Wednesday, September 9, 2015

First Steps to a Simple Life

The last couple of months I have been working towards simplifying things in my life, trying to slow down the pace of things and really start to enjoy the journey, rather than continually push forwards to the future.  A number of things has brought on this change; technology being a main offender, as it rapidly keeps altering before our eyes and forcing us onwards and upwards at a ridiculous pace.  I think it's also the quick convenience of everything too, as well as this feeling that we NEED to have everything, and not only that, but have it NOW. 

A very good friend of mine visited yesterday and we were talking about this very subject, and she pointed out how it was normal for people to always be wanting something, or wishing they had something, (or even wanting things that your friends have but you can't quite afford), and this goes on to make you feel, not only that you are missing something in your life, but also makes you feel bad.  As she very rightly said, once you stop and really think about it, you realise that you don't need these things at all.  And I mean NOT at all.  For example I have a fairly smallish television and my parents have offered to give me their big screen one when they purchase a new one.  This is a lovely offer but really I don't need it.  What with the kids, who always stand way too close to the one I already have, and there is the fear of my boys toppling it over on top of my two year old daughter and squashing her flat, I don't need a TV the size of half my wall.....I can still see the screen perfectly on my little one.....(my eyes aren't quite that bad yet!)  All a big one will do is throw out more radiation, use more power and cost me more money (not to mention potentially pancake one of my kids).
So if you keep on this theme, of thinking about what we really could live without, I think you would find there is an awful lot of things.  I've mentioned before in previous posts how last year my smart phone got broken whilst riding my horse and I was reduced to using just a mobile phone that was JUST a phone....and seriously....within a week I didn't miss having the Internet and all those other fancy do-dohs on it.  It was pleasantly refreshing....and a hell of a lot less of a time just have a phone that is a phone.  Having said that I have found my smart phone to be a life saver on the time I got caught in the supermarket with $400 of shopping at the check out and my card was declined because all the money was in the wrong a quick jump on my Internet banking, transfer some money and BANG...the problem was solved right there and then at the counter.  It certainly does have its conveniences but I think it is important to stop relying on it so much.  I grew up without the Internet, mobile phones, a computer and any sort of beep beep game and I got along just fine.  I did my final year of school without the Internet (it still didn't exist! old am I??)...we had a dicky dot printer for our computer (you know the ones that had the big feed of paper that you had to tear off) and I didn't get a mobile until I was about 22 or 23.  And it was HUGE!
So if you want to start thinking about enjoying a more simple way of life, and sort of wind back the clock a bit, below are some of the things that I have done which might help you on your way.  Of course this is by no means an exclusive list, or possibly even a very good one, but so far it has made significant changes in my life, with a main one being a change in my state of mind.  I feel a lot HAPPIER!  This is important.  I am by no means finished on my journey, so bear that in mind, and know that there are a lot more things that I can continue to do.  After all, the way we live in this day and age is very different to how people lived in the past, and I mean even only twenty years ago, so like anything that you get accustomed to (and I'm even talking about addictive things like smoking or eating lots of sugar, or drinking), it can take a while to wean yourself off a fast paced life and things like your smart phone.  So don't beat yourself up if you have lapses!  You might decide that you don't want to, or simply can't, not use your phone for certain things, so go ahead and use it, but perhaps instead you just don't use it as much. 
Steps to a Simple Life
1.  De-clutter 
I know, this one sounds like a bit of a botheration, but actually it's very therapeutic and you find all sorts of treasures you forgot you had.  Make a few different piles of things as you are sorting through it all; 'things to keep', 'things to throw out' and 'things to donate'.  Also you might find that you have a pile of 'things to sell on eBay', which is what I found when going through my I was then able to purchase quite a lot of new things that I really love and want to wear (aka the whole stack of pretty dresses and skirts I now own!)  You will find that there are things you need to keep for sentimental reasons, even though they are essentially useless (in a nice way!), but this is ok.  Don't throw away your past if there is an attachment to an item, and don't throw away Great-Grandma's old tea set either because you'll regret it later!
2. Take stock of your pantry
This is a de-clutter thing too, but also it is important to have a real good look at what you are eating and feeding your family.  You might not want to do the whole 'get rid of sugar thing' but just see how much of what is in there that comes out of a packet.  Food shouldn't come out of a packet!!  If it's in a packet it means there are all sorts of added nasties and it's not really food.  Have a think.  If your grandparents wouldn't recognise it, don't eat it!!  ( try not to eat it, or eat less of it) 
I never bought much packet stuff or things in boxes before, just the odd thing, but now I aim to buy only fresh fruit and vegetables and just the basics like flour, butter and milk.  I've been baking and cooking from scratch and we have been eating really well.  It's also not that time consuming and once you work out a selection of quick snacks for kids, and that type of thing, it really doesn't take that much time at all.
The other thing you will discover, as well as an improved diet and better tasting food, is that your garbage bin will be considerably less full.  This is something I was very delighted to find out, particularly that I now no longer have to jump up and down on my bin just to get everything to fit!  You will also find that you spend way less money.  Raw ingredients are naturally cheaper than processed food, where someone has to go to the effort of making it for you.  If you want to further reduce your shopping bill try and buy from local producers.  Less transport means less costs added to the price of the food.

3.  Learn to sew
Now I'm learning to sew so that I can make clothes, for fun mostly (I'm finding I love my new found hobby), but if you shop around for cheap fabrics it can save you money.  If you don't want to sew your own clothes, because really you can buy clothes quite cheaply, it is handy to have simple sewing skills so you can mend you clothes.  Why throw out a perfectly good pair of jeans just because they have a hole in the knee?  If you can begin to have a 'fix rather than throw' attitude you will save money and dramatic reduce your wastage.  Take a leaf out of our 1940s ancestors book and 'Make Do and Mend'! (see post here)
4. Plant vegetables
My husband spent some of the weekend building me some veggie boxes, which I'm very excited about.  I requested them a little while ago, but due to lambing going on, and then him being away shearing, it wasn't until now that he was able to get to it.  As it is the start of spring we need to get a wriggle on and get the soil organised, but we have a great stash of sheep poop under the shearing shed to use as fertiliser, and once that is all established I can set about putting my vegetables in.  We grow all our own lamb, pork and beef, and there is nothing like eating our own produce in this department, so it is going to be wonderful to pair up all our meals with home grown veggies!  If you have any room in your garden why not consider popping in some vegetables.  If you don't have a big yard perhaps consider vegetables instead of normal plants and flowers.  If you are really space restricted what about using the front garden, the nature strip or do you have a roof top that could be utilised?  Do a bit of research and see what sort of edible delights you can grow in pots!
5.  Baking
Stemming from my point about taking stock of your pantry, you can start to think about what you can bake yourself rather than buy.  I don't buy cakes or biscuits at all now, rather I make everything, which is not only cheaper (it makes a lot more than you would buy in a packet) but there isn't all the horrible preservatives and other weird ingredients in them.  Yes there is sugar, but my children don't live off them, and it is just a matter of being sensible and giving them fruit as snacks and being like the Cookie Monster (like he is today, not when I was a kid and he used to devour cookies at a rate of knots)....but cookies are "A sometimes food!"

6.  Technology
I did a whole post here on 'Back Away from the Technology' and I talk about tips to limit the use of technology.  To me I find that technology confuses things and lets so much of the outside world in to our lives.  In some ways this is good, we have access to unlimited information and education and can so easily communicate with each other.  It's wonderful and astounding and it's great that we can be so connected.  But sometimes we just need to 'disconnect' and it can be nice to be NOT contactable.  Sometimes we just need to slip off the grid.  I am finding that more and more I want to keep the outside world out to an increasing degree, not only to slow life down but to protect my children and myself.  It can be hard but set yourself some goals and see if you can limit your use of technology, or even a single piece, like only checking your emails once a day, or hopping on Facebook every second day.  See if it makes a difference to the time you now have available to do other more productive things and see if it makes you feel different within yourself.

7. Share the load and de-stress
By this I mean that I have started to rely on my husband a lot more.  I'm a pretty independent kind of gal, I've been a single mum where I had to be the mum AND the dad, so switching off from that was pretty difficult.  But I was finding that I was feeling like I was shouldering all of the stress, and almost feeling like I was making all of the decisions, and it was making me unhappy, and quite frankly, rather grumpy.  Now I make sure that I share the load with my husband, and in some cases leave the decisions up to him.  I find that I'm a lot less stressed, and really he is perfectly capable of handling things on his own without me worrying about whether he got it done or not!!  I also find, and to quote my lovely friend who was here yesterday, you need to 'pick your battles', so where I might have once argued or stood my ground about a difference of opinion, I now let him make the choice with certain things that really don't matter that much.  Of course the big things I will participate in a lively discussion, but the point is there really is no need to 'sweat the small stuff!'

Anyway, this has been my start to simplifying my life, and so far it has been working.  From here I plan to work on letting go of technology even more (while removing more of the unnecessary bits from my children's reach) and with the weather starting to warm up a little, get to work on my new garden.  With plans to one day own a farm, there will be many new additions to my simple life that will occur once this happens as I will have the capacity to have an orchard, keep chickens for eggs, have an enormous vegetable garden, maybe have a house cow.............!

Enjoy your journey!



  1. May each step we take lead the way to Peace. I believe that it helps to have a simpler way of being and you are well on your way to a great way of living with the land.

    1. Thanks Lynda, it is an exciting and also restful journey, if that makes sense. I can actually feel the stress gradually unwinding. It's making me feel so much happier!

  2. I find your new outlook on life delightfully refreshing. I'd love to own a farm with livestock one day, but for now I shall have to settle for a few peas and Jemima (my duck). x

    1. You own a duck!! I'm so excited!! And she's called Jemima!!! Love love love! That's it. I'm getting a duck called Jemima when I have my farm!

  3. One of the biggest things I'm excited about for one day when we own a home is to plant a HUGE veggie garden. Joshua's step mom has one and it's seriously a jungle in her back yard. Her veggies always do sooo well, so I know she could give me some great tips. (: I'd love to see tips and how to's for someone just getting started or thinking about getting started with a veggie garden.

    Loving all the simplicity! (:

    1. Yes! Vegetable gardens are fabulous! I can't wait until my husband is free from shearing again (he's away again for 2 weeks or more) so he can get the soil sorted. Then it's shovel up some sheep poop from under the shearing shed to fertilise it and we're almost away! It will be great when you have your own place! Imagine Pen having all that spare to run about!

  4. LOL At the "pancake one of my kids" comment. It's not funny that poor Imogen would be the biggest contender for that victim-spot, but the wording itself made me laugh!!
    As I've mentioned to you, we're moving. With this move I've been preparing by really paring down our things and focusing less on what we WANT and more of what we NEED. When I let go of the material side of life, things just become a little simpler and easier for my mind to handle! But anyway, I've finally created my pile of "things to sell on eBay" and can't wait to start figuring it all out and listing things with the help of your little manual. Thank you again for that!!
    Another reason I can't wait to move... BAKING. Our current oven is in a confined little closed kitchen and creates a lot of heat and "invisible smoke" which sets off the fire alarms. I hate it and it has really turned me off to baking. I am excited for a more open kitchen and cleaner oven. WOOHOO!!
    I honestly wish you were closer so we could share a farm or something. With all that land in AUS you could put a house for you/me, the orchard, the cows, the chickens, the veggies... I know we'd totally pay for the land if you and L wanted to take care of the livestock! I mean, I would do it but I think my inexperience may drive you both crazy?


    1. Good to hear about your various 'piles' of stuff! It's always interesting to see how much you actually hang on to which you don't really need. I'm pleased to hear that you will be able to let loose in the kitchen. Looking forward to seeing some photographic evidence of delicious delights coming from your oven! (with no smoke alarms going off!) Yes yes yes to the sharing a farm idea! You could totally help with the livestock, no problem...Lindsay will teach you to shear! ;)

  5. Nice tips! I love your blog so much♥♥

  6. Truly wonderful post and very wise advice, dear Amber. I feel constantly ad odds with the current trend of always wanting more and more, the latest and greatest, and buying beyond one's means (as well as the epic decline in classic home arts). I enjoy shopping as much as the next person, don't get me wrong, but I always savour the greater and deeper joys and simple pleasures in life and was nodding like a bobble head doll throughout this whole terrific piece.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. It does pull you in both directions, I agree totally. I do love to shop too, and online shopping is a curse...although easy when you have a whole herd of kids who like to cause havoc in the shops! At the moment I'm addicted to fabric and sewing books so I don't feel so bad, but I work on the concept of needing less all the time. I'm so glad you enjoyed my post! x

  7. This is a wonderful post! I'm firmly planted in the Gen Y years, but I do think everyone is far too focused on technology in their home life. Especially children!