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Hi folks


Remember the old House Of Simple blog?

Simple home.

Simple money.

Simple food.

Simple garden.

Simple holidays.


I miss it.





So work is underway towards bringing House Of Simple back to life on another platform.


Running Mr Home Maker and Papa's Pennies concurrently just is not working for me and I'm not enjoying it.  I'm too old and grumpy to spend time on things I no longer enjoy anyway.




My daughter is finishing her media and communication degree and has agreed to help me re-start House of Simple over at WordPress (sorry Blogger, it's been a complicated relationship).  WordPress is a lovely platform where I can easily and elegantly write, produce and publish videos, give away free eBooks, offer services, link multimedia with ease and have everything neatly under one roof.

When will this happen?  When it happens - I'll let you all know.
Take care and stay nice  :-)
Phil
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Hi folks

Whoosh!  Did you hear that? That was the sound of six weeks flying past since I have written here – gosh.

The view from a recent picnic spot overlooking
Port Stephens NSW


Plenty has been going on here at our place, so grab a quick cuppa and I’ll fill you in.



We have an old shade cloth covered gazebo area outside the back door which was pretty wasted space, so we decided to get the beams checked out and then cover it in tinted sheeting. This allows us to eat outside in all weather and gives us an alternate living area to relax in too. We employed a retired builder to do the job as he needed the work – we like our money-spend going to individuals who will appreciate it rather than to some soulless corporation. He was grateful for the work and we were happy with the end result and the reasonable price. 

Now to decide on what colour to paint the old beams .... hmmm. Duck-egg blue or maybe gun-metal grey? 

The old gazebo now with tinted sheeting instead of shade cloth.
Lets in the light but keeps out the rain.


We have been cooking up quite a few meals to freeze in advance. There is curried vegetables, thick beef stew, satay chicken and savoury mince happening. This is such a savings in time, effort, electricity and is pure convenience especially as we are still both working full time outside the home. We simply pull one of the frozen family meals out of the freezer to defrost before we leave for work and just heat it up later that evening. A fraction of the cost of pre-packaged meals with the same level of convenience and probably better nutrition too. 


Five big family meals awaiting the freezer

The beginnings of savoury mince with the onions and carrots
softening then caramelising.



We have also been shopping at local farmers markets on a Saturday more often, again because we like our money-spend going to individuals who will value it rather than always going to some soulless corporation, not because it is any cheaper per se.


The markets are a much happier place to shop than
a sterile supermarket.

Market produce

Plums from the farmers markets

Fresh white peaches from the markets

Fresh market garlic


Our household has shrunk since late last year as a couple of the girls have now moved out into their own places now. It has been such fun helping set up ‘home’ with them. I can remember the fun it was when Mrs HM and I set up our first little house. I am happy that they are content with bargain finds off Gumtree as well as using some of our surplus stuff too. It is also fun hearing them talk about their budgets, meal plans and future plans. Ha ha – we are now accidentally over-catering when we cook with only five of us at home now to feed. Force of habit. Oh well, there is always lots left over for lunches for the next day or two.


The beauty of a simple Gypsophila
arrangement


We went to the local caravan and camping show recently to start our hunt for a ‘nice’ caravan…..
Oh. My. Goodness. The sheer price of new caravans these days was a total shock for me. Big, big dollars. Some were the price of a house deposit in a capital city! We just could not see the true value and we came back to earth with a bump. We just wanted a smaller van to initially use across the next 10 years or so (whilst we are still working in some capacity) so we can go away regularly on local intrastate mini-breaks. We both agreed that we simply could not justify the cost and we believed that spending all that money on a caravan would not bring us any more joy or contentment than some other alternative. So, long story short, we ended up buying a camper trailer for a tiny fraction of the cost of the fancy units we saw at the caravan show. Now, historically speaking, I do not enjoy camping, yet Mrs HM loves it. However, Mrs HM showed me that the parts of camping which I hated were really just the unpacking and pack up of huge old tents and lots of paraphernalia that we always took when the children were little – that is now all a thing of the past. So I saw the logic and am now looking forward to the delivery of our camper trailer in about a fortnight. The camper trailer allows us to organise our stuff in boxes in an orderly manner in the base of the trailer and leaves our bed made up with the entire camper folding up in a matter of seconds on top of all that. Additionally it has a neat little slide out kitchen, battery operated LED lighting, trailer battery charging whilst the car is running, Velcro removable walls, water tank attached to the kitchen and a fully insulated ceiling.  We should have some real fun in this – just the two of us. We had a towbar put on the Kia Rio (Persephone) as the gross weight of the camper trailer even when laden is well within the capacity of our little car. I am very pleased with this arrangement.


Mango salad

Produce for sale on hessian tablecloths - nice.


We will do some posts of our mini holidays. We will have fun doing frugal meals and frugal trips and sharing these with you all.

Take care and stay nice.
Mr and Mrs HM

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Half - this is a powerful success principle as we reduce our expenses and consumption and in turn increase our levels of unspent money.

Here are some basic examples of how the power of 'half' works:

  • Use half as much shampoo and see what happens. Then try half as much again until a minimal viable amount is reached.  
  • Halve the amount of laundry liquid you use - see what happens. Again aim for a minimal viable amount that works for you.
  • Halve the amounts of unplanned trips in the car - plan trips instead to incorporate errands with other necessary commuting
  • Halve the amount on your dinner plate
  • Use half the amount of meat as normal. Replace meat-based protein with an egg instead.
  • Half the amount of loo paper you reel off in one go - count the sheets till you arrive at a minimal viable amount instead of a massive scrunched wad.
  • Toothpaste - half the amount to say a minimal viable bead
  • Observe what get scrapped off dinner plates after a meal and halve or eliminate those food that regularly get wasted.
  • Halve plastic container usage - save and reuse glass jars instead.
  • Halve your screen time (phone, TV, iPad) and realise twice as much discretionary time
  • Time your showers for a week, then the week after, shower for half as long.
  • Half flush on the loo when you can
  • Halve sugar in tea
  • Cook half as much and thus eat more cold whole fresh foods
  • Halve the amount of required time for deadlines at work and watch your productivity rise.
  • Talk half as much.
  • Make emails half as long.
  • Water down dish washing liquid by half
  • Halve the amount of water you put in the kettle - in fact, only put exactly the amount you need (as long as it covers the element). A cuppa boils far quicker this way.

Finding minimal viable amounts is key to successfully halving. Keep halving till the amount no longer does its job, then back it up a notch to a minimal viable amount that works just fine.

The list above are just examples - I'm sure you will have far more relevant ones for your circumstances.

Take care and stay nice.

Mr HM
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Hi folks - I hope the new year is panning out OK for you all.

With January half gone it is probably time to smooth down the proverbial pinny and look 2019 squarely in the face.

Basil and mint flourishing in the courtyard


Yesterday we were talking about food and food budgeting and menu planning and Mrs HM said " I think this year you can take charge of the food budget and shopping".  Boom.  There it is.  I know this is going to be much more challenging than it looks on the surface, but I am ready to give it my best.  I know I'll be asking a zillion questions of Mrs HM during the year and I might just need to up the ante with my plain fare cooking. Anyway, it will be fun to share with you my failures, success and realisations during 2019 on this front. Any excuse for more food photos!


We are off for a family holiday soon so there will be very little (read zero) activity here till early February.

In the meantime here are some random pictures from around our place recently.


Cherry tomatoes ripening on the kitchen window sill

Challah bread - beautiful honey flavoured and great for breakfasts

$2.99 per kg for chicken thigh fillets  -  frugal much!

Cherry tomatoes growing in the courtyard.
We pick them as soon as the first hint of pink shows
and ripen them inside away from birds, possums and grubs.

The laterals I pinched off the main tomato bush
and replanted have all taken off like a shot.

Fried crumbed chicken and mango salad

Chilis beginning to ripen


So, I'll have a couple of weeks while we are away to think and plan this year's shopping, menu's, stockpiling, specials hunting, food research and nutrition approach. I know Mrs HM does all this with ease and I hope after 12 months to have gathered some of this amazing skill. I'm not sure I'll be able to just memorise unit prices like she does nor be able to cook every meal without a recipe like she does or look in the cupboard and just invent a meal with 'whatever is there' ..... but here's to learning how.
See you all early Feb!
Take care  ..... and stay nice.
Mr HM
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Hi Folks

At our place we have made all our food for the holidays from scratch. So delicious, frugal and full of love and detailed attention to flavour.

I'll let the pictures do the talking now - as you can see it has been a finger-food holiday period as here in Australia it is a sweltering 38 degrees Celsius this week.  We just could not come at hot sit-down dinners this year.

Lemon  tarts topped with raspberries and  blueberries


Chocolate tarts with cream

Fruit pies, almond puffs, rocky road, peanut butter balls
and mint slice

Baileys fudge

Honey soy chicken wings

Fresh mulberries, raspberries, cherries and blueberries

Jewish Challah  bread ready for the oven

Challah beautifully baked

Ready to eat. Challah is beautiful when used for French toast too
as the sweetness is apparent in the honey used
in the recipe

Home-made croissants ready for the oven

Croissants hot out of the oven

Chipolata sausages and eggs ready to fry in a wrap

Frying up Chipolata and egg rolls

Served hot (lovely served with BBQ or smokey sauce)

Veggie pockets ready for the oven

More fresh fruits


We eat like royalty at our place and all made with fresh ingredients and made from scratch.  We simply could never afford to buy hand-made food from the shops of this quality - so we make it ourselves.

Stay safe and content this holiday period. Glide through the challenges, savour the simple loveliness of each moment. Above all ..... stay nice
Mr HM
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Hi folks

Well who'd have thought that 2018 was nearly done and dusted - whoosh. The quickest year to have flown by ever ..... I know right!

As you all know, our garden is in no fit state to be planted up this spring and we are right in the middle of tearing out old trees and unkempt undergrowth. We plan to have a much lovelier state of affairs by next spring.

However I do miss having at least some plants happening around the place, so I planted up some bits and bobs in pots that we had handy.  Doing this reminded me that planting food is possible anywhere you have some sunshine and water .... even in a high rise apartment.

I have been surprised at how hardy and tolerant some plants are, as you will see in the following pictures.  Said pictures are a mixture of some pot gardening and Christmas themes happening here amongst the persistent disorganisation at the Home Maker's place.

Enjoy.

A lovely Christmas cameo light that casts a soft glow
in the sitting room at night

Mint and Sage growing in a pot outside the kitchen window

Two tomato bushes and a little pepper bush in between.
All are a little leggy as they are not in full sun.

The Hydrangea that grew from a dead stick.
I planted the stick just to see-what-would-happen!

The beautiful porcelain  Royal Doulton Christmas Bauble 

We purchased this incense brazier from the markets.
It has a coil of incense and catches all the ash inside the brazier..
The coil burns for 24 hours.

Sage and Dill growing in a pot under the kitchen window.

These are the pinched off tomato laterals that I have replanted
purely as an experiment.  If it works (as promised) then this
is a super frugal way to get endless new tomato plants
for the whole season.

Wild mint springing up everywhere.  I love self sown plants
as they tell a tale of resilience and opportunity.

Plain wrapped Christmas presents

Do you still hear the ringing of the bell  - or are you
too old to believe? Ha ha!

Some generous colleagues at work bought me some very
nice red - 2010 Shiraz.  Yum.

Another dead stick planted to see what would happen.
Daisy bush - hardy much.

I love my Aloe Vera. Wonderful for burns and summer
drinks alike.

All these daisy bushes are transplanted.  They sulked for a month
and I thought we would lose them but now they have
greened up and looking much more hopeful.

A lovely porcelain bauble.  Much nicer than plastic.

Take care and stay nice.
Mr HM
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Hi folks

Have you seen what we've been writing about for our 5 daughters and their money over at Papa's Pennies?  Click HERE to have a look.
Thanks folks
Mr HM (Phil)
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Hi folks

One of the most wonderful parts of living a simple life is the food. Food cooked from scratch made with ingredients sourced with  frugal care and prepared with purposeful love and passion - this is the height of the food experience pinnacle. It just does not get better than that.

What pleasure does a hastily purchased take-away meal all mass-produced, palm-oil-ridden, plastic-wrapped, low-paid-worker-produced, zillion-food-miles traveled, pasteurized-till-it's-dead, preservative-laden, food-colouring-laced, salt-riddled, sugar-infused, animal-by-product-heavy, slavery-reliant, animal-cruelty-dependent, profit-margined meal give you?!  Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

In comparison, food cooked from scratch means that someone you knew (maybe even yourself) thought about the nutrition, flavour, food source (and sauce), the recipe, the presentation, the timing and the care and love required.  Food prepared from scratch means that a person you know took the time and thought to make something nourishing and delicious for you. The time and effort taken was meaningful.

To this end, I offer you some of my recent food pictures from our home - mostly made by the Mr HM daughters!


Start by setting the table with care and love.
Flowers for the table show our delight.

Beautifully warm homemade dinner roles with their
lovely shiny glaze

Sprouts pot with a punch of chilli

The turkey looks burnt, but it is actually the glaze of
maple syrup and  bourbon - all lovely and sticky

Honey carrots and sesame beans

Spicy vegetable hotpot

Smooth buttery mash - total comfort food.

Pan juice gravy - the Rolls Royce of all gravy.

Turkey with oranges and pomegranates.
Try squeezing fresh oranges over hot turkey - it's a revelation!

Pumpkin pie - the filling was light and flavoursome.
Imagine how much just one slice of this would
cost in a cafe?! 

Steaming hot ginger bread loaf. Decadent.

...and of course the ever-present Toby-the-dog under the table hoping
for tid-bits during dinner. Wicked pupper !
(Toby has just had a haircut so is looking several
dress sizes smaller)



Take care folks and stay nice.

Have a lovely weekend.

Mr HM
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Home-made Portuguese tarts made from scratch.
Seriously delicious.


Hi folks

Just pictures today of some random things that have been going on around here - enjoy .....


It's starting to look a lot like Christmas.
We've made a small start on the decorations.

I'm not a fan of Halloween - but hey.

Pumpkin bread rolls made from scratch

A left-over board from the shed wrapped in
kitchen foil makes a perfect spice rack shelf in the pantry.

What lovely mulch made by ......

..... my birthday present to myself. A mulcher!
(Gosh it is noisy though)

Chocolate and Malteser spider cookies for .... Halloween.
Made from scratch, so I guess that's OK.

Ghostly white chocolate strawberries for ....
Halloween (sigh).

Removing the 40 year old prostrate conifer.  Ugh.  Nasty work.

Kylie the Kookaburra eyeing off the freshly worked soil
in hope of a worm.

Kookaburra skewers - No! No! only joking.
Satay chicken skewers.

Quinoa stuffed peppers steaming for dinner.

Home made chicken and vegetable pie.
Can you smell it?  Mmmmm.

Take care folks.

Lean into a simple, frugal, home-made life - you'll love it.
Mr HM
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Hi folks

Part of living a simple life is finding a way to budget that suits you and that actually works. There is simply no point slavishly following a certain household budgeting logic if it is not working or you.

We have previously chatted about a few different ways to budget - here they are:

1. The 8 level total income budget method  - click HERE

2. The percentage method of budgeting - click HERE

3. The 47.5 secret to household budgeting - click HERE

Now, at our place we have used all three of these budgets and they all work fabulously - but at the end of the day it is important to choose a household budgeting method that works practically and emotionally for you.

Take care and stay nice folks

Mr HM.

P.S. Do you like the Hocus Pocus magic book brownies we baked recently for Halloween (any excuse for a cook up!).

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