Tuesday, July 31, 2007

All in for the stitchery give away

While I was cleaning up my untidy corner in the bedroom this morning, I found some stitcheries that I think would make a good give-away prize. They all relate to chickens, and they were all drawn and stitched by me on an off-white pure cotton fabric.Here they are:They measure about 10 -12 inches by 8 inches and have a border of fabric to allow them to be attached to something - maybe a cushion, a

Catching up

Another Tuesday and another day for catching up on the two days I wasn't here. I have so much I have to do today and as usual, if I write about it here, it makes me more accountable and more likely to get through my tasks.I'll start in the kitchen as the benches need cleaning. That means moving everything I have on the benches, wiping it all down with a homemade dishcloth dipped in warm soapy

Monday, July 30, 2007

Learning how to say NO

When my sons were in primary school, there was an anti-drug message aimed specifically at kids to say no to drugs. It was on T shirts, on TV, on billboards. The message was everywhere. And although that message didn't save everyone, it did save a lot of kids from a life defined by crime and the horrors of drug use.At work yesterday I talked to a young man who I see every so often when he needs

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Growing older

I've been thinking a lot about growing old lately. It's something that's never really bothered me before, but seeing H so sick and frail this past week focused my mind of some unthinkable thoughts.Yesterday, as H was working slowly through his day, he kept coming inside to rest. He sat in a lounge chair and almost immediately, was asleep. He did that four times. I told him not to overdo it but he

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Back to normal

It's been a busy morning here with everyone up at 5.30 to get Kerry on the bus that will take him home. We all had toast and tea and I made the men up some scrambled eggs with herbs to get them through the morning. The remainder of Kerry's birthday cake was packed in a plastic bread box for the trip back; I hope he doesnt throw the bag around and end up with squashed cake.Before he left I had a

Location, location, location

This is our home.I cannot stress enough that simple living is not about a particular geographical location, it is not something that happens only in the countryside, it is not confined to a certain city, nor to the suburbs. Simple living is more about a change in your attitude to your life and how you apply that change to the way you live. You could be living on the top of Mount Kosciusko, in a

Friday, July 27, 2007

Organising your money

We are going on a short holiday soon. It will be a trip on the tilt train to visit good friends in Townsville, about 2000 kms north, in the dry tropics. We saved the money for the holiday from our meagre monthly allowance, by putting whatever was leftover in to our change jar.Let me explain.We spend $355 a week, or $1420 a month, on everything we need. Of that $1420, $765 is put in the bank for

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chocolate birthday cake

Just one last post today to show you the birthday cake I made for Kerry, they'll have a slice each for dessert tonight. It's a sour cherry chocolate cake, no butter it's made with olive oil so it should be moist. It's a chocolate ganache on top and 650 grams of cherries in the middle.Thank you all for for visiting today, and other days, and thanks as well for all your generous comments. I do

Looking after your stockpile

One of the things that's allowed us to live well on little money is our stockpile. That, along with our backyard vegetables, fruit and chickens, and the abundance of eggs they produce, give us good healthy food year round. It's a wonderful thing to be able to pick your own food fresh from the backyard, or to crack open an egg that is gorgeously golden and tastes like eggs used to taste. I find

And a not so frugal dinner

Here we all are out having dinner last night at the local German restaurant. The boys both ate four courses and it was very interesting listening to their expert discussion about what they were eating and the wording of the menu. Being chefs I guess they never really leave work behind as they have food in their lives every day. I had one of these organic wheat beers and that filled me up, and

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A frugal lunch

I've just returned from a very pleasant lunch with my fellow budgeting course presenters. There were about ten of us. Our parent organisation paid for us to meet and have lunch, so it was enjoyable and frugal.I was the only one there who didn't use the prescribed budgeting course, I wrote my own, but the other presenters really liked the frugal emphasis I gave my course and I've been asked to

How to make cold process soap

I'm sure many of you are wondering: "Why make soap when I can buy it cheaply at the supermarket?" My cold process soap is made with vegetable oils and when it is made and cured, it contains no harsh chemicals or dyes. Often commercial soap is made with tallow (animal fat) and contains synthetic fragrance and dye and retains almost no glycerin. Glycerin is a natural emollient that helps

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Family time

I'm looking forward to tomorrow because my son Kerry will be here. He lives on the Gold Coast now, where he works as a chef de partie. It's always a good time when he comes home but as tomorrow will be his 26th birthday, it will be a very special few days. He doesnt want us to buy him a birthday gift but he does want to go to one of his favourite restaurants around here - King Ludwigs, so our

Swap partners

Ladies, I'm trying to organise all our swap partners today. I have not yet received postal or email addresses from Briget, Busywoman, Kirsty, Kim and Robin. Could you all send word today please. Thanks everyone. : )


After two very busy days at work, I'm at home again today to catch up on what needs to be done and to fiddle with the newly painted walls. I have artwork to hang and I have to buy fabric for curtains and then make them.I woke a few times through the night with H coughing and sneezing. He was feeling poorly when I went to bed so I think he has either a cold or the flu. I'll take him some lemon and

Monday, July 23, 2007

Happiness is lurking

I was talking to a woman who came in to work yesterday. She is one of our regulars and although she usually presents as sad, lonely and broken, yesterday she was as happy as I've ever seen her. She had discovered happiness. She didn't know it but it was lurking in her life, waiting for her to come looking. I talked to her a couple of months ago when she was complaining that her nails were broken

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The painting is progressing slowly

As some of you know, H and I are painting the inside of our house. We're going from a cool and pale mint green to a creamy yellow called Milk Maiden. We've, or more accurately, H, has finished the ceilings and yesterday started on the yellow walls. I can't tell you what a difference it makes to the look and feel of our home. The kitchen is finished and H hopes to finish off the remaining yellow

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Swap buddies

H and I just did the draw for the dishcloth swap. The swap buddies are:Michelle and JennySusan and LennyBriget and Rhonda (kimmysmum)Polly and JewelsBusywoman and ChrisKirsty and ElizabethKim and DotGrandma Carla and RhondaJeanSue and RhondaJeanRobin and MaggieYou should have your dishcloths in the mail no later than August 17, that gives us all four weeks. I'm not sure what is the best way to

Home Comforts

I am reading, yet again, Home Comforts, by Cheryl Mendelson. I found this book about five years ago and it cemented my ideas about the importance of living in a home that I'd made comfortable and welcoming. One of the hurdles I had to overcome when I left the corporate world and came home, was the voice in my head that told me housework was menial and unimportant. Luckily for me, Cheryl explained

Friday, July 20, 2007

Frugal Subversive Award

There is something about going against the mainstream that gets my heart pumping. Everyone knows that we're expected to be good consumers and go out and spend, spend, spend. Advertisements tell us we can be more, do more and have more, and buying exactly what we want will make us as happy as we can be. The trouble is, that's a lie, spending doesn't make us happy. Happiness is much more complex.

The shared lunch

One of the traditions I'm bringing back to my home is Sunday lunch with family and friends. When I was growing up, this was the big meal of the week; the meal everyone looked forward to. Anticipation played a big part in this tradition too. The preparations and the smell of food roasting in the oven made us all think about the lunch long before we sat down to eat it.

It was quite common in the

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Homemade tomato paste

This will make about 9 x 250ml jars of tomato paste.50 large tomatoes3 chopped red capsicums (sweet peppers)2 bay leaves1 teaspoon salt1 whole garlic, crushedCombine the tomatoes, capsicums, bay leaves and salt in a large pot, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour. Remove the bay leaves and press the mixture through a fine sieve. Return the mix to the pot, add the bay leaves again and the

Homemade condensed milk

To make the equivalent of a tin of condensed milk:

1/3 cup hot water
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup powdered milk - this can be full cream or skim milk
3 tablespoons butter

Melt the sugar in the hot water, then put all your ingredients into a food processor or blender. Mix slowly at first until everything is combined, then use high speed until everything is smooth.

Homemade Christmas decorations

You can enlarge this photo by clicking on it.Another project I'd like to share with you is this one - my Christmas decorations. I made these last year as I wanted simple decorations that reflected our true values and not those of a marketer, and made in a Chinese factory. I drew these six little squares to be stitched by hand and sewn onto squares, then they are hung with tiny pegs along a red

A dishcloth swap?

Now that some ladies are starting to knit dishcloths, and I know we have quite a few knitters among us, I wondered if you'd all like to be part of a dishcloth swap. I think it would be a lovely way to connect with each other - either here in Australia, or overseas in far off lands. The good thing about dishcloths is that they're very light, so postage won't cost too much.So, is anyone interested?

Knitted dishcloths

It's minus 2 here this morning! That's the coldest I've know it to be in this subtropical area. The photo above is my dishcloth knitting yesterday afternoon as I sat in the sun.A couple of ladies asked me to write more about knitted dishcloths, so here goes.These little numbers will replace your purchased disposable cloths, like Chux. The idea is that you make about 15 or 20 of them so you have

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A year's worth of dishcloths

Our older son, Shane, came over to see us this morning on his way home from Brisbane. I cooked him breakfast of golden yellow eggs and brandywine tomatoes on toast, and we had a cuppa together. He told me he wants to go to France next year and live there for a few years. He's a chef, so I guess it's no great surprise that he chose France. It was a lovely, if unexpected, visit. Instead of hopping

Falling in love with yellow

I've never been a lover of the colour yellow. I'm more a blue, green or lavender kind of gal. But now I'm surprising myself in that I love all things yellow. H and are just about to paint the interior of the house. We've lived here for ten years and we want to look after our home well, within the confines of a frugal household budget, so we're doing all the work ourselves, and, I have to say,

Not spending

Picture from allposters.comLearning how to stop spending is one of the most difficult things to do when you first start living more simply. Simplicity embraces and encourages thrift. Being thrifty by choice or necessity is not being cheap and it is not poverty. Being cautious with your resources – financial and otherwise – gives you the choice of saving for whatever is important to you. That may

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Three things I wish my mum had told me

The 90/10 principle.I spent the first 30 years of my life expecting the exeptional to be the norm but ninety percent of life is not exceptional in any way. The big moments - the births of babies, recognising true love and getting married, are fleeting moments and are encapsulated in the extraordinary ten percent. The rest of the time, all there is is life - the taking one breath at a time kind of


I slept the sleep of the dead last night, boy, was I tired. After two big days at the Neighbourhood Centre I am ready to put my feet up and relax. As if! The truth is that I’ll fill my day with small chores that will help me regain my sense of being in my own space and along the way, will relax me. Sitting around all day doesn’t feel as good to me as resting between chores. I guess it’s the sense

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bloggers for Positive Global Change Award II

I have been nominated again for Bloggers for Positive Global Change Award by Kate at Our Red House. Thank you Kate. At first I wondered whether I should accept the nomination again, but I've thought about it carefully and I think it's a good thing. I'll be able to nominate five more bloggers and thus spread the love.

The award was started at Climate Of Our Future to highlight blogger's efforts

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Convincing the family

It's difficult when one person in the family decides to change in certain ways and the rest of the family want to stay the same. I think this might be happening in many households where one person sees the need to change to a more simple life and then agonises over how to create the same need in the rest of the family.

I was no different. H was certain that we needed one of us to remain working

Lemon cakes

I made some lemon syrup cakes on Saturday, recipe from Lisa at Altered Cutlery. I made three cakes - one we are eating this week, the other two are in the freezer. H and I are going away on a little holiday soon and I want a few nice things in the freezer for my son who will stay here to look after everything while we're away. So thanks Lisa! It's a very nice recipe, the lemony syrup makes such a

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Mid winter gardening

It's a beautiful, crisp, winter day here. Mid-winter, my elder son's 27th birthday. Unfortunately we won't see Shane today as he's gone away for the weekend with 15 of his friends. My other son, Kerry, will be here for his 26th birthday next week, so we'll take them both out for dinner at their favourite German restaurant. Kerry will stay with us for a few days before he goes back to his current

Welcome to the neighbourhood

I wrote about neighbours yesterday and have been thinking since then about how we connect with others and become friends.I failed to realise before now that we are all online neighbours. You, me and all the others, we are a new kind of neighbourhood. We might not see each other nor have the potential to hear voices, but we share, teach, encourage and comfort each other just like I remember it

Friday, July 13, 2007


The second stage of a revolution started yesterday. I went out to the front verandah at 3ish and found a box of food scraps. It was a large polystyrene box full of wholemeal bread crusts, beetroot tops, assorted vegie scraps and old baby spinach. The revolutionary's note was short and sweet, it said:THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE THIS FOR THE CHOOKS.ANGAng, is our next door neighbour, Angie.I have been

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Our home

I wonder sometimes why our paths lead us to this simple way of living. None of my friends live as we do, neither do any family members, although both our sons don’t have cars for purely environmental reasons and one is an organic gardener. But here we are living a kind of ideal life that has made us more relaxed and happy than we’ve ever been while the others are still off shopping, playing bowls

Rebatching soap

I discovered the benefits of good homemade soap several years ago; I love how it nourishes my aging skin. I usually make a cold pressed soap - for soap novices, that is soap made from scratch - but I discovered Greenfrog's recipe for easy peasy soap at ALS a while back, so I made a batch. It's not too bad. I still prefer my cold pressed soap, because I know what's in it, but this soap will be a

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Baking - cherry slice

I made a delicious cherry slice yesterday that H and I had warm for dessert last night. It works equally well with any stewed, preserved or tinned fruit. If you use tinned fruit, lay it on a layer of jam. Here is the recipe:PASTRY BASE100g butter, softened1 cup sugar1 cup plain flour1 cup self raising flourTOPPING3 eggs whites1/2 cup caster sugar500g bottled cherries1 cup coconutMAKING THE

Homemade fertilisers (fertilizers)

One of the things H and I are trying to do is to bring as little as possible into our home from outside. We try to make or grow what we need and that applies in the garden too. Here are some recipes for homemade fertilisers.COMFREY LIQUID FEEDCut the leaves from the comfrey plant before it flowers and throw the leaves into a bucket that has a lid. Half fill the bucket with leaves and put a brick

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stitchery pattern

Someone wanted this stitchery pattern. It might have been Jenny. I'm not really sure now. Anyhow, everyone is welcome to use it. : )

The frugal laundry

If you believed the advertisements on TV, washing clothes is one of the most difficult things to do if you don't have THE special magic potion. The reality is that washing can be done easily and effectively with simple products, a bit of time and some elbow grease.WASHING IN A WASHING MACHINEIn our house we often have clothes that need washing but aren't really dirty. They might have been worn

A simple church

I've been meaning to post these photos for a while. I took them when we attended the funeral of a dear friend of H's a couple of months ago.The Purga Creek Church and School sit isolated at the end a long, dry and dusty part-dirt road, west of Ipswich. The church is a non-denominational timber church about 100 years old, the interior is unlined and unpainted. It is truly a simple and beautiful

Monday, July 9, 2007


I've just realised that Frugal Gifts is my 100th blog post. I've been blogging almost eight weeks and so far, I'm loving it. I thought you might like some stats to go with the 100th post, so here goes.There have been 2,998 pageloads this month, and 9,893 in total. So far there have been 3787 visitors. This is the summary map for past week. This is yesterday's visitors list:298 - 61.57%

Frugal gifts

It's Christmas in July here next weekend. For our international friends that is the time when many Australians - at least those in areas near here - celebrate a fake Christmas so they can enjoy a "real Christmas dinner". That includes hot food like turkey and ham with all the trimmings and hot plum pudding under a blanket of flaming brandy. Anyhow, it started me thinking about the real Christmas

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Growing organic fruit

One of my current projects in the garden is to cultivate more fruit. I would love to be able to have days when I eat all raw food, preferably my own home grown organic fruit. If all of our fruit plants produced as well as our lemon tree, I'd be one very satisfied woman.When we moved here ten years ago, we planted a few fruit trees but we didn't look after them; they didn't die but never really

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Five great blogs

I nominate the following blogs for the Bloggers for Positive Global Change Award:Towards SustainabilityJulie is a stay at home mum to three little kids, in her former life she was an environmental scientist. She lives with her family in average Australian suburbia on a 730sq.m. (0.18 acre) block.Children in the Corn Farm mom is the mother of two small children who, along with DH, are in a rural

Bloggers for Positive Global Change Award

Wow, what can I say. I was nominated for this by downshifting-path to simplicity and I'm surprised and delighted by it. Thank you.The award was started at Climate Of Our Future to highlight blogger's efforts around the world to share their knowledge and thoughts in making our world better, healthier and more sustainable.One of the rules of the award is that I have to tag five other blogs that I

A simple change

As soon as you realise that lifestyle change is essential in every affluent country and understand that you must be part of that change, your personal transformation can begin. You don’t need special equipment or anyone else to help, you just need to start and to remain focused and motivated. We got into this climate change predicament over the course of several decades; I believe we will get out

Friday, July 6, 2007

First sourdough loaf

This sourdough bread is delicious! Really, it's got a lovely depth of flavour unlike plain yeast breads. And it's nicer than the sourdough we used to buy at the bakery. I cooked it in my cast iron dutch oven, which is why it's a flattish round shape. Next time I'll use something else to give it more height. I'm really looking forward to making more sourdough now and to improve on this first one.

Sourdough and biscuits

I feel like I have my full strength back now. I have no back pain at all. Yay! I didn't make brownies for Shane yesterday as I didn't have enough chocolate on hand, so today I made him a stack of white chocolate chip biscuits. H and I had one each for morning tea and although they're a bit sweet, they are nice. I find most American recipes too sweet for the average Australian taste so I cut the

Positive role models

I’ve been thinking a lot about positive role models lately and how there are so few of them. I look at my friends and none of them live as I do, they are all still caught up with spending and over consumption. I love my friends dearly but I am not inspired by how they live.So where do we usually find women, or men for that matter, who act as role models – who simply by the way they live and

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Yellow apron

Here it is, the yellow apron with cross over straps. It feels really comfy and I like that there are no ties to do up. I started my sourdough sponge and it died! I left it sit for a while in the bowl and although it was suppose to rise a little, nothing happened. It looked dead and had stopped fermenting, so I've started again. Hopefully I can get to it again over the weekend.

Kale has been picked

Well, it's mid morning, I'm just about to put the kettle on for tea and I've done everything I wanted to do. I just took a photo of H out in the back garden. Look at the box of kale he picked! That's all for him, but to be honest, it will be a few day's meals with his kassler and sausages.

Tomatoes for breakfast

There is a busy day ahead of me. My back pain is almost gone and I need to catch up on my housework. First step will be to check the sourdough starter as later in the day I'll be baking my first sourdough bread. I'll put on a load of washing before breakfast and when H wakes up we'll eat together. He shouldn't be too long because our cat Hettie is serenading him with her wild howls right outside

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The economics of home baking

I buy organic flour for my bread. I figure if I'm baking it should be the healthiest bread I can manage. Organic flour is cheapest when you buy in bulk. That's easily done by finding a local bulk food shop. They're all over the place but rarely advertise so you have to go searching.Here I can buy a 5kg bag of Kialla Pure organic flour - either wholemeal, rye or white for around $10. It's cheaper

Home made

Now that my sons are almost 26 and 27, I find it difficult at times to remember back when they were this little. This is Kerry on the left and Shane on the right. They were 4 and 5 years old when this photo was taken. They've still got those twinkles in their eyes and are still the most beautiful people you could hope to meet.

Hand made

This quilt was made by my sister when she sat with our mother as she was dying.I want to encourage all of you who aren't yet making things by hand to take the plunge. People sometimes limit themselves because they think what they will make won't look as good as what they can buy, and therefore will be useless.Mass produced clothes, gifts and household items are over rated. Often they are exact

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


It was going to be too time consuming to convert the drawings to PDFs so here are some that you can "save as". Jenny, I'm assuming that it's the "give more expect less" sampler that you like. Here it is. I'd love to see it when you've finished. If this is not the correct one, let me know.And another ...There are others, if there is anything in particular you like, email me and I'll email the

Sourdough starter

I started the sourdough starter on July 1 with one cup of flour and one cup of rainwater. Then my back gave me a lot of grief so although I could see the starter sitting on the bench, I didn't look at it until yesterday. I really thought that I'd have to come here, apologise, then start all over again. But it just goes to show you what a strong force natural systems are. The sourdough survived

Hugs all around today

I'm really happy to be able to sit here now without the pain of the past few days. When you're usually healthy and something like this lays you low, it puts a lot of things in perspective. I was very touched by your messages of support and the good wishes sent my way. I tell you, when I was at my lowest and came to check the blog it made me smile to see that many of you were thinking of me. I

Monday, July 2, 2007

Thank you

Hello everyone. I have a pinched sciatic nerve so I can't sit at the computer for long. The good news is there is an improvement since yesterday and I hope to be back tomorrow.Thank you for all your good wishes. I really appreciate it. : )

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Mainstream media

I'm fighting to go to work today as my hip is still giving me curry. I hate being sick or incapacitated in any way so I refuse to stay home. I'm going to talk H into coming to work with me so he can do all the running around and help the ladies set up for sewing circle.While I was sitting around doing next to nothing yesterday, I got to thinking about how much the simplicity and sustainability