A day in a slow life

14 September 2016
Luckily I don't compare my performance to what others are doing. When I look at the forum and see the amount of work some of our members do every day, I think back to when that was my day too and breathe a sigh of relief that my seasons have changed and there is less work to do. I come from a working class family who took pride in the paid and unpaid work they did. In our world, most of what we had we got through hard work. Daily work, and the importance of it, is etched into my soul. Very few of us are wealthy enough to go through life without work and to tell you the truth, if I were in that category, I'd work anyway because of the many non-financial benefits work brings with it. Work helps shape the person you become.

When I closed down my business many years ago, I didn't know what I would do but knew I wasn't about to be spending time on a beach soaking up the rays. I had to realise my worker's ethos in a more creative way because I knew that daily work would always be part of what I do and who I am. As I walked away from commercial work, I wasn't sure to what extent, but I had a strong feeling that domestic work would help save me. I didn't know it at the time but the day I picked up my broom and put on my apron was the day my life changed for the better.  I'm still here all these years later, working for the life I want and appreciating the power of our home while I look forward to the years ahead.

So what am I doing? Many people ask me about my days and what I do so here's what I did yesterday. Got up around 3.30am, dressed and checked emails, the blog comments and the forum. Then I watched a TV program about a Russian museum that I recorded the other day. I was covered with a thick fleece and had my slippers on so I was warm, the room was fairly dark and I eventually drifted off to sleep. When the program finished, the TV and recorder turned themselves off and I slept soundly in my armchair until Hanno came out at 7am. After waking up a second time, I let the chickens out for the day, put food in their hopper and lingered in the garden watching the early bees moving from flower to flower. Hanno unpacked the dishwasher while I made breakfast then I cleaned the kitchen and made up a care parcel for a friend so Hanno could post it when he went out. Tricia rang. We talked for 20 minutes or so, I made the bed, cleaned my teeth, brushed my hair and opened the windows in the bedroom and bathroom. Then I went outside again for 15 minutes to water the seedlings and the new plantings of lettuce and silver beet/chard. 

Hanno went for his blood test and to pick up a few things at Aldi and I baked a cake from the CWA Classics book - Mum's Orange Tea Cake.  I've made it a few times before and it's delicious. We have it over a few days for morning tea. 

2 rounded tablespoons soft butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cup self-raising flour
1 dessertspoon cornflour
milk, if needed
1 tablespoon extra sugar to sprinkle on the top before baking

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a round 20 cm cake tin and line the base with baking paper.

Cream butter and sugar, add the egg and beat well. Add zest and juice of orange (don't worry when it curdles). Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well. It's a thick batter but if it's too thick add a little milk.

Pour into prepared tin and sprinkle with extra sugar. Bake until it smells cooked and is golden on top, about 30 minutes. 

After cleaning up my baking equipment, I started on lunch. We have our main meal at lunchtime now and have tea and a snack in the late afternoon. Yesterday's lunch was beef ribs with silver beet and turnips from the garden. The beef is very easy to make. I wrap it tightly in two sheets of alfoil and place it in a hot oven at 190C for about 60 minutes. That steams the ribs and when I peel back the foil the meat is starting to fall off the bone.  For the remaining cooking time, leave the foil open. I make up a marinade (below) and brush it on the top and sides of the ribs and keep cooking it in the oven at 180C for another 30 minutes. A second brushing of the marinade and then let it cook for 15 minutes before removing it from the oven. Delicious!  BTW, we use entree plates instead of dinner plates now so if you think the plates look crowded, it's because they're smaller.

2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon chilli jam, chilli sauce or a sprinkling of chilli flakes
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce

After lunch I cleaned up, checked the forum and emails and hemmed Gracie's fleece. I emptied the freezer drawers at the bottom of our fridge, washed the drawers, organised the frozen food in there, and added the ice cube container for the ice I'll make soon for the warmer months. Around 3pm we pulled down the shade screens on the back verandah and had afternoon tea. Tricia phoned again and we talked and giggled about a letter she found that I wrote to her in 1962 when she was away staying with our Aunty. I wrote about Bobby Darin (the singer) and Father Knows Best (the TV show). LOL I was 14 years old. 

Then back outside again to water the vegetable garden which gave me the opportunity to sit and watch the birds and listen to the teenager next door express his angst with a sad song about losing his girl.  Ah, teenage love.  Back inside, I started writing this post and then made tea and toast which I enjoyed while watching TV for an hour with Hanno. A bit of knitting was done, the kitchen cleaned up, a few notes made in my notebook and some messages and emails sent.  And that was it for the day. It's only a fraction of what I once did but with older age comes less energy, calmness, contentment and the desire for self-reflection. So while I happily acknowledge that I do less work, I know there is less to do because we have pared back our wants and needs. And at the end of the day, I go to bed satisfied and while I don't catapult myself out of bed every morning like I once did, there is still a burning desire to live well and enjoy every day.


  1. What a lovely day. Productive, calm and thoughtful. Your next door teenager gave me a smile, they're not easy years.

  2. Sounds like a perfect day, full of simple things that bring you joy. Rhonda, I had the chance early this morning to look back over about a years worth of photos on my computer. What did I find? Lots of photos about how I live my days, washing, baking, cleaning, gardening, sewing and time spent with family. It is indeed these simple practices that make me whole and bring me joy, too. Have a splendid day.

  3. Thank-you for sharing your day Rhonda.
    Simple practices and simple living create wonderful simple pleasures.
    You are an inspiration. Jo

  4. I enjoy reading about your day, it makes me feel so calm and I aim to get to that point after my working days are done and hubby and I retire

  5. I do love to see how people spend their days.

  6. Thank you Rhonda-this is exactly what I needed to read today. My life is chaotic at the moment My 89 year old mother is dying of lymphoma in hospital and yesterday was a rushed day of taking clean nightwear to her (a 60 km drive there and back each day) trying to organise a private room for her, babysitting 3 year old grandson for 5 hours in the afternoon while trying to shop for groceries(!!!) and topped up by a 2 am phone call from mum`s relatives in Holland to see how she was.
    Today I am going to take time out just to drift around my home doing gentle tasks. I know it`s silly that I need to be inspired by someone else`s gentle day before I give myself permission to have a day like that myself but it`s in times of stress that inspirational writing like yours becomes so valuable. Thankyou

    1. Dear Corinne, I'm sorry to read about your mother. I know what that feels like. My mother died of lymphoma too and it's the main regret of my life that I wasn't there with her. When this busyness is over, you'll look back and know it was one of the important times for you. Take it all in today and balance out what has been happening with a calm and serene day. I'll be thinking of you. xx

    2. My thoughts are with you Corinne. It must be so difficult to approach such days with calmness but you are covering your mother with love. I am glad to read that you are allowing yourself time to rest.

  7. Great post Rhonda. My husband & I living a similar lifestyle although I can't convince him to have main meal at lunchtime, I think it would be better for us as we go to bed much earlier these days, our ages being 65 & 68. Love the bed for your new arrival, how exciting for you both.

  8. This sounds delicious to me! Productive, measured, and joyful...

    The cake recipe sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

  9. I really enjoyed reading about your calm approach to your day and thankyou so much for your orange tea cake recipe. It looks delicious. My Mum always made tea cakes. We have been given some oranges and that will be perfect.

  10. Thank you for a wonderful post. It's so relaxing to read about your day, and thank you for the recipes! As a homeschool mom to two teenage daughters, my days are busy with teaching, housework, and outside activities. I look forward (and I don't) to the days when I can slow down. =)

  11. sounds like a perfect day to me

  12. I'm currently reading Simplicity Parenting, and in it the author shares a strategy of helping children stay balanced by having active days and calm days, making sure to have one or two calm days after a very active or exciting day to keep them from getting too overstimulated. Really, it holds true for us as adults as well--we need a certain amount of calm in our lives, more than many of us have. This fall is simply busy, but I have hopes of things smoothing out soon, if not exactly slowing down. However, your day sounds simply lovely, and I think maybe I'll see if I can find a day to slow down myself soon, to bring some balance into my life!

  13. What a perfect day! I really enjoyed reading it. I had to laugh about the teenager next door because I live with 3 (3!!!!!) and there is a lot of drama going around :-D


  14. my grandmother always used to say there are no pockets in a shroud , so yes im judged to be lazy compared to some of those that cram every moment of the day into purposeful activity , I have days where i never stop but there others where i realise i must pace myself a little . Health Issues mean i will probably not get the golden years of retirement that many will , so im winding down a little sooner than some and trying to enjoy my days more

  15. Thanks for sharing! I have been struggling with living our new retired life. I am so driven to accomplish things every day and keep busy, I have had a hard time just letting go and enjoying a relaxing day for what it is.

  16. This sounds like the perfect day - calm, content, not to a schedule, and really good food. Someday for me. . . glad for you now. And, I just have to say it, I'm so antsy to see Gracie hopping around in the background! I have such vivid memories of Bailey as a puppy - you are in for some fun. Beth in MN

  17. Just wanted to add that your old post 'making the bed' is my all time favourite! Simplicity plus.
    Rhonda if it's not to presumptuous to ask would you be able to share with us your latest budget like the one in your first book. I would be keen to see if it has changed much. There is only 2 of us at home and our grocery budget especially has risen.

    1. Jamie, a new budget post is on my list but because it requires a bit of work, I don't know when it will be done.

  18. That's kind of you Rhonda. Please don't feel any pressure. All in good time 💐

  19. Hello Rhonda, I haven't read your blog in months and months, it's so lovely to get back to reading it, homely and yummy food too. Woo xx

  20. Although I am still working full time, we are gradually preparing for the 'next stage'- by clearing out clutter. planning some remodeling to make our home more elder safe, reorganizing the garden. We too are making changes in our eating habits - as we age it is so easy to gain and much more difficult to lose those extra pounds. And we see more of our friends and family with health issues, many of which could be prevented. Have a lovely week!

  21. Sounds like a productive day, even though not as productive as you used to be. I like how you put into perspective. That it is okay not to do as much as you once did, that that is part of life circle. Wonderful how you laugh with your sister. Hope many more days like this will come.

  22. Sounds like a good day to me.
    That's what I aim for these days, must include gardening time.
    Love the recipe for the Orange Tea Cake. So simple.



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