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Simple, my way

25 Apr 2008

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Apart from occasional dalliances with the thought of conspicuous consumption in my early twenties, I have always lived a simple life. I quickly realised that spending lots of money would mean lots of hours at work to make the money and I wasn't prepared to give my life to my job.



I have never knowingly downshifted, downsized, chosen voluntary simplicity or radically altered the way I live my life to compensate for years of overconsumption.
I simply chose not to overconsume from the beginning.




We live what could be described as a simple rather frugal life because this is the life that suits us best. It's the way that has always made the most sense to us.



I have always had a taste for the good things in life:

- well prepared food eaten in happy surroundings

- good gutsy food with earthy flavours and happy memorable special occasion food.

- time to read, to think, to dream

- the feel and smell of wool, cotton, linen

- fresh air and water

- time to walk, I like to walk, not just in the bush but everywhere.
I like to get to know the streets, the houses,the gardens, the people, the animals, I like to really feel and smell the changing seasons.




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I guess I have aspired to an educated peasant life - putting away what you can for the future but focusing on enjoying the gift of the present with as much joy as can be taken from the beauty of your surroundings and the rhythm of the tasks that make your life and always an appreciative eye to the legacy of the past.




Living in the rich inner city suburb of South Yarra, Melbourne, after I graduated from Uni we were surrounded by conspicuous consumption and people striving for status symbols.
We were also within easy reach of the good life, that is, walking distance to the wonderful Prahran market, many beautiful parks and galleries, bookshops in Toorak Road and later living around the corner from the alternate lifestyle mecca of the 80s, Greville Street with wholefood cafes, biodynamic grocer, antiques market, the funny old shoe repair man, second hand clothing and book stores.
So many interesting things.
My Sunday afternoon walks to the bookshops to browse for hours then home for a good cup of tea were priceless.





Our cottage here in Tasmania is comfortable and welcoming though a bit battered.
Our lives are at times happily busy and soulfully relaxing.



Our children grew up in their own home not day care centres.
They have walked their neighbourhood.
They know who lives where.
They know that the kitchen and the garden are the places to find food not fast food outlets.
They know the warmth of a wood fire, the pleasure of a breeze through an open window. They know that animals add an extra layer of love.
They take for granted, and so they should, that there will always be someone here for them no matter what.




We don't have a dishwasher, microwave,clothes dryer or superduper flatscreen TV. Our car is 23 years old and we've had it for 8 years, we had the previous car for 15 years.



We live on 1/3 of an acre on the edge of the inner suburban areas of Launceston, a town of more than 60000 people. We live in an renovated 1930s cottage without modern extensions. My sons share a bedroom, my daughter's bedroom used to be my little sewing room.



Our children attend a relatively expensive private school. we own our home and car. We live off one wage. I make a little money from my hobby of making dolls.



We own many books, records and CDs.
We have a piano.
Everyone but me plays a musical instrument or two.




We grow most of our summer and autumn fruit needs.
We grow our vegetables, sometimes well, sometimes not so well.




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I cook our meals from scratch, bake bread, biscuits and cakes, make jams, relishes,chutneys and sauces.
We cater for our own birthday parties.




As well as the car we use public transport, bikes and our legs.



My children know their grandparents well.




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Because I learned and enjoyed knitting and sewing from a young age I have always made things: clothing, toys, quilts, soft furnishings etc.


This is something I enjoy not something I chose to do to live more simply.
I wear natural fibres because I can't bear the feel of synthetics near my skin and I wouldn't waste my time and energy making clothes from synthetics.






start of the santa hat





My husband taught himself how to maintain and repair cars and bikes.
He taught himself carpentry and home maintenance.
He enjoys the challenge of figuring out how to do things himself.


We have woodheating because we adore the kind of heat wood provides and we are not at the mercy of the power company.

We don't have solar power because we can't afford to install it but we use as little power as possible, turning off lights and appliances.
We also have insulation, lined curtains, draught stoppers.
I love the convenience of electricity but I don't want to pay the power company any more than I have to.


We don't have a rainwater tank but I would like one.
We try to be miserly with water, mulch the garden and reuse what we can.



I like to check out the op shops for good quality natural fibre clothes, blankets, knitting yarn, books and patterns and replacement china.
I love old china and hand thrown pottery.


I try to make as many gifts as I have the inspiration and time to make.


Most of the furniture we have was built by Stephen or my dad.
Some of it is hand-me-down, some has been rescued from the tip shop and rejuvenated.
We know the history of most of our furniture and nothing we have is ugly.


The washing is dried on the line or sometimes in front of the fire.
I didn't give up my clothes drier, I never thought of having one.





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I use cloth bags or a basket for my shopping because it saves me from having to deal with all those horrible plastic bags.


I buy unhomogenised local milk because I like to see the cream on top and I like things that haven't been messed around with too much.


We keep chooks because I love them and their yummy technicolour eggs.
I love their contented clucking and their excited shouts when they lay an egg.


I love old things that have had a good life, I like to know the history of things and people.



I like to have a house full of books though I have far too many cook books. My other weakness is magazines: Country Living ( English), Grassroots, Earthgarden, Organic gardening and more recently Interweave Knits and Living Craft.





I don't know if all this qualifies as today's version of "Simple Living".
For me it is Simply Living, the only way that makes sense to me.





I love that in this life of mine there is always more to learn, more to admire and revel in; colour, texture, smell.
There are good times and sad times, days that overwhelm but mostly days of rhythm and chance, when I am lead to discover something new or comforting about my world.



You can read more simple life stories at Rhonda's blog

30 Responses to “Simple, my way”

  1. This post is like a symphony. Absolutely beautiful. I can't wait to read it again.

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  2. What a lovely post. I think you have also learned contentment which brings much peace. God bless you and your cozy cottage.

    Rain

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  3. A beautiful post, an even more beautiful life. Thank you for sharing so generously.
    Blessings,
    Niki

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  4. I found myself nodding in agreement with most of what you said, but you said it better than I would have.
    Thanks!

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  5. dear gentle Jenny, Thank You.

    Jayne

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  6. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this. Your 'simply living' is the sort of life I strive for; it's the kind of life I had when I was very young. But my parents drastically changed their lifestyle, when I was about 8, from simple and earth centered to complex and statice centered.
    ~Kate

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  7. Excellent post, Jenny. I love all that you had to say in it and with the music playing in the background...well, it's just so soothing ot my soul.

    Thank you!

    K

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  8. I can't really add more to that Jenny, except Amen.

    Love, Tina :)

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  9. Great post.I enjoyed reading all about your simple living.

    Libby

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  10. when can I come over for tea? sounds beautiful Jenny.

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  11. Hi Jenny :) What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing your heart in such a precious way. Love, Q

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  12. It's beautiful and inspiring, Jenny. Thanks!

    Christine from the NL

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  13. Oh Jenny, what a simply gorgeous post! Your words truly convey the richness of a simple life! Thank you for continuing to share beautiful slices of your life with us; I look forward to reading your blog each day!

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  14. Such a lovely thought provoking post.

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  15. Dear Jenny, reading your blog is a rare treat these days but I just love it. Thank you for this beautiful post.

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  16. Hello Jenny, I am new to you lol. But I read your blog each and every day!!! I so love the life you write about. I am just on my way to a life like yours, and I cannot wait to get there. One question that I have and I really do need someone to answer it. I hate plastic bags also, But.... what do you put in your inside garbage containers to catch all the trash you collect each day? I really want to eleminate this horrible thing we use "PLASTIC". But what do I use inplace of it? Thank you for any help you can give me. P.S. I love your dolls too. Much love from across the ocean in America Pam Watts

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  17. such a beautiful and inspiring post, jenny! a beautiful and simple life. :)

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  18. You're getting more and more quotable Jenny! I like this part the best:


    "I guess I have aspired to an educated peasant life - putting away what you can for the future but focusing on enjoying the gift of the present with as much joy as can be taken from the beauty of your surroundings and the rhythm of the tasks that make your life and always an appreciative eye to the legacy of the past."

    So very wise!

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  19. Hi

    OOOh you write sooo well.

    An you life a good life!

    Love Leanne

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  20. Thank you for sharing your simple-living reality! A good reminder.

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  21. Hi Pam, regarding plastic bags.We have a small garbage bin in our kitchen for anything that is uncompostable or non recyclable. Really the only things that go into it are bits and pieces of plastic packaging which I try to keep to a minimum.Anything that is suitable for the chooks to eat goes to them, meat bits and pieces go to the dog or cats, sweepings from the floor go in the compost or worm farm, paper suitable to burn helps to light the fire and if it is heavily laden with colour ink or plasticised I put it out to be recycled, some goes to the compost.Glass and cans and recyclable plastic containers go in the recycle bin. I keep a lot of glass jars for future use. Because there is nothing yucky that will rot or smell or be slimy in the bin I don't bother to line it with anything and when it is full it is emptied into our big wheelie bin.
    We do end up with some plastic bags in the house and I reuse them as often as I can sometimes washing the really useful ones to prolong their life. I hope that helps.

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  22. Beautifully written and you seem to be having a very satisfying simple life. My husband and I are trying to do the same.

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  23. A lovely post, from an obviously thoughtful, intelligent and gentle woman.

    A pleasure to visit with you every few days.

    I too love to know the history / provenance of the thrift shopped pieces. And I am keen to give a home to almost any of piece of textile that I know to be handmade.

    I plan to use them again, someway, somehow.

    Your children are living a fortunate life. As are you two.

    Keep up the restful work.

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  24. A wonderful post, and expressed so articulately. Thank you so much for sharing. i think more and more people are returning to similar ideas about how to live life fully but quietly.

    I have had several queries from folks wanting to know how to grow vegies, including one from a very interested teenage girl who lives nearby. Somehow my nuttiness is becoming more normal!

    Kate xxx

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  25. Oh Jenny, this post is an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your simple life with us all. :)

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  26. "Educated peasant", you've put a name on what I mostly do, and I like this nameA lovely, lovely post which I am going to print and keep.

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  27. You have provided many more reasons why I love your blog.

    Blessings and bliss

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Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.