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#1 of 152 Old 04-15-2004, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi- any other mamas intersted in voluntary simplicity? What steps are you taking?

Dh and I lived this way for our twenties and most of our 30s, but it's been harder since having kids. We were suburban simple: mass transit, thrift stores, walking, biking, composting, gardening (raising our seelings, etc), garage saling, cooking from scratch, volunteering, living in a small house.

Since having kids, I'm not volunteering and have left a job I loved that was also socially responsible. We have a bigger house now- it was the best buy we could find- cosmetic fixer at the time.

I'm hoping to go forward in a way of living lighter on the planet, finding community and teaching my kids basic skills for surviving outisde the consumer culture.

Looking forward to meeting everyone!

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#2 of 152 Old 04-15-2004, 03:29 PM
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Well, you don't say how old your kids are. If they go to school, it becomes hard not to volenteer there, at least occassionally. So if they're young, don't worry, life makes you more socially responsible, whether you like it or not!

We're attempting to 'gear down' for our empty nest/retirement years. DH and I have both worked hard for the last 10 years, and have gotten no where. And I mean, we've really tried. So, we've decided to try a different tack. We own a good sized piece of land and are trying to grow/raise fod for ourselves and to sell.

Last year we raised three pigs. We have relatives who'll buy the meat. This year I'm finding out how to become USDA certified so I can sell at farmers markets next year.

I have seedlings started all over the place, instead of buying starts. Tomatoes, lettuce, greens, cukes, nothing too hard for now. We're putting in an asparagus bed, and a strawberry bed, and we're planting some dwarf fruit trees. Even if we don't make any money, we won't starve.

I'm tried of living in a small house! To heck with everything, we're adding on. We're desperate for room and the kids just bring others home with them to stay when they visit. I'm figuring marriage and grandchildren won't ease the congestion! And since we live in the middle of nowhere, mass trasit, even walking and bikes aren't going to cut it. I pollute the planet regularly with my car, and I have to drive the kids to school every day. 18 miles each way!

Thrift stores are cool! We call trash picking and dumpster diving blueberrying! (Long story, I think I already told it in the Frugal thread.)

Teach me a new trick! What can I do that I haven't thought of?
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#3 of 152 Old 04-15-2004, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Red, welcome to the group. My kids are four and two.

Tracking every penny helps to cut costs- makes it harder to spend when you have to write it down.

I used to do year-round gardening- starting my own seedling seedlings, using a cold frame etc. We did get ahead over the years by doing stuff like that, having one older car we rarely drove (until we moved here and they cancelled our bus line), etc.

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#4 of 152 Old 04-15-2004, 05:30 PM
 
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nak

my kids are 5 (ds) n 6 weeks (dd). our simplicity is kinda semi voluntary ... we're poor poor poor n no choice about that but we choose to live within our means n not rely on consumer goods to make us 'happy' ... instead of going further into debt for material trappings like some of the people we know.

we do a lot of the same things you do, monnie -- dh used to roll his eyes about my secondhand addiction but now he's the one to say, 'hey, yard sale!' and with the baby arriving this spring i spent all fall n winter saying i wasnt going to start anything from seed this year n guess what? i have eggshells with seedlings in em all over my windowsills!

lately i've been excited about moving away from commercial cosmetics ... i don't do makeup or shave (neither does dh, shave i mean!) but following the no shampoo thread in home n body care i learned i dont even have to buy shampoo n conditioner. my skin's improved to no end since cleaning it with baking soda n water n treating myself to a honey masque sometimes. once in a while i make my own soap. dd's never had anything on her skin or hair that wasn't homemade

one problem we have is dh's parents are so consumeristic n they really believe the way to love their grandkids is by buying stuff ... now part of the reason we choose to live this way is to set an example for our kids that they dont need to be dependent on consumer goods ... but ds comes home laden with cheap crap that he doesnt even really care about because my mil just buys, buys buys without a thought for quality or value, quantity is everything ... grrr ... he's learning that posessions are disposable n not to be valued (or selected because they're worth valuing) n it drives me BATTY! anyone else have this problem? how do you deal with it?

kris
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#5 of 152 Old 04-15-2004, 06:42 PM
 
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#6 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 02:32 PM
 
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hi monnie,
stalking you again!
we are on-again-off-again with our efforts to simplify more.
dh is a big organic gardener, though he grows more herbs and fewer vegetables than i would, so i had him build me a raised bed of my own (where the aphids outweigh the broccoli it seems!)
the latest thing i've done is take quiet but significant joy in line drying my clothes! i have always enjoyed line-dried linens and towels for the scent but i've resisted doing the clothes. for whatever reason, it now feels cozy and delightful to me to do it. if i wait for it to be the right time, there's no need to coerce myself i guess!
i'm getting better at simplifying our diets too and it's showing in our grocery bill. i'm trying to eat more scratch meals and more veggies.
we have cloth diapers from my daughter and i got a lot of satisfaction out of cding her, but ds is a 3 poop a day guy and i can't bring myself to scrape that many poopy diapers, so he's in disposables. maybe i'll experience a spontaneous attitude shift there too.
i've grown to love the size of our house, though i thought it too small when we bought it.
i have the same problem with extended family buying stuff (for kids and for us!)
the big area that i'd like to change is dh's commute. 45 miles each way to the train station then another hour on commuter rail to work (only 3 days a week though.)
i don't like burning so much fossil fuel! we're working on building a freelance career for him and a couple of smaller income streams for me.
oh, and our big dream is a virtually off the grid homestead, but land prices in socal are making it increasingly unlikely that we'll do that here.
(i may sneak a chicken or two into our current household, however. don't tell code enforcement!)

i'll be interested to read other's stories!
warmly,
susan
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#7 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 02:47 PM
 
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add me to the list
i do much of what has been previously mentioned.
something i would like to add would be entertainment. we get all our books, videos, magazines from the library (well okay, there are a few subscriptions that come to our house). i love the library!!!!!such a great resource!!!!!
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#8 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 03:11 PM
 
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and Im w/ carrots.
we do much if not all of whats been mentioned.
And of course we use cloth diapers!

count me in here too!!!
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#9 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, Susan! Carrots, I love the library, too. With interlibrary loan, get almost any book. I am going through the last of my book hoard as soon as my cold is better and selling the books.

I dream of being off the grid, but not farming because its too much work (my folks are farmers). My dream is to become financially independent (as in the "Your Money or Your Life" book and have the freedom to move wherever and make more choices in line with my values.

We're working on paying off our last debt- the mortgage, but it won't happen overnight. If we can save $1000 a month extra and pay it to the mortgage, we figure we can have it paid off in 5 years instead of 13. We need to cut deeper into expenses to do that.

Hi again, SoHappy. Thanks for the info. on the minvan thread awhile back!

Ms. Doula, use cloth diapers, too- although it will be my five year anniversary of cloth diapers in a few weeks and I'm looking forward to potty training! My ds is half-trained.

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#10 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 04:14 PM
 
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Count me in! We're putting in a bid on a smaller house today! Our mortgage will be $400 instead of our looming large $1200! We're very focused on simplicity. We'll be moving across the country so we can downsize and work less. My DH will give up his corporate job that he hates and will start working for a friend part-time. I'm really excited to make these changes. I think it will be so good for my sweet babe to grow up with a decreased emphasis on consumerism. I'm looking forward to the cleaner, simpler life!!
Chrissy

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#11 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 04:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's fabulous, Chrissy!

Does anyone know how to use a dryer less in a cold, rainy climate like the Pacific Northwest? I use a drying rack, but haven't had much luck with getting stuff dry in a finite amt. of time.

I hang some in summer, but we don't have enough of a sunny patch to get things dry completely.

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#12 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 04:53 PM
 
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Hi everyone, Monnie I am following you again as well. Just writing to say I am in! In the winter I try to dry a lot of my stuff by our heat stove, but I use our energy efficient dryer as well.
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#13 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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hi farmer mama. Good to see you here.

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#14 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 05:29 PM
 
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I've been interested in VS for a while, I'm slowly making changes (otherwise they won't last!). I've got the declutter bug right now, I'm purging like mad. Getting rid of clothes, kitchen gadgets, books, toys, etc. I'm trying to simplify my routines and expectations, "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without," that kind of stuff.

Looking forward to getting lots of tips and ideas!

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#15 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Shannon- small steps are the only way to go.

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#16 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 09:38 PM
 
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I first read a book about voluntary simplicity when I was in high school (graduated in '96), but I am just now starting to make some changes in my life. It is hard sometimes.

We, too, have the problem of people buying junk for dd. It seems that our parents generation was raised with a quanity not quality mindset. I know that my grandma stock piles stuff because she is afraid of being poor like she was during the depression. She was the only girl in her class who didn't have shoes. My grandpa also grew up this way. He had to leave home when he was 13 because his family couldn't afford to feed him. But he is very good about reusing stuff, making his own stuff, repairing things instead of throwing them out. He always recycled long before it was popular
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#17 of 152 Old 04-16-2004, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My folks were also into recycling/reusing before it was popular- my Dad lived through the depression. They accumulate lots of stuff for the purpose of re-using and save EVERYTHING!

My mom brings old books she saved from our childhood as gifts for my kids. Some of the stuff is total junk after all these years and I take it, but have to throw it out (mold or something). Other things we use.

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#18 of 152 Old 04-17-2004, 05:19 AM
 
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It seems like there is such a fine line between hanging on to stuff to reuse some day and aquiring tons of junk. I do not like clutter so I have a hard time when dh wants to bring some crazy piece of wood or metal home because we might use it someday. My mom is a junk hoarder, although she is getting better. I think all her stuff is what made me want organization and decluttering in my own life. She loves to go to the goodwill bulk sorting bins and find things, a lot of junk but she occasionally find great stuff (like a queen sized wool mattress cover she gave to me, score!). Fortunately I was able to draw my boundries and still have everyone feeling good. The kids only get one gift for christmas and one for birthdays from grandparents. We encourage handmade things (my mom is a great knitter) and insist on natural materials, open ended, imaginative things. We were able to politely explain that we really have all the "stuff" we need and want for our kids.
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#19 of 152 Old 04-17-2004, 12:41 PM
 
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Hey ladies I'm stalking you here!
I started a simplicity circle with some mamas I know about a month ago and it is very refreshing!! This way we can support one another and brainstorm. Right now we are swapping seedlings and helping with each other's gardening, and also buying shares at the same CSA and starting a work/childcare co-op to work off some of our shares as a group and bring our kids to the farm. I'm really excited to have found my tribe, because the support has been phenomenal!
My mom was single and raised all 5 of us mostly by herself. I learned a lot from her, but I resented being poor for the longest time. I never had new clothes like my friends and couldn't understand why she didn't just buy our food at the store like everyone else. Now I'm counting the days until she moves back out here so I can re-learn everything from her.
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#20 of 152 Old 04-17-2004, 01:21 PM
 
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Hi CeraMae!!

I'm jealous! How wonderfull that you have found you tribe IRL!!!
I am a freak IRL because I live in the CENTER of MAINSTREAM CENTRAL! :LOL

How great that your mom is moving out closer to you! What a great opportunity for your family & friends! (& you Im sure!)


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#21 of 152 Old 04-17-2004, 01:22 PM
 
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can I join in? we do try to live simply,but dh works over an hour each way,so that is a lot of gas used. he would like to find something closer or out of the house.maybe someday!
right now we are enjoying hanging out the clothes and planting a sunflower house for the kids! of course the sunflowers are only about 8 inches high right now.hopefully they will get super tall!
love to hear others ideas!
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#22 of 152 Old 04-17-2004, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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CeraMae, awesome about finding your tribe. I'm hoping to find a simplicity circle nearby so I don't need to drive far. How do you find one?

farmer mama- LOL about your dh bringing home an old piece pof metal and stuff! Dh and I both used to be like that- saving every thing and no we are so anti clutter now, too!

Welcome, Jillby. The sunflower house sounds neat. How did you plant it?

On the trash front- we are going to go to a half-can of trash pickup to save $$. I realized I'd fallen into the trap of buying rice milk and almond milk in boxes when I can make it in just a few minutes- and the boxes constituted most of our trash.

Re-evaluate and re-direct!

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#23 of 152 Old 04-17-2004, 09:20 PM
 
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cera mae, i'm jealous too! we had a lovely simplicity circle for a time just before my first child was born, but the group disbanded (and they were mostly retired or near-retired folks) and we moved south a bit...

dh and i daydream about moving to colorado; my sister and her family live outside boulder. beware, one day i may try to crash your circle!

monnie, i'm curious about the almond/rice milk you make. could you post instructions?

and i'm also curious about girlndoc's homemade shampoo and conditioner. i'll have to haunt the home and body care forum for that recipe...

jillby, i've seen sunflower houses in magazines before. how fun!

warmly,
susan
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#24 of 152 Old 04-17-2004, 11:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Susan, for rice milk I use 1/2 cup of cooked rice (I use basmati white leftovers, but brown is called for in the recipe) , 2 cups water and 1/2 to 1 T sweetener and puree for 2 minutes in my VitaMix. I think a blender would work, too.

Sesame milk- 3/4 cup sesame seeds to 2 cups water- blend 2 minutes or until smooth.

Sunflower milk- 3/4 cup sunflower seeds to 2 1/2 cups water- sweeten to taste

Almond or cashew milk- 1 cup nuts, 3 cups water- blend two minutes. strain with a sieve to remove sediment.

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#25 of 152 Old 04-18-2004, 10:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Count me in! We're putting in a bid on a smaller house today! Our mortgage will be $400 instead of our looming large $1200! We're very focused on simplicity. We'll be moving across the country so we can downsize and work less. My DH will give up his corporate job that he hates and will start working for a friend part-time. I'm really excited to make these changes. I think it will be so good for my sweet babe to grow up with a decreased emphasis on consumerism. I'm looking forward to the cleaner, simpler life!!
Chrissy, your post may have changed our life -- literally! I've been trying to simplify over the past few years, so this thread caught my eye. I was reading the thread when my dh came into the office to talk about his job and our financial situation. This has been an on-going discussion for a while now. He is unhappy in his current position, and his salary is on the low side for what he does. He could possibly find a job in the corporate world for more $$, but the thought makes him practially ill. (He's at a university currently, which gives him lots of flexibility and some security.) He really wants to quit his job and do something completely different, but it's scary because of the money issue (I'm a SAHM, and his is the only income.) So we've been trying to think of some options. I read your post to him, and that got us talking about housing and how the choice of house can limit or expand freedom. Our current house is modest, but located on a busy street with no sidewalks. We cannot walk *anywhere* with the kids for safety reasons, and even if we could, there is nothing nearby to walk *to*. There is no public transportation to speak of near our house either. So we have to have two cars, and we spend mega bucks on gas. (Not to mention the environmental and lack-of-exercise consequences.) The lay-out of the house is not ideal for us. We use 2 or 3 rooms intensly, and others hardly at all. Thus the house feels cramped. Anyway, we started to talk about some neighborhoods nearby that would be good for walking, near some destinations that we could walk or bike to, close to good public transportation, and possibly cheaper, too. We've decided to look around at houses with our whole lifestyle in mind, rather than just our "home life", KWIM? We haven't decided for sure to move, but we hadn't even considered it until we read your post! Thanks.

Stephanie mom to Brianna (6/00) , Alexander (6/02) , and Ethan (9/07) .
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#26 of 152 Old 04-18-2004, 03:11 PM
 
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Hi everyone. I am not quite where I want to be in terms of simplicity: I am getting too into conveniences, my grocery bills are going up, and I'm driving too much every week. But it's great to get thinking about all these ideals again. I saw Affluenza a few years ago, and really loved it! It was so much easier to live simply when I was single, lived where I could bike everywhere, etc etc!
Here's a question maybe someone can answer: where could I find one of those clothes lines that's a single pole, with 4 small poles sticking out around the top, with these side poles connected by 5 or so lines. I don't want a line all across my yard, and this seems more compact. But NO stores seem to have them. (maybe a better description would help!! What are they called?
Thanks for the ideas. My computer is in the shop, so I"m "involuntarily simplifying" on that front, but I"ll check in when I get back to the library!
Genevieve
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#27 of 152 Old 04-18-2004, 03:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have one of the umbrella clothes dryers.

I got mine for $29.99- can't remember the online source, but here's another:

http://www.mclendons.com/Merchant2/m...egory_Code=CDO

Lowes used to carry them seasonally, as did some hardware stores.

We also, found ourselves going for the convenience rather than simplicity after having kids- grocery bills went up- sometimes just the housework was insurmountable when the kids were really little...

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#28 of 152 Old 04-18-2004, 08:40 PM
 
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im a simple mama too. we grow lots of stuff from seed and always save seeds from what we grow. we dumpsterdive. my dh just got 4 cases of soymilk today!v yum yum,.. we buy second hand everything..almost. i like to make stuff too. my new thing is making elwynn diaper covers from old sweaters. we cloth diaper, dont use much soap or shampoo. i didnt rwad *all* of the posts but i like what you all have to say about living simply. id like to find a simplicity circle in my area too.

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#29 of 152 Old 04-19-2004, 10:47 AM
 
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Stephanie-
I'm so happy my post meant something to you and your DH
That's wonderful!! It was a difficult decision for us to make, especially in this culture of consumerism. I'm sure my family won't really understand and some of my friends are a bit shaky about it too. But WE know we're making the best decision for us.
I've been so mad at this culture that taught me that more is better, that money is really what's important, that work is valued over spending time with family and friends. We just don't want to live our lives that way. I don't want us to have to wait until we're 65 to start living our lives!!
So, it's a huge change we're making but it feels so right. It feels better than anything we've done in a long, long time. And I can't wait to get started
So, keep posting and let me know how it goes for you!!
Chrissy

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#30 of 152 Old 04-19-2004, 06:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Bumping up!

Dh and I realized that to get a smaller house here would cost as much as the house we've got. The housing market is crazy. Dh has a very short commute now with no freeway driving. To get another house even smaller in this area would cost the same as this big old box!

It is crazy.

Being right is not always fair, but being fair is always right
MamaMonica is offline  
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