Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Catherine Earp (A 'daily bread' interview)

Catherine and children at a shared birthday party. 

It was with great pleasure that I interviewed Catherine Earp today. She is a humble young Australian mum, with much wisdom, who truly lives the simple life. 

Catherine, how would you describe yourself in 5 words? 

warrior. over-comer. beauty seeker. visionary.

They are powerful words. Tell us about your family?  

Thanks be to God I married a good man in June 2004 and have returned his investment with four children: Annemieke Abiah Magdalene, Theodore Elijah Aslan, Manoah Jansen Tobias and Rosalie Adalia Evangeline. I hope he knows I love him. I tell him that I wouldn't have had four children in five years (and two months) to any other but a good man. I love that we do life together. 

Your children have beautiful names. Can we have a glimpse into your day to day life?

So far today I have held my squirming son until he stopped resisting, 
sung over him and discussed the nature of love with him (that if he were a 
tree he would need lots of water to grow, but since he is a boy, he needs lots of love. He says he needs water, too. So we agreed that trees need a little bit of love and lots of water, whereas he needs a little bit of water and lots of love). I have traced around his hands, making one look like a tree, and the other like his own hand - I believe in engaging all of his senses as much as possible. 

I have breastfed my baby, picked cradle cap from her scalp and mentally 
scolded myself for not leaving it alone.

I've walked past a mirror and realised that I must be as tired as I look but 
somehow I think I'm managing despite it. 

I have played soccer with my 2-year-old, taken the compost out, prepared a meal and snuck peeks at Facebook.

Can you explain to us what 'daily bread' means to you? 

It's about physical needs. I really think God is saying - I'm not disgusted by 
your frailty. I'm not disappointed by your human nature. I'm not surprised 
by your neediness. I'm okay with all of that. Just trust me, come to me, 
let me connect to your physical parts as well as your emotional, spiritual, 
intellectual, social... parts.

Can you elaborate a bit more. What is an example of him meeting your 
daily bread needs?

That's simple! I have bread on the table.
I have air in my lungs.
I have sunshine, shelter... and then I have comforts added to 'enough'.

How do you make ends meet financially with a relatively large family?

That question makes me smile because just the other evening I cornered 
my husband (who has no intention of letting me employ myself outside our 
home) and said, "You can't afford to let me work and earn income for our 
family." I went on to explain, "We'd have to pay for A's schooling (we're 
home based education people at this stage), place Th, M and R in 
childcare, we'd have to buy bread (we make ours), buy nappies, buy pre-
made meals (instead of home-made), buy me a new wardrobe, pay for 
housework help... and who would go op-shopping? or bargain hunting?" 
And I went on and on and on... until I concluded, "I more than earn my way around here! I think it's worth keeping me on."

Oh that is funny. You sound like a perfect fit for the living simply 

I didn't realise I was a simple philosophy person until I recognised myself on your blog, Asta!

I cook meals from scratch, op-shop and go to the local recycling depot 
(Tiny's Green Shed) for items that have been reclaimed from the tip. For 
example I've bought the children bicycles for $10 each.

 I sew, mend, make and compost and so on. That hasn't been a change of 
lifestyle for me, I think I inherited it from my parents. However, I can still 
learn more about living simply and just being. So, I'm embracing it. 

There was a time that I felt a little bit 'rich' - very modestly, actually - and 
spent a bit extravagantly, compared to my habits today. I didn't enjoy that 
life nearly as much as the more simple one I've returned to.

So who inspires you? 

The mother who bottled and stewed plums every summer. 

The father who grew broad beans every winter. 

The woman who writes a blog. 

The builder who saved materials until he could build his own house. 

The friend who asked 'why?' or 'what for?' 

The Vietnam veteran whose home runs off solar and uses the generator when absolutely necessary... and his lovely wife who works with him cleaning homes, and mowing lawns to bring in an income  - so that he can feel useful and hard working, and so they can live their simple rural life. 

The friend who chooses to live on less than their means so that they can bless others. 

I find inspiration everywhere.

What have you been reading lately? 

 I've just started to read Rhonda Hetzel’s 'Down to Earth: a guide to simple living'. 

That's a great book. It's popular with a few in The Simply Living Challenge community. What's a practical tip we can learn from you?

I put old woolen jumpers in a hot wash (can work with ordinary loads of washing) if put in pillow case with about 6 golf balls. After 6 washes the old jumper is shrunken and relatively stiff (doesn't always work with hand knits) and can be used anywhere you'd use felt: under table legs, creating a toy...

Well I have to confess that I have felted by accident Catherine. It was a happy accident as it turned out. 

So how can The Simply Living Challenge community support you?

Sometimes I wonder if I've missed something... if my life is TOO simple. Maybe I'm not taking it seriously enough? I doubt myself.

 I love seeing ways of living simply connected to their philosophical roots - the whys behind living that way. 

I need courage to give my niece a handmade recycled jumper dress for her birthday rather than the plastic toy I know she'd love.

Thank you Catherine. It has been lovely talking with you.

If you enjoyed this interview and would like to leave comments for Catherine, please do so here and I will make sure that she gets them.

Asta x


  1. Thanks for sharing Catherine. I loved how you described interacting with your children and ejoying them. I too have a scwirmy little boy who resists nice nurturing cuddles, you have reminded me to keep trying to connect and to bring in shared experiences too.

  2. Catherine, I can tell by your post you have a lovely, quiet spirit and it is encouraging to see you enjoy your children as well as throwing yourself into being a domestic goddess! The lessons you are passing on to your family are ones that will last a lifetime. No amount of business suits and/or carpooling can replace that. Stay the course of simple living and keep faith that those lessons will be passed from generation to generation. We've lost a lot of knowledge over the years by not listening to older (and wiser) family members who didn't necessarily have the choice to live simply during tougher economic times. Thank you for sharing your story.


  3. These are the comments left on The Simply Living Challenge Facebook page:

    What a fabulous interview! Catherine Earp, who I hope knows I think this already, is such an inspiration to me because she thinks through everything she does. Her life is consistent and meaningful. And her kids?? Delightful! Thanks so much for interviewing her and letting others see the strength and grace that flow from her. And Catherine- thanks for being interviewed! - Fiona Wright

    I have long been a fan of Catherine Earp. Living by your convictions is a very attractive quality. - Rachael Jamieson Newton

    She's a beautiful sis-in-law too xo - Deanne Earp

    I hope you ladies don't mind placing your comments here but it felt important to have your words repeated where the interview is posted.

    Lovely words. Asta x