On Water Conservation

You do what you can do, and more if you can. When we moved to the farmhouse we had to learn about wells. We never had a well system as our source for water. The well in the property was not operable, so we had to fix a few things, more than a few. We hired an experienced company to change the old parts and get it working. Later on, the pump burned, and we had to install a submersible pump, which we learned to do ourselves – $$$. A year after, the existing pipe broke and we had to install a new one, and again, we did the work ourselves saving money. We learned that the pressure has to be monitored from time to time to prevent burning of the pump in certain conditions. By now, my husband knows how to do the job and he monitors the pressure a few times during the year. We also learned that outdoor wells freeze during the winter at freezing temperatures, so we installed a device to keep the pipe warm. But most important, we learned that wells do not last forever, and can run dry at any moment. To dig another well is very expensive. We have become more aware of our water usage, and also, have a barrel system in place to collect rainwater. A mesh filters leaves and debris. We use this water for plants, cleaning things outdoors, and any other outdoor use that we might need. It helps us maximize the longevity of our well. In the event of a power outage, we can use this water for non-drinking or cooking applications, as long as it is not during a very cold winter. We learned to sanitize the water as well.

To give you an idea in case you want to save some water, here is a picture of our barrel system.

Water conservation system

I hope you enjoy this post.

The Simple Life – Simple Grocery List During Hard Times

As a follow up to the previous post, I thought that this topic would be of some practicality. I’ve met all kinds of people in my lifetime, rich people, poor people, and people in between. Each person views the world/life in a different way. Their life situation determines how they see the most basic things. Some people might consider eating steak daily, or an iPhone, a necessity, while for others it is a luxury. Their views are different according to their experience. For some people, “hard times” might be lacking the luxuries they are accustomed to enjoy, but for other people, it might mean lacking the basic necessities such as food, water, electricity … At the grocery store, I have seen people putting a basic staple back on the shelf, the shopping cart containing only a couple of necessary items. I’ve also seen the frustration in their faces. What would you do if you had to come up with a small grocery list that would give you the most for your very limited budget, last longer, and provide basic nutrients? Would you know what to buy or how to make it last? Would you even know where to start?

When having a very limited budget sale price is important, but also, brands and organic products might have to be passed by if the cost is much more than you can afford at the moment. Price per ounce or servings might become important instead, and knowing shelf life might be necessary, in case you cannot shop in a longer period of time. Knowing how to preserve and make last what you bought might also be important. During hard times, your brain will be rewired differently, and you will start thinking in ways you have never thought before. Words such as ration, preparedness, long-lasting … and other words will become familiar words. Suddenly, your vocabulary has been expanded, and so has your old world.

Once I met a very educated elderly lady who had been very prosperous. Her world change one day when her country became a communist country. She was left with nothing. Her nephews and other family members were shot against a wall, and she had to escape her beloved country in a cargo boat, thanks to a captain she knew and was her friend. She left her country with only the clothes she had on, and her daughter, hidden on that boat. I will never forget the lessons I learned through that lady.

Your world, your situation can change in a short period of time (there is no blame here). When life changes and hard times come, how you respond to change is extremely important. I also met a rich gentleman who once told me that his kids only received one gift for Christmas. He wanted them to appreciate what they had and see the season for what it truly was. I met many people for whom the only source of food was the local food pantry and not the supermarket. All of them beautiful souls in very different circumstances.

What would you do if suddenly, food became an important challenge in your life? You would probably go back to simple basics. Here is an example of a very simple, basic, and long-lasting food and basic essentials list. Although this list is very basic, I know that for some people it might seem a long list (26 items), depending on the circumstances. The list requires for you to know how to cook, combine meals or ingredients, and ration meals. Also, assuming you only can purchase one of each, or what your budget allows.

  • milk (any kind). Powder milk is long-lasting. A source for calcium, vitamin D, your dairy.
  • butter or oil (your fats, also for cooking.
  • flour – for many uses (any kind of flour, and also will last)
  • rice or pasta – a little fills you up.
  • beans – good source of protein; you need protein to live.
  • bread or crackers – fills you up, carbohydrates/sugar give you energy. Can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can also make your own bread or crackers by using flour.
  • eggs (liquid or powder too, powder will last you longer). Source of protein. Can use any time as a meal.
  • salt – for flavor, cooking, and medicinal. Also supplies iodine which you need to survive.
  • pepper – for flavor.
  • cheese – (your dairy and protein). Any kind will do in an extreme situation, even powder cheese or Velveeta cheese, which are long-lasting.
  • coffee or any powder drink – Although not essentials, (you can drink water if needed) some people need their caffeine, and many powder drinks provide sugars and are enhanced with vitamins or minerals.
  • meat, fish, or poultry – for extra protein, but if you cannot afford these, an alternative is canned meat or peanut butter. Peanut butter is long-lasting and does not require refrigeration. It will provide fats, sugars, and protein for your body. It is also affordable in comparison to other items.
  • fruit – for vitamins and antioxidants.
  • tomato sauce (or canned tomatoes, puree) – for cooking
  • sugar or honey – for cooking or if you cannot go without it for flavoring meals.
  • canned veggies – if you cannot afford more expensive veggies these will do.
  • apple cider vinegar – for cooking, but also aids in digestion, and also for cleaning.
  • baking soda – for baking, but can also be used as a toothpaste, for acid and indigestion, or even cleaning your home.
  • bar of soap – for bathing, but also cleaning and laundry.
  • toilet paper
  • toothpaste
  • pain relief pills/alcohol/hydrogen peroxide/Vaseline – first aid as needed. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to clean your teeth.

If you can afford a bottle of multi-vitamins that will help provide what is lacking in your diet.

One can make bread, crackers, tortillas, cookies, cakes, pancakes with flour.

Anything in powder form or canned is longer-lasting.

Pets, kids, and people with special diets or medical conditions will require other food items, meds …

When in need, your local food pantry, church, or community action center can be of much help. They can also direct you to other services.

I hope this list is helpful, however, when in need, I will also add a prayer to your Creator. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Love and light.

“I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.”

Psalm 119:45

The Simple Life – Got Your Back!

I wish I could say that living a simpler life is simply easy, but I’ve found that there was (and is) a lot of work involved, dedication as well. For us, it meant to tackle a huge list of things to do as well as learning the other things we needed to learn to do those things efficiently and economically in a limited amount of time. To read more on that you can visit Fixing an Old Farmhouse series of posts. It also meant leaving some things behind, some we didn’t want to leave, and some we did. We also had to deal with the pressures that come with all of that, but most important, we had to work as a team, be on the same page, and define what good work and accomplishment meant for us. We had to realize that each day brought new challenges, and every day was different. The cookie-cut routine was over, and there was no room for costly mistakes. We had to reach a new level of trust as a couple, and trust that “I got your back” was enough. Enough to get the job done and keep on going with the blessing of the Lord.

Hard days behind gave way to plans and possibilities, and a sense of balance, and with it, a feeling of good work and accomplishment, the sweet satisfaction of the challenge. There will always be good days and less than perfect days, and a list of to-dos; however, as long as “got your back” remains our motto, simple living becomes sweet living. Living the simple life entails realizing that each day brings challenges and blessings of its own along with sweet satisfaction.

New challenges are about to test people in this country and worldwide. Our faith, values, and belief systems will be tested in ways we are not accustomed to. As a people, as a nation, we might have to learn to “get each other’s backs” and come together as one.

Love and light.

Photo by M.A.D.

The Simple Life – Simple Abundance and Prosperity

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”

Hans Christian Andersen

I love the above quote. It is the opposite to “own nothing, be happier.” However, sometimes we flutter more around the pursuit of too many flowers and forget about the freedom we have to enjoy the sunshine.

In the pursuit of a simple life, I’ve realized that the accumulation of flowers is not the most important aspect for me anymore. There was a time it took center placement. Losing a lifetime’s lush garden all at once taught me that my focus was off centered and gave me the freedom to pursue a life full of sunshine. The sunshine after the storm is usually the most beautiful. With countless sunny days ahead, the heart can only rejoice about the simple abundance that surrounds me. I have learned to count my blessings, and there are oh so many. Prosperity takes the form of more than the material, those blessings that were missed when the “little flower” was ignored, in pursuit of an entire field. Like the caterpillar, I was transformed, and like the butterfly, I find delight in the offerings of every new day. Sometimes, sprouting wings is painful, but without them one cannot appreciate the beauty of that single flower up close.

Prosperity comes in many forms, an integral part of simple abundance. We tend to think of prosperity from the material/financial point of view only, but there is so much more to it than money or things. These two are important, but not most important. Simple living involves the realization that there is much more abundance around us that what we perceive in the material/monetary realms. These riches are unlimited, countless, and continuous. The true meaning of prosperity can be found in a single flower.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV
Photo by M.A.D.

The Simple Life – Joyful Faith

Photo by M.A.D.

When we moved, we took a leap of faith. We knew that we would have tons of work ahead of us, limited resources, and no permanent income, as we had left our jobs behind. Looking back, it was a stressful period; however, there was a degree of excitement, unpredictability and change, but mostly, we operated on faith. I think that part was the one that counted and kept us going until we finished the job. I will not pretend it was easy, totally the opposite, but our faith in the Lord Jesus kept us going day by day, from sun up till’ sun down, and the job was done. We would wake up before sunrise and head back at sundown, every single day. We had to make a dilapidated house a home in a short time with a very tiny budget (You can see our progress in Restoring an Old Farmhouse series of posts).

It is easy to forget challenging times when things flow to our contentment and life seems balanced. Living a simple life draws a great deal from living by faith. Learning to trust that all things work for the best to those who trust in the Lord is part of it.

Romans 8:28“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Knowing that when the future seems far away, and things are not as perfect as one would want, faith bridges the gap and brings what is needed to accomplish the task at hand, whether one has energy or not, resources or not. Somehow, it all falls in divine order, one step at a time, one miracle at a time. The simple life is full of small miracles day in and day out. Joyful faith keeps all the essential pieces of the puzzle together until one is able to see the whole picture. Living in joy and by faith, even when things are in disarray for a season and not as perfect as we wish, is done by keeping our eyes on a higher power and not solely on the circumstances that surround us.

In my journey, I had to learn many new things, leave many behind, and have the disposition to embrace new ones. When days seemed too long, energy and resources at their end, I took my eyes off these things and learned to trust that it would all work out for the best. It is not easy, but faith and prayer fill in the gap in those moments. Simple days are shaped by faith. As someone whose faith rests in Jesus Christ, I can tell you that I have seen the hand of God working alongside me, even when I thought I was holding on to the last string. Whatever was needed at the time materialized in a perfectly timed and orderly fashion. Today, I view faith as an intricate main part of my simple life. When in doubt, I remember, I pray, and I give thanks. Joyful Faith is another important part in living a simple life. Hope you enjoy this post.

The Simple Life – Frugality

Frugality – Thrifty. Not very abundant; meager; economical. (American Heritage Dictionary)

After reading the above definition of frugality, no wonder why many people stay away from frugality, as far away as possible. It is very negative, and also depressing. I just don’t agree with that definition, although I will go along with economical, and maybe thrifty. Many people equal frugality with lack of something. The word has been given a negative connotation, one of deprivation, and even poverty. It couldn’t be further from the true meaning.

A person who consciously and voluntarily practices frugality does not suffer lack of something, instead maximizes the enjoyment of it. Maximizing use and purpose, as well as longevity of an item not only saves money but also “honors” the item and our living space/surroundings. Being frugal goes beyond minimizing expense; it also means approaching the items we use in our daily living with gratefulness and best disposition. Best use and the extension/expansion of it falls under this frugal approach. When embracing a simple life, simplifying our surroundings and the way we live, a natural shift to frugality happens. Wastefulness becomes alien to us, and instead, the things we bring into our home fit well with our lifestyle. There is no need for the unnecessary, duplicity, or even impressive name brands. Instead, the focus is on how these items can fit and serve me and my family better, and how these can improve and simplify my lifestyle and surroundings.

Frugality goes beyond the financial scope, although for most of us it might start that way. When we embrace a simpler lifestyle, we become more creative in the way we use what we own, whether these objects are practical, functional, or just bring pleasure/beauty into our space. Frugality goes beyond our material and financial spaces; it becomes a way of life, parallel, and part of living a simple life. Frugality sparks creativity in finding new ways for best use and possibilities. When approached in a positive way, frugality and generosity go together, along with gratefulness.

Now, does that sound so bad?

Photo by M.A.D.

The Simple Life – Awareness

Awareness – (aware) to be mindful or conscious of; cognizant. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Amid a world on fire by chaos, the need for a bit of normalcy, balance, and peace grows in the heart of many. This growing desire for a more meaningful existence starts many times with the quest for simplicity. The desire for a simple life, to rid ourselves of the unnecessary things that capture our time, attention, and crowd our vision, to make room for what we consider important, whether that translate into experiences, values or the desire to own less, becomes stronger. Our focus changes, many times from wanting stuff to the need for setting ourselves on another path, sort of a spiritual awareness, a disposition for change.

These days, I think we need it more than ever. The past couple of years have been rough on the entire world, and this year presents itself with great challenges as well. I have been on this quest, brought into it by a series of unfortunate events that by now, I recognize as blessings in disguise. Each day, I take another step towards living a simple life. What started years ago with some significant decluttering, has evolve into spiritual awareness and the desire for simpler times and days. Shelling out stuff was the beginning, and although this process continues, it has shifted from the material into the spiritual. Undergoing this process has inspired a series of blogposts that I will call The Simple Life series. Each topic will be approached from my point of view and according to my experience, and how it relates to living a simple life.

The pursuit of a simple life is different for every person, and it relates to your values, beliefs, and what is important to that person ultimately; it is an individual process, a surrender into the new and unknown, in faith and hope. Awareness leads you to the simple life, and through living a simple life you gain more awareness. I only hope that I can inspire you in your own pursuit.

Photo by M.A.D.