Starting your simple life

9 December 2013
I've written about this subject in the past but I'm doing it again because I've had a few requests for it. Let me start by saying, there is not just one true way to live a simple life. It will all depend on how old you are, what your ambitions are, whether you have children, if you go out to work for a living, and possibly a hundred other things. This way of life is possible for every one and it's not limited by location or income. 

My preferred method of watering along the front verandah.

You do not buy a simple life, it is created and added to minute by minute, one day at a time. You can't tell if a person is living simply by the look of them. I know people who live on farms and grow their own food who do not living simply. I know people who live in the city and work in large corporations who do. Simple life is not so much about where you live but more about your mindset, your commitment and your values.

I picked some of these blueberries yesterday morning along with a few late strawberries. 

If you're at a crossroad in your life and you're not sure of your direction, I encourage you to take some time and think about what you value in your life. Write it down and create a long or short list that you can think about. If you're married or living in a partnership, you should share your list with your partner. They may or may not agree with your list, they may have a list of their own. Share your ideas about your future and try to come up with a combined plan for the next few years. Be prepared to go it alone too. Your partner may not agree with any of your plans. If that is the case, depending on what your plan is, you can probably do it anyway. That's what happened here. Hanno wasn't interested at first, I continued on and didn't say anything about what I was doing. A few months down the track, we spoke again and he was coming around to my way of thinking. Eventually he agreed fully and we're been on this journey together since then.

Taken yesterday morning, our native hibiscus is in full flower.

We are retired folk and have time to produce a lot of what we use at home. Home production gives us healthier products and food, saves us money and gives structure and meaning to our days. I decided very early on that I'd like to simplify my shopping, cleaning and cooking and starting with baking bread most days. I found that one simple task lead me to 20 others. The simple act of doing one thing opened up the possibility of so many things. The same happened with growing food in the back yard. Although I'd been a gardener for many years and didn't have to learn about that, I did have to learn about when to harvest, preserving, freezing, blanching and stockpiling. I think you'll find the same, that taking that first step will drive you forward to what waits beyond.

Fresh herby breadcrumbed chicken tender loin.

Although there is no set menu for this, the one thing many people do is to live on less than they earn, and pay off debt. The liberation from debt is life-changing and living simply can help you get there a long time before mainstream life will. In fact, mainstream life will take you in the opposite direction because there will always be the temptation and encouragement to buy, whether you can afford it or not.

Maybe it will be helpful to list a few things that are common in simple life, maybe that will give you a framework, and you can go on from there. I have written about all these things in the past so follow the links to find out more.
Paying off debt and tracking your spending
Living on less than you earn
Cooking from scratch
Keeping a stockpile
Green cleaning and Making your own laundry liquid
Making soap
Bread in the bread maching and Five minute bread
Lists and Routines
Finding happiness

You'll start your simple life immediately just by starting any of these things, and hopefully they'll lead you to the next step and the next. But please don't limit yourself to this list because as you mature and your circumstances change, so will your values and your aspirations. Simple life is a changeable feast, it might start as one thing and be totally another in a few years time. That's good. Life is dynamic and should be full of energetic and gentle change.

Four bags of strawberry jam about to go into the freezer.

I hope that by thinking carefully about your own life, deciding what you want to do with your ordinary days and being prepared to change, you'll find the same sort of peace and happiness I have in my ordinary days. It's not easy, change never is, but the rewards are there if you move closer to a more engaged and self-reliant life.

If there is a question you want to ask, or something you want me to write about, please ask and I'll try to do it this week.


  1. Was Du da schreibst finde ich sehr interessant und wahr. Ich versuche auch mich nicht in ein Leben mit viel Konsum und Hektik hineinziehen zu lassen.
    Grüße von Marie

  2. I wonder what you and hanno would do if the power went out for a long period of time. Just curious, as that seems to be the thing people plan for if they see storms or other large scale events coming. Would simple living make those times easier?

  3. I love a refresher course (or in this case earlier posts). Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  4. Rhonda, This long, slow process of creating our simple life is an adventure. This week's adventure included being snowed (iced) in. We did a bit of shopping before the storm got to us, but we didn't panic because we have supplies on hand in our pantry and storage closet. The vodka is getting low, other than that we've had a quiet few days at home. Just wanted you to know I'm still enjoying your blog and learning from it, too. Happy December.

    1. haha Joy, I loved your vodka comment. I'd love to be there enjoying the snow with you. I'm still learning from the blog too. ;- ) Take care. xx

  5. This might be a silly question, but why would you freeze the jam instead of popping it in jars?

    1. I didn't have the time, nor inclination, to sterilise jars. :- )

    2. Freezer jam smells sooooo good whenever you first open the jar...another good reason to freeze instead of can fruit. Strawberry freezer jam is the best ever and makes me think of the month of May.

      Diane in North Carolina

    3. Lol, fair enough Rhonda!! I didn't even know jam could be frozen - I may have to try it next time I make a batch :)

  6. Hi Rhonda,
    I have a question for you about adding more chickens to the flock. How did you introduce them into your flock. We are hoping to add a couple more chickens in the spring. We will be raising them as chicks separate, then when they are old enough we would add them to the flock. So at what age do you introduce them and how?
    As for simple living we started with one thing then added another. We do what we can and your right simple living is different for each of us. Love your blog!

  7. Well, I have learned something new today. I didn't realise you could even freeze jam! Those links are so helpful, Rhonda. I am always linking folk who are interested in making soap to your posts on soap making. Thanks so much.

  8. I loved re-reading your happiness post - such a gem!

  9. Well all I can say to your hibiscus photo is SNAP! I just posted some photos of our beautiful blooms on my own blog two days ago!

  10. Hi Rhonda,
    I loved today's post, and rereading some of the older posts you included links for. I especially loved your insight that simple life is dynamic and changeable, depending on our circumstances at the time.


  11. It is perfect timing for me to read your post Rhonda, as I've realised that simplicity is what I want to achieve, but I also enjoy working outside the home. The links to your previous posts will help to steer me in the right direction. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  12. This was a great post. It is always good to take stock of where you are and decide what you want to add next to your way of living. I am in total agreement that living simply means different things at different stages. Right now I have three young children so time is at a premium, I am not making jam as often and my garden is not as big. But that is o.k. Simple living is all about taking one step at a time.

    Thanks for the links. They were nice to reread!

  13. At 40 I have discovered your blog, purchased your book and realised that Simple Living is what we have been working towards for the past 20+ years as a couple. We grow our own veggies when we can, save as much as we can, live within our means and generally try to live as simple as we can with two busy careers. Our children don't go without, but they don't have everything society pushes on them either. Our largest investments have been our home and educating our children, neither of which is beyond our means or overly flash.
    I love how this post reminded me of some of the little things I can add to what we already do. And thank you for letting us know that what we are doing isn't odd or out of the ordinary and that we will be able to continue our lifestyle into retirement.
    PS - Hubby made his own Laundry Liquid on the weekend and was so pleased with himself (usually I make it)

  14. Love most of your posts, Rhonda! Your style of writing is simple yet beautiful, much like your lifestyle!




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