I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are over 8000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

22 December 2011

Looking back and looking forward

It been a very big year at the Hetzel home. Our main excitement and joy was to welcome the first two members of our family's next generation - Jamie and Alexander. I love being a grandma. It's more than I expected and it has given me a new direction in my older years. There are so many good times ahead for us as grandparents to our little boys.

During the year, I finished writing my book, helped edit it and when it was sent off to the printer I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Now it's back, ready to be sold - the publication date is 22 February. I am filled with joy and a bit of terror just thinking of it. In September, I started writing a monthly column for the Australian Women's Weekly. I'm now building my profile there in the hope of showing how good life can be when the conscious decision is made to simply. Earlier in the year I returned to work at the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre, after taking time off to finish the book, and have gone back as a volunteer presenting workshops on simple life and as a committee member.

Online, the Down to Earth Forum continued to grow and now has well over 6000 members. The Simple Green Frugal Co-op has an excellent and engaging group of 12 writers and has had 1.4 million visitors. I fill in when I can if someone is too busy to post. This blog attracted an overwhelming number of requests for advertising space during the year and I'm happy to tell you that I remained true to my values and rejected almost all of them. The ads you see on my sidebar are mostly barters, with a couple of paid buttons. That money coming in and the bartered goods help us live this way and we both appreciate the opportunity to earn a little money and use these top quality goods while we work here at home.

But now I'm taking a short break from the blog to rest and get ready for another big year in 2012. On Christmas morning we'll be going to the Neighbourhood Centre to help with the free community breakfast. Kerry, Sunny and Jamie will be with us and it will be a real pleasure to show Jamie, for the first time, what happens when a little rural community gets together to say hello and reestablish their connections. We expect well over 400 hundred people to attend. When we get home, Shane, Sarndra and Alexander should be here and after we settle in and open gifts, the eight of us will have a cold lunch and some drinks. I am looking forward to it very much. Jens and Cathy have gone north to spend Christmas with Cathy's family in Moranbah. Most Australians will know what we'll be doing on Boxing Day. Yes, the Boxing Day test cricket - I'll be there in front of the TV from the first ball. It's a cricket match that may last up to five days and this year we are playing against India. I want to knit, read and nod off in my chair all through the match. In the following days I will sew and knit and speak to flesh and blood people in my real life, although our gate will be closed to all but family in the coming couple of weeks. We need this time to ourselves.

I send thanks to Sharon who has been helping me behind the scenes here and at the co-op for a number of years, and to Claude who steps in occasionally. Also to all the mods and members at the forum and the writers and readers at the co-op, I send you all my love and appreciation for helping to build an incredibly wonderful and supportive community around my online endeavours. If you click on the link to the forum above you'll find links to the writers' blogs. If you look over on my side bar, you'll find links to the mods' blogs.

And to you dear readers, I thank you for your visits and interesting comments throughout the year. There have been well over 60,000 comments made here since I started the blog and I've read all of them, been inspired by some of them, and learned things about you and me as I went along that I hope helped me improve. I am always grateful for the opportunity to learn. I am ever thankful I have this blog to connect with so many people, all over the world, who strive to live as we do. Those mirror images you sometimes hold up for us to see have been vital and have helped us stay true over the years.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends. I want to see you back here again next year after we've all had time to rest and relax. 

Happy holidays, Merry Christmas  and Happy Hanukkah from Hanno and me.  


  1. Merry Christmas Rhonda! May this new year be more successful, more imaginative, filled with memories of your little grandbabies :-)

    Thank you for sharing yourself openly without restraint. You have been a catalyst in this movement of living simply, on working with our hands and being content with less.

    Thank you Rhonda and blessings to you and yours!


  2. Hi Rhonda, just wishing you and yours a lovely Christmas and a happy and healthy new year. Enjoy your down time (and the cricket). You've been an inspiration to so many people and we look forward to another year of your wise words and enthusiasm for this simple life so many of us are striving towards. Take care & God bless.

  3. WOW I get the first comment lol
    wishing you all a Merry Christmas Rhonda, Hanno, and Family, see you again next year :)

  4. Have a wonderful time of rest and relaxation with your loved ones. Thank you for a fab year of informative and helpful posts. Much love, Tina xxx

  5. The season's greetings and all the best for 2012 to yourselves and your family, and all the Down to Earth "Family" who visit and post here.

    I have the best of Christmas presents to look forward to with all my family here together for Christmas Eve evening and Christmas Day. I can't wait.

  6. Happy Christmas to you and your family Rhonda, how special to have not one but two grandchildren to share this one!
    Hope you enjoy the break from your regular pursuits,and thankyou for your inspiration throughout the year.
    Warmest wishes, Madeleine.X

  7. The Boxing Day test???? Yep... I'd be nodding off too!!! (not exactly a cricket fan...)
    Have a lovely Christmas and enjoy those babies! We're hosting Christmas dinner here for the first time in 10 years so I'm torn between quiet terror and housewifely satisfaction at the prospect. Wish me luck with that turkey!

  8. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family Rhonda and Hanno. Hoping 2012 is good to you all. Maa

  9. Happy Holidays Rhonda, and thankyou for this blog. It's a real inspiration. Till 2012!
    (Sussex, UK)

  10. Merry Christmas Rhonda and Hanno. I hope I don't sound too gushy, but I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you how much you have done for me! It was your blog that introduced me to the world of blogging which has made me able to share my true interests with others. I feel I have made real friends through my computer. You have inspired me at times that I was ready to give up. Our year was hard work but I often received a boost from your posts and found renewed enthusiasm. Thank you for constantly reminding me to smell the roses along the way! Merry Christmas!

  11. Merry Christmas and Frohe Weihnachten to you and yours. :-)

  12. Happy Christmas to you and your lovely family.
    Thank you for all the wisdom and very frugal tips from you over the last year..hope for more next year.


  13. Dear Rhonda,

    Thank you so much for all of the heartfelt posts, the information you share, and the "catalyst for change" that you have been in so many lives. I have been working on being true to myself and your blog has had a huge impact on me. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Merry Christmas to you and Hanno!


  14. Happy Holidays to you and yours, Rhonda. You've given us yourself and your writings for the past years, and I appreciate you and Hanno, for all you've written and taught.

    May your growing family be blessed this coming New Year with health and happiness.


  15. Have the most fabulous break and thanks for all your inspiring posts throughout the year and I look forward for more in 2012.

  16. Hi Rhonda, I was in your lovely little rural town a few days ago when we were passing through getting some sandwich supplies for an easy dinner and saw a man who looked like Hanno at the IGA - was about to say a tentative Hi when I noticed all he was buying was a bottle of water - and then I knew it couldn't be him! Have a blessed Christmas and thanks so much for your blog. I rarely comment but always enjoy reading. Annet

  17. Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Enjoy your down time and knitting and thank you so much for all your do for us here at Down To Earth. It has been my lifeline, it is my favourite place on the web. The blog and the forum keep me grounded and on the path, which is not easy when the world wants you to do otherwise. This is all because of you Rhonda, so THANK YOU. We too will be watching cricket and puttering about. I can't wait, the time after Christmas lunch to New Year is my favourite of the year. The work is done, the family is around, even those normally in Brisbane, and the fridge is groaning with leftovers to be creatively turned into...something! Merry Christmas Everyone!
    Julia in Bowen xx

  18. Merry Christmas Rhonda to you & your family. looking forward to not only your book but more reading of your blog next year.

  19. Rhonda and Hanno, thanks for sharing your ideas and guidance with us for another year. Wishing you both a lovely Christmas and some memorable family time over the next few weeks.

  20. Hi Rhonda, tried to post this on your blog but I dont seem to be able to get past the choosing ​a profile, it gets stuck. Anyway heres what I was trying to post. Merry Christmas :)

    Merry Christmas to you and Hanno and your lovely family, Rhonda. Thank you for inspiring, helping, spurring us on and giving us so much lovely good advice all year. I hope that you both have a lovely rest, enjoy the cricket and love spending the time with your family and friends.
    Cant wait for the book and to read more about your interesting life in 2012. And Good Health for you and Hanno is wished as well :)
    Thank you and God Bless you Rhonda and Hanno

    Kathy (Tas)

  21. Happy, Happy CHristmas to you and your family, Rhonda :) :)Congrats on the new book, too :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  22. Dear Rhonda

    Wishing the entire Hetzel clan a very Happy Holidays and thank you for everything that you have done this year for all of us.

    I too shall be watching the cricket with either needles or a hook turning yarn into something good.

    Cheers, Karen near Gympie.

  23. Reading your blog has been like the pages of a good book, which in turn leads to other good books. It has been my breakfast treat to peruse through so much interesting information and the many lives I have encountered on a day to day basis.Thankyou for that opportunity.
    I to wish you a lovely Christmas break,and a Happy New Year.

    Clhris from Coffs Harbour

  24. Thank you Rhonda for another year of inspiring posts , what a special year it's been for you and it's wonderful that you get to spend Christmas with your nearest and dearest. Enjoy your rest from blogging - I have just started 2 weeks off work so can relate so well :) You deserve the break and I hope you and your family enjoy every minute of it. I 'm looking forward to your book coming out and have it earmarked for my birthday !
    Christmas blessings to you, yours and all readers. Let's hope that 2012 will bring us all good things as we travel along the road of simplifying our lives. :)
    Hugs from Mabel Grey (Jeni) xxx

  25. What a huge year it's been for you Rhonda. Wishing you and your whole family much peace and happiness for Christmas and the coming year. Thank you for sharing what you know - it's the only blog I read almost daily without fail. You've struck a chord with me and I look forward to reading more again soon. Take care. Warmest regards, Miki

  26. Geez - you HAVE had a big year, haven't you?
    I think my biggest achievement this year was organizing my sock drawer!
    (Don't get me wrong - I'm pretty happy about that!)

    I love the Boxing Day test too.
    Reminds me of those lazy, hot, indulgent days between Christmas and New Year - such a special time.

    Best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful and happy Christmas.

  27. Thankyou for your wonderful posts this year. For our family you have influenced the making of laundry detergent, reminded me to keep making home made food and also found other blogs through you that keep me inspired and learning.
    Wishing you and your family a lovely Christmas ...and I can't wait to buy your book next year.

  28. Down to Earth was my introduction to Blogland. What a wonderful escape for someone who is trying to come to terms with living with the after effects of a stroke. A wonderful escape for an expat. Queenslander living in Scotland, which I love, I hasten to add! Thank you Rhonda for all you have written and for transporting me back to one of my favourite places - the Sunshine Coast hinterland. I look forward to continuing with your journey in 2012 and reading the book...

  29. Merry Xmas Rhonda to you and yours! It is so wonderful when the children/ grandchildren are small. Ours are all adults now, and we can only wait and hope we will one day be able to share a special Xmas with a greatgrandchild.:)
    Every Blessing for 2012. I look forward to reading your posts next year! Hugs from Sandy. :)

  30. Dearest Rhonda,
    I wish for you and your family the most blessed Christmas!!,thank you so much for your blog,it is the first blog I look at inspirational:)
    Have a wonderful holiday and I cannot wait for the release of your book:)
    Blessings Carleene

  31. hey rhonda...

    wishing you a safe and restful break from blogland

    cherish the precious time with your family, and we will see you when you return xx

  32. Merry Xmas Rhonda and Hanno. I have enjoyed your blog during the year, and also love contributing to the Simple Green Frugal Co-op. We do have a great team of writers who are passionate about sharing what they value.

    Gav x

  33. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family Rhonda. It has been a joy to share the arrival of your two baby grandsons with you. Thank you.

  34. Merry Christmas Rhonda and Hanno! I'm glad you're spending time with your family and those precious grand babies and I know you'll enjoy every moment!
    It's been wonderful visiting here, learning and being inspired by you and your readers. I feel very blessed in finding this blog and I look forward to another great year with you all.


  35. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas Rhonda, a safe and happy New Year and many blessings for 2012. Thank you so much for sharing your life, heart and wisdom to so many. I can't wait to read your book.

    Absolutely, cricket is what Boxing Day is all about, isn't it??


  36. Merry Christmas Rhonda and Hanno. Enjoy your time off - you deserve it - and your family. Two little ones will make Christmas extra wonderful this year. Best Wishes to you all.

  37. A very Merry Christmas Rhonda & Hanno! Thank you so much for your blog. Every afternoon I look forward to reading about your life while I have a cup of coffee.
    Enjoy your time with your family, especially those beautiful grandbabies. We too will be having some down time. DH has a full week off of work. We plan to spend time with our kids, watch movies, read, play games, & just relax. Hopefully I won't eat too many Christmas cookies as I seem to have gone a bit overboard again. My family tells me there is no such thing as too many Christmas cookies. : )
    Again, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

  38. Merry Christmas Rhonda and Hanno. I hope it's really special.

    Blessings Gail

  39. Merry Christmas to you, Hanno and the family. You will be making even more wonderful memories together in the days ahead. Don't forget to take pictures for the family. :) Just like you can never understand what it is like to have children till you do, so you don't understand the added dimension and happiness grandchildren bring into our lives till they are here. Such a fantastic bonus for living so long. And how grateful we are to receive it. ! Relax and enjoy your time together and we will all be here when you feel it is time to come back. We aren't going anywhere. :) We will always stop by for a visit to check up on you. :) Sarah

  40. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and I look forward to reading your new posts in 2012. You have helped me become more home conscious and I´m enjoying my new skills. This year for the first time my friends will get a basket of home made goodies, all done by me! Hope they appreciate it.

  41. Happy Holidays to you and yours Rhonda. Thank you so much for creating this blog and forum for those of us just learning many of these skills. Its an overwhelming task, at least for me, who didn't learn how to even cook as a young having a friendly place to go for advice, and patient instructions is just a godsend and I am so grateful to you and the wonderful forum members.

  42. I love reading your blog. And today, I especially want to tell you that I hope that I am a cool grandma like you day! You write about things that touch our historic heart strings and I thank you for it.


  43. Merry Christmas to you all!
    Thank you Rhonda for such a wonderful blog that gives so many of us great happiness.
    I hope 2012 brings you just as much love and happiness.

  44. Rhonda & Hanno
    Happy Christmas to you and all the family. Hope you have a wonderful time.
    And the same goes to all readers of your blog, spread right across the world.
    Stella x

  45. Merry Christmas and a very happy, healthy 2012.
    Have fun !!
    Hugs from The Netherlands

  46. Wishing you a most joyous Christmas Holiday to you and your family from the high plains of Nebraska USA.
    Not much will be planned here. I only have elderly parents now and no other family, so everything will be quiet, and peaceful, and a wonderful dinner planned.

  47. Merry Christmas Rhonda and Hanno. Have a wonderful time with your family.


  48. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! Wishing you and your family the best and thanking you for being that light in the dark that leads the way to home.

  49. Thank you Rhonda for sharing your life & your wisdom this year. It is wonderful to have someone of the older generation sharing experiences,and teaching the younger generation how to live simply & bless our families - it is something that is missing in our society, which is evident in your blog's popularity!
    Have a wonderful Christams & New Year with your growing family. Again, many thanks & best wishes.

  50. Merry Christmas Rhonda and Hanno! And thank you so much for this wonderful, inspiring corner of the internet. Can't wait to see what 2012 will hold!

    Katie x

  51. Happy Christmas, Rhonda. :)

  52. dear Rhonda
    meri xams and happy days.

  53. Wishing you Rhonda, Hanno and all your family a lovely, restful Christmas full of love and happiness. Thank you for educating and inspiring me throughout the year and also having a hand in helping me find my inner happy self again. I am so grateful i found your blog and so happy you are now receiving such support and recognition.
    Much love
    Jode xx

  54. Merry Christmas to You and your family!
    Have a wonderful day and looking forward to your next post!

  55. I wish you a Merry Christmas Rhonda, Hanno, and Family.
    I am also looking forward to reading your new book and following all your news via the blog next year.
    Thank you for all the inspiration, ideas and hints you have given us all.
    Enjoy your holiday break and your family at this special time.


  56. 400 for breakfast is quite a neighborhood gathering! That's more than 1/3 the population of my town :)

    All the best to you and your, throughout the holiday season and into the year ahead. Exciting times!

  57. dear rhonda,
    ich wünsche dir und deiner familie fröhliche weihnachten!!
    i wishing you and yours a very merry christmas and a happy new year!!!
    christmas blessings,

  58. Merry Christmas from Croatia!

  59. Happy holidays to your family. Thank you so much for the time you devote to imparting your wisdom and encouragement. Yours is the first blog I have ever read and it is so much more than I expected. I cannot wait to see what is in store for us in the new year.

    Beth from the Ozarks of Arkansas, USA

  60. Wishing you & your family a wonderful & relaxing Christmas. I'm loking forward to seeing your exciting.

  61. Wishing you, Hanno and family the very best of Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy your break and spending time with friends and family.

    Amy :)

  62. Merry Christmas, Rhonda! <3

    Linda in CA

  63. Belated Christmas wishes to you Rhonda & Hanno and your family - hoping it is peaceful and restful for you all.
    Lis xx

  64. Merry Christmas, Rhonda and family!
    I enjoy a lot reading each day your inspiring blog. Thank you so much for your wonderfuls posts.

    Madrid (Spain)

  65. Hope you had a very Merry Christmas, wishing you and your famly the best in the new year! :)

  66. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! I have really enjoyed your blog and joining the friday "On my mind" posts.
    Thank you for your encouragement and inspiration!

  67. Hi there Rhonda,

    I was just popping in to wish you all the best for the New Year when I saw the link to your new book in the side bar. Congratulations! As someone who has followed your blog for years now, I am so thrilled to see your book become reality.

    Praying that 2012 is a wonderful year for you, Hanno and the family.

    Cate in NZ x

  68. congratulations on becoming a grandmother (twice!) and for having your book published and for having an incredible year of multiple achievements. May 2012 be even better for you.


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