discovering a simpiler life

discovering a simpiler life

Friday, 10 January 2014

this simple life ~ Part 1 From little things big things grow

This series of posts is going to be on living a simple life, saving money in the kitchen and around the home~in particular baking from scratch, making your own household eco-cleaners, menu planning and a few others that will help along the way. It's also a way for me to document my new way of life.

These are the things I wish I had of implemented earlier but either didn't know how or just hadn't realised what was right under my nose. I sadly felt the risk of failure which held me back from trying many things, losing control wasn't an option before.  It's so true that when you know better you do better and I'm wanting to share some of it with you.  I certainly need to make it clear, I don't profess to know it all, nor do I expect anyone to live like me.   Your journey is just that, yours.  What works for me may not work for you.  This has been my ride.  I am married with a young child, have a mortgage and one income.  I will have different priorities to you.  You may be young, old, rich, poor, single, gay, or a multitude of things, but if like me you want to find more meaning in your life, save some money and reconnect and feel real contentment with your lot then read on. I just want to share some things I wish I had of worked out sooner!! But then again, its been a great time muddling my way through it all and the thought now that  I'm also here to learn more and do more, I find really exciting.

I've worked full time for most of my adult life and during high school I held down a casual job as a checkout chick. My parents and extended family have always been hard workers, although many of the influential woman in my extended family were SAHM's.  I always envied their children as my parents divorced when I was in early primary school so both worked full time and did the best they could.  I had much love around me, but my mum was always too busy.  I craved those home made meals and a fridge or pantry filled with slices, cakes and scones.  I remember trading my twice weekly lunch order of a meat pie and big M with a friend whose mum lovingly sent a sandwich and zucchini cake (I thought that was SO exotic) but never a lunch order to her daughters serious disappointment.  We were a match made in heaven and it was a win win situation!!

Throughout most of my life, like many of my peers, I have always felt like something was missing.  Just a little feeling.  I felt like I just was always searching for something but didn't know what it was. When the idea of a simpler life came to me, I didn't realise it would be so profound in different areas of my life.

I initially wanted it to ease my 'busy' brain from the boredom I felt at not working due to illness and having too much time on my hands.  I knew I had to try and slow down and enjoy this period of my life of being at home without guilt or fear, but how?  How was I ever going to enjoy doing dishes and I certainly didn't want to start watching day time TV! Not to mention that feeling of ground hog day hanging over my head.  I felt anxious and lost.  I'd never done this before.  I have always worked, apart from maternity leave, full time for over 20 years and at times had 2 jobs.  I was always busy going nowhere and searching for happiness in the usual places without success: shoes, a house, a holiday, over eating, under eating, a social life, a husband (but he is a keeper!), a baby (I do love her so though), a dog (don't underestimate the happiness a loyal old dog will give though!) oh the list went on.  

Don't get me wrong, some of these things did make me happy and I would be lost without most of them as they are cherished and loved, but I was after for myself that  content, happy I was always eluded by.  Now, almost 8 months has past since I first put in the words 'simple life' into google to see if I could find something, anything that might help me.  I didn't know what exactly I had been looking for but I had to try something or I'd go mad.  What I found, after many hours of reading and refining my search was another world of possibilities.  The biggest find for me was a wonderful blog written by  Rhonda Hetzel called down to earth.  I read it everyday that Rhonda blogs and I still find it a source of inspiration.  It was here that her gentle words of wisdom started to resonate with me and my journey began.

I wanted desperately to know where and how to start.  Just tell me someone and I'll do it!! But, as I quickly found out, it doesn't work like that.  How it does work, if you are open to it, is to just start with changing or learning one thing.  One thing that you are genuinely interested in learning or changing in your life right now, this minute.  For me, I wanted to change some of the things we brought on a regular basis to homemade. The first thing that sprung to my mind was bread making.  I had wanted to bake bread years earlier but thought I couldn't do that nor did I ever have the time.  Now what was the excuse? I couldn't think of one, well except failure.  But no-one would be watching.....

As much as I love food, I don't like to be a slave to the kitchen and I tried a few types of bread but fell in love with this 5 minute no knead bread recipe.  I tried a variety of flours off the supermarket shelf and have now settled on Laucke Multigrain 10kg sacks from South Australia which are stocked at the bigger supermarkets and your local independants. I make this every couple of days, a double batch which I've now easily perfected and my family love.     I would love to say I use organic flour but it's too expensive at almost triple the price, but it is a goal.  I figure I'm making bread from scratch without preservatives or sneaky numbers or additives and that's got to count for something.

At the same time I had already started making all our meals from scratch, but I started writing down a menu plan for the week.  If I'm honest,  I still struggle to stick to it.  I find our garden dictates a lot of what we eat and sometimes I might not feel like whats on the plan, but with a flexible model it is still helping shopping for meals rather than just shopping for food.  I started to stockpile and gradually built up a good supply that has helped when we have needed to steal some grocery money for a big bill that was forgotten about that rudely arrived on our doorstep.  I can't now imagine not having my bounty, it makes me feel secure knowing I can possibly feed our family for a month if I needed too.  This then led to readng about our eco-footprint and being more 'green' and the benefits of going organic.  I felt like I had opened Pandora's box.  It actually was quite overwhelming at one stage as I just naturally am a people pleaser, and want to do my best. I couldn't see how we could afford all this organic produce and not to mention using the right sort of plastics, being more mindful with waste, and the list went on and on.  I really only have hit the tip of the iceberg and that in itself is both mind-boggling but a challenge.  All anyone can do is your best with what you have, get educated and that is where I'm currently at with these bigger issues.

Once I had bread on my radar, the next thing that I thought about changing was my cleaners.  The main issue I had was cleaning the shower and being suffocated by the fumes.  I was lucky enough to have a steady supply of oranges and lemons for some time so now my homemade lemon/citrus cleaner aka vinegar is stocked up quite well.  

Even though I am relatively new to this simpler, frugal life, I can already see the benefits and the changes occurring with not only me, but my family.  The reason I gather, is because it is making me live more mindfully which then makes me slow down and enjoy everything that I am doing, taking my time as I'm on no time schedule rushing from place to place and getting nowhere but flustered.  The housework is going nowhere and once I realised this it took the pressure off my perfectionist's unreachable goal of getting everything done in one day.  Forget perfection, take pride in all you do but let go of the 'must, should, and could' and see how you fair.  Now I'm trying to be more deliberate, take my time with every chore and get a rhythm to my routine and the results are speaking for themselves. 

Look for the treasures hidden in your day to day, turn the mundane and humdrum into gratitude and thankfulness for all you have, with some attitude adjustment, your life and happiness is there for the taking.   Take pride in what you do whether it's paid work or home work, don't belittle whatever it is you have chosen. If it is making you miserable, do something about it, now.  We only get this one life, one chance to live this one day so make the most of it.  Begin to take note of the precious little things, the I love you's, the pleasure you get from hearing your child or family say they loved their meal, the unconditional love around you, and the gentle waves of contentment and happiness will surely find you.  For the first time in a long time, I'm loving this journey of my simple life.

Ciao, Jan


  1. What a beautiful post. Beautiful, words from the heart and soul--just gorgeous Jan. You touched me deeply and it resonated to my core.....
    You sound like you have found peace as well, much sought and often elusive.
    Take care

    1. Thanks Robyn, its a work in progress but I feel I'm heading in the right direction xxx

  2. Love love love this post!!!

  3. "Look for the treasures hidden in your day to day" Yep, that right there is the secret to happiness.

  4. Hi I found your blog via Rhonda down to earth - who I've also been reading/following for about 1 year. Your words resonate with me, I'm also a sahm to 3 kids, th eldest about to start primary school, the youngest about to turn 1. So I'm very busy with the kids but also wanting to do more 'simple life'. We have a small veggie patch, that I'm keen to expand and also trying my hand at various crafts. I feel there is so much to learn for this way of life, a way of living that is so appealing for me. Thanks for sharing your journey, I enjoy your blog.

  5. Thanks Amanda for dropping by, I'm glad I'm resonating with people, it makes it all worthwhile :D Yes, you must be busy! Good luck with the new adventures that school brings, and adding to that veggie patch, it really is the answer to saving some money if you get into the 'cycle' of growning, cheers Jan x


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