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

Monday, August 13, 2007


OK, I have to do somethng about these awards before I go away. I really don't like leaving things undone, and although it might look like I didn't care about the awards when they were given, I do appreciate it when anyone gives me anything. So to everyone who gave me an award, it wasn't disinterest, just lack of time.

Nice Matters Award
I received this award from Shropshire Girl and it was

In praise of the Thermos flask

Apart from buying lunch a few months ago when we travelled away for a friend's funeral, I haven't bought tea, coffee or water to drink while I've been out for years. The reason? Well, you know the frugal word will be in there somewhere, but it's also because I realised it was a habit of convenience and now that habit is broken. The lunch we bought a few months ago also made me realise that now,

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stitchery patterns

This second post for the day is for our stitchers. Here are some more of my stitchery patterns. They are free to download.

Small steps simplicity

I've had a number of emails this past month from readers who asked about significant changes - the grand gestures of life - and how their move to a simple life will have to wait until the large change falls into place. While there is no right or wrong way to look at simplifying your life, I think that waiting for the big changes might complicate lives rather than simplify them.You can start

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I can't believe it

This blog passed the 15000 visitors mark today. We're now on 15044. Wow! It's really incredible to me that so many people have visited since I start blogging in May. I hope the blog tempts you to move towards a simpler life and provides some of the information you seek. I know you all keep me on my toes and I enjoy your comments and emails very much. If you have any suggestions, or would like me

Growing your own food

Nothing is better than crunching on snow peas while you work in the winter garden.Growing your own food, or even some of it, is an important part of simple living. It gives you a good supply of fresh, organic food, it saves you money, it provides valuable exercise and it helps reconnect you with the earth. As a society we've moved away from viewing the earth as the source of our food. We've

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bread rolls and muffins

I've just done a bit of baking before I start my sewing. Some bread rolls for lunch and another dozen for the freezer, and a dozen granny smith apple and cinnamon sugar buttermilk muffins. I'll freeze some of these for our train trip next week.Apple and Cinnamon Sugar MuffinsIngredients:½ cup butter, very soft¾ cup sugar1 beaten egg Beat these three ingredients together with a wooden spoon.Add

It's all gardening and sewing today

I thought I knew what was going on in my backyard but I didn't. I didn't really discover the microcosm out there until I stopped rushing through my day and learnt to look with kinder eyes. It's one of the things you'll be rewarded with when you simplify - you'll discover a greater depth in your immediate surroundings.Oh I knew we had birds visiting, but I wasn't aware of the vast numbers that

Thursday, August 9, 2007

In the backyard

I've just been outside talking to H while he waters the fruits trees and the pumpkins. I have high hopes for the pumpkins this year. We're growing them earlier and they should be harvested before the really hot and humid weather is upon us.Here are a few photos I took while I was out there. This is the back yard just 10 minutes ago. That's Alice there watching the chooks. She gently herds them up

Lamp skirt

Looks like what ever the problem was with the blog loading is now fixed. I thought some of you might like some more details on the lamp skirt. I've made a few of these and have always done it the same way but I have seen them gathered at the top with elastic as well. I pleat mine.Basically all you need to do is measure the circumferance of the lamp shade at the lower/larger end. Find a piece of

Decorating on a budget

It's not finished yet but it's looking good enough to show. The walls that we started a few weeks ago, and stopped for visitors and when we got our colds, are finished; we still have to paint the skirting boards, trims and doors. The walls are a lovely pale lemon yellow called Milk Maiden, the doors will be a bluish grey called Smoke Rings. We had quite a search for fabric for our curtains. I

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Be bold, live a life you care about

I live a life of contentment in a beautiful part of Australia. I grow some of my own vegetables, I keep a few hens in the backyard, I bake bread and preserve food. I live well with no debt on a low income. My goal is to continue living this way and if I can convince a few others to walk this path less travelled, I’ll be a happy woman.

There was a time when I worked as a technical writer, paid a

Tigers in the neighbourhood

I'll make two or three posts today (depending on time) as I have some photos here I have been wanting to share with you for a while and I'll talk some more about simple living. The photos first.H and I went into Brisbane last week to go to a remnants shop looking for our curtain material. For the international readers, Brisbane is the capital city of the state I live in. It's about a one hour

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A morning of cleaning

Our lounge room, this morning, before cleaning.In the spirit of practising what I preach, I'm having a big cleanup today. We go away next week and have family staying while we're away so I want everything nice for them. My plan is to deep clean today and spend the rest of the week sewing and knitting. This is my plan:Put on a load of washing - floor rugs.Put on second load of washing - dogs beds

Monday, August 6, 2007

Various recipes for green cleaning

HOMEMADE CLEANING RECIPESLAUNDRYLaundry LiquidMakes 10 litresYou may add any essential oil of your choice to these homemade cleaners. Oils like tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender or rose are ideal but are not an essential ingredient. They are not necessary to the recipe but do not detract from the effectiveness by adding them. Use essential oil and not a fragrant oil.Ingredients1½ litres water1 bar

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Frugal cleaning

We live in a world where we come in contact with chemicals every day. We have plastic seats in our cars, plastic money, furniture covered with polyurethane, fumes from the paint on the walls and the plastic covering on TVs, DVD players and computers, clothing made from recycled plastic soft drink bottles and plastic wrap. Our pure, fresh, crystal clear drinking water contains chemicals used in

Saturday, August 4, 2007


I can feel love sometimes. It manifests itself in many ways as H and I live together and although I know he loves me all the time, sometimes, I feel it too.As you know we’ve both been sick with colds or flu, or whatever it is. I get asthma too so I have to be careful as my asthma is always worse when I get any respiratory tract infection. Luckily we’re both pretty healthy and I can count on one

And the winners are ...

Leah, Marianna and Shula. Congratulations ladies. : )Leah wins Sunnyside Eggs, Marianna wins Good Morning and Shula wins Feeding the Chooks. Leah, Marianna and Shula, would you email your addresses to me please. Thank you.I have a few more stitcheries to give away so we will have another draw later in the month.

Frugal travelling

H and I are off on a trip up north soon and as we want it to be a frugal trip, I need to start organising it now. We are taking the tilt train to Townsville. Luckily my sister and son will be staying here to look after the animals and chooks so home is all sorted.Here is the Tilt Train site:'ll leave at

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Violets in a tiny vase

It was almost like a spring day today. I hope the worst of winter is over. I'm down with a cold at the moment, it seems I caught the bug H had so I've been taking it easy all day. I took a stroll around the front garden and found the true violets were flowering. These are very special flowers, they are from my mother's garden and the one plants of hers that still lives on in my garden. True

Changes ... again

The readers who have been visiting for a while now will know that I love change, and in fact did promise to change things here from time to time. So here is a change. It didn't do what I wanted but it's close enough. What I was after right-sided blog, with the incidentals on the left, but I also wanted an email that is linked to the email program. I want readers who want to email me to just click

Moving from two incomes to one

If you've decided to move from two incomes to one so you can stay at home with your baby, you'll enter a period of review. Now would be an excellent time to overhaul your lifestyle and shift from the modern mainstream life to a more simple way of living. Before you are pregnant, and while you're both still working, make up a new budget. Try to live on one wage and use the other to pay off debt.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Living on one income

Can a family do it?There is a common understanding in contemporary Australia that it’s financially wise for both husband and wife to work. While I believe that is true when there are no children in the marriage, I don’t believe that’s necessarily true for all couples with young children. When you add up the actual cost of having both parents in the workforce, when child care costs are in the