Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Seasonal hospitality

It was cold here yesterday. Well, let me qualify that - it was cold for here. The highest temp was 19C (66F), and while I worked away at the Centre, I kept looking at the fireplace and imaging how warm and cosy it would be if it was blazing away with red hot logs. I have no idea how to make a fire in one of those stoves, or even if the fireplace there is safe, so I didn't advance beyond my warm

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Frugal living

Photo taken last year in our herb patch.It is strangely comforting to be in a group of people all excited by the possibilities presented by frugality. I started one of my budgeting courses yesterday, six people made a booking to attend, 13 showed up. There was a bit of last minute photocopying, cups of tea and coffee were made and then we settled into it.I usually make a few notes to work from

Monday, April 28, 2008

Simple Family Life - Part Five

I love reading about some of the readers here in Rhonda’s Our Simple Lives posts this past week. It is so uplifting to read of others’ journeys different and similar to my own. Thank you all for sharing.I have decided to post an adapted article about home education I originally wrote a few years ago for a newsletter. I hope to write guest posts for Down To Earth again, but this is the final of

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Worm farm maintenace and harvesting the castings

Our vegetable garden is vitally important to us. It gives us the freshest organic food at minimal cost. To keep the cost of the garden down as much as possible, we make our own fertiliser, harvest rain water and save a lot of our own seeds. That has two advantages - it provides us with a closed system - reducing the risk of introducing weeds and disease from outside, and it increases our level of

Swap Photos

Hello ladies! I am in the process of moving all the tote photos to a flickr account. The address is here: I am still in the process of moving photos, so if you don't see yours up yet, don't get worried, as it may take a while to get everything sorted out. Those of you who sent photos using '

Friday, April 25, 2008

Our Simple Lives - readers stories, part 2

This is the second part of our simple lives. It's been a real eyeopener to me to read all these incredible stories. Thanks to everyone who shared their simple story.Lis at alteredcutlery write about how she lives simply with two children, an ex-husband, a new partner and a job. Lis is a great cook so check out her story and stay for the cooking, here.Jessica is in the USA and she writes:Hi Rhonda

Our Simple Lives - readers stories, part 1

Being part of this blogging community has a few benefits - we connect on a daily basis with like minded people, we share ideas, we learn new skills and sharpen up old ones and we gain inspiration to live according to our own terms and circumstances, going against the tide of the mainstream. Here are some of your stories. They are listed in the order I received them. This is a post I doubt you'll

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Our simple lives

When I'm reading comments or emails I often wonder how others live and what I can learn from the people who contact me. You see, most of the emails and comments thank me for my contribution and assistance, but I know full well that given the chance I could learn from that person in return. We all have our own story - everyone has something to teach. The thing is, you never know what it is others

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Seed Swap Buddies

Hello ladies! Here are the swap buddies for the seed swap. There were two ladies who didn't leave their e-mail addresses, so if Julie in WAu and Hopewell mom school could please give me their e-mails I can get them down on my list (Sharon: cdetroyes at yahoo dot com). Please check your e-mail address here and if there is a change e-mail me. All swap buddies can now e-mail their partners to work

Training Day

I've finished work for the week and now I'm free to roam around my space here doing the things that nourish my soul. Before I get on to the rest of my post I want to tell you about what I did on Tuesday.It was my Training Day.I booked myself into a day of training that was about the management of volunteers. I wasn't looking forward to it but as I'm the coordinator of 13 volunteers now, and I

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Maintaining clutter-free zones

To follow up on Bel's excellent post yesterday on organising yourself, I thought I'd write today about clutter-free zones. How depressing is it to walk into your home and see old mail, books, keys, toys and magazines all over the place. When all that clutter is near the front or back door it's worse because it is usually added to as the days go by and soon you have a real mess.It’s important to

Monday, April 21, 2008

Simple Family Life - Part Four

A lot of people say to me, “You must be so organised!” And it’s true, I am quite organised. I have lists, menus, folders, files, a diary and a place for (almost) everything. At least once a week I spend time updating my diary and to-do list, writing a weekly menu, checking the pantry and fridge for items I need to buy and otherwise getting organised. And every day I check my to-do list and

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A lazy Sunday

One of the readers here needs a little bit of friendly support and encouragement. Lacy and her husband Josh, at razor family farms, are hoping to adopt a baby. Here is part of a comment she left yesterday: "We've been attending adoption meetings. We're so excited, Rhonda! Originally, I had gone through all the classes by myself (while the husband was in Iraq). Now my husband can go too. We can't

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Living on less

I wanted to continue on yesterday's theme of pinching pennies to talk about a few things we can all do to save money. One of the best ways to save at the grocery store is to work out the unit price of what you are buying. For example, if you want to buy coffee and one pack is 200 grams for $8.98 ($8.98 divided by 200 grams = 0.044 cents a gram) and another pack is 500 grams at $18.33 ($18.33

Friday, April 18, 2008

Weekend reading

I am ever grateful that I have so many returning readers, the number grows every week. It's amazing. In the interests of sharing, I've come up with a number of blogs you may not have discovered yet but I think are worth checking out. It's the weekend, get yourself a cup of tea and relax for a while. And me? I'm going out to the heart is having a giveaway for her anniversary.dirkey

Saving money in tough times

It’s getting a bit scary with prices rises lately. It’s not just the price of fuel, which increases almost every week, it’s also grocery, meat, fish, fruit and vegetable prices. It seems everything is affected by the price of fuel; when that goes up, everything else follows. I thought by now more people would have realised that simple living could address many of the problems associated with

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Homemade pasta tutorial - ravioli

There is a secret gauge by which cooks measure other cooks - that gauge is how well dough is made. If you can make good bread, pasta, noodles, muffins, scones, tortillas or biscuits, you usually make other things well too. The secret to making a good dough is to use a good recipe and to feel the dough with your fingers. Most doughs require fingers in the mix but if you've only made dough in a

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Back to normal

Work is finished at the neighbourhood centre for the week and today will be my first day here doing my normal routine in what seems like ages. Hanno has done all the washing, hanging out and folding, without being asked :- ), so all I have to do with the laundry now is to put it away and iron. Ugh, all that ironing. I'm going to tackle it in 30 minute blocks. I know I won't get it all done but

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Patricia Margaret and Rhonda Jean

Well, it's all over. A week of family celebrations and the unique joy that brings. The photo above is me and my sister, Tricia. The photo was taken yesterday just before she flew back to Sydney and I went to work. We spent a week together and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. I wrote recently that with age comes confidence but age also brings with it the need to draw your family and

Monday, April 14, 2008

Seed Swap

Hello all ! The seed swap is now closed and the swap buddies will be posted on Friday, April 18. I would like to thank everyone for their intrest in this swap and we will try to do another seed swap for the Fall/Spring Seasons (depending on where you live). If there is anyone in Western Australia who hasn't signed up for the seed swap and wishes to, please e-mail me (Sharon) at: cdetroyes at

Simple Family Life - Part Three

People are often surprised when I tell them that I’ve never had a permanent full-time job. I have worked full-time hours as a waitress and in office administration, but they weren’t permanent positions – I was doing temp work or extra shifts as a student mostly.I was a student doing a double-degree before I became a mother. I intended to go to work, to study further, to do something with my life.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Shopping totes

from Kristi to Lizfrom Lindsay to Ciarafrom Lindsay to Ciara (reversable)from Lisa to Michellefrom Sandra to DebbieAgain -here are more great totes!

Shopping totes

from Anita to Steph B from Flossie to Jen GFrom Heather K to Jen Dfrom Jen D to Heather Kfrom Joe to JuliaHello all-here are more pretty totes!

Last birthday post ... I promise ; - )

I will be 60 years old tomorrow. I can hardly believe it. How can someone who so clearly remembers being at school, seeing Bob Dylan, the Beatles and Rolling Stones when they were in their 20s, revelling in the first flush of motherhood and then being pregnant again 12 weeks later, and all those memories of my teenage sons, how could she be 60? It’s amazing. But it’s also wonderful, life

Seed Swap

Hello swappers. This is to remind everyone that the close for sign-up to the seed swap is tomorrow, April 14th. If only one person from a country is signed up then that person will have no one to swap with, so if you are in Canada or the UK please go ahead and sign up as we have only one person for each of those countries. Woul Flossie and Jayedee please let me know their countries and would

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Close to perfect

It was as close to perfect as any day could be. All the food was prepared, the guests said they enjoyed it, the weather was nice, the music was good, we had some fine wine and I was surrounded by those I love, minus my son Shane. As with most parties in this area I live in, it was governed by the weather conditions. We started sitting on the back verandah in the shade, but it was too hot. We

shopping totes again!

from Ania to Belfrom Bel to Aniafrom Debbie to Melindafrom Debbie to Melindafrom Donna to EileenHello again-here are more gorgeous totes. And, while I am talking about these photos, I have 3 lovely ladies who have sent me photos of the totes they received from their flicker or photobucket account. Unfortunately, I cannot grab and copy these photos and I would like to have everyone see them on the

More Shopping totes

from Annemarie to Karen from Barbara to Leanne from Barbara to Leanne from Susan to Hannah from Karen to PipI have received more photos of the shopping totes. Wow are you ladies creative and great seamstresses! Rhonda has asked me to select the most creative and I do believe that will be the hardest job I have done in years since they are all so creative and so pretty!

Friday, April 11, 2008

The birthday party

This is the fabulous tote bag that Chas sent me. It seems Hanno has claimed it though and uses it at every opportunity. Thanks Chas, we both love it.Today's the day! Today we are having a leisurely lunch in the shade outside and will feast with family and friends. Almost everything has been cooked. I just have to make two cakes - a pecan, coffee and brandy cake and a lemon cake, some homemade

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I received an email about Swaptree a couple of days ago. It's a swapping service for you to swap books, CDs, video games and DVDs. There is no joining fee and you only pay the postage for the swap. It looks good to me but I can't try it as it looks like it's an America only service. If you do check it out and it's as good as it looks, or if it's not as good as promised, please let me know.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The rewards are there for the taking

There have been a few enquiries lately about how to convince your family you haven't gone completely nuts when you start living a more simple life. My advice: don't even try.When I sat alone on my verandah all those years ago thinking about what I wanted my life to be and how I would be able to achieve my dream, many things were uncertain, but I knew one thing to be as clear as day - Hanno would

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

More shopping totes

from kristi to mary from Ciara to Lindsayfrom Robbie to Sandrafrom Aubrey to Diana (pebbledash)from Diana to AubreyI want to remind all of you about the seed swap (don't forget to give us your country and state)! We are also making a list of ideas for the next crafty swap so if anyone has any ideas please email me (Sharon) at: cdetroyes at yahoo dot com!!

Family and friends

My sister Tricia arrives tonight! Excitement is beginning to rise. Kathleen and Kerry arrive on Saturday.I've had two fairly quiet days at work with a little bit of housework when I come home. Beds have been made, pillows fluffed up, Hanno cleaned windows yesterday, the lawn is mown - I think we're almost ready for our visitors. The weather has been quite cool, so it's a pleasure to work away

Monday, April 7, 2008

New Swap! Heritage or Heirloom Seeds

Hello ladies. While we wait for all the totes to be posted and received, Rhonda, Lorraine and I wanted to have another swap. This swap will not be about making anything. It is a seed swap. All you gardeners out there, this one's for you! We would like those who are interested in swapping heritage or heirloom seeds (not F1 seeds from your local hardware or big box store) to leave their name, their

Another set of shopping totes

to Sue from Hannah from Cherrie Rees to Jodie from Jan Beane to Amy Beanfrom Sharon L to Heather Jfrom Maria to ColeenWow- the totes are so pretty. Don't forget to send your photos to me at: cdetroyes at yahoo dot com. Sharon

Simple Family Life - Part Two

I was so happy with the feedback from my guest post here last week, thank you all for your kind comments. It’s lovely to hear from others living similar lives too.Sometimes I think that I am a bit obsessed with food. But given that ‘we are what we eat’ and I am responsible for feeding myself and another seven people, and that it is our next biggest expense after housing - I guess my focus on food

Sunday, April 6, 2008

More shopping totes

from Vicki to Kimfrom Kim to Vickifrom Jennie to Lauriefrom Heather to Sharon Lfrom Karen to AnnemarieHello swappers! Here is another set of shopping totes. Everyone of them is so creative and so pretty! While we are waiting for everyone to receive their totes we will start a new swap that will be a slightly different kind of swap. We will be swapping heritage or heirloom seeds. I will explain

Working in the garden

We had a wonderful weekend with little bits of work and a lot of relaxing thrown in for good measure. Much of our time was spent outside in the garden. Almost everything is planted now, we just have the peas, beans and cauliflowers to go. The kale has started to grow, tomatoes have been planted and staked and the potatoes are in. I'm on the lookout for some golden nugget seeds or seedlings

Saturday, April 5, 2008

How to's, charts, tips and hints

I'm having a clean up day today and have been deleting a few links and favourites on my computer. I've found a couple of very good links I thought I'd share. If you'd like to add some useful links for the kitchen and home, please go ahead. I'll move links from the comments box up to make an easy to use resource.Recipe how to's, measurements, charts, conversions, definitions etcWater storageLess

Friday, April 4, 2008

Mulching the vegetable garden

Hanno and his son, Jens, drove over to the farm country west of here yesterday to buy enough hay to do both our families all year. Jens and Cathy live close by and when we told them we saw cheap hay being sold on the road we took to collect our chickens, we all decided it would be a wise move to buy as much as we could fit in Jens' pickup and our trailer. The real sweetener was that the bales

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Shopping tote photos

from Michelle to Lisa J From Tameson to Christine From Tameson to Christine foldedup from Coleen to Maria CherryFrom Rachel Blondel to RosHere are the first of the shopping tote photos. Wow! There are some amazing totes and some very creative ladies out there. Over the next few weeks we will be posting photos as they come in. There are quite a few who are sending their parcels a bit late, but

The magic element

I’ve been wondering lately about the differences between a house and a home. What turns a house, flat, caravan, farmhouse or apartment, into a home? What is the magic element that turns a mere building into a haven for all who live there? For me, that element is focusing on the work I do to run my home – all that work I used to ignore or find irritating. I came to it slowly. It started with me

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hello shopping tote swappers!

Hello ladies! I just wanted to remind all of you that your parcels should be in the mail unless you have made other arrangements with your buddies. I have heard from many of you who are running a bit late due to the Easter Holiday and that is just fine, but let your buddy know! We are also having some trouble with e-mails. Please check your spam or junk e-mail box if you haven't heard recently

Looking forward to the work

There will be much hustle and bustle here today. This time next week the first of our guests will have arrived - my sister, Tricia - and we will be building up to my birthday celebrations. I don't want to do too much when our visitors are here, so this week will be busy with cleaning, preparations and fluffing the nest (ours, not the chooks'). We'll have three extra family members staying and

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Silverbeet/spinach pie

Our garden is producing very little at the moment but we did put food aside in the freezer when there was an abundance which we are making use of now. Even after it's been sitting in the freezer for a couple of months, our home grown silverbeet is tasty and nutritious, and when it's added to other ingredients, it makes an easy delicious meal.SILVERBEET/SPINACH PIEIn a large bowl mix together:4