A PVC free & phthalate insulated lunch box is hard to find in Australia...until now! New style made of durable raw uncoated linen. Now machine washable. Comes with a leak proof insert for easier cleaning. Bunny tile design - $29.56.
And while I'm here, there is a live train journey on YouTube now. The train is driving through snow in Norway. If you were hypnotised by the desert views of the Australian rail journey last month, you'll love this.
Very early last Sunday morning, Hanno and I drove over to a town about 30 kms away to buy our first seedlings of the season.
We buy from the family at this stall who sell a wide variety of healthy herb and vegetable seedlings - 12 for $1.50.
The Caboolture market is full of vendors selling their wares, some they produce, some they buy and sell on. There is no doubt about this vendor's local credentials. The delicious Maleny Cheese stall.
Hanno planted up the new season garden during the week and he also started painting the interior of the house, minus the bedrooms. Me? I've been cooking, baking and sewing and today I'm cleaning and reorganising the front verandah and fertilising the new garden. There'll be other things thrown in today's mix as well, the ordinary things all us home bodies do every day, but most of my work will be outdoors today. What are you doing?
I hope you have a great weekend. Take the time to invest in yourself and your peace of mind. We all deserve that. See you next week. xx
There has been a sharp rise in the number of products labelled 'organic' and 'free range' on supermarket shelves in the past few years. Often I am asked if the weekly shopping should include organic fruit, vegetables, meat and chicken, as well as the newer organic products we’re seeing now – butter, cheese, wine and tinned goods. It’s a tricky one to answer because there is never just one clear path to follow, we’re all so different; we have different needs, tastes and incomes, and we all know that 'organic' and 'free range' come at a price.
What I thought was going to be my second eye operation turned out to be a post-op check. But now, vision in my fixed eye is just below 20/20, there is no infection or inflammation, the lens is in place. I go in for the second op 27 March. I'm pleased it will happen soon, I'm sick of having wonky vision.
One of the readers asked for a Gracie photo, so here she is. She had a wash and haircut earlier in the week which is why she's looking very tidy and slightly annoyed. She's a great dog and we're both very happy that she's part of our family. We survived the wild days and nights of Scottish Terrier puppyhood with her rampaging through the house at full speed, tearing up yarn, books and slippers and now she settling down with short bursts of craziness that I think she'll always have. A perfect match for us.
I hope the weather is settling down in your neck of the woods. The harshness of the Australian summer has finally left us here although there are places around the country still experiencing hot and wet days. We had a cyclone off the coast during the week but it came to nothing and fizzled out.
Thanks for your visits during the week and for the interesting and helpful comments left by some of you. I appreciate you taking the time to comment because your views add to what I write and it gives readers a better understanding of how they can change their own lives to live simply.
While I've been writing The Simple Home series, you've probably noticed I'm not writing much about what is happening here on a day-to-day basis. Well, my friends, we're still pottering around doing what we do. Currently we're moving from a fairly slow time when the weather restricted what we could do outside, to our busy season. March is when we plant our garden every year. The garden beds are still full of weeds with only one 90 percent ready, the rest are waiting their turn. We hope to visit the market next Sunday and buy a range of seedings. These will be planted along with seedlings we have growing in the bush house, Glen Large garlic from Green Harvest, ginger plants and Welsh onions in poly boxes and a stand of potatoes in a cage. We're keeping it small, having reduced the size of the garden last year, but we should have a good range of what we eat and that will help cut back our grocery bill while giving us the freshest food possible. It will be good to get out to the garden once again.
Above are the new chickens and below are some of the new and old chickens together.
Below are two of our Barnevelders - a silver lace and a blue lace.
This year we have the added wonder of six new chooks. I'm naming them after women we know. They are Barnevelders - Jean and Tricia, Plymouth Rocks - Sunny and Kathleen and Rhode Island Reds - Sarndra and Diane. That gives us a grand total of 13 pure breed chooks and one farm yard cross, she looks like a small New Hampshire. When the new girls start laying in about 6 weeks time and the old girls get back to laying after a hot and humid summer, we should get about 10 eggs a day. Now we're getting one or two. I'm giving them high protein feed at the moment in addition to their normal rations. It's just stale bread, and today, old organic corn chips, and a sprinkling of Weetbix crumbs from the bottom of the pack. Over that I pour full cream milk that I make up using water and powdered milk. The extra protein and shorter days should get those gals back to laying very soon.
Another task I used to carry out daily and let go of while I was busy - bread baking, is back. I missed the routine of daily bread but I knew my time would come again, and here it is. I'm currently fine tuning the five minute artisan bread from the book of the same name. I used to make it years ago but when I was busy I bought our bread from the local baker. At $6.90 for a rye sourdough and $4.70 for a preservative-free sliced loaf I'm glad I'm back baking my own. We don't eat much bread now that we have our main meal at noon. We only need a bit of bread for toast and an occasional sandwich. So the loaves I'm making are smaller, I make enough dough for two weeks and the dough sits in the fridge until needed. It's easy, no kneading and it's got a great taste. It's not sourdough in the traditional sense of wild yeasts, but it does ferment and complexity develops the longer it sits.
When I stopped baking, I froze all my flours and now I'm going through the remains of them before I stock up on fresh flour. The bread made yesterday was a mix of organic white and spelt. I'll do a post about baking bread when I finished my tweaking. I've put away my bread-maker and the place is now taken with a meat and bread slicer. Next week, when I replenish the freezer meats after defrosting and cleaning, I'll be making cold cuts again and these are best cut on a slicer.
I've have a range of beautiful organic cotton from EcoYarns but as my eyesight isn't great at the moment, I've put it to one side until I can see what I'm doing. The only sewing that's been happening is what's going on in my head and I have quite a few projects planned after we get the garden planted. In the meantime, I've made use of an old woollen blanket my parents used to have on their bed. It's a double, pure wool Marnock blanket produced in the Geelong area and it's probably 60 years old. Instead of letting it sit unused in a cupboard, I've cut it in two pieces to make smaller blankets for the living room during the colder months. When I can get my eyesight back to normal, I'll blanket stitch along the edges to maintain the look and integrity of the blanket. I think my mum would expect that to be done.
We're looking forward to spending some time with our family on the weekend. It's Jens' birthday today and the family has been invited over to their place (5 minutes away) for a sausage sizzle, dessert, a few beers and a game of darts. Simple pleasures, nothing fancy, just relaxing with the family and the dogs. Jens and Cathy have two Airedales so Gracie will come along and will probably be run off her little stubby legs chasing the other dogs. ;- ) Good times. What are you doing?
I'm pleased to introduce you to a new Down to Earth sponsor. A few weeks go, Valerie Pearson from Green Living Australia contacted me and asked if I would be interested in working with her to promote our common interests. Of course I'd know of Green Living and have bought jars from them in the past but for some reason, I'd never crossed paths with Valerie.
As you know, I only promote those businesses who share the values we live by here in my home and in the homes of many readers here, so I'm happy to advertise Green Living and Valerie's workshops and books and recommend them to you. Please click on this link to visit Valerie's websiteand see the wide range of equipment, gadgets, books, workshops, cultures, crocks, brewing jars, cheese making equipment, craft information and materials she has on offer. Make sure you check out Valerie's recently published book, Home Cheesemaking in Australia and keep checking the sidebar here for the changing information about the latest workshops.
This is from the Green Living website:
Green Living Australia is an Australian owned and operated company located south of Brisbane. The business evolved from a need to create home-made, preservative free, additive free foods, and chemical free body products to combat the ever increasing food allergy and chemical sensitivity within our society. From this, Green Living Australia has built a strong community, providing pure cultures, equipment and education for conscious foodies to fill their dietary requirements and gourmet food cravings and to make all natural body products that are chemical free and sustainable!
With our help, Australians are able to produce their own artisan cheeses, from chevre and cream fraiche to feta and camembert, and boutique lacto-ferments, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, natural pickles, kefir and kombucha. We support people in learning the skills needed to take back control of their diets and help develop their confidence to bring back the crafts of home cheesemaking and home preserving.
We believe it is every person’s right, and our society’s responsibility, to know what is in our foods and how they are produced. We want to pull back the curtain and tell all the secrets, and really get people excited about the science and art of cultured foods!
Look on the website for more information, general inquiries about products and Valerie's street address, phone number and email address.
This week we'll focus on shopping for food and I'm guessing that will mean vastly different things to most of you. Some will be buying everything they eat, some will be producing a small amount - maybe herbs or eggs, some will produce most of their food and many of us will buy raw ingredients so we can home-make some of the products we used to buy.
A popular meal here and very easy to make and freeze - lasagne.
I’ve gone from being an ordinary housewife, using my food budget to provide as much as I can for the money I have, to being someone who looks for fresh food that’s produced locally and ethically. I only want to buy into a food chain that considers kindness and quality of life in close alliance with nutritional values and profit. I always check labels and never buy products from compromised locations such as China and Thailand. I silently sigh every time I pick up a food product that I know is grown in my own country, but it has been imported from somewhere else. We are shooting ourselves in the foot doing that.
It's been a busy week here. We started on another home maintenance project, I cleaned the fridge out yesterday and suddenly I have more room after four months of five people in the house. Gracie had a full wash and groom yesterday, I've been sewing and of course the everyday tasks of cleaning, tidying up, shopping and cooking.
I collect rubber bands and corks because you never know when you'll need a cork to plug a bottle or a rubber band to keep something together or in a bag. These are sitting on my kitchen window sill.
We also collected six new chickens yesterday, making a home flock of 14 hens. The new girls are two Plymouth Rocks, two Barnevelders and two Rhode Island Reds. They were born on 1 December last year so they have about six or seven weeks to go before the start laying. We always have pure breed chooks, it's our way of helping keep those heirloom breeds alive. Without us backyarders, they'll die out and we'll all be poorer for it. Heirloom chickens are like heirloom seeds. Those of us who have little farms in our backyards can help the diversity of seeds and chickens survive because governments and business have no interest in it.
It's feels good welcoming new chickens. We have them in a side apartment next to the chicken coop. It's something Hanno set up years ago so we had a space for this exact reason as well as a place to isolate sick chooks. We'll keep them in there for two or three days then introduce them to the older chooks in the evening when they're all going to bed. That way there'll be minimal kerfuffle and they can all go about their business when they wake the next morning.
Thanks for all the excellent comments made during the week. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, I'll see you back here again on Monday when we'll continue the discussion on the management, storage and cooking of food.
I send warm wishes to my friends in California where deadly mudslides have cause such heartache. Indeed, wherever you are in the world, if you're experiencing bad weather, I feel for you. Last week it was 47.6C in New South Wales, near where my sister lives. It hit the people living there badly but the wildlife suffered too with many bats dead and koalas needing help and water. If you're living around the Penrith area, or any other place with hot weather last week, I hope you're okay and getting back to normal. I fear we're only just seeing the first of what climate change will do.
I've been very pleased to read how you're organising yourselves with the help of various calendars, reminders and organisational tools. It's difficult starting something like this if you've always been disorganised but using the technology you're familiar with, or by using wall planners, paper calendars, notebooks and lists you'll get a good start and hopefully gain some momentum.
I wish I could go around to all your homes and help you see the big picture. The truth is I know that some of you will make it and some won't - the thing that makes the difference is how determined you are to change your life. All I can tell you from here is that by starting to make sense of your home, and working to make it support the kind of family you have, will make a difference to how you live. But you have to work at it. If you sit around wanting change and hoping for your life to be different, absolutely nothing will happen if you don't get up and set your plan in motion. You have to do that, no one can do it for you.