Q & A

21 August 2008
Hello everyone. My routine has been thrown out somewhat because I have a visitor here. My second sister, Kathleen, arrived yesterday afternoon after flying in from Perth. She is flying home to Townsville this morning. I haven't seen her since my birthday so it's great to have her here. When she leaves, Hanno has to go to the doctor to have his eyes checked. I don't think I shared this earlier but he had an eye test recently and it revealed glaucoma in one eye and a bleeding retina and cataract in the other. This morning's visit is to the eye specialist who will decide what treatment is necessary. He is a bit nervous about this visit so it's good it will be over and done with this morning. Not knowing is terrible.

Later in the day, Shane and Sarndra will arrive for lunch. They drove over last night to attend the funeral of a friend's stillborn baby. How sad is that! It will be lovely to see them both, even though the reason for their visit is so sad. I'll bake bread for lunch and already have a fruit cake baked so I don't have to do much before they arrive.

So today I thought I'd answer a few of the questions I haven't had time for during the week. Also, I want to thank all those people who commented in the Taking Lunch to Work post. I found some really helpful comments that I hope will help keep me on the straight and narrow.

My main thank you today goes to Sharon who has been a constant help to me organising swaps and now the knitting buddies. I am sure many other readers join with me in thanking you Sharon. I love the idea of knitting mentors and I hope both the learners and the mentors enjoy the experience. Please keep us updated with your progress.

First up, a photo of Alice for Cathy. I thought you might like this Cathy as you ask about her. She is fine, although still pining for Rosie. I took the photo yesterday morning as she watched me type yesterday's post. Hanno bathed her yesterday so she is looking shiny and fluffy.

Mary Ellen, it's fine to link here. Thank you for your kind comments, I hope you find what you're looking for here.

Chookie and leemomofthree, Hanno and I will net the peaches in the next day or so. When we do I'll take a photo that shows what we use.

Aileen, the recipe for soy and linseed bread is similar to my white bread recipe but you replace the white bread flour with soy and linseed flour, and leave out the gluten flour. You might have to search around for soy and linseed flour. I get mine from my local bulk wholefoods merchant. If you can't find it locally, you might find some in your state online.

Renee, I think the tide is turning. I am involved in organising some life skills workshops which include bread making, worm farming, compost making, bamboo construction, sewing and mending and preserving. And look at the popularity of this blog, it's incredible. I think it's still at the very beginning of the turn but I think there is a general feeling that things need to change. Some, like you, me and many of the readers here, come to that change early, others will follow. So you better get as many jars as you can now because who knows what will happen. ;- )

lisa-michigan, I agree totally with what you said: Planning-it is a skill and takes practice. Traveling with little ones. My daughter is 3 years old and since the day she was born I never wanted to be in a position to HAVE to grab food because she ran out of formula/baby food/adult food, I either bring food with us, stuff it in my purse or make sure she eats before we leave. The hubby is getting better about that but he's just learning since we've been together how to plan.

Planning-it is a skill and takes practice. Step outside your life and be critical of the choices that affect your time. Not critical of yourself but your decision-making.

Living simply is made easier when you organise yourself to do it. When we're organised, we have the time to do for ourselves and don't have to pay through the nose for someone else to do the work for us.

Kim NZ, Hanno uses kale with pork knuckle, pork sausage and kassler - which is like smoked pork chops. I hope your DH like the kale.

Hi Cindy, it worked. LOL I'll change the feed later today. This is a brilliant link, thank you.

CB, I loved your post. It is a good illustration of how a bit of thought can give you a great lunch and save money at the same time. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Jennifer (humble wife), I really like your system and the generosity of your sweet treats. It is a lovely way to share what you have with others.

Ward, thank you. I hope you find a way to harvest your crops with those squirrels hovering.

Pippa, yet another great system for providing variety. Thanks for sharing.

anonymous, I think Charis gave some excellent advice. Thank you so much, Charis. I think you're already doing a lot and seem to mindful of where you're going and have made some good choices. I think it would be wise to cook meals for more than one and freeze the leftovers in one portion size containers. Do you have a freezer? Meals like soups, casseroles, curries etc freeze very well and will save you time and a bit of power (elec or gas) because you aren't cooking every day, just reheating. Do you have student friends who would be willing to swap food? You could all cook enough for four, keep one for yourself and swap the other three, thus providing variety. And remember boiled eggs, cheese or a small tin of tuna with salad and a simple potato salad for easy to make nutritious meals for one. I'll think of a couple of other recipes for you and post them soon.

Rose asked: Rhonda my queries re bread and yoghurt. Bread: my proofed yeast bubbles well but I get a very liquid loaf if I prepare the dough in the breadmaker. Should I dispense with proofing and follow the instruction book's order of ingredients?

Yoghurt: if I add the one third cup of powdered milk I get grit and lumps, even if I mix it with a little of the heated milk before adding it to the mixture. Any tips?

Rose, it sounds like you're adding too much liquid to the mix. Include the liquid you add to the yeast in the entire amount needed for the bread. For instance, if the recipe says 280mls and you use 30 mls to prove the yeast, you'd only add 250mls to the mix. Also, flour changes. Different batches from the same manufacturer take different amounts of water. The weather on the day also plays a part. You will need less water on a humid day. When I make bread, either by hand or in the machine, I always use enough liquid to mix, but I hold some of the allocation back. I ALWAYS test the dough with my fingers. You learn after doing this a few times what the dough should feel like. It's the best way to judge moisture content. Remember, you can always add more water, but never take it out, so be prudent when adding it.

Powdered milk goes lumpy when it's added to something already heated. Dissolve your one third cup of milk powder in a very small amount of cold water and reduce the amount of liquid used in the yoghurt to accommodate the amount used to dissolve the powder. You could also try using a good thick greek style yoghurt for your starter instead of thickening it with extra powder. I hope that helps.

Christine (simple quilter) thank you for your kind help with the knitting. Sharing what we know and helping others is a big part of this way of life. We all need to be helping others, especially those younger girls who are new to all this.

Moey, the baby is absolutely gorgeous. You look like a very happy mum. Congratulations to you and your husband. :- )

Jennlala, thank you for that link. I'm going to show it to my friend Bernadette who likes the holey dishcloths and is a great crocheter.

Mama K, a good friend of mine who lives in Belize makes pineapple vinegar. He says it makes up a great brew.

Carolyn, once the required amount of time has passed, just taste the vinegar, you'll know when it's ready. Also, if you see scum settling on the top, that's okay but you need to remove it. Use a clean cotton cloth or just scoop it up with a spoon.

Shannon, I hope you continue to be inspired to live well by reading my blog. I also hope you pass on what you learn to your friends. Welcome and thank you for your comment.

Shel - YAY! That's is so good that you taught yourself with the links. They were posted by Sharon, my right hand woman, who helps me here. I'll tell her about your comment.

I hope I haven't missed any questions. If I have, let me know and I'll try better next time. This post has taken so long to write as I've had breakfast with Kathleen before she left and have done a bit of work in the house in preparation for Shane and Sarndra's arrival later this morning. Please send your good thoughts and prayers for Hanno who is just about to leave for his doctor's appointment.


  1. Good Morning Rhonda and Hanno.
    Good luck with your trip to the doctor this morning. Hope all goes well.

    Pippa x

  2. Sure hope it goes well for your Hanno. Glaucoma can so easily be treated now.

    I'm excited about the book prospect, Rhonda, and just selfish enough to think that - horrors! - you might be so busy getting it all put to the publishers that we DTE blog fans will just have to go without your wise words from time to time! That WAS a selfish thought, wasn't it.

    A question, if I may? I made the barm brack this past weekend and it is really lovely. We're still having it toasted for breakfast and it's almost gone. The dough was quite soupy, not at all like a regular bread dough. I kneaded more flour in several times then thought that maybe it's supposed to be wetter than regular bread dough. So, is it? (It actually baked fine loaf in 50 minutes at 350 degrees F).

  3. Heres to a great appointment for Hanno.

    My Dad had diabetic issues with his eyes so I am familiar with the stress of wondering what is going on with them.

    I must add that the Australian athletes have been very impressive at the Olympics. I have enjoyed the swimmers and the scull.

    Becky K.

  4. Rhonda Jean and Hanno, I will certainly pray for a successful doctor's visit today. Suzan is right, glaucoma can be treated much better these days and there are several non-invasive treatments for retinal tears and bleeds. Sometimes Mother Nature takes care of the problem while we're trying to figure what to do about it!
    Having visits from your family adds a little sunshine as well.
    Thanks for everything and we care about you both. JudieJ

  5. Last year my grandfather (age 97) has had surgery in one eye for diabetes-related glaucoma, and is up for another one later this month. Hopefully that is all there is with Hanno, because they can transplant a retina as an outpatient surgery now - amazing!

    You're so lovely with your readers, Rhonda - very warm and nurturing!

  6. I'll be thinking of you and Hanno this morning hoping that the news will be good. I'd like to send a hug to Alice too to help relieve the pining.

    It's sad for your son's friends. My first daughter was stillborn and it's surprising how many people come out of the woodwork to tell you of their own sad experinces when a thing like that happens. I'm just glad to hear they have funerals for those families these days. It's a huge improvement in helping with the grief process and feeling that society has recognised their existence.

    Hoping you all can have a better afternoon. Regards, Marilyn

  7. Thank you Rhonda for those answers to my bread and yoghurt questions, I shall follow your advice.

    Hanno I'm thinking of you. I was diagnosed with glaucoma in my 40s, I'm now 53. I had a small op on one eye (sort of like a bypass) which has been successful. The other eye's pressure is kept under control with daily drops.

    The only change to my eyesight has been a small degree of night blindness and a little on the edges of my vision. "Field tests" monitor this.

    rosmar at 1earth dot net

  8. Did your sister enjoy her visit in Perth, Rhonda? I loved living there so much, it's a beautiful city with wonderful people living in it. Thank you for your kind post, and for stopping by to visit our new little bub.

  9. Hi Rhonda, so sorry to hear about Rosie, I didn't have pets as a child but since marrying my DH who absolutely adores his dogs, I wouldn't be without one either.

    Best wishes to Hanno for his appointment today.

    As I have been in Victoria for almost a month, DSIL had a heart attack (doing fine now), it has been great catching up with your wonderful posts, keep up the good work and best of luck with the book, I certainly will buy it. Joy

  10. Dearest Rhonda,
    You are so sweet. Oh how I LOVE the picture of Alice. She is beautiful.
    I think of her often.
    I'll be in prayer for Hanno and for you. What a wonderful couple you are...full of love for each other.
    Blessings to you my friend,

  11. Hi RJ
    I work for an Optometrist and it is amazing what they can do these days in treating glucoma and cataracts!
    Great to hear about your book deal and hope it come through for you. I'm just about to start reading Animal, vegetable, miracle (it's waiting for me at the library!)
    I have also taken the first steps to setting up an informal fruit & veggie co-op with my friends.
    take care of you

  12. Hi Sharon
    Hope all went well with Hanno. You never appreciate what you have until there is the chance you could loose it. I have a couple of questions: 1) i have made yoghurt as per your instructions and found it to be too runny, so have placed back into a warmed oven for another 8 hours and still too runny! Have you any ideas? and 2) I live on the northern outskirts of Brisbane and would love to know where you buy your ingredients for your bread (I have just started making my own and find the local supermarkets too expensive for whole grains etc)? Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

  13. Good luck Hanno! Thinking of you.

  14. Hi Rhonda,
    I'm from Brisbane and I've been visiting your site regularly for the last few months, and I just wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed my visits and how much I've learnt from you. You are an inspiration to me as I don't know anyone who thinks like you do in my real life - my friends and family all think I'm a bit eccentric.

    In recent months I've started to garden organically - I have killed a lot of plants and made many mistakes, but yesterday I picked my first head of broccoli - and it looked just like the ones at the store - and I didn't spray it with anything - just picked a sunny spot for the bed, prepared the soil with lots of manure and added some blood and bone, seasol, compost and mulch.

    I've relearnt how to knit (I hadn't done it for since I was a kid 25 years ago). I'm not very good yet, but I'm getting there; started a budget diary; started cooking more things from scratch - This week I tried making tortilla's; buying our clothes from op shops; started cutting my kids hair myself; using hankies not tissues etc.

    On my to do list are to get a water tank, and make a chicken ark and get 2-3 chooks as we only have a small yard. Eventually it would be great to get some solar panels, but we've a young family, a mortgage and credit cards to pay off so it's baby steps for us.

    I hope Hanno's visit to the Dr's goes well. And I wish you every success with your book. Your positivity, generosity of spirit and your practical wisdom are just what the world needs - thank-you.

  15. Hi Rhonda & Hanno!
    I hhope the visit goes well & that Hanno will only need drops!. *cross fingers* Also hoping your sister has a safe trip to home.

    Q. What fruit do you grow up on your little patch of sunshine :) I saw that you had peaches. What other fruit trees do you grow? We are trying to get some information for our climate (sunnie coast) but the local garden shops are a bit scarce on the information front, unless you are actually buying. Any how.
    Have a great day
    Chrissie & Co.

  16. Good morning :)hope all goes well at the Dr's for Hanno today.

    What a lovely picture of Alice,she's really gorgeous.I can rarely get good pictures of my dog facing the camera,he hates it and will turn away, run off or just look as glum as he can to try and put me off!

  17. Dear Rhonda
    I have been a reader for a while but this is my first comment. Since moving to the Gold Coast I have not been in the right mind set to put in a veggie garden but in early winter I decided to pull up my socks and get back into some serious gardening, well at least plant a salad patch and some herbs. I went on the trusty net to research what to plant in this or similar climates and came across your blog.

    It has been such a delight to read your take on life which so often reflects my own and what wonderful thoughts and tips are shared in your blog from yourself and your lovely readers.

    So to explain my great excitement, yesterday I harvested our first home grown salad greens eaten with my own bread rolls, made on the weekend in bulk as I work fulltime, and kept in the freezer for lunches during the week. The seedlings were only planted one month and one day ago, what a climate for mid-winter!! DS (12) helped with the planting, so was thrilled to help with the picking and eating, and DS carnivore (16) ate ALL his salad, what a triumph.

    All the best to Hanno at the specialist today and thanks again for your lovely blog and the community that has formed around it.

  18. Interesting to see your sister is from Townsville. Many years ago when my children were small. we planned to move to Townsville from North Carolina. I was going to work at the University there. My husband and I had gone through all the interviews, police background checks, shots, etc. and the thing that stopped us was finding out that we would have to quarantine our Weimaraner for 6 months...to us, that would have been like leaving one of the children behind. So I'm still in the US and enjoying life in Australia thru your writings.

  19. I do hope the trip to the hospital went well for Hanno - anything to do with your sight is always a big worry.
    Sorry that Alice is still so sad - it is as hard for animals as people when they lose someone close. She looks very smart in the photo.
    I hope you enjoyed the rest of the day with the family anyway and good luck with your future book.

  20. All the best to Hanno as he makes the doctor's visit, and I hope that the treatment and recovery will be very rapid.


    AM of the bread

  21. Good luck Hanno, I hope its nothing too bad :-)

    On the stillbirths stories - I was only 2 at the time, but my little sister was stillborn. I think that was the biggest factor with my Mum's problems. My thoughts are with Shane and Sardra's friends.

    Good luck with the book Rhonda, I hope its the revolution it deserves to be xxx

  22. You and Hanno are in my thoughts and Prayers. May your day be Blessed with Good News.


  23. Hoping that all has gone well with Hanno's appointment today and that it will be attended to with ease.

    I wanted to let you know that having read many of the comments of the knitter's looking for mentors and after visited some of the blogs, I have found inspiration in these women who are adding skills to their lives.

    I have knitted for more than half of my life and do it with little thought and it has become such a part of my muscle memory that I can do it in the dark or while hiking and walking.

    What I can't do is crochet...and for no good reason other than I haven't made it a goal. But last year the idea of learning to crochet began simmering again after I came across this website


    And so with crochet hook and thread in hand and the inspiration of others in my heart...let the chaining begin!

    You might post a call for crochet mentors as I have absolutely no idea what I am doing!

    The world needs a few more Rhondas!

  24. Hello Rhonda Jean, I sooo love your blog and have a little something for you over at mine

    Kim x

  25. I love that you read each comment and respond to the questions. You are so terrific!


  26. thanks for another great post Rhonda!

    I hope that the retina bleed stops soon and you are back to good eye health Hanno xxx

    this must have been a very very hard time for you ,

    our thoughts are with you



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