I'm back and feeling better

14 November 2021

The first cherries of the season for us.

There was a time when I would rise at 4 am to write, read, think about life and plan the day ahead. After breakfast I'd make the bed, do some washing, get bread on the rise and bake a cake or biscuits or whatever we fancied for morning or afternoon teas. There may have been harvesting, preserving or sewing and mending and I would happily do it because it helped me build a life so simple I valued every day like never before. This was a life where I produced as much as I could from what I already had in the house. It was pure domestic productivity, I had no thoughts of fashion or celebrity and still, twenty years on, I put no value in either. I just want to be what I am, no more, no less.

I've just spent the last two weeks with an infection on my arm brought about by our wonderful dog, Gracie, when we were mucking about on the couch about three weeks ago. I had two courses of antibiotics with the first not working at all and I slowly got sicker and sicker. I didn't want to do anything and I sat in the lounge room like a zombie, watching TV. I didn't know things were so bad on the telly! But thoughts of bread baking or even making lunch some days just didn't register. We even had two days of takeaway pizza!

Cookies going in (above) and cookies coming out of the oven below.

Choki saved me. I watched her love her cats, live her solitary life, cook, bake and preserve, sew her household linens, work on her computer and give meaning to her life by all those simple actions. I love her YouTube channel, I am hooked. I discovered her just after she started her YouTube but flittered away when I got busy. So when I started coming back to myself after a couple of wasted weeks, I watched her make choc chip cookies. And today, as a way of honouring her calm and quiet life, I made a batch of those cookies and now the house if full of that wonderful fragrance. Thanks Choki.

Cookie recipe - it's delicious and buttery
  • 110 g soft, not melted, butter plus 110 g sugar and beat together 
  • 1 egg, vanilla and mix again
  • 180 g flour - I used half plain, half self-raising and a pinch of salt - mix
  • 120 g chocolate - I used 200 g choc chips because I didn't want 80 grams of choc chips lurking in the fridge. True story. 😇
Make sure the batter is not melting when you put it in the oven. If it's really soft, put it in the fridge to firm up before baking. Bake 170 C for 15 - 20 minutes

The other person who kept me sane was Grandma Donna. We tried to talk on Zoom today but couldn't connect properly but that didn't matter because I'd already received her messages of concern and friendship and we can try again later in the week. 

Finally, but certainly not last on the list are the memorable comments, emails and messages I received from you, the people who read what I write. I include those people who live near me and who offered to come over and help. 🥰. Thank you for shouting out and being there when it felt like nothing was. 

I am feeling better now but my arm is still swollen and bright red with peeling skin. It's like I've been badly sun burnt. I'll go back to my doctor in the morning, hopefully the last of the many visits I've made to the clinic. It's good to be back among the living. 💖

Weekend Reading

6 November 2021

I'm not well. I was diagnosed with cellulitis of the arm yesterday and I've been told to rest and take antibiotics. The wound was inflicted by Gracie when we were playing last week. I didn't think the skin was broken, but I was wrong. The doctor said that if I get worse, I'm to go straight to the hospital 😮. I already had my list ready so I'm sending it to you and hopefully I'll be back fit and well next week.

These are unused photos from last week.

Weekend Reading

Yesterday, step by step

2 November 2021

This is a simple post laying bare what I do during the day. You've liked  these posts when I've done them in the past. It's my day, set out in chunks of time, so you can see not what I do every day because they're all different, but what I did on this day. I also took all of these photos yesterday so you can see some of what I'm writing about.

This is my work room. It's where I've written all my books and blog. There are a couple of laptops there, one under the fan, a sewing machine and overlocker.

So what happened on THIS day?

4 - 7am 

Up early, finished off a few things on the computer left over from the day before, had breakfast while catching up on one of the previous night's TV programs, then five minutes of news. I never watch TV at night. Breakfast was baked beans with ancient grains toast and black tea. Then I unpacked the dishwasher, placed the breakfast dishes in, cleaned the microwave and tidied the kitchen.

7 - 7.30am 

While I waited for Hanno to wake up, I tidied my desk, dealt with emails and finished setting up Adguard - I just bought a lifetime membership and changed a couple of settings. When Hanno was having his breakfast, I opened the windows in the bedroom and ensuite, made the bed and put a few things away in the wardrobe.

I don't like what's happening in the laundry at the moment. I have too many products on that top shelf and not enough folding space. I'll fix that next week when I have some spare time.

7.30 - 10am

Put load of washing on and scrubbed the laundry sink. Made some phone calls. Cleaned and organised the kitchen and started preparing lunch - corned beef, sweet potato mash and cabbage. The corned beef cooked slowly overnight and was really tender. Then I made morning tea, we had banana cake and tea, and I sat with Hanno on the front verandah.

10am - midday

Peeled and cooked vegetables and got plates, glasses and cutlery out to set the table. Peeled and cut up mangoes for dessert. Hung washing out, put some in the dryer and continued washing during the day.  Served lunch.

12.30 - 2.20pm

Man from Airtasker came to mow our lawns and do the whipper snipping. I finished setting up Adguard on Hanno's computer and starting installing the new iOS. It took nearly four hours! Set up Adguard on our phones and iPad.

2.30 - 3pm

Hemmed some small cloths on the sewing machine.

Cleaning the kitchen bench - a never-ending job.

3 - 3.30pm

Talked to our grandkids on the phone. Alex and Eve had just been picked up from school by Sarndra and were heading home. We talked about what they were doing at school that day, what they hoped to get for Christmas and Eve's newly pierced ears. I'm getting her some good earrings for Christmas. They were worried about Hanno's health and spoke to him but he got tired so I ended what he was saying. They said they wanted to come down soon to see him.

3.30 - 4pm

Took Gracie outside for a run around. She's still stalking lizards but happily they're much faster that she is.

4 - 6pm

Made tea and toast and watched some of the late afternoon news. Heated up a stuffed capsicum for Hanno's tea then tidied up the kitchen, packed the dishwasher and hung out sheets and towels.

6 - 7pm

Cleaned and tidied my workroom, vacuumed the floor and emptied the vacuum. I'm no angel, I hate emptying the dust from the vacuum cleaner but it was so full it stopping cleaning! It felt good that I emptied it though so maybe I am an angel. 😇


Checked on Hanno and Gracie watching TV, had a shower and went to bed. Couldn't go to sleep so I got up again and looked for cake recipes in Grandma's Cookbook. I love that site!  Also checked Grandma Donna's site. She has good, old fashioned, basic recipes, which is what I prefer to cook and eat now.


Got tired again so when Hanno went to bed, I did too. This time is was successful and I slept well.


I hang my dirty white cloths over the side of this tub and once a week soak them in oxygen-bleach. 

We have two air filters in the house now, we've had them for about six months and they're really helping Hanno with his breathing when he sleeps. They have HEPA filters so they can filter out Covid, cold and flu viruses and well as fumes from paint or carpet, outside smoke and cooking smells. It operates on a blue light most of the time but when something is in the air it goes to orange then, if necessary, red. It takes time cleaning the air then returns to blue. It's fascinating to watch because often you don't know why it changes settings. I'm grateful to have it.

Today I've just been outside to pick lemons for the slice I'll be making tomorrow. We had corned beef,  sweet potato and cabbage leftovers for lunch today. There are leftovers for tomorrow as well.

A few towels and a sheet on the line here. It doesn't take long to dry, maybe two to three hours most days.

It's a very calm and simple life we live nowadays. Most of the time we feel cut off from the rest of the world, we focus on what's here rather than what's out there and we work to our own rules and timetables. The work we do supports the lifestyle we've chosen and it consistently reinforces the importance of that work. I can't imagine living any other way now. It helps if you understand the significance of home to you. When you get that, it makes sense to care for what you've got.

Thank you for being here today. I hope some of what I've written helps you move closer to your ideal life. It's a mindset change really but when all that clicks in, the rest is not far away.  xx

Organising your time and creating routines

29 October 2021
My computer problems have been resolved so I'm back with you.  There'll be no Weekend Reading today because I haven't been reading but I hope this post on time management and routines will interest many of you, especially the new readers.

One thing we all deal with, and sometimes struggle with, is how to organise our time to do everything we need to do and want to do. Most weeks can be similar for those who have retired or are ill but when you’re raising a family, caring for loved ones, working outside the home or living on one income with outside work and work at home existing along side each other, organising time can be difficult. In all those situations, however, when you create routines and organise your time effectively, life is easier.

I get a few emails about this from readers who can’t create routines that work. I think the best way to organise home life is to do it in bits and pieces, never all at once. Each part of your life and every bit of housework you do requires focus so you have to be thorough and do it one step at a time. Slow is best.

I think the best way to start is to work out what you’re having problems with right now, and start with that. You have to be prepared to give time to the things you want to happen and for most things, each process will have many steps, not just one. For instance, if I want to feed my family nutritious food then I have to make time think about what I want to cook during the week, then more time to create a shopping list, go to the supermarket to buy food, go to the butcher, baker and fish market, or to the weekend markets. When I come home with the shopping, I need time to refrigerate or freeze the food, or store it correctly in a cupboard, before I cook it every day.  As you can see, there are many steps and it takes time but when you set up your routines, it will help you a lot.

There are a few processes that could be part of your kitchen routines - cleaning, organising, cooking, baking and preserving. Another process that will fit nicely into your kitchen routines is to batch cook. I want to eat food cooked from scratch every day. You could cook enough food for the week on the weekend but I prefer a two day method. When I cook, I make enough for two days so we eat home cooked food every day but I only cook 15 days, not 30 days a month. We eat the same food two days in a row but when you’ve done this for a few weeks, you can freeze the second batch and build a store of frozen meals - so you have the choice of what you eat on the second day. Make sure you label your meals well so you don’t leave food sitting in the freezer or waste it. This post, Three key ways to save time and money, is about stockpiling, green cleaning and batch cooking for beginners, I hope it helps you with motivation.

If I want to reduce the number of chemicals I have in my home, ONE of the things I do is to make sure I always have soap, borax and washing soda on standby in the laundry so I can make my homemade laundry liquid. This not only gives me a very effective way of cleaning our clothes with few chemicals, it also saves money and helps me cut down on the amount of plastic I bring home. But it’s not one step, it’s many and it takes time. If I have the ingredients here, making laundry liquid takes about 15 minutes, then it lasts a couple of months before I make it again. Shop-bought laundry liquid costs about $9 - $10 per litre, homemade laundry liquid is $2 a litre which is a huge ongoing saving. Click here for my recipe for laundry liquid as well as a number of other uses for it.

And as you can see, these two common household processes have multi-steps and take time. It’s never instant, you have to work for it.

The reason they need multi-steps and time is that when you go to the supermarket to buy your weekly groceries, if you buy already cooked food, premade cleaning products etc., you’re paying for convenience. If you buy ready made meals, you’re paying for someone else to buy the ingredients, prepare and cook the meal and when someone else does the work for you, you pay for the ingredients, plus the work they do.

However, buying convenience means you have to earn more to pay the higher price of convenience products - the laundry detergents, shampoos, snacks, fizzy drinks etc. By cutting back and going back to a more basic kitchen, you’ll reduce your use of plastic, you’ll know exactly what is in the food you eat, you’ll live with fewer chemical and you’ll have more money in the bank.

So how can we get back to that basic nourishing food and healthy life?  Routines will help you with the tasks you repeat over and over again.

Before you do get into routines you must organise your work areas - kitchen, laundry, bedrooms, sitting/lounge room, outside areas, but do one area at a time. Start with the kitchen, because you’ll be preparing food and cooking almost every day. Take a good look around and move things to suit how you work there. If you drink a lot of tea and coffee, make a tea and coffee station with your cups, teapot, kettle etc. near by. Make sure your glasses, plates, bowls and serving dishes are within easy reach for every one and are close to where they’ll be used. I have three big drawers under my induction stove. They contain all our plates, serving and mixing bowls so they’re close to where the food is made and when I finish cooking, all plates and serving bowls are right there. Clean and organise the fridge and freezer. Make sure you knives are sharp, it helps you a lot. Clean and organise your cutlery and gadget drawers - this will save you time when you don’t have to look for the things you need. Give away or donate everything you don’t use. Clean and organise all the drawers and cupboards you use every day, it will help you later when you're busy cooking, baking, making lunches or cleaning.

I know how much time paid work takes - I worked for a living until I was 56. I know how much time children take, especially when they’re very young. I’ve had my own children and looked after three grandchildren, so I get it, it’s time consuming. But once you’ve set yourself up with routines, a stockpile of groceries, green cleaning and delegating chores, simple life will help you to live well, consume less and hopefully be healthier. And you’ll have a feeling of self-reliance, freedom and satisfaction that will help you carry out your house work and build your own simple home.