30 December 2018

Upgrading the blog

Passionfruits are developing from these beautiful flowers.

Thank you all for your love and good wishes. It feels great having the support of so many of you.  Hanno and I are optimistic and looking forward to the new year so don't worry about us. We know what we're doing, our family is close by and we have as much help as we need.


28 December 2018

Hello again

As I said in my last post, I'd be back if I had anything important to share. I'm not saying anything about this on instagram because I feel a bit exposed over there.  A few months ago, I was diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumour. It's a meningioma - it's not cancer and it's not life threatening. The specialist has suggested that we should watch it for 12 months to see if it's growing, and if it is, how fast. When they know that there will either be treatment in the form of surgery and/or radiotherapy, or no treatment at all. My doctor's wife has had the same tumour for the past 10 years and hers has remained the same size and is stable.  We're hoping mine will be the same.


12 September 2018

Dear friends ...

Dear friends

I haven't been here for a couple of weeks because Hanno was sick, then I got a cold and it became easier to stay away. I've thought a lot about the blog during that time and I know now the time is right for me to step away. The blog will stay where it is, so you can come back to read when you want to, but in a couple of weeks I'll close down the ability to leave comments. I might return for a single post in the future if there is something important to share but this will be the last regular post. I've made a few posts on Instagram recently and I might continue there, but I'm not sure about that yet.


1 September 2018

Weekend reading

Walnut biscuits.

I spent most of Friday repotting hanging baskets and pots on the front verandah. Today is the first day of spring here so repotting and fertilising plants now gives them the best chance of many months of healthy and lush growth.  Repotting is a slow and steady job. You get to inspect the plants above and below the soil line and it's the ideal time to clip off any dead or unhealthy growth.  I didn't do much repotting last year so the plants will really benefit from their haircuts and new soil this year.


30 August 2018

Another bread experiment

I've been test baking bread this week. I've wanted to try Japanese milk bread for a long time and finally baked my own on Monday. It was always described as very soft and fluffy bread that had excellent keeping qualities so I thought it would be a good bread to have in my repertoire of bakes.  

The bread has something in common with sour dough in that you prepare a starter before you bake and include it with the ingredients. This starter is called TangZhong, a mixture of flour, milk and water, cooked and allowed to cool to room temperature. It helps the bread retain moisture and is the reason it stays fresh longer. This is the recipe I followed.


27 August 2018

Frugal food management

Most of the year we grow food in the backyard that will feed us on a daily basis. Whether it's vegetables, herbs, fruit, eggs, or honey from just down the road, the work we do in our garden pays off in the form of fresh food that we know has not been sprayed or "treated" in any way. It is planted in rich soil, fertilised with seaweed, comfrey, blood and bone or manure, watered with rainwater from our tanks and when it's ripe, we pick it and eat it fresh.  Except when we don't. We also preserve, pickle and freeze some of our food so we can eat or drink it much later in the year.

Spicy pineapple relish.


25 August 2018

Weekend reading

It's been a week of gardening for me. I have doubts it will come, but we're waiting for rain now and I hope that the tanks will fill and our vegetables and fruit will grow. Today I'm working in the bush house, repotting plants and taking them out to the verandahs. What are you doing?

Thanks for your comments during the week and the support many of you offer me and your fellow commenters. Have a great weekend. I'll see you again next week. πŸ€


23 August 2018

Our garlic harvest

My version of simple life has never been a big picture scenario, it's always been a series of small steps that change with the seasons. I don't think the majority of us think of the big picture on a day-to-day basis, instead we have tasks to carry out, we put one foot in front of the other and by doing that all our activities start creating a simple life and a sustainable future.


20 August 2018

Moving and settling into a new home

I received an email from a reader last week who is packing to move to a new home. They are moving because her husband has been promoted and the new position is in another state. She is concerned that she won't like the new home and as she's put a lot into her current home, it's making her anxious. She asked for my thoughts on moving, so here they are.


17 August 2018

Weekend reading

 Garden working bee.


13 August 2018

Domestic crafts and household linens

August in The Simple Home

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” 
William Morris

There are few things better on a cold winter’s day or evening than settling down to do some craftwork or mending. As the cold weather swirls around the house, it’s cosy and warm inside with plenty of flannel, wool and fleece to keep you warm. Like all of our simple life activities and tasks, handiwork, mending and making go on all year but you need a time in the year to plan projects, organise your materials and learn new skills. This is it, welcome to domestic crafts and household linens month.


10 August 2018

Weekend reading

Gracie's birthday portrait, taken this morning.

It's Graice's second birthday today and she's running around like a crazy cat this morning. She's such a funny dog and it looks like she's really happy on this special day.


7 August 2018

Keep to your frugal ways

I still get a lot of emails from readers asking for more frugal living and budgeting posts but this is the closest I'll get to it.  I think you either get it or you don't and for those who want to read my thoughts on saving, budgeting etc, it's all here on the blog. I don't change my mind. What worked 10 years ago, still works today and our systems stay the same.  And besides, changing your mindset is the most important part because if you can't do that, or don't want to, I doubt you'll see the forest for the trees.

Maybe my kind of budgeting isn't for you. I don't think everyone will enjoy working towards having and wanting less. You might want to use your credit or debit cards for general use. Dividing up your available cash into envelopes might mean nothing to you. And if that's the case, my thoughts on frugal living won't excite you.  There are many people writing about frugality nowadays. There are many more experts around since I started my non-expert, but carefully considered, advice.  I've never thought of myself as an expert and that is not due to lack of self confidence. It's more about there being no fixed and fast rules for simple life.  The basis of simplicity is the mindset - the absolute commitment to living well on a small amount of money, being a genuine part of a family and community, having enough and knowing it, even when it's much less than your neighbours are happy with and creating a life for yourself that revolves around what you love and the interests you've discovered.  We live and let live, we recycle, mend, make, grow and create and we do that with generous and accepting hearts. Each of us does that in our own way according to our version of the life, our experience and values, our age. The trick is to do it, for it to become your way of life, and even when times are tough, or you have extra money in the bank, you keep to your frugal ways.


6 August 2018

Hello everyone

It was becoming "normal" to not write a post here so I thought I'd better get back and say hello to you all.  I had an enjoyable trip down to Armidale to pick up my sister, Tricia. We stayed overnight at Glen Innes then completed the 560km return journey arriving home in the early afternoon. It was good to get out on the road again, enclosed in my car bubble I could see what was going on and get a better understanding of the horrific drought that's taking a toll on the countryside here. We drove back through Stanthorpe and I took the opportunity to buy fresh apples for $7 a box. It was a real treat to see roadside stalls selling fresh winter produce like rhubarb, pumpkins, avocados and honey.


27 July 2018

Weekend reading

One of our Barnevelders is worrying us. She started limping during the week and now she can barely walk. She is eating and drinking and apart from the leg problem seems perfectly healthy. We've separated her from the rest of the flock and she's spending her days in the vegetable garden where she's not troubled by Gracie and the other chooks. Do we have any vets reading here or anyone with chickens who has had a similar problem?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on what's happening.


23 July 2018

A winter treat - home baking

July in The Simple Home

"... he got out the luncheon basket and packed a simple meal, in which, remembering the stranger's origin and preferences, he took care to include a yard of long French bread, a sausage out of which the garlic sang, some cheese which lay down and cried, and a long-necked straw-covered flask wherein lay bottled sunshine shed and garnered on far Southern slopes." - Kenneth Grahame

The Noosa Permaculture Group visiting us for a look at our garden and a chat.  
Here is our morning tea.

There are few things that demonstrate every-day, practical love of family and friends more than preparing delicious food and treats, and taking time to welcome visitors with a freshly prepared morning tea or lunch. Home baking is July's topic in The Simple Home and now in the middle of an Australian or New Zealand winter, nothing warms a home more than a hot oven full of bread, cakes or biscuits.

20 July 2018

Weekend reading

The girls are laying 6 eggs a day now. This is two day's worth.

Hello everyone. I hope all is well in your neck of the woods.  I'm still recovering and feeling quite good today.  I went to see my doctor yesterday and have a treatment plan I'm happy with, with the option of a cortisone injection into my knee if I want to go down that route. I have the form here, all I have to do is book the appointment if what I'm doing stops working.  


16 July 2018

Ahhhh, the serenity

Hello friends. I'm almost back to normal and with the exception of a bung knee, I'm feeling pretty good. I had the exceptional gift of being able to rest and take my time with recovery and even though in years passed I would have become impatient with illness and the time it takes to recover, now I feel grateful I have the time and good sense to appreciate the process.  Thank you for your patience and the lovely comments you sent.

The Montville rose, and visitor.

28 June 2018

Taking a break

Hello everyone. I just wanted to let you all know I've been sick so I'm going to cut back on my work, which includes this blog, and rest until I feel better. Don't worry, it's nothing serious. I have osteoarthritis in one knee so I've been hobbling around, and I've had three colds in less than a month. I usually don't get colds or flu so it's been a struggle dealing with it. The current cold has really floored me so I'm going to do what I tell other people to do - rest, elderberry tonic and rest. Then rest some more.  We have school holidays here next week and we have big plans which include grandchildren. I have to be well for that.  Bye for now, I hope to see you all soon.

25 June 2018

Planting roses with the vegies

I've been kind of busy here lately with family dropping by, looking after Jamie, winter cooking and baking, gardening and a few small changes in the house. It's slow work with plenty of opportunities to sit and talk but the time slips by and before I know it another day has gone. Another day without doing everything I planned. Not that it matters, the work I do now can easily be slotted in the following day.

Early morning in the backyard.

As soon as the coop door opens, the first of the chooks race out...
and are followed by their sisters, all looking for whatever fell into their run over night.

22 June 2018

Weekend reading

Congratulations to Meg Hopeful who has won one of The Simple Home books for her encouraging and helpful comments over the past few months.  Meg, please send me your address so I can post the book to you.  The final book will be given away in December.


18 June 2018

Preserving food and drinks

There are many food products that are easy to preserve at home. They are usually tastier, healthier and cheaper than those you can buy, and by adding them to your stockpile you’ll be increasing your options when it’s time to prepare a meal. The trick is to find a few hours when you can make some of your favourite preserves, pickles, spice blends or whatever you want to store. 


15 June 2018

Weekend reading

Hanno and I are off to lunch with Nanna Chel and her son today. It's nice to keep in touch with her and luckily I can see her when she comes to the Sunshine Coast for her break. Apart from that we have the last bit of interior ceiling painting being done today by a painter.  Life's good here - the garden is growing well, the chooks are happy and back to producing eggs and Gracie is progressing well with her training.

The honour guard of chooks.


12 June 2018

More sewing and a touch of glue

Hello friends!  Here are the cushions I made yesterday. The pink is a Tilda fat quarter found with the other one I made into a lamp skirt and showed yesterday. I remembered I bought these when Tricia was last here and I went home, put them in the cupboard and forgot all about them.  I really love this pink fabric, which I call pixelated rose, and have teamed it with beige linen from an old skirt of mine. 


11 June 2018

Home sewing in the lounge room

I've been sewing a few odds and ends to suit our new lounge room colours and style.  I didn't want to spend much, or anything really πŸ™„, so I looked in my fabric stash to see what cotton or linen I had in the right colours.  Out came some blue and white cotton I've had for at least 15 years, that made a skirt for a large lamp, and a Tilda fat quarter from last year that I'd forgotten about. That fat quarter made a skirt for a small lamp. I also had some dangly pink edging and that added just the right finish.  It's amazing what you can make from what's sitting in a cupboard.


8 June 2018

Weekend reading

I had a few emails from readers asking me to list the books in the bookcase I showed last week. Well, that would take too much time but here are three closeup photos so you can see the titles. When we moved the bookcase, I went through all the books and culled quite a few, these are what survived.

I've had a cold this week and I was sitting around and not doing much. I'm feeling better now so I'm looking forward to making a small lamp skirt and some cushion covers for the lounge room.

What are you doing this weekend?


6 June 2018

Monte Carlo biscuits

As promised, here is a recipe for an Australian biscuit called the Monte Carlo. I think they started selling Monte Carlos in the 1920s and when I was born in the late 1940s, they were a firmly established favourite for morning or afternoon tea.  Basically they're two butter biscuits sandwiched together with the help of butter cream and raspberry jam. Most people buy their Monte Carlos and I'm guessing they're thought of nowadays as being slightly old fashioned, but no matter, that is what I specialise in. 😊  I think you'll find that the homemade MC will win you over.


4 June 2018

The simple art of stockpiling

There is no doubt you'll save money if you keep a clean and well organised stockpile and you don't waste the food you grow or buy.  If I were out working for a living now, I'd make sure I had a full stockpile and a working pantry. Not only would it save me money to do that but it would also mean that if I didn't have the time to buy what I needed for the evening meal, I'd have enough good quality food in my kitchen to see me through quite a few meals. I learnt the benefits of an organised kitchen long ago when my kids were young and we lived three hours from the shops.  Hanno, the kids and I would do a "big shop" every four to six weeks, and we manage on that until we went back for the next "big shop." That taught me valuable lessons.

We emptied the stockpile cupboard yesterday then cleaned and repacked the cupboard.


1 June 2018

Weekend reading

Monte Carlo biscuits, I'll write about these and give the recipe next week.

It's a public holiday today for Maleny Show Day. We'll have Jamie here during the day and I have no doubt I'll be out in the garden celebrating show day my own way.  I made a batch of monte carlo biscuits for morning teas yesterday and I'm doing some school fete knitting for my grand-nephew Jonathan's school in Blayney. I'll be sending organic cotton dishcloths and homemade soap down for one of the stalls and I hope it contributes to a very good fundraising event in October. Country school fetes are such worthwhile events.


29 May 2018

Slow changes to help you stay in your home

We've come to the end of a two year period of renovations and home improvements. We did the work as we had the money, time and energy for it. Our goal was to modernise and safety-proof our home for our older age, and for our children to be able to easily sell the house when we die. While not wanting to sound morbid, that time is coming for us in the next 10 - 20 years and we don't want to spend that time on home improvements. We want to live life to the full, enjoy each other's company and provide hospitality when family and friends visit us. As it stands now, we both feel we've done enough to allow us to relax and live well although we'll continue to upgrade any safety concerns that present themselves in the coming years.


26 May 2018

I need help from my EU readers

Hello ladies and gentlemen of Europe. Privacy laws are in a state of change at the moment and as a blogger, European Union laws require me to give European Union visitors information about cookies used and data collected on my blog. 

I must display a cookie and privacy notice on my blog and Google emailed me saying they'd added one as a courtesy.  However, as I'm not in the EU I can't see it - it only shows in EU countries. If you're in the EU, I'd appreciate you commenting here to tell me if you see this notice, or not. Tell me what country you're in as well, that may help identify problem areas if it's not on display. Thanks to you all.

No more comments needed. Thanks everyone. 

25 May 2018

Weekend reading

It was delayed a short while but we're almost finished our final renovation project - a new tiled splashback in the kitchen.  I'll have more photos of our home next week but these two will give you an idea of what we've been doing (and when I say "we" I don't include myself in that in the kitchen 😊). We had a tiler help with the tiling yesterday and we're both very happy with the result.  What do you think of it?

The tiles are down but we haven't had a chance yet to clean up. I'll be doing that this morning. 


23 May 2018

Simple pleasures

I had a wonderful week away from the blog. Hanno and I were going to work on a project but he had a sore back and I had a sore knee so instead we both slowed right down and tended to each other and ourselves. Late in the week, Hanno started on the project and prepared the area and tomorrow, it will be finished with the help of a tradesman. I'll post photos when I have them.  I'm so excited to see it finished - this final big job in our two years of on and off home renovations/tidy-ups/improvements/.

 Turnips and daikon.


21 May 2018

Laundry liquid and general cleaning

Buying laundry and cleaning products can become quite an expensive part of grocery shopping, but it doesn't need to be. They are easy to make using ingredients from the supermarket. All these cleaners suit a simple home because they contain a tiny portion of the chemicals found in the commonly used expensive products.  I've included a couple of recipes below for you to try but first we'll start with one of my favourite cleaning processes - soaking.

Soaking and stain removal
I often look for ways to do my day-to-day chores without using any, or very few, cleaning products. I remember when I was growing up, my mum used to soak clothes before washing them. Sometimes she put them into a big copper boiler and boiled them while moving them around with a wooden stick. The washing took hours to do and often she did it on a Friday night after she finished her paid job.

I soak cotton, linen and poly-blend clothes too although I don't do it the way my mum did. If I have something that is badly stained, I fill a large container up with very hot water from the tap, add Disan, an oxy-bleach, dissolve the Disan with my laundry stick and drop the clothes in. BTW, my laundry stick is a spurtle - a scottish stick for stirring porridge. If you want to do something similar, a piece of dowel would work well. Many stains can be removed using this method. You can also whiten your greying whites this way as well.


11 May 2018

Weekend reading

Hello friends. I want to take a small moment to thank you for your comments. Over the years I've tried to build the comments section into a valuable part of my blog. I want people to share what they do, I want newbies to see how many things are done differently and I want to know that my online neighbourhood is thriving. I don't respond to many comments because I don't have the time and mostly I want to just say a quick, "thank you" or "well done!" or "keep going". But if I did that, I'd be on my computer much longer than I'm comfortable with and the comments section would be filled with so many repetitive messages you'd think I'd lost my marbles. But I do think that way when I read what you write and it makes me feel happy and inspired and proud. So to all of you who leave comments, thank you, well done! and keep going. ♥️

9 May 2018

Adjusting to modern life, or not

It's been a busy week here although I must point out it's not the same busyness we knew when we were much younger, working, looking after children and living life like there was no tomorrow. Now my busyness is marked by the fact that last week, I went out three mornings in a row. 😊 Oh, how we are changed by time. As you probably know, even though I'm not agoraphobic, I prefer to live my hours in my home. It's interesting and comfortable here and there is always something to do. Sometimes there are chores I don't like doing but I see it all as part of a big tapestry - the background is just as important as the main feature points and without work going into the background, the tapestry is unfinished and unsatisfying. I know the awful jobs will always be balanced out with hours of enjoyment and the ongoing process of making life what we want it to be.
 This is part of our living room now. I'll have more photos soon.

7 May 2018

Washing and folding

Our laundries are mainly used for washing clothes and household fabrics but they also hold a place of importance as your home cleaning headquarters. I'm sure you don't like having too many harsh chemicals in your home and it makes sense to keep all cleaning chemicals in one place - this is vital if you have young children living in or visiting your home.  But today we're talking about washing clothes, next week, we'll go on to general cleaning and making your cleaners.


4 May 2018

Weekend reading

It's unheard of around here but I've been out three mornings in a row this week. On Tuesday I went along to my GP for a flu vaccination and ended up having the Pneumococcal vaccine as well. Apparently it's a one-off jab that will help protect me from a few nasty diseases and along with the flu vaccine, I feel it was a good reason to head off into the traffic. Both these vaccines are free to all us Australian over-65ers and if you're in that age bracket, I hope you've had yours or have plans to have it soon. Apparently now is the ideal time to have the flu vaccine and with bad memories of last year's flu season, I think the visit to the doctors office is a small price to pay for the protection it gives us. 


30 April 2018

Let’s throw open the laundry doors

May - week 1 in The Simple Home

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a kind of simple elegance in using and cleaning household linens. Clothes, sheets, towels, curtains and kitchen linens always look better when they’re well cared for. When I see them in homes I visit, fresh and neatly stored away, especially when they have quite an age to them, I get the feeling there is a lot of love in that home. My aim is to have a clean house, clothes and linens, but I know that it can take a lot of time to achieve that consistently. The answer is to make the laundry room your cleaning headquarters. If your laundry room is organised to support your general cleaning tasks, it will go a long way to helping you keep a clean house and stay on top of the laundry. 


27 April 2018

Weekend reading

Don't forget my book giveaway. I have two copies of The Simple Home, kindly supplied by Penguin. I'll give one away in June and the other later in the year. Over the last couple of months, I've made up a list of helpful, kind and interesting comments here on the blog and every time I see another thoughtful comment that adds significantly to the information we have here, that reader's name is added to the list. There are several readers who have their name added a number of times. The book winners will come from that list.


25 April 2018

A hodgepodge of photos

Hello dear friends. It's Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand today. I've been sorting through my photos and found a nice Anzac Day photo. There are a few photos in this folder that I don't think have been published before so I thought you'd enjoy a slow browse through them.


23 April 2018

The housekeeping of gardening

April - week 4 in The Simple Home

Being able to grow some of your own food is a wonderful skill to have. Many gardeners dig in the soil, some create raised beds and, increasingly, some happily grow what they can in containers. Congratulations on taking this step if you're a new gardener. I hope the fresh vegetables and herbs you harvest will reward you for the work you do in setting up.

This week is the last in our gardening month. The topic is the housekeeping of gardening: watering, fertilising, composting and keeping your plants disease and insect-free.

20 April 2018

Weekend reading

My birthday flowers were sitting right at the front door to welcome everyone who visited.

Thank you all for the birthday greetings you sent this week.  I have to tell you, I don't feel like a 70 year old lady but I'm enjoying getting used to the feel of it.  It's a good age. I feel like I've earned my stripes. 😊

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