10 August 2011

Less is more

Once upon a time, suburban homes were showpieces where the smartest appliances, the largest screens and latest furnishings combined to place the home owners on a pedestal alongside their neighbours - pillars of the community and working hard to pay for every new thing that caught their eye. Often the king and queen spent long hours working away from the castle so that whenever a new sparkler appeared, it could be bought straight away and added to the trophy house.

Times have changed. A breath of fresh air sweep through and now many people are more concerned with self reliance than acquisition, and along with the smell of home cooked meals, we hear the click of knitting needles and the buzzing of the sewing machine. People have returned home again. Many are discovering the joy of cooking for the first time and along with that, gathering their family to the table for meals and the significant connection it brings. Gardens are being dug, nesting boxes for chickens being built, fruit trees planted. Garments are being mended instead of replaced with something new. Shopping in second hand stores and op shops is no longer looked down on - it's cool now. And the wonderful thing that has come hand-in-hand with these new (old) ways, is a feeling of contentment and something close to pride in building self reliance and working towards sustainable lives.

Who would have thought a few short years ago that the sale of DIY and craft supplies would soar as people take to doing things in their own homes again. And it's not only that - home cooking is popular now, chemical cleaners are being ditched in favour of soap, bicarb and vinegar, jars of food are being preserved, and hand made knits, made with luxurious pure wool, alpaca and cotton yarns, are on our backs again. Household savings rates in Australia have gone from negative figures a few years ago to positive again.  There is a very interesting article about world wide household savings rates here, as well as a chart of rates for many countries from 1992 to 2011.

I've been really surprised at the interest in the life skills workshops I'm currently presenting in my local town. Each one is booked out as soon as it's announced and a waiting list started for the next. Just yesterday someone in the next town asked if I would do a Frugal Home workshop for his sustainability group. These are ordinary people opening up to change the way they live. They want to know now about budgeting, reading electricity meters, cooking from scratch, shopping for groceries in different ways, vegetable gardening and green cleaning. I am going to take advantage of this trend and show as many people as I can the true wonder of living a simple life - that it's not just about a list of life skills that are ticked off, it's about personal growth, self reliance, independence and sustainability. It's empowering, and if two ageing hipsters in rural Australia can do it, anyone can.

I regret it's taken an economic crisis to bring us to this point but it seems nothing else was strong enough to change us. Worries about global warming didn't, neither did peak oil. Even drowning in debt didn't stop us. But the good thing is that when this changed was forced upon us, we discovered it was a healthy and sound way to live. It's not mean, it doesn't deprive us - having less gives us a richness we can only see when we step back from the excesses of the past to really see, and understand, that less is more.

I wonder if you see the same signs I do. Do you see a change happening in your neighbourhood? Or am I reading too much into what I see. Maybe I'm living in an area that is leading the way, or maybe I'm living in dream land.



  1. Here in Northern California, in sight of the Golden Gate Bridge, more and more I am having to share the racks at the second-hand store with women whose shoes cost more than all the clothes I am wearing combined. That is new; I have shopped this way all my life and used to have to deal with indigent homeless looking for cheap clothing and housewares and now it is lots more people who have nice cars and pretty homes shopping with me.

    Smartening up I hope. Not just doing it for the cachet of it.

    Many thanks for your blog, Rhonda, I have learned so much from you and am patterning my tiny home after yours.

  2. I absolutely love your post. I don't think you're dreaming - there's a whole movement out there, people re-thinking what's important, realizing that excess does not make their lives richer. There's something very genuine about simple living. I'm on the path and will keep going to become more and more sufficient, looking to people like you to guide and inspire me. Thank you !

  3. In my area and among those I've spoken to recently, there is definitely a trend towards homemaking and all that goes with it. This is our future and embracing it now will only help when/if the time comes that this is no longer the alternative option, but the way of life.

  4. Hello dear Rhonda, great post and so very true. About living simply and being content with what you have. You certainly have changed me and in turn my home. I keep teling my husband about what I learn from your blog and he says he's happy with the richer person that I have become. I too looked down on op shoppin but now I buy most my materials from those shops. I am learning to cook from scratch, doing a bit of gardening and a bit more of crafting. I live in Sri Lanka and so far I do not think the life styles of our country people have changed like you say it has in Australia. It'll be some time before we reach that stage. But meanwhile I have changed and am thankful that I have and hope I can convince some of the people in my life to change a little. My mother used to be an avid gardener but gave up since we had 20 years of monkeys coming and destroying all that she grew. But recently she has discovered an ingenious way to scare them away from her plants and now she has started growing things again. She has tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, beet root, chillies etc. And mangoes and guava fruit, ad ripe jak in her garden. She seems to have found her old love of gardening and I see her contentedly pottering about there.Which makes me feel happy to know that another person too has been touched by this wisdom of simple living. Thank you. With all my heart. Dhilma

  5. Dear Rhonda,

    well.. I think you are in that area that is leading the way ;o)

    And the only word that came up to me while reading today's post was... Halleluja! ;o)

  6. Yes, I live in Maine, USA and there are many more people making gradual changes......I have chickens now, I started canning again, we have a garden, etc. I will continue to make the shift, at times it has been a challenge for me to "wait" to get something, but recently I found two things on my wish list at an estate sale! Thank you for sharing your life.

  7. I really, Really, REALLY hope that you're right. I've always thought that nothing will change until people start to feel some pain. But sometimes I wonder exactly how much pain people need to subject themselves to?

    I guess I do see people changing, but I also see a huge resistance to the change... it's especially notable here in the states, what with crazy people taking over congress, and the airwaves plastered with ads touting the benevolence of the oil and gas industry.

    I guess I'm not as optimistic as you are. I see people trying valiantly to change, and the establishment grinding its heels into their foreheads as hard as it can.

  8. Rhonda,
    I feel a change here too.
    We are an oil/natural gas rich nation and we have relied on and been spoilt heavily by this. So much so that our agricultural sector has suffered greatly within my own short lifetime. It was frowned upon and was deemed lower class in favor of the easy oil money. Good agricultural land was ruined and turned into housing developments. People stopped having traditional vegetable/fruit gardens and manicured and beautified them instead, or worst yet, turned them into fashionable concrete or tiled wastelands. School curriculums that once also included woodwork, cooking, sewing, masonry, etc. and had their own gardens were terminated. We started raising professionals and stopped raising well-rounded generations.
    In the last few years like so many countries globally, our economy took a plunge. Major companies folded. We got scared and took a look at what we were doing and realised that a massive portion of our expenditure was on food imports. Local food prices were exorbitant because there were few farmers/fishermen left. This last year our new government began promoting the idea of home-based self-sustainability and started food farms as well.
    The idea is not new. We have been told this before. Oil will not last forever. But we took little notice and resumed our ways. Reveling in self-indulgence and living in the fastlane. Money was no problem (this was actually a motto of one government).
    This time I think it is different. We can see it globally now and maybe this is making us sit up and notice.
    You now see 'higher class' people shopping at farmers' markets. It is the 'in' thing now. People buy out seedlings when available. Nurseries and agricultural seminars are prospering. In my office alone, people are baking their own breads, bringing home-cooked lunches to work, accepting my offerings of seedlings enthusiastically.
    We are looking inward.
    Even home tourism is taking a turn for the better, hotels that recently stood empty for most of the year and local environmental sites are now getting local visitors.
    Yes. There is change. Whether it will last and stay 'in vogue' is another question.

    Trinidad & Tobago

  9. I believe I do seem them, and like you, I'm rejoicing in this good news! I do think that once people experience this, they will never go back to the way things were.

  10. I don't think you are in a dream land at all. When times are tough, people have to simplify, and then they realize how wonderful it is. You are doing important work spreading the word!

    I wonder how many of the youths rioting in London ever experienced a home cooked meal or a day out in the country? I'm in no way excusing what they are doing mind, but I wonder when we cut ourselves off from nature if our more aggressive tendencies more easily come to the surface. Seeing the beauty of the natural word in the garden and respecting the planet means more self-respect and respect for others too, it seems.

    Thanks for your post Rhonda.

    AM of the Bread

  11. Rhonda,

    I love the way you express yourself - so clear and so human - you are a beautiful writer.

    Since I was little, I've always asked things like "can you make pudding, or does it only come in a Jello box from the store?", "could a person make a potato chip at home?", "or a marshmallow?", etc. etc. Our Mom tried to teach us cooking, sewing, crochet, and wherever we lived (Air Force brat) we picked wild things: raspberries, strawberries, hazelnuts, poke, lambsquarter, spring onions. My Dad and grandmothers gardened and also sought wild foods - Mom's Mom was a pro at it. As we grew up and moved away from home, we drifted away from a lot of that, but as we get older, we seem to drift back. Do most people go through that? My sister in California and I now share back and forth recipes for making yogurt, cottage cheese, sauerkraut, sprouting, along with things from childhood. But, honestly, most folks look at me like I'm an alien when I talk about those things. I do get positive feedback on sewing projects, but have only been asked for instructions a couple of times. I keep on talking about it though - the alien stuff doesn't get to me.

    brenda from arkansas

  12. There's an undercurrent of hope that one of the things that will come out of the horrific situation we have in some UK cities right now is an end to the obsession with the acquisition of "stuff".

    One of my work colleagues, who was injured trying to escape the violence last night said she was going to take a leaf out of my book and make sure her family had a decent amount of basic groceries in stock instead of shopping for dinner on the way home.

  13. I am seeing change around me. Maybe it's because I am more interested now, and take more notice. I had a friend ask me how we save money and do so well on one wage. I expand alot of what I do, cook from scratch, make my own cleaners, buy pre-loved, make cards and gifts. She was very interested in how to make washing detergent from scratch so I explained the process, gave her the quantities. She was so excited to try it out, that the very next day she made her own batch of liquid. She loves using it. We haven't had much of a chance to catch up lately, but, I am going to try to pop in on her soon and drop off some of the homemade all purpose cleaner I make and some of the citrus cleaner I have made from Nellymary's advice. I think sharing what we know helps get the word out there. With times getting tougher for everyone more people are listening and starting to change their way of living.

    Hope you have a lovely day.
    Cheers, Deb

  14. I live in an area where there is still much mindless acquisition. Most families with kids have both parents out at work to fund the 2 new cars, the big house with all the toys, RV's, winter holidays, designer clothes and lots of meals out. That being said, within the home school community here, there are plenty of people making it on one income, living simply with much enjoyment. I'm not sure though, that people really understand or realize that they CAN get off the roller coaster if they aren't happy. They don't have to keep up with the Jones's! I get some pretty quizzical looks when I inform people that yes, I'm STILL at home after 21 years of marriage and child raising. Yes, I'm home and YES that is my FULL TIME JOB - I'm busy ALL DAY LONG! Great post!

  15. I am seeing changes too- but not as much as I'd like. I find more like-minded people on-line than in my real life. But I do enjoy the daily dose of inspiration I get from your blog and other ones. Thanks Rhonda! I will soon be trying soapmaking!


  16. We live in a rural area (USA) with a mixture of middle class families (we are one). I see middle class people doing all of what you say, but those using a food stamp card are still standing in line for cigarettes, still stacking the checkout lane with junk and still renewing their tatoos and fake nails. And don't go looking for a cloth diaper in that crowd--although a lot of young, middle class Moms are doing so. Another thing I see is more (again middle class) doing recycling and putting out smaller amounts of trash. I'm now not the lone ranger on having no tv either! All of these are such EXCELLENT trends!

  17. Dhilma's comment up above...

    imagine having monkeys in your garden? How awesome would that be? So much more interesting than possums.

  18. Being in NW NC (USA) there has always been a focus on self-sufficiency. However, I work in another city and the folks I work with, well, they think the Mister and I are "weird." However, after buying my eggs, eating our honey, blueberries, and other naturally grown veggies, they are seeing it a little differently.

    We are in the midst of finding a way to be self-sufficient to the point that we no longer have to work a public job. We believe that the economy in the US is just the tip of the iceberg to come. It is a warning shot and folks should begin to think about how much they can grow, spend, own or do.

    I am with you 100%; things are changing, but slowly!

  19. Love your post Rhonda. Not sure if it's happening here in Ipswich. But what i wish is that someone was running workshops like you do here as i'd love to attend them. Doing my best at home to change things.

  20. Dhilma...Would you please tell us how you keep monkeys out of the garden??? !!! It might be a hint that might help to us who have less exotic pests! :) We all have some pest to keep out. Sarah

  21. Hi Rhonda,

    Great post, so succinct. I have to wonder though, is it really a 'simple' life? It's a full and satisfying life to live towards these goals. My mother used to sew all our clothes but never had the time to teach me, now at the ripe old age of 55 I've bought myself a sewing machine from an op shop and am having great fun learning how to work it! My goal is to make P.J.'s for my 2 year old grandson. After that who knows...the sky is the limit!

  22. Dear Rhonda, thank you for your blog. Like the previous comments, I really enjoy your beautiful writing, it brightens up my day and makes me think about the issues you are discussing. I live in Brisbane but don't see as much willingness to change as you do. I am hoping that this is because it is hidden from me because of the size of the city. Improvements I see are that Bus and other public transport use is increasing, in the local area there is a sustainable group, there is a allotment area in a local park (this was badly flooded earlier in the year and has not reopened as yet) and there are groups which work in the parks to get rid of weeds and plant new trees, so this is all good.

    At our place we have done what we can, we grow vegies and fruit, we have PV cells and solar hot water and have done as much as we can to make this house sustainable, so I hope that there are many other people like us, quietly doing what we can. I do notice that there are many houses now with PV cells in the suburbs as it certainly makes sense in this climate with the amount of sunlight that we get for everyone to have them. The subsidies on PV and the threat of rising electricity bills has been a factor here.

    I am retiring from work (on leave at the moment) but do not plan on returning unless this current crisis gets a lot worse. There has been much in your blog that has been of interest and of use to me. To name a few things that I have done since reading your blog I have made 3 batches of soap, aprons, dishcloths, napkins and cleaning rags. Thanks.

  23. Yeah Dhilma, tell us how the monkeys are kept at bay. You are such a little teaser leaving that out.

  24. There is nothing like having your daughter come home from school after I have baked some muffins since finishing up my studies and time away from the home stating "Mum, this is my dream come true - coming home to something freshly baked".

    We too have simplified, it is also a dream of ours to be totally off the grid.... so true - I am either part of this movement of in dreamland (often known as La-La land in my home) - however I think it is the first that is true! Blessings, Rach (Sqiggly Rainbow)

  25. Love your blog! We moved to the country 30 years ago and built our log home, raised chickens, grew vegies, however somehow got caught up in the hurry hurry get more syndrome anyhow. Now, back at simplifying. You are an excellent teacher.
    Also wondering, the picture you show on this post, are you putting the recipe out for us. It looks wonderful!!

  26. GrammaJ, that is roly-poly I made last week using homemade strawberry jam. The recipe is in this old post:

  27. I'm possibly being oversensitive, but I sometimes feel like I'm being attacked a little here, Rhonda. My house is a showpiece, it's gorgeous, I worked hard for it, I dreamt it for years, and it's not to compete with my neighbours, it's not because of an overwhelming need for consumption, it's because I like to wake up in a beautiful space, and I like that for my children too. Having said that, I've always lived as what seems to be defined here as simply-not from need but from lifestyle. We have a massive organic garden that feeds us, our family and friends, our house has an incredibly awesome energy rating, I haven't used a chemical to clean in over 10 years and I've always cooked from scratch so I don't quite get the fanfare around that. I think we do environmentally friendly (not aware, friendly) beautifully... Sorry, not making a lot of sense this morning, best go make myself a coffee out of my newest shiny appliance ;)

  28. I don't really see all that much of it here in the general community, although last year when we were homeschooling I certainly found it there. Maybe that's why I felt like I really fitted with that group? There are pockets in the community and they are becoming more noticed but I'd say not the mainstream yet. I do live in one of the most conservative areas though and anyone who steps slightly out of the box is seen as a hippy or greenie, which here is interpreted as a dole bludging, drug taking lay about. Well that's how it seems to me, so I keep my head down, go about my business and choose very carefully who I show my true self too.

    cheers Kate

  29. Hi Rhonda,
    what an uplifting post today, thankyou! No, I don't think your'e dreaming. while many people still have their heads firmly in the sand, many others are waking up and finding time to do and experience all of the wonderful things you and your readers believe in.
    It's great to be aware of this positive trend, too easy to be doom and gloom about the state of the world.
    wishing you a wonderful day, Madeleine from Armidale

  30. You articulate my own thoughts so well! Yes there has been a ground swell of simple living, it's been building for the past couple of years (in my observation) I don't think it's peaked yet, which is excellent, because it means there are ever so many more people to get on board, it's great isn't it :)

  31. I'm not sure if it has reached the 'big smoke' (Sydney) yet but our family are well and truly on our journey to sustainability. I guess some people would call it, as they already have, the 'dark ages' and that we are crazy to live this way and not embrace the 'modern' society of huge debt and work til you drop, but let me tell them we are not worried when our electricity bill arrives in the post! We have just cut our quarterly consumption of electricity to one quarter of what it used to be! Not bad for a winter's bill! We have not felt deprived in any way and enjoy the comforts of a warm home and good healthy food. If only others could see how much better it is to live in a more 'thoughtful' way and not to worry about not having it all.

  32. Well, I'm excited because our local shire is hosting a Sustainable Homes Program which will run for 5 weeks and I will be attending. I hope it lives up to my expectations, after all they have big shoes to fill here with Rhonda's blog. I believe the numbers attending are small and the evening session was cancelled. Not a good sign but I'm optimistic.

  33. Good morning, Rhonda.

    I read a great article Perri Lewis for the UK Guardian newspaper last month explaining that knitting is really taking off...Google report a 250% increase in searches for "Learning To Knit" so I found that very encouraging.

    Love from Sue

  34. Hmm, have you been peering into my windows? What you wrote pretty much sums up how my life has kind of been. I only work casually but lately I've been wishing I could stay at home instead on the days I've got to work. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy working, but I keep thinking there is so much for me to do at home and home is where I'd rather be. Luckily (smiles) my daughter and son are both at home sick this week...

  35. Dear Rhonda
    It would be lovely if you were right! I have just had a sleepless night worrying about a proposed mine in our area. We have a lovely little farm, chickens, garden, orchard, little house we built ourselves, looking forward to giving up my part-time job to retire in paradise and an open cut mine appears!!! Nothing we can do about it. We have a glorious paradise and a virtually self-sufficient and ready to look after ourselves in retirement. Wham!
    Noting is forever. We have the prospect of having to move somewhere else after thirty six years of hard work there making it paradise!!
    My husband is battling three serious diseases and we just don't have the youth or energy to start again!
    But we still have each other.
    I am sorry to say that "progress" and "greed" are still out there.

  36. I loved this post. I have slowly started seeing change in our local parts. I don't think it is mainstream yet, but there are more and more that are turning to a simpler life out of necessity or disillusionment of the work more/buy more mentality. Preserves are alive and well in our area, as well as chicken coops, vegie gardens and fruit trees.

  37. Hi Rhonda
    I have to agree with you. Even though I don't see it much looking at the surface of where I am in SA, if you look deeper you begin to see it. There are more people looking at food productive plants and seeds in shops. Many people have solar panels on their roof, water tanks in their yards. I don't know if it is just my age or stage of life (I am 41) but I feel the need now to be more self sufficient and definitely have the less is more approach going on. We are taking baby steps but it all helps. Just recently I started up a new blog. I am going through my recipe books, "Julie and Julia" style, one recipe at a time. The kids are loving trying new things and I am enjoying cooking new things. It is wonderful. I have taught myself to crochet and am currently making my first rug. I intend to improve my sewing skills in the near future too. We are attempting our first real veggie garden, not doing it very successfully right now but we are trying lol.

  38. I'm lucky as I've lived in a sharing community for the last 13 years, with local markets that have homemade/homegrown items for sale, neighbours/friends/family who share their excesses or swap them with you for something they need and we all keep an eye on each others properties if we know someone is away for any reason. We help each other out as one day we may need the assistance and the neighbours/ friends will be there for us.

  39. Morning Rhonda:)
    A change is definitely afoot, and it couldn't come soon enough.Each day I see little things happening around me, that reassure me the world is slowly coming to it's senses, and all this excess is doing us harm. Ten years from now, I think we will see a happier society!Bring it on, I say:)

  40. This morning I turned on the news and someone said that , 'Australians aren't shopping anymore....' - I think that is a good thing, not a bad thing. A wonderful post that reminds us that though things aren't perfect in life.... good thoughts always overcome whatever we come up against. Times are changing and life is getting simpler.

  41. Hi Rhonda I love reading your Blog everyday its so inspiring for me as we are slowing aiming towards a more sustainable life. But in reading your blog today I feel a bit sad, I wish this was the trend in my bit of WA. It seems to me the 20 something generation are living like the top part of your artical. They cant seem to get enough bling. I have 2 brothers in this age group and they are so far into debt with their interest free no payments till whenever, that they cant even afford a house and both are on well over 100K a year. Though Im finding that next generation, my generation are starting to realize that there is more to life. So lets just hope that someday they realize that its not who has the most when they die wins.

  42. Hey Rhonda I think you are living in a dream land and I want to live there too Ha Ha.

  43. Hi Rhonda - another thought provoking post. I feel like I 'know' more people who are living the way we do - but that is mostly through the wonder of the internet. In day to day life it is the rare person that I come across that takes the same sort of life decisions as we do and I am always drawn to them. For instance, I take Ginger to a baby swimming class, and there is another two classes to follow and she is the only baby there wearing cloth nappies.

    This simpler living journey is one I hope will continue slowly and gradually in our lives - just today I needed rolls for dinner (we did a roast sunday, couscous and leftover roast vegetables last night and roast beef rolls tonight:)) and while even two years ago I would have gone out and bought them; today I got my flour out of the store cupboard and, with Ginger's 'help' made them.

  44. I think that people are really beginning to struggle to keep up with the pretense that life is good....some are really crumbling under the strain and seem to be deeply depressed others seem to be noticing the need for a rethink and redo and are adjusting their lifestyles sometimes quiet radically....I think people are losing their sense of security in our country and are starting to realize that we are vulnerable and at times at standing on the crumbling edge. I also think that like attracts like and many many people are now searching for other options. Chrissy

  45. I'm not sure if I notice a change or not. It seems to me, the people who have always enjoyed being self-reliant are still enjoying it, and those who love buying and the fast-lane still aspire to it. I think change will come, however. It must.


  46. If we are just to believe what we are told when watching commercial TV, magazines and commercial radio , we would not think this was the case.
    However, thanks to the internet and the wonderful world of blogging, likeminded people can connect and from a network to support and share ideas with each other.

  47. Dear Rhonda,
    Todays writing was so thought provoking. Particularly the first paragraph which has summed up life over the last 10 years. This life has now lead to the ecomony we now have. Credit and the use of it has destroyed people lifes and the country. But now hopefully there will be a change and those who once sort the "trophy home" may find peace and knowledge in your wonderful daily blogs. I am lucky to have come across to you from being a member of Simple Savings which directed me here and to whom i name as the one who helped me to the finacial freedom i now enjoy. But it is you now who is shaping my mind and thoughts on a daily basis, to which i thank you.


  48. Rhonda when I first started blogging about 4 years ago, I was not really aware of changes happening around me, but as I've passed through these last couple of years, I'm seeing it more and more. Maybe since I'm interested - now I'm noticing more, too.

    I shop garage sales, second hand stores, and have been gearing up for our move to the country for 3 years. Well, we're finally here! I've had my garden for 3 years, and plan on chickens in the spring.

    Only thing I have to deal with here is that in my hometown, there is alot of "old money" and old families that will probably never make the switch. They just don't get it - they're still in the mode of buying up all they lay their eyes on.

    But among my own circle of friends, I definitely see some changes going on.

    Thank you for your blog, Rhonda - I've learned so much about "less is more". At this time of my life with the kids gone, I'm loving LESS. Can't wait for your book to come out!

  49. Hi Rhonda. I've definitely noticed the change in the blogosphere but not so much around me. I love that you are doing your bit to educate us and I am lapping it up and spreading the word too. Just got to get my husband on board more hahaha.

  50. Hi Rhonda,
    Thank you for your wonderful post. I am very keen on this topic as we in M'sia throw so much of food - 9 tonne of food (and 43 thousand kg of rice) each day. It came out in front page of our newspaper recently and i hope i can pattern my life style afters yours too..take care

  51. Hello Sara and the other person who wanted to know how to keep monkeys at bay. I didn't write details about it because I thought it would make my post too long. Anyway, its a hilarious method, but it works! For over 20 years we have tried everything, from spraying water from a hose pipe to lighting crackers to scare them. But NOTHING WORKED. They destroy everything from young seedlings to ripe fruit. Recently a neighbour tried putting a black cloth over her head and wearing a ghoulish mask and making scary grunting sounds and flapping her hands up and down-and it had scared them away. SO my mother too now keeps a black underskirt which she wears over her head and puts a devil mask over her face and follows suit. Since then, they visit and wreak havoc in our neighbour's garden but not ours! Please believe me, this is the true account. Hope it'll help others who're also having the same problem. Good luck!

  52. I had the enjoyment today of accompanying a young wife and mother to a farmers' market where she bought cucumbers and dill to make her first batch of pickles. I gave her some canning tips and will be on hand for any questions she has. What a great way to spend an afternoon.
    Lovely entry today!..........Denise

  53. I sure do. I have seen the warning signs for many years but the world as a whole was just not seeing it. We could only continue int he way we were going for so long until the world (or God if that's your faith) had enough and fought back.

  54. Hi Rhonda

    I have been following your amazing blog and what you said is true!

    I now have veggie patches at my backyard. I have found them very handy and it does help me with savings my grocery bills. Not only that - it does help me with my diet as I can now eat veggies more often without the need to go to the shop.
    I am also learning how to sew.

    I do not know why but I myself think that living in a simple way is much more fun and more meaningful. I used be in the situation of buying everything new. But now? Not at all. I prefer saving my money to spending it. As I will never know what will happen tomorrow :D
    Thank you very much for your inspiring blog. I do learn a lot from you!

  55. Hi Rhonda,thank you for a wonderful post again,i have noticed a lot of my neighbour's around me are now growing their own Vegee's,and Herb's,i live in a Tiny Unit,with a very small back paved garden area,and i now grow as much as possible in pot's,it's a great interest to me,i would'nt dream of ever buying herb's anymore from a Super-market,like i used too!i just love to go outside and pick my own,it's a great feeling,just like i'm making and baking everything from scratch now,even made 16 jar's of orange Marmalade a few week's ago,i was so proud of myself,now that i live alone,and on a fixed low in-come,it has taught me to value every Dollar,and stretch it as far as possible,and get as much as i can from it,and save a little as well,i have learnt so much from your wonderful post's every day,thank you,xxx Carol

  56. Here in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, the Goodwill Stores (second hand stores) are very popular. The Mr and I went 2 weeks ago to look for pants for me to wear to work, and you would not believe the cars in the parking lot....expensive cars! The store was full and a lot of people shopping there were well dressed.
    I got some good bargains....4 pairs of pants, a pair of shorts and a pair of capris and paid $24. They were all name brand, clothes that would have cost more than $24/pair brand new in the finer department stores. The were all in good condition.

  57. Hi Rhonda - thanks for all your encouragement in helping us to turn our households and economies around. I'm involved in starting a church in a very deprived area of town, and would love to encourage all the things you and we stand for. I'm due to retire in a couple of years, and would love to do a similar thing to you, at your centre. Where and how did you start putting together teaching materials? I thought of starting with basic cookery - soups, etc, and household budgeting. What do you think?

    Chris (http://teddywaresandflutterbies.blogspot.com)

  58. Chris, I started with budgeting, then moved onto shopping, stockpiling and green cleaning. I just used posts that I'd written on my blog and changed them around a bit. I think it's great that you are thinking of doing that. I know that my people are really eager to learn, it's just finding someone to teach is the hard bit. It's wonderful that you're going to step up and do that.

  59. It does sound like a dream-a dream come true! Here in America we are waking up to all that self-reliance can do for the quality of one's life.

    I'm so glad to hear that folks in Australia are embracing this lifestyle as well. It can only be good for the planet!

  60. Here in my home town near Niagara Falls Ontario, I do find what you have written about first hand. As a customer service manager at Walmart, I can't tell you the times I have had discussions with women (and men) who are learning to shop differently..Price Matching. Bringing all the competitor flyers in, plus using coupons. It's so neat to watch the next person in the isle listening to the conversation and than when they come up to my register (when I am on cash for that day)..ask me about price matching. I've had a few state they would love to come to a work shop that I plan on having to teach them how to price match, and use coupons. It's also wonderful to see young mom's buying food to cook from scratch instead of all the prepared foods...Also 'yellow ticket' items. I see how so many are becoming frugal..looking for the deals, waiting for it to go not only on sale, but clearance!!

  61. Thirty years ago, I was poor, resourceful and quite happy. Over time, I bought into the more, bigger, better lifestyle, although with a twist...it was the "must haves" for a sustainable lifestyle trendiness that is going on now that the corporate world has discovered this new niche. Recently, circumstances changed, and I found myself alone at 53, no job, no insurance, an eleven yr old car and a rapidly dwindling savings account. My oldest daughter said "welcome back to the DIY life, Mom." I was amazed at how quickly all my old "survival" skills came back...thrift shopping, veggie gardening, scratch cooking, biking and walking..and now my life is so much more satisfying and rich than all those years I spent trying to buy a "green" lifestyle.

  62. Hi Rhonda it's me again :)
    Forgot to mention...
    On the last day of chores before we ran of for 3 weeks of seaside holiday fun with the kids, our drier's belt burst. Too late to get necessities to fix. No biggie, I thought. It was late in the evening but we still had some sun and a glorious breeze so just strung up some lines in the trees. I glanced out the window not long after to see the girls and the dachshunds racing between the sheets. The girls had their arms outstretched and their faces to the heavens. Huge smiles on their faces. As I walked onto the back porch they raced up to me and said: "Mummy it's wonderful. Come smell the loveliness!"
    :) I think I will take that plunge and use nature's 'loveliness' more often. I had forgotten the beauty of billowing sheets in the warm sunlight.

    Trinidad & Tobago

    p.s. I have an absolute abundance of limes right now. I have been sharing with neighbours, friends, office and family, but still they come. I was just reading about how you squeezed your lemons and froze them. Gave me an idea. I am going to freeze them in cubes then in bags, so that when I need to make a jug of lime-ade I just pop out what I need :)
    Do you have any recipes that call for limes? I have used up most that I know. Always willing to try something new.
    Bless you.

  63. Love this post!

    I'm seeing changes here in North Carolina, but more gradual than your area. I definitely think you are leading the way.

    However, I expect bigger changes in our area soon. My daughter and I have noticed a sharp decline in yard sales and even those who have them are only selling small loads of junk--very little good stuff anymore. We have come to the conclusion that most folks have sold all they have to sell and only have the junk left. So I suspect a lot more people will be open to change now.

    Also, a big consignment store in our area closed recently because everybody wanted to sell and no one wanted to buy.

  64. I think many people are just starting to wake up from the "consumer trance" of the past few decades. The global economic situation is forcing everyone to realize that we cannot continue with our hyper consumerism indefinitely. Right now simple living is just beginning to appear on the average consumer's radar, but we have a long, long way to go. I have the feeling that leaving the old consumer ways behind will be very hard and traumatic for the majority of the consumers. I think it will be a process much like grieving where they go through the 5 stages.

    1. Denial — "This can't be happening, not to me."

    2. Anger — "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; '"Who is to blame?"

    3. Bargaining — "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if..."

    4. Depression — "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?";

    5. Acceptance — "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."

    In my opinion, most of the consumer world is somewhere in the first two stages. If you look at the political climate here in the US, it is clear that we are in stage 2, ANGER! That means that there is a lot of work and hardship to endure before everyone accepts that things have changed, stops wishing and dreaming for things to go back to how they were, and finally gets down to the business of learning to live and love a new simpler life.

    I am so glad that there are places like this blog where people can go to learn and feel part of a community and realize that there is a better way for us and the planet.

  65. Rhonda,
    I live in a middle class neighborhood in the states. My husband works very hard and makes a low middleclass wage. Thanks to our frugality and living simply we have been very blessed to provide for our 5 children in a safe, friendly neighborhood. I feel very blessed. Your post today has saddened me a bit as I look out at our neighborhood and area and don't see what you do in your area. Instead of living simply and saving money, more and more young couples are both working, buying new furniture and building new homes in order to "keep up with the Joneses". It is sometimes hard to live simply when those around you are not. It is hard to keep telling your children no too when all their friends are going on expensive vacations and wearing designer clothes and driving new cars. I feel sad for those people as I know difficult times are coming for us and they are not going to be prepared. I just try to be an example and share a homemade loaf and some squash here and there and maybe I can help them when they are ready. Thank you for your blog and your example for me--I learn so much and it is great to come here and be inspired from other likeminded people!

  66. For the anonymous on here despairing about the open cast mine near their house, our neighbourhood defeated a proposal like that (we're in the UK). It took 7 years of petitions and a lot of meetings at city hall, a website, signs, and an email list, but the council ruled that no more petitions to reopen mining in the area will be accpeted. Hurrah!

    So, before you give up, see if you can protest with the help of your neighbours and stop it from happening. Surely, your local councillor can give you some advice too.

    AM of the bread

  67. We live in the country on 20 acres, but most of my neighbors live on a couple of acres in new houses only a few years old. I have noticed in the last year that a lot of them have started having small gardens and I see their children helping. I don't yet see anyone hanging out clothes, but it may be that the builder doesn't allow such a thing. Can you imagine?!!

    Our driveway is a quarter mile long with our house not visible from the main road. Folks who visit routinely comment that they'd love to live like we do: we literally felled the trees on our land and built our home. Our water is spring fed. We grow a good bit of our food. I tell them that they could live simpler lives, too and don't have to have more land - just more commitment to changing. That's when I usually get a smile followed by "Well, we both work and don't have the time to do what you do." Sometimes I remind them that my husband both had full time jobs whenever we started on our path to a more fulfilling life and that one of the secrets to being able to live the kind of life one wants is to reduce debt and dependence on the almighty dollar and to cut back on so many wants. Every now and then I see a little sparkle, but truthfully, not very often. Folks are still buying big cars, big houses, big vacations, big toys, etc. - all the while racking up big debt. I can count on one hand people I know who choose to subscribe to "less is more".

    But, as I said, some folks in my area are now growing small gardens, so there is hope!! I encourage them every chance I get because I want them to know what they're missing. I recommend your blog to everyone as a model for how life can be if one makes the effort.

    I so wish we were physical neighbors, but I'll have to be satisfied with reading your words from across the world.

    Diane in North Carolina

  68. There is a movement for a simpler way of life judging by the blogs I read. Unfortunately where I come from in the UK,in London there is a movement of sheer greed. If they can't afford it, they just loot it.

  69. I would love to see this catch on in my part of the USA, but it's not happening so far based on my observances. Most everyone is still caught up in having to have the best of the best and keep up appearances. It's really frustrating for my oldest child to hear other kids his age brag about all they have and continue to get. That is always an opportunity to have a good heart to heart with him and discuss the road our family has chosen to take and why. Our choice to live simply and within our means is very misunderstood to those who know us and meet us. Oh well, their loss.

  70. First I must say I LOVE this post. As of lately I've been interested in teaching classes such as the ones you plan to but I guess I am not sure where to even begin. I often people say they'd love to learn how to make bread, cheese, canning and such.

  71. I think some of the old ways of greed and one-ups-man-ship are still alive and well here, in the mid-west USA, but I know many who do not live that way and am working at not living that way myself. About once a month a large group of my friends male and female get together to work on handcrafts and exchange ideas. Everyone brings something to share to munch on and we all have a wonderful time for very little money while getting presents or home-goods made. Thanks for the post. Hope the world continues this way toward a better life.

  72. I believe you are only seeing the good side of things. True, there are many more people seeking a simpler life these days but.....

    Far too many young people believe that if they want something it's ok to just take it. No need to work for it when someone else has already done that.

    The growing gap between the "haves" and "have nots" is growing wider each day by the world economy. When the parents can no longer afford to give the kids "everything" then the kids rebel with uncontrolable anger.

    In my personal opinion what is happening in Britain right now is only the start of what's to come as the economy gets worse.

    It frightens me but at the same time I do my best to show anyone who is willing to listen and see that living a simpler life is a good thing. Trouble is my simpler life does not include any of the "gotta have" items advertized all the time. People in my neighborhood don't understand that a simpler life doesn't have lots of gidgets and gadgets in it.

    Anita in Kentucky, USA

  73. Thanks for your comments Minervabird.
    It is lovely to be part of this little community and know that even people you have never met are supporting you.
    Well done, Rhonda!!

  74. Oh, Dhilma, thank you for sharing your story on the monkeys. It's a good one. Made me laugh, and also made me think what creative creatures we women are.

    love from brenda in arkansas

  75. I love this post. I am rediscovering the Little House on the Prairie series and thinking 1) how happy they were with close to nothing (even compared to our very simple life, eg Ma was ecstatic to get a chair!) 2) How things have come full circle to get to this current trend (and yes I agree it is a trend).

  76. Hi Rhonda,
    Just found your blog. LOVE this post, but I'm afraid as much as I wish others would feel this way, my area of living is not there yet. We live in the suburbs of the Washington, DC area and although there may be some who would like to go to more simpler times, I haven't seen the pace slow. In fact it has sped up. Perhaps it's time for me to rethink where I live, because it doesn't feel right for me. I loved what you said in your profile, and I hope to feel that someday too!

  77. Great article. You are right that these uncertain economic times are making more people question about the need for living a more thrifty and sustainable life. It is a shame that more people are not proactive in looking to make positive changes in their lives until crisis hits. Happy to have found your blog.

  78. When my partner and I had a 14 month old daughter we decided we could not raise her any longer in a city of millions (Vancouver, Canada) and be happy. My job required full time only and childcare was hard to find and not subsidised. So, on a whim we sold our unit, sold and donated 90 percent of our belongings, left our jobs on leave of absence and came "down under" looking for a simpler way of life. We ended up in Canberra, got permanent residency, and have never looked back. (I should note that this was NOT easy and that there were very stressful times!)
    I now love it here. For the first time ever I have friends who save for things, knit, cook from scratch, sew, knit, trade, compost, keep chickens, bake, buy used, and ride bikes everywhere. We furnished our entire place from many trips to the Salvation Army and moving sales. Our place looks great! I certainly did not learn this from my parents, but I knew what I didn't want out of life, and that was the first step.
    I found your blog last week when feeling lonely, aimless and homesick. I am pregnant with my second and my older daughter is at school half the week. I couldn't believe my luck when google turned up your page! I have been devouring the archives ever since and have been feeling motivated, proud of my work, excited like a kid at Christmas, and satisfied. I have not been lonely since!
    Thank you so very much for being you and sharing your wonderful writing and experiences with all of us! Things are changing so perfectly and beautifully.
    Maybe we as a society needed two people to work outside the home, to buy too much stuff and go into debt first to then realise the value in simplicity.
    Love and a big hug to you!

  79. Hi Rhonda,
    I discovered your blog through clicking through lots of other pages.... and I've found myself devouring the archives for the past two hours at least. It fits in well with my Simple Savings mindset and frugal values and I can say I am absolutely sure that many more people worldwide will be waking up and realising the value in this sort of life - being able to make things, make do, fix things and grow things for ourselves... and the internet is a wonderful way to connect with like-minded people following the same (earth-friendly) path. It is my dream, with my partner, to have a small farm something like yours. We rent a very cheap house (for Perth) at the moment with a wonderful large backyard, and keep three chickens, and are beginning to grow things and cut back on unnecessary spending. I make my own general purpose cleaner and shop at Good Sammy's and buy groceries in bulk when it's worth it. I know over time I will try more things, learn more, and get better, and we will inch closer toward owning a house on our own patch of Eden somewhere in the country. Thank you for being such an inspiration to so many.
    Jodi B

  80. I am really enjoying your blog. Circumstances have forced me to "live simply" but I find I am doing it now not from necessity but from preference. Glad I came across your blog :)

  81. there is change in the area that i now live in as well... (which is a few hours south of you... so probably a similar area)... but when we were living in sydney, not too long ago, (and we lived there for quite some time) i didn't really feel any change there at all- which is why i was desperate to get out...
    for thousands and thousands of sydney people their hobby is "shopping" and they will spend all weekend doing it... spending hours in traffic driving too and from the shops and then many more hours walking around shops... it made me so sad for the years i spent living there... many don't know their neighbours, but they know the latest specials... and they spend themselves into ridiculous debt so they can keep up with their hobby...


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