Living on a limited income

When we settled down here after years of working for a living, I wanted to leave commercialism behind and embrace a simpler, quiet life. I wanted to know peace and joy, connect with the land we live on, and develop a calm demeanour that would carry me through all the good days I hoped were ahead but would also save me on the bad days. I knew they were lurking too; no one escapes them.

I didn't know then that longing for a quiet life would mean I would work harder, embrace parts of my heritage, move away from buying what I needed and provide it for myself instead, or that all those things would make happier than I had ever been.  It wasn't easy though, it was tough in those early years. I had to turn my back on the instant satisfaction of continuous buying and look in unexplored places for happiness, strength and flexibility. I found the peace and joy I was looking for and I understood then that constant craving for products would never give me the kind of life I wanted. Constant buying puts you on a spending merry-go-round and you have to work hard to continue paying for it all.

I have often said that money is not the centre of my world. We needed it to buy our house and furnish it, and to live the way we wanted to live, but that is the only value it has for me. I don't want to amass a fortune, travel the world, live beyond what I know, nor pretend to be someone I'm not. I was born working class and I will die working class. There is nothing that inspires me more than seeing other women and men working for the life they want to live. Putting in those hours improves us. Work, either paid work or domestic work, polishes our rough edges, teaches us to be reasonable, organised and resourceful and it helps us discover our own worth.

Hanno and I live on a limited fixed income - a pension with a small amount of royalties coming in twice a year from the sale of my books. We own our home, paid cash for our car and we have no debt.  Generally, we can save about $200 in each fortnightly pay period. But there is one vital thing that makes saving fairly easy for us and that is a frugal mindset. Without changing the way you think about money, it will be a tough uphill climb for you. You need to see value in the things you already have and the many things that money can't buy. If your idea of bliss is wandering through shops looking for things to buy, or going on an overseas trip every year, or buying a new car because your best friend did, you need to rethink your desire to live simply.  You can't have both - you either live a pared down life buying what you need, paying off your debt and saving as much as you can, or you don't.

Saving money can be done in a few ways.
  • You can work more hours, save those extra dollars and start paying down your debt. 
  • You can work your normal hours and work out ways to spend less on food, entertainment, transport and utilities.
  • You can reduce your cost of living and start producing and growing some of what you use.  
  • You can declutter and get rid of all the excess you have in your home and sell it all at a garage sale or on eBay.
All these measures will help but saving the money you already have pays off handsomely. A saved dollar is more valuable than an earned dollar because you will pay tax on every dollar you earn.  One thing is for sure, you'll have to stop and think about it, decide what your values are, work out what you want to be doing in a few years time, and make a plan to help that happen. Change and saving doesn't happen because you want it to, it needs planning, work and ongoing commitment.

This is a topic that we need to be mindful of all the time.  It's one of the things you have to get to grips with when you start living a more simple life but you can't lose sight of your financial goals along the way. With the rising prices we live with, it's a good idea to track your spending and check your budget every couple of years so you know that you're using your money wisely. In my next post I'll write about the practical ideas you can use in your daily life that will help you live well while you cut back.

How have your ideas about money, debt reduction and thrift changed over the years?

Weekend reading

 Yes, these two photos are related. That hole next to the elder seedling is Gracie's latest masterpiece. 

We're enjoying a spot of rain here. The gardens are soaked, the tanks are full and the only problem is us gardeners can't get out into the garden.  Maybe tomorrow.

Thanks for your visits during the week and especially for leaving a comment. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you take it easy and relax.  See you again next week. 😌

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Catching up on our news

Thank you all so much for the love sent in the last post.  It's quite humbling to read it.  😊  I am going to devote some time to getting back to my core topics.  They won't come thick and fast like in the past but they will be here. I hope to have a money post up soon.


Tricia flew back to Sydney yesterday after a lovely holiday with us. We reminisced, drank tea, hand stitched, knitted, ate cake, laughed at Gracie and generally had a wonderful time together. When we were little, we were like chalk and cheese but now in our twilight years, we are closer than two peas in a pod. We like the same things, enjoy the same food, have similar opinions on many subjects (and a few differences too), and as we grow older, I see myself in Tricia. I guess she sees herself in me too. It's a nice feeling having a sister to be close to. We are the product of our times and our parents, especially our mum, and when I spend time with Tricia and think of my mum, I feel ever grateful to have been born into my family.

A couple of the morning teas while Tricia was here - crackers with Mersey cheese spread, cucumber and tomato and (below) plum cake.  I made a pear and walnut cake too but now I can't find the photos. Of course it was magnificent. ; - )

A lot happened while Tricia was here so I hope you have a few minutes to sit a while and catch up on our news.  The main activity was our electricity pole. Remember back a few months when we had to have it replaced and had a problem with the insurance. Well, they came through afterall with a good payment and we were able to have all the work paid for under the insurance pay out.  Earlier in the week, after a couple of months of preparation, sourcing a pole and having it erected, our electrician and our supply company arrived at 6.30am to connect the new pole, establish supply from the street and remove the old pole. We asked our electrician to leave the old pole here as we wanted it for fire wood.  He offered to cut it up for us so the chainsaw fired up for a while and we were left with a 30 year old hard wood post, all cut up in manageable sizes for our BBQ grill.  More on that later.  It lay on the ground there for a day or two and yesterday afternoon Hanno chopped it into smaller bits and took it all into the shed so it stays dry.

The crew working on the two poles, above. Below, our electrician made short work of the old pole with his chainsaw then Hanno took over and chopped it into smaller pieces to be stored in the shed for our BBQ grill.

Meanwhile, out in the vegetable garden, the bok choy have all been eaten and today I'll weed that area and sow more seed. I've also sown seeds for red sprouting broccoli in seed beds and will plant them on when they're ready. The silver beet (Swiss chard) is ready to harvest, herbs are going wild and many of the tomatoes are flowering. What a wonderful time to be in the garden. I hope your garden is growing well too.

All the bok choy has been harvested from that first space on the left (below). I'll weed that area now and sow more seeds there. 

Something that is not so wonderful though is the fox is back and two days ago, Kathleen, our remaining frizzle was killed. That blasted animal bit off her head and left her little body under the lemon tree. What a senseless death! The chickens are spending most of their time in the coop and only wander out when they know we're in the garden. We've let Gracie out into the larger back garden now so she will leave her scent around and hopefully deter foxes.

This is the knitting I was doing while Tricia was here. I wound two balls of the lovely O Wool Balance (50 percent wool/50 percent cotton) to make a little shrug for my two year old grand daughter. I should be finished with it next week.

I have to catch up with my housework over the coming days. While Tricia was here I did next to nothing except cook and make the bed.  The first thing I'll be doing is to get those bok choy seeds in, I have to repot my large rose which has been pruned and moved, the bush house needs a good clean out and a few plants have to be shifted to their winter spots. It's nothing much, it's fairly light and enjoyable work, but it needs to be done before next week. Inside the house I'll clean the bathrooms, wash the floors and make the guest room bed up again; Tricia vacuumed in there before she left. My only worry is that the doona from the guest bed is airing out on the clothes line and I woke up to the sound of rain. Oh well, as we all know, nothing is perfect.

Celebrating 10 years of basic tasks and repeating patterns

Happy Mother's Day to all the mums and grandmas who will read this message. I hope you have a beautiful day with your families.  xx

As well as being Mother's Day, today is a celebration day for me for an entirely different reason.  Today marks the tenth anniversary of this blog.  Ten years ago today, I started tapping away on my keyboard and I composed a very simple post about Brandywine tomatoes. On that day I didn't have a plan, didn't know what to write about, didn't know if I should introduce myself or not and didn't have a clue that so many people like me were out there waiting, but as I dipped my toe into the unknown, it felt right. I had one true agenda. I'd written the beginnings of a book and submitted it to three publishing houses. All of them rejected me. So there I was, still wanting to tell a simple story and show that life in the slow lane could be satisfying, profound and rewarding. So I started writing here in my little neck of the woods, the words started flowing, readers started visiting and I kept going.

Now, ten years later, I've published 2,699 posts, enjoyed reading 79,311 comments, and made countless friends. I've welcomed over 15 million visitors who've read over 23 million pages. My blog brought me success in the outernet too. I've written three books published by Penguin, have been a monthly columnist for the Australian Womens' Weekly and Burke's Backyard and been a frequent guest on ABC radio.  All that is behind me now and I officially retired earlier this year but I can't walk away from my blog yet. I still have things to say and although I'm not as prolific as I once was,  I hope you don't get sick of me because I'll be here for a while yet.

I have been a writer most of my life but I had no idea when I started typing those first words on 14 May, 2007, that what I was doing would change my life. All I wanted to do was to show, by example, that a good life could be lived by cutting back, by being thoughtful and aware and by giving more and expecting less. When I started writing, blogs were more political and many bloggers were writing about peak oil and climate change. There were a few frugal living blogs but almost none writing about home life, the proud tradition of homemaking and how spending time on domestic tasks, getting back to basics and cooking from scratch could help liberate and enlighten us.

Who would have believed how radical it would be to write about making a bed, washing up and shopping for groceries. These things were part of most lives but were looked on as being trivial and  pointless. However, over the years, thinking and writing about those ordinary, honest topics opened them up for discussion and showed us how these simple things were an important part of good homes and happier lives.  We all started lifting the lids on our domestic lives, sharing how and what we do and it helped us realise that life is made up of basic tasks and repeating patterns.

Blogging is such a simple thing but look what it has done.  It's opened up the world for all of us, it's helped connect us so we can talk to each other even though we're sometimes thousands of kilometres apart. By looking into each others lives, we've developed the confidence to leave the mainstream behind and live according to our values. Thank you for being here, for coming back, for commenting and for being part of my days and this blog.  xx

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Mother's Day gift cards from my sponsors

I just noticed my sponsor EcoYarns has a Mother's Day Special you may be interested in. In the nterest of fair play, I've included information from Biome and Odgers and McClelland as well.

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This is from Salihan at EcoYarns: This Mother's Day we would like to thank all the mothers for the important and prestigious work that you do everyday, whether you're raising little ones like we are or being there for the adult children in your life.

We know mothers are not always easy to shop for, so to help you out we'll be selling GIFT CARDS at 15% OFF until 10pm Sunday (Australian Eastern Standard Time). You will receive an email immediately after purchase with the special Gift Card code and you can simply forward the entire email to your mum or write the code down in her Mother's Day card.

Don't forget to treat yourself to a gift card as well and automatically give yourself a rare 15% discount from Ecoyarns. Gift cards do not expire and there are no limits on the number of gift cards you can purchase. Happy making!

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Don't forget Biome. They have shops in south east Queensland but they also have a safe and secure online store. You could buy mum a gift card so she can choose something herself, or have a look around one of the stores if you're in Brisbane.  I use quite a few of their products but I want to tell you about these freezer pods I bought last Christmas.

The Wean Meister freezer pods have been in constant use here. I think it was originally made to store breast milk but I use mine for freezing herbs, to make large ice blocks for our water jugs, for frozen yoghurt and little jellies and for baking mini quiches. Yes, you can use them for freezing and in the oven.  The temperature range they recommend is -40 degrees to 240 degrees C. I will always have one of these in my kitchen from now on. I love it.

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Whenever I need something for the kitchen, I check to see if Odgers and McClelland have it. I love their range of good quality homewares. Megan and Duncan are friendly and helpful and they stock items that fit perfectly in my simple life.  The tea pot in my previous post is from this wonderful store.

Have a look through their catalogue but remember they have gift cards too. They can be sent via email.

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