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I started the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op in 2008 when I invited a number of other writers to join me writing about sustainable subjects of all kinds. I retired the blog writing for a couple of years when things got really busy, but now it's back. The Co-op has always been popular and has had a unique take on simple living. Why not take a look.

27 May 2015

Whole orange muffins

A good muffin recipe is as indispensable as a good scone recipe. It's something you'll use again and again, everyone loves it and it's quick and easy to make.  It's orange season here and I've got a lot of sweet organic oranges that are crying out to be used in some way other than being eaten fresh. So I made up a version of the whole orange cake recipe and made some whole orange muffins. They're delicious and have that genuine orange taste without any artificial flavours.

Whole Orange Muffins
1 washed orange, cut into quarters
juice and grated rind from 1 orange
1 large egg or 2 bantam eggs
½ cup melted butter

½ cup sugar

2 cups SR flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (helps boost the rise of the dense muffin batter)

  1. Place the orange, orange juice and rind in a food processor and process until the orange is completely mashed.
  2. Add the egg, butter and sugar and blitz again for 1 minute.
  3. Take the processor off the stand and pour the mixture into a bowl containing the sifted flour and baking powder.
  4. It's crucial at the point to not over-mix the batter. Gently mix the flour in until it is just combined, then stop.
  5. Add the batter to a prepared muffin tin.
  6. Cook on 180C until they smell cooked and look golden brown.
These are delicious when they're warm from the oven but can be still enjoyed for a few days if reheated in the microwave. They're just the thing for morning tea on the verandah and travel very well as school or work snacks. I hope you enjoy them.

25 May 2015

The powerful possibilities of a simple life

I look out the window and see Hanno digging in the front garden. He'll be tidying something up, or digging out roots or thinking about improvements that can be made. Inside, I'm looking out the window from my desk while I write, our lunch is bubbling away slowly in the oven, there are a few chores I'll do later in the day and all through the day we'll work together, satisfied to be here and thankful for the work we do on our own little piece of land. Our closed gate doesn't keep out all it should but it does symbolise to us that we are independent folk and we're capable of looking after ourselves and this land. We've created an extraordinary life here and we're free to do what we choose. That is a powerful feeling.

 Still plenty of oranges on this tree.
I found Harry! This was Kerry's when he was a baby. I washed him and gave him to Jamie.

Some people would probably think no one lives like this anymore. But here on our large block of land we have more than enough to keep us busy without going out. Hanno goes out much more than I do because he does the shopping most weeks. I give him a list of what we need and he buys it. When I do go out, which might be once a month or so, it's usually so I deliberately spend time out in the world where most people think the real living happens.

But I think real life happens here. Every day we're touching soil, reading the weather signs, cooking and baking from scratch. We don't use clocks much and most of the time I don't know what day it is. We don't need to know that now and it's easy enough to find out when we do. We produce as much as we can for ourselves so we don't have to buy too much and we're happy to stay productive and active. We have everything here we need and stepping into our backyard on any afternoon gives us the best entertainment you could hope for. The chickens are a constant source of amusement, birds visit us from local forests and for a quick visit on their migratory paths. Last night there was a beautiful possum in the chicken coop. We can sit on our bench in the sun and eat raspberries, or walk inside with an apron full of oranges to make the best drink in the world.

 Helping to harvest the elderberries.

Jamie came over yesterday as his parents were both working hard in the sushi shop. He's like one of us while he's here. He's just turned four but he wanders around in Hanno's slippers, he rounds up the chooks and sits with us in the sun, drinking tea. He loves helping and learning new things and we love showing him what we do. I think life will be tough in the future and it gives me a lot of pleasure knowing I'm leaving behind some books that my grand children and yours, and their children, can use as little maps to show the powerful possibilities of a simple life.

22 May 2015

Weekend reading

It's been a busy week again with more work than I thought I would have. The weather is a little warmer but there's no humidity so I don't mind at all.  I haven't blogged as much as I wanted to but there are few comments so I wonder who is reading. To all those who did comment, thank you, I appreciate you taking the time.

I hope everyone has time to relax and enjoy life over the weekend. Whatever you do, enjoy yourself. ♥︎

A fabulous bias binding/tape tutorial
How to clean the BBQ
How to live a middle-class life in New York City on less than $5,000 a year
Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute
Pocket money, what you need to know
How to make a tutu
Backpack tutorial - advanced beginner's project
What If Everybody Didn't Have to Work to Get Paid?

20 May 2015

Simple meals from the stockpile

I spent the past few days travelling and working. We had a short trip to visit family on the weekend and now I'm back at the desk, writing. Meals have been very simple: pumpkin soup for two days and salmon fish cakes late last week. It's a good stand by pantry meal so I thought you'd like the recipe. I generally make it a different way almost every time I make it, using whatever I have in the stockpile and cupboard.  This time is was red salmon with a orange sweet potato instead of plain potatoes. It made a great change and I'll make sure I use the sweet potato again. 

1 large can red or pink salmon Alaska (415 grams)
1 onion, chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled, diced, cooked and mashed
½ finely diced capsicum/pepper
1 egg
salt and pepper
breadcrumbs - I used Panko

  1. Break up the salmon, discard the liquid and either remove the bones or crush them. I use them crushed in the fishcakes because they're very soft and they're a good source of calcium. 
  2. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and form into fishcakes.
  3. Coat in breadcrumbs and allow to sit in the fridge for an hour to firm up.
  4. Then add to hot oil in a frying pan and cook until both sides are golden brown.
I served ours with a garden salad, pickled celery and chilli jam. Delicious and very thrifty, this fed us for two meals at a cost of under $10.

I made another plum cake too. Hanno loves it and the season is short. Apart from that I'm not doing much except writing. I'm getting to the end of it now, three chapters to go, so I can see a time when I'll be back to being a full time homemaker with all that brings with it.

I've decided to make a list each day of short tasks I can carry out when I take a break from writing. On it today and for the rest of the week are:
  1. Prune hydrangeas and roses
  2. Water hanging pots
  3. Press tablecloths and napkins
  4. Bring in my new chair. Hanno painted an old wooden chair for me to use here in my work room. I'm giving up the office chair and getting back to an old kitchen chair with a seat pad on it.
  5. Make seat pad. I'll take a photo when it's in here. Hanno had painted it a beautiful pale chalky blue.
I've found that if I don't allocate time for certain things they don't get done and I feel like I'm not doing anything. I'm sitting all the time while I write so when I take a break I want to do something and this little list is just the thing to organise my thoughts and get through a few small things.

Around 4 o'clock it's so lovely outside. I get my little garden trolly and some clippers and I've been snipping here and there. The air is crisp, darkness comes early and the leaves are slowly falling. I hope you're enjoying your home today and that you're getting through the work you've planned for yourself.

15 May 2015

Weekend reading

Miss Tammy Wyandotte and Bluebelle snuggling up on a cold night.

It's cold. As I write this it's only 5C/41F but I won't complain. I just think back to that high humidity we had this summer and feel thankful that I'm not there now. This week I cooked more warming food and cut back on the salads, continued fussing over my work room, wrote thousands of words for the new book and watched Hanno tend the new vegetable garden. It's a lovely time of year.  I hope you had a good week too.

Hand Washing Your Dishes Could Be Better For Kids' Health
Sometimes I love blogs because of the words and sometimes for the photos. This one, Small Things, which is one of my constant joys, is loved for both. Enjoy your special life. I just love the photos of the children totally immersed in the natural environment surrounding them.
A picture of loneliness
42 percent of US honeybee colonies died off last year.
Simple solutions to clutter
20 Satisfying, Wholesome Lunches You Can Make the Night Before
Etsy might not change the world, but ...

14 May 2015

Down to Earth hardcover available soon on Amazon

I'm very pleased to let you know that my Down to Earth hardcover book will be available soon from Amazon. The books are currently on their way from Australia to the US but you can put in an order now and they'll bill you when book is posted. It won't be too long. Click here to go to the Amazon page.

It's been a long time coming. I know many of you were hoping to buy a copy so now is your chance. I'm very proud of this book and proud too that after three years, it's still selling well in the book stores.  My next and final hard cover book, The Simple Home, will be published in March next year. Then I'm retiring (really retiring) to live the good life and I think I'll continue to blog.

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