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. 😊


17 April 2018

Setting up your garden in pots

April, week 3 in The Simple Home

By now you have probably had enough time to think about what you want to plant and where it will grow and hopefully you've gathered a few containers and some growing mix. Depending on what you're hoping to grow, you might also have a trellis or bamboo and string and you might have thought about fertiliser and a few tools.  I hope you find second hand items and can keep your setup costs as low as possible because gardening can become expensive and it doesn't have to be.

Containers and potting mix

Types of containers
Look around your home, garden and garage, as well as your local recycle centre, to see if you have any suitable containers. Most of them need to be big. If you restrict the root growth of what you’re growing, it will also restrict your crops, so large containers are better than small ones. Of course you can grow a few herbs in small containers, or plant then around the edge of larger containers.  Look for old rubber tubs, an old slightly rusty wheelbarrow, boxes made from untreated wood, polystyrene troughs or metal containers. Most of the recycled containers won’t last a long time because they’ll be sitting in the sun all year long. But that doesn’t matter. You can change containers when you change seasons and start planting again. Keep that in mind and as you go through the year keep an open eye for follow-up containers.  And if you have any good ideas for containers that you're using at home, share them with us here.


16 April 2018

Another decade milestone

Hello everyone. There will be no Simple Home post today but I'll have it up tomorrow.  I had a computer-free weekend while I celebrated my 70th birthday. We had a wonderful time yesterday with the family here for afternoon tea. When I was asked a few weeks ago what I wanted to do, my immediate reply was: no gifts and I don't want to go out to dinner. I wanted to be at home with my family. So that is what we did and when they all arrived they brought strawberry sponge cake, cucumber sandwiches, chicken pieces and a bottle of champagne. I made some little sausage rolls and a blood orange cheese cake. So we ate well, enjoyed each other's company and when everyone went home, I had a very contented feeling that it was exactly the right thing for me. It's good when that happens.


13 April 2018

Weekend reading

Gracie has a new toy - a pink pig called Vivienne (Westwood). She took great care with Vivienne the first couple of days she had her but now she's slowly removing the ears and legs.  Poor Viv.

Thanks for dropping by this week. It's good to see so many names I recognise from past years.  I know most readers eventually move on but it's endearing and comforting to have many of you return year after year. I hope you have a great weekend and to those of you who are preparing gardens and containers for vegetables, herbs and fruit, I wish you the best with your endeavours. I hope we all have bountiful harvests in a few months. xx


11 April 2018

Our pictorial week

It's been a busy week so far. We're still painting, although not every day, and we probably have another couple of days of work with it. I've taken the opportunity to go through all my old magazines - some of my British Country Living mags are 20 years old! I've thrown out all of them and just kept a few pages of recipes and gardening information. We looked after Jamie for a few days while he's on school holidays and planted up garlic and sweet potatoes bought at Green Harvest and the seedings we bought at the market last weekend. Even after a week, the garden is looking good.  

For all the Gracie fans, here is a photo I took a day ago as she was enjoying a rest in the afternoon sun on her homemade tartan blanket.


9 April 2018

Setting up your garden - the first plants

April, week 2 in The Simple Home

For all our new gardeners, there are two things I want you to decide on this week - what you're going to grow and where you'll grow it.  I hope you've found some big containers, if not, you'll need to get on to that this week too.  If you're not sure what to plant, grow what you eat, not what's in fashion or what you want to taste for the first time. Your garden should be full of what you eat and that will probably be the common vegetables like tomatoes, pumpkins, onions, beans, cabbages etc. I'll write about two commonly grown back yard vegetables - potatoes and tomatoes.  Planting larger plants first will give your container garden a feeling of being anchored and then you can fill in with your smaller vegies and herbs. If you don't want to grow potatoes or tomatoes, it could be anything that needs a trellis, such as cucumbers, peas or beans, or a couple of fruit trees in large pots.

Hanno and I were going to plant up our two potato containers yesterday but we were both exhausted after planting and fertilising the rest of the garden so we came inside early and rested. I chose the location for the potatoes last week but yesterday morning, sitting on the verandah listening to the radio, I realised the orange tree would shade them most of the morning, so I moved the empty containers to a sunnier space on the other side of the garden.


6 April 2018

Weekend reading

After a night with yoghurt draining over a bowl in the fridge, I finished off my yoghurt cheese this morning. I added salt and pepper and some chopped green onions. The whey was saved and will be used tomorrow to make a batch of scones. Waste not, want not.


2 April 2018

April, it's time to plant

April, week 1 in The Simple Home

Growing your own food
When you’re starting out on your simple life journey, or if you move to a home with a bit of land attached, some people will recommend you start growing your own fruit and vegetables. It’s a good option for experienced gardeners because a large productive garden will add value and strength to your home and increase the opportunities you have to eat well and store away food that can be eaten later in the year. However, if you've never grown anything before and have to start building garden beds and fences, enrich virgin soil or buy soil, seeds and seedlings, as well as the tools to work the land, often it doesn't make financial sense. You’ll probably know before you start such a big project that you’ll spend much more money on setting up than you could save on vegetables. When you spread the setup costs out over a few years, it makes more sense but if you can’t afford the set up costs of garden beds, what are the alternatives?

This is our main garden with a potted bay tree growing nicely on the corner.

Container gardening
Containers! Why containers? If you have never grown food before, if you're time poor, if you have limited water, if you have no land or room other than a back step, a sunny window sill or a small courtyard, for many reasons, containers will be your simple answer.

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