Summer holidays

9 January 2019
Summer holidays usually means grandkids to us. We're lucky enough to be close to them so they're often here during the holidays.  Now that they're older - Jamie and Alex will be eight this year and Eve will be four, they don't present me with the full time care they once needed and usually now it's just talking to them about all manner of things and keeping the food coming. However being the person I am, I like to throw in skill building whenever I can.  

Jamie has a grandma in Korea too, I hope she sees this photo.  Hello Sun Ja! We're thinking of you and send much love from Australia.  ♥️

Today Jamie made his first Irish soda bread. It's a simple recipe, it's fabulous for morning or afternoon tea and it can be on the table in under an hour. If unexpected visitors drop by, this is the ideal offering - along with butter and homemade jam.



  IRISH SODA BREAD  

500g plain flour - this can be white, spelt or wholemeal or a combination to make up 500 grams
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarb soda/baking soda
430 - 450ml buttermilk - start with 430mls and add more if needed
  1. Place the flour, salt and soda in a large bowl and mix together until combined. Pour in 430mls buttermilk and using your clean hands, mix together until it's thoroughly combined.  
  2. Don't overwork the dough - it's like scone dough and overworking it will result in tough soda bread.
  3. When the dough is combined, tip it onto a floured surface and fold the dough over on itself a couple of times, until the outside comes together and is starting to smooth out.  Then form the dough into a ball and cut a cross right across the dough, making four quarters that remain together.
  4. Place onto a baking tray with baking paper and put in a hot oven at 200C/400F.  Bake for 30 - 40 minutes.
When it's cooked, let the bread stand for 10 minutes, then you can either slice it or break into chunks. This bread is best eaten on the day you make it but it can also be freshened up in the microwave the following day.
⚯⚯♥️⚯⚯

The rest of my time has been spent organising, repotting and fertilising my pot plants.  I bought new hanging baskets last year and two of the baskets needed help. I changed out the plants, kept the ailing plants in the shelter of the bush house and I'll soon have all the hanging baskets up again.  It makes such a difference to the feeling of being on the front verandah.  The plants make it feel cooler.


We spend a lot of time out there in summer. We usually have morning tea on the verandah and I often spend time out there with Gracie. She loves running around the front yard and will then come back to the shade of the verandah, stretch out and cool off.

When the school holidays are over I'll concentrate on the garden again. I can easily manage everything in the bush house so I'll be sowing seeds and repotting. Continuing productive work seems to be the key to fulfilment and happiness for me now, just as it has been in the past.  I need to feel useful and to do as much as I can in the house and yard.


But in the meantime, we'll have a house full this weekend with Alex and Eve arriving tomorrow afternoon, Jamie will join them Friday morning, Shane will be here after work on Friday and over the weekend, Shane will take all the kids to Australia Zoo. I hope you have a wonderful weekend too.

Before I go, I want to thank those of you who have sent such thoughtful and loving messages. It really does make a difference knowing that people are thinking of me and my family and that we have warm wishes coming from all parts of the world. We all appreciate your endearing and tender comments, thank you. ❤️


42 comments

  1. Just catching up on blog reading after the rush of Christmas ~ so lovely to read your posts again, as I have just discovered that you are posting again.
    I haven't often commented over the years, but today I wanted to say how lovely your verandah looks with your plants and thank you for the Irish Soda bread recipe. About 5 years ago we visited our daughter living in Edinburgh (she was there on a 2 year working visa), hubby & I then went to see Ireland and our daughter followed us over for a few days and in a little Irish town, our daughter & I had the best Irish Soda bread, so I must try and make the bread and see if it's as good as the version we ate in Ireland.
    How special to have your grandchildren close by.
    All the best to you & yours for the coming year.

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  2. Hello Rhonda,
    I am also catching up on my blog reading and I just wanted to say how delighted I am that you are posting again. Your blog is one of my favourites.
    The pots do make such a difference to the veranda, they definitely add the coolness to it.
    I have taken down the recipe for the soda bread and intend to make it up this weekend.
    Lovely to have you back again.
    Lorna

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  3. Hi Rhonda I am so glad you are blogging from time to time. I missed going straight to Down to Earth first in the morning to see what you have posted. May your health continue to improve love Yvette

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    1. I'm feeling good Yvette. Thanks for your comment. xx

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  4. Lovely summer hols you are having - husband, grown kids, grandchildren, doggy, gardening, baking, relaxing on verandah - the perfect combo! Lots of love from South Africa

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  5. That soda bread looks delicious and it will be a good recipe for my son to have a try at making too. Thanks for sharing the recipe! My beautiful boy tonight has placed his "order" for a rocky road birthday cake for his upcoming twelfth birthday. He's even drawn me a diagram of what I should put on it. The tricky part is going to be the half dark chocolate/half white chocolate part! MegXx

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  6. That Irish Soda Bread is on my next 'To Do List'. Hope you are both keeping well. Enjoy your family.

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  7. So glad to see you are getting back into the swing of things Rhonda but do try not to become a slave to the blog, brilliant as it is. Having the family and grandchildren nearby will always keep you busy and enjoying life, and of course it's good for the general health as well. I'll give your soda bread a try too - the recipe that I have has a dollop of black treacle in it as well but yours looks lovely!

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  8. Of course we are thinking about you! I really missed you when you were gone and I love the photos of your yard and patio!

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  9. Thanks for sharing the Soda Bread recipe Rhonda, I've never made it before, I'll put it on 'the list' ☺️

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  10. This post made me smile! It's been a joy to watch your littles grow, and see how you enjoy grandmothering. You are an inspiration, Rhonda.

    The veranda is so inviting, and Hanno looks positively content :)
    We live in an apartment, and I'm looking forward to spring, as I plan to grow some tomatoes & spinach. Just begin, right? Start where you are.

    I've been moving through Down to Earth, looking at some simple changes for this year. For the last few weeks, I have changed my grocery habits to where I REALLY LOOK at what we have before making a meal plan. It has saved us SO much money! And, it saves me time, which is priceless when raising a young family.

    I'm also working through all of my old works-in-progress...you know, the crafts I've had lying around for YEARS. One was a stitchery of yours (the live simply/be humble grid)...finally finished and framed it! It makes me smile.

    Bless you, dear Rhonda.
    Sarah in NM

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    1. Hello Sarah, thanks for the lovely comment. Yes, just start, doesn't matter where. Starting helps you continue. I'm glad you've got my be humble stitchery. I've made a few of them over the year. xx

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  11. Good job Jamie! The soda bread looks so delicious.

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  12. I always love seeing pictures of your verandah Rhonda, its such a lovely, shady looking oasis. I hope we can create something similar on our deck, we will certainly need the outdoor living space.

    Aggie is just getting to the stage she wont run off when she is out of the yard and off the leash. We were so pleased at Christmas when we could bring her out with us at Mum and Dad's and she would just hang around the house. She is getting clipped today, ready for the move into the subtropics.

    xx

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    1. Hi Em, Gracie runs away if she has half a chance. We have an electrified dog fence that keeps her in. Even so, she ran away a couple of weeks ago when we forgot to turn the fence on and we had to lure her back with sausages. 😑

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  13. Hi Rhonda,lovely to see another post here on your blog.Your verander looks like the perfect place to be either on a hot day or evening. I hope you have a lovely weekend with your family,and hope you do more soda bread making with your grandchildren they should enjoy that and I'm sure you will to.All the best to you and Hanno. Gabriella xx(the crafy gardener) :)

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    1. Thanks Gabriella, best wishes to you too. xx

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  14. So nice to hear from you again, Rhonda! That bread looks so delicious! Take care, Lin from USA

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  15. You have such a lovely wide veranda I can see why it is a favourite spot to hang out!

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  16. Jamie looks like he was serious about getting things mixed up just right. And if that picture is of the loaf he made, he should be proud - it looks fab! I like to try bread recipes that don't require kneading, so I'll give it go. I see Gracie lurking there by the table too, hoping that someone will drop a bite for the wee dog. So nice to have a window into summer during the winter - thanks Rhonda. Beth in MN

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  17. beautiful spot there on your verandah, some lovely greenery in those pots. looks so inviting
    glad you are feeling a bit better too, enjoy the weekend with the family
    thanx for sharing

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  18. I can't believe how old the grandkids are! I remember reading when each was born! 💕

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  19. Lovely to see you and Hanno enjoying your beautiful home. I have an Irish CWA Book "Book of Home and Family" with a soda bread recipe (of course :)!) Breda, the author of the recipe says if you haven't got buttermilk, sour cream works a treat.
    Your verandah looks sooo inviting! Have a lovely time with your grandies. x

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  20. Rhonda, I have also just discovered that you are posting on your blog again, much to my delight! I was so sorry to hear of your recent health issues and trust that they will be managed well so that you may continue to enjoy pottering in your garden and blogging. I am off now to catch up on the posts that I have missed. Kind regards to Hanno and the adorable Gracie.

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  21. So glad you are back to blogging, and best, best to you. Yes, get 'em cooking young. The veranda looks like a lovely summer spot.

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  22. So fun to see you posting again. I loved the IG posts but couldn't figure out how to comment.
    Also love to see what you're doing with your grands. Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

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  23. Rhonda your grandkids are really growing up fast. Eight and five - where does the time go? I enjoyed reading your post. Now I am returning outside to turn water and turn the compost. Have a lovely weekend.

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  24. How very lovely to click on your blog for old time's sake and find you posting again...thank you for sharing what's going on in your life, both the good and the not quite so good. You continue to be an inspiration Rhonda. Have a great weekend....

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  25. I'm always a bit envious of your veranda. It looks really lush, comfortable and inviting. My balcony is looking full North, so very hot and I struggle to find any plant that doesn't die at some point.
    As my mum and an overseas student stay with us at the moment, I'm making quite a bit of 5-minutes bread. Always appreciated I can tell you ! I'm printing now your soda bread recipe. Excellent activity for the kids to do with our student, and excellent English practice for her (she's a beginner and find everything quite difficult at the moment, so a bit of fun will be welcome). I'm looking forward to see the result.
    I still remember when your grand kids were born, it does not feel like 8 years ago, how times fly ! It's so true that, by the time one blinks they are grown and out of the nest. I'm sure that you enjoy every moment with them. Have a lovely week-end.

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  26. That's a really precious picture of your grandson. I am sure that all your grandchildren will have lovely memories of spending time at you home. Save the pictures for them...they will love them when they are older. This year at Christmas my 22 year old son spent time going through my parents many, many pictures of him when he was little. He spent a lot of time at their house and has many fond memories of those times.

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    1. Photos are valuable reminders of our own history. I love that your son discovered his young self in your parents pictures. I'd always thought that my photos of Jamie, Alex and Eve would wind up in their parents homes but until I read your comment, I didn't think about how they'd get there. Of course they've seen many of them but they're 100s they haven't seen. I've decided that I'll make up a folder of each child and give the three folders on a USB to my sons. That way I know they'll have them when I'm gone. Thanks for the nudge Debbie. xx

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  27. It was a nice surprise to see today that you were posting again! I really love reading your blog.

    I wish you and your family a very good year. Love from Portugal

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  28. I love that photo of your grandson, too. It's so cute. It's wonderful that they are learning all of these skills from you. I no longer bake bread because it seems to make my joints ache, but I have made Irish Soda Bread in the past, and it's wonderful.

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  29. For me the passage of time is even more evident in the grandchildren growing up than my own age. Have a happy summer!

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  30. The photos in your newly awakened blog say it all, together with the text; you are a crucial member , maybe a pivotal one, of your family.
    It's particularly lovely to see Jamie absorbed in his task, lots of children no longer have the chance to learn cooking skills.
    I'm so glad you have shared your health news with us. I'm sure you will be an encouragement to those of us fighting our own battles. It's hard having to accept a slower pace of life allowing the younger generation to take the lead but, as my husband pointed out one day when I was feeling particularly useless, they still come for advice or help or just to spend time with us and be listened to.
    In other words we still have an important role to play even if it's a more sedentary one!
    All the best for the year to you both.
    As someone commented it's lovely to have you back. I'm sure you have lots to teach us and thoughts to share but don't let the blog become a chore.
    Sue

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  31. It is wonderful to hear your voice again through your blog. I have been one of those readers that has learned so much from your posts but not commented as I should have. Thank you for everything you share with us. Sending you and your family warm wishes for good health and happiness in 2019! Elizabeth in Boston

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    1. Hello Elizabeth, thanks for your comment. xx

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  32. HI Just wanted to say how pleased i am to see your blog posts. Like many others I am sure,I have read many, many of your posts going back into the archives after I found your blog last year. I haven't commented before but just wanted to say how much I have learned from your posts and you have given me a lot to think about in how to develop my own post-work , simpler but hopefully richer life. Thank you for taking all the time you have to share your knowledge and experience - it has really made an impact on me in giving me hope that we can manage once we are only on the pension. I hope 2019 will be a wonderful year for you and your family and look forward to keeping " in touch" via your posts - whenever you feel like posting them. Thank you from Mel

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    1. Mel, it is comments like this that keep me here. I want to help people make the changes they need to make so when I read a comment that tells me I'm doing that, I'm very pleased. You'll be surprised as how well you'll be able to manage your pension with just a few changes to shopping, storing food, cooking and general cutting back. xx

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  33. I have been checking off and on to see if you would eventually post again. I am so glad that you are feeling well enough to resume. Take care Rhonda and welcome back!

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  34. Love your outdoor living area Rhonda. We need a shady place at this time of the year. Brisbane is cooking again today - and not just in the kitchen! Jean

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