23 June 2008

Making the most of a Sunday

It does me good to have time away from screens. I know this and make sure I have a couple of days most weeks when I spend most of my time connecting with my natural world. I 've just had two such days where I stayed away from the computer on purpose and watched a DVD with Hanno but nothing else on TV. Sure, I checked my blog and wandered around others for a little while, but both Saturday and Sunday I was quickly off into the work of the day, turning off the screen as I left. I know that for me too many screens - TV, monitors, any screens, prevent me from living the life I want for myself. I know I record my activities here but I could not do that unless I made sure that most of my time was spent connecting with real people, getting my hands dirty and doing, instead of just writing about, work. I love my computer and the ability to connect with people all around the world, but too much of it sucks the life from me. I wonder if this is common or is it something only I feel.

Sometimes, just some times, I watch a movie that impacts on me enough that I keep thinking about it long after it ends. Such films are watched knowing something special is taking place, there are lines I want to remember, ideas captured, simple music played well, and always an excellent script. Hanno and I watched Stranger than Fiction yesterday. What a wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable film. It a story about an obsessive and bland man who counts everything, lives each day as an exact replica of the day before and is reborn into his own life with the aid of cookies and milk and the love of a good baker. It’s a film about death that is life affirming. The film is postmodern, but not too abstract, and I’m sure many of you lovers of social realism will be caught up and captivated by its significance and sweetness, just as I was.

It reminded me that the plain and ordinary make up the broadstrokes of real life and that everyone, even an inconspicuous tax drone, and for that matter, a 60 year old Australian woman, has their own story to tell.

The rest of yesterday was spent pruning our peach and nectarine trees, clipping back grape vines, harvesting bananas, cooking and teaching myself some new crochet techniques. It was a lovely time. The weather was brisk in the morning and mellow in the afternoon. Night time was chilly but our bed was warm with soft flannel sheets and fluffy quilts. Pure joy.

There were a lot of eggs in the fridge so I had to use some of them. I made another swiss chard pie with several whole eggs and some yolks. That was eaten with a fresh garden salad of cherry tomatoes, Lebanese cucumbers and Darwin lettuce, dressed with raspberry wine vinegar and virgin olive oil. The egg whites made little pavlova cases filled with a dollop of local cream and strawberries, bananas and passionfuit from our backyard. Pavlova is usually a Christmas treat around here so it was nice to be able to tuck into them with a hot cup of tea at my side. I like my pavlova crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Here is my recipe.

Four egg pavlova - makes five small pavlova cases

4 egg whites at room temperature, it's best if the eggs aren't really fresh
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons cornflour

Beat the whites until they're starting to stiffen, then add the vinegar and cornflour and one tablespoon of sugar at a time. Beat well before adding the next. Keep beating this until there are stiff peaks.

Place on a baking sheet in small rounds, build the sides up a little by smoothing them with the underside of a spoon. Bake in a coolish oven - 100 C (220 F) until the outside is crisp - about 30 minutes. Then turn off the oven, leave the door open slightly and allow the pavs to cool slowly in the oven. When cool, add a dollop of cream and whatever fruit you have available.

It was a real pleasure to work in my kitchen on a sunny winter's afternoon. The photo at the top of this post shows what it looked like at around 2.30pm. I could see Hanno through the window washing the car on the back lawn and every so often, throwing a ball for Alice to chase.

There are many moments in my life now when I just stop and take it all in, and being there in my kitchen yesterday, making dinner for the two of us, was one such moment. It was just a one thing at a time slow and ordinary day that made me stop and take a picture so I will remember the day I watched Stranger than Fiction, worked in the backyard and made another dinner with what is grown there.

Please note comments are now being moderated. See previous post.



  1. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    HAven't left a comment in awhile ,I do still enjoy your postings so very much!THanks for all the thought and time you put into each one. You have helped me very much in so many ways!

  2. Your kitchen looks so inviting--I would love to cook and bake in there:-)

  3. I have been feeling that I need to take some time from the computer myself. Thank you for the encouragement.

    Lovely post as usual!!

  4. I agree Rhonda - I have to limit myself to 1/2 an hour internet time each day. That includes reading your blog, checking on a forum I like and reading and replying to my emails. I find that if I don't limit myself I could literally sit on this thing all day and get nothing done.

    You are so wise, thank you so much for all your advice. I am slowly changing the way I live my life - one small step at a time.

    Thank you.


  5. Thank you Rhonda for your affirmation of life. Simplicity takes me back to the source of life - which I believe is God. I find God and life in the joy of the basic stuff of living.
    The more busyness and technology, well that removes me from the real life that God has planned for me. I find I become someone different from who I desire to be. The world just swallows you up and I lose a sense of myself and the people around me.
    As for the evil of paedophiles. Well I have suffered at their hands too and they are so lost in their own degradation - they will go to any lengths to indoctrinate others to become like them.
    Yes you must be vigilant as they are extremely persistant.
    God bless your blog and the kind and loving way you share your life with us all.
    Kind regards, Juanita.

  6. We had mini-pavlovas on Friday evening. The only difference, no banana but kiwi fruit instead. I always make meringues if I use a recipe that only requires egg yolks because I hate to waste the whites (and everyone loves them too).

  7. Rhonda
    I think what you are getting is spam. The word verification should be enough, because a computer cannot read the letters.

    I had it happen on my blog and someone suggested for me to do this and nothing happened since.

  8. I feel the same about screens Rhonda, especially the computer. I don't watch much tv but do spend too long here some days and I can feel a difference in myself. I love to connect with people from all over the world but do worry that it comes at a cost of spending time to connect with people in my neighbourhood and nature but mostly with connecting with myself. I have and continue to learn so much from the internet and blogs but sometimes I wonder if I'm really myself or if I've just become a puppet of all that I've read on here. Not sure that made sense but oh well..
    cheers Lenny

  9. We had a nice lazy day on Sunday too. Apart from a few loads of washing, not much got done at our house. It was my husband, A's birthday, so he got to watch the footy (Carlton V Essendon)in peace, in the afternoon and my girls (14 & 17yrs) and I had a Desperate Housewives marathon in the other room. In the evening we had a lamb roast and moist choc cake with ganache and sang Happy Birthday. He said he couldn't think of spending his birthday in a nicer way. Job done!

  10. Sounds like a lovely, peaceful weekend. It's about time I had another of my own.

  11. I'm glad to hear you had such a good weekend,it sounds just wonderful. I know that life's difficulties often are our best instructors but I'm sure there's a lot to be gained from life's simple joys. Taking the time to just stop for a moment and look about and appreciate it is something that, to me, is full of soul, just as much as a moving piece of music might be.

    I had a discussion with DH recently about what would it be like if there was/is such a thing as an afterlife where we become just spirits, what would you look back on and miss about this reality? He wasn't particularly interested until I said,(knowing how he LOVES potatoes) "What if you could NEVER eat another potato?", when a look of absolute horror came over his face.

    I know it's all been said before by mystics and religions, but all too often I get distracted by being too busy or feeling clouded by difficulties, and when I do have those moments I think that this is where the real joy in life is found, (even if it's just appreciating eating potatoes!).

    Regards, Marilyn

  12. I too found myself with 4 egg whites yesterday after making lemon squares and was looking through my recipe books for a meringue recipe with 4 - they call called for one or 2 - found one with 3 but was not sure how much more sugar to add etc. Dilema. My DH loves pavlova too but I didn't have cream so I decided to make almond bread but used walnuts instead as they were all I had - it was easy and the recipe called for 4 egg whites but now I have your recipe - thank you Rhonda and thank you for your inspirational blog - the first I read every day.

  13. Jennifer, it's not spam generated by bots. These people are leaving comments and when you click on their name, you are taken to a pornographic website. I will have to check all new names when they appear to stop them posting.

  14. What a lovely picture of your weekend. The food all sounds all so good. The pictures are great!

    So sorry about the creeps leaving comments and having them go off to a land we all don't want to visit! Someone always has to try and ruin a good time!

  15. I am so interested to hear that you also liked Stranger Than Fiction. The first time my husband and I watched it, he said to me, "You are the baker." I am an attorney, but I find the work sometimes unsatisfying, particularly on the days when everything is conflict-laden as opposed to solution-oriented. I crave the opportunity to nurture people, much like the baker character in the movie. It is just an absolutely delightful film on so many levels. And wonderful acting as well.

    Thank you for yet another wonderful post and inspiration!

  16. I love your blog! It is calming and so inviting. Thanks for taking the time to write daily.

  17. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    Sounds like you all had a blessed Sunday. Loved all the pictures.
    Blessings to you,
    p.s. Hugs to your "furbabies".

  18. Hi Rhonda,
    Great post and that movie sounds interesting. I watched The Jane Austen Book Club movie this morning and can highly recommend it! I agree about having time away from the screens. For me it is mainly the computer that I need to get away from - I spend way too many hours on it... I often try not to go on it on a Sunday and tend to cook now on that day which I love more. Tamara

  19. Beautiful post - I relaxed just reading it - though of course the change of seasons in a catch!

  20. Hi Rhonda,

    I was just wondering what you do with the egg yolks from the pav? Do you have a dish you always cook when doing recipes which only use egg whites? It seems such a waste to not utilise them.

    Froghollow from Dubbo

  21. Hello Rhonda Jean :) I was recommended to your site by a friend and have been slowly working my way from the start to here. I love all your tips on housework and budgeting, and I have to say, so does my husband, suddenly we seem to be on the same wavelength and it's a good feeling.

    I loved Stranger than Fiction too, and cried at the end. But then I cry at most movies!

    I hope you don't mind but I've mentioned you on my blog, because I've made the best ever bread since reading your blog and recipes. You are a hooooge inspiration. Many thanks.

    Kim x

  22. I have been consciously cutting down my computer time, esp online time. I'm also trying to make 1 day / week computer free. I'm achieving so much more!

  23. Hi Rhond i too find the internet tiring but intriguing too

    I love reading about peoples everyday mundane lives and realising they are not

    Shame about the monitoring but neccessary

    Sharron in the UK

  24. I love your kitchen,it's so pretty. I find I really enjoy those slow, one thing at a time days too, and I find that somehow so much more gets done then, than on days where I have a list that HAS to get done.

  25. Hi Rhonda,

    I agree with you that time away from the computer adds balance...there are some times I just want to shut mine off for a long while, but end up blogging to keep some momentum going, since ours is mostly a journal of our journey.

    It's nice that you had time to ENJOY ... :) Stranger Than Fiction is one of Jack's and my favorite movies, and we purchased a copy since we like re-watching it. I loves its message, and there is something wise and innocent throughout.

    Thank you as always for your lovely insights. You're such a wonderful blog neighbor to have!

  26. Ok, Rhonda, is that first picture actually your kitchen?? It's so beautiful!!! And cozy too!! I love it, I want to come sit there and drink an Aussie "cuppa"!
    I don't know the movie you mentioned, I'll look into it because you've made me curious.
    Screen time, I've found that when I spend too much time on the computer I feel as if I've slept when I turn it off. Not slept like I'm rested, but sleepy and groggy. That's why I only use it for an hour when the kids are napping, and chose not to write my blog on the weekend. Both tv and computer can really inspire me and from what I've learnt there my life has changed so much (for the better), but it also takes away from "real living", and for me, it can sometimes feed negative thoughts of jealousy or being unsatisfied. Which I don't want, of course.
    What nasty people are those, to come here and leave spam. I'm sure we're NOT the potential audience for those websites.

    Christine from the NL

  27. Thanks, I have often wondered how computers and these forums can truley fit into our simple lives but again you remind me that balance is the key to everything beautiful and peaceful in life. Community is important in all parts of life, even if it isn't face to face. We can feel blessed to have the opportunity to get to know each other through the technology, and still be able to "close our doors to the world" sometimes to recharge our batteries.

  28. Hi Rhonda! I haven't seen Stranger Than Fiction but I will have to add it to our Netflix queue. My husband loves movies. We almost never watch television -- just movies. I think that it is a nice way to end a busy day. I like to knit while I watch movies, do you?

    I have started to limit my time on the computer, too. I set a kitchen timer so that I don't cheat. :)

    It's helped. I generally only go on the computer while I have a load of wash going. That used to be my veg-out time anyway (it's good to plan vegging time for yourself).

    BTW, I adore your kitchen. So much light! It's lovely.


  29. Hi Rhonda,
    Sounds like you all had a blessed Sunday.
    Loved all the pictures and your words from your heart.
    Blessings to you,

  30. I need a quiet weekend to reconnect! Sounds like that's what you did! Take care!


  31. Beautiful pictures! You're making me hungry!

    I loved Stranger Than Fiction. Great movie!

  32. We have the same cheese grater. So sorry to hear of the pollution in the comments. . I love doing the day in silence sometimes and just tinkering.

  33. Hello everyone. It's nice knowing many of you enjoyed Stranger than Fiction.

    Yes Christine, it is my kitchen. LOL

    Enjoy today. :- )

  34. Hello,
    I enjoy your site. We just planted grape vines last year, and we have baby grapes growing now. Please let me know how to prune the grape vines. We are growing Concord grapes. Summer just started here in Maryland.

  35. Rhonda Jean, LOL! Came back to browse after a long time away and I see your ikea teapot is still up high above your cupboards! So I had to comment. (BTW, I'm not criticizing -- I really like how it looks up there...)

    Your finished kitchen is beautiful.


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