The Simple Home book giveaway

I have two The Simple Home books to give away. I'll give one away in June and the other in December. They'll go to two readers of my blog who consistently make interesting or helpful comments on The Simple Home month-by-month posts. I've got a notebook here at the computer and I'm writing names down when I see a comment that I think will encourage readers. The winners will have their name written on that list more than once. Good luck, everyone.

Weekend reading

16 February 2018
After 50 years of wearing glasses, soon they'll be off, for good.

This is the first post I've written since my eye surgery and I have to tell you, I'm feeling great.  There is a new, sharply-focused world out there that I've been rediscovering but so far my discoveries have only been inside the house.  I still have a problem with glare so my outdoor adventures will have to wait a few more days. In another day or two, I'll take my glasses off for good and will only need reading glasses. I'll have the other eye done next month and I'm looking forward to having two good eyes again.  I'm so glad I had it done.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to write comments on The Simple Home posts, although I'm a bit disappointed there are so few. The comments feature your ideas and opinions, often different to mine, and they are a big help to those who are struggling with change or not sure about what to do or how to do it.  If you have the time, please add to the discussions, what you write may be just the thing to help fellow readers.

I hope you have a lovely weekend. I've been sent a book to review so I'll be starting that and trying to keep the plants alive in the hot weather.  See you next week. xx

A stitch in time saves stress down the line

Working for a living

12 February 2018

February, week 2 in The Simple Home

While I knew from a young age that I would work when I was older, it didn’t occur to me until much later how vital work is. Work builds character, families, neighbourhoods and nations. I can say without a doubt that I am the person I am because of the work I’ve done – both in the work force and at home. The daily effort of earning a living and keeping a home operating builds layer upon layer of experience, skill, confidence, trust, character, responsibility, understanding and common sense.

There are several distinct stages we go through in life, each has it's own rewards and challenges and going through one stage often helps prepare you for the next.  I've written about this in The Simple Home but I'll highlight how each stage is slightly different and the financial aspects that can make a real difference as you grow older.

Weekend reading

9 February 2018

I meant to show you Sunny's sesame plants the other day when I did the herb post. We started growing them in the bush house when a friend gave her three small bushes. I potted them up and they're growing fast.  Although they're known in Korea as sesame, they're not the true sesame plant.  These are correctly known as perilla and if you click on the link you'll see why we're growing it.  Sunny, and many Korean people, use the leaves to wrap around small portions of food.  Apparently the plant also produces a beneficial oil if it's crushed but these haven't produced seeds yet. As you can see in the photo, they've got a lot of flower head so the seeds are probably close.

I'm having my first eye op next week so I'm not sure of what I'll be doing here apart from The Simple Home post on Monday. Next week will be hot so I guess I'll be inside most of the time.  I hope this is the last of the really hot weather.  I'd love to experience some cold nights again.

Thanks for your visits this week. I hope you have a peaceful and relaxing weekend.  See you soon. xx

Herb cuttings

7 February 2018
One of the many ways to cut costs in your kitchen garden is to take herb cuttings. I do it at this time of year but you should do a bit of research and see if it's viable in your area now. My common sense tells me, but I don't know for sure, that if you provide a protected light position, out of the sun and wind, cuttings taken now, in most warm climates, would grow. Out northern hemisphere friends would need to wait till later in the year. I take cuttings now because they're starting to look a bit ragged after summer, they need cutting back and the weather is still warm - it's hot but not as firece as it was a few weeks ago.

These are oregano cuttings. Even the ones on the left side, with very few roots, will probably grow well. I got about 12 cuttings from these clumps.

If you lift up the oregano at the side of the pot, you'll notice a lot of fibrous roots.  Just cut out a clump and divide it up to plant.

If you have herbs growing and you don't want to take cuttings, now is a good time to cut them back and give them a drink of whatever delicious organic fertiliser you have on hand.  Comfrey, seaweed or any of the liquid commercial feeds are good for this.  If you buy a commercial fertiliser, try to get a good organic one - it's better for the soil, the plant and you.

Your money and your life - changing your attitude

5 February 2018

February, week 1 in The Simple Home

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.  
Winston Churchill

Hanno and I made the transition from a frenzied working life to a more simple and beautiful one almost 20 years ago. Now we save what we can, care for what we own and we mend, recycle, reuse and repurpose. Using these principles, we've gone from being thoughtless spenders who bought everything we wanted, to mindful, self-reliant people living on a fraction of what we once did. We are also much happier.

We live on a low income so it's vital that we spend our money wisely, but it's equally important for those who have more than enough to cut back when they can. Mindless consumption has become the norm and if we continue to surround ourselves with products we think of as disposable, we will hand our grandchildren a planet that is not worth living on.

We still hear from politicians and business leaders about unlimited economic growth. I don't think there is such a thing. Our government tells us that our spending supports the economy, and, conversely, that we should be saving more.  I agree, we should save more by cutting back on spending. Our support for the economy is evident when we buy and rent our homes, buy cars, furniture and groceries, and by working for a living. Supporting the economy by buying things we don't need is wasteful and focuses on one aspect of the nation's viability at the expense of others. Of course we need a healthy economy but strong nations are built on people. I think it's better to work hard when you're young to buy a home and pay it off quickly, then, when you've paid off your mortgage, step into a more frugal lifestyle and focus on family and living. That is when you get to enjoy what you've worked so hard for.

Weekend reading

2 February 2018
I'm making a lamp skirt to cover a very drab beige lamp shade in our lounge room. The fringe will be at the bottom and the green cotton is to crochet around the top.  I'll show you when it's finished but don't hold your breath- we are back in busy mode here. 

We're settling nicely into the year with the very hot temperature easing off a bit and two days of rain just passed.  I love rain and the cool weather that sometimes comes with it. The tanks are full again,  and frequent showers are filling the soil with much needed liquid.  It's a good sign for our vegetable garden which will be planted up in March.

Online blogging course

30 January 2018
Hello everyone.  Last year I developed an online blogging course and had great success with it.  It's a course for beginners, or bloggers who've started a blog but haven't developed it. It is open to anyone no matter where you are in the world. The cost is US$100.

Creating a blog is a fairly easy thing to do but to present the best blog you're capable of, well, that's more difficult. As you know, I've been blogging since 2007 and was fairly successful in the first few months. As the years went by, Penguin offered me the opportunity to publish my work with them, I became a monthly columnist for the Women's Weekly and Burke's Backyard and I won a lot of awards.  I started off as a novice, knowing nothing about blogging, but I was a fast learner and I'd like to share the secrets of that success with you. I always use Blogger. It's free, easy to use and customise, it's the biggest blogging platform in the world and as it's owned by Google, it's usually trouble-free.

Routines - for the entire family

29 January 2018
January, week 4 in The Simple Home

This is the final post for January, so let's recap what we've done so far.  This month has been all about planning and organising the year ahead as much as we can.  Hopefully you've been able to set up a home admin area - it might be a dedicated office or it could be the kitchen table with box of your admin things that can be used on the table then put away. Much of your home organisation can be done in your home admin area where you have what you need at hand. If you need to write something down or look something up, it's right there. Your calendars should be set now with all the known 2018 appointments and events, your food planning should be done and, if you're doing them, menu plans created. It will help a lot if you have a list of 2018 gifts organised and you've written a list of home maintenance that can be carried out during the year. These lists, menus, calendars and plans can be stored in your home folder and left in the admin area so all your bits and pieces, the things you need to run your home, are in one place. I hope you've had time to organise a drop zone, charging station and your work spaces to better suit how you work because that will be very useful as you progress through the year.  Some of those places might have to be modified in the coming weeks, so don't be afraid to adjust as you go.

Now it's time to think about how you do your housework, what works and what doesn't, and when is the best time to do your work. A routine is a sequence of actions that are performed in the same way and at the same time. Routines will help you develop the habits of a working home and will make life easier. There are many ways of establishing your routines. For example, my morning routine is to have everything - breakfast, cleaning the kitchen, getting the lunch ready, making beds, laundry and watering the garden finished by 9am. Then I go on to do other things like craft work or writing until lunchtime - our main meal.  I try to get the active tasks done in the morning because I get tired in the afternoon.  If you go out to work or work at home, you could make up a list of tasks you want to complete before you leave for work or start work at home. These might include breakfast, packing the dishwasher or washing up, getting the children off to school and workers off to work - with lunches packed the night before, and having something either in the slow cooker or defrosting for dinner that night. And while everyone else in the house is getting ready for the day ahead, they should be doing their routines too.  Children should make their bed, dress for school, put PJs away, have breakfast, pack their lunch and homework in their school bag and clean their teeth.

Part of the routine is that everyone knows what they have to do and you don't have to prompt them to do what they have to do.