The common sense alternative

20 August 2012
On Saturday, Hanno and I drove out west to the beautiful little town of Bell where we spent the day with a room full of people who live like we do, or are making their first steps towards it. We baked in the morning - yoghurt scones, buttermilk scones and five minute bread, and made cold processed soap after lunch. The organisers, Karen, Annette and Kate, who run Pips n Cherries, the cafe and hall where we met, gave us a very pretty and spacious place to work and put on a delicious morning tea and lunch. It was our second workshop in Bell and this one was just as rewarding as the first one. Hanno and I have a soft spot in our hearts for Bell and her people.

I love presenting these workshops because it helps others gain the skill set they need to simply their lives, it connects all of us so we're reminded that even though we're all working in our own individual homes, that we're linked by our values and hopes. When you're working against what is seen as "normal" it helps to know you're not alone.  I also think it is the responsibility of all of us to share what we know and to spread the word about this enriching and self-affirming way of life.

There were little posies of flowers on the tables at Bell. Karen gave me this little bunch to bring home - they're roses, jonquils and lavender.

I'm not sure if simple living people are, by nature, generous, or if generous people are attracted towards simple life, but I do know that wherever we go we are given gifts to bring home. Bell was no exception. Margaret, who I first met in Toowoomba, came along with a yoghurt maker to be given away. Last time we went to Bell, we took along books, magazines, organic knitting cotton and soap to give away. It was for no particular reason other than I had enough of these things at home, so why not share it. Margaret's generosity carried that on. Along with the yoghurt maker, she had made me a little tea cup mat and the materials to make one for Hanno, and some vintage and lacy materials for Sarndra for her baby sewing. Thanks Margaret, it was lovely to catch up with you again and to meet your daughter.

Also at the workshop were a group of ladies from Toowoomba who are forming a group called Simple Living Toowoomba. They'll be doing a series of life skills workshops that I'm sure many in Toowoomba will benefit from. I'll pass on the details of those workshops when they happen.

Yesterday afternoon, the gardener and his assistant have a rest under the elderberry tree.

It's really wonderful that all these ripples are going out from one person to the next. It is vital we tell our family and friends what we're doing because it shows there is an common sense alternative to consumerism that many people are very comfortable living with. I know from talking to many people over the past few months, particularly the younger folk, that what we are doing is seen as a kind of gentle revolution. And it can be that for many, but for me, and probably for many other older folk, it is just common sense and a beautiful and meaningful way to live that we forgot about for a while.

Do you tell your friends and family about your changes? If you don't, think about doing it because it can be a way to open up new possibilities for others and for you to talk about your life changes in a way that may make a real difference to others.

PS: Hanno will be having surgery again tomorrow so I'll be back later in the week when he's back on his feet again.


  1. There's nothing like a bit of generosity and sharing to brighten up anyone's day! But I think that when you're living life more simply these small things do make more of a difference than when you're leading a more consumeristic lifestyle. When you're not insta-buying everything you need then a small gift or find really becomes a treasure - especially when it comes from someone who's on the same path :)

  2. A gentle revolution... I like that! I will keep Hanno in my prayers for his op.

  3. Best wishes to Hanno for a speedy recovery from surgery. No doubt dear Rhonda will be providing lots of TLC XO

    So pleased that your workshop went well! How I'd love to attend such a workshop to meet like minded folk.

  4. I'm always surprised when I mention things that we're doing or more usually, things that we would like to do, like have a backyard for chickens and more veggies, how many people my age then reveal their secrect yearning for the 'simpler life'. Often it surprises me - first just how many people I speak to also share this desire, but also people I wouldn't have suspected.

    Hope Hanno's surgery goes well and he recovers quickly.

  5. I agree Rhonda, there is a gentle revolution happening! I had a visit from a young lady in her twenties who was fascinated to see me baking bread. She then told me that her and her partner were really wanting to start living a more simpler life and had taken the first small steps. It's very encouraging to see younger people thinking about a 'different' lifestyle' that the consumer driven one!

  6. We often have people come to the farm stay who are yearning for that simple life...they often go home with the feeling that they would like this life too, but aren't willing to leave their jobs in the city to do it. I wish people could understand that it is not that hard- still perhaps that is where the seed is planted and years later they will do it.
    We have started a sustainablity group here too, the world is changing I think in a good way.

  7. Best wishes to Hannon for successful surgery and a speedy recovery.

    I'm going to take your advice and begin to talk more to others about the simple life my husband and I try to live. Just as Melissa said, it is surprising how many people comment about yearning for a simpler life. Not so surprising, though, are how many are still hesitant to jump in and start taking baby baby steps to realize their dreams. I wish more folks could know the peace that comes with stepping away from so much consumerism. Maybe one day it will not be the alternative, but the norm to live a simple life...we live in hope.

    Diane in North Carolina

  8. Rhonda, I tried the search box for the dog food by typing in homemade dog food, dog food recipe, dog food from scratch but it's not taking me anywhere. Am I doing something wrong?

    1. Laurie, when I type in homemade dog food, this comes up:

    2. Thank you very much Rhonda!! Not sure what I'm doing wrong on this end but I just copied and pasted the link you gave me and found it.
      Love your blog and speedy recovery to Hanno.

      Laurie in Canada

  9. Best wishes to Hannon for the surgery.

    I have to be honest, when I talk to my family and friends about living a more simple life, they look at me like i've got two heads lol. People can't understand why I would want to cook from scratch and make my own cleaners, grow my own etc etc. I so so wish I actually know someone where I live who thinks the same way as me.

  10. Wishing Hanno well for his surgery tomorrow.
    Glad you had a great time in Bell - would love to have gone!
    I need to tell more people about our simple ways. All our friends know we have Chooks and grow veggies and I handmake some cards and gifts, but I'm reluctant to tell some people about homemade cleaners, using rags as cleaning cloths, toilet rolls to propagate seeds in etc etc as I worry what they would think. But I know I need to not worry about what others think and just be proud of our lifestyle. I guess I need to work on that sharing of knowledge bit by bit.
    Sarah from Jimboomba

  11. I am currently residing in Toowoomba and i am so excited to hear about the workshops and group being formed right here. I follow your blog and have your book, i know i am extremely capable of living simply however i am taking baby steps one at at a time and i dream of getting to a way of life that enriches and satisfies not only myself but my little family as well. I'll be looking forward to the details when you post them.

  12. Replies
    1. Caroline, her name is Hettie Wainthrope, Private Investigator. :- ) She's about 15 years old now.

  13. Wishing a quick recovery for Hanno!
    I am discovering the benefits of organising my time. I want to make my yoghurt and bake my bread (which we do) - but I am working, at the moment, on getting better at the skills of knitting and sewing. I am benefitting from the knowledge of a generous aunty who is helping me with the project of making my fist jumper. I have also "discovered" my local sewing centre where I can take along any project I want to learn and do a course in perfecting that particular project. I have learned about sizing for a blouse which has been very handy for me. Next term I will be making a pari of jeans for myself.
    I remember reading here about having goals - short and longer term ones. I have made sewing and knitting longer term goals to perfect.
    I want, in time, to be able to sew all our clothes and knit all our jumpers as well as have our sauces and preserves in the pantry and our own bread and yoghurt on the table.
    I have been asked how I manage time. I am a yoga teacher but, in between terms I have the time to get out those sewing projects I have put away ready to bring out. Timne management has been something I've been experimenting with now. I am discovering my own "rythm" I guess you could say.
    Love this blog!! Thanks Rhonda!

  14. I always pass on the message that it is fine to start small, just to change one thing and then add to it. I also try to pass on a skill to any children I can. It is so often said here and at the forum that the skills learnt in childhood are so valuable when people turn to the more simple way of living.
    Thinking of you and Hanno this week.

  15. Good luck for tomorrow Hanno :)

  16. Rhonda, I'm so glad I found your blog it's so encouraging thank you for sharing all of your knowledge :) I'm in my twenties and have a young family (with our second baby due in about a week) I've always been interested in living the simple life and being able to have the skills to do this. We are slowly working our way towards a simpler life, we have purchased our own home that we could afford to pay off, filled it with second hand, tip shop finds or relative donated furniture and planted our own veggie garden, we are looking into getting a couple of chooks too (but that's going to wait until after the baby!). I also made some of your homemade laundry liquid yesterday and it felt very satisfying, I can't wait to try it out!
    Best of luck Hanno for tomorrow, hope you have a speedy recovery :)
    I too love this blog! Thank you again!

    1. Hello K. It does my black heart good to see younger people embracing this way of life. What you're doing is a credit to you. Good luck with all you do and I hope all goes well with the baby.

  17. All the best to Hanno,i do hope the Op goes well!and i think Hettie is gorgeous!xx Carol

  18. I love that close community feeling that one gets when sharing experiences and skills with others. So much so, I am trying to accrue funds and a building to start my own business in the theme of the day when you made everything on your own. Clothing, bedding, toys, etc. I want to have evenings where we can get together and quilt, knit, sew, chat over tea and treats. I am so excited about getting this started. I have a few people helping me and more coming as word gets out about what I am trying to do. I am hoping that I will be able to teach my neighbors and their children about how wonderful it is to make your clothing and goods for the home.
    My thoughts are with Hanno for an uneventful surgery and speedy recovery!

  19. Hope all goes well tomorrow Hanno!

    Yes, in my experience simple living people are extraordinarily generous, it seems that the less you go after the more you give. I love the photo of Hanno and Hattie, there is something classic about it.

    1. Rose, both Hanno and Hettie are classic editions. I don't think they make either of them anymore.

  20. All the best to Hanno!

    Glad the workshop went well. :) I sure wish we had some simple living workshops over here in Perth - I think I could learn a lot.

  21. Hi Rhonda,
    I read your link to the post about "buying fewer clothes, washing them less at colder temperatures" and then found this other article today that I thought might interest you:
    I think the rest of the blog is good, too in case you're interested:
    I hope Hanno's surgery goes well.
    Take care,

  22. Good luck to Hanno with his operation tomorrow.
    Hanno has a very pretty gardening assisant.
    I dream someday of meeting with a group of like minded people like your friends in Bell.
    I love that sense of generosity. My closest girlfriend and I always exchange soap/bread or garden greens when we catch up with each other. The last time I saw her she gave me 2 containers of home made soup to take home for dinner. It was priceless. It's special.
    Now that I have turned the corner and no longer have the desire to shop without a purpose I really see the difference, and I am much more content and happy for it. This simle life is great.

  23. Spreading the Simple Living word is a wonderful thing and will benefit the lives of so many. Its a quiet and gentle revolution:)
    Best wishes to Hanno for his surgery and a speedy recovery.
    Mabel Grey

  24. It's so encouraging to come on your Blog and read comments from younger folk who are just starting to embrace a simpler lifestyle. They have their whole lives ahead of them and if they jump this consumer driven ship right now they will be so much happier straight away and have more time and money in their later ives for things that really matter.

    Wishing Hanno a speedy recovery, take care of yourself too while he is laid low.

    Beautiful cat by the way.

    Sue xx

  25. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    the workshops sound so wonderful. I wish they had them here in The Netherlands. That would be so great and a wonderful way to connect with women that have the same interests.
    Your cat has a wonderful name. I loved that series. Patricia Routledge is such a wonderful actress too !!
    I hope Hanno will have a speedy recovery I will be thinking of you both.
    Hugs from The Netherlands.

  26. I think you are making giant splashes rather than little ripples Rhonda. Simple livers are very generous people, I was given a bunch of flowers and a carton of eggs on Friday by such good folk. I like gardeners too, something about someone who doesn't mind having their hands in the earth.

  27. Sounds like a truly beautiful workshop and experience Rhonda...the ripples are indeed widening i believe!
    I just adored the photo of Hanno and you make sure to put sunscreen on her ears though? I lost my white cat many years ago to skin cancers on her ears so always like to mention it to others with white cats as the vet says he often sees this unfortunately in our climate!
    Best wishes to Hanno with his surgery x

  28. I was just thinking the other day about how many people's lives you have touched! What an amazing role model you are. Talk about living a life that makes a difference. I like the sound of "Rhonda's Revolution!" Best wishes for Hanno's surgery.


  29. I really wish I had the opportunity to learn simple living techniques when I was younger. I am making up for that now, so I can teach my kids. The workshops are a brilliant idea. Hopefully the news will spread and more will pop up around Australia. Otherwise I will just have to get a bunch of like minded people together, discuss possibilities and what we can learn from each other, and go from there. Then talk to local schools about bringing those skills to the kids at the schools. has got me thinking....

    Wish Hanno good luck from us, and a speedy but gentle recovery!

  30. The workshop sounds wonderful and sometimes others need to see that it's not difficult to change a few things to move away from the consumerism to a simpler life.
    Best wishes for Hanno's surgery.
    Cheers, Robyn

  31. g'day rhonda

    awesome post today again, love hettie! a beautiful cat there & she looks to be a wonderful assistant too
    mmm, so many people wishing they could have the simple living workshops where they live, any chance of seeing who in your area would be interested? put a sign up on a notice board & see how many hits you get. i'm thinking i might ask around here too, it would be nice to get with people who are trying to live simply. something about mixing with like minded people, it tends to 'rub off' on you.

    hope all goes well with hanno's surgery & he has a speedy recovery.

    love the 'gentle revolution' too, it's being environmentally friendly & aware

    cheers :))

    selina from kilkivan qld

  32. Hi Rhonda,
    The simple and slow living message is certainly spreading. Antonia Kidman (Nicole's sister) and writer Sally Collings have a book coming out on September 1 called The Simple Things. According the press release I've seen, it's about encouraging people to slow down and enjoy a simpler life and contains advice on things from organising your household, fixing finances through to craft and garden ideas. I'm hoping to see a review copy for work, so if I do, I shall report back in case it is of interest to some of the folks here.
    Hope the surgery went well,

  33. Hello All! Last night after work I baked :) I was tired, and being 25 weeks pregnant does not help my cooking frenzies, but my son needs good snacks for school days coming and I just baked turmeric crackers with him. He enjoyed helping and the result is very good. Try the simple recipe on the blog!

  34. Wishing Hanno all the best as he recovers. He is in good hands! I love this post and how you are able to see the positive ripples in the actions and reactions in the town of Bell. Your Down To Earth Forum is also another positive ripple that is very far reaching. As always thank you for taking the first step and sharing, encouraging, and showing by example how to live a more simple and fulfilling life. Hugs :)

  35. My daughter's "Fairy Godmother" gave me a copy of your book. It is treasured and sits on top of a beautiful timber coffee table passed onto me by a dear friend. Simple living, I truly resonate with this. It is what my soul craves for. I have pockets of friends who love glamour and late nights out in dark and noisy nightclubs. I feel myself pulling away from these experiences of life. Yoghurt scones and five minute bread, oh yes please! I yearn to deepen my experience with simple living. How beautifully inspiring!

    Love and Light to Hanno.

  36. Hello Rhonda,
    Just thought I would let you know that as a 26 year old I too am on the 'simple living' journey! I have been following your blog for 8 months and in that time have found so much inspiration in your thoughtful, kind words. As a teacher ( of 5 and 6 year olds) who works full time and is also planning my wedding in January I am very busy, but making time for simple living is easier than most think! It is also very rewarding, a different way of thinking and living.
    Today, I am recovering from wisdom tooth removal and savouring a day off in the middle of the week! Instead of laying on the couch I have had a lovely 'simple living' day. I started off by checking the chook eggs (three today), picked some silverbeet for our silverbeet and ricotta pie for dinner. I have put a batch of pizza dough in the bread maker, with a loaf of wholemeal to follow. I have put another batch of yoghurt in the yoghurt maker (sometimes I use the packets, other times a starter and skim milk powder), a ginger bread starter sits next to the sink and I have been feeding it with ginger and sugar each day. I am just about to bake your lemon, yoghurt cake as the lemon tree is bursting with fruit! I cut my latest soap batch into bars and have them airing on the bench and my first order of Nature Direct is on the kitchen table, I have ordered the heavy duty cleaner just to try. My other job today is to make a few green cleaners for general use and hopefully I will be able to put my feet up and knit a few rows on my dish cloth (I recently taught myself to knit from youtube!).
    I thought that you should know that sometimes I feel you are the grandmother I never had! Although I have two grandmothers, they are both 'prepackaged' women who rarely cook, worked full time until retirement and even in retirement don't seem to have an interest in 'craft' or homemaking and certainly aren't interested in simple living! They are keen on travel and consuming and I am eager to teach them how to bake and make soap etc.
    I can not thankyou enough for the inspiration you have given me! I know that simple living is what I have been searching for and I am so content that I have found it so early in my life! Here's hoping that we can pay our lovely house off in 5 years and raise a family without having to work overtime for things we simply do not need. Chelsea

    1. What a fantastic post! I'm in a similar boat - 29 years old, and since discovering Rhonda's blog I have been sewing, baking, gardening, knitting, making soap and more. Last weekend I made a second batch of laundry detergent, after the first one made a few months ago went so well. We got chickens in May, and they are a delight. Long live the simpler life!

  37. What I especially like to do is host children (nephews, nieces, neighbours, children of friends) and to show them what we do around the house and beyond: caring for animals, gardening, picking wild fruit, and other such simple pleasures. The kids come away wide-eyes and impressed: "Wow! You pick fruit from TREES! Do you always do that? And your children really learn at home?? Wow!" - it gives me great joy to see and hear this.

  38. I, too, appreciate the generosity of people who think the same as far as simple living goes. It is often that I give something to take home or something charming to enjoy. I wish it were more customary nowadays; it seems that the last three times we had someone to dinner, we did not even get a thank you call. It is an old custom, and a charming one.

  39. Thank you again so much for your post Rhonda.. they all hold so much, but yes, this one does hold the passion that drove me to change my life to our new slow living lives! Loving every minute of it and so happy to be living this way while our children are still young enough to learn from it too! Our chicken coop will be up soon, can't wait for our own fresh eggs!And as we're in Vic, our seedlings are just being sown in our little green-house! It's interesting to hear about the season in QLD, it lets me know what to plan for as you're a couple of months in front of us seasonally!! Take care, Sarah

  40. Do we tell our friends and family about our changes? Not any more. We used to, but the reaction was incredibly negative. We keep ourselves to outselves now.

    We're accused of animal cruelty for keeping poultry in a (very large) back garden.
    Of being lazy by letting our garden go back to nature so the family of hedgehogs have a better environment to live in and we can encourage a better natural balance.
    For not scalping our lawn every week so it goes brown and dies like everyone elses in hot weather.
    For being stupid for growing our own fruit and veg when the supermarket can supply it clean and clingwrapped for less effort.
    For being lazy and growing and maintaining a hedgerow at the bottom of our garden that provides us and the surrounding wildlife with blackberries, rowan berries, wild and cultivated plums,wild roses, and nettles, not to mention interesting browsing for the sheep and cows on the other side of the fence.
    For not watching TV.
    For saving money.
    For scratch cooking.
    For investing in hobbies that help us build assets which will support us in our old age.
    For trying to pay off our motgage.
    For making our own alcohol, jams and chutneys.
    For having the same sofa for 16 years.
    For driving an old but reliable cheap to run and maintain everyday car.
    For not buying the latest clothes...

    Our list of transgressions is long according to our friends and family...including that I am weird and am not a normal woman.

    Unfortunately for the naysayers, it's water off a duck's back to us (and if they want to see how that works they can come round and see our two latest aquisitions - Indian Runner ducks!)


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