Taking a break from routine, then getting back to it

27 March 2014
I'm longing to return to a state of relaxed normality but it's been a busy few weeks here. We've all been waiting for yesterday when the book was published. Thank you so much for the warm support you've given me with your comments and emails and by purchasing the book. Those comments encourage me to continue here because I know people are reading and are connected enough to comment. It is good to have the book out and on the shelves so now I can concentrate on getting the last three written and out to you.

Tricia crocheting a jug cover.

My sister has been here for the past week, and flies home today. While she was here, she helped me organise the Mending, Repurposing and Household Linens book and she made up the cutest, sheer, patchwork kitchen curtain and a jug cover for the book. It was good to sit and talk to someone who understands what I'm trying to do with the linens. I want to encourage mending and recycling instead of buying new, as well as help develop traditional sewing and mending skills for some of the younger women and men. This is work such as replacing zippers, sewing on buttons, making dishcloths, mending rips and general maintenance of clothes and household linens. If you have these skills it allows you to keep trousers, shirts, jumpers, jeans, dresses, pyjamas, night dresses, skirts and school uniforms going for much longer, as well as save money by not buying disposable products such as dishcloths and dusters, which helps a lot with the budget.

The patchwork kitchen curtain. I saw this idea originally in Pinterest - it's on my page there.

The final reason for my busyness has been the continuation of Hanno's illness. Since early December he's had long periods of gout pain that have come every month and only let up for a week or two, only to return again. We went back to the doctor yesterday and have a referral to a new rheumatology specialist at Greenslopes, which is a large hospital in Brisbane. The GP is changing his diagnosis too, from gout to gouty arthritis, and possibly to rheumatoid arthritis. So bear with us. We're a bit slow at the moment but we're getting there.

Over the next couple of days, I'll take the opportunity to catch up on a few things not done while Tricia was here. I don't know why but I find it impossible to stick to my routine when she's here. I haven't made bread for a week, we bought bread from the local bakery and while I did continue feeding the chooks and letting them out each morning, then quickly watering the garden before going back inside, there were quite a few things I should have done but didn't. I did cook from scratch each day but we also went out for lunch twice. Once was Tricia's treat and the other was yesterday when we celebrated the book with a beer, fish and salad at the local pub. I did make the bed everyday, I did wash up but I didn't sweep the floor.  I feel like I've been on a little holiday. I'm not feeling guilty about it. It is what it is. I just have to pick up where I left off a week ago and get things done now.

So to get me back into gear and to help those of you who struggle with this sort of thing, I recommend Rose's 28 day organising challenge at the forum. These are small challenges for common household tasks that can be done in a few minutes. You can do the entire challenge or pick and choose the tasks you struggle with. Either way it's a great refresher for all of us who've fallen off the wagon, or never got on it. ;- )  

Rose's discussion thread. Look below the discussion thread for the individual day challenges. For example, this is the entry for day six:

Day 6 will essentially repeat Day 5, if you've been sticking to this challenge you may find a rhythm emerging especially with your morning and evening routines. Today, keep to those routines, do the tasks for today from your weekly routine, continue to put away dry washing, declutter at least one item and identify an undone thing that is niggling at you. You may decide to do this on the spot, if it's going to take a while then note it in your journal and break down the whole task into smaller steps.

Day 6 challenge:

  • do your morning and evening routines, keep to the essentials.
  • do today's tasks from your weekly routine.
  • put away clean dry washing.
  • declutter one item.
  • identify an undone thing that is niggling you.

I love how Rose talks about a rhythm developing when you carry out these challenges. That rhythm often comes in when you repeat these kinds of tasks and it's that rhythm that helps you get through the work. If you've been struggling with your house or yard work, I recommend this challenge to you. They are easy and quick tasks that can be slotted into most days and will keep you on target in your simple life.


  1. Congratulations, Rhonda! What a wonderful accomplishment!

    A visit with you is like a visit with a good friend. I always have a cup of tea and enjoy our visit. Sounds your visits with your sister are like mine -- a lot of good conversation, creativity, and food! Isn't it wonderful to have a sister to enjoy?

    I know you don't give advice freely; however, I am four years from retirement. I feel that I am in a box without a hole even to breath through! And, the Mister isn't nearly on board with the values evolving within me. So.... I know Hanno became convinced when you quietly started your own "revolution" within your lifestyle. How did you keep your focus?

    With warm wishes and joyful anticipation of reading your book...

    1. Hi Matty, thank you. I'll do a post on this next week. It's a bit too much for a comment.

  2. Good morning Rhonda,
    I must admit, I selfishly love seeing a new post from you, part of my daily rhythm is to read 3 or 4 of my favourite blogs with a coffee while the house is quiet. I'm so pleased to hear you had a lovely visit with your sister, so much more important than sweeping the floor! Poor Hanno and poor you having to pick up the extra work. I do so hope he can't get some relief. Thanks for the reminder about Rose's challenges, I'm heading over there now and then to Bookworld ; )
    Warm regards, Jan x

  3. Relatively new to your blog (within last four months or so), and have devoured quite a bit of it. Also had your book flown to me from NZ, and absolutely love it. Not having any older women in my life, or any other women at all who are as passionate as I am about finding one's bliss at home, your book and blog are the encouragement that I need from time to time. Most of the time I can just keep my head tucked into my home and go about my business, but sometimes, after a particularly challenging conversation with someone or the other, it's nice to be able to reach out and grab something that lets me know I'm not crazy or alone. Or at least, if I am crazy, I'm not alone. ;) So, thank you.

    I don't know if this will help Hanno or not, but my husband works with a man who suffers from gout and his holistic remedy is to drink pickle juice daily. He buys jars of pickles, brings them to work, the guys eat the pickles (as he himself doesn't like them), and then he drinks the juice. He claims this keeps his gout in check. I've no idea if it works, but I've been clucking over Hanno in my mind since you said he was poorly, and thought I'd better pass this on 'in case.' Feel better, Hanno!

    Thank you again, Rhonda. I'm here on break from hanging out my wash (it's 48 degrees F here today, but it's sunny and breezy!), and am about to assemble a shopping list of items to purchase to make my first batch of washing powder. Have a lovely day, and may you fall gently back into the rhythm of your days!

    Shani - Illinois, USA

  4. Hanno has my greatest sympathy and best wishes. After years of thinking I just had a bit of a dodgy tummy I have a colonoscopy in a fortnight following a positive inflammatory bowel disease test. I hope that his tests and any subsequent treatment are unintrusive and positive. My prognosis is not good, not in that it is terminal, but I am likely to be on a restricted diet and will have to live with a dodgy bowel. Am I downhearted? No. Am I dying? No. I have held the hands of too many friends as they have died, if all I have is inflammatory bowel disease, if all I have to live with is sudden and unexpected need to get to a loo in ten seconds, then I can live with that... because I can live. Too many of my friends did not.

  5. Love the curtain. I don't really have the window for such a thing but enjoy looking at it. I was looking the other day at a huckaback tray cloth which I made in 4th class many, many years ago. It was good to see one used in your curtain with an almost identical pattern on it. I've been using some of the linen handed down from my mum who died just on four years ago and some was handed down to her.

  6. Sometimes things just happen that mean the daily routine goes out the door. That is happening to me at the moment, and I find it really stresses me out. So thank you for the reminder to not feel guilty about it and that "it is what it is". Reminding me to go with the flow a bit more.

    As for your next book, on mending etc, I'll be keen to see that! Not too long ago I was reminiscing about how Mum used to cut old sheets down the middle where they were threadbare, flip them around, and sew them back up again with the edges in the middle - worked a treat! When I looked at my threadbare sheets, I realised there was enough fabric on the edges to make pillowcases, which was what I needed more than extra sheets. No wasted fabric! I was so proud of myself :-)

  7. Great post, Rhonda.. Love your curtain. I pinned that also but have not made it yet.. Your linens books sounds awesome and so needed... Also, I like the routine plans.. I plan to look into this more.. thanks..
    Take care, my friend..

  8. Congratulations on the book and best wishes to Hanno, I hope he is feeling better soon.

  9. When I was a kid, almost 60 years ago, I used to watch my grandmother turn the less worn sides of the sheet into the middle and that put the more worn middle to the sides. Of course there was a center seam but it was never a problem. Once she had gotten all the wear from that fix she would take the better parts of the now fairly worn sheet and make pillow cases with them. The sorta worn parts became hankies and the very worn were turned into rags.
    It used to be that women were judged as to how good a housekeeper and manager they were by how little garbage they had. Everything was used, re-used, recycled, upcycled and whatever until it just couldn't be used any more. Only then was it thrown away. We need to get back to that.

  10. Great to see the photo of Tricia, please give her my love when next you speak to her, her kitchen partner often asks after her. Hanno I am so glad there is a diagnosis, waiting for the diagnosis is half the battle almost, let's hope the new specialist is a good one.

    Rhonda I'm looking forward to the linens book, I love linen!

    1. Just passed your message on, Rose. Tricia says hello to you and Tony.

  11. I have that pretty patchwork curtain pinned too Rhonda, I don't have enough pretty pieces yet to put it together though, it's a work in progress. I haven't managed to get to the Forum yet to check out Rose's challenge despite you sorting out my password issues.....did I thankyou, can't remember..so thankyou. I've been doing my own challenge for a while, I have high set house with lots of space underneath for clutter and mess.....it's so easy to think I'll just put it 'under the house' for now and then it all gets to be such a mess. So each day I do 3 things .....sort out a box, or put a bucket full of junk mail in the bin, some days it's just 3 quick things and others could be more, depending on how much spare time I have. It's slowly getting done and not as overwhelming as thinking I must do it all in one go. I will check out Rose's challenge though. Best wishes to Hanno, chronic pain is an awful thing. And lovely to have your sister there to work beside you and support you with your writing and by making pretty things for the book.

  12. Im so glad you had a lovely time with Tricia, I think those times are the times to let routines go (within reason - feeding animals etc) I think it can be refreshing and restful. Loving your new book Rhonda but I am a bit sad I did not order it in hard copy, it is so much nicer to flick forward to a chapter that grabs you rather than muck around on a device....in any case the words are what counts and as always you write so well and such sense. Tricia looks like she does fine crochet...does she knit as well? Best wishes to Hanno in finding some relief from his gout.

    1. Vikki, Tricia takes naturally to all hand crafts and yes, she does knit well but she doesn't enjoy knitting now. Her love is hand stitching and quilting.

  13. I had the pleasure of meeting Tricia one of your workshops in Blackheath. Tricia brought along some of her quilts. One quilt in particular caught my eye, I loved the stitching, the fabrics and the softness but what amazed was this quilt was made in 1973, was a regularly used quilt and had a fashionable, timeless style to suit more than 40 years later.

  14. Good Morning Rhonda, so glad it wasn't just me experiencing problems with the Penguin site! Your new book is now winging its way to me - can't wait! Kaz :)

  15. Dear Rhonda,

    I've to say congrats to your finished book!

    And please let me suggest to read something about a 'raw diet' for helping with health problems.
    I myself don't like diets handled like religions (Veganism etc^^)
    But beyond the hype, there is a truth in this case, I think.
    In case of heavy problems it's really worth a try.
    Some easy to follow first info are f.e. here: http://youtu.be/cqHRxr4a2-o

    All the best for you,
    Anne from germany

  16. I havent even received your book yet, (ordered yesterday) but I'm so looking forward to your next book, Mending, Repurposing and Household Linens. We have recently emptied a family holiday house and have so many sheets, pillow cases and towels, fabric napkins and other bits and pieces that are all a little tired and I couldnt bring myself to send them to the op shop. I'm really looking forward to making them new again.
    I love my visits too, I always brew a pot and have a few cuppas whilst reading your blog. A lovely centering routine.
    Thanks Rhonda

  17. Oh Rhonda, congrats on the book! So wonderful. And I hope you can get Hanno's pain sorted out. It's got to be awfully stressful for you both. Take care of yourselves xx

  18. Poor Hanno. I really hope the doctors can give him some relief. Reubs and I are thinking of him (and you!) I LOVE the patchwork curtain. We have horrible old blinds in our kitchen and a whole stack of beautiful old linens begging to be repurposed... You've inspired me!

    Katie x

  19. Hi Rhonda, I hope Hanno is feeling better soon and that you are getting some rest too after all the time you have put into your book recently. I downloaded the new book on my husband's Kindle last night and am halfway through and can't wait to finish it tonight. I am really glad it covered some new ground additional to what was in the Down to Earth book. I am also glad to see you mention your next book will talk about traditional sewing and mending skills. I have decided to learn how to sew and as what you might call from the younger generation I believe there is not many among us who want to do this, but it's such a useful and money-saving skills to have I think.

  20. My schedule got messed up when I got bronchitis a couple of weeks ago and I haven't gotten fully back into it yet. I know that it takes me a long time to get completely over it, but it bothers me all the same. So this post makes me feel a little better. :)

  21. Hi Rhonda
    Thank you for taking the time to write you new book. I bought it and read the whole thing last night. You have remotivated me to keep moving slowly into the simple life. We built a house two years ago and I thought we'd move in and have it all perfectly set up straight away. We've planted our front yard with citrus. Apples, chilli , guava rhubarb, gooseberry, strawberry, lavender, lemon verbena aloe Vera, Rosemary and tomatoes , one of which self seeded the best most prolific cherry tomatoes I've had. I will head over to the forum for some advice on saving the seeds. We got solar panels on the roof and I am just investigating tanks. One of the most exciting things about moving in was giving away the dryer and getting a turning around clothes line. We have one in the lounge too that fits full size sheets for the rainy times. I made laundry powder but found even though it made most thing smell pure and clean it tended to leave the odour under the arms. I shall have to try your recipe. I am off to the flower and garden show today for some ideas on how to grow the most food in our 8.5 x 10m back yard. I have read your blog for over a year and a half but haven't commented as my email doesn't seem to work properly to post. I don't have linens to make into a curtain but I am gathering old denim from our non fitting jeans to make a quilt for our new baby whose one the way. That's they other reason why I'm so interested in the simple ness. I'd like to sort it so the I don't have to go back to my current paid work.
    Once again thank you for the time you take to share you wisdom. Take care ( and I hope Hanno hears something from the specialist that does not involve ongoing pain).
    Wendy Kelly
    Melbourne Victoria

    1. Your comment was heart warming, Wendy. I think it might motivate others too. It sounds like you've taken your lives and pointed them in a positive and enriching direction. Well done. Keep in touch and let me know how you go. If you have the time can you write a review of the book at the online shop you bought it at please. xx

  22. It has taken me a long time to appreciate how important a rhythm is in my life. I am slowly bringing one into shape and feel so much better for it and I have more time, which is completely unexpected.

  23. Congrats on your success, well done!
    Also well done with having such a wonderful relationship with your sister. It was such a warming moment seeing her photo sharing your interests. Love our families!

  24. Hi Rhonda~ I'm sure someone may have mentioned this in the past but I thought I'd mention it. Black Cherry juice (the concentrate...no sugar added) has been a tried and true relief for gout for many people here in the US. I used to work in a health food store and an elderly woman swore by it. Said she used to be in a wheel chair and now just uses a cane. Also, look at Doug Kaufman's Fungus Link site. Sometimes there may a connection between systemic candida and arthritic conditions. To me it's worth a look, and I thought you might see what your thoughts are. I will be praying for Hanno...and you :-)


  25. Hi Rhonda, I'm new to your lovely blog, and just started reading "The Simple Life". I see there's a forum connected to the blog, but I receive an error message when I try to join. Am I doing something wrong? Sorry if I shouldn't post this sort of question here, but I can't find another way to make contact. Thanks for what I know will be hours of fascinating reading.



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