Kevin's happiness project

23 January 2014
I'm late to my blog today, but I thought it was better late than not at all. I've been doing the final reading of my next book and ebook, making bread and cleaning. I hope you enjoy your day.


I have been watching Kevin's Hand-made Home on TV and enjoying it a lot. It's like a bloke's over the top version of what we're doing here, and what a lot of you do. He is seeing what he can make himself, from the cabin that he lives in, to soap, flint razors, a BBQ made from a WW2 mine and many other "comforts of home" to see if he is made happy by doing it.  It's a happiness and contentment experiment. Good news, he is happier.

Just like the Amish, he asked many friends to help him erect his "barn" Using recycled and hand-made, rather than bought, he built a cabin, then moved it to the seaside and is now adding to it. His project is to explore happiness. And when he says "By doing, making, sharing and collaborating you can be made happier." he is talking about the value of work and the many rewards that come from it.

He makes a patchwork roof with copper tiles made from old copper cylinders that are cut to shape. It is the same process that many of us use in our quilts. Kevin stands back and admires his handicraft - just like we do with ours. What we all make and do creates beauty and it is worthwhile looking at it and thinking about it. "I think happiness is a lot of things. There is a great feeling of well-being here," he says.

The paraphernalia of life is important too so he tries to make toothpaste, soap and other small things. Many of us do this but in a more ordered way in our homes. I'm glad I'm not making my toothpaste with urine and ground cuttlefish bone, like he did. But it's the work and self-reliance - the making and doing that gives him, and us, that feeling of contentment. 

While he is making what seems to be a practical seaside cabin with accoutrement, he really is demonstrating an over the top version of a simple life. I think he's doing many outrageous things to make people stop, look and wonder. If it were an ordinary run of the mill program about recycling and reclaiming, and how that makes you feel, how many of us would watch? But we watch this because it's outrageous and so crazy. I guess that's what some people feel when they see how Hanno and I live. Anything outside the mainstream seems crazy to many people.

Right at the end, he talks about sharing, how doing and making is made better when you share the results of your labour. How many of us can relate to that when we knit a cardigan and give it to someone, when we gift some home made soap and knitted washcloths, when we sit down to a shared meal that we've work on during the day? It's all made better in the sharing because sharing brings the remarkable rewards of acceptance, joy, affection, generosity, kindness and the feeling of abundance. And all this is within the reach of all of us. Working for what you have, making what you need, doing what you must, that, my friends, will enrich your soul and make you happier in the process.


  1. Everything looks so beautiful and bountiful Rhonda. It is so amazing to do things with your own hands...I should try more often.

  2. I watched the end of the programme last night and was interested to see if the mine Bar-B-Que would work ...and it did! It was a very blokey episode and the men were in their element and obviously enjoying themselves. I am keen to see what was burning in the trailer about next week's programme and look forward to watching it.

  3. Yes, I watched that too and it was fascinating. But I won't be making the toothpaste, well, not his version anyway!! What I was talking to my mother up the coast this morning was, as he was sitting looking at his 'patchwork' copper piece roof and talking about it, that could have been her or my sister (or even me, although I'm more of a beginner) talking about our quilts and that sense of accomplishment! Just as you commented this morning. melindi brisbane/doonan

  4. Wonderful post...and oh so true! We really enjoy making things with our hands here and sharing with our neighbors. One of our most favorite ways is to share our fresh farm eggs with our elderly neighbors. We have a sort of "barter" system...they save their table scraps for our ladies and we provide them with fresh's a "win-win" situation!

    This program sounds so interesting! I had never heard of it...probably because we don't watch TV...or perhaps because we live way up north in Maine! Anyway, I tried to go to the link...but I wasn't authorized to view it because we don't live "down under". Oh, well, perhaps you'll share some more of the crazy antics on another blogpost!

    Sweet blessings,

    1. Its on YouTube Laura if that helps :)

  5. Really interesting post. This guy must be retired to be able to do this happiness project. I sooner brush my teeth with baking soda than make my own with urine.... oh my....

  6. We are thoroughly enjoying Kevin's adventures with the man made home. We get quite a laugh out of his antics. The blowing up of the mine was classic - who would have thought that that bit of explosive tape would cut it in half exactly how they wanted it! Those copper shingles that he fashioned were so beautiful, I bet even he didn't think they'd turn out so well. Can't wait to see the finished product - if it ever will be finished!

  7. I cannot wait to read your new ebooks! I have Down to Earth and I simply love it! Thank you!!

  8. I was tolling to a neighbour today. She told me I had a green thumb and made it sound like a bad thing. She also told me that if anything went through to her side if the fence it would be cut off. All this was said by her, standing in her dust owl of a yard, whilst she was smoking a cigarette. I felt sorry for her as she was trying to make me feel bad about growing food. I feel fabulous about my garden so she failed in her attempt to make me feel down about my efforts.

  9. Hi Rhonda, that slice looks so yummy, I could just eat a piece now with my lovely cup of tea I am enjoying:)

    I think I'll watch the show tomorrow, thank you for the link.


  10. I have really enjoyed watching this over past weeks, but I am now sad to see that they will burn it all to the ground in the final episode.

  11. I would enjoy seeing that but we can't get it here in Texas. I don't think I'd use toothpaste made with urine. HA!

  12. I haven't seen that show- I don't get much time for TV these days, but I think I will seek this one out. It sounds fantastic! I totally agree on the sharing the results of one's labour- I know that sharing the spoils of our garden brings enormous joy and satisfaction!

  13. Is this Kevin McCloud ? If so I missed this series.

  14. I've really enjoyed reading your posts. Makes me miss my mom and my child hood life again. I was raised on simple frugality and my parents and grandmother always had a flower garden and a vegetable garden. My mom and grandmother crochet and made us capes, house slippers, and scarfs. My dad was a bee keeper too. We had fresh honey and fresh vegies. And fresh meats from locals including fresh eggs. Now I live in the city and I miss the country life. I long to go back to a farm some place. My daughter had actually started knitting and sewing too. I work less than part time as a nurse and I raise 2 special needs children. I have three children altogether, and husband is disabled now. I've been trying to follow some of your principles because that is how it was for us growing up. It's hard to get back to those things after going to work and school for so long. I am glad you are keeping this blog going. I too have a blog as well related to saving money at the grocery stores, etc. But anyway I hope your weekend is fabulous and that you enjoy your time with family and friends as that is precious time.

    From Ann in Kentucky, USA

    P.S. I finally got a copy of your e-book from Amazon kindle store, and I can't seem to put it down. I really love it!!!!!

  15. I agree! I love the way that Kevin tries to show people that wouldn't normally think about it how stimulating and enjoyable living in this way is. Some of the stuff he does is crazy but it's great to see a show like it on tv.

  16. Rhonda, I really like the look of the loaf of bread in this post. Is the recipe in your book or on the forum or here somewhere ?


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