Saturday, September 29, 2012


A treat from the florist after grocery shopping.

Our current stockpile, which waxes and wanes.

The second veggie garden bed. (The beds are currently named 'one,' 'two,' and 'three.' Though I have been thinking I should give them more interesting names. Any suggestions?)


The first veggie garden patch.

Growing my first ever egg plant.

Dear old Seth, our cat, loves to spend his days among the cherry tomatoes and comes in with the fresh smell of the garden upon him.

In a few months time Cohen will be four. My baby. Our first born. Already it gives me pause for thought. His birth was the catalyst for many changes in our life. I have been reflecting on those changes lately. Four years ago we were both committed to my being a stay at home Mum while Dave worked and provided for us. In line with our beliefs and values, we wished to raise our children ourselves and I hoped to create a home environment that would nurture us as a family. Having been on two wages our whole married lives, we were uncertain how long we could survive on a single wage and what it would be like. Dave joked I'd be back at work in six months, half serious. 

Cohen's presence redefined everything. Our priorities changed in all sorts of ways. Things that had seemed important prior to his birth no longer seemed so. Our habits changed. Living on one wage was not as difficult as we had imagined. I took to my new role and enjoyed the satisfaction of my job. Previously a little messy, I became house proud. In growing, learning and maturing as a mother I adopted time honored traditions that had seemed passe previously. I began to meal plan, I started growing herbs, I borrowed recipe books from the library and learnt how to cook from scratch, I wrote to do lists and a budget. I dusted off my sewing machine, took up crochet and eventually learnt to knit (and became addicted to the gentle art in the process.) 

When we decided to sell our house and buy elsewhere we had our future plans in mind. We knew where we wanted to live and we knew we wanted a high set house, with room for a studio underneath, a large yard for a veggie patch, where the children could also play. We ended up buying the cheapest house we could find in the best area that ticked all the boxes. Then we set to work renovating the neglected ex-rental property. The money we spent fixing it up - replacing the roof and ceiling, painting, polishing the floor boards, insulating etc. - was still less than a similar house in better condition would have cost us, thanks to doing as much of the work as possible ourselves. And in the process we were able to make the house feel like ours. By the time we moved in, almost a year ago, it already felt like home. And in this house, three years after Cohen's birth, we brought Emerson home.

Now, my veggie patch is flourishing and making a difference to our budget, as we need to buy less with each harvest. I have been preserving or freezing excess produce so we continue to save money throughout the year. These days I use cloth diapers for Emerson and I make our cleaning products from scratch. I used to wander the aisles of the grocery stores buying whatever caught my eye, regardless of price. Now I have a modest stock pile that has helped us in difficult weeks and means we run out of items less often, saving us trips to the shop.It has saved us money by buying in bulk. Buying multiples of items we always use, when they are on sale, has been the easiest way for us to save  money on groceries. I also shop at Aldi and pick up any extras at Coles. The biggest way we cut down needless spending was to get rid of our credit cards all together. Now we use a debit card, so we are only ever spending our money. Our only debt is our home loan.

Since starting our journey to a simpler life and becoming less dependent on 'things' and more self sufficient, my sense of satisfaction has increased. My enjoyment in my day to day tasks has increased. Sure, sometimes  the drudgery of wiping down the dining table for the fifth time that day gets to me, but I am still pleased to be cleaning with a mixture of citrus peel and vinegar cleaner of my own making. Or while hanging yet another load of nappies on the line I might get impatient, but knowing that what was previously our biggest expense when grocery shopping has been replaced by those cloth nappies is a real incentive to keep going. Feeding Emerson organic carrots from the garden that I have grown myself is a wonderful feeling.

While we are saving money, we are also acting in a more environmentally friendly way and future proofing too. Soon our solar panels will be installed and we are saving for a rain water tank. Saving money encourages us to save more money. Though we still have modest splurges at times, we are generally more mindful of where and how we spend our money. The small changes that we have been making have gradually added up and it feels good. I'm excited about living in an even more sustainable and self sufficient manner in the future. 

Have you made changes to live more simply?
If so, what was the catalyst for you?
What are you dreaming of changing?
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