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12 March 2008

Catching up

I'm going to catch up on a few things that have been asked in past posts and in emails and I haven't come to yet.

Reader advice for staying cool in summer
I received an email from a read who saw the excellent advice about staying warm in winter and wanted some advice on how to stay cool in summer. Here is some of her email:
"I live in Alabama where we jokingly refer to our 9 months of summer. It is hot here, and the cost of cooling down any home here is very high. I was wondering if we could get the same type of tips for staying cool during the warmer months as we did with the post about the cooler months. This would be greatly appreciated. I'm already contemplating window quilts for next year for the cold months.
Any help in this area would be greatly appreciated! "
It's over to the readers again. Will you share your tips on keeping a house cool in summer? If there is a lot of information, I'll make it into another post. Thanks everyone!

To make lemon cordial:

Make up a simple sugar syrup. Generally, this is half sugar and half water, so if you use two cups of water, use two cups of sugar. Having said that though, when I make a syrup, I usually reduce the sugar, play around with it to see how you like it. Boil the water and sugar together, stir to dissolve the sugar and let it cool.

Add the lemon juice. Add 50% juice to 50% sugar syrup. Make this mixture up and store it in a bottle in the fridge.

To make up the drink: in a tall glass, add ¼ glass, or less, of cordial (according to your taste) and fill the glass with cold water. Add ice cubes and mint if you have it growing. The cordial will keep for about one month in the fridge.

To those people who asked about advertising on my blog, no thank you. I feel that, for the most part, advertising would be hypocritical. I do have an Amazon box up sometimes, when I remember it, but that's the only advertising I'll do here.

I said I'd post about growing tomatoes, and I will do that as soon as I can take some photos of what I'm doing. I haven't forgotten it. ;- )

I'm ashamed to admit that I've received two blog awards recently and now I can't find them. I know one was from Lightening. Lightening and the other reader, I'm sorry I've not acknowledged the awards. I do appreciate them. My only defense is that I've been unusually busy in my real life lately and I've not had a lot of time online. If you're kind enough to let me know about the awards again, I'll respond in my next post. Thank you.

As I just said, I have been very busy at work lately and catching up at home on my days off doesn't allow a lot of time to do many of the things that I want to do. I get up at 4am to do my post so it doesn't impact on my work later in the day. I know I've said this before, but simple living is not easy, the way we live it requires a lot of practical work, and getting behind creates more trouble than it's worth. When life just ambles along, the living is easy, joyous and wonderful, but there are times, I swear, when I start thinking about fast food, spray and wipe cleaning and sliced bread. Now is one of those times.

Hopefully this period of hardship is coming to an end and soon we'll be back in the gentle swing of living the kind of life we've planned for ourselves. I am grateful though - grateful for this time when things haven't been great, because I've discovered new energy and greater commitment for my life here with Hanno, and grateful too, for you. All those comments and questions I get about our lives makes me want to keep sharing what we do here which hopefully encourages others to work towards a simpler life. There is great strength to be gained when things go wrong - it's a reminder that nothing is easy all the time and that hard work and perseverance will always bring us home again.


  1. Rhonda,

    We all get too busy at times. We then are so thankful for the time that is quiet and peaceful.

    Have you been working on any other crafts? Do you find yourself doing different crafts during different seasons?

    It is beginning to warm up here. We are getting ready for spring by building a cold frame:)

    Blessings to you,


  2. NO worries about feeling too busy Rhonda, it's been one of those weeks here too. A pile of dirty dishes and laundry are staring at me when I walk in the door after work and yet I have a Parish Council meeting to go to tonight. Never fails, eh?

    By the way, it was me who nominated you for the You Cheer Me Up Award on the weekend :)

  3. Hi Rhonda Jean,

    I do hope things start to slow down a bit for you soon. I'm sure if you wanted to miss the odd day blogging and have a sleep in once in a while we'd certainly understand.

    To the reader in Alabama, I saw an article in a magazine, "Renew" I think , of a man who made light timber frames which he attached bubble wrap to and placed them on the inside of all his windows and glass doors (not just the ones that faced the sun), during the warm months. He said it cut down quite significantly on heat gain as all those air bubbles was such a good insulator. They showed pictures of his house and the effect was rather pleasant to look at. It created an effect similar to a sky light.

    Regards, Marilyn

  4. Rhonda Jean,

    Remember, the hard times make you appreciate the good times so much more. Hang in there.


  5. Rhonda,

    I love reading your blog so much. I'm a single girl just starting out in North Carolina, USA. I really enjoy reading your recipes and tips on simple living.

    I was wondering if you could do a post about a typical "day in the life" of Rhonda. I'd be interested to see what kinds of tips you have for simplifying my daily routine...

  6. Rhonda, last night I nearly turned to the frozen pizza I keep in there JUST IN CASE....but I hope you're pleased to know I thought of you and your readers and knuckled down with a few slices of pita bread (purchased) and added the ingredients I knew we had in the fridge. Result? Three happy little boys and less food wastage. I reckon you should market a little fridge magnet with a photo of your stitchery on it so we can all have it on our fridge doors as a reminder!!!! What do you think? Lisa x

  7. Rhonda,

    I went looking for the post about the cordial and was amazed at all you had written about during last.I kept getting side tracked by various posts! Your writing is a blessing and definitely helpful!Thank you for the time you put in to keep this blog going! I read just about every day and have for a few months now.

  8. Rhonda Jean, I hear you. We've had a particularly trying week as well. And lol, I'm also behind in some promised posts! Ah, well, we will (hopefully) live longer with our less-toxic lifestyles, so we'll have time... Take care of yourself!

  9. a way that we used to cool our house back when I was a girl living in South Florida and when a/c wasn't always readily available due to hard times..was to open windows at opposite ends of the one window you set a box fan facing to the outside..and as it blew out it would pull the air through the house..sort of the same type of concept of an attic fan. It seemed to work for us back then.

  10. I think the biggest thing in staying cool in summer is planting trees around the house, especially on the side of the afternoon sun. here it is the west. A great way of combatting that is to plant deciduous trees on that side and also to the north (or south in nthrn hemisphere) which will provide shade in summer and allow the sun in to heat your house naturally in winter.
    Consider your ventilation as well. Still air doesn't allow evaporation which can cool things down. Air movement can come through a fan, but rather than electricity consumers, consider a louvre system near the roof, security screen doors, which allow air throught but stop insects and intruders, and whirlygigs, those round fans that sit on top of the roof and as the wind blows turn drawing the hot air out of the roof, allowing more cool air in.

  11. Rhonda Jean,

    SLICED BREAD, SLICED BREAD, oh say it isn't so. :D

    Nobody said you had to post every day. If you need to slow down then take away a few things off your daily list for a week or two.

    You are only human even if all your fans here think you are superhuman, including me.

    Take care and hang in there girl!


  12. The simple life... I am so glad you posted about the fact that sometimes the simple life isn't easy. So many think simple equals easy. Take a deep breath. Take a deep breath.

  13. Hi Rhonda,

    Your post sounded so much like one I have been meaning to write, but life has been too crazy for it to happen! I am looking forward to easter and having a few days at home to try and "catch up".
    Hope your chaos settles too!

  14. Oh and my tips for keeping cool during the current record breaking heatwave:
    1. soak a bandana or other square of fabric in cold water and tie it around your neck - keep wetting it when it dries out.
    2. hang a wet piece of fabric in front of a box fan and it acts like a mini evaporative cooler
    3. Keep all the doors and windows closed in the hottest part of the day - open them at night to let coolewr breezes in.
    4. use your slow cooker to prepare meals - but set it up in a room that you don't enter too often like your laundry - that way you don't get a hot kitchen
    5. Do your cooking in batches and freeze some servings, that way you don't have to heat up the kitchen every day :)
    6. Use your BBQ to cook dinner, also a way of keeping the heat outside :)

    Hope these help!

  15. For the lady in Alabama:
    One of Robert Waldrop's websites ( has many tips for staying cool. He is in Oklahoma and does not use air conditioning at all!

    Hang in there Rhonda!

  16. I live in south Louisiana, so I'm sure our summers are just like those in Alabama, sweltering. Summer is still my fav season, and I have managed to keep my bills down by doing the following things.

    During the summer I like to cook outside on the patio using a grill, slow cooker, or solar cooker to keep the heat outside.

    Use ceiling fans when you are in a room. I installed ceiling fans throughout my house.

    I changed my light bulbs to cf bulbs. They produce less heat.

    I keep my blinds and shades closed. I only open those in the room I'm in for light.

    Plant shade trees on the side of your house that recieves the hot afternoon sun. I also have landscaped with shrubs around the house. It's amazing how much cooler it is under trees or shrubs.

    Dry clothes outside on a line instead of heating the house with the dryer.

    Wear light clothing and aclimate yourself to hotter temperatures. Wear a sweater when you go into highly airconditioned places. Keep your body used to warmer temps.


  17. I agree with everyone else, if you're pushed for time you should decide your priorities and if you dont blog every day we'll understand.

    Hope things become a little more peaceful for you soon :)

  18. Hi Rhonda Jean :) Sending you hugs for today and thanks for the cordial recipe! I was thinking just yesterday how much I'd like to have that for the summer.

    Also, I want to chime in with Lisa (the tin house) about that magnet. What a super idea! Love, Q

  19. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    For keeping cool I have found that your lemon cordial is very refreshing when diluted with cold tea! Thanks.

  20. If the weather in Alabama is sticky, go for shading and air movement rather than using water. You might well have to retrofit your house, and places like Rocky Mountain Institute will have some tips on that.

  21. I have an attic fan which pulls air through the house. I get up very early, while it's still cool, open windows and door screens, and turn on the attic fan. I can cool the house down 10-15 degrees in about 30 minutes before the heat sets in. Then I keep all shades drawn on the sunny side of the house and the house is cool until the heat of the day (here in Midwest 5-7 p.m.).

  22. Keeping cool: If you are at home during the day, draw the blinds and curtains for windows as the sun hits them. If you aren't at home, leave the blinds closed while you are away. Windows should be opened when the sun goes down and closed when the morning begins to warm up. Fans are lovely, as are shade trees.

    If you are outside, wear a hat, preferably one with a broad brim that covers your head, neck and shoulders. Natural fibers also make the best hot-weather clothes: cotton, silk and especially linen. Linen is fantastic even in places with lots of humidity, while cotton can have a tendency to absorb the moisture and cling/sag.

  23. We had a very hot spell here in the Uk a couple of years ago. Very few Brits have Air Con, so we usually swelter. I was given a tip that worked very well......

    Freeze a plastic bottle 7/8 full of water. When it is rock solid stand it in front of an electric fan. It will blow very cold air at you. Try really works.

    It is a good idea to have some bottles of water ready for this. As it is a good plan to keep a freezer full (more economical to run)then fill any spaces with these bottles and you'll have a ready supply!

  24. My OH's cousin lived in California, she used to open the windows in the early morning, but as soon as the sun came round onto the house, she shut the windows,doors and the drapes and did not go out unless she had to until the sun went off the house.

    We tried it a couple of years ago when we had a very hot summer and it does work. The trick with the iced bottles is a good one was well, we have some 2l water bottles and we keep a couple in the freezer, when we take them out we put two more we always have a supply, we don't empty the bottles, just keep putting them back into the freezer. If you put them infront of an open window once the sun goes down, any breeze coming in ic colled down by the wind wafting over the bottles.


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