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.

Writing, cooking and teaching

It's been a very busy week here with no time for blogging. I'm sending out the notes for my writing and blogging workshops today and tomorrow so I've spent some time over the past couple of weeks going over the notes, adding and editing, so they're as good as they can be. I'm looking forward to mentoring this group of writers and bloggers and our face-to-face chats on Skype will be a highlight. 

This is near our front door. It's the first thing you'd see if you walked into our home.

A small vegetable garden

I had a sore back yesterday so all I did was make bread and butter cucumbers, rye bread and some sweet potato soup for lunch. In the morning and late afternoon I walked around the vegetable garden and took some photos. It's not much to show for a day but my back is feeling good now so I think it was a wise investment.

Morning in the garden, looking south.

What are you making?

I want to get a better idea of what everyone is making for the Do Whatever You Want Bee. The bee started 4 June and will end on Tuesday 2 July. Everyone is welcome to join in - from all corners of the world.  Instead of being confined to one craft or item, you can do what ever you like, using the technique you prefer, as long as it's for your home. So tea cosies, tablecloths, dishcloths, napkins, nappies/diapers, cushions, curtains, jug covers, crocheted edging on pillow slips, whatever. Some ladies are doing a summer blouse and dog coats.  

Saturday at Hetzel House

I still have one spot in the blogging workshop and a few spots in the writers' group. Full details are here: https://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2019/06/new-online-workshops.html  Let me know if you're thinking of joining us. Bookings close at the end of the week.

I've had a few people in the UK interested in joining the group but the Skype sessions we have now take place at 2am UK time. So if there is enough interest, I'm happy to arrange a UK and Europe set of workshops that would start at 9am, Saturday and Sunday, UK time.  They would be the same workshops in the link above. Let me know if you're interested.
~:~:~ ♥️ ~:~:~ 

It rained most of yesterday and with the heater on, Hanno and Gracie watching TV, it was a good time to cook and clean.  I deep cleaned the kitchen sink and benches, baked bread, prepared apples for an apple cake to be baked today, sliced and salted cucumbers to be pickled today and made a hot beef and vegetable curry to go in the slow cooker overnight.  That will feed Hanno, Jamie and I at lunchtime today, and Kerry, Jamie and Jen (Sunny's cousin who is staying with them) for their dinner tonight. Kerry will work all day today so as he has to come over to pick up Jamie, it's always a good time to make an extra meal so he can take that home and relax without the extra work.

This lop-sided loaf was baked yesterday. I topped it with polenta.

It's another sewing bee! Sort of ...

In early April we had a sewing bee to make aprons with the information and comments here on my blog. When the aprons were finished, I made a gallery of apron photos on Instagram.  It was very popular, I think it encouraged those new to sewing to take a chance on making something they would use and since then, I've had quite a few emails asking about the next sewing bee. So here it is. 

Last week - adding a divided pocket to my apron.

New online workshops

When I gave up work in my 50s and decided to live a simpler life, I secretly hoped that one day I might be able to earn some money working at home.  I didn't know what sort of work would enable me to do that so I was very excited when it became clear that I'd be able to continue my writing career at home. 

I have an Arts degree with majors in Journalism, Literature and Communication and qualifications in technical writing. Over the past 30 years I've worked as a journalist, technical writer, monthly columnist for the Australian Women's Weekly and Burke's Backyard, freelance magazine writer and have written three books, all published by Penguin. All my books are still selling in book shops and the first book, Down to Earth, has been selling well for seven years. My blog has had almost 30 million hits. So if you're just starting your writing career or you've been writing for a while but you're in a rut and need new ideas and techniques, I'd be happy to share my experience with you and help you get to the next step and beyond.

How to make chilli jam

I'm still dealing with the over-supply of chillies so a couple of days ago I pulled out the bush, stripped the chillies off and started thinking about how to use them.  I decided on a few jars of chilli jam and dried chilli flakes. It will give us the opportunity to enjoy this season's chillies for another few months and both are very easy to make.

Three jars of very tasty hot chilli jam with yesterday's bread.