Living Large by Living Simply

Today, we continue our guest post Mondays with a piece by Living Large community member, Kristi Perry. I’m still taking guest posts, readers, so send me your idea and I’ll help you shape it! Anything about simple living, growing your own food (particularly in the fall at this point), living large in a little house, living green – all good and welcome- send them to me at

Now, a great piece from Kristi about the most important thing she’s gotten out of living a simple lifestyle:

Kristi's chicken tractor and shed her husband built and part of their garden

My conscience is cajoling me to share what works for me in our quest to live simply.  We have come to the point where we are doing quite a few things to that end, but certainly did not start them all at once and never realized what the full effect was to be until much later in life.

My husband and I live in a small rural town in Ohio.  We have a 1,300 square foot home on a double lot that we purchased over 20 years ago. The house was in deplorable condition and we rehabbed it from the studs out.  We now have two grown children who have children of their own.   We have not heeded the siren call to bigger and better or newer, be it cars or homes.

When we were in the middle of the fray that is child-rearing, frugality was the main motivation to do more with less.  We never had a game system in our home, our kids never wore designer anything, at least not on our dime.  We did spend money on music lessons and Boy Scouts.  At that point we recycled, kept things maintained and bought used when possible.  We kept a small garden but didn’t really give much thought to eating locally.

As time went by our children grew with the size of our garden.  We added chickens and rabbits and did more home canning.  We have a worm composter in the kitchen as well as traditional compost bins at the garden.  We have rain barrels attached to every available downspout and are intensively gardening every square inch of our yard, leaving just enough grass to give the dogs a place to answer nature’s call.

We try, without being too much the martyrs, to eat locally and in season.  The extra from our garden we sell at a small farmer’s market in our town, while slyly planting another seed to the customers, sharing my passion about simple living. My husband is amazingly handy and an avid do-it-yourselfer.  He has become an accomplished woodworker and adds to our income through the sale of custom furniture and handyman jobs for friends and acquaintances.

I believe our biggest accomplishment is not anything to do with the resources we have saved through the years, but that our children want to raise their children in the same simple ways.  They both live in homes that are lovely and affordable. One of their homes was in much the same condition as ours when they took possession.  They raise a lot of their own food.  One keeps bees, they both nurse their babies, one uses cloth diapers.  They are not into new cars or fancy toys.  They shop resale and fix and maintain what they have.  They have seen their father build things from a seed of a concept and do the same for themselves.  They also have accepted the idea of delayed gratification.

I never felt that we lived a life of deprivation, which was certainly not the motivation for our lifestyle.  It is gratifying to see that they want to incorporate some of the beliefs of their upbringing into their own family life.

We have made the choice for our lives that we believe in and try to respect other’s choices for theirs.  I try to share, when appropriate, what we have learned, but I am pleased that our children and their families are continuing the family tradition of simple living.

What is one thing that you hope your children pick up about Living Large by living simply?

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20 Responses

  1. Debbie says:

    I have a question about the “worm composter in the kitchen”? I’ve never heard of that and was wondering what it is.


  2. This post was so reassuring to me; I have two daughters ages 17 and 14 and I have raised them much as you describe. It would make me so happy to see these values carried on when they start their own families; I hope to see them settled as happily and simply as yours appear to be!

    • kerri says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Melanie. I’m sure Kristi will appreciate your comment. Unfortunately, her father passed away yesterday.

  3. Marguerite Smith says:

    I like the ideas you are saying about simplifying your life. It’s amazing the stuff you can manage without. Here on the east coast of Vancouver Island, everything is available for a price. It is better to grow your own fruits, herbs and veg, and then buy at the local farmer’s market. We have access to local organic, pork, lamb, beef, honey and wine, so there is no need to buy the stuff that has travelled many hundreds of miles and polluted the atmosphere as well to bring it here.

    • Kerri says:

      I completely agree with you, Marguerite. We have a new store that only sells local product. When I went today, I was sad to see much of the produce gone now. However, I’m trying to buy as much local and in-season produce as possible.

  4. Kathleen Winn says:

    There is nothing like moving to a new home to give you an idea of how much stuff you’ve accumulated that you don’t really want or need. We’re packing up and have probably donated more boxes to Goodwill than boxes to go to our new place. It is my goal to keep this new house free of stuff that sits unused in an attic or basement for years at a time. I have come to believe that living simply, frugally and mindfully are the keys to living rich. Thank you Henry David Thoreau. (And also you, Kerri, who are an inspiration to those of us just getting started on living large with less!)

  5. Frugal Kiwi says:

    Great piece. I’ve decided lately that a lot of consumption or at least mine in the past was about me seeing no need for patience. Now I rarely buy a book unless it is a reference I know I’ll treasure. That latest Must Have novel will have the same story when I check it out from the library in a few months. The same goes for movies.

    Maybe having a garden helps that mind set. Plant, care for, harvest. No instant gratification there.

    • Kerri says:

      I think over-consumption is that way for a lot of people. We’ve been taught we have to have it now. That’s a good way to look at how gardening helps that mindset!

  6. Alexandra says:

    “A seed of a concept” – I really like the idea of ideas as seeds. You plant them and they grow. I do that all the time with my neighbors and B&B guests, green or not. I find that talking about other choices of lifestyle and about how to help the environment and stop pollution by toxic chemicals often provides motivation for them to do the same.

  7. Kim says:

    My children are 4 and 2, so most of the lessons they’ll (hopefully) pick up haven’t been absorbed yet. I saw a glimmer of hope this summer, though, with my oldest at the grocery store: Looking at a box of cheese crackers that she particularly adores, she sighed longingly and said, “Mommy, are those crackers On Sale?”– knowing that we wouldn’t be buying them if they weren’t. Triumph!

  8. Kerri says:

    Thank you, Missy. I’m glad you enjoy the blog!

  9. Missy says:

    I love the whole concept of living large by living simply. I live in an area (Chicago) where it is hard to live simply due to the large population of the area and things around us saying, “Buy me, I’ll make you feel better and more important.” I also love to hear that other people in younger generations such as my own, (I’m 25) are also trying to live a simpler life. Great post, thanks for sharing. Kerri, I read your blog each day you post.

    • Kristi says:

      I try to stay out of stores as much as possible. Shopping is a huge sucker of time and I invariably see something I “need” that I didn’t know existed until I went into the store. I don’t think sale shopping at several stores saves me any money. The more stores I go into, the more unintended items I go home with. The longer I delay buying, the more likely I am able to figure out that I don’t need it or run across a second-hand version.

      • Kerri says:

        That’s a great tactic, Kristi. When I see something I want now days, I go home and figure out if I want it badly enough to get rid of something else. We try to live by 1-in, 1-out in order to keep our little house as clutter free as possible!