Sewing bee - recycling fabric

Hello sewers. I've started a sewing bee involving recycling old fabric. You can recycle unused old fabric from your stash, an old dress, sheets, towels, coats or whatever you have enough of to make something you'll use.  I'm making pillow cases from an old white cotton bed skirt.  Would you like to join in? There are no fees and no pressure; we'll all have a bit of fun and learn more about sewing and recycling. I'm hoping new sewers join in as well as our intermediates and experienced sewers. Everyone is welcome.  You can join either here or on Instagram - #downtoearthsewingbee.

This is the old bed skirt I'm using to make pillow cases.  What will you use?

The item should be finished by Thursday 21 November (or close to it) and when you finish, I'd like you to take a photo and send it to me so I can add it to my Instagram sewing bee gallery.  I'm always interested in what other people sew so I'm looking forward to seeing what you create.  Start now, let me know what you're sewing and when you finish send a photo of your finished project to so it can be added to the photo gallery.

Tea with friends

It's been a crazy week with many visitors, reading, gardening, rest and a lot of busyness snaking through my days. The highlight of the week came yesterday when Clare Bowditch visited with her husband Marty and publicist Isabelle. Clare is on tour promoting her first book Your Own Kind of Girl and on their way to Maleny they dropped in for afternoon tea. It was wonderful seeing her again. I met Clare when she interviewed me in 2016 on tour with The Simple Home. She's a wonderful and interesting woman who makes everyone around her feel loved, although it's clear when reading her book, she had a complex and difficult past. If you're looking for a good book with a clear message about life and how it changes, this is the one for you. I'm still reading mine and I don't want it to end.

The last of the garlic and spuds

It will be cloudy here today with a minimal chance of rain so I'll be out in the garden planting up geranium Rozanne, a Lillipop Soda Pop gaura and a rosea, the final plants in our newish cottage garden. Before that though I want to write about the last legs of our vegetable garden - a thriving collection of common and not-so-common vegetables and fruits we started growing here in 1998.

What's growing in the backyard?

I've been working in my garden for a few weeks transitioning from a vegetable to a cottage garden and trying to get everything ready for spring.  Spring is the season that sets our gardens up for the year and if you get good rain in spring, as we did, it's even better. But I have no illusions of a lush floral display throughout summer, I just hope I can help most of it through the prolonged heat that I know is coming.  Our average annual rainfall is about 1800mm and that is one of the reasons we chose to live in this area. However, so far this year we've had 755.4mm, 286mm less than the previous year. This was the first year two of our tanks ran out of water, and the big 10,000 litre tank had only about 2000 litres left. I wouldn't grow vegetables without the safety net of tanks. They're expensive to put in, but like solar panels, they earn their place in most environmentally sound houses.  We saved for our tanks, one went in soon after we arrived here, and the big one was established about ten years ago; again, when we had the cash to pay for it.  When you set yourself up with tanks, you can water liberally most of the time and know that you're producing food with no hidden costs.

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.

♥️ ~~ ♥️ ~~ ♥️