Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Finding your own path

Pebbledash picked it up, I am turning 61, not 62! Thanks Diana. Meryl, one of the volunteers I work with picked it up too. When I mentioned at lunch yesterday that my birthday was coming up, she said it didn't seem so long ago we celebrated my last birthday. Then it hit me, they gave me a morning tea for my 60th, I'm still a mere slip of a girl - I'm going to be 61. :- )I removed the email

Radio, books and newspapers

Some of you might remember that I did an interview with Radio National recently. That program will be broadcast tomorrow, Thursday, at 8.30 am Australian eastern time. The program is call Future Tense, here is their website, a description of the program is here.And here is part of the Radio National email sent earlier this week:"You can let your international readers know that they can either

Monday, March 30, 2009

Organising the kitchen

We had a major problem in our kitchen in 2007. Our dishwasher hose started leaking water and before we knew what was happening, the floating timber floor had a cushion of water under it. We claimed on our insurance and to make a long story short, had to have everything in the kitchen removed to dry out the flooring, then, when they realised that wasn't going to happen, the flooring was

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The best cake

I spent a lovely weekend here with Hanno. Not much happened, there were a few phone calls and little else. Hanno worked on the garden, cleaned out the chook house, Lucy-proofed the garden fence and mowed. I spent most of my time either writing or cooking and a couple of times we sat together on the front porch with our tea, talked and just enjoyed the weather and the scenery. It's been

Saturday, March 28, 2009

'Publish' - celebrating one million visits

When I turned off my computer yesterday, the counter was on 999,934. This morning it had clicked over to 1,001,100. I can't quite believe it! When I first started my blog, in those early days when I wondered about a name, what to write about and if anyone would read, I never for one second, imagined that less than two years later (started May 2007) over a million visits would be registered.I

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Still in the garden and wondering about the downs

We had a feeling there would not be many potatoes in that last lot we planted. Hanno dug them up yesterday and we only had about two kilos (4½ lb) from the entire bed. One end of the potato patch never flowered, the other end had a few flowers and was the area that gave us what we harvested, most of them are small potatoes. It's really disappointing when we prepare a bed, plant seeds and tend

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Small steps towards a simpler life

After receiving a dozen emails in the past day or two about starting a simple life, and having many new readers join us over the month, I thought it was a good time to write about that subject again. So how do you start living simply? The complex answer is to develop a set of simple values you want to live by and fashion your life around those values. The simple answer is that you've probably

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One backyard at a time

It's Wednesday morning and once again I'm looking forward to being at home after two days out at work. My work days are getting busier as we move towards the building of a new Centre. We have to equip and furnish the building, having no money, but with access to various grants. The generosity of people never ceases to surprise and please me and just yesterday a man I had know for only 30

Monday, March 23, 2009

Seeds and seedlings

This post continues on from yesterday's. Today's topic is seeds, seedlings and planting them.Deciding on what you will grow is one of the exciting parts of gardening. Pouring through catalogues and seed packets at the plant nursery always make me over-estimate how much ground we have and under-estimate our time. You need to be prudent, especially in the first few years of gardening. My advice

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Preparing your vegetable garden for planting

I was delighted to see Michelle Obama on the news yesterday planning an organic vegetable garden for the White House. I really like how the Obamas learn valuable lessons from people who stood in their stead well before them, notably Abraham Lincoln and the Roosevelts, and even when they could easily afford to buy organic produce in the White House, they choose to grow it themselves. It is a

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Almost finished- still needs a little more antiquing

Banks roses in back yard this morning

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The return of the homemaker

We've all wanted her to return. That icon of the fifties, the housewife in the Audrey Hepburn dress and frilly apron who had perfect lipstick and a hot meal waiting for her man. Well, it looks like she's back, but she's changed a lot. Now our homemaker is dressed in jeans and a T shirt, a long linen skirt, or pretty dress. The apron is still there, it might even be "vintage", purchased on eBay

Imagine this ...

snuggling in, soft and warm, on a cold winter's evening, wrapped in a Shaker-style blanket made by my own hands. I am trying to stay focused on that wonderful thought but now, so early in the project, when I have only seven squares completed, it seems a far off dream. Starting something new, even though you want it very much, seems like too much sometimes.But I press on.I am enjoying the

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What's for tea?

Putting nutritious food on the kitchen table is one of the tasks a homemaker must repeat every day. I cringe when I think of the many times I asked my mum "What's for tea?". That's the Australian way of asking what we would be eating for dinner that night. Both my mother and father were very good cooks and it wasn't a problem for them to cook whatever we wanted. The difficult part was deciding

Hannah's awards / Finish it Day

Frank Riolo Award

Mrs Potter and fellow award/merit winners from GV

Hannah's BFFs at awards ceremony

Hannah entered two art competitions this month and won four certificates of merit at the first and the Frank Riolo award at the second and $500.00. Go Hannah! Hannah is now 5 for 5 with the schools. Heard from 5, accepted to 5. The big prize, Brown/RISD dual program, she will hear from in early April.

Finish it Day

Crocheting/Painting/Advent Tags

Pam's finished advent board- soooo pretty

My project- before - finished sanding it down
Dresser should be finished today-watch blog for photo

Finish it Day was spent mostly in the garage because three of us were painting. We had a lovely day for it. I was slow going on my project but I completed painting it the next day and today I will put on the final wax coat and it will be done. I had purchased the dresser at Salvation Army over a year ago and had tried to sell it, but no takers. It was an impulse buy, and I could not find the right spot for it. When I scheduled Finish it Day, I thought I might as well work on it and get it out of the garage. I love how it looks and I'm grateful no one else saw it's potential and bought it from me.

Hannah and I are still enjoying the leftover bagel smear Sue made, the delicious, tummy warming bread pudding from Paula, and the homemade salsa from Amy, (Hannah's favorite). Kudos ladies! We are also eating the dozen rolls I forgot to serve with lunch. Seems to be a new tradition with each class, Suzan forgets to serve some of the food. Will someone please ask at each event from now on, what the complete menu is? I even had it on the list on the fridge and still forgot! Senior moments. Argh! Speaking of senior..I used a senior discount for the very first time at Savers last week. They have senior Tuesdays and Hannah was there buying a vest. I saved $.32 cents. Wow! It really pays to be old.

My dear friend Kristin is coming into town this week and I cannot wait to go out and play. I miss her. She and her lovely family live in Idaho now, they escaped Vegas a couple of years ago. Kristin has a heart of gold, and how she manages a beautiful home full of five small boys and a husband is beyond me...and she always looks so pretty doing it.

Special thoughts and prayers go out to Amy, Pam and Macky. love you guys

Monday, March 16, 2009

Vegetable and fruit garden in full swing again

Clicking on these photos will enlarge them.Autumn, that most favoured of all the seasons, is here, and in my neck of the woods, that means it's growing season. I live in the subtropics, and while Winter temperatures do sometimes drop to zero degrees C at night, the days are usually warm with clear blue skies. March marks the beginning of our new gardening season. We pull out all of summers old

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Balloons, babies and birthdays

My friend Bernadette called in on Friday afternoon and while we sat, talking, on the front verandah something caught my eye. I looked to the road and a bunch of pink balloons was making it's way along the street. Our next door neighbour on one side, Angie, was taking the balloons to our next door neighbours on the other side, Rachel and Jude. Their baby had been born!The next morning, I packaged

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Frugal Home

It seems to be agreed now, we are headed for a few shaky years ahead. Some are saying it will be the same or worse than the Great Depression, but the truth is no one knows what will happen. Some people feel secure because they have superannuation/401k plans, or stocks, but another stock market crash might wipe a lot of the value from those investments. Our governments are trying to keep us

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

That first step

Cracking the walnuts.Caution is in the wind. We're being advised to save our resources, spend our money - for the good of the national economy, and keep our heads down. Keep working, keep spending and don't change anything. Times will get better, they say.Of course, times will get better but now is the perfect time to change. Change can make your life better while the bad times continue around

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Work, walnuts and knitting

With two incredibly busy days at work behind me, I'm happy to be home again. I love my work, love the people I work with, and the students at our Flexischool, but as we move closer to our new building, the days get more hectic with more work to cram into the days I'm there. I have to go back for a meeting tomorrow, but today I will appreciate the quiet and familiar here at home.We've had Shane

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Pre-heat to 325
Use silpats or line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
18 - 3" cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda (make sure it is fresh)
2 TB instant espresso powder
1 tsp pure vanilla (use the good stuff)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
7 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate coarsely chopped (or find semi sweet chunks)

Whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, soda; set aside. In a small bowl stir espresso powder, vanilla, and 1 TB of water. Set aside.

In mixer bowl cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and yolk, mix. Add espresso mixture, mix well.  At low speed add flour mixture in batches, mixing until combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Using 2 oz ice cream scoop, scoop heaping balls of dough and place 3" apart on baking sheets. Bake until set 20 minutes. Remove and cool before removing cookies.

Add 1 very cold glass of milk ( we put ice in ours in this household) and don't let the thought of calories enter your mind. Also delicious with coffee.

Don't feel like baking? Come to Finish it Day and enjoy these cookies here.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Worm farm - fast maintence

Worms are a mystery to many people but if you have a small bucket of compost worms, you can create a worm farm that will help you get rid of a lot of your kitchen waste and newspapers while giving you a really beneficial end product. Having a worm farm allows us to create very good fertiliser here at home. Used in conjunction with other organic fertilisers like homemade compost, animal and

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Processing luffas (loofahs)

They look ugly. The dry skin is brown with blotches of mildew, they look heavy but they are deceptively light. Yes, I'm talking about our luffas. We have a very small crop this year, mainly, I think, due to the amount of summer rain we had. But I'm grateful for whatever grows and they'll do Hanno and I, plus our guests for the coming year. There are about 10 luffas almost ready to harvest but

Friday, March 6, 2009

Listen ...

Instead of finding some weekend reading for you, this time I have some music.Listen ... it's sublime.This is Australian man Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu singing Bapa. Geoffrey has been blind since birth and he sings in "language". He speaks and sings almost no English. His language is Yolngu from Elcho Island. There are subtitles on this clip so you will know what he's singing about. But

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Good Things

Remembering dear Libbey - I miss her.

Hannah just found out Tuesday she got one of her paintings into another show, this after winning four certificates of merit at another show 2 weeks ago. We were very happy with the news and then the next day I received a call from the legal counsel of a CEO of one of the local casinos and he, the CEO, wanted to buy the painting for $500.00. Some of you know the painting, it is the one that hangs (used to hang) in my bedroom. The painting is of Hannah's blue jeaned legs and her ratty old "chucks" sneakers. Although she is reluctant to sell it, it will help with her spending money for college. I'm sad to see it go, it was a favorite.

Speaking of college, Hannah has heard from three and been accepted to three. We're still anxiously awaiting word from the rest.

A Happy Birthday shout out today to my dear friends Pam and Lorene. Happy Birthday Ladies! You both are still looking mighty fine, and have the kindness to match.

So far we have four for Finish it Day. C'mon, get registered. You don't have to stay all day if you are not able, come for a couple of hours at least. I just know there are projects out there, dusty, neglected and in need of help. This really does work. You will accomplish something, I promise! Scrapbook, organize some pictures, cut strips for quilting, bind a quilt. Crochet, knit, or hook a rug. Make jewelry, paint small wood pieces or make cards. You could even finish a project from a Gathering! There's an idea. I know there are advent tags still not completed.......Housework can wait, besides they say it's going to rain and if it really pours there is no better place to be than on my back porch listening to the rain hit that tin roof.

Further temptation. I am making my enormous chocolate chunk cookies...come and get 'em....

Let's begin the knit-along

I always like doing those simple tasks that connect me with my history - washing up, sweeping, raising chickens, gardening and stitching are all things my great, great grandmas would have done. And they would probably have reflected that the same things they were doing had been done by their many times great grandmothers as well. Many of the things we do in our lives now are far removed from

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Rhonda-keeping list

If I were to write up a list of To Do's everyday, it would go something like this:Sweep floorWash dishesTalk to HannoBake bread and biscuitsMake bedSmileRelaxSew and knitWater gardenClean cupboardsHarvest paw pawsEnjoy yourselfCook two dinners, freeze oneGet enough sleepI don't make a list for myself any more, I used to, but now my daily rhythm sweeps me along. But if there were such a list in my

Swap Update

Hello ladies. Start your creative engines now as we are happy to report that all swappers have made contact with their swap buddies and the swap is off and running! This is the first swap in a very long time and we look forward to seeing everyone's work! Sharon and Rose

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Knitting - a shaker-style rug

Although I knit all year long, autumn and winter seem to be the seasons I dive head first into it. I love knitting, not only do I make those things I need around the house and unique gifts for family and friends, knitting keeps me sane. It's like meditation. The repetition, the clicking of the needles, the feel of the yarn between my fingers, and the slowness of it as one by one the stitches

Monday, March 2, 2009

Finish it Day

Finish it Day is Saturday March 14th
We will start at 10:00 and finish? You may arrive after 10 if you like and leave at any time.Of course early birds get their pick of room and seating options, important if you are going to do hand needlework.We are featuring comfort foods for the day, with a meal around lunch time and then we will "graze" all day.

You must register by Sunday the 8th to attend. Finish it day is free to anyone who has taken a class and $10.00 to others. Everyone brings one pot luck dish to contribute to the meal. I will provide hot and iced tea, coffee and lemonade, and other goodies.
Please feel free to bring waters and sodas to enjoy.
Sorry, no children are permitted to attend.

You may work on anything you desire, you can even paint small items in the garage if you wish, I may be doing some of that myself!

Hope many of you will join me-this is a great way to check off one or more things from your "to do" list and finally enjoy that finished project. Not to mention the great food and fabulous ladies who always make it a day filled with laughter and shared life experiences.

See you soon!

What are you planting this year?

Autumn is creeping up on us, slowly but surely, it's cooling down at night, and while the days are still hot, I know Autumn is there, waiting. It's my favourite time of year. We don't have pronounced seasons in the sub tropics, some say we have only two - summer and winter, but the subtlety of autumn, and the explosion of spring are there, but they're most noticeable to a gardener. So as I see

Sunday, March 1, 2009

New life

It's been a very full weekend here. From the minute I wrote the Biggest Kitchen Table post, It's been non-stop. I've been visiting friends, Shane and Sarndra have been here, and we've been settling in some new chooks and Princess, Sarndra's little black cat.But the most important new addition to our home has been Sarndra. In all these years of being married, then having babies, I've always been