Saturday, June 30, 2007

Starting a sourdough

I've been making yeasted breads for a long time now and I think my bread is pretty good, even if I do say so myself. There's always room for improvement though so now I want to try my hand at making sourdough. Part of my simple living philosophy is a desire to make as much as I can here at home and to buy fewer products as the years go buy. I use a very good French yeast now but I can no longer

Friday, June 29, 2007

Long shadows

I've been out in the garden enjoying the mid-afternoon sunshine and pouring a little rainwater on the vegetables. We have some dutch cream potatoes, carrots and English spinach picked for dinner that we'll have with the last of the tuna bake. As usual, I had my camera with me in the SIDE pocket of my apron. : ) I took these photos in the long shadows of a cold winter afternoon.Don't forget, you


I spent a leisurely afternoon making my apron and although there are flaws - the bib is too wide, the ties too long and I had to patch fabric to make it fit, I'm quite happy with the outcome. I'll never win any prizes for sewing, that's for sure, but I do enjoy making this and that for my home. I'll wear my apron as I'm working today and when it is washed and ironed, I'll make some adjustments so

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sewing an apron

I'm not a particularly good sewer but I do my best to make a wide range of things for my home. Today I'm making another apron. I need side pockets, not a front one which most of my aprons have. The front pocket catches on the knobs on the kitchen cupboards and catch me when I try to walk away. So side pockets it will be! Here is the fabric I'm chosen from my stockpile.While I was looking for

Keeping chooks in the backyard

These are are Rhode Island Red chooks. How could you live without chooks in the backyard? Don't answer, I wasn't really asking. ; )I've been keeping chooks in the backyard since my kids were little. When I wanted to teach my boys about responsibility and looking after something other than themselves, chooks taught them all they needed to know. When I wanted to encourage gentleness as a contrast

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An easy day

I sometimes have people ask me how I fill my days. It's a bit of a patchwork really and each day is different to the ones on either side. For instance, today I rose at 4am and spent almost three hours writing on the computer. Then a break for breakfast of grilled cheese on toast and black tea. After washing the dishes and getting the bread on the rise, I swept the floor, cleaned the main bathroom

Book list

Being the type of person I am I always read about things before I do them, or soon after. When I had my kids, I read everything I could while I was pregnant. Like most of everything else, that reading didn't really prepare me for it - it was more difficult, more tiring, more educational, more heart warming, more inspiring and more wonderful than I ever thought possible, but it did give me a few

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Harvesting loofahs

Generally one loofah harvest will keep you going all year.

I harvested most of the loofahs this morning. I have about 18 of them, both dry and green. I clipped off some of the green ones because we've had a lot of rain lately and some were starting to look like they'd go mouldy. They will dry out under the shelter of the back verandah. There are nine green loofahs still on the vine.If you

Wasting food

I have few regrets when I look back on my old life but one thing I do regret is all the food and money I wasted. I’m very careful now to make sure that I buy only what I’ll use and when the food is in the house, I make sure I use it. “Forgetting” about it in the back of the fridge or the cupboard is no longer an option for me. I refuse to waste anything. Sadly, it’s not only the financial aspect

Monday, June 25, 2007

The last thing

I've always been a very keen reader. There was a time when I would read a book every couple of days but that was when I had time to lounge around and indulge in the effortless pleasure of good books. Now I've changed my reading habits and I usually have two or three books to read at one time. I have one in the house somewhere, one next to my bed and usually one in my bag - my travelling book. All

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fresh organic food

We’ve had a vegetable garden for much of the past 25 years. Gardening is one of those things that I miss when I don’t do it for a few days. I can't see myself without some form of garden in the future, even if it’s just a few herbs and some tomatoes in pots.But now I have five garden beds surrounded by a picket fence to keep dogs and chooks out. On the other side of the garden we grow fruit.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Organising the linen cupboard

When I decided that I would stop spending, along with that decision came the imperative of looking after what I own. We have always bought the best quality we could afford at the time and when you live simply that is a necessity. You aim to have good quality that will last a long time, and to look after everything you buy so you don't have to keep replacing it. In the coming weeks I'll write

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ch ch ch ch changes

I have to apologise right now. There will be times when you come to this blog and just as you've become used to one set of colours and layout, I'll change it. I can't help it. The love of change is instilled deep within me. So for all of you who prefer to stay with the familiar, I apologise. I change the furniture around all the time too.

Cutting costs in the kitchen

My sink overlooks our vegetable garden so washing up is a slow and pleasant task.We spend so much time in the kitchen it easy save a few dollars just by doing things a little bit differently. Over the course of a year, those few dollars can really add up.Kitchen SinkKeep a square container in your sink. Fill this with all the water that you use for washing vegetables, hands and general kitchen

Just looking

I must be doing something wrong. No comments on the 8 things meme, although my stats counter tells me there were 100 visitors yesterday. I just checked several other blogs with meme posts and all of them were commented on, a lot. Maybe hearing so much about me was too much. Or is it the age thing? Do younger people not like knowing that us oldsters were young once, just like them?H tells me that

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Homemade cards

I've been tidying up my photo albums this morning because it's too cold to go outside to the garden. I found this little card I made a couple of years ago that I thought some of you might like to see. We owned a shop when I made a few of these cards for Xmas and I got some very strange looks from customers who wondered what on earth I was doing knitting on tooth picks. Truly, there is no easy

Local food

It always pleases me a lot to cook local and home grown food. When I can combine that fresh food with something from my preserving cupboard it makes it even better. Last night I made pizza. I used the bread recipe below (without the gluten flour) and added two tablespoons of olive oil to make a tender and pliable dough. The topping was my homemade chunky tomato sauce (five jars of it was made

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bread making for beginners

This is a tutorial I wrote for aussieslivingsimply. It will hopefully help those who are starting out on bread making or those who have tried but failed. All the ingredients are commonly found in Australian supermarkets, bulk food stores and health food stores.

Baking bread makes sense economically, even if you make your bread in a bread maker, it will be much cheaper than buying premade bread.

Small space sustainability

This photo gives a good overview of our back verandah. It's a bit untidy so look past that. ; ) You can see our aquaponics tank and grow beds, our old washing machine that is attached to the water tank, and the water tank is just in front of the bush house. We installed that tank ten years ago and recently installed another that holds 10000 litres.You can see lemons ripening on the table, a

Monday, June 18, 2007

Slow start for the sewing circle

It was very disappointing, only one woman came along to the sewing circle. She wanted to learn how to cut out and sew a pair of pants that fit properly. Not a problem, she now has her pants cut out and pinned. It was really good for me to see how easy it looked to do it, although I think it may be one of those skills that looks easy, but isn't. The ladies weren't put off at all by not having more

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Library books

I'll be taking my library books back today - I have this Reader's Digest back to basics book as well as the seed saver's handbook. If you're in Australia and are looking for an interesting book to read, grab this one. It's worth a look.On top of the book is my latest dishcloth.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Back to the earth again

Just in case you missed it, there was an interesting article in Time magazine this week:,9171,1630816,00.htmlJulie from Towards Sustainability was interviewed for the article and she had some important things to say. You can read her blog here: Cockburn was also interviewed for the article. Linda wrote that

A busy Sunday

It will be a fairly busy day today. I have to sow some seeds in the aquaponics garden as well as some brandywine tomatoes for another garden we are making in the front yard. I have some ironing to do, there is a load of washing on at the moment, I will bake a cake and bread, get my notes, notebook, diary and bag ready to take to work tomorrow and later on I will pack the car with the new sewing

Friday, June 15, 2007

Aquaponics in all sizes

Veggieboy from contacted me this morning with some very good links to their members' small, medium and large aquaponics systems. If you're intested in aquaponics, I'm sure you'll learn something from these links:

The dying art of morning tea

We've revived an old ritual, H and I. That of the sit down, talk and enjoy morning tea. No matter what either of us are doing, at around 10 am, we stop for tea. It's such a great thing to do. It peps you up for the later morning, it gives you time to talk about whatever with your partner and it gives a gentle rhythm to the day.We don't go overboard with what is served with our morning tea. If

Dressmaking is a dying art

I'm really excited about this! I'm starting our sewing circle at the Neighbourhood Centre next Monday - it will be free and we have two ex-professional sewers who are coming along to help. We'll either work on the projects each person brings along or we'll make things like painting aprons and smocks for the local kindy, or items needed at the local hospital and nursing home. One of our helpers

Thursday, June 14, 2007

There is beauty lurking here

I’ve been trying to remember the point of transition, when I went from learning how to live simply and taking on one project at a time, to really living it. When does it change from being an experiment to a lifestyle?I suppose the main starting point for me was to stop spending. When I did that and stood back to observe rather than take part in spending, I had a better understanding of how I was

Starting a price book

One of the easiest ways to save money when grocery shopping is to know what price is a good price. Some supermarkets tag “bargains” that aren’t bargains, so unless you do your homework, you’ll be fooled. Be a smart shopper, create your own database of prices of the things you buy so when you see a real bargain, you can stock up, knowing that you really have saved money.Start by saving your

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Make your own yoghurt (yogurt)

I made yoghurt today. It's easy, delicious and inexpensive, costing about half the price of supermarket yoghurt. You can make yoghurt with any kind of milk, low fat cow's or from goat or sheep milk. All your equipment should be clean and make sure you use clean tea towels. Adding milk powder to the milk will make a thicker yoghurt. You can use ordinary bought yoghurt as a starter, but make sure

Aquaponics in the backyard

I thought I'd give those interested in our aquaponics system a bit more info. Aquaponics is an intergrated system of growing fish and organic plants, our plants are vegetables. Our system is situated on the back verandah and is connected to the electrical plugs in a little brick shed closeby.We have a 3000 litre fish tank (see above) that contains a submersible pump. Water is pumped up to the two

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Stockpiling groceries

A stockpile is a large amount of non-perishable food, cleaning products and toiletries that are purchased at sale price and stored in a cupboard until needed. I started my food and groceries stockpile by allocating $5 from my grocery budget for items on sale. I only ever bought things I knew I'd use and what would keep for a reasonable amount of time. The larger the stockpile became, the less I

Organising a table

I did it! Check out the photo. It took about 15 minutes to clean this table off, wipe it over with a clean cloth, sort through papers, catalogues, mail and books and put things back where I need them. This desk, my friends, will help me remain organised and on target.I know now what I'll be doing over the next week because I've written it all down in a place that I'll look. I have my list of

Disorganised and scatty

I was really disorganised and scatty at work yesterday. It didn't help that the day before was a public holiday so I tried to do two days work in one. My main problem was that I hadn't planned anything and hadn't written in my diary or notebook since I was at work last week. I used to have an excellent memory, I used to be strong and rarely got tired, but those things are now in the past for me.

Monday, June 11, 2007


I think we should introduce ourselves. My name is Rhonda. This is me in my almost 60th year. Don't look too close, I just came home from work. LOL I'd love to know a little bit about the readers who stop by here everyday. I love hearing about how people live and how they bring simplicity into their own lives. If you have time, please drop me a line and say hello.

Stealing from a blind man

I'm working at my volunteer job today. I usually go in Monday and Tuesday, but yesterday was a public holiday. I love my job. I meet the best people there and we are always doing something interesting.Today we have two people from the Commonwealth Ombudsman's Office coming to give a talk and answer questions about dealing with Centrelink. Quite a few of the people who come to the Neighbourhood

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Beating the lemon glut

I've spent part of the morning squeezing lemon juice. The lemons are from our backyard Eureka tree and have been sitting on the back verandah for a few days waiting for something to happen. Today it did.I feel really connected to this land we live on when I make things from backyard produce. I feel that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. I remember back to my childhood when fruit cordials and

Surviving in your own home

The floods in the Newcastle area got me thinking again about being prepared for emergencies if we stayed here at home. Although it's unlikely we would ever be flooded out here, we do have a creek as our back boundary, so I guess anything is possible. Our biggest threat would be bush fires as we are surrounded by pine forests. The more remote possibilities - like a terrorist attack in Brisbane,

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Baking bread

I love making bread and do it almost every day. We eat it fresh and warm at lunchtime and toasted for breakfast the following morning. Any leftovers go to the chooks and the dogs, who always hang around when they smell bread baking.Here is the recipe for my loaf, pictured above:1½ teaspoons dried yeast1 tablespoon sugar65 mls warm water3¾ cups baker's flour3 teaspoons gluten flour1 tablespoon

New aquaponics fish

Our aquaponics system is made up of one fish tank and two grow beds. This is one of the grow beds.I haven't written about our aquaponics system for a while, mainly because we killed most of the fish. It shames me to say that - to know that we took these creatures into our care and they ended up dead, long before their time. We followed the lead of fellow aquaponics people and turned off our pump

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Green tree frogs

As someone famous once said: look at this little beauty! We just found this fellow over at our big water tank. The tank is wet, green and plastic, just the environment these green tree frogs love. We haven't seen many of these frogs around for a while, but we've had a lot of rain this week so I guess that's why this bloke is out and about. Green tree frogs were once very common is Queensland,

Glasshouse Mountains

This photo of the Glasshouse Mountains is for Jenny, who expressed interest. It is to thank her for her wonderfully warm, red jumpers photo that I am using as wallpaper. The photo was taken last week on my way to work.On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher


I'm not great with the crafts, but I don't let that stop me. The way I figure it is my worst effort is better than a one of a million clone from China. So I have a room I call "my sewing room" that contains a sewing machine, I have a fabric, wool and threads stash, I draw patterns for various projects I can see in my head and I am very enthusiastic. If all of those components come together as

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

You're the leader, they just don't know it yet

These are the lettuces and rocket I'm growing at the moment. Lettuce is easy to grow at this time of year. You'll be eating the freshest possible salads if you grow your own.Changing to a simple sustainable way of living can be difficult if you’re swimming against the tide of mainstream thinking. Many of your friends, and maybe your family too, will think you’re a bit strange, but don’t let that

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

BYO everything

A couple of weeks ago we had to drive a 300km round trip to a friend's funeral. We didn't take food or drink with us, I'm not sure why we didn't, we usually do, but maybe the thought of laying a friend to rest was the only thing on our minds as we set out that morning. On the way home we were looking for somewhere to have lunch and chose Gloria Jeans as the best of the bad bunch. I won't relate

Monday, June 4, 2007

Homemade dog food

Alice with her 'baby'.I have struggled to justify the keeping of pets in a simple life. I know it's not an issue for most people but I want to cut unnecessary expense and non-productive animals from my life. I have tried to be practical about this, and examined my need to keep non-working dogs, but all I came up with is this: I love them and they make my life better. I don't think a simple life

Sunday, June 3, 2007

How do I start?

Why is starting so difficult? Taking that first step often stops us in our tracks, it seems too difficult, it starts us thinking about the "what ifs".The most frequently asked question I get about simplifying is: "How do I start?" Of course there is no one answer to that question because the reasons for wanting to change are as different as the ways of life we all come from. However, the way I

Saturday, June 2, 2007

growing lemons

We lifted the skirt of the Eureka lemon tree yesterday by pruning off all the lower branches. The tree has been growing near the chook house for about ten years now and has always either had fruit on it or been developing flowers. Consequently, as more and more lemons grew on the lower branches, the fruit grew closer and closer to the ground. This year they reached the ground and started to

I wish it hadn't changed

It’s a sad fact that in the last century we’ve gone from being a nation of backyard food gardeners to a society with huge debt and houses that run almost to the boundary fence to maximise indoor space, at the expense of outdoor gardens. When I was a child, the kids in our neighbourhood played together, formed cricket and netball teams, climbed mulberry trees to get leaves for our silk worms and

Friday, June 1, 2007

Cleaning the bathroom

Although you do the same amount of rubbing and scrubbing, cleaning the bathroom without harsh chemicals doesn't seem like the major drama associated with supermarket cleaners. When I use my homemade cleansers, there is no strong smell, I don't have itchy hands when I'm finished and I think the result is better. Supermarket cleansers seem to leave a waxy film on everything. Why do they do that?