The icing on the cake

31 January 2011
Thanks to everyone who helped with the house affordability question last week.  I was heartened to see that many people thought living on one income (even if there are two) is a great frugal strategy, and it is possible to buy a home on one income as long as the house price is low enough and you're prepared to put in some hard work renovating.  I agree.  I hope that post and the comments it drew help not only the girl who wrote to me but many other people as well.  My own children want to buy homes and I know it's not easy.

It feels like the year is really beginning in earnest now the are school holidays over.  Hanno and I are starting to think about our vegetable garden again and next week I hope to get some time to plant up some seeds we have here.  I have some Portuguese cabbage, sent to me by Andrew in Melbourne, that we'll try, we have luffas in, some corn to harvest and fruit growing, but we need a lot more than that.  I have six tomato seedlings in pots as well, grown from seeds of the excellent large cherry tomato that came up wild last year.  That tomato was healthier than any we planted, it was big for a cherry tomato, prolific and absolutely delicious. If it ends up being as good this year, I'll sell some of the seeds in the Etsy shop.  I doubt our shop will open before Easter but we are working towards it.  I was told recently that if I intend selling soap, I have to pay a $400 fee to the government as I'm classified as a "chemical producer".  Pfffffffft.  We're not sure if it's worth it.

More nectarine jam!  We have enough for a year and to give away.  : - )

We had a fairly busy weekend, I worked on the book and other computer related things but didn't have time to go to the Bunya Festival on Saturday.  My friend Beverly, organiser of the event, brought us a message stick last week so I was disappointed we didn't get there.  We'll make sure we go next year.  Hanno worked on the roof replacing screws and he mowed the lawn.  I was exhausted yesterday and although I had every intention of working, I ended up cooking biscuits and a meatloaf, and relaxing with a bit of knitting and cricket in the afternoon.  I wonder how I can become so tired working as I do, with every comfort and Hanno's support.  I guess it's my age and the intensity of the work, whatever it is, a quick sleep is a good pick-me-up and I'm right again.

Today is the start of another busy week.  I have the second part of my soap making workshop to deliver tomorrow and there are just four more weeks before the completed book manuscript is due.  After that there will be two months editing with my Penguin editor, Jo, and the book will be finished. It will be wonderful to have it done, it's been so long in the making, but I think that after a couple of weeks putting things right here, sewing and knitting for the babies and visiting my sister in her new home, I'll be thinking about settling into writing again.  I have been a writer for many years now and it seems to be part of me.  It suits my nature as it's solitary and reflective and it helps me understand the world and how I fit in it.  Even from this tiny dot on the map, writing enables me to connect to you and be a part of a large and significant online community; and that, for me, is the icing on the cake. 

I hope you have a productive and wonderful week ahead.  Thanks for visiting me.


  1. Pffffft indeed! :0) Hope you have a lovely week in spite of the forces against

  2. Oh, it does sound as if you are busy Rhonda. I hope you get time to garden, it's such a lovely time of year to be out in the garden and with all the rain we have had recently the soil is lovely and moist.
    Good luck with getting your book finished, I can't wait to read it.

  3. I came to the same conclusion about the soap making. $400 + materials is a lot of money to have to recoup before you make a profit. It's annoying though, because I was keen to sell soap to make a bit of extra cash, as it's so much fun to make. (I'm experimenting with colours and swirls now.)

    We have enough soap here to last us for months. It's handy to have for little gifts, too.

  4. Hi Rhonda, If you have a chance have a look at Granny's Garden,she is the most amazing soap maker and seller, I buy off her online and she has a wonderful market stall,she may be able to tell you what she had to do about selling hers.We make our own but hers are almost edible and I love to give it as gifts.I made Nectrine Jam after reading your blog last week and it is lovely and a hit with the family,what a great feeling when the kids come home and raid the pantry for home made fare.Thankyou Rhonda hope all goes well for you.Carole

  5. Rhonda,
    I completely understand the writing career. I, too, write books from home (children's books in particular) and love the creative outlet it allows! My husband and I will be moving (again) to a small town where we will be able to begin a small farm! I am so excited!! Thanks for all the great ideas!

  6. Thanks for that info on Soap Rhonda it lets me see why some pricing seems to be higher now. Your Jam looks delicious!

  7. mmm, i wonder if the rules are the same for "online stores" or if this fee applies only if you sell "locally". I have heard that some countries classify soap as cosmetics and you need a licence, probably worth investigating with you local council. then again, stick it to the man and see if you can get away with it ;)
    in nz we have the maori term "koha" which means donation, so often you can "purchase goods" for a suggested "koha" and avoid alsorts of rules, tax etc....cheeky but legal here lol.

  8. Hi Carole...I think Granny paid the $400....she has a little note on her side bar to say she's a government registered soap maker. Perhaps it's worth it since she sells at a few markets.

    I second the need for a quick afternoon nap Rhonda....I'm up early and 'go like a train' doing all the things I need to, then crash mid afternoon. I enjoy a siesta,then I can be up and productive again as the day cools.

    I've started planning for my veg garden too, now that the renovations are finished, and the builder's have taken away their mess, I can see my yard again and decide where things will go.

  9. Hi Rhonda, you sure sound busy to me. I can understand why you feel tired sometimes.
    The jam looks real yummy. I'm going to save some jars with a plastic lid to make jam too.
    Since I've seen your dish cloths, I have made a few myself.
    I'm just starting on the path to simplify my life, although I have been living more frugal quite some time. We live on one income.
    Here in The Netherlands the simple living movement isn't that big yet, so we haven't got a lot of role models yet. There are a few and I'm very happy they share their knowledge, but I wish the movement was a bit bigger. Maybe some day !!
    Have a wonderful day.

  10. Sounds like your garden will again be lovely. I always appreciate the inspiration that you spread on your blog. :)

  11. Hi Rhonda,
    My hackles rose when I read about the $400 govt fee.... just a suggestion, but it might pay to ask to see the "Definition" that applies to the classification of "chemical producer" ;-)

    We have what I call "feral" cherry tomatoes growing too - they come up every whichwhere and are so handy because they don't need any tending... a real bonus.

    Your jars of jam look so good.

  12. Wonderful to see John Seymour's book on self sufficiency on your table. It was reading that original book in 1975 that set us along that route. I have followed the bread recipe ever since. We heard him give a talk in mid Wales many years ago. A fascinating man and very interesting too.
    Despite for many years living in suburban England we still managed to grow most of our own vegetables and produce jam and chutney for ourselves and as gifts. Now living in France with a large garden with a huge veggie plot we are just about ss in fruit and veg. In our new garden we have planted for future generation with lots of fruit trees as well as a variety of hardwoods and shrubs. Here in the Northern hemisphere we are awaiting the warmer weather so we can start again on the garden.
    Fascinating how nappies have changed since our children were babies in the 1970s. I still can't get the hang of putting the new style ones on without major problems.
    Loved your advice to the young couple of income management and buying a first house. Its exactly what we did and has allowed us in our retirement to build our own home on a large plot of land
    Keep up the good work Rhonda and Hanno and carry on talking good sense

  13. the government never want us to be able to live simply.. always sticking their hands in the pie for one thing or another.
    sell it privately behind their backs.
    what is a message stick?
    ps - if you want to sell some jam.. i will buy some!! and I ordered the Thrifty Kitchen the other day.
    [do you have any loofah seeds for sale or swap?] i lost mine in the move.

  14. Your jam looks lick ya lips delish~!

  15. I live in Missoula, Montana, USA and wanted to let you know I so very much enjoy reading your blog. I grew up with a very self sufficient grandmother. She also ran a small commercial greenhouse so this time of year I crave the smell of dirt when everything is frozen under the snow. She sterilized her own planting soil in the oven so oddly enough "cooked dirt" smells like spring to my sisters and I. Thank you so much for your inspiration and insight. As a single mother, soon to be grandmother resourcefulness has been a must and you've been a great help.

  16. That is crazy about the soap! So many people will be thrilled to buy your seeds though.

  17. Hi Rhonda,

    I agee with you Pfffft indeed!!!.

    Could you get around this by offering soap on your site and allowing potential uses of your soap to make a donation of a specific amount. Attic 24 doesn't charge for her tutorials, but has a donation button to help keep her blog going. I have gained so much crochet knowledge from her site that I have and will again gladly send her a donation if I use one of her tutorials.

    Gee I can't tell you how many times I've used one of your recipes.

    No harm in trying it.

    Blessings Gail

  18. I am so excited to hear about your book. I hope you have tidbits of all the good stuff you share here, money management, recipes, do-it-yourself ideas, gardening, etc. can't wait to see it

  19. So the government wants a share of your little soap business, eh? Sounds like how it is in the States and it stinks!
    I'm in my late fifties now and I can't believe how tired I get--no endurance! Too tired to exercise! lol Anyway, I'm looking forward to your book!

  20. Helen, I read the 70s book too and it pointed me in many new wonderful directions. I think that book has more information in it than the newer book.

    Miss R, a message stick is a form of indigenous message. In the old days they were sticks, now they can be anything - this one was a paper invitation to the indigenous festival. Hanno is going to see Tricia at the end of February. If you email me your phone number, I'll send some seeds down and have Tricia phone you with her new address.

    JILB, thank you and welcome. I have sterilised soil in the oven so I could propagate fern spores. We old girls do a lot of crazy things.

    Gail, we thought of that too. Great minds ...

    Monique, stick with it because living this way is the best way. Slowly others will come around, it just takes time.

  21. A great week for you and your family too!

    Love from Holland.

  22. Hello Rhonda You are a very busy person. I like you think my writing keeps me grounded and makes me remember the important things in life. Good Luck in the garden. Darn Govt. fees. B

  23. Pfffft is right! How ridiculous is that? At least your book is going to be finished soon- so excited!
    Seeds are already starting to appear in our local farm stores here in Canada, and I'm so itching to get out into the dirt. I hope you'll post pictures of your garden! It always looks beautiful.
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

  24. your jam looks yummy. well done. and what a sweet tablescape. love that quilted cloth! look forward to the day, RJ, when your book is a done deal and sitting in my lap being read here in Kentucky!

  25. I'm with the others. You'd have to sell a lot of soap to recoup the $400 fee.

    So I suggest you give away your soap as 'free gifts' with other etsy purchases - such as a photocopied soap making manual.

    Give them as xmas and bday gifts.

    And as Gail said, send them as a gift, as a thank you, if people donate to the website.

    And, of course, there is always swapping.

    Lots of ways to give value and receive value, outside the normal buy/sell economy.



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