22 July 2015

Finding my rhythm again

I've really settled back into my home this week and have been re-establishing routines and trying to find my rhythm again. There was a time when I would have had bread on the rise, cleaned the kitchen, made beds, fed the outdoor animals and tidied up, all before 9am. That's not happening now and I'm not sure if it's because the cold weather is making me slower or if I'm still finding my feet. Either way, I'm enjoying my work and have decided to do things differently now so I'm trying a few things to see how they feel.

I was supposed to be doing one of the final readings of my book now but that's been postponed so this week will be all about routines, tidying up and sewing. I've joined the blue, purple and mauve colour swap at the Down to Earth forum. I've been partnered with moeymichelle in Perth and have some household linens sewing scheduled for her. I'm looking forward to it and when I finish writing this post, I'll be going through my stash to choose fabrics. We can make anything we like as long as it's within the colour range of blue, purple and mauve. I'm sure there'll be a wide variety of crafts travelling back and forth for this swap and I'm looking forward to seeing what the ladies make.

These are my toys - a Steiff dog, bought for me by Hanno when we lived in Germany 35 years ago, and a handmade teddy bear, given to me as a gift. I let Jamie play with the teddy and he lets teddy drive Peppa Pig's car. The iron cat is a copy of an Egyptian artefact found as grave goods in a pyramid. Kerry bought it at the British Museum.

On Monday I cleaned up the bookcase I keep in the kitchen to house my cooking books and some old magazines. Although I've decluttered routinely, I'm far from being a minimalist. It makes me feel comfortable and happy seeing familiar things around me - things I've known for many years. While I was cleaning those shelves, I made a mental note that I have enough cook books. I think the last one I bought was The Thrifty Kitchen and that was a few years ago now. Some of my most loved books were gifts from my family, and my Penguin friends sent me some cookbooks recently as a thank you for meeting all my deadlines. I'll be sharing a recipe from one of those books later in this post. It's the pecan and marmalade slice.
ADDED LATER: I just remembered that the last cook book I bought was The Country Table. I bought two, one for Sunny and one for me, because it's filled with old fashioned Australian cooking. Sunny had just asked me for a recipe for corned beef when I saw it in this cook book, along with a lot of other traditional, well-known food.

I've been asked for this recipe a few times so here it is. You might recall that I rarely stick to recipes and sure enough, while this was a new recipe to me, I did make a few minor adjustments. I'll give you the correct recipe as it appears in the book,  and let you make your own adjustments or stay within the recipe. Either way, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.  It's an unusual slice because it has a pastry base with a cake top. It's delicious and wonderful with a hot cup of tea.

This recipe is published in David Herbert's Best Ever Baking Recipes, published by Viking 2012.

 Marmalade Squares 

Base and part of the filling:

  • 350 plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 200g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 150g muscovado sugar


  • 1 rounded teaspoon bicarb
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 120 mls double cream
  • 50 g pecans, chopped
  • 50 g mixed candied peel
  • 100 g orange mamalade
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

Oven @ 180C
30cm x 20 cm baking tin, lined with baking paper

  1. Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with fingertips, add the sugar and mix until it clumps together.
  2. Spread half that mixture on the bottom of the baking tin and bake for 15 minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool.
  3. Tip the rest of the base mixture into a large bowl and stir in bicarb. Mix in the egg, cream, nuts, mixed peek and half the marmalade. 
  4. Pour over the cooled base and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Warm the remaining marmalade with the orange juice in a small saucepan. Brush over the top of the squares when they finish baking. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to five days.

Hanno and I had a rare weekend away last weekend when we drove over to Toowoomba for a meeting with the simple living group there. Such a fabulous bunch of women! They all brought along some knitting, cross stitch, crochet or sewing and while we talked, they worked on their crafts. We had hot tea on that cold morning and it felt good to be alive and in the company of like-minded folk.

I'll probably spend most of today sewing and tinkering around in my room. Days when I sew or garden or knit or take time to do that kind of work enrich my spirit and give me hours to think about my tasks, my family, you, me and how it all fits together. It's a small miracle that we gain so much pleasure from fabric and the hours we take to sew it. Part of that miracle is that we connect with our ancestors by using a skill they would have known, that what we do slows us down in the most gentle and gracious way and that what was once a one dimentional piece of fabric, after being worked, becomes part of life. I hope you have a lovely day.  ♥︎



  1. I wish I could settle into a rhythm! There is constantly something or someone who needs my attention. Looking forward to a slower day...
    Thanks for sharing this yummy sounding recipe!

  2. Thanks for the recipe :) I've got some ginger marmalade that needs using up so I might try it out with this recipe. Love your little blue bowls on your dresser. Jan x

  3. I have really enjoyed reading today's blog post. Reminded me of the same sort of things that bring me pleasure. After a particularly demanding month of my life I'm now back at the allotment, spending hours just weeding, feeding, trimming, harvesting and preserving my veggies.

  4. Rhonda, I am not getting into my routine as early either. I think it is because of the cooler weather. Then again it might be because of our age ;-)

  5. Same here, the routine seems to have gone by the way........here it is, 9 oc, and I'm just having breakfast, the dishes aren't done and the bed's not made. But I've seen to all the animals, have been to the Farmer' Market and walked the dog. The mornings are so nice along the river, although cool and crisp, often with fog rising, that it's easy to linger. Perhaps it's good for us to shake up our routines a bit, especially as we get older, so we don't get stuck in a boring rut. I missed the Forum swap, I do pop in and see what's happening but missed that Thread. Enjoy your sewing and creating something special for your partner, Rhonda. I have a small felt fox and gnome to sew today, for a small boy's birthday, so better get on.

  6. Yes, I know what you mean! I have both kids at home from lycée and Uni right now: they both board there - but my usual routine is completely broken! I love having the kids here, but I still do have all the usual chores ie cleaning, animals, veggie garden etc, They do help, but of course, by the time I explain, show them etc, I could have done the jobs in half the time. Still, it's lovely to catch up, spend time together and the housework will still be there in September!

  7. We are back into school term, and I feel a little saddened by it. We had just settled into such a lovely school holiday routine!

    The thought of homeschooling is becoming harder and harder to put aside. My eldest is so much more cheerful and relaxed when he is at home working at his own pace.

    I ache for a full and complete lifestyle change.

    I'm not sure if it winter as nothing is growing?!


  8. Sounds great to have the week to yourself to be pottering in your home again without book commitments to worry about. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  9. I agree, The routines that I used to follow, have long gone by the way.
    I'm not really sure if I will ever find them again, and I am not really worried about it. I love our new lifestyle here.
    Funny how the eye picks certain objects, when i looked at your bookcase shelf, my eye immediately was drawn to the David Herbert cookbook, and then as I scrolled down it was there. That recipe looks and sounds delicious and will certainly give it a try.
    Cold overcast miserable day here today, hope you are having good weather,

  10. Today's post was lovely. The description of fabric makes me want to start sewing again. You're a good woman.

  11. It's summer here in Northern Michigan (USA) so our schedule is dictated by the garden and the weather. Can't way for the cooler days. Love what you said about sewing!


  12. It's the cold weather that makes us a bit slower, come spring well be jitterbugging through our routines. :)

  13. That cake looks very tasty! Thanks for the recipe. Feeling inspired to tidy up my cookery books after reading your post. They are in a bit of a muddle it must be said. I agree about having loved and familiar things around me, it gives a warm homely and secure feeling. Pam

  14. It's unsurprising to see so many books that are on our bookshelves too. Still, it makes me smile here on the other side of the planet. :)

  15. I loved looking through your bookcases Rhonda!

  16. I loved your comment at the end of your post about the connections sewing brings. I spend a great deal of time on my porch hand sewing and hand quilting baby quilts. It's so therapeutic. No matter what is going on in my life taking small pieces of fabric and creating something lovely always brings me joy and peace.

  17. Hi Rhonda
    thank you so much for that recipe - I will give it a try....Mmmm!!

    I think that crafting is such a great way to join people together and I haven't met a nasty crafter yet!!

    Looking through your lovely bookcase I tried to see if I could borrow some of your titles in my library - sadly with no luck. I will keep my eyes peeled on your blog for more recipes ;-)

    Hope you enjoy the rest of your week.xx


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