Rhonda Hetzel gently encourages readers to find the pleasure and meaning in a simpler life, sharing all the practical information she has gathered on her own journey. Whether you want to learn how to grow tomatoes, bake bread, make your own soap and preserve fruit, or just be inspired to slow down and live more sustainably, Down to Earth will be your guide.
'I was pulled into simple living before I knew what it was. It crept up on me using the smallest of steps and didn't reveal its true beauty and real power until I was totally hooked. I was searching for a way to live well while spending very little money. What I found was a way of life that also gave me independence, opportunity and freedom.'
Rhonda lives with her husband, Hanno, on the Sunshine Coast, where they happily tend a food garden, gather eggs and occasionally look after grandchildren. Rhonda is a keen volunteer worker and is often found presenting simple-living workshops in her community.
325 pages, hardback.
Rhonda includes some recipes, explaining: All of the dishes are cooked from scratch using ingredients everyone has in their cupboards and there’s no artificial additives or flavouring, so that it blends into the overall life-style. Part of the philosophy is that we go back to natural foods, cook as much as you can at home, and stop eating out as much.
See a free recipe: Whole Orange Cake
Extracts from the book: I discovered that others had walked this road less travelled before me. I found a group of writers who had been explaining their philosophy to the world for many years, so I started reading. I found Walden by Henry David Thoreau online and devoured it within hours. I ordered books from America that were not yet available in Australia – The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs, Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, the Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery, and The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.
I also discovered blogs. Here was a world I had never known about, where real people were writing about things that interested me. I could see into their lives, get to know their families, understand how they lived and be part of a community that supported one another. Once I found blogs, it didn't matter much that I didn't personally know anyone who was doing what I was doing; ... I also found blogs about global warming, lightening your footprint, going green and peak oil, but none that wrote about what I wanted to do – change how we live in the most fundamental and practical way.
I started my own blog and called it 'Down to Earth'. Instead of adding my voice to the fast-growing group of people who were writing about environmental disaster and post-peak survival, I decided I would write about our ordinary daily lives and how we were simplifying, and let that be my manifesto. .. I hoped that writing the blog every day would make me accountable and give us a clear record of what we were doing.
We live on a limited budget but I am richer now than I've ever been in my life. I know how to live. I have the skills to survive a crisis. I have the strength and knowledge to produce my own food and to store it. I can clothe myself and others. These are life-engaging and self-empowering skills. But the real skill here is to do it and love doing it day after day. Relearning those lost skills, and then using them, are acts of subversion because you're not doing what women and men in our times are supposed to be doing. Nurturing your family and yourself with cooking, gardening, repairing, dressmaking, knitting, creating, recycling and all the other things you learn to do in your post-consumerist life not only enriches your spirit, but also makes you an independent force. May the force be with you.