It's good to be back

3 January 2011
Well, here it is, the first full non-holiday week of 2011 and I'm pleased to be back.  ADDITION: I've just been told it's a public holiday today.  I guess that is a true indication of how far we're removed from the commercial world.  :- 0

I've had many emails asking about the floods.  Hanno and I are fine.  We live about one hour north of Brisbane in the huge state of Queensland.  The floods are about another ten hour drive north of here.  We have had a lot of rain, our creek is up and down like a yo-yo, but apart from cranky chooks and wet feet, all is fine here.  Thank you all for your concern.  Thank you also for all the good wishes you sent for Shane and Sarndra.  They read my blog and it means a lot to them to know so many people want good things for them.

I am really pleased we've finally arrived in 2011.  I'm looking forward to this year very much.  There is so much that's new ahead.  I can hardly wait to hold those two babies who will come into our lives this year.  But aside from the big events, I'm thankful that Hanno and I still have the enthusiasm and desire to continue to live our quiet, slow and simple life.  I look forward to many more ordinary days when it's just me in the kitchen, baking and cooking, just doing what enriches me.  I'm hoping that this year will bring new opportunities, new things to learn about and more new friendships made along the way.

We didn't plant summer crops at the end of last year.  The vegetable garden still produced lettuces, potatoes, corn and garlic but now with all the rain, the chick weed has grown everywhere, the usually ordered and green vegetable patches are empty or covered with weeds and under it all, the soil is resting for a couple of months.  In a few weeks it will be time again to rip out those weeds and load up the garden beds with compost and manure and start planting for the year.

But now the first of the papayas are forming fruit, grapes and passionfruit are growing and I can walk outside any time and pick mint, thyme, sage and parsley.  Just last night I quickly popped out to pick fresh mint for a homemade mint sauce for our roast leg of lamb.  The rain has been really good for the oranges and it looks like we'll have plenty of them in winter this year.  The same goes for the lemons - there is another good crop ripening now and if I juice those and freeze the juice, we'll have enough to keep us going till the next crop in June.  I'm hoping the bananas come on soon.  Fresh fruit and vegetable prices will be very expensive again this year due to the floods, so whatever we can produce here will stand us in good stead.

So what's ahead for us this year?  Hanno will be working in the garden again soon and he continues to keep our home in good order with his maintenance program.  He's currently working on the roof, but I'll have more about that another day.  Like all of us, he's looking forward to the babies and being a grandpa for the first time.  He'll probably travel down to visit my sister when she moves to her new home soon.  No doubt she will have a couple of jobs she will need a hand with.  And for me, it's more work on the book and more contact later in the year with the good people at Penguin, particularly my editor, Jo.  I'll be sewing and knitting for tiny folk I'm yet to meet, I'll continue to find confirmation of my purpose in my home and I hope to continue learning all I can.  'Homemaker' is a term that encompasses so much and I know that if I step up and take control of the work needed here, and pepper that with what I want to do, it will continue to be a joy to wake up every day.  So there are no new year's resolutions here, just the quiet hope that life continues to amaze and delight me.  I hope it does the same for you.  What are your plans for the year?


  1. Happy New Year Rhonda,
    looking forward to reading about all you get up to this year.

  2. Nice to have you back - Happy New Year. I think chickweed is a good source of Vitamin C, from what I remember, so perhaps you can make use of it (the chooks might like it if you don't?). Looking forward to your new arrivals and The Book :-) Jo

  3. I've stated that this year is the year I spruce myself up!
    Then one of the boys took me seriously and bought me a hair straightener for Christmas, so now I have to make good on my statement. (Those things can burn you, apparently. I'm not sure the extra gain in radiant beauty would be worth the pain...)

    I'm also determined to make all the soap we use, to grow all the food we can and to paint the lounge room.

    Plus make all the quilts I can and knit down all of my stash. Plus read. And maybe do a bit of housework in between...

  4. You may already know this, but chickweed can be delicious. One of the best ways I have ever eaten it was to prepare it in pesto by replacing some of the basil with the chickweed. If you have to rip it up, you may as well use it!

    Happy New Year and congratulations. For some reason, I was thinking and hoping about my future grandchildren (my oldest is still only seven!) -- I love being a mom but I imagine "grandmahood" will be pretty fun too!

  5. I am so very excited for the both of you! How wonderful a season in life. I too plan to enjoy the work of my hands as I set out goals for the new year ahead. Be blessed and enjoy the rain with a warm cup of tea.

  6. Good to hear that all is well with you...been wondering about all that flooding. Here's to a wonderful year in 2011, in spite of Mother Nature & our human foibles, lol!

  7. Well, I just wrote about it on my blog: we want to live more self sufficient, make a better scedule for our vegetable garden and do a lot more wit recycling. First of all I want to do more with the recycling part. At my last post you can see an old (given) blouse which has to become a little babygirl's dress. Hope to do more of these things in the future!

    And just like last year I hope to be inspired to do a lot more self sufficient. That's why I really love to keep on reading your blog Rhonda!

    Nice to read that you and Hanno are fine!

    Love from Holland.

  8. So glad to hear you're safe and not near the flooding!
    And Congratulations!! on the new additions to your family! So much fun and adventure coming!

  9. Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year. It is certainly one full of promise with the two babies on the way.

    It is good to hear that you are unaffected by the flooding Rhonda.

    I have just been watching film of the flooded towns and countryside in Queensland. It must be devastating. Sending thoughts and good wishes to any of your blog foll0wers who are caught up in it.

  10. Nice to hear you're not flooded in/out. Another baby - how nice! Lol, someone once told me a plant is only a weed if you can't use it so I'm sure that rules out most of yours as anything that isn't food to something is future compost :)! I don't make resolutions I make little goals to achieve so I can have lots of "feel good" moments as I achieve them instead of a failed resolution "downer".

  11. Good morning Rhonda,

    Apart from wanting to finish some of my sewing projects and sorting some of the things we have, but no longer need now we are living a simpler life, I too am looking forward to learning new skills. To live simply is really very freeing and to think that we are producing so much of our own food now is so exciting. To look on our dinner plates and know we have grown it all ourselves. Well; what can I say,it just so good. I am looking forward to what the year has in store for us all and I will enjoy reading your blog again this year and sharing your joy as you greet those two little treasures that are on their way.

    Blessings Gail

  12. Happy New Year Rhonda & Hanno!

    This year I have chosen just a few things to learn.

    1. Make soap using your tutorials.

    2. Learn to sew well enough to begin making fabric gift bags for next Christmas and other gift giving holidays.

    3. Begin making my own bread.

    Thank you for all of your wonderful words of inspiration!
    My best to you and your growing family in 2011.

    ~Colleen~ USA

  13. Beaut to read your thoughts about the new year ahead Rhonda.
    Grandparenthood is just wonderful - a whole new layer of love will come into your lives. Enjoy the anticipation.

    I've given a bit of thought to what I want to do this year, and they are familiar things as Annie, a fellow blogger, described them. Gardening, drawing, cooking, photography, sewing, tidying. Most of all I look forward to sharing another happy, healthy, year with my darling and our loved ones.

    A very Happy New Year to you and yours Rhonda.

  14. A very exciting year for you and your family!
    I've taken a different approach to 'resolutions' (since I'm not keen on committing to things as such).
    A word for the year...

  15. Happy New Year Rhonda :) for some reason I envisaged you living south of Brisbane, you must be closer to where I live (im about an hour north too!)

    This year I plan on a simpler, less stress year and expand on my vegetable gardens! Quick Question: grasshoppers??? How do I get rid of the pesky critters, they have eaten nearly every leaf on all mor veges :(

    Good luck with your plans for the new year!

  16. Good morning Rhonda, it's nice to see your post in my reader this morning. Happy thought: the cricket does start today! :)

  17. Happy New Year!!! I have my goals listed on my blog.

  18. Happy New Year Rhonda!! I have a huge year ahead of me but I know it's going to be easier now thanks to your help and the help of your lovely readers. Thank you again.

  19. Happy new year and I look forward to heading in the direction of a simpler life myself.

  20. I love this statement: "'Homemaker' is a term that encompasses so much and I know that if I step up and take control of the work needed here, and pepper that with what I want to do, it will continue to be a joy to wake up every day." I will be sharing this! (Giving you credit, of course!)

  21. It's good to have you back! 2011 will be a year of more intentional living:

    1) Spend more quality time with the kids. (ie: read 1 novel per month, plus kid's books)

    2) Take better care of ourselves

    3) Spend more time on the relationship with my husband.

    I'm sure there will be plenty of other things, but these are up at the top. :)

  22. I don't know what route you take but the floods are not that far away! My husband is in Bundaberg helping with the community recovery - thats only about 4 hours from Brisbane...and you are further north than us. Anyway keep up the great work. I enjoy reading your blog and have just stated my own. I called it 'doing what matters'.

  23. New Year is always a time to question what's for the future. Last year I planned to create a Vege plot and get a worm farm set up and this year I have a tiny 1m*1m space to grow a few things in and worms castings and juice to feed it.

    I'm hoping eventually I'll be able to extend it so that's one project penciled in but mainly I need to learn to use the space I have to outmost capacity.

    This gardening thing is harder then it looks and the learning curve is large.

  24. You're right Claire, I forgot about Bundaberg. It's three hours from here. Looks like I'm pretty hopeless on time and space. Lucky Stephen Hawking is not relying on me. ;- )

  25. Happy New Year Rhonda!

    This year I want to focus on getting in a more thorough cleaning routine, on gardening, and on learning how to sew.

  26. I ended last year learning how to and making weaving looms. This year I will be practicing my weaving and hopefully my Christmas gifts will be dish cloths, tea towels and soap that I have made.
    I also think that this will be the year I finally get the backyard cleared of all debris and start that vegetable garden I want so much. It's what I am planning, I will work toward those ends each day.
    Happy New Year Rhonda Jean and Hanno!
    And Oh! Congratulations on the new additions to your lovely family. What an exciting year for you!

  27. What a lovely year you will have with your new grandbabies and living the life you love! You can't get much better than that! My goals for the year are to finish decluttering and mucking out the closets and to grow a larger garden and put up most of our food for the year. I usually do this anyway but I've been working full time for the past year and it really diminished my gardening time last summer. I aim to change that this year! Blessings to you and Hanno!


  28. I hope you stay safe from the floods, I live by a creek here in Illinois in the states, and have been flooded so I understand.
    I do wish you a happy new year and a safe one.
    I am going to use your blog as a help to my goal this year. Eat healthier, lose weight, and get back to my crafts. I want to put all my pics in a photo albums/scrapbooking, read more, and enjoy my flower gardens, and make a much smaller but efficient veggie garden. I do have a blog that I am also trying to do right and more often.


Comments with links or email addresses won't be published. All spam and business advertising will be deleted.

Children read my blog so I always make sure the information here is family-friendly. I don't publish comments containing links or email addresses now because I don't have time to check them.

All comments in English, please. Thank you.