Weekend Reading

27 November 2020
My son had to go back to hospital last Sunday with a nasty infection under his arm. He had a melanoma and lymph gland removed in late September. He stayed in for four days on IV antibiotics and tests and, thankfully, was released on Wednesday afternoon.  He's feeling much better now but it's another stark reminder of how important our families and our health are.  I hope your family is healthy and things are going well for you.

Weekend Reading

21 November 2020
My apologies for not posting this on Friday. I had a few things to do yesterday, and it's almost the end of the year and I'm tired. I had a good sleep last night, I'm raring to go today and apart from a few odds and ends, I have little to do this weekend. This afternoon, I'll start knitting a new set of dishcloths for myself and a friend. This is a yearly task for me and it's one I look forward to because it makes me sit, think and relax with the repetitive clicking of needles.  

Weekend Reading

13 November 2020
Here is our really tasty lime cordial alongside a jar of radish sprouts I just started.

I bought a small bag of limes when I was shopping last week and decided to work out later what I'd do with them. They cost $2.50.  Last summer, my friend Nicole gave me some finger limes from her own garden. I hadn't used them before, found the flavour to be a delicious mild lime flavour and they made best cordial I've ever had.  I was hooked.  That memory came back to me later in the day so I finely zested and juiced the limes, added juice from two lemons from the backyard and made lime cordial. It doesn't have the complex flavour of the finger limes, but it's pretty good. Those seven limes and two lemons made up a litre of cordial which I'll serve with iced tap water or cold sparkling spring water.

Usually, we make large quantities when we preserve fruit or vegetables and that's a great thing to do. You make the fruiting season last longer and add interest to your pantry and meals by putting up a few dozen jars of peaches, jam, tomato sauce, relish or chutney. That's a great thing to do, but it's also good to preserve small amounts too and it's a good way to get started on preserving if you haven't done any yet. A small batch will take less time, the lime cordial took about 10 minutes to make, and even though you'll only make a bottle or a couple of jars, you'll have something special in your fridge or pantry.

Where I live, we have an abundance of citrus fruits in spring and summer so it's common to find offers of free lemons or oranges. If the same is true where you live, grab a bucket and do up a small batch of cordial or juice. It will set you on the preserving road and that is a really wonderful life skill to have.

Here is this week's reading list. I hope you're able to make a cup of tea and sit for a while to read them.
My sincere thanks to everyone who ordered and bought the paperback Down to Earth. I hope you get a lot of good ideas and motivation from the book and that it guides you towards significant changes in your life.

Stay well everyone, especially those in areas where Covid-19 has taken hold. Have a great weekend.

Where to buy Down to Earth paperback

8 November 2020

I thought about writing a new book to show how simple life could help you thrive when Covid is active in your community. But when I thought about it, I’d already written it - Down to Earth is all about living in a safe and comfortable home, providing as much as you want to produce in your home, cooking wholesome food, growing, fermenting and preserving food, mending and recycling, slowing down, keeping your family close and being comfortable in your own skin. So instead of writing another book, Down to Earth has been published as a paperback with a ten dollar drop in price.

The Down to Earth paperback was published on 20 October and I’ve had a number of people from all over the world ask where they can buy it. So I’ve done some research and come up with this list. Thank you all for your support.

Many independent book shops. Ask them to order it in if it’s not there.
Woolworths - for the first time, Down to Earth will be sold at Big W soon, certainly in time for Christmas shopping.

UK, Europe and Asia
Book Depository with free postage

North America
Amazon Canada - please note: it states on the page that the book will be released March 2021. That’s not correct. It was published 20 October, 2020 and is available now.
Amazon USA - please note: it states on the page that the book will be released March 2021. That’s not correct. It was published 20 October, 2020 and is available now.

Weekend Reading

6 November 2020

I had some new paperback Down to Earth books sent to me during the week and decided to sign and sell them. I sent the first batch off yesterday and I have five left.  This offer is for Australian readers only as the postage costs to send anything from Australia is too expensive to justify. So if you want a book, I'll sign one of these and send it to you when I receive your payment and address details. If you already have a copy, you might like to give one to a loved one for Christmas. These will be gone by tonight so if you want one contact me with your name and address and I'll send you my bank details.

Weekend reading

30 October 2020
It's been a busy week here.  Hanno was in the hospital on Monday to have an angiogram. We thought he might be headed for heart surgery but it was good news instead. Nothing has changed since the last angiogram two years ago and the only treatment is a change in medication. I'm going for my checkup today but I'm feeling good and I think I'll get a gold star.

Gracie and I went over to the hospital to collect Hanno after his tests. We sat in the very pleasant garden off the car park where Gracie attracted a few passers-by who wanted to pat her and know her name.  I think she liked that.  

Weekend Reading

23 October 2020

I want to start today by thanking everyone who bought a paperback copy of Down to Earth. The hardback was published in 2012 and became a best-seller, remaining in the book shops for over eight years. I thought the book would help a lot of people cope with the COVID crisis by showing them how to create a safe haven at home, Penguin agreed and so a cheaper version of Down to Earth was printed. If you did buy a copy, I'd love you to tell me if you enjoyed the book and to review it on Instagram, your blog or Goodreads. Look in the link list below for a link to an extract of the book on Penguin's website.

Weekend Reading

16 October 2020

We've continued to get the garden ready for summer but the most important part of this week has been preparing for the publication of the paperback Down to Earth and writing some publicity articles for Penguin to distribute. The book will be ready for sale next week - 20 October. The RRP is $34.99 but Booktopia has its presale price at AU $27.75. It's also available at Book Depositary and Amazon if you're reading this far, far away. 

If you haven't read my first book, I hope you get a copy with this release. It's my manifesto and a full description of what Hanno and I did when we decided to make a complete and significant life change in the early 2000s. I think it would make a good Christmas gift too, especially for young people just starting out or for older folk who are unsure how to move ahead during Covid. This lifestyle makes complete sense for a whole lot of different reasons in 2020. It will help you make your home a shelter, it will guide you towards decisions about how to grow, store, preserve, cook and bake food, and it will help you decide how you can make your home productive and move further away from buying everything you need from the shop.

Above: A simple breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon.  I use natural bacon with no added nitrates or preservatives.  Below: Getting ready to roll out a batch of dog biscuits for Gracie.

Now that the lavender flowers are starting to die off, I'll cut the top of the bush off, removing all the flowers.  That should give me another flush of flowers in summer.

Here are some of the things I've read during the week, I hope you enjoy them:
🧵  🌿  🧵
Kerry asked me to pass on his thanks and gratitude for all the lovely messages of hope he received here and Instagram last week. He's recovering nicely and has just returned to work and the gym. Hanno and I thank you for your kindness and grace too.

So that's all my news for the moment, what are you up to?

This is not the easiest thing to write about

9 October 2020
We got our internet connection back yesterday afternoon so I'm pleased to be back with you. There'll be no Weekend Reading today because I haven't been online for a couple of weeks; it will return next week. During our time offline I've been gardening, taking plant cuttings, sewing, baking, cooking, grocery shopping, reorganising things in my home, reading another Wendell Berry book - Andy Catlett, Early Travels: A Novel, and relaxing on the front verandah with Hanno and Gracie. I enjoyed those two weeks a lot.

But I also lived one of the worst days of my life during that time. My son Kerry was diagnosed with stage two melanoma. I've never been so scared in my life. Kerry handled it very well and although he was worried, he went ahead with all the tests, scans and surgery and then had to wait a week for the results. We were all so relieved when the surgeon reported that he removed the melanoma and nearby gland and that instead of stage two, it was stage one. Removal of the gland revealed the cancer hadn't spread.

I spoke with Kerry yesterday and asked if I could write about this. He agreed and wants me to pass on an important message to you. He said it's vitally important that we all check our skin, especially with summer coming up. He said that even if you think there is no problem, just like he did, to do a thorough check and go to your doctor if you find anything out of the ordinary. The doctor actually asked him what made him have the check-up because it didn't look like a melanoma. He had no pain, no itching and no reason to be worried, but he was and he acted on instinct and got it checked. That saved him and I can't express how grateful I am that he took that step, had a check and got the treatment he needed. Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world so please check your skin today and make sure you check the kids too. How to check your skin.

Herbs and a transplanted orange tree.

After Kerry's scare, things returned to normal and the rest of life is pretty good at the moment. We're getting ready for summer outside - we'll be cleaning the windows next week and trying to protect the garden from wind and sun with straw mulch. Our sun umbrella it up all the time and I'm wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen but most of all not spending too much time in the sun. I still have to clean out the bush house and repot a few plants and hope to get that done soon. I only have about three weeks before the humidity starts and want everything done before that.

We always have water out for the birds and insects.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow - Hanno's favourite plant.

The Down to Earth paperback arrived last week.  I'm delighted with it and will take photos tomorrow and write about it over the weekend.  

I hope you're well and safe from the coronavirus. Over 35 million people confirmed with it so far and there is no sign yet that it's easing. The state I live in has a handful of cases, all from returning travellers, so we're out and about but still very mindful of the dangers and abiding by the advice given to us. Take care. xx

Weekend Reading

26 September 2020
We had "scheduled maintenance" on our NBN on Thursday and now we have limited broadband and no explanation why. Anyhow, I'd already added these readings to the list so I'll post them now while I can access the net (I hope).  It's 2.45am. I'll be back when everything is fixed.