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