DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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.

26 October 2015

Blogging, bears and play dough - what a trio

After looking into the trouble some readers have making a comment, I've decided to remove one of the blog filters to see if it makes a difference.  You can now comment as 'anonymous' if you want to. If you do that, I would appreciate you including your name in your comment so I know who it's from. Comments will still be moderated and will not appear until I approve them. All spam and any unpleasant comments will be deleted. Life's too short for that kind of ugliness. I hope that helps those of you who have had problems with it in the past.


Here are my blogging workshop ladies: (from left) Fiona, Aleta, Sharon, Kristy and Sandi.

It's been very busy here over the past few days. We're looking after Jamie from Thursday through to Sunday now and while he's absolutely no trouble and I love him being here, there is more work. We also had a workshop on Saturday with five ladies here to learn about blogging. We had a great time, I think the workshop went well and I hope the ladies went home with enough information and confidence to start their own blogs. I'll give you their blog links when a few of them are writing regularly.

If you're a sensitive soul and don't want to read about the death of an animal, skip this.
I've been watching the brown bears at Katmai on explore.org for a few months now and have been thoroughly absorbed by it. There, laid out before us every day, are these amazing bears living life in the wilds of Alaska. Late Thursday, a mother and two cubs came into view. One of the cubs was asleep on a path way and when it woke up and followed its mum again, it was unsteady on its feet and stumbled a few times walking up the road. Eventually he reached mum and his twin and it was painfully obvious to all of us watching that this little fellow was in big trouble. To make a long story short, when he reached his family, he dropped and didn't get up again. Sadly, the cub died on Saturday night.

This was remarkable for two outstanding reasons - the emotion shown by the mother, who at one point cradled the baby in her giant paw, and the fact that such an event was captured for all to see. The ranger said that dead wild bears are never found because they're eaten, so no chance of looking into the cause of death. But watching the process of death and the reaction of the mother and twin, and the bears in the vicinity, had just never happened before. Only the internet made this possible. 

It's the end of the bear watching season, winter is setting in and the rangers had all left the area, however, a small team of three rangers flew back in to retrieve the body and take it away for analysis. I was so pleased this happened because the mother had faithfully kept watch over her baby but when she left to feed the other cub, crows where taking advantage of the situation and pecking at the body. Of course this is all part of the natural process of death but I ached for this mother and she would have suffered more to have seen that particular bird scene played out. As distressing as it was at times, I'm very thankful I witnessed what happened on that river's edge so far away. It was a powerful reminder of how death is lurking in the shadows and can tap any shoulder at any moment.

Back here at home, mini cupcakes were made and Jamie practised his coordination skills by filling those little patty pans with cake batter. I guess this is part of an ordinary day for many mums out there but it reminds me of teaching Shane and Kerry to cook all those years ago. They're both chefs now and they sometimes teach me. 



I made two batches of play dough too. It's so easy to make, I do it in the bread maker, so it's no trouble at all.


PLAYDOUGH RECIPE
This is the recipe commonly available on the internet. I haven't seen anyone making it with a bread maker though so I thought I'd share how I do it.
  • 2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar: You can leave this out if you don't have it on hand but it does improve elasticity and extends the life of the dough 
  • food colouring - I used about ¼ teaspoon of Queen liquid food colouring
Place all the above into your bread maker bucket and turn on the dough setting. Process for five minutes then stop the machine. Turn out the dough onto a floured board and knead by hand so it's covered in a thin coating of flour and becomes less sticky. Store in a plastic zip lock bag or a container with lid. Wash the bread maker bucket straight away with hot soapy water.

I have a few more things to tell you but this post is already too long so I'll save them for later in the week. In the meantime, after a full year of mad work schedules, I'm looking forward to a few weeks with no outside commitments when I'll be sewing, baking and relaxing.  Life's good. :- )


48 comments:

  1. Oh, that Mama bear! My heart hurts for her too.Death is a part of life that should touch us deeply, Rhonda. It should make us ache and feel deeply for those going through that process; whether it be a human life passing or that of an animal. That's part of the human experience.

    Just this past week, my boy and his Dad set about rescuing a tiny Tawny Frogmouth that was blown out of its nest during a storm we had here. On advice from wildlife rescue staff, who said that these birds do not do well in care, a makeshift nest was crafted and set in the fork of a tree close to the original nest. With tenderness and well wishes the little fluffball chick was placed in this nest and then checked on regularly. Sadly, only a day or so later, the chick died and was brought home here to sleep forever in our garden. A lesson in the cycle of life that I know touched our boy's heart. Meg:)

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  2. That tip on making playdough in the breadmaker - genius! Where were you 25 years ago?

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  3. Hi Rhonda!
    Lucky ladies those who were able of participating in your workshop..... Australia is too far from Argentina :):):)
    Have a nice week!
    Regards
    Ale

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  4. Sad about the bear cub, but amazing that we are able to watch what is happening so far away, and so intimately.
    Rhonda It's wonderful to see Jamie learning to cook. My son has done the same thing with his young boys, I remember the eldest lad, before he could walk, sitting on the kitchen bench and rubbing oil over a chicken ready to go into the oven.

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  5. Rhonda, this has got nothing to do with today's blog post, but I've been going through your blog this morning researching your preserving posts. I am particularly interested in preserving the harvest during times of abundance at my allotment. But at the moment I'm wanting to learn more about fermenting vegetables. I have had some success with sauerkraut already. My question is, do you ferment your harvest? Is it something that you could write about on your blog or should I bring it up on the Forum? I always enjoy reading about your pickling and bottling, and seeing all those jars lined up. Jean

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    1. Hi Jean. I make sauerkraut occasionally but usually I don't have a surplus of cabbages. That post is on the blog. I'm making pickled cucumbers and beetroot this week, just this morning I picked the cucumbers, those posts are also on the blog. But I'm sure you'd get a wide range of answers if you asked the question on the forum. It would be a good thread to have there.

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    2. Thank you Rhonda, I'll ask the question on the forum.
      I love those bread and butter pickles. Gave me a real kick when I picked my first tiny (slightly bent) cucumbers and managed to make one jar from them.

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  6. It was wonderful to meet you Rhonda, and spend time with such a lovely group of women! I think we were all inspired by your story and encouraged by your insights into blogging. Having started a blog and not maintained it, I am now working on a new, more versatile idea with hopes of achieving consistency and frequency :D Thanks again for your generosity!

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    1. Yes, a great group of girls. I really enjoyed the time we spent together. It's good to be with women who "get it". Don't forget to send me your link when you're up and running, Sharon. I'll put them all on the blog so everyone can see what you're doing.

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  7. Hi Rhonda my name is Judi I have been following you for awhile now and this will be my first comment as I had no profile before. Thank you for all the work you do, you inspire us to follow a gentler life pattern and I am adopting many of these ways. I am doing the 1943 project so living for a year as you would have in 1943. Such a better way to live a nice simple life. I am eagerly awaiting your new book, as Down to Earth is my go to bible for house management now. Take care and god bless from Judi

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    1. Hello Judi, welcome! What is the name of your blog? I'd like to visit.

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    2. Hi Rhonda , I do not have a blog so I am not sure how I could keep in touch? from Judi

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    3. That's okay, Judi. Just knowing others are out there doing what they can is good enough. I send you my very best wishes.

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  8. Rhonda, as a long time follower of your post I thank you for the 'down to earth' way of showing the public how to achieve a more fulfilling life. My most gracious gratitude for your commitment to a life of 'freedom' from the rat race.
    Willemina Szabo, New Jersey

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    1. Thanks Willemina, I appreciate you taking the time to send your kind comment. xx

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  9. From Deb Howell
    Dear Rhonda, I am hoping my comment makes it through as someone who has tried but failed in the past. Your blog has been life changing for me and I would love to be able to comment now and again so here goes. As a grandmum myself I love hearing about the activities you do with your grandchildren and the care you give them. It's such an important role and we can all get inspiration from each other. I think we will make play dough today... ;-)

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    1. Hello Deb, you made it! LOL Thank you for persevering with the comments. Technology gets the better of me sometimes but finally I worked out what the problem might be. Good luck with the play dough. Enjoy your day. xx

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  10. I will have to try this play dough recipe as the one I make goes sticky

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  11. Yea!!! I can comment again! Thank you!

    Marie Claire

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  12. Your post about the grief of the mother bear brought back an awful memory for me. Only 1 time did we let our though bread dachshund have a litter of puppies. We were so excited about it, we thought we would keep 1 and find good homes for the others. It never ever crossed my mind to sell them for money as I wanted to know just where the babies went and to be sure they had a good home. When those babies were 8 weeks old the mother (Trixie) had weaned them. She acted like they were a pest to her. We gave away 2 in one day. My gosh how she did grieve. She cried, she looked all over for those babies. This went on for more than a week. I knew then that NEVER again would I do that. So we never have. Our dogs since then (that was 15 years ago) have since been rescue dogs. Animals grieve like humans. It is so very hard to watch. Roxie

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  13. Hi Rhonda, just to add to the discussion on animals grieving, our poor house cow Bella has lost two calves now and each time she has licked them clean and called to us to help her with them. Of course there's nothing we can do, but when we take them away she looks for them everywhere. Even animals that we consider "dumb" care strongly about their young. For most conventional dairy cows it is routine to take their calves at only a few days old, they must miss their babies too. Cheers, Liz

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    1. I agree, Liz. We've had pets that grieved. We had two cat before we came to live here - Domino and Yow. When Domino was run over by a car and I placed his body on the bench at the side of the house waiting for Hanno to come home, when I went out Yow was sitting at Domino's side. I think it's an arrogance assertion to think that only humans are capable of grieving.

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  14. Hi Rhonda, thanks for the wonderful workshop on Saturday. It was great fun to spend the day with such beautiful ladies. I now have so much more blogging knowledge and the focus and confidence to get started. Have started working on my blog today! Thanks again for sharing your wise and insightful blogging skills.
    ps - I think I finally worked out how to post a comment !!

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    1. Yes Sandi, the comment arrived! It was lovely meeting you and the other ladies and good to know you're a local (via Canada). Good luck with your blog. I'm sure your family will be enriched by your writing and photos.

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  15. Hi Rhonda, I am a big fan of your blog. I just got your book Down to Earth from the library, and am loving it. I thought I wouldn't need the book as everything is on your blog, but, I am really enjoying everything being between the two covers and it is so beautifully presented. I am planning to get my kids to buy me a copy for Christmas. thanks so much for your continuing contribution to a nation of over spenders.

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  16. Thank you Rhonda for having us at your home and sharing your skills with us at the workshop on Saturday. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to having my blog up and running soon. It was lovely meeting you, Hanno and Jamie in person along with such a nice group of ladies. Can't wait for your new book!

    Thanks for the comfrey too :)

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    1. Yes, it was a fun day. I enjoyed meeting you along with the other ladies, Kristy. When you plant the comfrey, plant it where you want it to grow for a long time. It will regrow from a small piece of root so if you dig it up and leave a root particle behind, it will regrow. It needs water too and doesn't mind living in a moist situation.

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  17. ....I really like when you say "life's good". And so it is.

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  18. Gosh, you've taken me back - how I remember making play dough for my three, and how they enjoyed modelling things with it. It kept them quiet for hours. I used to make Salt Dough figures and wreaths too so that was my grown-up fun!

    So good to see that Jamie is developing his kitchen and developing his co-ordination and dexterity. It must be such fun to have him around and to teach him life skills.

    Sad about that bear cub but not too surprising how animals grieve. It is very arrogant of the human race to think they have the cartel on grief.

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  19. Sorry, that post was from Jennie (Boveybelle) in Wales, in case my link didn't show up.

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  20. hi Rhondha.
    i think your blog is awesome.
    many good thoughts.
    im sorry to say that i have lost contact with my mother and father ( temporairly i hope)
    i hope that we can take up the contact again sometime soon in slow pace and respect eatchother.
    you write so well about how its important with friends and family :-)
    so i hope that my family take some time to think about it and we can come to a solution and be a happy family again.
    my birthday is coming up,and it would be nice to be remebered (even that im an adult,cake an coffe always taste good with the family ,-)
    tanks again rhonda for a good blog.

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    1. I hope you get your birthday wish of coffee and cake with your family.

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  21. hi Rhonda,
    I love your blog and i promoted it to my friends too. Your blog really inspired me to live simple and cherish family life. Thank you for sharing..God bless!!

    Priscilla

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  22. I can't believe how grown up Jamie looks - he's obviously becoming a really experienced baker :-)

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  23. I really like reading your blog !
    Enjoy your time with sewing, baking and relaxing :)

    --
    Josie

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  24. Oh yay! I can finally comment on your blog!!! I've had trouble in the past.
    Looks like a nice bunch at your workshop. Brilliant idea to use your bread maker for play dough!

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  25. This is a great fix to the problem Rhonda. I have had a great deal of trouble signing on and being able to comment. Thank you for the fix.

    Very, very sad about the cub. Nature is cruel. Nature made it that Mother's care for and protect their young and with that comes deep emotion. You never have any doubt after you have watched a Mama Grizzly attack a male Grizzly twice her size just because he was approaching her cub. The males do kill the cubs. After she fought the male and chased him away this Mama we saw then comforted her terrified cub with cuddles and kisses. I always laugh at the so called "scientists" who tell us that animals have no feelings. Our cat, Natasha, refused to eat for days after her brother and life's companion , Boris, died and it took months for her to stop grieving.


    Sunnymidnight

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  26. Hugs from Gerry from France!!

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  27. Thank you for your blog. I am just starting on this simple living journey and have just got an allotment so can't wait to start growing things. The children are already loving spending time there pottering about. My daughter is about the same age as Jamie and loves play dough too. There is a brilliant website called The Imagination Tree which has lovely ideas of things to do. I am going to have a go at making the Autumn Playdough tomorrow.

    Nia from England

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  28. Great idea about making the play dough in bread machine...I Never would have thought of that and I make playdough every month for our preschool program. My recipe uses alum and makes a great long lasting dough. Love reading your blog and getting great ideas...At almost 60, still not too old to learn!

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  29. Little Jamie will be a great cook in later life, thanks to the skills you and hs parents teach him. The knowledge and love of food is such an important skill to have. He's being set up for success! His cuppies look great!

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  30. Rhonda, thank you so much for a wonderful workshop, I can't wait to get my blog up and running. I've got just the right amount of information to get started without feeling overwhelmed. And I loved learning with the sounds of whip birds and bell birds in the rainforest behind us, so peaceful. X

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  31. How sad, yet also how wonderful that you were able via the wonder that is the internet, see a part of these bears lives that would normally be lived out away from view. Animals grieve as much as we do and it can be heartrending for us to watch their reactions to tragedy.

    I have had many of my chickens grieve for their departed best friends. We keep all our birds until they die, as I consider after a few years of providing us with eggs they deserve a peaceful retirement. Close bonds are forged between the old timers. We, on occasion, have not even realised how close a bond two birds have had with each other until one dies and the other goes into a deep grieving process, and sometimes even decides to join their friend a few days later.

    Lovely to see your 'little cub' helping with the cakes, he looks so proud with his filled cases. What a wonderful childhood you are helping to give him.

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  32. Hello Rhonda & Hanno
    I am still reading your wonderful blog and I can finally comment again.
    Much Love to you & your family.
    Enjoyed making a batch of your muffins today from your book it is well read and marked at the recipe section. Just as a welll loved book should be. Lorsxx

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    1. Hello Lors. It's good to see you again. xx

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  33. We've seen goat mothers mourn and grieve their dead kids in heartbreaking ways. But we also have other mothers who seem completely indifferent if a kid dies and whose personality doesn't seem to be affected at all. At least with goats, it seems that how they respond depends upon their personalities. Perhaps they all feel the pain of loss, but some internalize it. It is a sad and painful thing to see a mother grieving a lost child.

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  34. Rhonda, this is Beth in Minnesota, USA - no more a lurker if this comment goes through! I haven't been able to comment before since I don't have a blog or Gmail account. Thank you so much for many years of reading enjoyment on your blog. I recently tried the oven cleaning method from your book and it worked really well. I hate to admit this, but the appliance repairman was coming over and I thought, "no one can see this oven the way it is!" He was quite impressed with its cleanliness when he opened it up. I also really appreciate the links to interesting articles, blogs and sites that you share, including the amazing bears. With so many animal lovers here, I wanted to share something I recently read. John O'Donohue - "Anam Cara: Spirtual Wisdom from the Celtic World": "Animals are our ancient brothers and sisters. They enjoy a seamless presence - a lyrical unity with the earth. Animals live outside in the wind, in the waters, in the mountains, and in the clay. The knowing of the earth is in them. The Zen-like silence and thereness of the landscape is mirrored in the silence and solitutde of animals. Animals know nothing of Freud, Jesus, Buddha, Wall Street, the Pentagon, or the Vatican. They live outside the politics of human intention. Somehow they already inhabit the eternal." Thank you for sharing your knowledge and beautiful home/garden/family with us, and thanks to all the commenters here. Your blog is the only one I read where I always check the comments. Sorry to go on, I feel like I've had a gag removed! I'll calm down going forward. : )

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    1. HA, well I'm pleased I removed the gag. xx

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