finite as well. What a great example of balancing priorities. And imagine all of the things that you can teach them about living simply and frugally by virtue of the fact that you are there and making the kinds of decisions that require that lifestyle anyway!

  51. What a wonderful post, Rhonda. Sometimes I start feeling very farm from the self-sufficient urban homesteading life. I read of your solar panels and long for my own. But, I then have to remind myself that I am working hard towards that end. Our garden grows larger every year. We make more of our own cleansers. I make the bed each morning. I bake bread (and I totally started with quick breads because they were less intimidating than yeast which are now no trouble to me at all!). I am simplifying, even if I am not yet as simple as I'd like to be. Its all such an experience though and I sometimes have to remind myself value every minute of the journey. Thanks for the reminder and your continued inspiration to me as I journey.

  52. http://thelittleblackcowblog.blogspot.comJuly 06, 2011 6:28 am

    We live in the country now ...but when I was teaching in the city , I could have made so many changes and saved so much money , had I known how to do it.
    People see what we are doing ...and feel overwhelmed by it . I have to remember when I telling people about what I do that I emphasize that we just didn't start here. For me, it started with a punnet of pansies and a punnet of tomato plants that my father in law lovingly brought me....now my vege patch is almost self suffient.
    Read and dream ...and take baby steps . One day you will look back and be amazed where you started. You may even have saved enough money to moveto the country!!


  53. Great post. I think this goes further than even you have stated: for anyone saying "when I have X, I will do Y" the fact is that they won't, because there is nothing magical about living in the country that will make someone be able to do things like simplify, start a garden, etc. If you aren't doing it now, you won't do it then.

    Small changes are the only way to go. I am 22 and live in a small apartment with my husband. We just started washing our own clothes basically by hand, wringing them by hand, and drying inside on hangers. I make my own soap (thanks to your tutorial, which is top notch), which is infinitely better than store bought. We do not own any toxic cleaners but clean instead with vinegar, water, soap, baking soda, and a scrub brush. We both have food intolerances that keep us eating at home for every meal. I've started food and water storage in preparation for winter. I've knit and crocheted presents for people for years. I started a "handmade Christmas" with my family three years ago, and everyone loves it. I use cloth menstrual pads. I made my own cloth grocery bags. In the past I've handmade yogurt, granola, and baked bread (now we cannot eat any of those due to intolerances). I just put our chores into a deep-cleaning schedule of one "zone" a day. And we are debt free!

    The next step, when we're ready, is to stop using our dishwasher. If I had tried to start all of the above things at once, I would have quit after just reading the list. This is a process several years in the making. Everyone wants the magic pill. It exists: it's called manual labor and slow changes, all the while being patient with yourself. Thank you for what you do, Rhonda. You are truly changing hearts and minds with your writings.

  54. "There are no simple living police watching what you do. " LOL

  55. This is a great post and it has inspired me to keep on what I have started. This year veges grown in really large pots (that were not being used). Standing back and looking at our fruit trees and how to make them more productive. I already sew for myself and granddaughter, knit constantly, and have discovered that a knitted face washer so much better than a purchased towelling one.


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