26 May 2024

An ordinary week and some of what it contains

It looks like I live a traditional, old-fashioned life and yet I believe my lifestyle is revolutionary and rebellious. Yes, I bake bread and cakes, preserve food in jars and cook all my meals from scratch. I happily live a thrifty life, I never follow fashion - either in clothes or opinions, I don't draw electricity from the grid, my water usage is estimated by the water company as being that of half a person (!), I drive less than 1500 km a year and I haven't been on a plane since the 1990s. I live on less than $30,000 a year and am thankful to save about $100 a week of that. I don't have a credit card but I do buy books, fabrics, including lots of linen, hobby supplies, toys for Gracie and anything else I need or want, and I do that with cash. 

This is my square loaf but I didn't put enough dough in the tin for it to rise into a square.  Oops.

I might be doing the work that was done by housewives in the past but I have different reasons for doing my work and a lot of it is focused on the environment, the cost of living, slowing down and wanting to live a peaceful, happy life.  But none of that just happens automatically, it takes a plan, hard work and determination, and it comes in stages.

Doing housework makes you feel better and I know that because often when faced with a job I don't want to do - mopping the floors and cleaning the cupboard under the kitchen sink come to mind - I make sure I do the best job I can because when I finish, I feel fantastic. And when I clean under the kitchen sink, I keep going back to admire my work. ๐Ÿ™„

During the week, I picked 25 chillies from the herb garden for Sunny and family.  Sunny chomps away on chillies like they're apples. I have two small chilli circle slices in my entire dish.

Yesterday was the second anniversary of Hanno's death. I thought of him more than usual, some visitors came to my home and there were a few phone calls. Of course I think of him every day but it’s not in the context of grief but rather affectionate memories of our life together and how we built a better life for ourselves that involved working sustainably rather than focusing on money. 

Grandma Donna and I have been continuing with our talks and last week we discussed soaking flour. I'll talk about that when I understand it more and teach myself to use it in my baking. I love talking to Donna, she says I have an accent, which of course I don't but I love listening to her southern American accent. We have so much in common, it's like having a sister that I've never met on the other side of the world. Life is made richer with genuine friendships - I hope your life is enriched by them too.

Here are Pip and Gracie getting to know each other. 

I also spent time with another dear friend, Nicole Lutze. She brought her puppy Pip with her so both Gracie and I were delighted.  For morning tea I baked a decadent French Apple Cake with no milk or buttermilk but with double the butter. It was delicious. I made sure I sent half of it home with Nicole so I wasn't tempted to eat the whole thing. 

When I make bread, I usually take off a small piece of dough and freeze it for pizza. This is the pizza I made this week. 

My work today will involve reorganising the freezer and cleaning the fridge, clipping Gracie, tidying the back verandah and moving a few more things from the front verandah to the back. Yesterday I made Gracie's food for the next couple of weeks, beef, barley and vegetable soup for my meals for the next few days;  I also pruned all the plants on the front verandah. It's a good time to do that - the plants don't grow much over winter and it gives them the chance to rest and then they're ready to burst into new life in spring.  If you wait until spring to prune, the plants will have to recover from the pruning before they put on new growth. So with all that under my belt, when I finish this post to you, I'll be sewing for the rest of the day. I haven't had a chance to sew for ages. It's mainly mending and creating a few bits and pieces for my home. I want to make a little curtain for the inside of the front door, I need to finish off some aprons I have cut out and I want to make a new cover for Gracie's bed. What are you doing today?

Chinese style chicken with pak choy.

I got my flu vaccination last week. The first time I went for it, I had to postpone because someone I had close contact with got Covid. I've never had Covid and I don't want to get the flu or RSV either so I'm careful about where I go and cleaning my hands as often as I can while I'm out. I doubt that will change in the future because new viruses seem to be present in the community every so often.

I hope you're well and not caught up in the rough weather that seems to be happening all over the place. Have a great weekend and spend some time with the people you love. Thank you for your visits and to everyone who comments, thank you, I love knowing what you're doing and I love reading them.


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12 May 2024

There will be wonderful afternoons in the garden

I received an email during the week from a reader who has been mourning her husband for seven years. She said she's given up on housework and only does what must be done. She said the rest of the time, like me, she sits and thinks about life with her husband. I had to correct her because that's not what I do, I gave up sitting and thinking about life with Hanno because that’s not how I want to live. I want to be self-reliant and productive. I work all through the day and while I work, I remember sometimes what Hanno and I did together. I realised I had to get on with my life, that Hanno would have expected that and I didn't want to give up. My purpose now is to create the life I want to live in the home I want to stay in. Having a purpose helps me get through many things and it also helps me to keep going. Being thoughtful in all areas of my life, not just housework, helps a lot too. It helps me understand what makes tasks easy or difficult, it helps me decide what I should do and what doesn't matter that much. All actions have consequences, and more importantly, inaction has consequences too. 

There are plenty of lemons growing and new flowers for follow-ups too. I juiced one of these lemons during the week and I got two cups of juice from one lemon. 

So with all that in mind I'm putting into action a feeling I'd been harbouring for a while - I started planting vegetables and herbs again! I'm growing a small group of vegetables and herbs that I eat almost every week and I'm doing that in the old sandbox garden. I won't be breaking soil again or dealing with weeds, everything will happen in the sandbox or pots. First to go into a pot was ginger, I have a chilli bush growing in the sandbox that's full of fruit and I'll keep that going when I harvest the chillies. I'll soon buy six rainbow chard seedlings and they'll be planted in the sandbox. I have five pots of parsley going and I just received heirloom seeds for perennial Welsh onions and the Australian heirloom Crystal Apple cucumber. I'll use the ginger throughout the year in tea, cordial and ginger beer, I'll make enough chilli jam for the year, eat some fresh and share the rest with Sunny and Kerry. All my other fruit and vegetables will come from the supermarket or roadside stall.

The old sandbox is full of weeds at the moment. I've removed about half of them but I have to take it slow because bending over makes me dizzy. I think I'll finish the weeding during the week and I'll sow seeds for the Welsh onions and Crystal Apple cucumber in a tray to grow a bit before I plant them out. I'll probably have to bring in some bricks to create a stable place for the pots to sit on. When I get into it properly, I'll take more photos and write about the new garden and pots. 

It will do me good to get into the backyard again, especially in the afternoons. My housework will be finished, there'll be shade over the garden and the birds will be there. I’ll be able to see and hear small birds chirping, whip birds cracking their whips, kookaburras laughing and occasionally, cockatoos screeching. If I hear swooshing overhead, I’ll know the man up the road has released his homing pigeons for their afternoon flight. They will be wonderful afternoons.

Here's my girl. Gracie recently found a snake skin on the lattice at the end of the verandah. When I wandered down there to see what she was carrying around, I saw she'd bitten the tail off the skin and was about to eat it!  She WILL eat anything but we're still the best of friends.

I wonder if you've found soup bones at your local butcher or supermarket lately. I had no luck when I looked and the last time I bought bones, they were ridiculously expensive. So I'm changing what I've always done in the past and when I eat chops, T Bone steak or other meat with bones, I'll cook the meat and cut the bones out before I serve the meal. Those bones will go into a container in the freezer and I'll use them for soup and bone broth. I've made a few small changes lately. I grind my peppercorns in the little food processor and keep a small jar next to my little salt container instead of buying peppercorns in a grinder.

The square bread is still filling my kitchen with a lovely aroma once a week. I'm very happy with the recipe and haven't made any changes, which is unusual for me. To save on plastic bags, I bought a small plastic container to keep it in after I slice the loaf. It can go in the freezer or fridge depending on the space I have available and what I'm eating that week.

I hope all is going well for you. After talking to Grandma Donna on Skype, I know about the terrible tornadoes in the US. I hope you've not been close to that and that everyone is safe and sound. If you're in the rain areas in NSW and Victoria, I hope that didn't result in floods for you.  I send my best wishes to everyone who read this.  ๐Ÿฅฐ

๐Ÿงต ๐Ÿชก ๐Ÿงต

  • I've been going through old music from the 60s and 70s to catch up on some favourites and see what I missed. I listened to Led Zeppelin for a couple of months, then ELO, Radiohead, The Eagles, REM, Carly Simon and Janis Joplin. Now I'm obsessing over Dire Straits. I think their song Sultans of Swing, released in 1978, is a standout and the guitar playing is the best you'll hear on a pop song. The singer-songwriter is Mark Knophler, he is now 75 years old. I listen to it every morning and every evening and it makes me happy - not just for the music but also for the nostalgia. If you haven't heard it before, be my guest ... you're welcome.
  • I like food and budget strategy of the woman on  Hometown homestead  See what she has to say.
  • And here's one of my old posts that I think should see the light of day again. It's called Enough.


3 May 2024

Creating a beautiful, simple lifestyle

I didn't understand the significance of caring for a home until I gave up working for a living and started building a slower life which involved housework. In the beginning I thought I was focused on a series of tasks that had to be done on a daily, weekly or monthly basis but about two or three weeks later it clicked and it all made sense to me. I wasn't just doing a group of individual chores, housework was helping me create a home. I could see then that the cooking and baking were connected to the grocery shopping, gardening, chickens, the budget, recycling and family gatherings; cleaning was connected to the laundry, making soap, laundry liquid, green cleaners, home maintenance and the budget; the chickens were connected to the garden, recycling, cooking and the budget, and so forth. The budget was connected to everything. The separate tasks of housework made more sense when I realised it was like a patchwork and the elements worked together to create a simple lifestyle and a better life. 

Looking after a family and the family home is one of the hardest jobs around and unfortunately, many of us don't give it the respect it deserves.  It's often thought of as being domestic drudgery - hard work that never ends.  It's true that housework never ends but if you want to live a simpler life in a home that's a safe haven, doing housework will enable you to do it. If you don't do the work, everything stays the same.

But you can take it in stages.

I keep forgetting to drink enough water so I fill this litre jug every morning and make sure I drink it all before lunch. After lunch it's filled again and I drink that litre during the afternoon.  It's working so far.

I don't want you to follow what I do because I have the time to do a lot more than I used to do when I was a working mum and my sons lived at home. I think stay-at-home mums and dads and retired folk could easily do their own version of what I do. If you're trying to simplify, identify the stage of life you're at, work out the time you have available and do what you can with the time you have. One thing's for sure, you'll be able to do something. It could be making your own laundry liquid (it takes 10 minutes), baking a cake each week for school lunches, menu planning, once a week cooking from scratch or any number of things. Pick one thing and start doing it. Once you get that under your belt, add something else . When you transition to a different stage - maybe your kids leave home or you work shorter hours - you can take on more.  It's all up to you.

Always focus on being thrifty and do what you can to save money. Reducing your debt will give you more options, life will be less stressful and you can move towards paying for everything when you have the cash, not on credit. There are strategies you can use to help you pay off debt, if you search for "paying off debt" or "budgeting" in my search bar you'll find the ones I, and thousands of others, use. It's not easy but the feeling you get when you pay off your mortgage or credit cards is indescribably wonderful.

Make your home what you want it to be. No one will come in and offer to do that for you, it's one of your power tasks and it can make or break you.  All the time you put into your home will make you a different person. It will open you up to the deeper understanding of what home is, it will slow you down to and help you to relax, it will give you a better understanding of debt and it will give you and your family a place where they feel safe. And in these uncertain times, everyone should have that. All the ordinary tasks it takes to make my home the place I want it to be, as well as the thinking, relaxing and silence I cultivate every day changed me for the better. At the beginning of this I had no clue that would happen and it was one of the many things that surprised and delighted me. 

My home has become a centre point for me, I am made content and self-reliant by the work I do. I reclaimed my independence here and discovered how to live to my potential. The slower pace helps you see what might be ahead - both the good and the bad. It may not be everyone's choice doing household chores but I have been enriched by it and I doubt I would be as happy as I am without meaningful work to do every day. I don't want to live a life where I don't have to do any work, and I don't want to be dragged down by it either. I know now that if I do the work here that makes my home comfortable and safe, in return I get this feeling of sublime contentment. And I am thankful that homemaking slowed me down enough to discover that.


I hope you're doing well now that we're settling into our cold and hot seasons. We've had record amounts of rain this year and the bush and pine forests surrounding my home have never looked better. Kerry and Jamie are coming over tomorrow and I'm looking forward to a good weekend.  I hope you have a great weekend too. Stay safe. xx

~~~ ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ ~~~

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