Winding down

4 December 2009
Oh my, in two weeks time it will be Christmas Eve. It's been a really busy month for me with hardly a spare minute to sit and think about what needs to be done. The year just got busier as it progressed and now, when we're almost at the end, one major thing has been removed from the list of things to do. Our new Centre won't be ready to move into until mid-January. It's very disappointing, but at least we won't have to pack up and move in the middle of preparations for Christmas and our big breakfast on Christmas morning.

Our beautiful guest, Koda.
Click on photos to enlarge them.

The mother's group gathering for another meeting.

Today, Hanno and I will do our one and only Christmas shop. We have the family coming for a celebration lunch the Sunday before Christmas and it will be the first year that Shane and Sarndra celebrate as a married couple and Kerry will be here with his special girl, Sunny. It's a bonus having Kerry here because he travelled to Canada and the US in July, supposedly to be away for a year or so, but he came back home after a few weeks because he missed Sunny so much.
:- )

Corn and beans are growing well.

The parrots haven't found the sunflowers yet.

So this is my plan. We leave here this morning, early, Hanno has a haircut first, then we drive into Brisbane to pick up a few things and go to a shop I've wanted to visit for a long time. It's a little shop in the suburbs, I'm taking my camera and hope to have photos to share next week. I hope I find what I'm looking for because I have no patience for shopping now and I know I'll want to come home if things get too difficult. But I also know this will be the only time I go to the shops before Christmas. Our summer school holidays start on Friday and I'm not going back to the shops again for a long time. I remember back to a time when I had several day long shopping trips to gather Christmas gifts and food. I am totally beyond that now. Now it's much more simple ... and enjoyable.

Blueberries and eggplant to pick.

Over the weekend I'll have a chance to catch my breath and do some chores here at home. The garden is winding down nicely but there are still quite a few vegetables to pick. Hopefully we'll have potato salad for our Christmas lunch made with potatoes that are still in the ground. There are a lot of eggplant and a few cucumbers to pick and a nice stand of corn growing well. There is a small amount of fruit - a few blueberries and some mangoes. We haven't had much luck with the bananas and passion fruit recently but as they produce most of the year, hopefully, if we're patient, we'll get some crops in the near future. I still have 10 litres/quarts of lemon juice in the freezer, more lemons are ready to pick every day, with half grown green lemons coming on for the coming months. The garden might be winding down, but there's nothing to complain about here. We have more than enough for ourselves and to share.

I didn't realise until I got closer to the mango tree that Lucy was on the other side of the fence.

A closer look at the green mangoes.

I hope your Christmas shopping and gift making is coming along well. Thank you for your visits this week and for the comments you make. It's always very interesting and comforting reading your comments. It's the one way I have to know who is out there and that we are not alone in the desire to live a simple life.


  1. It seems so odd from here in the US to see so much green, growing things, but I love it and it gives me a great reminder of summer - as it spits ice pellets outside.

    Your place looks so nice!

  2. I love reading your blog, and you are most certainly NOT alone in wanting a simple life. My husband and I have desired simplicity from the beginning. It is so encouraging to read your like-minded posts! I learn so much from you, even if you are on the other side of the world (we live in the US). Have a wonderful day! :)

  3. Always love the pictures of your chickens and gardens! Could you tell me what kind of blueberries you grow? We get very hot summers here in SW Oklahoma and I wasn't sure how well blueberries would do, but if they grow where you are, maybe they would grow here as well!

    Sounds like your Christmas plans are taking shape!

  4. Hello Benita, Amanda and Cat!

    Cat, we grow Biloxi and Sunshine Blue but neither of them are prolific fruiters. I believe Rabbiteyes are the best for warm areas and when we replant we'll use Brightwell blueberries - a Rabbiteyes type.

  5. Oh Rhonda I haven't done my one day of Christmas shopping yet but I will have to bite the bullet and go next week. I hope your day is as good as it can be.

  6. Hi, I don't normally post on blogs like this, but I can't help myself this time around. I'm an American living in Canada where we have a little skiff of snow lying on the cold, cold ground. It's beautiful compared to the drab brown that was there.
    Anyway, I wanted you to know that I really enjoy reading your blog and seeing the pics from Down Under.
    Oh, by the way, you might be happy to know that you have an extra week until Christmas Eve (that is, unless Australia celebrates Christmas a week before we do here in North America; grin, grin). Or did I miss something (like you plan to celebrate early)?
    Thanks for your blog. I love reading it.

  7. Hi Rhonda well you have an extra week till Christmas there is 3 It is coming very quickly. I have only got food shopping to do Christmas.
    Your Garden is looking good as always.

  8. I'm so happy you get to be with your family for Christmas! Your posts delight me every read, reminding me of the simplicity I love and work towards. Thank you for sharing your life with us. :-)

  9. Hello there! Your blog looks wonderful and your garden even better! I am writing a slow series at the moment and wish I had more time for the garden - it pines for me I am sure! still great to see such wonderful photos!

  10. Hi Rhonda, I have just made green mango chutney out of mangoes just like in your photo. About 30 mangoes gave us 16 good jars of chutney that just gets better with age. The last bottle we had was 5 years old and it was lovely! Will share the recipe if you and your family like chutney, Regards Julia in Mackay

  11. It is bitterly cold here right now, so it is nice to see pictures of green grass and your garden.

    Lots of our gifts are homemade this year and we are busy with that. Trying to avoid the stores at all costs.

  12. Hi Rhonda,
    you have an extra week.
    Its three weeks till Christmas eve, my you gave me a shock thinking I was more behind than I already feel! LOL

  13. Hello ladies! Thanks for your comments. Anyone who has read here for any length of time will know by now how hopeless I am with dates and time. Since I gave away all my watches and now that it doesn't matter much what day it is, I'm usually way off when I talk about either. Forgive me, it's not meant to deceive you.

    Julia, I'd love your chutney recipe please. There are quite a few mangoes on the tree. Thank you!

  14. Good morning Rhonda, I hope you aren't too exhausted when you get back from Brisbane -- I share your views on shopping. I was wondering how the Centre was going, never mind most building jobs take longer than expected.We are celebrating my Mum's 83rd bday this weekend. Have a good one.

  15. Thanks for responding about the blueberries. I'd been reading about rabbiteyes recently as well. May give them a try this spring!

  16. Rose, I hope you all enjoy your celebrations. What a lovely time for your mum!

  17. I love reading your blog. I live in Colorado, where it's currently 18 degrees out. So when I see your garden in full bloom and your chickens running around, it brings a smile to my face. Have fun Christmas shopping.

  18. Hi Rhonda and any one else with access to green mangoes..they have to be really green with the texture of raw potato when you cut into them. Mightn't hurt to wear gloves to peel and slice them as some people react to the sap. Also this is a huge recipe, I have to make 2 batches as my stockpot is too small. If you have a big one though it is fine.

    Green Mango Chutney
    4 kg mango flesh, I slice the mangoes till I have enough then pulse in the food processor to make smaller bits. If you are keen you can chop into the size you prefer.
    4 kg sugar
    500g raisins (or sultanas)
    250g garlic cloves
    500 g dates, chopped (again pulse)
    500g crystallised ginger
    250g salt
    1.8 litres brown (malt) vinegar
    8 - 10 birdseye chillies (you may prefer less - or more!)
    About 16 jars..I had an assortment of sizes, but a trained eye would maybe be able to tell, better to have too many ready than not enough.
    Put sugar and vinegar in stock pot and stir till some of the sugar dissolves, then add pulsed fruit and garlic and chillis and salt. Bring to boil, then simmer for an hour. It should darken and jell on a saucer. It use hot oven baked jars and boiled lids. They should pop shut and store in the cupboard. Superb with Christmas ham, even better for next years.

  19. Hi Rhonda, can you edit my previous comment with the recipe, to mention to chop or pulse the ginger, garlic, chillis and raisins too unless you like it chunky. Sometimes I feel less salt wouldn't hurt either but that is a taste thing.Have a good day in Brisbane shopping, better to get it over with sooner rather than later!

  20. Hi Rhonda, oh my you gave me a start too when you said 2 weeks to Christmas. I too very rarely look at a watch or calender so felt I was way off track LOL. You have inspired me raid the bird seed and plant some sunflowers after seeing your lovely where to fit them in! Enjoy your 1 day shopping, as much as you can. I will do my Christmas shop tomorrow and then that's it for a very long time, I'll stock up my "shop" at home and not go back until just before school starts next year. Enjoy your Christmas and thank you for such a lovely blog.


  21. Just wanted to share with you that my oldest dd and I had a lengthy conversation about the fact that you get to have summer at Christmas and your location in the world, etc. Your blog provides great homeschool material when my dd reads over my shoulder. :) Thanks! Allison

  22. I so understand what you mean about shopping. Being at home brings me a lot more pleasure than shopping. Thank you for sharing your photos. It's nice to see what you have going on. Blessings from the U.S.

  23. Hi Rhonda, This might sound sort of silly but, I've been so inspired by your blog and others like it (yours is the one I use most), that I've been pursuing a couple different crafting skills, and I just finished knitting my first sock! I want to show it off to you because I'm so proud :-) Merry Christmas

  24. Hi Rhonda,

    I've come to realise that shopping to fill time, or as a 'treat', not only does not make me happy, but positively makes me unhappy! What a revelation! I've been thinking about it lately.


  25. yes you scared me saying it was 2 wks! Hope you all have a very happy Christmas!

  26. Hi Rhonda, I haven't commented for a while but I do stil read every post. It's strange to see such exotic fruits and veggies growing in your garden - things that we can't grow here in the UK. I do however have 3 blueberry bushes and had quite a good crop for the first time this summer (it's winter now so the garden is dormant for a few months).

    I'm trying to only think about Christmas when I have time to do something about it. I finish work on 18th Dec for the holidays and can then get properly stuck in. Teresa x

  27. I agree with Benita... it is so odd to see so much green growing this time of year. Can you guys garden year round? I'm jealous! PS.. i love the dog!!!

  28. You know I actually got sick at the mall on Monday. It was the first time I had been there in a year,and it actually made me physically ill looking at all the excess and materialism. I am so thankful to have found voluntary simplicity at an early age, and so thankful to find sights like this that embrace simple living. Next year, I am implementing the one day of shopping, and I am staying away from the MALL! :)

  29. Hi Rhonda Jean. Well, I think we are all awake now after being jump started with the "2 week, 3 week thing" before Christmas. I am happy to report my Christmas shopping (or made things) has been done for many months. I will say I walked into a mall for the first time yesterday in probably over 5 years. I will also mention this wasn't my plan, but the person I was with wanted to stop at a certain store. I am sure glad we didn't stay long. Our main plan was a few thrift stores and we did manage that. Have a great day. And thank you for your wonderful posts. Emily in So. Tx

  30. Sigh....a Mango tree how heavenly.

  31. Oh I love blueberries! What a nice picture. Here in Canada my mother-in-law buys mangoes from the grocers, but they don't taste the same as the fresh kind. I would love to find a way to grow them here.
    Your blog is probably my very favorite to visit! It's been such a help in my life, even here on the other side of the world!
    Your like me with shopping... I'm in there for half an hour and if I don't find what I want I get frustrated and just leave. All the big chain stores are so...overwhelming and there are so many things. Maybe it's because I'm a country girl. *smile* Next year I'm going to try to make every single present, starting in January- one a month. It will be so much more restful. Lovely post today! I had to catch up a bit on your blog- I missed a lot!
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  32. Still haven't started my Christmas thankful no one at my house has the "gimmmie-gimmies". My college age daughter called last evening, she is so anxious to be home for Christmas just to "be HOME". Statements like that make me realize how very lucky I am.

  33. I'm so excited to see that you are having success with the blueberries! I have wanted to try them for a while but was a bit scared of the hefty prices of the bushes given that their chances of success in our climate are not the greatest. Maybe next year :)

  34. So thats what Mango looks like when it is growing. I love them.

    Sadly I don't think I can grow them since I live in Canada. A bit brrrrrr through the long winters.


  35. I think of all the produce you mentioned, the one that got my attention is the lemon!! I would love to have a lemon tree or two in my yard once we're able to buy a house. Thank you so much for sharing and I hope your shopping trip was quick and enjoyable.

  36. Hi Rhonda Jean,

    Thanks for making Slow Christmas your neighbor! I can certainly sympathize with your case of the Christmas overwhelmeds this week. I prescribe letting yourself off the hook. I love to bake and cook and create, but when it keeps me from enjoying friends and family it can feel like as much of a trap as going to the mall. So this year I'm going to invite a friend over to help me make candy, instead of fretting offstage over making the perfect candy.

  37. I also revel in your summer crops...the mangos, the sunflowers, the we are cuddling by the fireplace. All things simple are enjoyable, from lush gardens to Chrismas shopping.


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