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


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.

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


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.