DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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1 February 2016

The work we do in our homes

There is a lovely feeling of contentment attached to doing work I enjoy, whether it be paid or unpaid work. When I worked for a living, I always strived to do my best. Nothing's changed now I'm doing my own work at home. I get paid in contentment and satisfaction now and that always motivates me to keep going. Last week I was ironing, baking bread, cooking and doing my usual housework and I'm pleased to say I'm back into the rhythm of it. This week will be much the same, but different. I'm sure many of you feel that too. The work we do in our homes tends to be the same over the weeks, but the mindset of self-reliance and productivity makes it feel fresh and meaningful.




At the end of a fairly mild summer, last week was very humid so not too much was done outside. There is always something to do inside so we were lucky to be able to stay out of the sun close to the fans. We even had the air-conditioning on a couple of days. It was the perfect time to preserve a few lemons and make mint sauce from the summer mint in the backyard.  This sauce is delicious with lamb and it can quite easily sit in the cupboard for six months because of the high vinegar content - vinegar is a great preserver. So that is one less thing I have to rely on the shops for and I use more produce from my backyard.



I did a lot of knitting last week and finished Tricia's cowl scarf (above). She lives at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains and the winter temperatures can be bitter. It snowed there last winter. I wanted to make her a scarf she can wear in her home that will keep her neck warm but won't dangle down to hinder what's she's doing. I used the fabulous EcoYarns O-Balance, which is 50 percent organic cotton and 50 percent organic Merino wool. I also cast on another shawl in EcoYarns Organic Cotton in the Virtues range. I chose the beautiful soft dusty pink, Pride, this time (below). It's such a lovely yarn to knit with.


If you're a new knitter and you're looking to move onto a larger project, this shawl may be just what you're looking for. Making a smaller version will give you a great wrap-around scarf. You'll need circular needles long enough to hold a few hundred stitches. I used size 5 needles and my yarn is 8ply. Cast on 8 stitches, knit the entire second row, then on the next row, knit 2, then yarn over and knit to the end of the row. This will increase every row by one stitch. Repeat knit 2, yarn over and knit to the end of the row until your shawl is as big as you want it to be, then cast off. Look at this You Tube video to see how to do a yarn over between knit stitches. Happy knitting everyone!

The Down to Earth hardback book is available on the American Amazon again. If you're in the US, Canada or Europe and you've been hoping to buy a copy, they have stock ready to send.  Also, the Down to Earth ebook will be available for the special price of $4.99 between Feb 3 and Feb 24 from all ebook vendors in Australia – Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Google, Booktopia, eBook etc. If you do buy my books, I'd love you to write a review online, it helps with the sales. Thank you. :- )

So, what's on your agenda this week?


41 comments:

  1. Great to know that the book is available for Europeans now, many thanks for the tip and the shawl pattern !

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  2. Hi Rhonda,
    I love that soft pink wool, it is beautiful. The cowl is lovely too, I am sure Tricia will love it, and not just in winter either. I arrived home to Blackheath from Queensland in December and we had daytime temperatures of 12 degrees. In summer!
    I just thought I would mention that I am participating in a challenge over at the Bluebirds are Nesting blog where we add up the savings made from our work around the home. The weekly results are eye opening! You can find a description of the challenge here http://thebluebirdsarenesting.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/welcome-to-vicky-challenge.html
    Best wishes,
    Peach

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  3. Hi Rhonda! I love hearing about your household rhythms we have an abundance of mint in out garden and other than drinks I was unsure of what to do with it so thank you for the suggestion! This previous weekend was spent moving furniture from room to room to make space for our nursery. It was tiring work work probably especially for my husband who was doing all the heavy lifting! I said to him last night how easy it would be to go out and buy a whole lot of new furniture that just all matched but instead we worked around what we had changing tables and chairs here and there finding a balance in all the rooms we were happy enough with and as you say Rhonda enough really is enough. This week ahead for me singles my fourth last week at work before I start maternity leave and my at home chapter. I could not be more excited. Thank you as always Rhonda x

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  4. Not looking forward to this week. Am having to fly up to Cairns from Snug, in Tasmania, going from a temp range of 15-25c to 25-34c and very humid.

    I am going to cull the stuff I have in storage with a friend as they are selling up. Living on the road in a van I always knew I couldn't keep the stuff I had stored but wasn't ready to dispose of it a couple of years ago, most likely I am more ready mentally now.

    Amongst the stuff are a number of embroidered tablecloths, many doilies, pieces of Royal Doulton dinnerware, my grandmothers old reading glasses and two timber money boxes with hidden spaces that my mother had before I was born. I remember how excited I was as a child when my Dad would open the secret panels to reveal what was inside.....what lovely memories, I can still have them without the stuff.

    I have to dispose of the stuff a matter of a week....not going to by easy, time wise or because of the sentimental value of the items. But, it has be done...wish me luck

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    1. I don't envy you going to Cairns at this time of year Gail. I hope you sort through it all and sell what you can. Good luck!

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    2. Gail, it would be a shame to dispose of the Royal Doulton & I'm sure you would enjoy using it on your travels - just because your in a Van doesn't mean you miss out on the using Special pieces ! It's amazing how much more you can squeeze in , maybe it's time to " cull the van space too " Good Luck with it All Anyways Take Care !

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  5. Here in England we have been having rainy days and grey skies, perfect baking days, comfort in food. Wishing you a lovely week x

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  6. A lovely inspiring post again, and thank you for the lovely shawl pattern. Finding housework a bit lonely and tiring at the moment, so it helps to follow others round the world. I am sure when Spring comes and health improves a bit, I will have my mojo back. Take care and have a lovely week ahead. Pam in Norway

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    1. I'm sorry to read you're lonesome, Pam. Take care of yourself and let's hope for an early spring. xx

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    2. Hi Pam!

      This time of year, I think, we all feel a bit lonesome... Christmas is such a flurry and end of the year activities keep us all spinning like tops! It feels odd to just stop and enter the quietness of January after that! :) For me, it is the sameness of the sky... it if were just blue more in January I could more easily bear it... but that continual grey... even with twinkle lights in the windows, it sometimes if overwhelming!

      Here's to early spring, blue skies, and light!

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    3. Wishing you both Pam & Matty some blue skies and bright light from here in Melbourne Aust. February for me is often a time of craving a little grey in the sky. It's so bright and blue. So I will take some comfort in your grey skies and wish you some crystal blue moments. Here's to an early spring (and autumn;-)

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  7. Is your book available in hardcopy in Australia? All your books are on my wish list. This week I want to continue trying to crochet the remainder of the granny squares for a blanket. I thought I was almost there but laid them all out on the table yesterday and I think I may have to do 20-30 more. I also want to continue my renewed focus on home schooling, especially incorporating Charlotte Mason teaching techniques. For house work I will continue my focus on the kitchen, cleaning and reorganising cupboards, taking an inventory of the pantry, who knows maybe even get the oven cleaned. Have a great week.

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    1. Hi Therese, it sounds like you're organising yourself to get through some good work there. You can usually get my books at QBD, Booktopia: http://www.booktopia.com.au/down-to-earth-rhonda-hetzel/prod9780670075928.html or the ABC Shop online.

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  8. Hi, Rhonda! We've had the air-con on too these last couple of days which have just been so hot and humid without any lick of a breeze. (Thank goodness for solar panels.) I've been doing lots of inside chores too. I sorted out my stockpile and have done a little bit of sewing and mending(practising my skills) and today I need to crumb some fish fillets ready for a quick and easy dinner just with a salad tonight. I need to steam and mash some pumpkin so I can freeze it to use in quiches and the like. I'm going to make some choocolate icecream too because I have some cream to use up and icecream is very welcome here when it's hot. The recipe uses brown sugar instead of raw or caster which is good because that's all I've got in my pantry right now. Hope the weather cools down soon! Meg:)

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  9. Hi Rhonda~

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, you get paid in contentment and satisfaction. There is nothing more satisfying for me than working in my home. I think others can feel it when they are here to visit. My guests almost always remark about how homey and comfortable my home is. It is just a home. A place where we work, play, recreate, eat, and pray. I would like to think of my home as a refuge from the world. I think your home is that way too. I always feel very comfortable stepping into your home each week through your blog.

    I just love your knitted items. For the life of me, I cannot knit. I can cast on, but when I try to do the actual knitting it just comes out all wrong. I am a crocheter, and I have heard that crocheters have a hard time knitting . . . it's true!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on homemaking!

    Hugs,
    Barb

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    1. Ha! I have NEVER known anyone other than myself who cannot knit. I am hopeless at it; have tried taking lessons, my mum tried teaching me when I was young; all the women in my family can do it; I apparently did not inherit the gene. But I can sew and cook and garden so I am happy. I bet you have a lot of talents as well.

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  10. What a wonderful week you've had! It is going to be more humid this week for us, so the paddle pool will be full I think :) I got a head start on the week's baking (carrot cake and museli bars) yesterday, glad I had the foresight to make 2 batches of each as my thesis is in dire need of a complete rewrite - I have two weeks until deadline. No panic here though, just homecooking and leaving what can be left so I can write & spend time with the kids :) Slowly slowly everything gets done in its time. Thabk you for today's post - Ayesha

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    1. It's those last few weeks that are crucial, Ayesha. Attention to detail, re-reading, re-writing, it all pays off. It will be over soon. xx

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  11. Here in my bit of France, it's been pouring down, windy and cold. Quite miserable! But, doesn't worry me - the perfect time for a bit of ironing, which I enjoy, sorting out my linen basket, stoking up the fire and cooking. My son't birthday is later in the week, so I am going to make a big fruit cake which should keep him going for a day or two!

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  12. It's so comforting to me reading about the household tasks everyone is doing, I love when you share and ask about that! We have a big shift in our family schedule/routine happening and I've been working hard to organize myself better around that. Meal planning is not my strong suit (I try, but somehow end up spontaneously changing things!), so this is what I'm focusing on the most. I started just planning for the next 2-3 days at a time and it's been working well, taking away the overwhelm of trying to figure out a week or month at a time. Baby steps :)

    I'm also using up my "older" food stores, thinking a lot about reducing waste these days. You're so right, Rhonda - the same tasks, but always changing, growing.
    -Jaime

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  13. The work we do at home is the 'same' every week but it is also somehow different. The view and sounds from my kitchen as I prepare food is different each time (my house is open plan and the counter I work at faces into the rest of the house. The tidying, hoovering and dusting done at different times each week never quite seem the same. Somehow this makes it seem less of chore and more just part of the rhythm of the day.

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  14. Love your knitted projects. Oh minted sauce. I didn't grow up eating that traditionally but I would love to know how to make it to use up the mint in the yard. Hubby would love it because he grew up eating it but hasn't since I've known him for 10 years.

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    1. Zena, this recipe is entirely driven by your own tastes. Some people like it very vinegary, some like it with a touch of sweetness, some like it watered down a little. I prefer the very vinegary taste with a touch of sugar, and just a splash of boiling water to dissolve the sugar. But always lots of mint. So here is the traditional recipe, as your husband to test taste as you're making it and before you bottle it.

      ¼ cup sugar
      1 cup malt vinegar
      1 cup boiling water - I use about 2 tablespoons
      1 cup mint leaves finely diced

      Add more or less of all the above according to your taste. Bottle in sterilised jars and store in the cupboard for up to 6 months.

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  15. Hi Rhonda- I love your blog and am excited that your book is now available in the US. I just ordered a copy!

    This is a busy week for me with a lot of hustle and bustle getting ready for my son's birthday festivities, but I'm reminding myself to slow down and enjoy the tasks that need to be accomplished.

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  16. I just got Down to Earth in the mail today, I'm so looking forward to reading it!
    /Malin, Sweden

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    1. Hi Malin, don't forget to write a review when you finish it. And of course, I hope you enjoy it. xx

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  17. Hello Rhonda. Sorry, I have not posted a reply for some time. Still busy with grandmotherly duties and my 3 days working at the Dry Cleaning company. I run two blogs myself and have a cookery club on Facebook, so most of my evenings are divided between these. But, I still read your blog and enjoy dipping in and out to see how you are doing. Life has taken a turn for the worse for my partner Rick who`s now struggling with ill health. So, apart from caring for the home I`m finding myself also gravitating more and more to being a personal carer for him. His lung capacity has been reduced to just functioning on 26%. He has gradually gone downhill over the last year, after he was diagnosed with emphesima, a condition he unfortunately had brought upon himself unknowingly through 30 years of previous smoking. He had given up the ciggies 5 years ago and started to get health issues ever since.
    But, that`s enough of our troubles. I still read your blog every night even so I don`t often find time to place a comment. Just wanted you to know I`m still around and still reading your blog.
    All the Best to you and your family.
    Much love is send from the southern shores of Britain. XXX Sarina XXXX

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    1. You sound very busy, Sarina but I'm sure you're taking some time for yourself too. I'm sorry to read about Rick. I'll be thinking of you both.

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  18. Rhonda, last week I finally fell down the "rabbit hole" and ordered Maggie to make for my almost-here granddaughter. OMG, what a darling package arrived! And how droll the pattern is! I love it! I am going to have such fun making her! Thanks for sharing1 (And I love Posie's blog, too!)

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    1. Good for you, Matty. I'm sure you'll love the making as well as the Maggie you make. I'll be starting on my third Maggie in late March.

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  19. My husband and I both work from home, so through the day I popped in and out of rooms, tidying and cleaning without really looking at what I'm doing. Your blog has made me want to stand still for a moment and enjoy my clean surfaces and gleaming shelves. Thank you. Woo xx

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  20. This week we are enjoying more rain so I am sowing a crop of green manure in our vegie patch as well as growing seedlings in punnets. I am also re-painting/ dressing another batch of rescued dolls for this Sunday's local craft market. In between these activities I am also de-cluttering our home!

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  21. It's so true that it's the mindset that makes working in my home refreshing and new. Thank you Rhonda, your post this morning has been a balm especially as I have a very dirty bathroom to deal with this morning. ;-) I have some jasmine in a vase to put in there when it's done.
    katexx

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  22. Hello! I just found your blog and wanted to join the forum, but there seems to be a glitch with the "prove you are human" box. Can anyone help me out? Thank you!

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  23. It's all in the mindset isn't it, learning to love the repetitive labour of looking after the home. I find it helps to see it as others would see it and set to and have a clean up of a different area each day, fitting it in around the bread rising and baking, an hours weeding in the polytunnel and the other hundred and one jobs that need doing.

    There is such satisfaction to sit down after a few hours and see gleaming surfaces, temporarily clean rugs (until the dogs roll around on them again) and tuck in to some homemade soup with a slice or two of freshly baked bread.

    Loving your blog at the moment, and it's nice to hear that your book is widely available again, my copy is very well thumbed.

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  24. Hello Rhonda,
    In our islands, here in the Caribbean, we are entering the dry season. This year promises to be a very bad one. February is traditionally the driest month of all. We have been gathering all the dry bits and pieces and adding them to the compost as well as using them as some much needed mulch to conserve whatever water is in the soil, which is already looking parched. It is harvesting time for ground/root provisions - yams, cassava, topi tambo (size of a baby potato with the crispness of water chestnuts). Pigeon Peas are flowering at last. Sweet corn has been picked. Tomatoes and citrus are enjoying the sunshine. I have been harvesting as much as I can and filling the pantry and freezer with foodstuff ranging from yam pies to passion fruit and carambola jams.
    It is now also the week before Carnival, a big nationwide street festival that runs for 4 days and ends the night before Ash Wednesday (which marks the beginning of Lent). Our islands are a beehive of hectic activity. There are many parties and celebrations going on right now, leading up to Carnival, celebrating the creativity of our unique musical instrument (the steelpan), calypso, costumes and food. This weekend my sister and I are running off with our tribe over to the peace and quiet of the Eastern seacoast to enjoy some family time at a beach house for those crazy 4 days.
    I was researching a sailing vessel and came across this Australian website. I thought you might enjoy taking a browse through some old archives.
    http://trove.nla.gov.au/general/about

    Enjoy,
    Vicki
    Trinidad & Tobago

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  25. I feel the same way. When I was working, I wasn't really working for the paycheck but the feeling of satisfaction I would get at a job well done. It's much the same at home for me. This week, I'm tearing apart the bathroom. We recently moved in with my father-in-law and his home is needing some care as he's unable to do a lot of things himself. This gives me such joy and a feeling of accomplishment to be able to do for him.

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  26. Thank you for posting about the Down to Earth book in the states, I have wanted to read it for ages, but its never been available. Can't wait till it arrives

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  27. As always, dear Rhonda i loved your Home posts... xo

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  28. Hi Rhonda, just wondering how many Hank's of the Eco organic cotton you use to make a shawl? Was looking at getting some before it's all gone.

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    1. Two hanks for a shawl, Noni, one hank for a large wrap around scarf. That cotton feels so soft around my neck it's absolutely lovely yarn to knit and wear.

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