Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy new year!

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

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Starting your simple life

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

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The storm before the calm

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

Friday, December 28, 2007

Planning for a good year

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

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What's out there?

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

Christmas morning

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

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sad news update

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

T'was the day before Christmas

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

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is blogging art?

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

Friday, December 21, 2007

A good mother - making vinegar

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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A simple garden

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


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

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Apron swap photos 2 - UPDATED

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

Apron swap photos 1

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

Monday, December 17, 2007


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

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Take care with gifts, and be confident

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

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Homemade gifts - luffas and soap

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

Friday, December 14, 2007

Living deliberately

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

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Harvesting water

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas prep and an email from a dear friend

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A bit of aquaponics gardening

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

Monday, December 10, 2007

Apron Swap Reminder

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

Trouble in the hen house

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

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I’m not perfect, people!

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

Saturday, December 8, 2007


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

Saturday's work

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

Friday, December 7, 2007


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

Stockpiling groceries 101 - part 2

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

Stockpiling groceries 101 - part 1

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

Thursday, December 6, 2007

New blog on the block

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

Growing food in containers

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Improvements in the kitchen

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The summer garden

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

Monday, December 3, 2007

Organising the linen cupboard

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

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The comforts of home

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

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A simple day at home

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


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