5 February 2017

The warm embrace of self-reliance

I'm not one who takes frequent holidays. In the last ten years, I've had two holidays and both of them were working holidays (book tours). I'm a home body and prefer to be in my home, working at living the life I want. We always make sure we take days off and do things out of the ordinary, but those days are usually spent at home, or close to it. To tell you the truth, nowadays, my life seems like one long holiday. I feel relaxed, I do as I please, most days are a lovely mix of work and rest and there is always something to do.

We have two things here - the floral fabric is part of my old ironing board cover made into a napkin, the other part is now a small table cover.  The little scottie dog napkins were given to me by a good friend - Judy (damac) at the forum. Thanks again Jude. Cloth napkins are always useful and help you cut down a lot on paper products. 
Our all important dishcloths. I made 12 new cloths to cover our needs here for the next 12 - 18 months.

Life is tough when you have debt. You can see that on the faces of many people, you hear it in their stories and know it in your own. That toughness is one of the things that makes life the challenge it is. Almost all of us have to work for what we get, either in our homes and gardens producing what we need, or out in the work force earning money to buy or rent a home and what we need. I've never had a problem with hard work. I want to work for what I get, it feels right to me. I don't want to be that person who takes the easy way out or who thinks they deserve to have it easy. I don't want to sit back and do nothing. I believe that work makes us strong people and through that strength, we are able to achieve our life dreams.

But even though I feel like that, I don't want you to think I'm a non-complaining workhorse. I do complain, I have days when I don't feel like doing what I have to do and I put off jobs till tomorrow, or next week. Everyone has off days, no one can, or should need to, maintain a stoic attitude all the time. When I feel like taking it easy, I am realistic enough to know work is part of life and that the reprieve from work will be short, so I enjoy it and then get ready to pick up my broom and cleaning rags  again. When I don't have the energy to push myself, I push myself gently and sit with knitting and work on an unfamiliar pattern, or spend time outside alone watching birds and the swaying trees. The restorative powers of outdoor time and silence is quite remarkable.

 Getting the salads ready for summer lunch. There is leftover potato salad in that bowl.

Last year was a good one for passionfruits here. Some of these were small but they were all packed and juicy.

Most of the time, my housework is something I look forward to. I love cooking for my family, baking and making jams and sauces. There are times during the year when I organise cupboards and move things around and when I do that, it helps me with the work that will follow. I don't care what's for sale in the shops, I couldn't care less what's on TV, I'm less and less interested in being online because my home is my focus and my interest. I'm content here and I don't see that changing.

Baked vegetables ready for lunch.
Pizza dough ready to be flattened and made into circles.

The satisfaction I feel when I make something for my home far outstrips the feeling I used to get when I bought everything I needed. What I make suits our home better than most commercial products and as a bonus, I feel the warm embrace of self-reliance when I make them. I know it can be difficult to disconnect from the ease of buying pre-made everything but once you settle into to it, home production, moderation and self-reliance delivers long-term, constant contentment.

A few ladies asked about the fabric I photographed in the last weekend reading post.  It was the cover of my old ironing board - an Ikea cover. I love the fabric so when I replaced my ironing board with a larger one  recently, I saved the cover. I was unsure how to reuse the odd shape but I knew I wanted to see it frequently. I ended up making one napkin (above) and a little table cover that I'll use on my old tea trolley. I'm very happy with both of them and happier that I could keep using the fabric and to repurpose it for new tasks.

Here she is - our Gracie - gazing longingly at the chicken poo and straw mix in the wheelbarrow.

I hope you enjoy your homemaking this week. I'll be continuing with ongoing sewing and knitting, cooking our lunch from scratch every day, cleaning, thinking about the soon-to-be planted new season garden and looking after our adorable puppy Grace. I hope to clean out a cupboard or too as well.  What are your plans for the week ahead?



  1. That is the cutest picture of Gracie! Thank you for sharing��


  2. Hi Rhonda, What a lovely post! That is the way I feel when I'm in my home & garden ... that I don't want to be anywhere else:) It's been a slow, quiet weekend here, yesterday slower than today because I was tired. Today, I've had more energy so I've done more. It's nice not to have to rush or get everything done in one day. I hope you have a lovely week. Meg:)

  3. Håfa adai from Guam, Rhonda. Loved all the pictures. Gracie's a hoot.

    Plans? Today I began crossing off some goals:
    --purged and organized my Guest Room/Craft & Sewing Closet; got rid of an exercise mat, two waste baskets, a small plastic drawer organizer and a scissor caddy; I put all the items that were in the last two organizers in two of the six empty drawers in one of the room's nightstands. I have overlooked the wonderful use of these 12 empty drawers. They now house paper scissors, sewing scissors, sewing tools, sewing needles, staple gun/staples, glue gun/glue sticks, craft paints.
    --put all the snaps on the 22 baby bibs I made from my husband's shirts. Thirty-plus old plaid cotton shirts were cut into five-inch squares since 2011 or '12. The 1,200+ squares yielded seven 40-inch square baby boy quilt tops, 22 quilted baby boy bibs and 10 quilted baby boy burp cloths, with many squares leftover! I call them the Gramps Shirts projects, and divided evenly (with one quilt leftover to gift to someone else), our two daughters are going to enjoy them immensely (if they have sons)!

    Additional goals:
    -- weed the front yard
    -- test my sauerkraut that will be ready 11 February!
    -- embroider some Valentine cards
    -- have a Games 'n Goodies party Friday, 10 February. Several couples are coming. I'm serving a veggie chili, cornbread baked in my iron skillet, and a fruit platter. Simple. Homemade kettle corn will go home with them for a treat.

    Happy week,

  4. The restorative power of outdoors time.......I've never noticed that, but it is so true.

  5. i'm trying to make my house into a home again, it's a very slow process
    that post seemed so tranquil Rhonda, i felt extremely relaxed reading it
    a great post & what a cutie Gracie has become!
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

  6. Thank you for your post; I feel somewhat calmer after reading your words.

  7. This post made me happy reading it, thank you. Plans? It is a long weekend here, so we are visiting family friends until Monday evening. Then back to Auckland, and 'real life' begins again for 2017 - holidays over! Lots of knitting and perhaps bread experimenting over the weekend, the rest of the homemaking is my husband's area :) Have a lovely week!

  8. Wonderful post, Rhonda! It echoes my sentiments about home and homemaking exactly. I'm on a major organizing and getting-rid-of-stuff kick lately, so I suppose I'll carry on with that for this week, also.


  9. Enjoyed your post so much today. We seem to be at much the same stage in life. Home is where my heart is. I am really working hard to get our home clean and organized and have several sewing projects and garden ideas I'm thinking about.Also thinking about a few projects for my husband when he finishes his radiation treatments if he feels up to it. He is doing so good, just not quiet as full of energy as usual. Blessings, Carolyn in Florida

  10. The restorative powers of outdoor time and silence is quite remarkable.

    Totally agree Rhonda.

  11. That photo of Gracie looking in the wheelbarrow is priceless!

  12. Me too ! Oh! What a sweet little Gracie ! :)x

  13. Love the photo of Gracie peering into the wheel barrow. Yes, we too get contentment from making rather than buying...it gives a real sense of achievement. Enjoy your week Ronda.

  14. Thanks for sharing your life with us. It looks so simple but I can feel the joy and love emanating from your pictures.

  15. Love the dish cloths. No more buying cleaning stuff full of chemicals and they don't affect environment when you dispose of then. 100 percent cotton. My local pre school has converted to home made dish cloths with one colour for kitchen, another colour for bathroom etc so after washing you know where they belong. Love pics of Gracie. What a cutie she is.

  16. Lovely post, feel much calmer and relaxed after reading this! & seeing the Cute little Gracie is beautiful! Thank you!

  17. What a great photo of Grace! Plans for this week include continuing to clear out the playroom to turn it into more of a craft room/schoolroom. Need to make a place to set up a borrowed keyboard for my daughter to practice on after she starts piano lessons this week, and ultimately would love to get my grandmother's sewing machine set up so I can learn how to use it. It's a process, so I'm trying to just keep at it 'til it's done, but I'm hoping to get a good amount done in there this week.

  18. Rhonda. I have not been following your blog that long but absolutely love it. I am reading your back posts as quickly as possible. The other day, after reading and agreeing with your posts, it hit me that we are actually the CEOs of our homes. Our households represent a small business. If we are successful, our homes should run like a well oiled machine. We make sure our finances are in order, our food is healthy and home prepared, our family members are healthy and well-cared for, our children are respectful of others and we basically function like the Proverbs 31 woman. If we fail from time-to-time it does not mean we are failures. It means we are normal and pick ourselves up and continue on with our business. The success of our company depends on a smooth operation. We set our routines in order to succeed. If we need to adjust our routines, we do so. Our main goal is not money for our business to succeed, our goal is to stay calm and be an inspiration to all we encounter. We should be the kind of woman other women aspire to be. Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift of teaching.

  19. Beautiful post and Gracie just melts my heart.

    Thank you for your continued wise teachings Rhonda.

    Forever grateful that I found your life changing blog all those years ago.

    Much love to you,


  20. That Gracie has stolen my heart!

  21. I agree with others Rhonda in that your words and photos make me feel more relaxed and calm.

    Oh Gracie - too cute!

  22. Dear Rhonda, I learn a lot here and at the forum...I used to live a life in wich I wanted to be appreciated by everyone and wanted to have a lot of stuff and eat out and I didn't like to be home a lot...that has changed (also because I had a burn-out) and I started longing to the way of life I had when I was a child living with my parents who lived a simple life.It was difficult to start living my/our simple life 'cause I really had to sober up from the life I had, but reading here and joining the forum helped (and still does)a lot!!!
    It makes me happy to read this post because it helps me to stay on this simple living path I want to walk!!! lots of Love Angela (aka Angel ;))

  23. I enjoyed this post. I'm continuing to read Down to Earth, focusing on slowing down this week amid the chaotic rhythm of life as a stay home mom of 2 little boys. I have home chores listed out in detail by day/week/month and have been following this for some time, which does help when I lose focus and feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. However, as I have been reading your books and focusing on slowing down, I am finding that I need my lists less and less because the rhythm of our days is calmer and I just do what needs to be done as I observe the need rather than trying to keep up with a detailed schedule/routine. And...I'm finding that I have more time to play with the boys rather than feeling like I am getting behind in my schedule.
    I continue to be encouraged by your writing. My outlook, daily purpose, and the way in which I view my home and possessions have all been positively influenced by you. Thank you.

    1. I was pleased to read your comment, Sarah. It sounds like you're thinking about your work and adjusting accordingly. Housework is not the enemy, it's just part of our reality and it can be managed to fit into a calm and productive life. You're doing well. xx

  24. I enjoyed reading this post and all the lovely photos. I too wondered about the fabric you were working on (the Ikea print) It's lovely and sort of old fashioned looking. I LOVED the picture of Gracie peering over the wheel barrow.

    This week I plan to keep working on getting rid of things--it's an ongoing task! We have way too much here, and I am slowly in the process of sorting, donating, or throwing out, depending on the item. It feels good!

  25. Love your posts. I check in a few times a week but rarely comment.

    I'll soon be 60 and count my blessings that I have been debt free for 30+ years. I was an older student and graduated at 30 and in debt. I paid off that debt and managed to stay debt free, except for an occasional house mortgage, the rest of my adult life. What a blessing. I was forced into an early retirement due to poor health. Being debt free has enabled me to live well even when life threw me a curve or two.

    Reading your writings and those of your readers certainly helps me now.

    Love the picture with Gracie. Puppies are so precious. I could relate to your 'needs a bit of training' comment as well. It brought me back to when my buddy was in his doggie 'teens' - he's now quite grey and very much the senior. He wouldn't win any obedience trials but he has manners and does what I ask, for the most part.
    Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  26. I love this post. It's "funny" how the simplest things like a single napkin from a used ironing board cover can bring us such joy. That's what it's all about - that feeling of joy from something simple 😊 Thank you for sharing with us.

  27. Rhonda,
    I don't usually comment, but the chicken looks very good and that picture of Gracie looking at the chicken poo has to be the cutest pup picture ever! :) Jeannine

  28. Rhonda,
    I was feeling a little discontent today so I thought I would come over to Down to Earth and gain some perspective. =) Right away I came across this post and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your insightful words. I usually enjoy taking care of my home and family but once in a while I guess I feel a little underappreciated and walk around with a "poor me, I never get to have any fun" attitude. All of that is ridiculous, of course, and I just need to step back and count my blessings. I have so many! So I'm doing some baking and sewing today, and I feel so much better for it. I think it's interesting to think about how we view entertainment, and what it means for us.

  29. Rhonda, just passing through quickly, I have limited computer access right now and am caring for my Mom for 5 weeks while my brother and his wife are out of town. Felt good to peek into your world for a minute, I will really read and catch up on posts later. Best Gracie picture ever! Beth in MN

  30. Thank you for this fantastic article... You inspire me so much as a mum and homemaker. I have just bought your books and can't wait to read them. I have chronic pain and mental illnesses so it is difficult for me to do a lot around the home, however I'm looking forward to some motivation reading your books and then making a good plan to get things done. Again, thank you.

    1. I hope you enjoy the books, Angela, and that you find what you're looking for in them. xx


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