DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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21 July 2014

Changeable, seasonal and creative

We had lunch with Kerry, Sunny and Jamie last Friday when we invited them to join us at a German restaurant up in the mountains. It was really cold, with a cruel wind, but in that restaurant, perched on the mountainside looking out over the range below and the Pacific Ocean beyond, we had a fire blazing, hot food and good company. It was a delightful lunch and a good way to celebrate Kerry's birthday. He'll be back at work for his birthday next weekend, so we got in early.

There was a time when we always had two Airedales in the back yard. Now I only have this one little one, a gift Hanno bought me when we lived in Germany. He's a Steiff Airedale.

Our weekend here was a pleasant mix of work and relaxation. I have been knitting a mitten for Hanno's damaged right hand. He nearly cut that hand off with a chainsaw a couple of years ago, and although he has almost the full use of the hand, the circulation is quite poor and his hand is always cold. This mitten, knitted in double strand baby alpaca should keep it warm on even the coldest days. I've also made a little rice bag to slip into the mitten.

Wool scarf knitting from a couple of weeks ago. This is New Zealand pure wool and organic red fine wool.


My weekend cooking was really quick and easy. I made a five minute loaf on Saturday to have with the vegetable soup I made. That bread is so delicious and it takes next to no time at all to make. If you're new to baking, I'll go over the recipe later in the week and hopefully encourage the young readers out there to put on their aprons and bake some bread. Baking is one of those simple life skills we all should have.


Hanno didn't share the soup because he cooked his German speciality gr√ľnkohl und schweinefleisch - kale and pork (above). No doubt there are many different ways to make this recipe. Hanno does it the way his mother taught him, which was probably what she was taught by her mother. It's a mix of smoked pork sausage, pork knuckle and bacon, cooked with onions, kale and potatoes and thickened slightly with oats. He makes a big pot at least once a year, in winter, and it takes him about four or five days to work his way through it. He tells me it gets better every day. :- )

My soap from yesterday, just about to be poured into moulds.

Sunday morning had me back in the kitchen again, this time making a batch of soap. I changed my recipe, slightly, this time. That's big for me. I'm a plain and simple woman and usually when I find something I like, that's it, it's mine forever; I see no need for change.  But both Hanno and I have sensitive skin which seems to be worsening as we age. We need our daily soap to be wholesome nourishing soap, containing only natural ingredients. The bulk of my recipe is Australian extra virgin olive oil, with a smaller amount of olive oil infused with calendula petals, and organic coconut oil. I have to leave it to cure for a few weeks but I think I'm on to a winner.  It looks and feels very creamy. I'll go through the recipe with you next week.

It's satisfying and comforting working in my kitchen, producing what I need for my family and myself. There seems to be a view that women who work at home have no power and their work is monotonous. I think the opposite is true. There is true power in taking control of a household and running it to suit the exact needs of the people who live there. The work we do here helps us live an unorthodox life that is enriching because it's so changeable, seasonal and creative. I doubt you get that in most jobs. Most paid occupations are a set group of skills that must be performed to a set standard over and over again. I was thinking about that while I worked on my various tasks on the weekend. Tomorrow I'll be writing about the powerhouse we can all create in our own homes but in the meantime, what did you do on the weekend?

29 comments:

  1. How come you don't eat Hanno's kale and pork speciality, Rhonda?

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    1. I don't like all that boiled pork, Barbara.

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  2. There seems to be a view that women who work at home have no power and their work is monotonous. Ahh this hit a cord, I've had a few people say this to me of late - that they would get bored being home all day. I'm never bored. This weekend sat I had people picking up their cats from their cattery stay, vaccumed, 11am a client arrived for her 1 hour massage, made lunch for family, washed massage towels, got in the vegetable garden, animal chores, cooked tea. Sunday I spent quilting and cooking meals. No time for being bored.

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  3. The soap looks very lovely! I am looking forward to hearing more about it since I, too , have older, very dry and sensitive skin. Aloe vera (from the garden) is the additional ingredient I would like to add to my soap for its many skin benefits.

    How would a liquid soap of these same ingredients be prepared? Liquid soap works better with my grandchildren than solid soap. I dilute the liquid soap and put it into a foaming soap pump. They love the foam. The amount of foam (which is mostly air) fills their little hands quickly, so they don’t pump more than they need. I use the bottle as a decorating focal point along with the towels, to keep the bathroom easy to clean, yet pretty and functional.

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    1. Real liquid soap is made using potassium hydroxide, not sodium hydroxide. It's also a much longer process, taking days to go through the processes. I've made real liquid soap but the yield was too low and the amount of time making it too long for me to try it again.

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  4. wondering if there's a recipe for that soup somewhere on your blog? yummy as far as I'm concerned.

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    1. If you google "down to earth blog vegetable soup" it should come up.

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  5. Sounds like a lovely weekend! We were child free this weekend so I did lots of major housework, uninterrupted (as well as catching up with friends). Now I'll be off to an organised start to my week. Yay!

    I'm really looking forward to hearing more about the soap. I love making my own, though I'm not in a routine with it and usually run out between batches.

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  6. A pair of second hand mittens that (I recently purchased second-hand) had a small magnet hidden in back of the thumb of each mitt. The magnets did a nice job of keeping the mitts together when I was not wearing them.

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  7. Good morning Rhonda, My folks like going to the King's too for a meal, so cosy in winter. Wow a Steiff, that will outlast us all. I watched Hugh F-W this weekend and am emboldened to try the overnight loaf so will await both that recipe and the calendula soap one. Many thanks.

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  8. I made a parsnip and onion bread by combining/tweaking two different recipes. It wasn't 100% perfect but good enough that I will have another go today with my one remaining parsnip. This time I'll note the quantities and hopefully get the liquid balance correct. I also bought a new hairstyler with a voucher I received for my birthday last weekend. It was perfect timing as my hair straightener broke on Friday (unrepairable) and I was able to purchase the new styler thingy the next day. It will replace a couple of items so should free up some room in the bathroom. We went to the Archibald opening on Friday night- great exhibition this year. I'm so tired though, we were back home before my toddler's bedtime! Yesterday I spent most of the day on the lounge attempting to fight off a sore throat before it really takes hold. Lots of garlic etc. My husband's band has been recording all weekend, last day today, so I'm looking forward to having him around again for the rest of the week.

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    1. I would have loved to join you on Friday night at the Archibald opening. I think you'd have to watch the moisture level with the onion and parsnip bread. Good luck with your second try. No wonder you're tired. When is your baby due? It mustn't be far off now. Take care, Alacoque. Maybe an extra nap on the couch when your husband is home would do you some good. xx

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    2. It's still two months until baby is due to arrive- feels like a lifetime away! But I'm sure it will be upon us before we know it. The opening was wonderful and I wish I had the energy to stay longer. A colleague is a finalist in the Sulman Prize and it was great to see him get that level of recognition. I certainly got the moisture level wrong in the bread last time, then added a bit more flour and a bit more water as I tried to fix the dough and kept adding a little bit too much of everything! My Mum has come to visit so I've done lots of sitting on the lounge again today while she plays with DD. Thank goodness for mothers!

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  9. What a lovely post Rhonda. We had a quiet weekend with a bit of cooking and mainly relaxing. Friends arrived from further up the coast yesterday and it was great to catch up with them. I also made a big pot of soup which usually takes us a couple of days to get through. We too are experiencing colder winter weather at the moment, but I like to have true seasons. We seem to get 4 distinct seasons here which is lovely. Winter is a time when I really enjoy sitting by the fire after my work is completed. Time then for stitching or knitting and it seems there is always some mending to do. I love my home and working with the different duties we need to do in the different seasons. I'd love that recipe for your new soap. We are finding that our skin is sensitive these days and especially my dear Dad who is in his 93rd year now. His skin is very fine and needs more care these days. Have a lovely week and keep warm.
    Blessings Gail.

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  10. I spent today making spaghetti sauce from my daughter's garden tomatoes. I tossed in some free to me sheep's cheese. It is the best ever. Of course I say that every time I make a sauce. I did 2 loads of laundry and froze garden beans. These were from my garden. The family will come over one day this week and have dinner. I stayed home all weekend while my daughter's picked peaches for me to make jam. Tomorrow will be another busy day in the kitchen.

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  11. The bread, the soup look quite delicious! Your mitten with space for the rice bag sounds nice.

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  12. I too am looking forward to your post on soap making Rhonda, I often think about making some but haven't been game yet. I think you have also said before that you wash your hair with it too, so do you use anything else for conditioning or is the soap by itself enough? Love your post today

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    1. Jenny, I am sure that when you made your first batch of soap you'd wonder why you took so long to start making it. Yes, I still wash my hair with my soap. It's better than any shampoo I've ever used. I don't need conditioner, I think the oils in the soap help with conditioning too. Mind you, I have fairly short hair. I'm not sure if you'd need conditioner if you had longer hair.

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  13. Hi Rhonda, I have been reading your blog for a few years now and was in a pressured, well paid job. Two months ago, I gave it all up and it's all your fault! :) I have never been happier and I am living on around 1/5th of my previous earnings. I have developed a routine of yoga, breakfast, writing, reading then knitting and making tiles in the afternoon and preparing the evening meal. Friends told me I would be lonely and needing a challenge. I am not in the least lonely, my days are full and I go to bed with a smile knowing i have another whole day ahead that can be exactly the same. I have joined the IOWA poetry writing MOOC and it is free! I've already made friends with people around the world who like writing as I do. I hope to be able to sell some poems but my blog is restricted to just friends so far and I would like to expand it. Can you give me some tips on how you did that please? fluffygeorge.co.nz

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  14. Rhonda, your post reminded me to go and pick some calendulas to dry so that I put some in oil out in the sunshine for more calendula soap as I have noticed my skin is getting very dry with all this cold weather. Gone also is the nice plump skin of youth as I get older.

    Aren't you going to be using Copha for soap making in future batches?

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  15. I've been challenging myself to learn new things, and one of those things was to use double pointed needles in knitting - something I've been avoiding for quite some time. So my weekend was spent battling with them - in the end, I won, and I think my husband will be happy with the resulting gloves.

    And I love your idea of putting a small rice bag in Hanno's mitten. At the craft cottage where I'm a member, they sell quite a few small wheat bags - used mainly to pop into your pocket so when your hands are in the pocket, they are warm. But by putting the bag in the mitten - so much better!

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  16. I had my first quiet weekend at home in weeks. We pottered about the house, I sat and knitted, we made some liquid soap, some yogurt, hoovered, did some washing, chopped some wood. It was lovely :)

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  17. We, here on the east coast of Australia, all seem to be in the teeth of cruel cold winds lately.
    I'm looking forward to your post on baking bread, I'm ready to learn that skill now!

    Blessings

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  18. Lovely post Rhonda.
    I spent the weekend napping, coughing, drinking lots of herbal and other teas and water in between looking after the chooks! I have a chest infection , still on the antibiotics.
    I'm looking forward to the bread and soap recipes, really must make some soap as, like you and Hanno my skin is more sensitive and dries up a lot more as I get older.
    Also, 'downtowndownshift' mentions a recipe for parsnip and onion bread, is this one of your recipes or do you have a recipe for it? I think this sounds wonderful and with a hearty veg soup in the depths of winter would go down well!
    xxx

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  19. I love to bake bread but lack time! Can't wait for your recipe!

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  20. Not good about Hanno's hand. Rob uses the chainsaw to cut enough wood to get us through winter. I worry about accidents all the time. That soup and bread looks divine, perfect winter feast.

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  21. Hi, Rhonda. I'm a long-time reader that rarely comments. (Maybe once a year?) You usually already have lots and lots of comments that reflect what I would say anyway. ;) This time I just felt the need to reach out and let you know that your blog posts continue to be one of the ways I get myself focused and at peace each day. I love your writing here and especially your photos. With my morning coffee and the quiet hours between hubby leaving for work and teen daughter rousing I have the perfect time to read and focus my ever-buzzing thoughts about who I am blossoming into in my mid-40's. Empty-nest is coming up in the next couple of years. This has me considering so many options for my future that it's sometimes overwhelming. I am searching, testing, considering infinite possibilities. (With a hopeful attitude, I might add.) I find myself seeking a more minimalist lifestyle while keeping the warmth and artful coziness that we have created in our own home while ever expanding my skills into providing made-from-scratch products that nourish us. Always you have been here, like a friend/mentor without knowing me across the great waters of this world. I just want you to know that... I appreciate you. I appreciate the time you take to write about what you know and love. I pray for you and your family when sadness and scary times happen. I smile at your jokes and photos of your hens and the kids in your garden. You are appreciated and thought of.
    That's all I really wanted to say. I get wordy sometimes which is why I try not to comment too often. But something about today (not the blog, just the timing) felt like it was time to speak up.
    So, thank you, Rhonda, for being you.
    ~ Teresa

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  22. I am fairly new to soap making, but don't foresee going back to store-bought. I need to make another batch soon though...thanks for jogging my memory about it!

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  23. A rainy weekend here in Perth, which I spent cuddling an ill 5 yr old. Thankfully his fever has broken, now he's just snotty!

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