26 April 2024

Food, Home Maintenance, eCookbook and Gracie

Thanks for all the birthday wishes. It's a lovely way to mark my special day. I haven't taken any new photos for this post, mainly because I didn't have any spare time and I thought it was a good way of featuring some old photos I'd forgotten about. 

I'm having some work done on the front verandah and had workmen here to check what could be done. Just before he got sick, Hanno noticed some problems in the concrete on the verandah and he never got back to it. He was always focused on home maintenance and said that if maintenance wasn't carried out when it was first noticed, the problems only got worse and it took more time, energy and money to fix. So now, after waiting two years to have someone look at this, it looks like major work. They're going to remove the top layers of cement, with some thick patches of paint attached, then level and tile it all. Before that's done, I have to take all the plants and furniture to the back verandah. Shane was here on Tuesday to remove the front tank for me. I'm really happy he'll use it in his own vegetable/flower gardens. I'm not sure yet when the main work will start but I'll start my work over the weekend.

I've decided I'm not going to do the eCookbook. I had to resurrect Word which I was very happy to delete when I finished writing my books and when I looked at it again, I was lost. I spent the first six weeks relearning it. It's bad enough just dealing with the text but when I tried to insert photos, it was difficult keeping my place and working out where to insert page breaks. Over the past two weeks I've been trying different apps and I worked out it would take me another two months to finish the first book. I even tossed up the possibility of stopping the blog to keep writing the eBook. Then I started thinking about my promise to myself about only doing what I wanted to do, and I don't want to do the book. It was a purely financial decision to cover some expenses I had so apart from disappointing you - and I hope you aren't too disappointed, I'm pleased to leave it behind. And that will give me the time to write blog posts to my heart's content. I still get a lot out of my blog, I love helping people and sharing what I know and that is best done here, on this blog where I have no word or photo limits.

Most of the recipes I was going to share are on the blog, I was going to update them, but they are there. There's a search bar on the right side of this page so all you need to do is to search for what you want to find. And I'll make sure I add the foods and meals I'm cooking to my blog posts as I go along.

I made a big pot of beef, barley and root vegetable soup last week. I enjoyed that for a few days and also stored two litres of it in the freezer. In the middle of winter, when it's really cold, I'll defrost it, turn on my heater and enjoy it. I'm making pikelets this morning. I've made the batter and will cook them when I finish here.  I have some double cream I have to use up and will make the choice of strawberry or cherry jam while I make a pot of tea.

Aldi seems to have lowered a few prices recently so I've been shopping there. I never shop at Coles but Woolworths, while saying they're dropping prices, it seems to be the same to me. If you're struggling with the cost of living now, I hope you can keep your head above water until things change again. It's difficult because there seems to be no way out but usually it's a matter of small things making a big difference. I've found some old posts that might help with with food costs but if you don't already cook from scratch, that is what will save you the most money, as well as be a huge improvement in the taste and nutrition of the food you serve.


And finally, I have no doubt that those of you who follow Gracie closely won't be surprised to know she is still sitting at the bookcase looking for mice.  She has also expanded her search areas to a cupboard in my office (she's there now) and another bookcase in the lounge room. 😑

I hope you're doing well in your home during these hard times.  It won't last forever, we just have to keep going and take one small step at a time. If you have any tips for the rest of us, please share them in the comments.  xx ❤️

15 April 2024

Where happiness is lurking

It's my birthday today, I'm 76. 🙂  I love being my age. Every stage of life brings new joys and challenges and now is no different. I know some people fear ageing but I think life gets better the older you are. I have all the time I want to do as I please and when I was younger it was the opposite. I have no doubt there will come a time when it will get harder but until then I'll live every day to the full and enjoy each day.

After 13 years on book shelves in Australia and around the world, Down to Earth looks to be on its last legs. My royalties are telling me that story and I think The Simple Life and The Simple Home will follow. The number of borrowers in libraries is still high but the libraries have cut back the number of copies they're keeping. It's been a wonderful ride to be on and I'm very grateful to everyone who bought my books, I hope you got the value, inspiration and encouragement you were expecting. If you want to buy my books, look around now because I'm not sure how long they'll be available. There is a paperback and hardback edition of Down to Earth.

I've changed a fair bit in my home this year. Things I don't use have been given away and I'm aiming to create a home that is comfortable, welcoming, easy to look after and which will encourage creativity. In the past week I've created a new drawing space in the lounge room; it faces a window and has good light. At the moment I'm working on a daily journal with watercolor drawings but my long term goal is to paint watercolour portraits. I have no unrealistic ideas about my talent as an artist but like everything else I've ever done, I'll work through it regularly and hopefully improve. Whether I reach the stage I'd like to be at is anyone's guess but I'm looking forward to the time I spend at that desk.

I bought a heater recently after years of using the reverse cycle air conditioning which I didn't like at all. I really wanted to put in a chimney and wood heater but it would have cost a lot of money so I looked around for something else. I had no idea these heaters existed but I found an electric heater with a pretty realistic fire glowing in the front. I love it. As you know I had a thousand dollars credit on my electricity bill so I withdrew some of that credit and used that to buy it. My bill tells me the lowest usage level they bill for is a one person household, I use half that. So officially, as far as the electric company is concerned, I'm half a person. 🫤 I'll be happy to use the heater when it's cold and enjoy looking at the flames while I warm up.

Vegetable and meatball soup (above) and Shepherd's Pie, made with the leftovers from a half leg of roast lamb (below).  Both delicious.

I've been living alone for two years now. It looks like the trick to solo living is to have a loose plan every day and to stay active. I’m getting by nicely using a combination of technology, creativity, old-fashioned housework and home cooking. I don't spend a lot of time online or watching TV but I want to keep a clean home, I want to eat the food I like, I want to develop my creativity and I want to be productive. I don't have specific meal times - I eat my main meal between 12 noon and 2pm and at other times I eat if or when I'm hungry.  I make my bed before 9am but all other housework happens when I feel like doing it. I do have a cleaner who comes in for two hours once a fortnight as part of my home care plan, so far it's all working very well.  

The gardeners come once a fortnight - they're on my home care plan too.  They do a great job mowing, cleaning up and weeding. The garden beds are gone now, except for the last bed near the chook house but I'll leave that one because it provides a logical boundary. Most of the weeds that were climbing the fences have gone as have all the sapling trees that had come up all over the place. We've always had these jobs to do but it was one of the jobs Hanno did every so often and I never had to worry about anything like that. I was so lucky to have a him as my husband.

Gracie made me do it. 😑

But I was happy with the end result.  It's less for the kids to deal with when I'm gone. 

We had two mice here in the house last week and I was pleased to catch them in traps and get rid of them. Since then Gracie was convinced there were more behind the bookcase. I couldn't hear anything but I thought that maybe the two mice produced a litter and those babies were too small to call out. Gracie sat at each end of the bookcase for hours and eventually I gave in and decided to have a look.  That meant taking everything off the bookcase because I couldn't move it otherwise. When I had it all on the kitchen table I decided I had to continue on with my Swedish Death Cleaning and nothing would go back that should be thrown out or given away.  I was so pleased I did that. It feels like I should have done it a year ago but it's done now and I'm happy with the way it looks.  And no, there were no mice under or behind the bookcase but Gracie is still sitting there. Terriers never like giving up, she takes after me. 😎

Have you made plans for yourself to help you achieve your dreams? Don't just drift along - if you have goals, go for them. No one is going to hand you your ideal life on a silver platter - we all have to work for what we get. I've worked hard all my life and continue to do it because I know that's where happiness is lurking. I hope you discover that simple truth too.  Take care, friends. xx

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