Thursday, 24 April 2008

Our simple life

Rhonda over at Down to Earth has asked all of her readers to comment on their own blogs about their version of living simply, so contrast and compare what we are all doing.

We live a simple life within the confines of still needing to earn enough to pay off the mortgage. We live in a small house, 100 years old, in a village near Winchester in England. We grow some fruit and vegetables in the garden. In previous years we have also kept an allotment. We also swap a lot of fruit vegetables around within the family & friends. My mum’s next door neighbour gives us cooking apples and tomatoes seedlings but will rarely take anything. Another friend lets me pick the grapes from their vines ( I used it a bit too well a couple of years back so they realised what they were missing, so I didn’t actually get so much fruit last harvest.) From the parents there will be runner beans, plums and blackberries. I will produce enough garlic and red onions to share. Usually a good crop of cucumber too. From the wild will come sloes, more blackberries, chestnuts and sometimes fish! I aspire to chickens on my little patch too.

My idea of shopping simply means that I buy only foods; meat, vegetables, flour, sugar, not ready made meals. I keep a good store of food and if we were snowed then we would still be fine for some weeks as long as we had water. We recently started making our own sausages. We don’t have our own livestock of course (garden is way too small) but we found the sausages, even using supermarket meat, were excellent. My husband is currently working on plans for a smoker so that we can try our bacon & maybe even smoked salmon. I also make jams and marmalades, wines and fruit liqueurs. I also like to preserve fruit and so far everything has been very popular with the family. I can’t claim to make my own olive oil (UK isn’t quite that warm yet) but it does come from the farm of a close friend. Sue ensures that I never have to buy good olive oil. I am planning to make some olive oil soap when my current supply (from my sister in law) runs out. Sues oil is much too good for this so I will be buying a cheaper product in. As a result of this my food bill comes in at around a third of that of some of my friends, despite the fact that I very often seem to have a house full of hungry teenagers. I hate waste (this is not often a problems when you have two teenaged boys oddly) and so we go through phases of having so many meal of leftovers that it seems to be more than we have actual meals. I have just started meal planning using a diary system so I am hoping for fewer ‘what shall we have tonight’ evenings. I am also part way through a price book & have been for about a half year. I think it might be time to finish it or abandon it!

I work in social housing & my husband is a swimming teacher who also does some voluntary work. I have worked since my boys were quite small because my husband was ill for several years. My husband and boys were a good team at home together and are still very close because of this. I didn’t get as much to be with them as I should have but we are still very close and they amuse and amaze meal each day still. I continue to work even though my husband is now fit and well because I feel I do an important job. I can sleep at night knowing that I have done something useful. I also continue to work because we want to pay off the mortgage early and retire to enjoy a good long time together.

We do have a television but we don’t watch it unless someone finds something good is to be screened and it’s certainly not a big part of our life. The only problem this brings is that we never know the answer to ‘soap opera’ questions if we take part in a quiz night. We discovered some years ago that if you ditch TV and shopping as a sport’ from your life then you have plenty of time for pretty much everything else that you want to do. Our eldest soon loves (is obsessed with) music and the house is filled with guitar music seemingly every hour of the day. You can’t have a moment without being serenaded, as he wants an opinion on the latest song he has written. The youngest son isn’t musical at all (but fortunately doesn’t think it is odd to have so much music in your life) but prefers sport and talking! Talking is his specialist subject He wants to be a lawyer when he grows up but I think he should be a TV presenter. I like to take a short course at the local evening school sometime to learn something new. I don’t have the patience for a long course but something which lasts just a few weeks is fine. This year was Thai Cookery, next time I am hoping to learn to decorate cakes, unless I think of anything I like better in between times. Who has time for TV when there are so many far more enjoyable things to be getting on with?

As I mentioned we don’t shop as a social activity. If we go to the shop (which is rare) it is because we need to get something. We very often buy form the internet because I don’t like to pay too much for things. We like to rummage through car boot sales and charity shops from time to time. Last Christmas we introduced a rule for Christmas presents. Made or created for less than £10 per person. We had great fun sticking within the budget and still getting something that each person would really enjoy. I suspect my mum may have cheated a little on my children. We are wondering if we can reduce the limit any further this year and still come up with good ideas.

I would have liked to add phots but I dont seem to be able to upload them at present.


  1. Hi Lizzie, thanks for sharing this with all of us. It's amazing what can be done in our homes. You're all doing a great job there. Keep up the good work. :- )

  2. Thanks very much Rhonda Jean and thanks for the guidance and ofcourse for popping by!


  3. I enjoyed reading your post. I like what you said about not shopping for a hobby. :)aemgqf

  4. I very much enjoyed reading this post. I too am trying to live a frugal and fairly 'simple' life in the UK. I'm nowhere near as organised as you but try to do my bit.

  5. Hi Lizzie, like Elizabeth I am just starting on simplyfying. Nice to know there are like minded people here in the UK, I am starting small with a veggie plot, and being more self reliant.

  6. I agree with you that shopping shouldn't be a sport or an activity....well unless it's a bookstore. i can (and will) browse the bookstore for hours.

    found you via Rhonda Jean's blog.


  7. I wanted to stop by and see your response to our assignment and was delighted with your post. I must return and read more!!


  8. Hi Everyone, thank you for popping over. Its really nice to know there are so many of us about. When you see the newspapers you wouldnt think we existed at all.
    Maggie, thats my biggest weakness, books. Also travel (and so travel books)because I love to see new things and have differnt experinces. I thinks it why I love reading everyones blogs. We are somewhat similar but our envirnments and our own places in them are so different. When Rhonda blogs about a python killing one of the chickens my mouth drops open. A python, surely these are not something you have close by the house. The most dangerous animal around here is my cat!

  9. Lizzie - Rhonda Jean's idea to have us blog about our simple lives was excellent. I am busy checking and reading everyone's blogs. Your story about simple living is very interesting and inspiring. Keep up the good work.


Whats going on????

As we have discussed I can still read other peoples blog, and I do, every day, they're great. But when i try to comment I can type my me...