28 September 2015


It's our 36th wedding anniversary today.  Hanno and I were married in Hamburg in 1979 and all these years later, we're still going strong.

This is what I'll be doing for the next couple of days. I'm reading the book for the last time before it goes to print on Thursday. I'll be back when I'm finished so please come back and find me later in the week.  I'll be here waiting for you.  ♥︎


25 September 2015

Weekend reading

I still have some places in one blogging workshop on 24 October and one writing workshop on 25 October. The blogging workshop is for beginners or for bloggers who aren't happy with their blog. If you bring along your laptop, I'll help you set up or improve your blog.  The writing workshop can be writing for blogs, articles or books. I'll help you organise your writing and move you closer to publication. Each workshop will be held here at home, will run from 9am till 3pm and costs $125. Please email me for more information rhondahetzel@gmail.com 

I hope you're got plans to relax and take it easy over the weekend.  It's always a good investment in your health and well being to look after yourself and get enough rest. Whatever you do over the coming days, enjoy it. Thanks for your visits this week. See you soon!

21 vegan freezer-friendly meals
Michael Pollan talking about his book, Cooked. YouTube
The mobile that gives you your life back
Your Microbe AuraCake Bakers and Trouble Makers Lucy Worsley's 100 Years of the WI on You Tube
Baking tips from the CWA experts
Living the simple life in a tiny home
Rice and Vegie Cakes Recipe

24 September 2015

My favourite place #12

This is a weekly feature for readers to show us their favourite place at home. The photos this week come from Jocelyn in Canada and Jill in Australia. Thanks for sharing your photos with us, ladies

- - - -  - - - - 

Jocelyn writes:
I wonder how many people's pick will be the kitchen; my guess is it will be the favourite for many of us. The reason is a simple one, as always the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is where our food is prepared, where we gather for a coffee or a meal, or make a pot of tea. Such sustenance in so many ways for our lives. But my kitchen is my favourite room for a special reason. I live in the Canadian countryside on a 100 acre farm; here we have chosen to heat with wood. The winters in the Ottawa valley are very cold and our wood stove becomes a focal point of the house for the winter months. The wood stove is in the kitchen and we gather around it; I joke that we hug it in the mornings before the house gets heated through. 

My blog is called Canadian Needle Nana and I post daily about my life here on this land, the birds, flowers, garden, as well as the books I read, my needlework and of course, what I cook and bake in my kitchen. 

I've loved seeing your favourite rooms and here are a couple of photos of mine. Take care all.

- - - - - - - - 

And on the other side of the world, much closer to where I live, Jill writes:

These two photos are of our north-facing front verandah. The wall without the doors keeps the westerlies away and the seats were built by my husband over 30 years ago. The bright colours are courtesy of our daughter-in-law who had them for a while. We live in the Lockyer Valley in South-east Queensland.


23 September 2015

Garden photos and tips for beginners

Well, after all this time, I finally feel that the garden is ready to be photographed. We usually start our annual planting in March to take advantage of the cooler weather but this year, we're only gardening in spring and summer and that means Spring planting. Our crops now will be mostly salad related, herbs and fruit. Cutting down on how much we grow allows us to continue growing food in the backyard while reducing the workload that was getting too much for us.

In addition to the in-ground crops, we've also done some work on the back verandah which faces north-west. A few months ago we had shade blinds fitted and in doing so, we're now able to grow plants in containers and have a table and chairs to sit at. In high summer, when it's hot and humid, we'll either be on the front verandah, which is on the cooler side of the house, or inside with the fan or air conditioner on. But the way it's set up now allows us to use the back verandah much more.

Before that hot weather arrives there is still a lot to be done outside so we have a constant supply of organic salad leaves and vegetables over summer. Right now we're growing all the herbs we use: parsley, Welsh onions, thyme, basil, sage, oregano, comfrey and rosemary. Our winter crops of curly kale and turnips have continued into spring and will continue to grow well right into summer. We also have ginger, several varieties of chilli, capsicum (pepper), rosellas for tea and jam, lettuce, silverbeet (Swiss chard), beetroot, cherry tomatoes (Rapunzel) and large tomatoes (short beefsteak), red radishes, Lebanese cucumbers, bok choy and Daikon radishes. Our fruits include: raspberries, blueberries, Young berries, elderberries, passionfruit, lemons, oranges, mandarins, loquat and bananas. As you can see in the photos, we've planted flowers dotted here and there to attract the pollinating insects. And I've planted up a tray of thickly sown mixed salad leaves in the bush house. They'll keep growing when the lettuces in the garden bolt to seed in the hotter weather. These mixed leaves are a cut-and-come-again crop and I hope they'll see us through summer.

One of the gardening team sets up the work station for the day. Yesterday was our first hot day and we needed that umbrella.
Washing on the line, umbrella up, it's time for some work in the garden.
I loaded up the garden cart with my organic fertiliser, seaweed extract and sulphate of potash and went around adding different mixtures to each of the plants.  Those little stakes with up-turned pots that we have on the corners of our garden beds allow the hose to safely glide past the garden and not over it, which would ruin the plants.

The Herb Robert is growing well.

The up turned pots are a safety device to prevent us poking out an eye when we bend over to weed or pick. I think they look pretty too.

It's a nice addition to any garden having ceramic or wire ornaments around. They add interest to each garden and show a little bit of the gardener's personality.

A mix of beetroot, silverbeet (Swiss chard), cucumber vines and nicotine plant (the flowers).

This is the inside of my bush house where I repot, plant seeds and look after sick plants.

I am using this Burgon and Ball trowel now and I love it. It's made in the UK, very strong and fits beautifully in my hand. This one is from my sponsor Odgers and McClellend Exchange Stores. If you're looking for garden tools, buy the best quality you can afford because it will allow you to keep using that one tool for many years instead of buying cheaper tools every couple of years when they break or rust. 

Over on the back verandah we have an Australian flag. Jamie's been learning about flags at day care so we're carrying on the conversation with him here.
This is our new seating - it's second hand and repainted, but new to us.  The stand that the plants are on is our old BBQ stand, circa 1990, that we never used and no one else wanted. Apparently BBQs are all silver and multi-purpose now. Who knew! Also in this photo are the new sun shade blinds. You can see two of the three pulled down half way to shade the plants from the sun. They block out 80 percent of the harmful rays.

We've been growing some of our own food for decades now and it's still exciting to plan what we'll grow each year. Before the seeds and seedlings go in, there are weeks of planning and preparation. Here is a short list of some things that will help you if you're new to all this.  Gardening is one of those activities where there is always something new to learn, no matter how long you've been doing it. So don't be afraid to start, none of us know it all. Here are some quick tips that might help you when you're starting out:
  1. Adding organic matter to your soil is the most important thing you can do before you plant. The addition of compost, old manures or leaf mould will give your plants a much better chance of producing good crops and remaining healthy enough to survive the season. Nothing you do after planting will replace this one activity, so make sure you put aside time before you plant to enrich your soil.
  2. You probably won't have your own homemade compost in your first season, so make do with aged cow or horse manure to add that essential organic matter to the soil. If there are no generous farmers nearby, you can buy bags of pulverised cow manure at the nursery or hardware store. But make sure you start a compost heap as soon as you can. It will take most of your garden waste and some of your household waste and it will add essential nutrition and organic matter to your garden soil. Here is an old post I wrote about making compost.
  3. The difference between average and excellent vegetables is good nutrition - both before and after planting.  If you grow a small crop of comfrey, you'll be able to make your own fertiliser that is as good as anything you can buy.  Here is a post on how to make it.
  4. When you water your garden does make a difference. I live in a warm/hot climate so I water in the late afternoon. This gives the plants the chance to absorb water (and the nutrients in the soil made available when the soil is wet) when the sun goes down. The plants then have about 12 hours of darkness to fully hydrate themselves for the following day. If you're in a cool climate, you should water in the morning. You won't have the problem of hot sun on plants but you will have a problem if the leaves remain wet or damp all day and into the night.  That will encourage damping off in seedlings and mildew in older plants. So the rule of thumb is to water early in the day when it's cool and late in the day if it's hot.
  5. We use the rainwater we collect from our roof on our gardens. If you don't have water tanks think carefully about how you'll provide water to the plants, before you start. Water costs money and it's getting more expensive so having a water usage plan will stand you in good stead. If you have short periods of frequent rain, that may be enough for the garden but if not, think about rigging up some down pipes and collection points so you'll produce your backyard food in the most thrifty way possible. Here is a post I wrote about water tanks and water conservation.
Gardening is more than planting and growing. You're also creating a space you feel good in and where you can breathe fresh air and reconnect with Mother Nature. Use things around the home to add interest to your garden and make your space unique to you. My garden makes me smile when I see it. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but it does my heart good just to be there.  ♥︎

21 September 2015

75 years young with the family that keeps him that way

We had a wonderful lunch to celebrate Hanno's birthday yesterday. The family gathered for the event at a local restaurant and while we all enjoyed the food and the day, I sat back, looked around and thanked my lucky stars for what I have. A good family is the most enabling and enriching support system any of us can have in life. Honouring birthdays and other important days strengthens family ties, reminds us of our unique place and celebrates what is remarkable about us and the family we come from. Hanno wasn't the only one who came away from that gathering feeling better for the time spent there. I think we all did.

Here we are, our family, minus Sarndra and Eve who isn't a good traveller yet especially when it's such a long way.

 A lovely photo of Sunny that I hope her Korean family see all the way up there. Hello Sun Ja!
 Jens and Cathy.
 No, he wasn't asleep. 
My sons, Kerry and Shane.

And a selection of the food.

Today we're back to our work at home. The garden is almost finished and ready for the photos that will record the time and effort put into it this year. This year's main point of difference is the amount of time we've spent relaxing in the garden. It feels good to work at planting and weeding and then to sit and look at what you've done. It may be changes to the look of the garden, it could be improvements to the productivity, it all contributes to the sense of doing valuable work and enjoying the fruits of that labour. But this morning I'm resting after a late start. I'm still tired so I'll be taking it slow today. My main activity will be knitting Miss Maggie Rabbit's caplet and making her felt boots. If I do those two things well, I'll be one happy gal.

What work are you doing today and this week?


19 September 2015

A special birthday

Hanno is celebrating his 75th birthday today. He's asked for a family lunch with no gifts so that's what we're doing. Shane, Kerry, Sunny, Jens, Cathy, Alex and Jamie will join us for lunch tomorrow at a local restaurant.

Today I'm making the cake Hanno asked for - a traditional Black Forest Cake and Shane and Alex will arrive this evening and stay overnight. For the rest of us it's just a short drive up the mountain to the restaurant. We're all looking forward to it.  Happy birthday Hanno!


18 September 2015

Weekend reading

The days are getting longer and warmer here and I'm guessing that most of us are experiencing a change in the temperature. I hope you all have a lovely weekend. We have a big one here with a very special celebration - I'll be back tomorrow to tell you about it. Enjoy your days. :- )

The photos above are online shots I took yesterday while watching the wild brown bears at Brooks Falls in Alaska's Katmai National Park. Now is the ideal time to watch this live streaming event - the bears have just returned to the falls to fill their bellies with salmon before they hibernate, and the wild forest is turning yellow with the onset of the shorter and colder days. If you have a spare 15 minutes, click here and enjoy it while it lasts. If you look down to the bottom of the page, there are comments, sometimes from the rangers.
Bespoke - the rise of the makers - iview
Now that spring is here there are plenty of workshops around the place for those who want to sharpen their skills and learn something new.  I have a link to Buena Vista Farm's From Scratch workshops. Fiona is a very talented baker and farmer who is living on the coast of NSW. Her From Scratch Workshop has a few vacancies on 3 October, 2015 and 14 November, 2015. If you want to learn how to make sourdough, biscuits, yoghurt, butter and more, this is your place.
Elderberries: Hospitality, Health and Beauty
Live Simple, Live Full
I love being a housewife and that doesn’t make me any less of a feminist
The barefoot crofter
Kay's Tess D’Urbervilles Shawl - free Ravelry download
Dishcloth patterns
Another excellent workshop for those in the south east of Queensland - Hands on permaculture workshop with Morag and Evan. Permaculture kitchen gardening made easy. 3 and 4 October, 2015 at Crystal Waters Permaculture Village in Conondale. Phone 5494 4833.


17 September 2015

My favourite place #11

This is a weekly feature where readers share photos and words about their favourite place at home. This week our two readers are Kirsti in Canberra, Australia and Deb in Ontario, Canada. Again these ladies are showing just how diverse and interesting we all are.

First Kirsti writes:
I’m in Canberra and have five kids half time. Big busy household, with two working parents and we are looking to slow down substantially (www.iheartsimpleliving.com). We are at the very beginning of our family journey, and are nearly mortgage free.

My favourite spot is our two new veggie beds – seen here when we built them over Christmas. They are now full of brassicas and broad beans and are providing yummy organic sustenance to our large family. Makes me very proud to bring to the dinner table home grown fruit and veg.

My second favourite spot is my bedroom and I’ve included two photos. One – very messy spot after I had a little op a few years ago. The room was a working room where clean, worn clothes were dumped, unread books stored and cords haphazardly strewn on top. It was far from the peaceful haven that I wanted it to be.

With a lick of fresh white paint and some new linen, as well as a bit of decluttering and organising, my bedroom is the peaceful haven that I have craved and provides a piece of peace in our otherwise busy lives.

:::::: ♥︎ ::::::

And this is Deb's favourite place, she writes:
Every-time I look out my kitchen window I see this old maple tree shading a corner of our property. It's one of those trees that draws you over and invites you to relax, take a load off and enjoy all the comfort it provides.

This gigantic maple, that was a smaller tree when I was a youngster visiting my gran, even then looked tall to me. And here I am sitting under it now, a grand-mother myself, having a cup of the finest beverage on earth and enjoying it's shade.

I will never take these big 'ol trees for granted. I love the grand old maples that circle our little spot here. This is the best time to enjoy them although the vibrant Fall colours are always admired.

With that, though, comes raking of the leaves 'til the cows come home.  You can find Deb at her blog Just Cats Deb by clicking here. 


15 September 2015

Learning how to blog and write

Hello everyone. I'm going to offer four workshops here at my home.  They'll be on blogging and writing for publication and run on the weekends of 10 and 11 October and 24 and 25 October from 9am till 3pm. I'll take only six people in each workshop so I have ample time for each person. 

If you're doing the blogging workshop, bring along your laptop and I'll either help you set up your blog or help you edit and reorganise your existing blog. If you don't have a laptop, don't worry, you can look at my laptop and take notes. We'll also talk about blog basics, topics to write about, how to establish a readership, the importance of photos, understanding statistics and much more.

If it's the writing workshop you're interested in, bring along your manuscript or an idea for one and we'll workshop ideas in the group. Again, there will be only six people in each workshop so I can help move your project along or start you off on the right foot. I have been through the process of signing book contracts, advances and royalties, book proposals, chapter structure, deadlines and delivery of a book project three times, I've also worked for the Women's Weekly and Burke's Backyard as a columnist so I have recent experience to share with you and plenty of working documents to show you.

Blogging and writing are fun activities that will enrich you and I hope that experience starts at the workshops. We'll be working on our back verandah but there are plenty of places to sit and think or discuss ideas. I think you'll go home feeling inspired and that what you hope to do is possible and within reach. For more information or to book, please contact me at rhondahetzel@gmail.com


Set up a new blog or improve an existing one
9am - 3pm
10 October, 2015 
at Landsborough, one hour's drive north of Brisbane
$125 per workshop
All day tea, coffee and water supplied, BYO lunch

Set up a new blog or improve an existing one
9am - 3pm
24 October, 2015 
at Landsborough, one hour's drive north of Brisbane
$125 per workshop
All day tea, coffee and water supplied, BYO lunch


Are you writing a book you want published? Not sure what the next step is?
9am - 3pm
11 October, 2015
at Landsborough, one hour's drive north of Brisbane
$125 per workshop
All day tea, coffee and water supplied, BYO lunch

Are you writing a book you want published? Not sure what the next step is?
9am - 3pm
25 October, 2015 
at Landsborough, one hour's drive north of Brisbane
$125 per workshop
All day tea, coffee and water supplied, BYO lunch


14 September 2015

A day out in my community

We went to the Real Food Festival in Maleny yesterday. Hanno, Jamie and I packed ourselves in the car, drove up the mountain and wandered around like babes in the woods. It was good to get out of the house for the day and to reconnect with our community. And what a community this is. We're surrounded by productive, creative people who produce a wide variety of real food and it's only when you go to an event like this that you realise how healthy and vibrant this region is.

We had Vietnamese satay chicken for lunch, followed by a local coffee.

We live in Landsborough but I consider Maleny to be part of my home turf. When I worked at the Neighbourhood Centre I did my shopping in Maleny and made friends with a lot of the folk there. I haven't been back for a while but I was welcomed back with open arms. People I don't know came up and said hello and my beautiful friend Beverly Hand came along to my talk. If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll remember Beverly as one of the local indigenous leaders here. I haven't seen her for a couple of years but there she was, smiling, at the back of the audience, reminding me of all those wonderful hours we've spent together.

There was an opportunity to start a new friendship too. I was interviewed on stage by Morag Gamble who has been a big part of the Maleny and Crystal Waters communities for many years. We both marvelled at how we've lived so closed, have numerous mutual friends but our paths have never crossed before. I've invited Morag to our home and I have no doubt I'll be enriched and strengthened knowing her.

I was happy to run into Anne Brown again too. Anne is the owner of Rosetta Books in Maleny. She launched my Down to Earth book and I was really pleased when she said she was interested in launching The Simple Home too. If you're ever in Maleny, make sure you visit Anne's store in the main street. It's one of Queensland's best book shops, one of those that has comfy chairs and coffee and you can browse before you buy.

We're back at home today, hoping the last stage of my new book - the so called "third pages" - arrive in the courier's van. If it does, I'll be head down for the next few days, reading the book through and giving my final approval before it goes to print. I hope you have some interesting work to do this week and that it's another good one for all of us.
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