Two wings lift a person up from earthy concerns: simplicity and purity. Simplicity should be in intention, purity in feelings. Simplicity reaches out after God, purity catches hold and tastes. ~ Thomas A’Kempis

Monday, 20 January 2020

What Matters Most

Hi friends and quiet visitors,
Today I wanted to share a few thoughts and also some images of our summer thus far. If you've been following this blog for any length of time then you probably know I strive to live a simple, old fashioned, handmade life.
I also love to read/follow other people's blogs with similar ideals and receive inspiration for what I do in this way.  One lady who greatly inspires me is Grandma Donna - gdonna blog. Her posts are quite simple, just talking about her life and what they are doing to live an old fashioned life style. They live their life like it's 1930 (really and truly). Reading her posts is a tonic for me. If I feel burdened down, she seems to lift me up. I also feel encouraged in my role as a homemaker.  She's even encouraged me to have a routine when it comes to deep cleaning my house.

So this year my husband Bruce and I are planning to take things even further and also try to live very frugally (but not stingy) like people did in the past, being very conscious of what we are spending. When I look at cookbooks from earlier era's eg. 1940's, meals were quite basic, with few ingredients being required. Flour, sugar, fat, spices, vegetables, fruit and meat were the basics. Everything was normally handmade and home grown. If you didn't save for it, you wouldn't get it. 
~Miles Birkett Foster 1899 ~

I've started a home management book and am writing down everything we spend money on and also planning out our weekly menu (like I used to do when we were first married). I know many people already do things like this, but I now feel it's something I want to get a lot more serious about.

Taking action: I've unsubscribed from a lot of sites that were emailing me updates on their latest sales or bargains. I really don't need anything anyway and I felt like all it is really doing is tempting me. As a matter of fact our home feels stuffed full. We probably have enough bath towels, hand towels, tea towels, linens, shoes and clothing to last several years. I know my kitchen has so many bowls, pots, serving dishes, bake ware etc that theirs hardly room enough for it all. So I felt like STOP !!!  why don't we try just not buying more stuff..for a while..a year perhaps?. Unless we absolutely need it and it can't be repaired.

Home Orchard:
Our fruit trees have been very abundant this year (thank you Lord). I've bottled Peaches & Apricots and soon it will be they are falling as I type. I've made Strawberry Jam, Strawberry Rhubarb Jam and Apricot Jam so far. It's a blessing to always have something fresh and organic to share with others too. 
~My little preserves cupboard ~
Normally we net the fruit trees quite early, but this year we let the birds tell us when everything was ready. They only start pecking the fruit when they're ripe. So once that happens, we pick almost the whole lot (leaving a few for the birds) and bring it inside to let it slowly continue to ripen. This has worked great. As the fruit ripens I process it into jam, or bottled or frozen.

~ I made some more Courgette relish )~
(I hate when we run out of pickles and I have to buy it from the supermarket

~This year our blackcurrants cropped well :) I picked and froze about 1.5 kilo's.
These will be used for jam later in the year. Freezing actually improves the
texture for blackcurrants. ~

Our Diet:
We've  decided to go a little bit 'Plant Based' with our eating. Yes I know it's hyper trendy right now, but for us it's simply going back to something we did many many years before. I was fully Vegetarian for about three years, around 10 years ago...and then suddenly stopped for a variety of reasons (which I won't bore you with here). 
We don't intend to cut out meat all together, as we will still eat some fish and chicken, but mostly it will be vegetable/grain/pulses/nut based meals. Having said this, my son in law is a hunter and likes to bless us with meat occasionally. We will gratefully say 'thank you' for his offerings. It will all help with the frugal living. I'm also not here as an advocate for any particular style of eating, we are simply having a wee change and trying something new or rather going back to something old :)
Our oldest son who is a vegetarian came to stay with his family for a few nights and I cooked these meals: and made some Hummus.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
~ Homemade Cannelloni with handmade wholewheat pasta ~
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~Vegetable Curry with paneer ~
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I picked up a used copy of each of Mollie Katzens early cookbooks online recently: The 'Moosewood Cookbook' and 'The Enchanted Broccoli Forest'. Both of these books are absolute treasures. They are beautifully illustrated by hand and don't contain any photos. Pretty much any vegetarian meal you would ever want to make are contained in these books and also a huge variety of sauces, dressing, salad recipes etc. I used to check them out of the library regularly way back in the 1980's and feel very blessed to now own them both :).  I also have many recipes saved from my earlier vegetarian years, so I don't think it will be so hard for us to find something to cook. And did you know Lentils are super cheap !! nutritious and so versatile. You can pretty much do everything with a Lentil that you would with ground beef, plus it has no fat and is full of fiber. :)

What else ?:
Well I missed you all and I've missed writing :) as this long post shows !!!

Other Things: Going back and moving forward (Part 1):
I used to always (for many many years, most of my adult life), have my quiet time with the Lord in my bedroom. I would get up early, make my husband some breakfast, and his lunch for work, then I would set a tray with whatever I was having for breakfast (lately its a smoothie) and go back to the bedroom. About midway through last year I injured my back and was unable to sit up in bed, it was just too painful and uncomfortable, so I set myself up in the lounge and found the couch worked fine. My husband was having his prayer time up at the table.

Around November last year I had an awful feeling that some of the intimacy I had always known with the Lord had diminished. There seemed to be a distance. I put this down to busyness and being distracted by tasks (which I am still trying to curb). Then I felt the Lord impress upon my heart that I was no longer sitting in my prayer closet. Well... I was surprised !! It was true, I wasn't. My prayers are more intimate when I'm alone...often their may be tears. But prayer changed for me when I moved to the living room..and how strange that such a thing would have an effect...and how simple to rectify this. So now I am back in my prayer closet, which is just my bedroom and things are starting to improve (slowly).

The Vegetable Garden - going backwards and moving forward (Part two):
This Spring/Summer our vegetable garden was not good. I was tearing around like a mad thing with the soap business and gave the vegetable garden very little attention. I actually sowed bean and carrot seeds and some vegetable seedlings one day in about 30 minutes. I didn't dig in any new compost, just a little manure for some of the plants and that was about it. I walked away and didn't think much of it. So the seasons rolled on doing what they do, sending rain, sun, wind etc. The carrots slowly emerged. Those that came through were sparse. Out of all the beans I sowed only about four plants grew. The lettuces and silver beet were straggly and lacked vibrancy :(  I was devastated.

There again the Holy Spirit laid it on my heart during my quiet time, that I wasn't really spending any 'real' time in the garden. I was rushing through tasks, such as planting, without much care and very little attention. The garden was a mess. :( So since then, I've made more effort. I am tending the plants with love and care and preparing the soil as it's meant to be. So far I've resurrected one of the raised beds and am pleased with it. We do have a huge problem with oxalis, which is very discouraging, but with some care each morning, weather permitting, I get out there and do a little weeding. The plants in this picture below are about three times the size now and before long we will have enough greens to pick for a salad.

I guess the whole intent of this piece of writing is just to share how easy it is to get away from the things that are most important to us, whether that be people, gardens, time with the Lord or other things. There are so many distractions in each day, so many things that are time wasters...and so many ways to waste money. We are called as Christians to be good stewards and when I get super busy, my head is in a whirl and so is my wallet :(
Each year over the last couple of years I feel I've been trying/striving to simplify my life, and whether or not I am getting any closer to that goal remains to be seen, but there are little glimpses because of the changes I've made which show that things are slowly improving. Our home is in many ways less cluttered (as I donated a whole load of glassware etc to the thrift store) nd is easier to clean because of that. Parts of the garden have improved and we have a plan to tackle the more unmanageable areas. 

Every year brings changes, and as my health is often not the best (asthma) brought on by weather conditions/pollen etc, I never know from week to week how I will be. Often I can't get into the garden at all. Because of this we need to be practical and come up with alternative plans to manage this large property we have. Some people might think, why don't you just move? and we have considered this, but then we also love this home and garden and would rather just make necessary changes for now. Besides property/houses are hugely expensive where we live and we couldn't get a similar property with the privacy we have in our small town.

Other Life News:
My sweet mum is having hip surgery this week. My parents are ageing and require more care and attention. My Dad continues to improve after having his heart operation - defibrillator put in (2 months ago). He still gets very tired and was told it could take up to a year for his energy to be fully restored !!!. Mum and Dad are always on my heart, but sometimes my own health/home business & family commitments prevent me from doing what I would like to and visiting them as often as I probably need to.  I have to be careful not to let this weigh me down or make me feel guilty. That just starts a spiral of negative self-talk which never achieves anything good in me at all. We all have to be content with what we can do and trust that when we do it with love, God will carry that love and do something wonderful with it :).

Well dear friends I have rambled on and on..but these were all things on my heart and I wanted to share them. I pray you are all well and keeping close to the Lord. If you don't know the Lord, He knows and loves You :) and all you need to do is seek Him in prayer. Call out to Him and He will draw near to you and be the best friend you could ever wish for. I truly don't know how I would get through this life without Him.
Blessings to you all ~ Linda


  1. Thank you for your thoughts. I see the value in living a quiet life, taking time to work soil, talk with the Lord in private, and cook simple, healthy meals. It is hard for me to figure out in my own life what is important and what is extra that could be could be cut out to allow for more "think" time and "grow" time.

    1. So lovely to read your comment Lucinda :) I think the age we live in there are so many 'extras' that rob us of head space and as you say 'think and grow' time. Creativity is the fruit of that time and also peace. You are on such an exciting new story, I love seeing your updates. Blessings to you xo ~ Linda

  2. Oh I can relate to so much of what you have written here! The aging parents and feeling as if you are not doing enough...The fears that try to creep in, followed by many prayers! (((hugs)))

    I too am trying to simplify and just feel like I need to take a giant breath sometimes, just trying to be quiet and pray and any spare time is cooking, washing, decluttering and mending etc.

    The gdonna blog is a favorite of mine too. I love her common sense approach and practicality. I wrote her an email last December to let her know how much I appreciate her blog and am hoping for a reply. : )

    Take care now dear blogging friend, remember there are those of us who are going through the same season. We must hang on to God and pray for one another. *gentle smile*

    I appreciate you. Love, ~Amelia

    1. You are a treasure Amelia :) We both seem to be at a similar stage in life, and also get bogged down with the same things. I also need to take a giant breath, as you say :) I need a lot more quiet time for sure. I need to let a lot of things just go, like a little piece of paper being released in a stream. Thank you so much for your sweet words of encouragement. That's so cool that you also read gdonna blog, isn't she marvelous :) !! I will pray for you, to have strength for what each day brings too. Hugs and prayers ~ Linda xo

    2. Amelia I hope you get this wee note. If not I will try another way to let you know that Grandma Donna read your comment this post and she hunted all through her emails from that date when you said you messaged her, but she cannot find your letter. She even checked her spam folder. If you care to email her again she will look out for it. Blessings to you Amelia xo

  3. Subscribed to your uplifting blog this evening. I have tried to find gdonna's blog, but it won't load at all. It sounds very interesting and I hope it hasn't been removed.
    Blessings from Illinois

    1. Hi Diane, welcome to my little homestead :) and thank you for your kind words. Here is the link that I just followed to Grandma Donna's blog. She doesn't have a space to leave comments, but will respond to emails. I hope the link works for you. Blessings ~ Linda

  4. Hello Linda.

    Such a lovely catch up post.

    I too love grandma Donna's blog and I too am moving back to the past this year. I am not coping with the busyness of the modern world at all. My stress levels have been high this past year. I posted about doing this over at my other blog recently if you want to see. I started this blog back in 2015, but just couldn't work out what I wanted to use it for, so it fell by the wayside. After a terrible year I decided to rekindle it as a homemaking blog separate to my Out Back one.

    Your cooking and preserving is looking very delicious! I am trying to beat the birds to our nectarines and managed to get enough for some jam and stewed others for the freezer. The birds can now have what remains.

    I love gardening especially vegetable growing, and it can be difficult with our climate, but I persist as I want to eat what I grow. Your produce is lovely.

    My husband and I are plant based eaters, haven't always been though. I changed my diet when I turned fifty (seven years ago), and hubby (Phil) two years ago because of cholesterol problems. He didn't want to take medication, so a change in diet was in order. We still eat fish and eggs occasionally and feel really great health wise. It is extremely good for the budget too.

    Sorry to hear about your mum and dad. It is hard to fit in visits and not feel guilty when you cant. Luckily my parents have moved closer to us and we see them almost every weekend now. They are both in their eighties and pretty fit and healthy and now live on ten acres because they wanted something to do! They have been farmers all their life and didn't like town life. They are simple Christian folk and this is the life I will be striving for. Dad has vintage machinery he uses to plant and reap a wheat crop to feed his chickens. They grow veggies and fruit trees, enough to share with their family, have goats and chooks for their meat and egg supply, and are very involved with the small community in which they live. They are wonderful role models, and I really need to learn more from them before it is too late.

    Thank you for inspiring me to live a more God filled life, I have struggled lately with this too.

    Many Blessings,


    1. Just going to check out your other blog now too Tania :)

    2. I meant to mention a you tube channel that I recently discovered and thought you might be interested if you do not know about it already. It is called Rain Country Homestead, and is Christian based, with lots of tips and tutorials as well as crafty chats. I will include the link :)

    3. Thank you Tania. I'm already subscribed to her channel. I've been making homemade tooth powder/paste & got some inspiration from her 😁. Thank you for thinking of me!!

  5. Tania,
    so lovely to hear from you :) I was thrilled to read your letter. It seems like we are all very close in age. This year I turn 55 :) It's so exciting to meet people walking the same path in this life. I believe it's the Lord leading. I too have been under extreme stress, especially last year and I really feel like my life just has to change, or I know my health will only continue to suffer. I know life will always bring about a certain level of stress each day, but it can certainly be managed :) and... your parents do sound incredible and very inspirational. What a blessing to have them with you still and so active and healthy too !! I'm so thankful I am able to be an encouragement to you by my simple writing and sharing. Blessings to you as each day we allow the Lord to lead us ~ Linda xo

  6. This was a blessing to read. 🌻


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