Yet another birthday

15 April 2020
It's my birthday today, number 72. I usually make a song and dance about my birthday, both here and in real life, but this year I'm much more laid back. This year I'll make a short note here, we'll have a grazing lunch of entrees from the local pub - Mooloolaba coconut prawns, crispy pork belly pieces with chilli sauce, chicken satay and Thai fish cakes and then spend much of the afternoon outside. There'll be the usual phone calls, no gifts as per my wish and I'll go to bed a happy woman.


Koalas return to their homes

13 April 2020
I have a good news update on the Blue Mountains koalas we supported with our sewing during the devastating fires in December last year. They've been brought back to their home territory which, after recent rain, now has enough new growth eucalyptus to support them. They'll be monitored via radio-tracking to make sure they settle in well and continue to thrive.


It's estimated up to 10,000 koalas, which is a third of the total koala population of NSW, may have died in the fires.  These Blue Mountains koalas have high levels of genetic diversity which makes them very important for the survival of the species. They're one of only two koala populations in NSW that are free from chlamydia. The group was returned to their original territory with a new joey in one of the koalas' pouches. Hopefully, that is a good sign for their future.


Weekend reading

10 April 2020
You might have noticed I've been quiet for a couple of weeks. I've been sick (not COVID-19) and uninterested in doing anything. All I did was make the bed, cook a daily meal and after that, I was either asleep or sitting. I'm finishing off some antibiotics today and I'm pleased to tell you that I started feeling better a couple of days ago and now I'm on the verge of being back to my normal self.

Weekend reading

3 April 2020
I'm still working on my Miss Marple Scarf - this time while watching Gardeners' World.

We haven't had such a good week here.  Hanno's been fighting hiccups and then was knocked out by the medication the doctor prescribed. Neither of us has had a good night's sleep for ages so we don't have any energy the following day.  The good news is that the medication has worked and Hanno has another phone consultation with his doctor today.  All the practicalities are taken care of, we're getting our groceries from Woolworths delivery and Sunny is buying our meat. Overall we don't have anything to complain about. We're both content being here but we both wish we had more energy to do what we want to do ... gardening. 

Weekend reading

27 March 2020
How is everyone going out there? We're okay and taking each day as it comes. Routines, good food and the process of preparing it, Gracie's antics and working in the garden help a lot. Hanno had to go to the doctor yesterday and I'm pleased to say, the doctor came out to the car park to see Hanno so he didn't have to go inside the medical centre.  He'd had hiccoughs the three previous days and he was exhausted. The doctor had no answers about the cause but he gave him some pills, the problem eased last night so he got a good sleep.

A wall of passionfruit. These will be ready to pick at the end of April.

Simple and cheap meals

25 March 2020

Potato pancakes AKA kartoffle puffer, Hanno's favourite.

Judi asked the following question on Monday so I've racked my brain to come up with this. I hope it helps Judi and many, many others.  Readers, if you can think of other Australian food ideas that fit this frugal category, please add your thoughts in the comments.

"I am now 63 and living on my own, I have been wife, mother, stay at home Mum, and now a carer, my income is now very low and after having been used to raising all our own meat and vegetables and really eating quite well, I am struggling to feed myself. Having to purchase food is one of my biggest expenses and I am wondering if you could please put your thinking cap on and give those of us struggling financially with a good weeks menu plan please. I have all your books and I do love the menu plan in the Down To Earth book but I can not afford to eat that well anymore. Help, please.

"I am in Australia, I have noticed over the last month a big increase in the cost of fresh produce here, thanks to the drought and bushfires, I really like to eat fresh but have given up having things like avocado on my salad as they are $4 each, I am looking for ideas from the 1950s when we ate a little bit more simply but most of the information you find on the internet is American and we eat differently to them. It is quite frustrating and I am struggling with brain fog, that does not help."

Living on one income and developing routines

23 March 2020
On the weekend, I received a message from a reader, "Emma", who is about to leave paid work and will stay at home to manage the family. This is some of what she had to say:

"I was just wondering how you plan your days (if you do at all). 
My partner and I have decided that I will cease work out of the home this year and manage our little family! I just feel a bit lost and overwhelmed with what to do each day to keep the house/garden and hobbies ticking over. I know it will be different for everyone but just seeking some guidance as I enter this more simple phase of life."



Weekend reading

20 March 2020
We went to Bunnings during the week to buy plants, seedlings and seeds so we'll have a decent garden to tend in the coming weeks. I chose only one vegetable seed, rainbow chard, to plant in with what we have here now. I'll write about what we're doing in the garden soon and if there are some new or inexperienced gardeners out there, I'm happy to help with your questions if I can. The rest of the week, I took advantage of the time to think about our current situation and work out our best response. We won't be going out again for a while, Sunny and Kerry are doing most of our shopping, and I don't want to waste any opportunities provided by these extraordinary circumstances.

 Seedlings waiting to be planted.

Weekend reading

13 March 2020
We've been at home most of the time this past couple of weeks. We're both over 70 and the advice is for us to stay at home if possible. I went to my CWA talk last Sunday and I stocked up on fresh fruit, vegetables and milk on Wednesday, the rest of the time we've luxuriated in the calmness of our own nest.  Of course, it's business as usual for us, we usually stay at home enjoying each other's company with occasional visitors popping in to provide interest and support.


International Women's Day and Apricot Custard Cake

9 March 2020
There was no better place to spend International Women's Day (IWD) than at my local CWA cottage. Yesterday, I went along to give a talk and spend time with about 30 other women. It felt good to speak about the life we live here and to acknowledge IWD with local women. Everything I've done publicly since I set up my blog in 2007, including three books published by Penguin, being a monthly columnist for the Australian Women's Weekly and Burke's Backyard, and being on ABC radio on and off for many years, I did at home. Right here in my sewing room, I spoke live on air and I tapped out words that seemed to take on a life of their own and ended up landing all over the world. Home is not only a place to live and grow, it can also be the base from which we launch ourselves and our ideas. We really can do amazing things when we have a passion and put in the hard work to achieve our goals.