20 June 2011

Honey, I'm home!

What a weekend! I feel like I'm back in my rhythm, ready again for whatever each new day brings. I had to go to the shop on Saturday morning to buy a soap thermometer because when I came to make soap, mine was missing. I took all my equipment to the neighbourhood centre recently and it didn't return. But a trip to the shop is always a sharp reminder for me to continue along our slow path. I bought the thermometer, had a look in the book shop, then came home; in and out in 20 minutes. The hard core shoppers were just starting to arrive. I feel sad for them. If they knew my story they might well feel sorry for me too and think of me as deprived. I guess history will be our judge, if one is needed.

Saturday morning was cold, with whistling wind, so I was pleased to drive through my gate again and close the door. It was warm inside, morning tea made for Hanno and I and we sat for a while on the front verandah. He'd been working at cutting down a very old and large camphor laurel tree. They're considered a weed around here so it has to go. I held on to it for 13 years because it provided shade and shelter for other delicate plants and ferns. But now, as we're getting older, we have other considerations - soon we won't be able to do this heavier work. A tree just near this one, a tallow wood, cost us $900 to have removed a few years ago and we can't afford that again. 

This tall tree is the one he's cutting down. You can see where two branches have been cut, there are three left. He'll need help with those last three so we're waiting for a friend to help with those.

The camphor laurel, as well as being a weed, is too close to the house and a danger during storms. Hanno loves doing this kind of work, so before that ability goes completely and we have to rely on others, he's been cutting pieces off it. Luckily it has five main branches quite close to the ground, so he's cutting one off at a time. Then it's the laborious job of cutting that branch into a size that can be picked up and moved to the trailer. Each branch takes almost a day to cut up, then he packs the greenery into the trailer and it goes to the local dump to be chipped for their compost. We are hoping to give the logs to the local wood carvers.

This is my soap and laundry detergent stockpile.

So while he was outside, with a hot tea and cake in is belly, I started on my soap. I wanted to do a few batches but I only have one set of moulds, so I do one batch a day. I've made two batches so far and want to do one more and a batch of liquid soap. Some of this will be going into my shop that I'll be starting in a couple of weeks, the rest we'll use in the family. This is the best soap for baby's skin so I'm pleased to be able to supply good soap for Jamie and our soon to be born Peanut. 

There are two batches of soap here in my tidied laundry. One is drying on a rack, the other batch is still in the moulds and hardening slowly under some blue towels.

Soap only takes a short while to make so while I waited - first for the separate mixtures to get to the same temperature, then for the mixing to be done, I washed up. It felt good plunging my hands into that warm soapy water while I could hear the wind whistling outside. I started thinking about knitting and doing some lovely organic pink washcloths as soon as I finish a scarf. All fine thoughts while I washed up, and then the soap was made and packed warmly in the laundry, I moved on to the next task.

Scones for lunch with tea, washed up again, then I knitted and sewed the afternoon away. We had eye fillet roast for dinner; that was a real treat, part of the hind-quarter bulk meat order from a couple of months back. It was roasted alongside sweet potatoes, pumpkin, onions and carrots. The second half will be had tonight with herb mashed potatoes and kale cooked with bacon and onion. I made a mental note to make walnut biscuits during the week.

Over the weekend, one task blended into the next - when I got sick of doing something I'd go on to something new.  I'm not sure in what order I did it now but I also did some gardening, finished the tablecloth cupboard, tidied the laundry, made the bed a few times, swept the floor, cleaned the kitchen window sill, sorted through my stash to find fabric suitable for aprons to sell, made bread and a few pots of tea, organised my diary, researched my cheese making kit and replied to some emails.


I feel like I've returned to my home again and it feels right. Chores can be done or kept waiting, there is plenty of thinking and creating along with more practical tasks like bed making, cleaning and sweeping. There's no routine on weekends like this, just a list of things to be done and one by one they're mentally crossed off. There's no rush to get through it, no guilt if anything goes undone. My aim is to get through my work but to enjoy it too, even the seemingly dull bits. For every large, vital job and every small or dull task we do here is part of it - all part of the ever-changing mosaic that makes up two simple lives being lived next to a rainforest, with a creek running by, at the end of a one lane road.



  1. I love reading your blog. Give a man a chainsaw...! I do worry about all those camphor laurels seemingly taking over northern NSW and SE Queensland. Do you think people judge others on the paths they take in life? I enjoy a day at the shops and love travelling, as well as spending time in my home. It's the differences that make people interesting, and wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same?

  2. Great post. Living in each moment and being grateful for the chance to do so makes even the mundane jobs easier. Your weekend sounds lovely.

  3. Your posts are food for my soul Rhonda xx

  4. I don't know what it is about this winter but I feel so invigorated.
    So many jobs to do and it's not too hot to do them like in summer.
    Most winters I hibernate and am a bit of a couch potato - not this year!
    I wonder if it has something to do with all the rain we had in summer.
    Everything seems so "alive".

  5. Excellent post Rhonda, sounds like my kind of weekend...floating from one task to another....I work like that too...
    I'm loving your big logs in the 4th photo...I could make them into a feature in the garden, with them being used as stands for pots, but all different lengths would look nice..
    I spent way to much time in the shopping centre yesterday, finding myself wondering about the poor farmer when a 10kg bag of onions is $5.00 and two pack of whole chickens for $7.50. Then I found myself looking at other trolleys, and seeing all the wasteful ways of others. I had to get out of there.

  6. It looks like you are wonderfully busy! Enjoyed my visit today! :)

  7. What a lovely little window into your weekend. We too, end up doing quite a few chores on the weekend, as well as the day to day cooking and cleaning for 5 people. But I often employ your tactic.. a bit of this and that so as not to feel like it's too much of a chore. I love the slower pace of the weekend. That is quite a tree. Not one you want around in storms though. The soap looks lovely too.

  8. Morning Rhonda, another lovely post, thank you :) And no you dont have to worry about anyone judging you, just as we should not judge others for their life choices - it's all about the individual and what works for you.
    My husband and I made our first batch of soap on Sunday. Fingers and toes that it will cut up nicely tonight when we get home from work. Since starting to follow your blog, we are now making our own bread, washing powder and now the soap. Hope to start on liquid soap soon :)
    Kathy, TAS.

  9. wow, what a great day...I can only imagine your satisfaction in getting so much done in a day, in a week... How inspiring your posts are to me!!

  10. I enjoyed this post so much. My daughter and I continue to look for ways to save. We are working toward only spending a certain amount per month. When we do that we can live on the money that comes in and not have to work nearly so hard. I have worked so very hard at my job for the last five years. Now, I am learning to relax and not be restless when I get a chance to rest. My health has taken several hits and it is time to cut back even farther and enjoy life plain and easy. I like to work in my home and always have so it will be great to do. Groceries are climbing here in the U.S. and we are not having good season for growing a garden but I am working around that with new ideas and all will be fine. Bless you for helping us do what is best for us. Thanks!

  11. Go Hanno! That is a HUGE job. My sil is an aborist and I know how much effort it takes to achieve that much lopping.
    I have all my ingredients for soap here...minus the thermometer which I do need to get but I'm nervous! I know I just need to take the plunge one day but with 4 littlies here I have to pick the right time when hubby can perhaps take them out to a park (mind you going out anywhere at the moment in the Blue Mountains is like asking to become a snowman!!!)
    Anyway, I wanted to tell you that seeing your scones motivated me this morning to make some craisin and sultana scones for our fam for morning tea while we are doing our world history lesson. They are cooling down now (not too much thoug I want the butter to still melt on them!)
    And I agree with what Vanessa wrote...your posts are like food for this little homemaker's soul :)
    With love,
    Lusi x

  12. Hi Rhonda, I just loved your post today. I get so much inspriation by reading your blog. I am wanting to make my own washing powder and was wondering if I could make it with just Lux soap flakes, washing soda and borax? Also, do you know if people have any issues with it not dissolving?

  13. Hello everyone. Thank you for your wonderful comments.

    Zanzan, that is what I use to make my laundry detergent. I don't have a problem with the powder not dissolving in my front loader. I use the laundry liquid almost always now. Both recipes are on the blog.

  14. Thank you Rhonda for taking the time to answer my question. I always get a little nervous when attempting something for the first time. This week it's washing powder and I'm also giving bread making a go and if I can master that then I don't think I will ever buy bread again. I am committed to making one change to a more simple life every week.

  15. Wow... might big weeds you grow down there! We have just finished taking down four 100+ year old oaks, three pines and three blue spruce that were hit by wind sheer in last week's storm. We were able to get ten cords of wood from the oaks and sold the lengths of pine. Your soap looks lovely.

    Lake Lili

  16. You're a wise man Hanno, it is a good idea to be doing those heavily physical tasks before they get beyond you. But I think the fact that you do them keeps you able to do them! Tony operates on a similar principle.

    Rhonda I have already mentioned to Sarndra that Peanut Hetzl is a fine upstanding name. ;-)

    Pats to The Lovely Alice.

  17. Oh Rhonda you have to drag me out of bookstores I can stay in there all day! Reading about Hanno's very big job cutting down that tree, prompted me to tell you about my musicman who was let loose with a chainsaw a few weeks ago. I despaired when I saw what he had "trimmed". Everything looked bald! I needn't of worried though, (that's the beauty of Qld) It's all coming back thicker and greener than ever. (but I have hidden the chainsaw.)

  18. I love your blog! I just started reading it a couple days ago. I am a 28 year old stay at home mom for now. I went from a crazy 50- 60 hour work all the time job to a mommy of two wonderful boys and a home to keep job. With just my hubby's income I try to make up and save where I can. Your blog has helped me out so much.We started a garden because like pp said groceries are so high here in the U.S. I am really interested in all the baking you do. I also might try my hand at the soap making. May I ask what kind of mold you use? You are such an inspiration and such a joy to follow. Thank you and Hanno for sharing your day to day life and clever ways to save. Thank You again!!!

  19. Hi Ashley, thank you. The moulds are resin cake forms bought at Kmart. I wish you well with your baking and soap making. They're wonderful skills to have and to pass on to your children.

  20. This is going to sound sort of crazy, but I had a dream about you last night! For some reason you were in my neck of the woods (South Western MN) and we got together for tea! How funny is that!? :D

    The way you and Hanno choose to live your life is a lot like the way my husbands parents lived/live. My husband grew up in the middle of no where, on a farm, where his parents lived/live off of what they grew, made or hunted. At first I thought it was strange because I grew up the complete opposite. My mom was a single mom, who worked 'round the clock to support her three children. Looking back, she must have been conscious of what she had and how she spent her money but we never had gardens, we never conserved, we never bought second hand and we never made homemade. I always thought that was something my great-grandmom did.
    But now that I'm older and living my own live I want to replicate what my parent's-in-law are doing, what you're doing! We're getting so close, but yet so far. But we want it so badly and I know we'll get there. (especially with great inspiration like you and your blog!)
    Blessings to you Rhonda dear!

  21. Two weeks ago my husband and I decided to sell our organic farm and too big meat business in order to "go small". Our family thinks we are nuts. We are planning atiny home on a few acres with just enough animals and gardens to support ourselves. Feeling like we were the only ones in the world to feel smaller and less is better...we found your blog ! I am so excited and will back often. Many thanks

  22. Well done Hanno with the tree! What a big job. Thanku for making soap for us :) Love from us both xx

  23. Wow Rhonda! Your Hanno is a hero to tackle such a huge monster! Is that the type of camphor that could be used as mothball type? If so, perhaps you could smooth some chips and put them in a small bag for use?

    With the soapmaking (which I still haven't been brave enough to try) are you saying that the moulds are the silicone cake pans? And the soap thermometer, is that a special thermometer? or something like a meat or milk frothing one?

    Sorry for all the questions


  24. What a lovely weekend you had. Now that our school year has ended, I'm looking forward to a slower schedule this summer. Today is rainy, which was so needed, so I can't finish weeding the garden. Instead, I'll make bread and do some organizing. Thank you for sharing pictures of your life, both photographic and verbal. They are inspiring.

  25. Good job, Hanno! We are always having to cut trees up on our property -- a lot get knocked down with storms that come through. It is a very big job. We never know what to do with the wood though -- we've made outdoor "seating" with some of it, burnt a lot of it in our fireplaces (the hardwood, not the pines) and the rest...sitting in piles in inconspicuous places. :-) I really want to try soap-making but not sure I can get enough kid-free safe time to do it. Rhonda, your blog always makes me want to stop reading and get on with it. I guess that is a good thing :-) God bless!

  26. I am glad to have found you blog. It is always great to read, and know that there are others who enjoy doing for themselves instead of buy, buy buy, then get bored and throw away. I am still planning the vege patch it will happen, unfortunately work still comes first.

  27. Inspiring, Rhonda...thank you!


  28. Rhonda,

    It has been busy at my house, so your posts went un-read for a week. I just caught up. Reading your words keeps me grounded. I feel back on track and more focused. Thank you.



I welcome readers' comments. However, this blog never publishes business links or advertisements. If you're operating a business and want to leave your link here, I will delete your comment .

Blogger Template by pipdig