DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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9 November 2015

The fundamentals of simple life

Now that I'm not working at writing every day, my days have turned into splendid waves of sewing, waves of family, waves of cooking. It's wonderful to be absorbed with the fundamentals of simple life. There's not much thinking to be done, it's all repetition, routine and reaction. Tasks are carried out according to the way I did them last week and will do them next week. Cooking is a combined production of garden and kitchen, there's been some picking and pickling going on because it's that time of year. And through it all I try to react to whatever happens with grace and enthusiasm. I want everyone here to feel comfortable and content; I want to feel that way too.



We had our visiting German relatives here for abend brot on Thursday evening. Martina is the daughter of Hanno's late sister, Angelika. She's visiting with her husband Michael and their sons, Luca and Jonah. So Hanno made the trip to the German baker for brotchen (bread rolls) and rye bread, I roasted a chicken and then made chicken salad with pickled cucumbers, red onions, dill, parsley and mustard mayonnaise. At abend brot, the bread is placed on the table with platters of assorted cold cuts, some sort of mayonnaise salad and a variety of cheeses and everyone makes there own open sandwiches. When I lived in Germany this was the meal I enjoyed the most. It seemed to me, in 1979, to be liberated and humble and an easy way to feed good food to a family at a time in the day when everyone was tired and hungry.




On Saturday morning we took Jamie on a river cruise to look at the boats, wildlife and water in one of our local harbours.  We had a seafood lunch as part of the $33-each tour price ($8.50 for Jamie) and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There are very few tourist and entertainment events that we enjoy now. We just don't like all the hype, the crowd or the traffic.



During the week I preserved about 20 of our small Lebanese cucumbers. They'll do us through to Christmas now and I'll probably make up another batch this week. I have about 20 cucumbers in the fridge already and another 20 still on the vine. That is the thing about gardening, when harvest time comes, you need to be able to store an over abundance too so brush up on your pickling, preserving, dehydrating if you're growing common fruits and vegetables such as lemons, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers or beetroot.


I hope to finish off Maggie rabbit this week. I've blanket-stitched her body, attached the arms and legs and she looks like a rabbit now. Today I'll sew up her Liberty print dress, blanket stitch the boots and finish off her shawl. Then she'll be wrapped in tissue paper and wait quietly to be placed under a Christmas tree. She's been a labour of love that I've really enjoyed working on.

I hope you're starting to prepare for Christmas too. I don't want that last minute frenzy that used to occur in our home almost every year. I've outgrown that and now look forward to a period of quiet reflection, rest and family celebrations. It's so much better than Christmas Eve shopping, over spending and waste. But I know I'm preaching to the converted here. You're probably all doing much the same as I'm doing. I wonder if you are.


30 comments:

  1. I'm making a Maggie Rabbit right now too. I've thoroughly enjoyed making her.

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  2. What a delight this was to read along with the beautiful photos. Thank you Rhonda.

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  3. I think you mean Abendbrot ;) (without the -r-) .
    Here over in the Netherlands (next to Germany) we celebrate Sinterklaas first on the 5th of dec. Is similar to Santa Claus but Sinterklaas has black Petes to help him deliver the presents. There is a huge discussion (again *sigh*) going on whether this black Pete as a helper (think slavery) is racist or not..to be continued we say and in the mean time I do collect all the presents as early as possible!

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  4. It sounds like life is good in your corner of the world. I hear you on the Christmas thing. I try to make as many gifts as possible in the time I have. I am working on a few at the moment a bit of sewing here, a bit of knitting there. The frenzy and the hype is overwhelming for me, I try and hide from it as much as possible.

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  5. Oh that rabbit is too cute! What a beautiful gift for the recipient to treasure.

    We are scaling back on Christmas this year too. For our girls I am limiting their Santa presents to maybe 5 gifts each. Previous years have been closer to 8-10 presents (not all big things or toys, but a mix of toys/craft/'special' necessities ie, bubble bath in a character they love as opposed to the everyday one we use). Neither of them have outgrown bikes or scooters, so no 'big' equipment this year either. I know they will still receive more than enough though, and I am feeling good that we dont need to stress about paying for or storing lots of junk.

    For friends and extended family I'm making some edible treats (mini pudding truffles, fudge, decorated biscuits and peanut brittle) and putting them together in gift boxes. For any kids I'm making a huge batch of play-doh and packaging it up. I figure even if they already have play-doh it's still nice to have a fresh, un-mixed-colours batch now and then :)

    I love this time of year, but am quietly keeping things simpler this year :)

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  6. Maggie Rabbit is coming together beautifully. I love how Hanno has his eye on Jamie, who looks like he's enjoying the tourist trip. I have a quietish Christmas, but am working on gifts to send overseas, and for friends locally. I can't imagine having to be part of the Christmas shopping frenzy, and like sustainablemum, I prefer to hide from it too.

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  7. Another lovely post.. Love how you are always busy yet enjoy your everyday... Take care, my friend..
    Oh.. Your pickles look delicious... xo

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  8. It is getting colder now where I live and I'm enjoying my days slowing down. It is time to get back in the kitchen. I made my mom's recipe for veggie beef soup this weekend. Christmas baking for the freezer will begin soon. I so enjoyed your photos today!

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  9. I'm planning on giving baking as gifts for some close friends as I'm on a tight budget this year. I went to the mall for the first time in months. Everything was decorated and sparkly and I could instantly sense this "buy buy buy" pressure, I was glad to get out with the item I went for and nothing else! I want a more relaxed and simple xmas this year.

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  10. I remember too loving the arbend brot meal when I visited Wiesbadden back in 1976. It seemed such a lovely meal and so different from anything we had in the US. I also loved their morgen brot (I think that is what they called it) eaten mid morning after breakfast. It was when I was introduced to Nutella...I couldn't get enough of it and literally brought home a whole suitcase home (that I purchased there, just to hold the Nutella). It was years, actually just in the recent years that you could even get Nutella here.
    I love learning about the other culture's ways of celebrating the meals.

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    1. I think you mean Brotzeit, which is my favourite meal, too!

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  11. Dear Rhonda, A lovely family gathering.
    After all this rain we are getting in Brisbane my Lebanese cucumber plants are growing 'like Topsy' and it's Bread and Butter pickle time in my kitchen. I am getting into fermenting at the moment. Have been successful with sauerkraut and ready to move on to Kimchi. Went into Fortitude Valley over the weekend to buy a bag of the Korean red pepper spice and pick up a Daikon radish to make my Kimchi authentic and got to work. I have treated myself to the Sandor Katz book The Art of Fermentation and I've dropped all my novels to read this wonderful book. Not my usual bedtime reading but beautifully written and I'm already picking up tips.

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    1. Sunny's recipe for kimchi is on the blog - just google down to earth blog kimchi. I have one of Sandor's books and it's full of great ideas.

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  12. I love that rabbit. Will you show us a picture when she is complete?

    I made some Christmas gifts for my sisters from vintage wool that was brought from Scotland by my grandmother.

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  13. We celebrate Thanksgiving here in the States in a couple weeks so I try to focus on that holiday first and then switch gears to Christmas. I have, however, started to plan out some of my gifts. I've got some nice raspberry jam and tomato salsa canned up and I plan to give this along with homemade sweet & spicy roasted nuts to all of our adult brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews. I'm still trying to sort out what to give the young kids but am sure I will come up with something. As for my own children and grandkids, I use an old Victorian saying (or so I've been told): something I want, something I need, something to wear, and something to read. This really helps me plan and the kids really think about each thing carefully. Good luck, everyone, as the holiday season approaches! Enjoy!
    Kristina

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  14. Great family photo and feast. This is exactly my family's favorite gathering meal. I now have a name for it arbend brot!
    Must check for your cucumber receipe my last one was far too salty.
    Maggie is coming together well. Jamie is such a bright spot in every photo, love our grandies!

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  15. tus palabras me transforman! es hermoso pensar de esa manera y saber que funciona, siempre he pensado que las mujeres tenemos la llave de la felicidad en nuestro hogar

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  16. Yes indeed Rhonda, the Christmas cakes are in the oven as we speak, the vanilla extract is maturing in the cupboard, one batch of jam is made, some facecloths are on the needles.

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  17. Lovely pictures of your meal and day out, and the delicious preserves. I agree about Christmas and have my lists made, ticking off as I go. I hate the last minute rush and seek to avoid it completely as it ruins all the fun for me. Try to simplify a litte more every year. Feels so much better. Have a lovely week, all the best, from Pam in Norway

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  18. I wondered if your pickles turn out crisp? I've tried different recipes but mine always turn out mushy.

    I love seeing pictures of your home! It always looks so inviting. You encourage me to do more and more in my home. That is a good thing.

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    1. These pickles are soft but if you want them crisp, simply salt them for three hours instead of overnight, and leave the skins on. Make sure you wash the salt off before you pickle them.

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  19. I have a lovely friend who uses this rule of thumb, when buying for her children at Christmas.
    1. Something they want 2. Something they need
    3. Something to share 4 Something to read. I love the simplicity of it! 4 gifts in total.
    Eden xx

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  20. Nice spread! It's lovely to have family visiting especially from overseas as you don't get to them often.

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  21. Your family meal sounds wonderful!

    Thanksgiving will be our large family gathering this year as our married children swap off holidays with Christmas. I am working away on Christmas gifts as some will be carried home with family after Thanksgiving to save postage. I am hoping for a quiet and peaceful holiday season.

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  22. Oh I hope you will post a picture of Maggie the rabbit. Yes, I have been busy as a bee getting ready for Christmas. My poor left index finger is in sad shape. I never got used to using a thimble in more than 50 years of sewing. (I have been making my own clothes since I was 11) This year for Christmas I have made embroidery pillowcases for family and friends. Some dish towels and napkins too. Working every evening since June. My finger has more holes in it than a colander.
    I am now starting to make new Christmas pajamas for each grandchild. We have 4. It has been a tradition in our family to open the Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve for morning pictures. As Christmas Eve is my birthday I consider it a gift to myself to see my grandbabies in pajamas I made.

    Love your pictures.

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  23. First, I want to let you know how very much your blog inspires me. I'm a homemaker, but never considered myself very good at the "job". Reading your blog inspires me to get my butt up from sitting at the computer all day and get things done around here.
    As for Christmas, I love making gifts for special people in my life. This year for my daughter got a plain wooden recipe box I plan on decorating. I also purchased the tabs and got some recipe cards (on sale). I plan filling the box with my recipes I know she loves. My recipe box has recipes from friends and family members (some who have passed on) and I know how special they are to me.
    I love to bake for Christmas, but had stopped since it's just my husband and myself. We'd end up with cookie hang overs (and a little belly hang over too). I so missed baking though. Last year I *finally* realized I could bake and send gift boxes to friends and family members. Wow, what a great feeling to get back to cookie baking and then using them as gifts. Now I get the joy of baking, and giving them as gifts is so much more inexpensive.

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  24. I live in Germany and I love how you talked about our Brotzeit or Abendbrot :) . It has many names depending on where someone lives in Germany. No matter though, I do not follow your Blog because of your in-depth German knowledge but because you write about your life in a way that speaks to me. I switched my family to the more "simple life" back in JAN 2014 and its been a awesome. Mit freundlichen Grüßen aus Deutschland ... A.T.

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  25. Do you have your recipes on the blog somewhere? I'd love the pickle recipe. Ok, I'd love lots of your recipes...could you make a recipe page? Pretty Please?

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    1. I don't have the time to go through all the posts to collect the recipes, Jules. I do have some listed on the side bar though. To search for anything on my blog, you'll get the best results in Google. Type in "down to earth blog + whatever you're searching for". So for these pickles it would be: down to earth blog pickled cucumbers. I hope that helps. BTW, if you want crispy pickles, don't leave the cucumbers to drain overnight. About 3 hours should give you crispier pickles.

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