29 February 2016

We are surviving ... so far

I'm sitting here in our hotel room 22 floors up. We can't hear any outside noise, it feels like a bit of a tomb. Hanno is fast asleep in the lounge chair. I have a load of washing in the machine.  This has been a really difficult day. We had a lot of places to visit, starting at the ABC at 8.30pm, then a magazine interview, a few book shops, then finished up at the Dymocks Building for a podcast and another book signing.  There are some wonderful book shops out there. Thanks to all the people I met today, I really appreciate your support.

 Breakfast on the road in Ballina yesterday morning.

 ABC studio in Ultimo.
Hanno checking the itinerary in the Radio National studio.
 Again, at the ABC studio.
 At Glee Books in Glebe.
That's me on the phone at the end table. We'd just left Glee Books and were heading to Newtown.

And now?  Well this is Hanno asleep in the lounge chair and when the washing is finished, I'll be having a shower and in bed. And no, I don't care that it's only 4pm. This is tough.  :- )

Things will improve tomorrow because we're out of the biggest city and into the smaller ones and country towns. Tomorrow we're off to Wollongong, and the following day, Canberra and Albury. If you're close by, I hope we see you. So far, we are surviving. :- ) Thanks for your wonderful comments, it's like having a little bit of home while we're out in the wide world. 

27 February 2016

On the road again, almost

Finally, we're almost ready to go. We posted out the book orders yesterday and we'll be packing and cleaning up today. Hanno has the unenviable task of trying to pack the car with everything we need  to take with us. We have our food and drinks Esky, clothes and shoes, a box of books, my laptop and ipad (so I can read my Kindle books), camera, music on our phones, a couple of bags of clothes going from Jamie to his cousin Johnathan and, of course, my knitting. The house sitters arrive this afternoon, I'll do a tidy up then too, we'll go to bed early and be up before the birds tomorrow for the 1000km drive to Sydney. I can hardly wait, there is nothing better than a road trip holiday.

The added bonus for us is that in many towns we'll be visiting, people will be waiting for us. I'm so looking forward to meeting everyone. And for all those who are too far away or too busy to come to one of the signings or events, I'll take photos all the way so you can see what we get up to. :- )  Yes! the Down to Earth travel journal. I'm not sure when I can post, I hope to do it every day, even if it's just a photo or two. My sincere thanks to everyone who sent us a comment or note about the trip. We feel the warmth of our community and I'm very grateful for it. And now I'd better get a wriggle on and start packing. I'll see you all on the road!  ♥︎

26 February 2016

Weekend reading

We're counting down the days now. Ironing and cleaning up today, packing tomorrow, the house sitters arrive tomorrow afternoon, then we leave for Sydney on Sunday. I thought this week would go slowly but I've been really busy with various things. Still, we're looking forward to the trip and meeting so many of you, I think it's going to be wonderful.


I have some more places to share with you, we'll be at:

Wednesday, 2 March - Canberra
11.45am
Dymocks Canberra
Canberra Centre, Shop CL17, Bunda Street, Canberra ACT 2601

12.15pm Muse Bookstore
69 Canberra Ave, Kingston ACT 2602

We won't be at either place long because we have to drive on to the Albury library and be ready for the talk there at 5.30pm. We met some lovely people last time we were in Canberra so I hope some of you come along again.

Friday, 4 March - Shepparton
11 am Collins on Maude
Public Signing
262 Maude Street, Shepparton
We'll be in Shepparton for about an hour, so come along if you can. Hanno will be with me and we'd both love to see you.

Friday, 18 March
10.00am
 ABC Radio Newcastle Live
Mornings with Jenny Marchant
 
Still to be added are book signings in Ballarat, Bendigo, Echuca and Newcastle. I hope to have those today so come back to the blog later, PM me at the forum or email me for details.
                                                   
There hasn't been much reading this week so these are the only links I have for you.


I hope you enjoy your weekend and if you're living near the towns we're about to visit, we might meet you on the road somewhere.

23 February 2016

Within these walls, good things happen

Yesterday I received a small number of The Simple Home books that I'm happy to sign and send out around Australia.  The cost of the book is $45, postage in Australia is $15. I can't send them out before the publication date - 1 March so they'll be sent next Friday and delivered the following week. Delivery takes between 3 - 7 days. Seven days being the time needed for delivery to Tasmania and WA. Please send me an email if you'd like to order a book. I also have a small number of Down to Earth and am happy to sign them and post those out too. The price is the same as The Simple Home - $45 + $15 anywhere in Australia.

 :::::::: ♥︎ ::::::::

Last week I started a thread on the forum asking the question: "Why do you live a simple life?" Some wonderful posts appeared there revealing mid-life changes, growing up without mod cons, finding happiness and contentment and discovering a feeling of security and control, all while living a simpler life. I love that thread, and the forum in general, because it provides the opportunity to not only live our practical lives, collect recipes and ideas and discuss what we need to learn, but to also think about why we do it and what we gain from it. Often when we're working at home or out in the world, we forget that thinking about life, and talking about it out loud or online, helps us understand it. Regular reflection helps us gather our thoughts, make plans, realise we're not alone, remember why we started living this way and be grateful for everything we get from it. In the longer term, that helps maintain your mindset.

Late summer raspberries in the backyard, as sweet as any raspberry dares to be.
There's not much growing in the garden except herbs, chillies, rosellas and all those raspberries.

As I read through that thread there was a common theme that stood out to me - control. Many people wrote about being caught up in mainstream life - in debt, busy and stressed, with a common feeling of dissatisfaction. That turned around simply by taking control, slowing down, focusing of self and family and working towarks a values-driven life instead of a materialistic one. It doesn't take much.


Control is one of the biggest benefits for me too. I doubt I'd make a good cleaner, waitress, seamstress, cook, soap maker, gardener or child minder if I did it for a living. However, when I do those things for the love of it, when I do it for my family and myself, I feel the control I have over my own life. I never felt that control when I worked for a living. I felt obliged then, inadequate, and sometimes out of control. I felt that happiness was always out of reach and that I would never earn enough money to buy what I needed. There was a lingering dissatisfaction with life that was difficult to understand or get rid of.
 

But now, within theses fences and walls, good things happen. We eat when we want to, plan things we want to do, enjoy our days, work and rest when we feel like it and we recreate this beautiful life every day. It doesn't take much, just the work to produce what we need and want and the mindset to keep going. We've developed frugal habits and we're steady and prudent, but occasionally we spontaneously combust with happiness when we learn something important or do something unusual. Days pass, people visit and phone us, meals are cooked, cups of tea are taken outside, clothes are mended, jars and bottles recycled and all the while I think about what I'm doing, and why. I wish I could bottle the day I decided to change my life and give it away as a free sample because no matter what day it is, I thank my lucky stars that I am where I am, doing what I love.

Why do you live your simple life?


21 February 2016

The Simple Home book tour


As promised, here is the itinerary for our book tour. Hanno will be with me all through the tour and Tricia will fly to Hobart and travel back with us. Please come along to one of the books shops or events if you can.  We'd love to meet you.

Step-by-step for making flat bread.
Making sandwich bread from scratch.
Step-by-step cheese making.
Yoghurt. All the above are from The Simple Home

Sunday 28 February, Driving to Sydney

Monday 29 February, Sydney  
9.15am ABC Radio National - Life Matters
Interviewer: Ellen Fanning
There will probably be other radio spots on this day but they haven't been finalised yet. I can't meet anyone in Sydney because I'll be seeing family when the media events are over. However, there'll be an event in Kogarah on the way back, see below.

Tuesday 1 March
Wollongong - calling in to see Rose. If there are any readers in Wollongong who want to meet up please let me know in the comments and I'll arrange something.

Wednesday 2 March
Canberra - Albury 
Visiting books shop/s and ABC studio in Canberra. 
EVENT: Albury Library @ 5.30pm
Author talk, audience Q&A and book signing
553 Kiewa St, Albury

Thursday 3 March
Albury – Bright region - Wangaratta
EVENT: Wangaratta Library @ 6.30pm
Author talk, audience Q&A and book signing
21 Docker Street, Wangaratta

Friday 4 March
Melbourne - Tasmania
We're not in Melbourne for long. We'll arrive there just in time to get on the ferry.

Saturday 5 March 
Tasmania

Sunday 6 March 
11am Dymocks Hobart, Centrepoint Shopping Centre
Book signing
11.30am Fullers Books, Collins Street
Book signing

Monday 7 March 
Tasmania sightseeing

Tuesday 8 March
Tasmania sightseeing 

Wednesday 9 March 
11 am Petrarch's Bookshop Launceston
Book signing

Thursday 10 March
Melbourne - media all day, then:
EVENT: Readings Hawthorn @ 6.30pm
Author talk, audience Q&A and book signing
701 Glenferrie Road

Friday 11 March
Great Ocean Road - Ballarat
Book shops to be advised

Saturday 12 March
Ballarat
Book shops to be advised

Sunday 13 March
Ballarat - Bendigo - Echuca
Book shops to be advised

Monday 14 March
Echuca – Wagga Wagga
EVENT: Wagga Wagga City Library @ 6.30pm
Author talk, audience Q&A and book signing
Baylis and Morrow Streets

Tuesday 15 March
Wagga Wagga – Cowra – Orange - Bathurst
EVENT: Books Plus @ ? TBC
Author talk, audience Q&A and book signing
157 Howick Street Bathurst

Wednesday 16 March
Bathurst - Blackheath

Thursday 17 March
Blackheath - Kogarah
EVENT: Kogarah Library @ 7.00 pm
Author talk, audience Q&A and book signing
O'Keefe's Lane Kogarah

Friday 18 March
Newcastle book shops TBC, then:
EVENT: Coffs Harbour Book Warehouse @ 6.00pm
Author talk, audience Q&A and book signing
26 Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour

There will be one more event planned further up the coast I'll give you the details when they're confirmed.  More events are planned in Queensland when we get home. The only ones I know about now are:

Wednesday 23 March
Maleny 
EVENT: Rosetta Books at the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre @ 6.00pm
Author talk, audience Q&A and book signing
Bicentennial Drive, Maleny

Sunday 3 April
EVENT: Crafternoon Tea and conversation with Julie at Riverbend Books @ 4.00pm
Join us for a Crafternoon Tea at the fabulous Riverbend Books in Bulimba. Tickets include cake and coffee/tea provided by the Doubleshot Riverbend cafe - and all the tips and tools to help you simplify your life that we can cram into a Sunday afternoon! Bring a craft if you want to, I'll be bringing my knitting and if you don't know how to knit, bring along size 4 or 5 knitting needles, some 8ply yarn and I'll show you how to knit.
193 Oxford Street, Bulimba  For more details click this link.

Other planned events are at Biome in Brisbane, North Lakes Library, Noosaville Library, Cooroy Library. I'll give you the details as soon as I know them.


19 February 2016

Weekend reading

There are more than 1500 species of bees native to Australia and where I live we often see a wide variety of bees foraging in the garden. We have honey bees, which are an introduced species, the solitary bees - teddy bear bees and blue banded bees, and the most common of the social native bees, the stingless bee, Tetragonula, sometimes called sugarbag bees. I took the photo above yesterday morning when these tiny bees (about the size of a mosquito) were out and about collecting pollen from the storm lilies.
Thanks for visiting this week but now let's all sit back and enjoy the weekend. See you all next week!

18 February 2016

Just get on with it

I meant to tell you before now that I'm doing a monthly ABC radio program with David Curnow. The show comes out of ABC Brisbane 612 and is broadcast over all local ABCs in Queensland. The first program was on last night, you can listen to it here. I enjoyed talking to David, he's a good interviewer with relevant questions and an open mind. The next program will be on 15 March on your local Queensland ABC. I'll have the link the following day for everyone else.

I was going to post the itinerary for the book tour today but there are still a few places being finalised, so it will be up next week instead.


I'll take the opportunity today to answer an email I received last week from a reader. "Jackie" told me she started on her simple life journey last Easter but she is letting it all go because nothing she does is perfect and it takes too long to learn what she needs to know. I get the feeling from Jackie's email that she thinks Hanno and I live in a perfect world, that most things flow along nicely, nothing bad ever happens here and housework is quick and simple. I'll happily burst that "perfect" bubble right now Jackie, because like everyone else living in the real world, in my home things go wrong, cakes burn, plates are dropped, the washing machine breaks down, crops fail, I forget things and sometimes I'm the only one who thinks my ideas are brilliant (!). Few things are easy when you're learning how to do them.



Nothing is perfect, you just have to try your best on any given day. That is enough. To tell you the truth, I'd hate to live in a "perfect" world. I think tough times and mistakes are when we learn the best lessons; lessons that aren't forgotten. It's definitely that way for me. If I hadn't taken nearly three months to learn to bake a good loaf of bread - teaching myself every day by touching and smelling dough, then eating some of what I made - I wouldn't be able to easily make good bread now. If I hadn't unpicked hundreds of rows of knitting I wouldn't be knitting as I am now. If I'd stopped when I failed, I wouldn't be writing this and probably have ended up miserable and wondering why nothing ever went right and why life is so hard.

No matter how easy or difficult your life is, every day the sun comes up and that single event gives you the magnificent opportunity of a new day with new choices. Don't think of yourself as someone who has the family who doesn't get it, or the job that gets worse every week, or the children who never help. You cannot live everyone's life for them; live your own well and they might want to change themselves. Decide what's important to you, have a plan every day, learn from what goes wrong (or right), do your best and just get on with it. When you least expect it, things will fall into place, what you're trying to learn will make sense and you'll start thriving.  It's all small steps and it takes time.


17 February 2016

We're saying goodbye to Virtues and Clouds cotton

I was interested to read EcoYarns' newsletter this week which stated that two favourite yarns - Virtues cotton and Clouds cotton, will not be stocked in the future. While I'm disappointed they will go, Salihan has reassured me that they'll always stock organic cotton yarn so I'm excited to see what the new range will be.



Here is the Eco Yarns newsletter from Salihan:

We have come to a very hard decision. We are discontinuing the Eco-Organic Cotton Clouds and Virtues range in order to maintain a strong business and we intend to be here for a long time. Our goal is to be the company you can rely on to bring you organic and environmentally yarns and fibres regularly. We haven’t been able to do so with the Eco-Organic Cotton range and it is not fair to you to try to keep it going.

Ecoyarns have sold thousands of hanks of these wonderful cotton yarns. Virtues was a special creation of Ecoyarns’ founder, Vivian, nearly 10 years ago. We thank you deeply for supporting our yarns all these years. It is the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one. We’re here to stay and we have some exciting plans for the future.

The current Eco-Organic stock is still available for purchase and there are 23 colours across the range. There will be no mark down on prices to move them along quickly. The Virtues cotton is a one-of-a-kind yarn never to be reproduced again, never to be found anywhere else in the world. We will not diminish its importance and high quality by slashing prices.



I have two knitting projects underway at the moment and, as usual, I'm using eco-cotton Virtues. One is a simple triangular shawl, the other is a stack of dishcloths using the leftover ends of various Virtues colours.  It's a soft cotton that knits up beautifully and I never tire of the range of colours. They are soft and appealing and don't fade much, even after many washes. Salihan said there has been a rush of orders for the cotton since the newsletter went out, so if you want to try this cotton, put an order in soon. When the new range of cottons comes in, I'll showcase them here and we can all try them out.


15 February 2016

Food - at home and on the road

I've finished organising the accommodation for our road trip. We're overnighting in 16 different locations, two nights on a ship, five days in a beautiful bed and breakfast in Tasmania and two nights in another little beauty, a miners cottage, in Ballarat. The rest is an assortment of hotels and motels. We have friends/housesitters moving in the morning we leave and the lady next door will help them with the garden and chickens. I'll give you the details of where we'll be later in the week. This trip is to promote the book and meet people but it's also the retirement trip Hanno and I promised ourselves a few years ago. There is so much to see and enjoy here in this beautiful country of ours. We're both excited about it and meeting up with Tricia who will fly to Tasmania and join us for the trip back.


There's been a flurry of cooking in my kitchen here and while cooking I've been thinking about our food on the road. It will be mainly tea and toast for breakfasts, a trip to the bakery to buy fresh bread for lunch and a hot meal at the end of the day, either at our accommodation or at a local pub. I'll pack an esky for cold drinks, milk, butter, tomatoes, cheese, fruit and cold cuts or chicken. In some ways we'll be a little travelling home on wheels. My main priority is to avoid fast food and sandwich shops and to buy the fresh food we need as we travel along. I want to recycle along the way too, just like we did on our last trip.

Travel has changed so much over the years and even this simple kind of travel, that doesn't involve flights or trains, waiting in queues, questioning at borders, sitting and sleeping onboard with hundred of unknown people, still requires accommodation and topping up on food and drink as we drive along. We do have those two nights onboard a ship but no borders to cross, no passports required, no invasion of privacy. It's a far cry from the days when we would have travelled in a coach pulled by horses with dust, bushrangers and days, instead of hours, between towns. Now we have a comfortable car to travel in, we'll have cold drinks and hot tea with us, we'll have snacks when we want then, music or Radio National, books, phones, iPads and soft pillows. It doesn't seem so simple when you spell it out like that but we'll still have that gentle pleasure of stopping on the side of the road to admire the scenery, wade in a river, slowly walk through a town and talk to the local folk. I wish we could leave now. :- )


And this is what I've been cooking in the past couple of days: plain and walnut pikelets, bread, chicken satay and some sausage and vegetable rolls for Jamie's after school snacks and our lunch. Plain and simple food always satisfies us. I'm running down the chest freezer in these last few weeks before we go away. That gives me a chance to make sure we're not wasting anything that may be lurking in the bottom of the freezer and to defrost and switch off the freezer while we're away.

Now the travel arrangements and itinerary are set, I'll have time to knit and sew some things I want to take away with us. There is so much to look forward to. 

What's happening in your world in the coming weeks?

11 February 2016

The humble rosella

If you're in a warm climate, rosellas are a very useful and unusual plant to grow in the backyard. They're a wild hibiscus, grown in many places including Australia, particularly in the north, Africa, south east Asia, West Indies, Mexico and the US, I'm note sure about the European countries.  Let me know in the comments if you're growing it. 

We haven't grown rosellas for a couple of years but there was a time when they were regulars in our garden and I made jam and drinks with them every year.  It's an easy plant to grow if you have the right climate for it so that's why it's back in our garden; we want to grow simple plants that are useful in the kitchen. It takes about six months of frost-free warm weather to grow them to maturity. The red sepals, seeds and green leaves are all edible. Red Zinger tea contains rosellas, it's what gives that tea its red colouring. There are several health claims made for rosellas but I'll leave that for you to research because I don't know which claims are true.


This bowl is our first harvest this year.  When the plants are still quite small, they flower and then set fruit. You harvest that small early crop, tip prune the plant at the same time and let them set about producing a bigger crop for late summer, early autumn.  So that means that for this year, it's too late to plant these in Australia.  The red sepals from this small crop can be dried and used to make tea but I've frozen this lot and they will be added to the main crop later in the year.


The fruit is ready to pick when it's bright red and plump. When we harvest our main crop later in the year, I'll take photos and do another post on how to process them and what to make with them.


The rosellas above are damaged and will be dried out and used for seeds.  You can see from the little rosella (above) sprouting from its capsule that they're good growers, but all depends on temperate and climate.


These are some of the seeds I've collected from the rosellas above. There aren't many but I'll take some on my book tour so if you want to try growing it, ask me if I have any left. Otherwise you can buy them here and here.

Rosella is one of those crops that fits in well in a simple kitchen. It's easy to grow from seed from your previous crop, and it has multi-purposes in the kitchen. And if you're a gardener in an area that has hot summers, it will soon become one of your go-to plants for jam and drinks.

Here are recipes for rosella jam, tea and cordial from Frances at Green Harvest. Do you have any rosella recipes to share?

8 February 2016

Luxuriating in isolation

I love living within the confines of my home and after closing the gate to luxuriate in the isolation I often stay here for days, and sometimes weeks, without going out. I find contentment in my household patterns, the regimen of chores done hundreds of times before, the discipline of organisation and the rare freedom of being in control of my own life. Some people don't understand why I live as I do but I doubt it needs to be understood, it just is.


Even though I prefer isolation, I am interested in what's happening in the wider world. Writing my blog and reading the comments many of you write keeps me interested. I love it when someone new comes along and when there is a comment from a reader who has been visiting me for years. When I click on your names and go to your blogs I read about new babies, I see people moving house or renovating old homes, I find new recipes and ideas to try. I see how diverse and similar we all are. Slowly I build up a mental picture of my visitors and every new comment adds another piece to the puzzle. My blog reminds me that although I might have isolated myself, I am not alone. That keeps me going sometimes, that and the enjoyment I get out of helping provide a good life here for the two of us. It doesn't take much to stay interested in life if you're interested in people.


I am mindful that for me, isolation must always be balanced by sociability and friendship. Being out of my comfort zone helps me see new perspectives and it stops me from becoming an old fuddy-duddy. I'm looking forward to going on a book tour soon. I was working on booking our accommodation yesterday. What a palaver! I haven't finished yet but I should get through it this morning. I'll put up the itinerary soon but in a nutshell we're going to Wollongong, Canberra, Albury, Wangaratta, Echuca, Bendigo, and even to Tasmania this time. There are more places in western New South Wales and along the coast. I'll let you know the places and dates very soon and I hope I can meet you during the tour.


Just a reminder that Penguin have temporarily dropped the ebook price of Down to Earth to $4.99 from now till 24 February. We were talking about this on the forum yesterday and I was really pleased to discover that you can order the ebook now at the low price and specify a delivery date for later in the year.  I tell you that because you may like to buy the ebook as a birthday or Christmas gift and I think $5 for a book is pretty good value.


Today I'll be doing my normal Monday tasks and ironing. I have a small mountain of ironing I want to get through before we go away and the only way I'll do that is to stay there until it's done. I'm not the greatest fan of ironing but I love using my French press and having piles of freshly pressed clothes and household linens to put away. When I do that it feels like I'm taking care of us.

I hope you have a lovely week ahead. Take care everyone. ♥︎


5 February 2016

Weekend reading

In 2011, the Australian Women's Weekly visited us at home to take photos for a feature article they did on me. In one of the photos, I was standing in the garden holding a chicken, a barred Plymouth rock girl called Lulubelle. She was four or five years old when the photo was taken and she happily sat in my arms for a long time while the photos were taken. She was a gentle girl, a good layer and a real character. Sadly, Lulubelle died last week after living with us for about ten years. RIP Lulu.
I had my eyes tested a couple of weeks ago and decided to treat myself to a pair of new frames. I'm sure they're not everyone's cup of tea but I like them. If you can't make out the pattern, they're tiny flowers. :- )
- - - ♥︎ - - -

This is an amazing video of how you can use bulldog clips to organise yourself.
Don't know how to use the feet on your sewing machine? watch this.
10 foods to make from scratch to save money
Meals for less than £2 a head? Impossible ... isn’t it?
The health benefits of knitting
Baby's peasant dress free pattern

And over on the forum:
Learn to build a stockpile with me, written by one of our wonderful moderators, Kristy.  Join in this discussion on how and what to stockpile. It also includes where to store your stockpile, stock rotation, pantry moths, putting aside money for stockpiling and why you might consider starting to stockpile.

You can stockpile fabric and craft items too and sometimes it can get out of control. Don't ask me how I know that. If you've been trying to get rid of some of your fabric then this is the thread for you: Fabric stash busting: February 2016.  Started by our moderator Nannachel, it's a fun thread with a range of projects you might make to use some of your supplies. And as usual, there is plenty of support and encouragement along the way.

I hope you have a relaxed weekend ahead. Thanks for your visits this week. I'll see you again on Monday. 


3 February 2016

I do a lot of baking

I do a lot of baking, it's my preferred method of cooking and I'd say I use my oven four or five times a week. We had to replace ours about six months ago and I bought an AEG oven. What a find!  In addition to normal baking, it grills, turbo grills, has bottom and top heat, it defrosts, dehydrates, has a pizza setting, I can bake various things on multi-levels at the same time, it has telescopic runners, a child lock and it cleans itself. The instruction manual tells me I can do preserves in the oven but I haven't tried that yet and doubt I will. The oven temperature ranges from 30C to 250C so that allows me to do a wide variety of cooking, baking, grilling, defrosting and dehydrating. This is not a sponsored post.

It fits into the same space the old oven fit into but it's bigger inside. The baking tray slides in from wall to wall so when we have visitors here, I can bake a leg of lamb and enough vegetables for large meal in the one tray. Even heavy trays on the telescopic runners are very safe and I can pull the trays right out to check what's cooking and nothing falls or is unstable. The metal shelving and two trays it comes with are all non-stick and really easy to clean.

The little grey spots you see above and below is the very fine ash left behind after cleaning.

When I need to clean the oven, I remove the trays and shelving and wash them separately. Then I wipe over the inside of the glass door then turn on the pyrolytic cleaning function and walk away.  The oven locks itself, increases the temperature to 500C and goes through the cleaning process, when I come back 90 minutes later, all I have to do is wipe the ash away and replace the shelving. I love it.

And if you're looking for some inspiration in the kitchen, read these two threads over at the forum. Herfordhare has written about her own food challenge. She bought fruit and vegetables at the market and she's turned that produce into all sorts of nourishing preserves and meals. She's cooking to a budget too, so there are details on the money needed to do her challenge. Click here to go to that thread.

And Jenny has written an inspiring post about her preserving year and how she uses her preserves. She's making sauces, chutney, mustard, mincemeat, pasta sauce, jams and cordial, including the delicious sounding cherry plum cordial. Her post is followed by many members writing about their own preserving. It will have you searching for preserving jars right away. Click here to go to that thread.

Our kitchens tend to be the heart of the home where we prepare food, sit with a cup of tea or gather around the table to talk and feast.  What's happening in your kitchen today?




1 February 2016

The work we do in our homes

There is a lovely feeling of contentment attached to doing work I enjoy, whether it be paid or unpaid work. When I worked for a living, I always strived to do my best. Nothing's changed now I'm doing my own work at home. I get paid in contentment and satisfaction now and that always motivates me to keep going. Last week I was ironing, baking bread, cooking and doing my usual housework and I'm pleased to say I'm back into the rhythm of it. This week will be much the same, but different. I'm sure many of you feel that too. The work we do in our homes tends to be the same over the weeks, but the mindset of self-reliance and productivity makes it feel fresh and meaningful.




At the end of a fairly mild summer, last week was very humid so not too much was done outside. There is always something to do inside so we were lucky to be able to stay out of the sun close to the fans. We even had the air-conditioning on a couple of days. It was the perfect time to preserve a few lemons and make mint sauce from the summer mint in the backyard.  This sauce is delicious with lamb and it can quite easily sit in the cupboard for six months because of the high vinegar content - vinegar is a great preserver. So that is one less thing I have to rely on the shops for and I use more produce from my backyard.



I did a lot of knitting last week and finished Tricia's cowl scarf (above). She lives at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains and the winter temperatures can be bitter. It snowed there last winter. I wanted to make her a scarf she can wear in her home that will keep her neck warm but won't dangle down to hinder what's she's doing. I used the fabulous EcoYarns O-Balance, which is 50 percent organic cotton and 50 percent organic Merino wool. I also cast on another shawl in EcoYarns Organic Cotton in the Virtues range. I chose the beautiful soft dusty pink, Pride, this time (below). It's such a lovely yarn to knit with.


If you're a new knitter and you're looking to move onto a larger project, this shawl may be just what you're looking for. Making a smaller version will give you a great wrap-around scarf. You'll need circular needles long enough to hold a few hundred stitches. I used size 5 needles and my yarn is 8ply. Cast on 8 stitches, knit the entire second row, then on the next row, knit 2, then yarn over and knit to the end of the row. This will increase every row by one stitch. Repeat knit 2, yarn over and knit to the end of the row until your shawl is as big as you want it to be, then cast off. Look at this You Tube video to see how to do a yarn over between knit stitches. Happy knitting everyone!

The Down to Earth hardback book is available on the American Amazon again. If you're in the US, Canada or Europe and you've been hoping to buy a copy, they have stock ready to send.  Also, the Down to Earth ebook will be available for the special price of $4.99 between Feb 3 and Feb 24 from all ebook vendors in Australia – Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Google, Booktopia, eBook etc. If you do buy my books, I'd love you to write a review online, it helps with the sales. Thank you. :- )

So, what's on your agenda this week?


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