How my books came about - part 2

This is a continuation of this story 

We set off on our first book tour just before Down to Earth was to be published on 22 February, 2012. We had no idea what to expect or if anyone would come along to meet us. There was no need to worry though because at every stop along the way so many lovely people travelled in, often bringing gifts of jams, relish, soap, dish cloths, bread, cake, kombucha and magazines to read on the journey, as well as their good wishes.

What generosity! Just some of the many gifts we received on the road.

Being interviewed by Richard Stubbs in Melbourne. I also had the good fortune to meet Jon Faine and Clare Bowditch on their radio programs too.
Feeding the chooks. I think this was Channel 7.

How my books came about - part 1

A few new readers have ask about my books, how I got published and how I fit writing into my daily routine, so I thought  there may be others interested in that. I've written three books - Down to Earth, The Simple Life and The Simple Home, all were published by Penguin | Random House.


I used to earn a living as a technical writer/journalist and when we moved to where we live now, in 1997, I transferred my business to the Sunshine Coast. Hanno retired soon after we arrived and bought a shop in Montville. I continued writing technical manuals and travelled up to the mines to gather information and photos and then I'd write the manuals in an office I had close to home. I had a couple of people working for me at the time and life was hectic.  But when I settled in here at home, I started looking at my life with a more critical eye and realised I was far from happy. To make a long story short, I closed my business, started working in my home and that simple decision changed my life completely.

And things started to get better.


Hello everyone!

Hello friends, I'm back!  I had a few projects in my sights during my blog break. A few of them were a bit airy-fairy and I can't really describe them. They involved mental health, sleep and self-perception and I'm pleased to tell you that I think I sorted out enough so that I have a clear path forward. I also had a number of more practical day-to-day activities I needed to work on - gardening, sewing, reading and genealogy. I have very clear plans for all those areas now but I think I really surpassed my own expectations in the garden.


Here is our garden in full production circa 2010.
And this is some of what we have now.

I'll be back

Life is bubbling along nicely here. Hanno and I have been decluttering, again, we've had numerous visitors, Jamie spent the day with us yesterday, of course I've been baking and cooking, but most of my attention and energy has been given to the garden. What else can you do at this time of year? Spring is almost here, the days here are getting warmer and plants are starting to grow again.

We grow French lavender here, in our climate it's much better than the others.  This bush is about a metre tall now, is covered with flowers and bees visit it from early morning to late afternoon. 

Blooming where we are planted

Sunny, Kerry and Jamie flew back from Korea on Tuesday after Sun Ja's funeral. Thanks to everyone who send kind and loving messages to our family on her passing.

🐝🍓🐝

If you've been wondering what I've been doing during the silence here on the blog, here's a clue - it's the end of winter, todays temp is supposed to be 29C and my seasonal dormancy is coming to a close. I've been taking cuttings, sowing seeds and generally getting ready for spring. 

In the foreground above are some almost ready to plant fuchsias that were sent as cuttings by Kristiina a couple of months ago. I can also see a passionfruit vine slowly growing leaves, and many salvia cuttings. I love salvias.

Such sad news

We heard the sad news yesterday that Sunny's dear mother, Sun Ja, died in Seoul, South Korea, after a long illness. She was a wonderful lady who raised three amazing girls and the entire family feels great sadness at her passing. Luckily, Sunny and Jamie flew to Seoul earlier in the week to be with her. Kerry is on his way there now. We'll miss you Sun Ja.  Rest In Peace.

♥️ ~~ ♥️ ~~ ♥️


Living on less than you earn

No matter what stage of life you're at, you'll benefit by reducing your expenses and living on less than you earn. Generally your rent or mortgage will stay the same but by reducing your electricity, water, phone, internet, insurance, transport and food costs, you can do a number of things such as paying off credit card debt, paying off your mortgage, saving for a house deposit or saving for something important to you and your family.


Back in my spending days, credit card debt and a mortgage were big parts of my life. I didn’t take much notice of it at the time, because shopping gave me other priorities, but while we worked to pay off what we owed, we were building even more debt. I thought it was normal to have everything I wanted and that debt was a part of every life. We are encouraged to think that way. The average Western lifestyle always gives you new things to crave; it keeps encouraging you to spend beyond your means. That will never change. You have to change instead.

30 million page views

I've just realised that a significant blogging milestone has been reached - there have been 30 million page views here on my blog! I knew is was close because I did a couple of workshops on the weekend and showed my blogging class behind the scenes on my blog, including the statistics.  I smiled when I saw it and kept going, thinking I'd do something about it later.  And then I forgot.

I started this blog because I'd written the beginnings of a book about how Hanno and I had changed our lives for the better. I couldn't find any Australian books then about this change of lifestyle and I was desperate to share how we'd been enriched and energised by the changes we made. I sent the book proposal off to some publishers and all of them rejected it. I was absolutely sure that other people would be able to make their own changes if I got the information out, so I started this blog.  Very soon, readers started pouring in.

Back in those early days, I had no idea about blogging and just wrote, every day, about what we were doing.  And over the 12 years I've been here, that's what I kept doing.  What I didn't know back then was that I'd grow close to the people who read here, I'd care about their families, sometimes I'd visit them, I'd meet them in book shops, libraries and halls and often I'd come away with phone numbers, jars of jam, bottles of home brew, cakes, chutneys and so many more little tokens of love. I have been truly amazed at the number of people who came to meet us and the thousands of emails we received over the years.

Thank you for being part of it all. It's been a pleasure to write for you and to show with my photos what is possible in a small home with a backyard vegetable plot and chickens, and to help spread the message of a splendid, slow, simple life. 

♥️ ~*~ ♥️ ~*~ ♥️

Frances and her washable wipes

Over on my Instagram pages recently, I created a photo gallery for an online sewing bee. It never fails to amaze me how talented and creative our makers are and of course, photos of wonderful creations came rolling in.

The one that stood out for me was Fran's homemade facial wipes. Fran had crocheted round cotton, washable wipes and packaged them in a small glass preserving jar.  Sometimes I think the thing that elevates a particular product is its packaging.  The preserving jar was a wise move because it presented the wipes in a recyclable container, you could clearly see the product and it looked sweet - something you'd love to have on your dressing table or in the bathroom.

In my kitchen

Hanno has picked the last of the oranges and we have a bucket full sitting outside the kitchen door. We'll use them in the coming days to make the finest orange juice we're ever likely to drink, then the orange season will fade to black and we'll prune the tree to open it up a bit for the next season. Further down the garden, our flock of hens are producing so many eggs. It's like they're trying to make up for the months when the nests remained empty. I'm so pleased to have fresh eggs again. Eggs tie so many meals and sweet treats together. We have them for breakfast, for baking, for deliciously warm baked egg custard and to give away. Everyone loves backyard eggs. We still have about 10 passionfruit on the vine but soon they'll be gone, we'll prune the vine back and wait for another good crop next year.

Eggs and oranges are very simple, ordinary foods but when they come from your own backyard, they taste much better.