Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy new year!

I have a feeling this will be a very good year. I went to bed at the normal time last night and when I woke at midnight, to the sound of fireworks someone was letting off in their yard, I also heard rain. It's been raining for a few days now so the ground is saturated, the tanks full and the washing is drying under cover on the back verandah.Yesterday we met this little visitor. He's a common

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Starting your simple life

I wish I could step into your homes and help you work out a way to start your simple life. It seems to me that starting is one of the most difficult parts of the process. Oh, it does become difficult in places along the way too, but the starting of it, that's hard.We all have different circumstances and different ways we want our lives to be. For some, the main goal might be to completely scale

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The storm before the calm

The countdown is on here. I have two busy days before the new year begins. When it does, it's full steam ahead into what looks like being a fairly active and significant year for me. The busy days will hopefully see some things done that I've been putting off, and can then be part of last year and not taken into the new year. I'm still on holiday next week but I'll go in on Wednesday to see if

Friday, December 28, 2007

Planning for a good year

The beginning of any year is a great time for changing and making new plans. There seems to be endless possibilities at the beginning of a year; anything is achievable. A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I was thinking about what worked and what didn’t work for me last year, while making plans for next year. If you don’t want to stand still, or worse, go with whatever comes along, you have to

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What's out there?

I spent some time over the past couple of days slowly wandering around the yard, just looking to see what’s happening out there. I was going to cut back rampant plants and tidy up, but I went on a voyage of discovery instead. It’s a wonderful thing to really know the land you live on – whether that be the land you have purchased or the land you rent. We are part of the natural world, we should be

Christmas morning

It rained! In a year of drought with very few rain days, it rained on our picnic. I shouldn't complain too much. The ground was wet and we got one shower of rain just after the cooking started. When Santa arrived the rain stopped and right at the end, the sun was shining.About 300 people turned up to share Christmas breakfast with us. There were older people, couples and singles, families with

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sad news update

Three chicks hatched over night. We found them dead under Mary just before we went out this morning. : - ( It looks like she squashed them. We came home an hour ago and no other eggs have hatched or are cracked.Can I get some advice from some of the readers who are raising chicks from eggs? I was going to take the remaining four eggs inside but Hanno convinced me otherwise as I didn't know what

T'was the day before Christmas

I finally put up our little cotton Christmas decorations and found two red candles. I'm ready.The brandy has been poured over the Christmas cake for the last time and today we pick up all the food for the Christmas breakfast. However, there has been a glitch.Hanno has been laid up with gout for the past three days and can barely walk. He's only walking, very slowly, with the help of a walking

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is blogging art?

Yesterday I received a catalogue Kathleen posted from a Margaret Olley exhibition being held in Brisbane. Margaret Olley is one of our greatest artists. She’s 84 now but still lives in her amazing home in Sydney's Paddington. It used to be a hat factory but Margaret has lived and worked there for more years than I can remember. Unfortunately the exhibition ends today.I love Margaret’s paintings.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A good mother - making vinegar

I've made two batches of white wine vinegar this year and both were a great success. Vinegar is easy to make and, like just about every other thing made with care at home, it tastes better than store bought vinegar.To make vinegar you need a crock, mother of vinegar and wine.Christmas is a good time to start making vinegar because you'll probably have left over wine, or your friends will. Instead

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A simple garden

The last of the luffas have been stored for use next year.While pre-Christmas is usually a very busy time I've been slowly ambling along with day to day chores and the cricket. Yesterday I had the match on TV all day so I could listen as I worked and every so often, I went in and sat watching and knitting. It wasn't a great match, we beat New Zealand hands down, but it's not the result I'm keen

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Families

I took this photo of Kerry and Hanno just before I drove Kerry to the bus the other day. He'd just woken up, and he's not a morning person. ; ) I love having our sons visit us. When we were sitting around the table the other night, talking and telling each other of our plans, I felt that deep and genuine contentment that often visits me nowadays. Shane and Kerry have become all I ever wanted

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Apron swap photos 2 - UPDATED

sandra tee to kristilisa to ingeborg Above is a late addition of a photo I couldn't find yesterday. If you've sent a photo that's not included with the swap pix, please let me know.I hope you've enjoyed this swap, and seeing the photos, as much as I have. Here is the last batch.ruthie to robinkristi to sandra tee sharon to emily sissigy to jacky tracy to jessicapolly to billierachel to denise

Apron swap photos 1

These are some of the aprons sent in our most recent swap. We had ladies from all round the world sewing and sending off their wonderful creations. Thanks to everyone who took part in the swap and thanks to Sharon and Lorraine (chookasmum) who helped organise this mammoth task. I couldn't have done it without them.There are a few aprons held up in the Christmas mail. I hope the ladies who receive

Monday, December 17, 2007

Success

We had a lovely Christmas dinner with our sons last night. Kerry stayed overnight and is going back this morning. There's been a train derailment near here so I'm driving him to a town where he can get a bus back. He lives 200 kms away, on the Gold Coast. From there I'll go straight to work. I don't have time to do my full post today, so I'll leave you with this.SUCCESS by Ralph Waldo

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Take care with gifts, and be confident

Lyn asked an important question yesterday: "This year I strived very much to simplify Christmas in what gifts I am giving & did fairly well, but I still didn't go as simple as I wanted to. There is still that "guilt" factor or is it compulsion that affects me when I should not let it (especially when I know a loved one is giving me generous gifts). Have you ever struggled with that?"Lyn, thank

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Homemade gifts - luffas and soap

While the shops get busier with the excesses of Christmas shopping, my simple life continues at a gentle pace. It was a cooking and odds and ends day yesterday. I baked two fruit cakes, one for my family and one for a gift, and then made butter with local Guernsey cream for a batch of shortbread, also a gift. Hanno had a garage sale happening outside with the results of our decluttering over the

Friday, December 14, 2007

Living deliberately

There are times in our lives that are natural turning points. At these times we stop, evaluate and make a deliberate choice about whether to stay on the same path or turn another way. When you simplify you are forced to make some changes, but most of your choices will be intentional. You stop blindly following what everyone else does and decide for yourself what your life will be. You live

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Harvesting water

Leanne in New Zealand asked if I would write about how we collect water for the garden. It's an important subject this one, especially as Australia is the driest populated continent on the planet. We've been going through the longest drought in our recorded history, many local councils have restricted the amount of water to be used in each house and Australians are looking for ways to cut back on

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas prep and an email from a dear friend

Christmas colours. : )I didn't get much done yesterday as a tradesman and his helper turned up at 9am to finish off the renovations. They spent most of the day laying the last bit of flooring in the hallway and attaching the skirting boards in the rest of the house. It feels great to have it all done. I feel as if our house has been given back to us. I don't like having people here who can walk

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A bit of aquaponics gardening

I had some good news when I came home from work yesterday. My oldest son Shane phoned to say he's not working on Christmas day and he'd like to come to the Christmas breakfast in the park with us. I'm so pleased! I'll be able to show him off and introduce him to the people I work with and some new friends I've made. LOL Being a chef, he'll be able to help us with the food too. Shane and Kerry

Monday, December 10, 2007

Apron Swap Reminder

I know we are all hoping things get back to normal at Rhonda's, that the chooks are not too traumatized by their troubles, and that Mary's eggs are doing well. I just wanted to pop in and remind everyone in the swap to check in with Lorraine or myself and to send pictures of your parcels to Rhonda. I know that there are a few ladies that posted their parcels late for very good reasons so if

Trouble in the hen house

As if to illustrate the point I made yesterday about life not always being easy, just after I finished my post I heard a ruckus in the hen house. The dogs and I ran out there but a stray dog had somehow got into the backyard and already killed one chook and injured another, one was missing. Hanno came out soon after, caught the dog and locked it in our shed. I picked up big Martha, one of the

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I’m not perfect, people!

I get the impression sometimes that some readers think I’m a perfect angel who works away without a word of complaint, making no mistakes and with everything going perfectly to plan. I doubt anyone can claim perfection every day. I am as flawed as the next person. I have things I don’t like doing, I make mistakes – yesterday I forgot to put the yeast in the bread. Please don’t think that my life

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mothers

I'm feeling pretty sad today. I found out this morning that Kathleen's mother died late last night. Kathleen and I are very close, she is my best friend and second sister. Kathleen is one of 11 children.I know from expereince that the day your mum dies is embedded for all time into your soul. My mother, Jean St Clair McGrath, died in 1993 from non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. She died as I was flying from

Saturday's work

After the big upheaval of replacing two cupboards under the kitchen sink, but having to rip out the entire kitchen and floor to do it, we're finally back to normal. Yesterday felt like the first regular day I've had here for about a month. I knew that I could cook, preserve and move the final things back to their rightful places and when all that was done, all was well in my world.I've written

Friday, December 7, 2007

Support

I love you people! I love the support you've given me and my blog, it truly astounds me that it's become so popular. A few weeks ago I added the Amazon book widget to my side column. I tried to make it inconspicious for those not interested but as interesting as possible for those who were. I've just checked my account for the first time since I added it, and my readers have bought over $270

Stockpiling groceries 101 - part 2

This is a continuation of the previous post.Before you rush off to stock your stockpile cupboard, do a bit of research and find out which is your closest and cheapest supermarket. This will be your base surpermarket. For me it's Aldi. There we buy as much as we can. There are no special prices at Aldi, their prices are consistently low and generally about 30% lower than either Woolworths or Coles

Stockpiling groceries 101 - part 1

It seems the price of food and fuel is creeping up every week. Now that many are buying Christmas food and gifts as well, it's a good time to remind you about stockpiling. If you already have a healthy stockpile, and I know many of you do, you could easily stop buying groceries over the Christmas period, live from your stockpile and use your grocery money to buy the special foods you like at

Thursday, December 6, 2007

New blog on the block

I came across a new blog that you might be interested in. Belinda's Simple Life is fairly new but she has some good ideas and she is a clear and intelligent writer. I have added Belinda to my blog roll. Check it out and see what she is doing with orange bags, it's brilliant. : )

Growing food in containers

Many vegetables can be grown successfully in pots or containers. I am currently growing a couple of heirloom tomatoes in large pots and I also have a selection of potted herbs. The tomatoes don’t look wonderful but we’ll get a few kilos of tomatoes from them. If you're new to gardening, start off with a couple of potted herbs. They're be a great introduction to gardening for you and what you

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Improvements in the kitchen

The kitchen is slowly coming to life again and I'm really enjoying working there. I'm still getting used to baking in an electric oven, I burnt my first loaf of bread in the new oven = : O , but it's just a matter of slowly working with the new and getting used to the settings. I took advantage of the upheaval to scrutinise how I work in my kitchen and thought carefully about changes. For the

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The summer garden

Every gardener needs an assistant, and I have Alice. She follows us around the garden and loves to eat fresh tomatoes and carrots, just picked. In the photo above, she was told to "sit", but she kept a sharp eye on me while I took photos. LOL She is behind the potatoes and in front of the tomatoes.The garden is suffering from the neglect of the past two weeks. There are no major problems there

Monday, December 3, 2007

Organising the linen cupboard

When the seasons change from cool to warm, I take the doonas (quilts/duvets) from our beds and take time out to organise our linen cupboard. I believe it's an important part of my homemaker's responsibilities to properly care for everything that is used in our home. Our hard earned money has been used to buy or make the sheets, doonas, towels, napkins and tablecloths we use and I want them to

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The comforts of home

There was a time when I would have been extremely bored waking up in the morning and knowing every single thing that would happen to me that day. Now, that is what I hope for. I love knowing every nook and cranny of my home. I love doing the same thing at the same time, I relish the familiarity of it all. I don’t have to think too much about what will crop up, there is no anxiety about not

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A simple day at home

They arrived just as promised - twelve beautiful bantam eggs. Helen sent them from Perth on Friday, they travelled overnight and arrived in Brisbane on Saturday morning. Hanno drove in to pick them up and when he arrived home with the precious cargo, I found they were carefully wrapped in tissues, placed in a carton, wrapped in newspaper - Tuesday's Australian (which Hanno saved to read), and

APRON SWAP NEWS

Hello all. I just wanted to post a request for all the apron swappers. We hope all of you have had a lot of fun with this swap and we want to make sure that each swapper receives her parcel. To this end, we would like everyone to check in with the leader of their swap, either me (Sharon) or Lorraine when they receive their parcel. Rhonda would also like an e-mail with a photo of the apron so she

Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas spending

I would like to give everyone a gentle reminder and, hopefully, a little strength to not go overboard with Christmas spending. I've received a few emails recently from readers who feel they need to indulge their family and friends with Christmas gifts, even though they're on a tight budget and trying to move out of debt.It's a difficult balance to achieve. On the one hand you're evolving into a

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Slowly returning to normal

I hope you didn't think I'd jumped ship. The house was a shambles when I woke up yesterday, then when I sat down to my computer to write, I couldn't connect to the internet (Hanno had disconnected everything to move the desk), so I decided to post from work and started tidying up. Yes, I had yet another day at work yesterday. I've been there every day this week so far, and will go back again

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Flying eggs

Last week Ann asked if I had two dogs as usually Rosie is in my photos. Here are Alice (left) and Rosie together last night for Ann, and to remind us all of the pleasure pets can bring to our lives.It has been my experience all through my life, that while the vast majority of days are lived in a very ordinary way, they are sprinkled with days that test me to my limits and those that are the sweet

Apron swap and emails

I'm about to do two posts.This one is to remind my Australian and New Zealand friends that today is the deadline for the apron swap; they should be posted today. The deadline of 28 November is tomorrow for those on the other side of the world. I hope everyone has enjoyed this swap, it will be the final one for the year, but we'll have more next year, starting in January.I also wanted to say hello

Monday, November 26, 2007

The kitchen

There is no kitchen here, no floor either. These vital parts of our home should have been installed last Monday and Tuesday but the kitchen is still echoing when sound bounces off bare walls and the cement slab. Nothing has been done.The workers arrived last Monday, ripped up the old floor and discovered water under it. Work stopped while we had a dehumidifier dry out the slab. The slab dried and

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Recycling, reusing, reducing

Glass jars can be reused many times for your jams. New lids can be purchased when the seal goes.Choose your packaging carefully when you are buying groceries. It’s great to recycle and reuse plastics but it’s much better to reduce the amount of plastic you buy in the first place.If you buy those plastic sauce dispensers, buy one, then buy a bulk pack of sauce and keep refilling the dispenser,

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Three blogs to read

Yes, it's the second post today but I wanted to write about a few additional things. There are a few blogs I want to recommend you read. The first is Julie's. Julie has been going back to basics and writing about it every day for the past month. It's very interesting and definitely worth reading.Julie's blog - Towards SustainabilityKim is following the rigorous Riot for Austerity 90% reduction

Paying off your mortgage and credit cards

Debt, what a rotten word. Yet it’s what most of us have to sign up to, live with and work through if we are to own our own home. Let me say first that I know there are many ways to pay off debt. I’m writing about what worked well for Hanno and I. This is what I have experience in. Other methods may work equally as well but as I have no experience of other ways, I can't write about them.As I said

Friday, November 23, 2007

A few updates

I had a lovely email from a reader today, an ex-New Yorker who has moved to PA. She's a writer and a contributor to the book Get Satisfied: How Twenty People Like You Found the Satisfaction of Enough. Apparently it's been very popular and is going to be made into a documentary. I checked it out on Amazon and it looks like a very interesting read. I've added it to my Amazon favourites.Don't forget

Getting rid of debt

Our six monthly water bill arrived yesterday. It was $44.85, with our discount we have to pay $40.36. We've worked hard to reduce our water consumption and as the price of water has been rising - from 78 cents/kilolitre in 2002 when our bill was $248.20; 78 cents in 2004 when our bill was $148.20; 95 cents/kl in 2006 when our bill was $101.65 to 115 cents/kl now when our bill is $44.85, we have

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's time for tea

It's Thanksgiving Day in America today so I'd like to wish my American friends happy Thanksgiving. I hope you all have a wonderful day with family and friends.Some of my tea making paraphernalia. I know I have too much of this but tea makes me happy, I enjoy making good tea for friends and family and I love having morning and afternoon tea. So for those reasons, I'm keeping all my tea gear,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Progress

This is the beginnings last night's dinner, prepared in the guest bathroom. There are cooked potatoes in the colander at the back, radishes, just picked, and pickled cucumbers. I'll write about this meal in a future post.We are making progress. It might not look like it, but there has been movement in the right direction. Yesterday the dehumidifier was removed after draining something like 200

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A post from the edge

Is this every man's dream? The fridge next to the armchair, facing the TV.We survived another day without a kitchen, and with cupboards and appliances sitting on the back verandah. Actually it hasn't been too bad and the only thing I'm really missing is my filtered water tap. There is water in the tap but I never drink our unfiltered tap water. I thought we were preparing for two days without

Monday, November 19, 2007

Welcome to the revolution

I love it when the unexpected happens. It reminds me that no matter how much we plan things out, no matter how many people work on a job, no matter how much we want it to go smoothly, some things just take their own sweet time. Whatever will be, will be.Work has stopped on the kitchen.Yesterday I was dressed and had eaten breakfast before the workers arrived at 7am. My plan was to have everything

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Moving the kitchen

This is what came from kitchen cupboards, there is more on the floor.The day has arrived. Today we'll finish clearing out the kitchen in preparation for the renovation tomorrow and Tuesday. We worked on it steadily yesterday, packing things in boxes, putting aside unwanted items, throwing out unrecognisable pieces of plastic and cleaning out cupboards. This is the ultimate deep clean. The

Friday, November 16, 2007

Quilts - I get it!

The tentative beginnings of a quilt. The centre panel is an old pillow slip I bought from Ikea, that is bordered by leftover fabric from my new curtains. The rest will be made up of bits and pieces of old fabric, never used. It's from old skirts of mine, tablecloths, pieces from Tricia and a couple of metres of blue tones bought specially for this project.I'm a quilter! I never thought I'd ever

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How a garden can help reduce your costs

All these photos of the garden were taken this morning.The garden is producing well at the moment so we've been able to cut back on what we buy at the shops. I thought it might be interesting to work out the cost of our food so far this week, including all meals and snacks, and see how the garden produce factors into those costs. I will also include the source of the food, from our garden,

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Work in progress

This is the quark I made from my yoghurt last week. It drained for four days before I could get back to it, but that's fine as long as it's kept refrigerated. The cheese on the left is savory with cucumber, red capsicum (red pepper), green onion and salt and pepper. It's great on crackers or a sandwich. The one on the right is sweet with honey stirred through it. It's delicious on toast for

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Preparing for Christmas




We started our Christmas planning yesterday. Not here at home, but at the Centre where I work. Our two main projects are Santa's Helpers and a Christmas breakfast. Both of them are a big part of this caring and open community and both require a lot of organisation.

Of course the end result of both projects is quite simple. Santa's Helpers enables us to give gifts of toys, books, games and

Monday, November 12, 2007

Preparing for tough times

I often watch a local TV program on Sunday at lunchtime. Landline is an ABC program about all things rural and it gives a good insight into important issues facing our farmers and people in country towns in Australia.Last Sunday their lead story was about the effect equine flu has had on the people who own horses but aren't part of the horse racing industry. For those of you who aren't local, in

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ironing

My simple life is changing all the time, just like any healthy process, it's not stagnant. I try to improve what I do so that I get the best results for the time and effort I put in and I'm always thinking about ways to make the more mundane chores pleasant and satisfying.Ironing has always been a problem for me. I think it stems from when I was a nursing sister. That was way back in the days

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Attention swappers who did not receive their napkins

THIS IS FOR THOSE SWAPPERS WHO DIDN'T RECEIVE THEIR NAPKINS If you sent napkins in the swap and didn't receive a package, please contact Sharon at cdetroyes@yahoo.com Sharon will be sorting these stragglers out. Sharon, I spoke with Rhonda Gay, Karen's partner. She is sending a new set of napkins as hers have been lost and the Post Office can't track them.

A busy week and quarantine restrictions

There is a lot work to be done here today. We have our new floor and kitchen repairs happening tomorrow week, and I only have six free days before it starts. I want to do a few extra things like make some food for us for the time we won't have a functioning kitchen and start moving plates, pot, pans and glasses to another room. I'll think about relocating food later next week. I also have to do a

Friday, November 9, 2007

Life's abundance and complexity

This is my adorable dog, Rosie. Rosie is an Airedale Terrier and she's 12½ years old. Hanno has just clipped her for summer and she's come into the kitchen to see if there is a spare honey biscuit for an old girl. Hello to another Rosie, hello Rosetta!I was talking to an acquaintance the other day about retirement. She asked me if Hanno and I had enough money for travelling, entertainment and

Swaps

Can we have a check of the swaps. Have any of the people who are waiting on the last swap received their napkins? Has everyone in the current apron swap made contact with their swap partner? Please check into the comments box so I have a better idea what's happening. Thanks everyone. : )

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Inner peace and contentment

When I first started living as I am now, I was searching and hoping for happiness and contentment and thought I might find it with fewer possessions and less attachment to mainstream ideals and what modern life had evolved into. I focused myself on the lifestyle and not what would eventually bring me real happiness, my inner self. I know now that the simple lifestyle is merely the means of

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Alone

I am having a wonderful day. I am alone here today, it's just me with the dogs and chooks. Hanno is off having some medical tests done and will then go to pick up our new kitchen appliances.I love being alone and haven't been for the longest time. My only alone time now is when I drive back and forth to my job. Today was a real treat for me. And it's been raining. : )This morning I took my

Yoghurt and quark

Yoghurt and quark can be made from ingredients usually found in the fridge or stockpile cupboard. With the price of food seeming to rise every week, they're handy recipes as you'll be able to make yoghurt for snacks and desserts, and quark for sandwiches and crackers. Quark is an easy to make from scratch simple cheese that's popular in the Germanic countries, and maybe also in Scandinavia. I

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Covering your food

You might think the subject of today's post is a bit odd but it's the unusual things that aren't generally thought about in today's consumer driven life that make the simple home what it is. Today's topic - corks, lids and food covers.We had a recent post about jars so lets start with jar lids. Mason jars have two types of lids. You have the general metal screw on lid as well as a variation of

Monday, November 5, 2007

The full measure of the day

I had an email from a dear reader yesterday asking for some thoughts on a life-career dilemma. Although I don't see myself as an expert on such matters, this is what I think about it, I am sure that there will also be some intelligent and thoughtful comments that may help. This is part of the email:"I would like to suggest a post idea or just tap into your experience. I am 50 in December. My

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Changes to comments

I have had to change to comment moderation because someone ranted in one of the comment boxes. Naturally it was from an anonymous person. I'm sorry that this will hold up comments being shown but I will not allow that kind of comment on my blog.

A wonderful sun day

Yesterday was a day of gardening, cooking and sewing for me. It was quite hot here so before the sun hit the garden I was out there cutting back the pigeon peas. Most of the vegetables are growing well and our nectarines are the sweetest and juiciest we've ever tasted. Sadly there are a lot of fruit fly around and we've had to cover most of the fruit with exclusion bags to keep these tiny flies

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Two good posts

I found two very good posts this morning that you should read. One is by Little Jenny Wren and it contains some wise truths: http://littlejennywren.blogspot.com/2007/11/tree-planting.htmlThe other is someone new I've added to my blogroll, Melinda at Elements in Time. I really like what she said in her 90% reduction post: http://www.elementsintime.com/Blog.html

Old fashioned houses

As I was doing my work yesterday I realised that our home is very old fashioned. Our kitchen is the centre of our home, it's a place where we all sit and talk, when friends drop by they are entertained in the kitchen or outside on the verandah, when Hanno and I stop for tea every morning we usually sit outside on the verandah. We have a large area around the house for chooks, vegetable and flower

Friday, November 2, 2007

Routines no. 3

This is the last lot of routines. I have found them fascinating. We are all trying our best to live simply, we all over the world and yet despite the many differences, our routines seem to me to hold a measure of similarity. I hope you have enjoyed reading how some of our readers live their 'normal' day.From Margaret in Maryland USAGet up at 5:15Make coffeeRead Bible and prayTake care of the

Routines no. 2

From Anastasia in USA5:00am - Get up. Fix DH breakfast and pack his lunch. Visit with him until he leaves at6:30.6:30am - Read Bible.7am - Check email, Pay any bills.Get organized for the day! Check a few blogs8am - shower & get dressed8:15am - Fix breakfast for kids. Start laundry, Run dishwasher.9-11am - Homeschool11am - Fix lunch, Clean kitchen, Get anything out for dinner, More laundry1pm -

All living simply, all different

There is no doubt about it, running a home is complicated, and when you add in a partner, children, pets, homeschooling, work, gardens and working animals it can sometimes seem like you're out of control. I have no magic wand that will fix this for everyone - I get a lot of emails asking about routines - but the intention of this post is to show that we all have a full and busy lives, to give you

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Our routines

I've been thinking about the post I'll do tomorrow. I need your help with it. I want to write a post about how we're all different, yet all similar. I need you to write out, in list form, your daily routine. If it changes each day, I just want one day's list of what you do in a normal day, from when you wake up, until you go to bed at night. If you don't mind, include your town/city or

Self discovery, reinvention and changing your attitude

This photo is completely off today's topic, it's a small view of our front garden. It's spring here so we have all sorts of flowers growing. Incorporating beauty into your life is an important part of living simply. But just so you know I've not gone completely flower crazy in the front garden, those leaves poking into the top right hand corner are avocado leaves and planted next to the avocado

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thank you

I read back through some old comments this afternoon. Some days I don't have a chance to do that and it's something I must do everyday. I'm going to reorganise myself so that I can review my blog every afternoon.Anyhow, the reason for this post is to thank you, all my readers, for the love and kindness you express in your comments. In particular, the comments in last month's "Me, in a nutshell"

Auditing your stockpile

Carrying on with our theme of not wasting food, today I want to talk about auditing your stockpile. We did our monthly shopping yesterday so I did mine then. It's a good habit to get into if you're stockpiling. Remember that when you spend your hard earned money on anything, it should be looked after so it gives you value for your money. Your stockpile is included in that; it needs to be looked

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Apron swap partners - ammended

Here are your partners, ladies. As with all swaps, there will be minor tweaking today and tomorrow. Brigit, do you want to be in the swap? I'm not sure if it's just your friend or you as well.SHARON’S SWAPPERS Sharon's email is cdetroyes at yahoo dot comMaria in NC and Paula Jessica Chapman and Tracy (unlessthelord) Donna and Allybea Rhonda Jean and Sharon Jenny (wren) and Ingvild Elizabeth and

Attentions swappers

Briget, are you in the swap or is it just Jennie?Jennifer, can we have your daughters name or initials, or maybe an online name?Mrs MK, I need your email address.Suzen, are you in the swap?I'm working on the list right now. You have about another hour or two to sign up.

Waste not, want not

The beautiful quilt pictured above is one my sister, Tricia, is working on. She usually gives her quilts away but this one will be kept and used in her new home when she moves next year. I love this quilt. It's called a scrappy quilt because scraps of fabric leftover from other projects, and old pieces of fabric that previously had other functions, have been used in the making of it. You might

Swap closing soon

Good morning everyone! It's Wednesday morning so this is a reminder that the swap will close in a few hours. If you want to join in, please comment in the swap thread within the next four hours. Thanks to those who offered help. I think we may be ok, but I'll know more when I do up the lists.I worked the past two days and I'm still in a bit of a haze this morning. I have no idea what I'll

Monday, October 29, 2007

Are you wasting food?

If you're wondering why I have a jug with a strainer and a jar on top, I'm making quark cheese.It's a sad and cruel fact that in a world where 9 million people die of hunger or malnutrition each year, the amount of food being wasted in Western countries increases most years. In the UK 20 billion pounds worth of food is wasted each year, in the USA it's between 30 and 40%, and in Australia it's 25

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Apron swap - sign up here

This is the call for swappers in the third Down to Earth swap. Our first swap was for knitted dishcloths, then we swapped napkins. I am aware that there are a small number of late arrivals but we’ll go on to our next swap while we keep an eye on the napkins to make sure they all arrive.This swap is for an apron, which I believe is a fitting symbol for this simple life we are all trying our best

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Suggestions for expansion needed

It's going to be 31C (88F) here today so we've both been out early in the garden. It was just a bit of tweaking, watering and checking, a little bit of TLC that generally keeps the garden moving along nicely. The king parrots were there too, arguing and running at the brown doves. LOLI'm feeling dangerously optimistic today but I've been thinking about this for a while. I'd like to expand my blog

Jars

I love jars. I do store some things in plastic, but if it will fit in a jar, that is where it goes. This is my jar cupboard. Many of the jars in here are recycled jars, but there are also some Fowlers Vacola preserving jars, Italian Mason jars, old glass vinegar bottles, and some plastic soft drink bottles. Believe it or not, the plastic drink bottles are the ones I find hardest to get. I use

Friday, October 26, 2007

A nanna nap

I'm feeling much better this afternoon. It's almost 4 o'clock and I've had the most blissfully lazy day. I even had a sleep, yes duckie, a nanna nap. ; ) I told Hanno I was having a lie down at 9am! The last thing I remember was watching the curtain blowing in the breeze and then I was sound asleep for two hours. I made some fresh juice when I woke up, then drew my second curtain pattern and

Sweet nurturing


There have been many times in my life when I've felt like giving up, but being the queen of stubborness, I refuse to do it. Once I've made a commitment to something, I usually do it. That's not a wonderful virtue, it's just plain mule stubborness. I'm changing that because today, even though I have work to do, I'm not doing it. I'm really tired, so today I'm looking after Rhonda Jean.

I guess

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Building your simple life

As most of your know Hanno and I took the plunge a few years ago and stopped working. We now use the hours we used to sell to others on ourselves, making an interesting life on our own little patch of Australian earth. I sometimes get emails from younger readers asking about living simply while working for a living. I've said many times that you can live simply anywhere at any time. Simple living

Swap help

My sister started her long drive home this morning after two weeks of merriment, sharing, eating, remembering and sewing together. I sent her off with a small comfort pack of spinach pie, leftover from our dinner last night, three yoghurt pikelets and a bottle of water. She will have to stop for a cup of tea. Thank you all for your kind words and good wishes for both of us while Tricia was

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Swap stragglers

I'd like to start a new swap next week but I want all swappers to have their napkins before we go on to another swap. Please comment if you have NOT received your napkins yet, include the name of your swap partner and let me know if you've made contact to see what the problem is.Thanks everyone.

Starting your vegetable garden

These photos were all taken this morning. Early morning, before the sun hits the vegetables, is the best time to walk around looking for bugs or potential problems. Observation is the key to growing good vegies. You need to know what's happening out there and help the plants along if you notice something going wrong.I had to buy tomatoes yesterday. We had some of our own and some from my step

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Living small

It never occurred to me when I was a spender that I was actually giving away my independence. I thought the opposite. I believed I was the queen of my realm and the more I had and the more dollars I spent, the more power, strength and independence I had. When I stopped spending I realised how pathetically wrong that was.What I was doing was working in a job I didn't like so I had enough money to

Monday, October 22, 2007

Beautiful curtains

I read the following quote for the first time on Jewel's blog. It really sums up, in an eloquent way, how I feel about my home.If you wanted to gather up all tender memories, all lights and shadows of the heart, all banquetings and reunions, all filial, fraternal, paternal, conjugal affections, and had only four letters with which to spell out the height and depth and length, and breadth and

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Developing flavour in home cooking

There is more to good home cooking than following a recipe. To consistently cook well, you need to understand how flavours develop. There are ways of developing flavour in your home cooking that don't involve adding anything from a packet or opening a can of soup.

CARAMELISATION
The best way to add flavour to meat is to caramelise it. Many foods have natural sugars in them. They don't make that

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Gingham curtains

Here are the curtains Tricia made. I'm really pleased with them, they feel fresh and make the kitchen look bigger. I noticed that Hanno has installed one pull back hook higher than the other. : \ We'll have to adjust that. I have to buy a few hooks for the top of the curtains as there are a few missing, but when they're all fixed, I'll happily live with these curtains for many years. The curtains

Friday, October 19, 2007

The button box

Tricia's husband died suddenly a few years ago and she's spent the past couple of years deciding whether she would sell the family home and move to a smaller place. She now lives in a beautiful six bedroom mansion house on the outskirts of Sydney. There is a library, chandeliers, four hectares of bushland and a heated pool set in a beautiful secluded garden with fountains. This last couple of

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Stitching sisters

She thought I was sitting in a lounge chair stitching, but I was quietly taking this photo. If you're wondering, that little white box has a tiny teddy bear in it, a gift from my other sister, Kathleen.We've had some good times together these past few days. Nothing too exciting, as is fitting for two old ducks, but good, nonetheless. We've talked and remembered, laughed, had tea and fruit cake

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Two simple strategies

This is when your simple life starts. At this very minute. If you've decided you want to change the way you live and intend to make a plan to live simply, then I want you to think of yourself as living simply. Tell other people too; tell your family, friends and neighbours. Tell them: "I've changed how I live my life, I'm living simply now." You'll find that if you tell others and verbalise your

emails

I am way overdue answering emails and comments. With my sister here I don't have the spare time throughout the day when I usually answer them. I will write as soon as I can. Thank you for your patience. : )

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It's not easy being simple and green

Many people want to live simply but don’t know how, or where, to start, or even what simple living really is. The simple answer is that simplicity is about many small things that add up to become entire way of life. For me, simple living has been a mixture of personal growth, thrift, making do with what I have, resource conservation, a change in attitude about what is considered success and

Late napkins

Mrs mk from Polly Chookasmum from Sharon Emme from KathleeneIt is now 2½ weeks since the posting deadline for the napkin swap. All the napkins should have been received by now. If you have not received your napkins, please comment on this post. Carla has not received from Hannah yet. Is there anyone else? Hannah, would you let me know when you posted your napkins, thanks.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Your food plan

I have been amazed and delighted in these past few months to see the mainstream media finally give time and space to the problems associated with Global Warming and Peak Oil. It’s been a long time coming. These two problems alone, even without factoring in the current drought conditions we’re experiencing, are enough to worry a lot of us. Some people seem to be so frightened by these problems

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Money leaks

I've had a few emails recently from people wanting to simplify but they don't know what their first step should be. No matter what style of simple life you want for yourself, you'll need to have your finances in order, so the first step is to track your money. This is a simple process where you take a small notebook with you wherever you go and every time you buy something, you write it down in

Saturday, October 13, 2007

And the winner is ...

Congratulations Peggy. I'll be sending you the simple living stitchery. If you send me your postal address, I'll get it in the mail in the next couple of days.I'm sorry there is no second prize but for those of you who want to stitch this, here is the pattern. Simply click on the drawing above, right click your mouse, "save as", print it out and then transfer the pattern to your fabric according

Working and waiting

Today is a day of preparation for me because aside my normal daily chores, I’m preparing for the arrival of my sister. We’ve finished breakfast and Hanno has been to the farmers market near here to buy some fruit and a few odds and ends he needs. I will wash up shortly, clean the kitchen and sweep the floors. Instead of baking bread this morning, I’ll bake this afternoon so we’ll have fresh warm

Napkin swap photos - 2

Here are some photos of the napkins received so far. If you have not yet sent or received your napkins, please let me know. Senders and receivers names are below the photos. If you have a photo of the swap you want to share with us, please email it to me and I'll include it in the next swap lot.I'm sure you'll agree there are a lot of lovely items here. Well done to everyone who took part in the

Friday, October 12, 2007

Me and my sister - updated with recipe

This is Tricia and I when we were little girls in Sydney. This photo was taken at my grandma's house at Strathfield in the early 1950s.My sister Tricia is two years older than me, next year we will both be in our sixties. When I look at that sentence, I know it is true, but I can barely believe it.She has lived all her life in Sydney and the Blue Mountains (just outside Sydney). Her husband, she

A couple of recipes

TOMATO SAUCE3 large onions - choppedSplash of olive oil1.25kg (3lbs) ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped150 ml (5 fl oz) cider vinegar2 tablespoons brown sugar2 teaspoons salt1 teaspoon black pepperPlace the onions and oil in a large saucepan and soften the onions without drowning them. Add tomatoes and all other ingredients and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring

The process of water bath preserving

Before you start your preserving session, wash all your jars and lids and run your fingers around the rims to check for chips or cracks. Check the lids for dents, rust or holes. Never use damaged jars or lids.

I only sterilise the jars and lids if I'm not going to process them in a water bath. Sometimes I know something won't last a long time, so after it's cooked, I place it in a sterilized jar

Water bath preserving

Preserving food in jars is something of a mystery to many people but bottling/canning is one of the skills of simple living that will allow you to extend the life of some of your seasonal produce, to eat good quality food with no chemical preservatives and to save money. It's an old skill that our grannies took for granted and we forgot about because we could buy all our goods in jars already

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Book list for Colleen

Colleen asked for some book suggestions after my last post. Here are some I've read and am happy to recommend:Australian Readers Digest book - Back to Basics - ISBN 0 86449 028 3. This book has information about building, crafts, preserving, growing food, cooking and baking and a lot more. The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla EmeryThe Permaculture Home Garden ISBN: 0-670-86599-Linda

Me ... in a nutshell

I thought this might be a good time to let you know more about me. A few people have asked for that in the comments and in emails. I understand if you're not interested, just return tomorrow when I'll be returning to simple living subjects. Tomorrow's topic is bottling/canning/preserving.I was born in Sydney and have one sister, Tricia, and one pretend sister, Kathleen. Tricia and I grew up at

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

50,000th milestone

We have been out this morning so Hanno could fix my friend Bernadette's washing machine. We came home and the counter had clicked over to 50,116 visitors. We did it!When I started blogging in May, I had no idea my blog would be popular. Of course, being a writer, I tend to expect people to read what I write but I never for one second expected this. I want to thank each and every person who comes

Pigeon peas

Pigeon peas are a crop grown primarily in warm climates. We've just harvested our first pigeon peas, and although I haven't shelled them yet, I think we have about 1 kilogram (2.2lbs) of dried peas. They can be eaten green or dried. In India, they're one of the peas used as dahl. We've had them here as a substitute to split yellow peas for pea soup.Pigeon peas are one of the traditional

Lunch, a movie and the look

This is not where we went yesterday. I took this is a photo a bit further down the coast, closer to where we live. This is King's Beach, Caloundra where we had lunch earlier in the year.I got through my chores yesterday and just as we were about to go out, there was an almighty storm with loud cracking thunder, lightning and a lot of rain. The dogs were terrified and we were almost convinced we

Napkin swap

All the napkins should have been sent ten days ago and most of them should have been received by now. I'd like to show as many of them as I can so if you can take a photo of what you received I'd appreciate you sending me a copy via email. If you have not yet sent or received your napkins, please email. I'm about half way through the emails so if you've sent me one, please know I've read it and

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Catching up ... on work and sleep

I've just spent two very busy, but satisfying, days at work. I swear that when I drive home after a day's work, I feel elated and happy and able to move mountains. When I arrived home yesterday I talked to Hanno, there was mail to read - a thank you note from two little boys : ) - and lots of emails. I usually have a million things battling for space in my head when I get home, it's a mix of

Monday, October 8, 2007

Plan for your future

Graphic from allposters.comMcMansions pffffffffffft!! It is environmentally and economically smart to live in a house that meets your needs without exceeding them. It is economically sound to save up a deposit for a home and then to pay the loan off as fast as possible. If you are being wise economically and environmentally, you’ll also have a car that suits the size of your family and not the

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Shredded paper

As there have been a few comments on shredded paper and shredders lately, I thought you might be interested in these photos. This shredder is the one I used for the last 15 years in my business. It's still going strong.We use shredded computer paper for hen's nests. You can really build a substantial and comfortable nest for a chook with shredded paper. When it's dirty, we put the nests in the

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Extending the hand of friendship

I'm starting this post at 4pm Sunday afternoon, about 12 hours before I usually do my Monday morning post. I wanted to start it while something is fresh in my mind; sometimes at 4am the world is a bit muddled for me.If you watched Landline today you'll know they featured farmers suffering from Black Dog - Depression. Rural suicide in Australia is among the highest in the world. According to the

Connecting the dots in your simple life

My neighbour gave me these beautiful lilies yesterday. She is a florist and they were left over from a wedding. How are you going with your move towards a greener and simpler life? It's difficult sometimes, isn't it? I would imagine that almost all the people who read this blog are here to read about ways to live more simply in one way or another. I have been doing many of the things we do now

Keeping chickens in the backyard

This is Martha, one of our Rhode Island red chooks. She is abut 10 months old.Chickens are a chaotic jumble of gentleness, cannibalism, stupidity and raw cunning so it was not surprising that the first pet I bought for my children were chooks. My kids grew up looking after chickens. They fed and watered them, carried them around, collected their eggs, played with them and helped buried them when

Friday, October 5, 2007

google and amazon ads

Hello everyone. I want to let you know before I set it up, that I'm putting google and amazon advertising on my blog soon. I am saving up for two new lounge chairs and it's one of the things I'm doing to save money. The ads will be discreet and relating to what I write about in the blog. Apparently I can choose which Amazon ads I use, I can't choose the Google ads but I can get rid of the

Building up your soil and making compost

These are the heirloom purple eggplants we grew earlier this year.One of the main principles of organic gardening is to build healthy soil that enable plants to grow and bear fruit. If you build up your soil and keep increasing the amount of organic matter you add to it each year, it will reward you with a bountiful harvest year after year. You don’t really need to know what type of soil you

Lemon pie recipe

LOL, I didn't expect so many would want this recipe. I'll give it to you next week. Just joking. ; ) Here it is. Be warned, it's a calorie bomb, but it tastes good.SHORTCRUST PASTRY2 cups plain (all purpose) flour¼ cup icing sugar150 grams (5.2oz) cold butter1 egg yolk - keep the white for the meringue topcold water - between 2 to 4 tablespoons - the amount you use will depend on your flour and

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Lemon pie

Looks like we'll be having that lemon pie with our dinner. ; )I made a simple shortcrust pastry and filled it with a non-traditional lemon filling, more like a cheesecake than a lemon meringue filling. I realised I had some cream cheese in the fridge that was just slightly over its use by date. I hate wasting things so I decided to use that instead of my intended recipe. It looks okay, I hope it

The lay of the land

I love being able to eat the food we grow in our own backyard. It's hard work sometimes, and we do have occasional failures, but generally things go according to plan and the hard work pays off in fresh organic food. Above is the last of the most recent crop of kipflers potatoes. Last night I turned some of them into a potato salad that we had with a spinach pie. The pie was made with half

Real Nappies

This post is by guest writer, Bel. Bel's blog is here.NB: a nappy is also known as a diaperI have six children. If I hadn’t used cloth nappies, our family could have put thousands of little bundles of paper, plastic, wee and poo into landfill. And we’d have paid around $20000 for the privilege. Yuck! Just thinking about that makes me guilty for the disposables we did use.We used some disposable

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hello and welcome

I am always surprised and delighted by the visitors who call into my blog from all over the world. Today we've had visits from Australia, United States, Canada, Indonesia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, South Africa, France, Venezuela, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, United Arab Emirates and Portugal. I am particularly pleased to see the visitors from

Becoming independent

Apart from a mortgage, rent, child care or car repayments, food is usually the biggest ongoing expense we all have to contend with. We eat food every day so it has the potential to make a huge impact on our budgets. If you can save money on food and groceries, and prevent wastage, it could save you a lot of money over a long period. Saving money on food is not the only reason that it is an

Napkin swap -- calling Jen!

All the napkins should have been posted by now. If there is anyone who hasn't yet posted, can you please let me know. Thanks. : )Addition: Could Jen, who is partnered with Bobbi Jo, please email me. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

How to get started with stitchery

Lisa J, one of the lovely ladies who comments here, asked if I would give some instructions for doing stitcheries. I'm happy to do that as stitchery can be used to make a wide range of gifts for the people in your life and for beautiful things in your own home. It's a great skill to have.These are the fabrics I use. On the left is a white cotton and the right a beige linen. I always stitch pure

Monday, October 1, 2007

Menu planning

One smart way to cut down on food waste is to plan your menus. This will help you with your shopping, it will save time because you don’t have to stand in front of the fridge every afternoon and wonder “what will I cook for dinner” that decision has already been made and your ingredients are already in the fridge or the pantry.Like most things we do in this simple life, organisation is the key.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

50 simple things

For most people, myself included, the transition to simple living is quite a long period of time. The idea is formed that it might be a possibility, plans are made, compromises discussed and then it's often a series of small steps until you're really there, living simply every day.So I thought it might be useful to make a list of simple steps that are all elements of simple living, can be started

Vegetable gardening

We find the most difficult thing to manage in our garden is the continuity of supply. We go alright for a while, then it all falls apart. Currently the garden looks bare because we thought we still had a bit to go before the warm weather, then all of a sudden it was warm. Pfffft! The seeds weren't even sown! So a couple of weeks ago, I set to sowing seeds in pots and trays and in the garden. Some

Friday, September 28, 2007

Simple sounds

I never tire of the simple sounds of my home and garden. I suppose noise is that sound most people don't want to hear, but I welcome most of that too. But not television. In fact, television noise was what triggered this post. Hanno was watching something on ABC 2 that was repeated from last night. He then went outside, leaving the TV on. grrrrrrrrrr! Don't you hate that! I went in and turned it

A Spring afternoon

I took you all with me yesterday. I went to my friend Bernadette's home to pick up some cuttings and then down the road a bit to a meeting in Maleny. This is Mountain View Road, I didn't take a photo of the Glasshouse Mountains, which were behind me, but of a big new home and paddocks under construction. These horse heads are on both sides of the entrance but I couldn't fit them both in my

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A special day

I met Hanno on my 28th birthday, he was 37. He was recovering from a divorce and the death of his daughter. Two years later we were married at the registry office in Hamburg, Germany. Today is our 28th wedding anniversary. Here we are on 28.9.1979, a couple of dags about to get hitched. We didn't have much money so it was just Hanno and I and our witnesses at the ceremony. We invited family and

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Napkins and sauerkraut

The swapped napkins are starting to be received all over the world so I'll take this opportunity to remind everyone that the deadline for posting is next Monday. Also, when you receive your parcel, would you take a photo of what you receive and send it to me? I want to make up a post with as many of the napkins as I can manage. Thanks everyone.This is a photo of the sauerkraut I made from our

Grocery shopping

Shopping! {shudder} I did my grocery shopping yesterday from the comfort of my own backyard. Let me explain - I wrote a shopping list, Hanno went shopping alone and I worked in the garden. Good eh? And now we're set for at least another month before we need to stock up again. I do pick up local milk and cream when I go to work each week, sometimes I also have to buy local fruit and vegetables,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Goodbye friend

We lost a guiding light yesterday. After much thought, Jewels has decided to make her wonderful journal, Eyes of Wonder, private again. No public access.While I completely understand her decision to protect herself and her family from the evil lurking on the internet, I regret losing her wisdom very much. Jewels taught us all, with grace and understanding, how to be a wife and mother. She did

Herbs

These are photos of some of my herbs, taken this morning. This is yarrow, borage, parsley, oregano, with daisies, to attract bees, in the background.No home garden is complete without herbs. You can use them in your cooking and salads, for medicinal purposes and for crafts; you can make fertiliser and attract bees into the garden with herbs. Some herbs attract insects, some repel them. They're a

Monday, September 24, 2007

The organic house

Most of us see the sense of not spraying pesticides and herbicides in the garden, nor using chemical cleaners in our homes. There are many recipes for good garden bug sprays and cleaners so no one needs to resort to buying products that will help keep the bugs away and the house clean. That sensible thinking should also extend to how you manage the various bugs and pests in your home too. Flies,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Electricity usage

How are you all going with your electricity and water meter readings? I hope you have mastered the meters and are now doing weekly readings. It really will help you cut your usage back if you know what you're using a lot of electricity and water on. We've completely moved over to compact fluro globes in the entire house now, even the down lights and it's made a different in our bill. We bought

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sewing and mending

I moved into my new sewing room yesterday. I haven't got everything exactly as I want it yet, I'm using pieces of furniture I'd rather not use, but I'm in there. The room used to be Hanno's office, it's where he did all his after hours work for the shop, and even now he has a cupboard in there, and drawers, as well as space on the desk. In Australia we have to keep business and tax records for

Friday, September 21, 2007

Convincing your partner

One of the things I struggled with when I first decided I wanted to change the way we lived, was my husband's reaction to the change. He didn't understand why I wanted to change and then he decided such a change would be impossible.What I proposed was to transition from a reasonably affluent middle class family with all the trappings of that, give up work completely, spend only on needs, reskill

Emails and the napkin swap

I've been very busy all week and haven't had a chance to reply to the many emails that have come in. I love getting emails, and love hearing from people who read my blog. Please don't think I'm ignoring you, I intend replying to as many as I can as soon as I finish my main post today. Thanks to all for your patience.And just a gentle reminder - there is just over a week until the napkins need

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Peak Oil and living the simple life

I try to be non-political in my blog. I don't really see the point of talking about what should be done when everyone has such widely differing views on most political topics. I am usually suspicious of bloggers who write about what everyone should be doing but don't appear to be doing anything themselves. I try to be more practical here, I try to show how living a simple sustainable life will

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Happy birthday Lenny!

I hope you see this today. Everyone, Lenny is one of my adopted online daughters. I have several, some volunteered, some I claimed. : ) Nice gift you got, love. Hanno loves his bike, he's got a basket attached to the back bracket now.I hope you have a lovely evening with your family and rest up so that cold goes. Take care. I send love and hugs.

Our daily bread





This bread is incredibly easy to make. Today, instead of a loaf, I've made bread rolls. I'm having one soon with some tomato and boiled egg. : )I want to thank everyone who left a birthday message for H, who, incidentally, has asked to be called by his full name now - Hanno. So Hanno asked me to thank every one of you. He sat down and listened while I read out the comments and he was

Living well on a pension

Michelle posed an interesting question over at aussieslivingsimply this morning. She asked "Is it possible to live well on the age pension?" For our international readers, the age pension is paid to citizens of Australia after they reach the age of 65 - men and women. Michelle says the pension is $877 per couple per fortnight, or $438.50 a week. We live well on less than that. H is on an age

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Housework routines

Monday is washing dayTuesday is ironing dayWednesday is mending dayThursday is market dayFriday is cleaning daySaturday is baking daySunday is a day of restOf course, most women didn't just do that chore on that day, they also did their general house work and often had time to visit with neighbours, join sewing circles and play with the children. It was a much more relaxed way of living that was

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tips for a perfect wash

I usually use cold water in my washing machine, I will do a hot water wash only on whites. I use homemade laundry powder (recipe here) and I always treat stains before I put them into the washing machine. I have a front-loading, five star washing machine. I’ve washed this way for years. I’ve never had a problem with dirty clothes, colours that fade too quickly or hygiene problems with underwear,

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A busy week

It will be a busy week this one. I'm off to my volunteer job today and tomorrow with, no doubt, a million things happening there. Tomorrow we host the Minister for Communities at morning tea when he visits our Centre. I am making tea and scones with homemade strawberry jam and local jersey cream. I hope that helps with future funding submissions. ; )I'll be posting a few things at the post office

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rising prices, what can we do?

I've heard some disturbing reports in the last couple of days from farmers and meteorologists stating that unless we get good rain in Australia - particularly the inland of Victoria and New South Wales, then we could be in for "catastrophic crop losses". There are many reports from reputable government agencies that in coming months the price of food will skyrocket, especially if the drought

The living is easy

This is the nightie I'm taking the sleeves from.The weekend is here again and I'm enjoying this fine Spring day. I have a load of washing on and soon I'll hang that to dry. While I'm out there, I'm going to check on the garden and give it some water. I love watering the garden with a hose. I can give the water lovers a bit extra, fill the bird baths with clean fresh water and make sure all the

Decluttering

A simple home can be many things. It could be a flat, house, caravan, shed, a room, a retirement village or a module in a sustainable community. Whatever form your home takes, it is an important part of your life and how you feel each day. Making it as sustainable, comfortable and productive as possible will make your life easier and more simple. One of the most liberating and symbolic things you

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Honourable work

Look what I found yesterday! An old photo of my boys - H, Shane and Kerry. H would have been in his early 40s here.Although I love working in my home and recognise that everything I do here makes life better for H and I, there are some chores I don't like doing. But as I work my way through each day, as I make our bed each morning, wash the dishes and sweep floors, I know that what I am doing

Swap addresses

Could the following ladies please contact me at rhondahetzel at gmail dot com and let me know your email and your postal address. Thank you. mystele, aimee, kimmee mom of 6, mrs mk, morgan and leah.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Habits of a lifetime

We are taking most of our evening meal from the garden today. I've picked cabbage, carrots, capsicum, daikon radish and red onions for coleslaw, some rocket and a frilly lettuce, the last of the green beans and snow peas. I have tomatoes and cucumber, from the local market, ready to slice. Eggs have been collected and are now boiling and the bread is baking. Soon I'll cook some of our kipfler

Checking the water meter

I received an email from a reader the other day asking about water saving strategies so I thought now is a good time to be checking our water meters. In Australia, water charges are bases on kilolitre lots; a kilolitre is 1000 litres.Click here to find out how to read a water meter in Australia.Water meters reading in Canada.In the US, Water meters in the U.S. typically measure volume in gallons

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

ATTENTION Swap partners update updated

I will be working on contacting the new swap partners today. Sharon, if you read this, can you email and let me know what still needs to be done. Thank you.The new partners from Jewels blog are:jewels and aslaug herbaltonya and delee mystele and heartathome leah and christi tami and elizabeth morgan and marianna emme and kathleenekimberley and suzy myerskimmie mom of 6 and aimeeKimmie mama to 6,

What will you do?

The tools of a revolutionary.There comes a point when everyone needs to make a conscious decision to make changes that need to be made. How many times have we talked about small steps, how many times have you seen that strategy in magazines, online or in newspapers; how often have you already used the small steps strategy? We all know small steps work.Everyone in the world needs to change a

Not so simple

I am having the most incredibly busy week. Monday and Tuesday were spent at my wonderful job at the Neighbourhood Centre. I have been trying to reorganise a lot of things there since I took over as co-ordinator and consequently, when I'm there, I never have enough hours in the day to get through all I want to do. This week was particularly busy as we had a burglar alarm installed and I had to

Attention swappers

Sharon is helping me sort through the swap partners so you'll receive an email from one of us soon about how to make contact with your partner, if you haven't already done so.This afternoon I'll be matching the ladies who joined late from Jewel's blog and I'll put up a list of swap partners as soon as I match you all.In the meantime, everyone should start on their napkins. If you've already asked

Monday, September 10, 2007

Under the kitchen sink

There could be anything down there but it's important to have the area under your kitchen sink clean and organised, with all your cleansers and cloths close to where they'll be used.Store your kitchen cleansers, cleaning brushes and cloths under the kitchen sink. Or if you have a stack of hand made wash cloths, find a good looking container and have them sitting on your window sill. That's where

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Not just tea and scones

These are the kipfler and nicola potatoes H dug up yesterday. They grew in a small corner of the garden about 1 x 2 metres and will keep us in potatoes for about 3 weeks.H and I had a wonderful day yesterday; a good mixture of work and relaxation. We both started off in the garden, he digging and preparing a bed for planting and me in the bushhouse sowing seeds. Among those seeds are 40 rosellas

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Attention swappers!

There are so many ladies in this swap it's driving me nuts. I've already matched up a few partners with emails or postal addresses. If I haven't contacted you yet, would you please send me an email to:rhondahetzel at gmail dot comand tell me:who your swap partner is, andyour email addressThank you. That saves me trying to find people through their website or blogs.ATTENTION THE LADIES FROM

Procrastinating

I just looked up the meaning of "procrastinate". That is P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-E. It means "Postpone or delay needlessly", "Postpone doing what one should be doing", "dilly dally" "shilly shally". I like those last two definitions.I'm back now. I just went to get a cup of tea. : )Everyone procrastinates at certain times. Generally I think it's a good thing. I think it's your brain telling your

Storing fruit and vegetables

This is my flat bottomed fruit bowl that I use to store and ripen fruit on the kitchen bench. Using a flat bottomed bowl will allow you to store the fruit and veg without piling it on top of other things. Oh, and they might just be chocolates stored on the top with the macadamias. ; )I always try to eat fruit and vegetables as fresh as possible but often there are times they need to be stored

Friday, September 7, 2007

How much is too much?

I'm trying to get into a daily rhythm where I write my blog, then go on to other things that make up this life of mine. I usually get up at 4am and write my blog sometime between 4 and 7am. Then I have breakfast and get on with my day. But sometimes I get another idea for the blog and instead of sensibly writing down the idea for the following day, I usually have to type it up immediately and

Alternatives to disposable sanitary items



This post is by guest writer, Bel. Bel's blog is here.Through time and across cultures, the menstrual cycle has been sacred and taboo, celebration and woe. In our society, menstruation is generally treated as an inconvenient condition. ‘The curse’ sentiment lingers while our negativity toward our monthly bleeding shapes our daughters’ expectations. In order to feel good about our bodies and

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I hit the mother lode

I’ve learnt a lot from my blog neighbours. When I left work I thought I might find myself in a cultural and intellectual vacuum. I was excited about reskilling myself in many of the life skills I’d forgotten and needed to relearn, but I expected that it would be a lonely job where the tumbleweed of a thousand yesterdays would roll through my days like a lazy Sunday. I expected my physical spaces

Worms!

It doesn't look the best, but these little creatures will help you grow good organic food. They will recycle your kitchen waste and help fill your fruit and vegetables with all the nutrients and trace elements they need for good healthy growth. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, today it's worms on parade.

When I first got my compost worms, I kept them in a couple of polystyrene boxes. They were happy

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Changing rooms

This is the shambles that I call my sewing room storage. Soon I'll have much more room for my fabrics, cottons, yarns and ribbons. By next week, all this will be in a new place in another room.We are reorganising our home again. Just when things seem stable and fixed, circumstances change and we modify our home to suit the new circumstances. In this instance we’re taking apart H’s office,

The hierarchy of household waste

We found this little fellow in a bucket near our tank. It's nice and moist there and it looks like there are tiny tadpoles forming. It's one of the benefits of having an organic and moist garden. These creatures quickly set up home and establish themselves. This frog is a green tree frog.In our grandmother's day, everything in the home was valued and cared for. When something was past its prime,

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Fruit cordial recipes - UPDATED




In the old days, before Coco-Cola and Pepsi appeared, you would usually be served fruit cordial or ginger beer on a hot day in Australia. Most homemakers had a favourite fruit cordial recipe that she'd make up at the beginning of summer and she would replenish her supplies as the hot weather progressed. Cordials are still popular here but they've become a bit of a nightmare with preservatives,

Swap deadline

I forgot to let you all know the time frame of the swap. Your napkins must be posted on, or before, October 1. That gives everyone 3½ weeks to make or buy their napkins. I will finish replying to emails later today. If you can't make contact with your partner, please let me know and I'll help you.I hope you all have fun with the swap. It's a great way of getting to know each other.I had a big day

Monday, September 3, 2007

Napkins swap partners

This swap is for four 100% cotton napkins, you can send six if you prefer, plus anything else your heart desires. It is fine if you send something extra, it is fine if you don't. The choice is yours. If your swap partner has click-able link (on their name in the swap comments box) to their email, please contact them to say hello and ask for postal details. If you can't make contact, email me and

Guest writer

I'll just do a small post now, and tidy up a couple of loose ends, and hopefully get time to post again later.I'm so pleased to announce that I'll have the first guest writer on my blog this week. Bel from belindamoore.com will be sharing some of her wisdom with us. Bel is an Australian mum of six children, aged 3 - 13 years, who lives with her husband and kids on the Atherton Tableland. Bel will

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Preserving your harvest

Bread and butter cucumbers with red onion and mustard seeds.I have only one jar of peach jam left! It's my favorite. I'm hoping to keep this jar going until the peaches are ready to be picked this year. My sister is visiting soon, when she arrives I doubt there will be much hope for the peach jam.Tomato relish and ginger beer. I make chutney, relish, sauces, jams, marmalade, butters and cordials

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The new homemaker

Let's face it, homemakers are looked down on as a sort of female underclass. They're seen as old-fashioned, not quite with it and definitely passed their "best before" date. I have a big problem with that, not only because I proudly see myself as a homemaker but also because it just plain wrong ... and stupid.There is a new type of homemaker emerging. She (sometimes he) is keen to raise happy and

Best homesteading site - thank you

I have been honoured by being awarded Best Homesteading Site for the month of September by The Modern Homestead.

Thank you to Phelan at a-homesteading-neophyte for nominating my blog.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Hold on to your hats - it's another swap!

We had a lot of fun with the dishcloth swap, and we may do another one in the future, but today we'll start another swap.This time we will be swapping four cotton napkins, preferably handmade. If you can't sew, you can buy your napkins, but they must be 100% cotton. They should be around 25 cm square, or 10 inches, give or take a couple of cm. This will help us all build up our stocks of cloth

It's Spring!

The end of winter is never the best time to see a beautiful vegetable garden as the harshness of winter does take its toll, but there is still beauty to be seen in a functional garden and even though plants are wilted and yellow, to me that's just part of the cycle of life. You can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.It's the first day of Spring today so I'm celebrating the end of a

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Disposing of disposables

My home made 100% cotton napkins. The ones in the fan are small, the larger ones are at the front.I'm trying to do without as many "disposable" products as I can. These things have become so entrenched in the way we live our lives now that we see them as normal. They aren't. I looked up the meaning of the word "dispose" and it means: cast aside, chuck out, discard, fling, throw out, throw away,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Simple change

A good way of building an emergency fund, or to save for other things, is to have a change jar. “Change” can be coins or notes. I usually classify everything in the coin section of my purse as change, even if it’s folded notes. If I come home with change in my purse, it usually goes into my change jar.When you keep a change jar, never take from it, don’t count it and keep it out of sight. Only

Free activites

Keeping the kids active and occupied doesn't have to cost a lot. There are plenty of activities and hobbies they can do at home that are low cost, fun and don't involve a screen. Taking the kids on an outing can also be a lot of fun, and doesn't have to cost much at all. Put on your frugal hat when it comes to entertainment for yourself and the children. Spending a lot on movies, eating out and

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dishcloths on parade - updated

Here are photos of some of the dishcloths swapped during our first swap. If you have a photo of your dishcloths you'd like to share, send it to me and I'll post it with these.These little beauties are by Polly, and were sent to Jewels. Polly included some of her home made soap. These cloths were made by Jewels and sent to Polly. Jewels also included a beautiful hand made card.These lovely cloths

Catch up day

I live a very fortunate life. My husband and I have been hard workers all our lives and we are now enjoying the fruits of that hard work. We don’t have a lot of money, and don’t need a lot, but we live our days as we choose and generally squeeze as much as we can from each day. One of the things I really love about my life now is that I can give something back to the community. I choose to do

Down to Earth readers' guide to saving electricity + added bonus

Turn off appliances at the wall. Reorganise your appliances to make this as easy as possible.Turn off all chargers with a black box on them at the wall, every time you finish charging. Those things really suck up the power, even when they're not charging but still "on".When buying new appliances, always buy the best energy rating you can afford.Sweep the floor instead of vacuuming.Wash up by hand

Monday, August 27, 2007

Saving electricity

I went back to work yesterday, and had a meeting following work, so I didn't get a chance to come back at all yesterday. It was a long day. I'm also in a rush this morning as I have a lot of things to do before I go back to work, and I overslept an hour. So I'm going to rely of you all to add to the comments here which will be part of the post on how to save electricity. I'd like to know how

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Reading your electricity meter

Isn't it frustrating when you receive your electricity bill, you think it's too high but you can't really remember what you did to increase it. When I started cutting back and living on less, one of the things I did was to get a better understanding of our electricity consumption by reading the meter. Doing this helped us go from an average three monthly bill of around $400 to our current bill

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Making sauerkraut from scratch

Sauerkraut is made with just two ingredients - cabbage and salt, with a bit of time thrown in for good measure.I used four small sugarloaf cabbages and four tablespoons of Olssons organic cooking salt. This is pure Australian salt. Do not use table salt, the salt must be pure, with none of the additives normally found in table salt. The process of fermentation should take about 3 - 4 weeks, but
It will be a busy place at this homestead today. I'm going back to my voluntary job tomorrow after having two weeks off and I still have a few things to do before my holiday is over. First job will be to make sauerkraut from the cabbages pictured above and two others, they all still have to be picked and will be pickled absolutely fresh from the garden. I'll write about making sauerkraut, with

Friday, August 24, 2007

The true cost of food - more added

A few years ago, when I started thinking about the true cost of food, I started to buy as much as I could in, and from, my own local area. It's very productive land here. We have local milk and cheese producers, lots of organic vegetable growers, honey men, organic beef and lamb growers and plenty of tropical and subtropical fruit. Some of my friends think it's strange that even though I live a

We're with Telstra

I'm running out of time for another post today so here is an update on the photo dilemma. We've signed up with Telstra on their Homeline Plus account. Local calls 17.5 cents, capped STD calls and line rental is $29.95, but H gets an $11 per month discount because he's on the old age pension. So we're getting it for $18.95 a month. We're keeping our broadband with optus and the mobile with Virgin.

Dishcloth swap

The following first list partners have received their swaps.Robin and MaggieCarla and RhondaJeanPolly and JewelsKirsty and ElizabethBriget and Rhonda (kimmysmum)Michelle and Jenny Susan and LennyKim and Dot Busywoman and Chris Sue is waiting for Deborah's parcel to arrive, everyone else has now received their swap.

What a milestone!

Unbelievable! There have been over 20,000 visitors here since I started blogging in mid May. The counter now sits on 20,140. That's incredible.I want to thank you all for supporting my blog. I do try to share as much as I can because I believe it is my duty, as an older woman, to pass on what I know. That always happened in days gone by. It's one of the many things we've forgotten about.I believe

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Warm hands

I've just spent a delightful 15 minutes washing up. My dishwasher, that I usually use every second day, is out of service as the hose came off the other night and flooded the kitchen. By the time I knew what had happened, H had already cleaned it all up. We phoned our insurance company and they sent around two "Disaster Recovery" experts. LOL They've left two air blowers for us to run over the

Electricity audit

From next Monday I'll be auditing my own electricity meter to see what my usage is. I do this a few times during the year and it gives me a good idea what uses a lot of power and how I can cut back on the electricity I use.I'd like everyone to do this along with me. Are you able to access your electricity meter to read it every day?

Phone bills

Let me say first that I do NOT like paying too much for anything I use. When it comes to bank fees and phone costs, that feeling is doubled.Our Optus bill arrived yesterday. This is never a problem as the way we've set up our budget, we always have enough money in the bank to pay each bill as they arrive. I gave up just paying the bill without reading it a long time ago, but when I read

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Staying motivated

This is my stash of dishcloths that I usually have on my kitchen window sill. The one in use now, next to the container, and the two on top right are the cloths Carla sent me.When I first started on this path towards a more simple life it was difficult to stay as motivated as I wanted, and needed, to be. There came a point though, when my own life provided the motivation because I could see the

Dishcloth swap

I received my swap parcel from Carla when I returned from our trip. In it were three beautiful cloths - one the same colour as our new yellow walls, some cloth patterns and a lovely homemade card with photos! The card was hand written, another bonus. I love hand writing and appreciate it when others take the time to hand write something they send me. Thank you Carla.I used the first of the

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Where have all the kind people gone?

This is a rant that I need to get off my chest. It not specifically to do with simple living, although I do think it's part of it. You could easily not read what is coming, if you're feeling a bit fragile, please close this window now and return tomorrow. I'll be back to normal by then as I'll feel like I've been heard. LOLI believe one of the most important things I was taught, and in turn

Get the most out of each day

It is is helpful to think about your week before it happens. I noticed that Jenny likes to organise herself on Monday mornings so that after she thinks about her week, she's ready for what is ahead. I organise myself on Tuesday afternoons because I work on Monday and Tuesday so by Tuesday afternoon I have a pretty good idea what needs doing in the coming five days. At work, I have a book and

Monday, August 20, 2007

The grass looks greener

It's so good to be back home again and now that I've slept, I'm feeling refreshed and motivated. Although I took my iPod, knitting and a book, those long hours on the train afforded me time to reflect on my life and how we live. I have come home with the certainty that living as we do has real meaning and is important, not just for H and I, but also for our sons, our friends and the people we

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Coming home

This is H (on the left) on the Mackay railway station where we stopped for 30 minutes on the way through.The view from my window at Bowen, where I was thinking of Deborah and enjoying the wonderful variety of mangoes, tomatoes and small crops. It was good to get out, really. I loved the train which mostly whooshed us past backyards and little towns, but also left us in the night sitting like

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Toot toot!

I've included the map above for the international readers. We are starting just north of Brisbane, half way up the east coast, and travelling to Townsville, which is going up towards the pointy bit. The big day has arrived. I feel like I'm about to embark on an around the world voyage on the QE11 instead of a simple and leisurely trip up the coast on a train. The excitement is due to us not