17 October 2011

A mixed bag over the weekend

We had a quiet weekend after a busy week. Last Friday I went back on the committee of the Neighbourhood Centre as secretary so I spent a part of the weekend quietly organising myself to include that in my work schedule. Things have been busy since the Women's Weekly article was published and I spent some time doing and talking about radio interviews last week. Now I'm trying to decide if I'll do a monthly phone-in as part of a program on Queensland regional ABC radio. There seems to be a real need at the moment for information about how to move from spending and a reliance on convenience to a simpler way. Radio is a good way of reaching people so I might just do it.

Our vegetable garden, above and below, in the late afternoon sun.
Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Over the weekend, the usual chores were done - bread baked, the floors cleaned, washing, cooking and mending all done, but I also had time for a little bit of sewing and knitting which always relaxes me and clears my mind. I love working slowly when I have plenty of time to get things done. I don't rush anymore. I want time to wander and poke around while I work. Hanno worked in the garden, both front and back, so the hard work will be all finished before the hot weather starts. He went to the market on Sunday morning and although I wanted him to bring home a couple of new chooks, he said they were too expensive and came home with gerberas and seedlings instead. The vegetable garden is looking absolutely wonderful at the moment. We have so much fresh food there, it's a real credit to him.

This week is Anti-Poverty Week.  I'll be giving a talk today at our local Anti-Poverty Week function which will also feature speakers from Centrelink and Lifeline. I prefer to approach the problem from a different viewpoint and hope to encourage people to be proactive and to change the way they shop for food and to make a few things for themselves at home, so they don't get to the point of needing help from those agencies. I have print outs for laundry liquid and a few other things so I hope it helps some families. Later in the week, at the Neighbourhood Centre, we're having a Humble Jumble - which will be a swap event. I'm taking up some fresh vegetables that I'll pick just before I go to work, so I hope someone will enjoy eating fresh organic vegetables that evening.  Is anyone else doing anything for this cause?

Alexander's cardigan, made with the softest of organic cottons.

Closer to home my knitting is still bubbling along nicely. I'm totally in love with the organic, plant dyed cotton from Eco Yarns. I'm now knitting a banded cardigan for Alexander. It's a lovely earthy red colour with natural contrast on the bands. It will fit a six - nine month old, so it should suit him for a while. After that, I'll be doing a cotton singlet or two and some summer shorts for Jamie. I love being a grandma. It makes me feel like I'm doing my part in caring for them if I help provide for them.

We've enjoyed some delicious food over the past few days. Sunday was a lamb roast with vegetables and homemade mint sauce, and the peach whey cake above for snacks and dessert. A couple of nights ago I picked a fresh cabbage from the garden and made cabbage rolls stuffed with pork belly, vegetables and quinoa; Saturday we had egg noodles and vegetable stir fry. Yesterday we had some good mixed grain and rye bread. Knowing how to cook well pays off in so many wonderful ways.

Finally, I was going to tell you about our garlic and loofa harvest but that will have to wait for another day because it's getting late and I have a few things to do before this weeks starts to unfold. I hope you have a happy and interesting week and have the time to relax and enjoy it as it goes along.



  1. Hi Rhonda,
    it's great that you are going to speak for anti- poverty week. Education is certainly a great way to avoid poverty or get out of poverty. It's wonderful that you are willing to share your time doing this. The radio show also sounds like a fantastic way to reach people - but maybe not forever, so you can have time for the beautiful simple life you deserve too.

    Warm hugs, Madeleine

  2. Please do the radio show, the more the message gets out there the better! Better for people, better for community, better for the environment and better for the soul. Just remember to let us know what station, day, and time, so we can tune in :)

  3. I just want to say how wonderful it is the way you actively involved with your community and the fact that you are reaching out to others less fortunate than yourself....I can't help but glance in other people's trolley's and want to approach them to tell them how much they COULD be saving....
    I've also had a great response to the Women's Weekly and am appreciating the fact that I am helping get the word out there, that there is always another way of living. I too love sharing what I know.

  4. What a beautiful vegie garden - it is a credit to Hanno and yourself. We grow some vegies ourselves but have the room to expand as we get a bit more time.

    Hubbie is just in the process of making our chooks a huge open run - perimeter of 100 meters plus one heavy duty gate. This is being added to the Hen Hilton, a very secure lock up , which he finished last year. All much fancier than their old house and run.

    Your comment of knowing how to cook is so true . I am an age just before the generation that boasted that they could not boil water. I always thought it very strange to boast about not having a talent. To me being able to feed yourself and your family well on whatever budget was available to you made basic sense.

    Your bread looks great and what is a peach whey cake ? Any chance of the recipe or have I missed it somewhere.

  5. I'll do some recipes later in the week. The peach whey cake is absolutely delicious and the good thing is that you can use any fruit you have - either fresh or canned.

  6. What a wonderful weekend Rhonda.
    I agree the radio spot sound fab! and so does speaking at Anti Poverty Week. What a wonderful thing.
    I'm very similar to Nelly I see people down the shops struggling and yelling at the kids with a trolley full of junk tell the kids no we can't get that we can't afford it and I feel stuck in knowing what to do.
    So I just blog my way along, which is helping lots of my online mummy friends, and hope that one day I can strike up a pleasant conversation with someone and encourage the slow and frugal life.

  7. Hi Rhonda,

    I don't usually comment but I wanted you to know that I love your blog. It's very informative. I may even try making soap because of it!
    I also have a question, if you don't mind.
    I have $90. What should I do with it? Should I use it to stock up on necessities, food or pay towards a bill? Should I buy some clothing for my boys, my husband or myself? Should I put it towards Christmas presents for my boys? I don't want to waste it, I want it to be well spent, to put my mind at a little bit of an ease. What do you think? Thank you for taking the time to read my question and maybe answering it if you feel like it.

    Margaret in Pennsylvania, USA

  8. Hello Margaret, thank you for commenting. It's a difficult question to answer when I don't know you, but let's see. Paying a bill or stocking up on groceries on sale would probably give you the best value for money. Do you need clothing? If so, if you see something on sale that would fit the bill for any one of you, then go for that. Maybe you could keep $20 of it for your Christmas stash, it doesn't all have to go to the one cause.

  9. What a great veggie plot!

    I'm looking forward to the next loofah installment...

  10. Hello Rhonda - I have never put 'finger to keyboard' on anyone's blog before! Rather naughty really because I have followed your blog daily for some time now and am currently reading through all the entries I missed. We are the same age and when I was first married in UK I lived much the way you do because we were so poor there was no alternative. Then I came to Australia, married again and spent the next 30 years living the 'High Life'- thought it was great that I could 'afford' all the glitz and glamour of pre-made food, new house colour schemes each season etc. Oh how I weep at all the money we have wasted over those years. But I am back on track now baking bread, making jam, using home-made cleaners etc. Still have a way to go but your blog inspires me every day. I must say I have always been a knitter and baker so have some useful skills.

    My hubby is the gardener - 3 years ago we moved to a villa with a concrete backyard - can you believe it! But my amazing husband has filled it with potted everything. It has taken a little persuasion to get him planting vegies but this year he has got lettuce, radish, rocket, rhubarb, strawberries, sugar snap peas, onions and lots of herbs on the go.

    For the past couple of Christmases I have knitted cotton dishcloths for my daughter and daughters-in-law and they all ask for more each Christmas. And I have started giving them to friends along with home-made marmalade or lemon curd - spreading the word one dishcloth at a time :0)

    I do have my own website that I have sadly neglected this year - haven't blogged since April. It has a slightly wider focus to yours - simply beautiful, simple living - seeking joy and beauty through caring for our world, healthy relationships, love for our neighbours and a generous spirit.

    So, dear Rhonda, you are a real friend to me even though we have never met. I loved your Women's Weekly article - don't usually buy the mag but had to when I knew 'my friend' was featured in it...and have been showing it to people ever since. Thanks for everything!

  11. Thanks for making contact, Jennie. I like knowing a bit about my readers because it gives me the feeling that were not alone doing what we do. Well done to your husband and excellent work on your dishcloths. They're a gentle introduction to real living and how beautiful it can be.

  12. Your garden is amazing Rhonda.
    I love the Humble Jumble title for a swap. beautiful.
    I know you have more than enough on your plate at the moment, but I would also encourage you to do the radio (if you can). So many thousands of people will benefit from what you could share. What a gift.
    Hope your week ahead is just lovely.

  13. Hi Rhonda,
    Great post, as usual. I didn't know it was anti poverty week, but I am doing something about my poverty. Me and a friend will be having a stall at our local market to sell some of our creations. Hopefully this will offset our own poverty. Prices are good so we shouldn't be making anyone else poor by buying our stuff.
    HOWEVER, I can't help but feel a bit of concern on your behalf. Be careful Rhonda that you don't take on too much. I know there is a need out there for people to live simpler for their health and happiness into the future, and for the planets future, but don't burn out!
    Some years ago I was in a similar but different situation, growing indigenous plants to keep them from extinction in my area. Trying to make local people aware of their plight and encouraging them to grow them in their own gardens and to respect the last bush areas in a big city. Well after 10 years of that I was exhausted. People just keep asking for more, they are relentless and many put very little back. So don't get bogged down, keep perspective and maybe say no occasionally. For all our sakes as we love your blogs! See, I am doing it too, trying to keep you for myself, sorry.

  14. Hi Dayla, thanks for your concern. I am by nature a worker and do my best work when I'm busy. I do understand where you're coming from though - one of the reasons I gave up the co-ordinator's job at the Neighbourhood Centre was that I could see that burn-out stage on the horizon. I am careful only to commit to those things I'm passionate about and I do say no to about 95% of the proposals I receive.

    Good luck with your stall, love.

  15. I live near a small town in Hamilton, Michigan,USA> I love reading and being inspired by your blog. I am interested in your homemade laundry soap. Do you think it will work in a high energy washer? Do you think the washer maker would approve it? Appliances are so expensive that I wouldn't want to do any harm. Thanks for your blog

  16. Tony's been harvesting garlic too Rhonda.

  17. Your garden looks absolutely beautiful, cool and green, Rhonda, and I can see how much love and attention Hanno pours into it. It's very touching to hear that you are helping people in practical ways - no matter what our situation, as people we sometimes just need a new way of looking at things, and to consider trying new things. So often it doesn't occur to people that despite what advertisers would like us to believe, we don't actually have to buy every cleaning product, for example. By sharing your practical knowledge on this blog and now through other mediums, you are helping to empower many ordinary people.

  18. Hi Rhonda, I have just returned from my local library where I read your story in the Womens Weekly (I don't buy it but read current magazines for free there) and I just wanted to let you know that I loved it. I felt so proud of you, it was like a personal friend was being featured - the power of technolgy! I'm so glad that others will discover you and your blog by reading the Womens Weekly xxBrenda

  19. I love the idea of the radio show its has a nostilgic feel aboutit ...in NZ aunt daisy(my very 1st cookbook) had a show on the radio also when I stayed with my grandparents on the weekends grandee had us stay in bed and listen to the stories like the little train that could and henny penny..it helps with the listening skills too.Think a generation might have your voice to look back on remeber when Miss Rhonda was on every saturday morning with all her homemaking ideas...Good Luck!

  20. One day I want to have a garden that big and that organized. It's wonderful :) You should let us know if there are any livestreams of your radio work if you do decide to do the radio call-ins :)

  21. Hi Rhonda!
    As I look at your wonderful productive garden on the screen, I can look out the window and see our own - all closed down ready for the long, long winter. Sigh.
    Still there are compensations. Yesterday we had a light lunch of mushrooms I picked in the woods surrounding us, topped with mozzarella cheese I made thanks to Gavins Little Green Cheese blog, together with the last fresh tomatoes from our greenhouse all on a slice of toasted wholemeal bread made by my husband. Fine dining - for a very low cost.
    Looking forward to your peach whey cake recipe.
    Greetings from Sweden
    Ramona K

  22. Mitzi - I live near DC, and I use a very similar recipe for the detergent. I always use 2-3T of detergent in our HE washers. Clothes come out clean and I think they smell fine. Hope that helps!

  23. Dear Rhonda,

    I've been following a while, and I love your stance on homemaking. I was taught growing up that mothering and housekeeping were for morons, and anyone with any intelligence got paid to work. It took only a couple of years to discover that I had been taught incorrectly (to put it mildly). But after becoming at At Home Mum after our oldest was born, it took YEARS to get past being defensive. I love the other commenter's idea of having a wonderful secret - that's exactly it!
    Anyway, I have a slightly tangential question. I think that you and Hanno were vegetarian for a number of years. Now that you include meat in your diet again (cabbage rolls with pork and veggies - yum!) have you noticed a difference?
    Thank you for writing the way you do.
    Take care,
    Lorna in VA

  24. I totally agree that garlic is worth growing, particularly in hot climates which can be challenging for some crops. I had a go last year & we had almost enough for a year. This time around I bought big giant garlic cloves and planted those... right next to the leeks so I'm waiting to see which ones are which:) Sadly they were $40/kg so I only bought a few!


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