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29 August 2015

Down to Earth hardcover on US Amazon now

Ellymae bought my hardcover Down To Earth book from Amazon US so I've just checked out my Amazon page.  It's available for sale there now but there are only 13 copies left. If you've been wanting to buy one for a while, the opportunity is there for you now. Click here to go to the page.

28 August 2015

Weekend reading

This is our much loved cat, Hettie. You can see in the photo she has developed skin cancer on her ear and nose, and she has arthritis in her front legs.  Lately she's lost weight and energy.  She'll be visiting the vet today and I doubt she'll return to us.  Hettie is 18 years old and has lived her entire life here in our home and yard.  ♥︎  I think it will be a sad weekend.

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Holocaust research shows epigenetic inheritance - the transmission of trauma
Blood oranges are one of my favourite fruits although I usually forget about them because we grow our own oranges and by the time we've eaten and juiced our way through our trees, I'm over oranges for a few months. But then I'm reminded of these little beauties - they're perfect in our whole orange cake and if you make icing with the juice, it's pink. However, this recipe for rice pudding using the zest might be a good way to use one of the oranges you buy. You'll have to hurry though, the Australian season will be over soon.
Self-sufficient couple builds their own floating off-grid island
When will my life begin?
Knitting project for northern winter - free pattern

27 August 2015

My favourite place #8

This is a weekly feature for readers to show us their favourite place at home. This week's photos are from Caroline in Ontario, Canada and Jan in Victoria, Australia.

Let's start with our friend Caroline, who writes:
Thank you for the opportunity to share our special places! I really enjoyed the last time that you ran the photos and we could get a glimpse into the lives of other people and realize just how very different, yet alike we are.

I live in Ontario, Canada and every summer for 10 weeks I live on an island out in Georgian Bay. When our children are older we hope to live here for half of each year. My inlaws bought the property back in the '60's, and 5 years ago my husband built our modest home here. We are completely off of the grid, and utilize solar panels and propane to power our daily lives. Life is simple and slower than back in the city and every year we work towards our goal of spending more time here. I enjoy numerous crafts, baking and spending time here with my family. Georgian Bay is a part of the Great Lakes and can be very temperamental weather wise. One needs to watch the weather carefully in order to plan trips to town for groceries! After September, we try to come for weekend visits, but after late October, it is much too cold and then time to get ready for another Canadian winter. Sometimes if the ice is thick enough in February, the family has snowshoed over to spend a chilly night or two with the woodstove going non-stop.

I have recently begun blogging at and would be pleased if you would visit. I have admired your writing for many years.

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And now we have Jan, who just loves her chook house:

I'd love to share my favourite spot in our yard. Our chook house :)

My very clever husband built this out of our daughters old swing set. He's made self waterers and feeders out of polly pipe and they have a run out under our apple tree. My 4 Isa Brown ladies (Fiona, Princess Penelope, Charlie and Nigella) look out over the vegie garden and are put out to free range when we can keep a watchful eye on them. We live in Southwest Victoria, near the coast and at the moment are in the midst of a wild winter. Our girls are held in the timber section of their house at night and I can access the eggs from the outside - you can possibly make out the little box on the left - it has a pull down hatch for ease of getting the eggs and cleaning. They have their roost in there and so far the cold hasn't stopped them laying 4 beautiful yellow eggs a day. I just love this addition to our simple life, I never dreamed it would be such a wonderful thing but couldn't imagine my life without chooks now. Being able to collect eggs everyday is such a treat I'm not tiring of. They also provide me with a laugh at their characteristics and antics. When the weather is better, I sit out with a cuppa and watch them - it's strangely quite soothing and peaceful.

26 August 2015

Our daily bread

I've had a few requests to write about how I make bread. I've written a number of bread posts but as it's such a big part in our lives, let's go through it again.

Even thought the bread I make looks like different recipes, I change the type of flour I use to get the variety I want but the recipe stays pretty much the same. I always use baker's flour, not pre mix. Over the years I've used plain white, wholemeal, whole grain, soy and linseed, corn and barley, leckerbrot and rye.  At the moment I have organic spelt, rye, white and wholemeal flours in the cupboard and it will eventually make up bread of different forms such as sandwich loaves, free-form loaves, bread rolls, baps and French loaves.

My tutorial for making bread by hand is here 
Making bread using a bread machine is here


  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey 
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 4 cups bread flour (can be any variety – wholemeal, rye, white, grain or spelt) 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 350 ml warm water (approximately) Read what I said about water in the links above
Make sure the flour and yeast are fresh and if you want a more tender dough for to use for pizza, add a tablespoon of olive oil or butter. You can freeze the dough if you want to. It's often handy to have a few batches of dough big enough to make a pizza base in the freezer.

The following photos are all bread made using the recipe above but with different flour and toppings.

If you're a new baker, don't give up if your bread isn't what you expect the first time you make it. It took me ages to perfect a good dough, to know what to look for in the dough and to always get my hands in and feel it, even if it's being made in the bread maker.  Teach yourself through trial and error what good dough feels and looks like and over the days and weeks, you'll teach yourself to produce loaves good enough to be used for sandwiches, rolls and toast. When you start producing good bread, experiment with toppings, additives and different shapes.

Remember the bread you bake will be made exactly to the dietary requirements of you and your family and nothing you can buy at the shops will be as good as what you bake at home.  Your bread will be cheaper than the good bread you can buy (but not the cheap and nasty supermarket loaves), you'll know exactly what's in it and you'll have fresh bread in your home whenever you want it. I hope you try your hand at this because it's one of the core skills of a simple home. Even if it looks too difficult for you, trying and then perfecting a bread recipe will help you produce quality food in your own home and it will challenge you. And we all need that.

24 August 2015

What simple life will allow you to be

I'm hoping the hard copies of my books will be on sale at Amazon soon so I was checking in there yesterday looking for signs of activity. While I was there I noticed a review with one star so I had to look at it. This is what it said: While there were some really good tips for simplifying, the basic message in this book is how to be a "traditional" housewife. Nothing against that at all, but it is not for me and I suspect many others.  Anyone who has read my books right through or the blog for any length of time would know that my "basic message" isn't promoting traditional housewifery, but an encouragement to be whatever you feel is your true self. Simple life is a garment that all of us can wear but we need to pin and sew it according to the cut of our own jibs, not the expectations of anyone. Just as in mainstream life, if you live according to the ideals and aspirations of others, you're doomed to failure.

The life choices you make should fit the age you're currently at and reflect your values. When you move towards a simple life it should incorporate what you're comfortable with and be allowed to settle in its own time. Anything else would be a complete waste, and a betrayal of your core beliefs. When I look back on my own life, I see that each decade presents different challenges and if you're lucky enough to start living simply when you're young, you'll progress through life, building one stage upon the previous one. However, not all of us are that sensible (I wasn't) but it's quite easy to come into the lifestyle at any age and start where ever you're currently at.

Jamie's toys on the kitchen table (above) and craft supplies, collected rocks, seeds and a little pine cone on the outside table (below).

But getting back to the "traditional" housewife in the review, I hope you're not a traditional anything just for the sake of tradition. That implies to me that you're adopting a role that has already been laid down and rubber stamped as being acceptable. If simple life gives us anything, it's the guts to move away from what is "normal" and the courage to examine who we are and what we have, and to do things our own way. It's fine to be a traditional housewife if that is what you are, but it's also fine to be a hundred other examples of what simple life will allow you to be. I prefer not to label anyone and to accept them as they are.

If you end up moving towards a traditional life or a non-conventional one, if you're married or single, straight or gay, young or older, if you are black, white, yellow, red or spotted, if you're female, male or transgendered, it is possible to have a happy simple life. And within all that diversity, with people making decisions based upon their own values, beliefs and knowledge of what is good for them, what will emerge is a life worth living. So steer clear of anyone who wants to label you as being a certain type, be yourself, be true to who you are and live to your potential. Life won't always be smooth sailing but if you create a balanced life, the way you live will help you through the tough times. And if someone who doesn't know you labels you as being the opposite of what you are, just roll your eyes and move on.

21 August 2015

Weekend reading

Our new season vegetable garden is slowly taking shape. Work inside and outside is bubbly along nicely and I'm starting to think about end of year activities such as community talks (see below) and some blogging/writing workshops I'm doing before Christmas. I guess I should start getting some notes ready for those events. I hope you enjoy your weekend. I'll see you again next week.

:-: ♥︎:-:

Interesting stats, state by state, in Australia
A free magazine-style ebook with interesting articles, beautiful photos and lots of great recipes. Megan @ Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores sent a link during the week. She said: I went away for a weekend recently with a bunch of photographers, stylists and writers and when we came back we compiled our memories in a free e-book. It can be accessed via Megan's site link above.
How to get children reading this summer

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