A full weekend

7 July 2008
Hanno and I spent a peaceful weekend together working away on our various chores and watching a couple of TV shows that I recorded through the week. I really have no patience with TV now and find it difficult to watch unless I can fast forward through the advertising. I have to admit too that I find it difficult to understand sometimes. I have never watched the popular programs like Sex in the City or Lost and I find that if I come across them in a promotion, I wonder what on earth they're talking about. Maybe that's my age playing a part or maybe it's a cultural thing because sometimes I do have problems understanding an American accent, especially if it's being spoken fast, as a lot of what I hear is. I mean no offence to any of my American friends. I find I can always understand the southerners, is that because they speak slower?

Anyhow, my favourite programs at the moment are the ABC's The Cook and the Chef and the Book Show, and Time Team, that strangely addictive English program about digging up the ancient past. So my love and I settled in together to watch those programs as the rain fell on the roof, and there under the fleecy rosebud quilt he gave me for my birthday, and with our hot cuppas and just cooked banana and walnut cake, we enjoyed a couple of hours away from the wet coldness outside. I finished off one dishcloth and started on another and Hanno flicked through the Weekend Australian as we watched.

As usual, there was hot bread for lunch, mine with brandywine tomato and fresh cucumber, Hanno's with quark and avocado. You can see Saturday's loaf above, I was just finishing off the rolling out of it when my sister Tricia rang from Sydney to say goodbye. She left for a holiday in Germany and Sweden yesterday so we talked about her plans while I fumbled the dough into the bread tin and placed it in the oven. When the bread was baked there was that big bump coming out the side that you can see in the photo above. Very odd.

And here are the brandywines and cucumbers just after they were harvested. I brought in about 5 kilos (10.5 lbs) of them as well as six cucumbers and a cauliflower.

I did a few lines of sewing on Shane's quilt and hope to have it finished by his birthday, July 15, so we can take it with us when we have lunch to celebrate his 28th birthday. He lives about three hours drive away from us, in a very cold part of the country that is generally below freezing on winter mornings. I think he will welcome an extra quilt and I hope he sees the special things I've sewn into it for him. Actually, for those of you in the south east of Queensland, Shane was on TV last Saturday afternoon. He works at the Peppers Spicers Ridge resort and was filmed in the kitchen cooking, as part of a segment on the resort. You might have seen him.

I made soap on the weekend too. Most of this will go to my sons. They both love my soap and it will be part of their birthday gifts. This one is a olive soap and copha soap. (Copha is a solid block of coconut oil and soy lecithin.) It's the first time I've made soap with copha but it worked well. It took longer to reach trace - about 15 minutes - but it's made up into a nice soap that has a good firm feel to it. I'll dry it on this rack for a couple of weeks, turning it every two days, them wrap it up with raffia and special personalised wrappers.

And here is the new soap form Hanno made for me using an old mitre box. It worked really well as I wanted these long thick blocks of soap.

I have been feeling pretty lazy lately as I haven't done anything about my book, even after all those wonderful comments you all made when I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago. I thought by now I would have sent off a couple of letters, with examples of my work, to some publishers, but no, it's still undone. Hopefully I'll get to it soon. When I do I'll let you know.

Today I'm back at my voluntary job with all the hard work, organisation and effort that takes. I adore my job, it gives me much more than it takes, and I think it keeps me on my toes. I work with a lot of young people there, as well as families and the aged, so it keeps me grounded and well informed. We are in the process of building a new building to house our Centre so there is a lot of work going on with that - meetings, phones calls, letters etc., but there are also the day to day things, like lighting the fire in the morning and providing hot tea and hospitality to our visitors, that give me a lot of joy. I am the manager of the Centre so there is a lot of responsibility that goes with the job but it is a part of my life that I embrace as life affirming and significant. We look after the homeless and disadvantaged and as many of our clients are the same age as my own sons, I try to create an atmosphere of acceptance and love that I would like my boys to find if ever they needed this kind of help. I am ever thankful they don't and I show my appreciation for that by helping provide it for others.

I hope you have a wonderful week full of satisfying work and some quiet time to balance it and regenerate you. To all the new visitors, and I'm always surprised how many of you arrive each week, I welcome you and hope you find what you're looking for here.


  1. You can't beat a bit of Tony Robinson! My daughter, who is 8, calls it the digging program and like watching Mick's wild jumpers.

  2. Another Timewatch fan here! It's my favourite part of Sunday (plus the wonderful men's final at Wimbledon today of course)
    Your weekend sounds lovely Rhonda;
    I've had a quiet weekend too, spent some time working out my new budget. I think I will be a lot better off in this new place; the rent is much cheaper and its smaller so less to heat, although savings there are likely to be cancelled out by the huge increases in utility bills we are all experiencing. Still I'm confident that I'm back on track and now looking to sort out some storage for my stock cupboard. This place is really small but I will find space somewhere!

  3. Yes, Northerners do talk more quickly than Southerners. Or as we say in New England, Southerners talk so slow it takes them forever to say anything, and they've always got so much to say! New Englanders in particular tend to be both fast-speaking and terse, which is probably a difficult-to-understand combination unless you grew up in the area... :)

    However, I have a very hard time understanding the Southern drawl, and letting it keep my attention long enough to finish out the sentence!

    And for heaven's sake, tea is served HOT and unsweetened!

    (This is all meant to be taken in a light-hearted tone.)

  4. Well, I have to turn on "closed caption" when trying to understand Australian or British accents! I'm thankful that reading blogs is straightforward (except for that "chook" thing). Have been busily recording our monthly expenditures per Rhonda Jean's timely words of wisdom. My mind is going every which way with ideas for "economizing". It's scaring me how empowering this all is.

  5. Your program sounds a lot better than prime time shows we have here in America.

  6. I was chuckling as I read your description of US TV......since I have never seen either "Sex & the City" or "Lost", I am a cultural anomaly in my own country. I tend to believe more good souls that agree with you read your blog than watch shows. You have definitely shown us there is more to life than what's on the tube.
    My Brandywines are just blooming and I'm hoping for a good harvest like you had. It's rather fun to see ahead to the next season by seeing your pictures.

  7. Beautiful soap! I'm actually planning to use your recipe/formula to make some after my son goes to pre-kindergarten this fall. He's far to busy for me to dedicate the time needed to soap, especially for my first time. I'm looking forward to it! I'm week by week (it seems) greening up my life and making a lot more rather than buying.

    I love reading your blog. Very inspirational, as I've posted before.

  8. I needed to read something calm and peaceful like this after the time we've been having. You're absolutely right about creating an atmosphere of nurturing and peacefulness. I want the kids to always remember home as being like that.

  9. Rhonda,
    Oh wow...your soap is beautiful.
    So glad you all had a blessed weekend.
    We live in the south, Georgia, and we do talk slow, no doubt.
    Thank you for your beautiful post.
    p.s. hugs to your "girls"

  10. Hi RJ,

    Your soap look wonderful as usual!. I too made a banana walnut cake and most of it has disappeared! I love the cook and the chef - I have been to the Pheasant Farm when it was a restaurant run by Maggie and also more recently as her shop. One of my school mates is also a producer on the show!
    I too don't watch much other TV - but I have seen all of Sex and the City (mostly on DVD) - I'll admit I am a huge fan of the show :)

  11. I suppose you'd have absolutely no trouble understanding me since my Southern accent is apparently very thick (at least that's the opinion of all the Northerners that live here in FL - I, on the other hand, can't understand them!). Your garden bounty looks divine and the soap is so beautiful!

  12. I suppose you'd have no trouble understanding me since my Southern accent is apparently very thick (at least that's how the Northerners that live here in FL carry on - I, on the other hand, can't understand them!). Your garden bounty looks divine and the soap is so beautiful!

  13. Rhonda,

    Your soap looks wonderful...did you start your Etsy shop? I would love to buy some!

    Maria M

  14. Rhonda, can you tell me how the cost of making your homemade soap compares to the cost of cheapie store bought? I understand the quality must be much greater :-) but curious as to the cost difference. Thank you!

  15. Bless your heart for doing the volunteer work you do! It takes a special person to do that work! Do you get to hear a lot of success stories? Do people come back and tell you how their lives have changed?

    I love reading your blog daily :)

    Green Bay, WI via Toronto, Canada

  16. Hi everyone!

    Moey, soap costs around $1 a bar to make. Much cheaper than natural soap, which is $5 a bar, but more expensive than normal commercial soap from the supermarket.

  17. sounds like a perfect weekend to me! We are on the road for another 2 weeks, once home I will be busy with canning, soap (we're almost out) andthe swap. Always love your posts, my friend.

  18. Happy birthday to your son! My oldest daughter will be 23 on the same day!

    My bread will often do that same bump thing. I still have no idea what causes it. I have tried slitting the top straight down the center or several slits across the top. It still occasionally turns out weird. Even when I bake several loaves at once, I will get a odd one or two and some normal ones. It's a mystery to me!

  19. Well, you know Rhonda Jean, you've never had a bit of trouble understanding my comments either and I'm an American Southener! I think the Northeners write way too fast....Oddily enough, I'm baking banana / walnut cake this week but I like to throw in a handful of frozen cranberries just to give it a bit of zing. I do actually bake them frozen as they keep their shape better than thawed and don't 'run'.

    And by the way, my daughter will be turning 5 years old on.....you guessed it....July 15th. We're like twins RJ..... :D Enjoy your week ya'll.


  20. We got rid of our television about 3 years ago and haven't looked back. I have seen Time Team and I really liked that program. I love it when history comes alive.

  21. I spent my weekend de-cluttering what will be my pantry but now have a dreadfully cluttered kitchen instead. Progress is slow and as my daughter's coming to visit from Norway next week, I'm starting to get a bit anxious about getting everything done in time so I really need to calm down. I know she'll understand if some things are 'upside down' because the kitchen reorganisation really is a work in progress, with progress being slow (mostly because of the cost involved).

    I've taken plenty of time out to play with my new kitten, though :)

  22. I read the soap-making tutorial and it's very informative, but you don't mention what you use to grease the moulds. Do you just brush them with a vegetable oil?

  23. You don't like Sex & The City? That definitely must be age, my mother says the same thing. ;-)
    The soap looks good! I still have all the supplies and haven't tried it. That lye still scares me...
    You know, I don't think you should feel guilty about not having done a lot about the book. Perhaps you're still mentally preparing. I think you should take your time and when you're ready, you'll do what's necessary and have it done in no time.
    Banana and walnut cake is one of our favorites! It's delicious.

    Christine from the NL

  24. Oh I LOVE Time Team, and I'm rather chuffed that not only is it shown in Australia, but that you share my love for the programme, Rhonda!

    I had a very quiet little weekend, despite it being my birthday yesterday (Sunday 6th). This has given me my first proper taste of being considered 'different' because I didn't go out 'celebrating' and get stupidly drunk. Now I've only been reading this blog for about 6 months, but still, the thought of going down the pub and spending the best part of £50 on alcohol gives me the shivers these days. Don't get me wrong, I had a beer last night as a bit of a treat, but I don't see any point in overdoing it.

    Just goes to show how much I've changed, and I'm barely a quarter of the way to where I want to be. People look at you oddly if you don't get hideously drunk at the drop of a hat in the UK. They say 'that's nice' but their eyes say 'why on earth would you want to stay home on your birthday'? The simple answer is that home is my favourite place to be, so why be anywhere else?

    Rosieb, wasn't the Wimbledon final yesterday utterly brilliant? That was enough of a present for me! Such tension!

    I love reading all your comments :-) Have a good week everybody xx


  25. Mt weekend was quiet, but thats how I wanted it. OH was still suffering from the effects of the drugs they have given him, so slept a lot.

    I watched the wimbledon final yesterday.......what a marathon that was.

    OH did not have such a good night last night, I ended up on the setee for about 2 hours sleep, he feels more awake today, looks like he is getting used to the tablets.

    I nipped to the library for books for him this morning and also needed some fruit and carrots, ours are not ready at the lottie and I am not sure when I will manage to get there again.

    I am hoping ot have a nap this afternoon, have just cooked a gammon joint for supper tonight and will slice it, should do for 4 meals and some sandwiches as well.

  26. Hi Rhonda
    It's wonderful to read about the warm & caring attitude you have with the people you come into contact with at your voluntary job. It's an amazing & wonderful commitment you have made to reach out and help and guide those in need. (I realize that you mention your job not to have praise heaped upon you, but to give your readers an insight to your work & for me it's a gentle way make me more aware & thankful for the loving family and home I have).

  27. I'm impressed with the meals that you fix. I know that you and your husband are vegetarians and my husband and I have been talking about becoming vegetarians. How do you know you are getting enough protein? Is there enough in just bread and cheese and the vegetables in your simple meals? I'm very interested in your thoughts on this. Terry

  28. the tomatoes look great!!! i can't wait until my tomatoes on the balcony are ready for harvest!
    greetings, sanja

  29. That's funny about the language thing. I'm a Florida native with an Alabama bred mother and a New York bred father. Southerns do talk slower and have a lot to say.

    One thing though, I've heard it said that the southern US accent is very similar to some English and/or Aussie accents. That may be another reason why you understand it better.

    Lavender Blue

  30. Hi! I just found your blog last night (while searching for a laundry soap recipe, incidentally) and I'm truly enjoying it. My husband and I also wish to live more simply, but our reasons for doing so have nothing to do with greenhouse gases or carbon footprints (To be honest, neither of us really buy the whole "carbon footprint" thing). For us it really boils down to this: God gave us a beautiful earth and blesses us every day; it's time we stopped taking everything for granted and learned to be thankful and appreciate what we have. My husband was especially inspired by your posts on aquaponics (which isn't really an option for us right now as we live on a military base) and of all things, soap-making. :) He's thinking the two will come in handy once we finish his career in the military and begin our second as missionaries. I'm so excited about the changes we're making! We've got two little ones and are planning for two more, so that does complicate things a bit, but we really feel like a simpler, more thankful life is easily within our reach. Thank you so very much for all of the wonderful ideas in your blog. We've both found them inspiring. Sorry for the long comment!

  31. I love to read your blog.

    The pictures of your home are wonderful, and you seem so happy!

    It is good to see :)

    I have a long way to go before I'm anywhere near as organised as you are, but I'm working on it!

    You are an inspiration to me Rhonda

    Best Wishes,


  32. Oh my yes, those Northerners talk wayyyy too fast. I used to have trouble understanding the British accents on BBC until I learned to turn the TV up REAL LOUD. That helped me understand better (LOL)

  33. I was wondering do you have a tutorial on your soap making?

    Gill from Canada


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