Making the Most With What We Have: Patty’s Family Story

Making the Most With What We Have

Welcome to our brand new series here on Little House Living, “Making the Most With What We Have”! This series will showcase individuals and families all over the US (and even outside the US!) that are making the most of what they have. We know that you can be a modern homesteader without 160 acres of land and a mule so this series will share the stories of these families so we can get a peek into their lives and learn from each other.

Today we are learning about Patty’s Story…

Where Do You Live?

We downsized from our roomy farmhouse in Georgia to live in a much, much smaller town home at the beach. We live on Perdido Key Bay. We are empty-nesters and have purposed to live the rest of our lives in Voluntary Simplicity. Needless to say, it’s an ongoing adventure.


What Are Your Dreams and Goals for Your Homesteading Journey?

Since my husband and I are older [we’re both 60], we are saving for our senior years. That is our biggest tangible goal. We want to have a large nest egg set aside. Our biggest motivation is not to ever be a financial liability to our kids. We’ve always been thrifty, but now we save, save, save! It has become a passion for us and we love it. We are saving half of our income monthly now. We hope to up that amount later in the year. Although we are not working in the fields on a farm, we are urban homesteaders.

How Are You Making the Most With What You Have?

I recycle everything! I never throw out food. I recycle it into something tasty. We have a couple of no meat suppers a week. I recycle glass jars like crazy! I just spray paint the lids either with blackboard paint or a color that matches my decor. I love scrap sewing- rag quilts, hot pads, diapers etc. I’ve made rag rugs with old tee shirts- very cozy for the bathroom! We leave our shoes at the door and wear house slippers {I love to crochet these as well} this saves our floors and carpets. I hang clothes to dry in the shower. I make most of our convenience mixes, and laundry soap. I drink hot tea in the winter when I’m cold instead of playing with the thermostat. And we sleep cold in the winter too. We snuggle instead of turning up the heat. I only get out in the car once a week- that’s for visiting with my elderly mother and running errands. We have no-cost hobbies. I use the poor man’s urban dairy farm- dry milk. Since we live in a temperate climate, we spend a lot of time outside- fishing, walking, running, walking the beach, etc. I just got a book a the library on wild food foraging. I’m eager to try it here in our new hometown. I always made tons of dried wild strawberries & wild grapes at our old place by foraging. Here we have tons of u- pick places, so next year I want to do that as well. I’ll also be asking about gleaning from the local pecan & fruit orchards and tomato fields hereabouts. Most folks are happy to have you come in after they’ve harvested and get the leftovers. I used to be able to give shelled pecans as Christmas gifts that way when we were newlyweds.


What Are Some Things You Have Learned So Far?

1. Cut the cord!
We both need computers for our work, but we don’t surf and we don’t watch TV. Life is so much sweeter when its filled with real friends, family, and wholesome pursuits.

2. Generate multiple streams of income.
My husband is still on the corporate hamster wheel, but he gets to work from home. I was a pensioned public school teacher [because I’ve been in the ‘education trenches’ I’m a cheerleader for homeschooling] and by God’s grace, I am a writer of successful Inspirational Romance Novels. My husband is also a savvy stock trader. He loves to study the market and invest conservatively. God has blessed him in this effort.

3. Give gifts, but let them be a heartfelt token of your love not a proud extreme ‘statement’ present.

4. Make the food you like, don’t skimp, and don’t eat out. Now we invite friends and family for an evening potluck and play guitars on the porch, watching the sun set on the bay, instead of taking them all to a fancy restaurant for a meal.

5. Buy groceries once a month from a list based on your monthly menu.

6. Moderate your thermostat. Dress seasonally inside. Wear a sweater in winter or a light house dress in summer to suit the temperature.

7. Pay off your mortgage, car note, and any other outstanding bills that roll over.
We did this fifteen years ago and it has revolutionized our savings and lives.

8. Exercise to stay healthy.
My hubby is a runner. I was too, but various joint issues make me a walker these days. I use my daily thirty minute walk as a time to pray for friends, family, and our world. We rarely need to visit the doctor.

9. Homemade fun is the best!
After supper each night my hubby and I play our musical instruments, read library books, play chess, blog, or just sit on the porch, watch the waves, and practice the lost art of conversation. We’re coming up on our 38th anniversary and our relationship could not be any richer or more satisfying.

10. Don’t neglect your spiritual life.
At our core, we are spiritual beings. If we try to live our lives outside of faith and community, we cheat not only ourselves, but the world. I make time every day to read the Bible, pray, and journal. My husband volunteers as our local church web master. We both sing in the choir. And I’ve got to say, nothing much can top a candle- light Christmas Eve Service in a little neighborhood church or having family communion together at a holiday meal.

Share Your Favorite Recipe!

I love this kid-friendly and frugal oatmeal cookie recipe. It has served me well for many, many years.

1.5 cups self rising flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1.5 cups rolled oats
1 egg- well beaten
1 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup add ins- nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, raisins, dried fruit, really pretty much anything you like

Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl and let your little helpers go to town stirring with a wooden spoon. If the dough is too stiff add a tsp or two of water. Dip up by teaspoons, I let my kids roll the dough into balls as well. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.

If you want to make these peanut butter just substitute one cup peanut butter for the oil.

Share With Us One Unique Tip That Has Helped You

Two things my Grandma Myrtice said have helped me immensely over the years- “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” & “Always wear your apron if you’re cooking or cleaning.”

Your Favorite Useful Homesteading Item

I’m still using my Grandma’s hankies & aprons. Practical. pretty, and sentimental all at the same time.

Anything Else to Share?

I’d say the biggest paradigm shift in our lives has been coming to grips with what makes life intrinsically valuable. For me it’s not stuff, though I believed that for a whole lot of years. We pretty much gave away every material thing we worked so hard for when we moved down to our little Sea Glass Cottage. The stuff our kids and neighbors didn’t want we gave to GoodWill. I’m ashamed to say we gave 18 pick-up loads of ‘stuff’ to our local GoodWill. Nobody needs that much ‘stuff’. We couldn’t be happier! Now my valuables are my relationships, creative passions, and the peace of not ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.


Want to be a part of the Making the Most With What We Have Series? You can read about it and fill out the interview questions here.

Thank you Patty  for sharing your story with us!

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  1. Patty, I absolutely loved reading your story. You have such a wonderful life. It’s so refreshing hearing someone be content and happy in this world and understand how truly blessed they are. It was a wonderful read for me. Thank you. I hope you and your husband have many more wonderful years together to enjoy all life has to offer. 🙂

  2. Well, in trying to live frugally, I sometimes feel frustrated. I find home-schooling and cooking natural food from scratch to take a lot
    of time.. I love both of the aforementioned! However, I do not try
    to make my own laundry detergent. I have started to make my own
    personal care products from coconut oil. That was fun! I might try
    to make homemade candles someday . . . . However, I am not putting
    pressure on myself to do so. I have a list of (Ten Things to ask about
    value). It helps me discern whether I/we have a real or fabricated need
    for something. Perhaps, some day I will write it on this site.

  3. Voluntary simplicity — I love this thought! Hubby and I are not quite as far along in our life’s journey, we still have kids in college. However, the time has come where we are giving consideration to our future and what we really want for our future and how we will pay for it.

    We are already taking steps to live more deliberately – cutting out satelite tv, planting a garden, learning to perserve food through canning. Our “homestead” is 0.4 acre with a 3 bedroom ranch style home. We have a little space for gardening, but cannot have animals other than dog/cat. I am learning to make my own cleaning products and we cook from scratch most nights. We are working on our own homesteading dream slowly.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story.
    we are selling our home in a month and downsizing to a travel trailer. My husband retired this past January and we can’t wait to get started in our new adventure.
    With God everything is possible 🙂

  5. I would like to thank you for sharing your story. My family and I moved from Fort McMurray to a small piece of land 10 miles outside a small town in Manitoba. I grew up on a farm but moved away when I was 18. For 20 years I’ve been trying to get back to small town living. I now have 3 gardens which I grow fruit and vegetables each year. I never liked the farm growing up but now I can’t wait for spring to be outside again. Your story and others have gave me the courage to go one step further with my dream and I’m going to get some chickens and a dexter cow. My daughter already has horses so the fence is already there. Thank you so much.

  6. I love this story. Thank you Patty, for sharing your life with us. It is very inspirational and has got me thinking about my family’s life. This series is a great idea!

  7. I hope to live a happy, fulfilling life that you guys lead. Your story gives me hope that not all people step on others to get ‘ahead’ in life. I agree with the others that this series is wonderful and inspiring. Can’t wait to read more from this series! 🙂

  8. I stumbled across this website while researching for a book that I am currently writing (I am a freelance writer), and I felt that I simply had to tell you, Patty, your story is truly amazing. My wife and I have three small children (6, 4, and 10 months) and have tried everything we could think of to cut costs to try and buy our own home, but almost seven years into our marriage, we have run into almost every head and heartache you can imagine. Obviously, we won’t be able to save half of our monthly income (I write and work for $9.50/hour, and my wife babysits), but after reading your money saving tips, I am officially inspired to try some of your tips and, by God’s grace, we’ll get out of the hole we dug ourselves by being foolish and making ridiculous decisions. I tell her all the time, we are only 25, God’s got this, and we’ll be fine, but after reading your story here, I finally feel that I can bring something to the table at our financial discussions. Thank you so much for sharing, and GOD BLESS!!!

  9. What a wonderful story and such great tips! Thanks for sharing at What’d You Do This Weekend? I hope you will join us again this Monday morning 🙂

  10. This is a great story! Thanks for sharing it with the Let’s Get Real Party. I am pinning this to our group Pinterest board.