Tuesday, 27 May 2014


The transformation from a materialistic, highly commercial and 'expected' life to a more simple, back-to-basic and slower life was a big change for me. But life is all about changes and sometimes they're good but sometimes they're sad and you have to make the most of it.

For me, the change to simple living has saved my life. I'm convinced of that. I was too stressed, too burnt out and trying to please everybody's expectations was torture. But I always thought that is what life is. You enjoy life while you're young, when you start school, you cannot wait until it's over, so a little bit of living is taken away. Then when you start working, you need to have a career and climb up that ladder and the only joy you have is when you're on holidays but normally by the time you've just started to relax, work starts again. So your enjoyment of life decreases to those four weeks a year plus a few public holidays. Then you're too old to work and nobody really cares about you anymore, you don't know what to do with yourself because all you ever did was working and your kids are busy raising a family and making a career for themselves and then you die and it's over. Yes, I truly believed this is how life was supposed to be. Pretty sad hm?
My transition to simple life was very slow. I have been living like this for over a year now and I know there's still more things to learn and do. But for the time being this is how I live. I grew up believing the most important thing is your performance at work. You always have to aim highest, put up with everything to climb that career ladder and earn more money, have a bigger car, a bigger house, better holidays and I can't even remember what else you need to show the world that you're so fantastic. This is what I was thought when I grew up. This came from my parental side. Also my Mum was able not having to work anymore after my sister was born, she never seemed all that happy, so obviously staying at home is not good for you I thought. It was only a few years ago that she wasn't unhappy because she was at home but because she was in a very unhappy relationship which I didn't know back then. When I told my Ex-Stepfather that I was going to study Biology, he was not happy. There weren't any promising careers in biology so it would be an absolute waste and I would end up a teacher or even worse a pharmaceutical salesperson. But animals and nature is what I've always been interested in. I'm not very social, I don't like people around me, I'm not creative or arty but put me in the middle of a forest and I feel like I'm in heaven. So for me studying biology wasn't a choice, it was a must. I never regretted it!
I started studying over in Europe and then moved to Australia to learn English. I met Steve and now I have been living here for over 15 years. I finished my degree, I worked, I specialised in environmental engineering and I love my job! Environmentalists are highly regarded here and as I work for industries, I am lucky enough to have fairly secure jobs with good pay (there always will be industries) and I know I can make a difference on the inside of an organisation. I did get caught up with a materialistic lifestyle, wanting more and more and more but luckily at the peak of it, I found out that the only reason I was unhappy, was that I've forgotten who I was. Over the past year, I slowly have re-discovered myself and my happiness and boy, what a surprise it has been!
I never really had a plan for my life, other than working, working and working and then dieing because what else is there? Now this has changed. I HAVE A PLAN! For the next 12 years I will continue the kind of work I'm currently doing - FIFO, working for the oil and gas companies and making sure they do what they're supposed to do. By the time I turn 50, I should have paid everything off. We only have the mortgage to our home a a couple of investment properties which I'm planning to sell before I retire. So in the next 12 years we will have enough money to pay of as much as we can and get our place set-up. We're in the process of installing a solar system but down the track we will need a new sewerage system, we need to do some fencing and plant some more trees. My plan is that once I turn 50, I want to semi retire. I'd like to take on a job where I don't care about money, status, spare time - a job which just makes me happy. During this time, I'd like to learn the skills I currently miss - I can sew on a button but I cannot mend, knit or crochet. I will learn and I'm looking forward to think I will be sitting there with a sewing machine and mend or even make my own clothes!
I'm looking forward to be 50, 60, 70 and 80! I hope I stay healthy and that nothing bad happens to my family and myself - but to be honest that's all I wish for. So here's my bucket list:

* I want to be happy and I want to be myself and stand for what I do.
* I want to go trail riding and camping.
* I want to learn skills; like sewing, mending, making my own clothes, cheese making, woodwork.
* I do want to see a lion and a giraffe in the wild (I know they don't live here, I will have to travel for that.)
The inspiration for today's post came from my Grandma. She's 75 years old, has been married for 57 years and has 2 children. Life has always been good for them. They had their problems, their ups and downs but in general things have been good. They lived a very active life with lots of friends and I think I'm one of the very few people who can say that I have seen my Grandparents going out, drinking, having fun, partying and dancing. Unfortunately they have not prepared themselves for retirement and sickness. My Grandma fell last week and fractured her shoulder - the same shoulder she had fractured a few years back. This time it was beyond repair. She was in pain with a black swollen arm until yesterday where she had surgery and received a prosthesis. Due to health issues of his own, my Granddad is unable to stay home by himself, so he had to go to hospital with her. My Mum and sister take care of everything which is great but it shows that they had not planned for being old. They don't know what to do with themselves because they haven't got any hobbies now where they cannot follow the active lifestyle they once led.
I will go and visit them in September this year. I'm looking forward to it on one side but I'm scared on the other. I know this is going to sadden me and they're to stubborn to change anything. I will show them that I love them and that I'm there for them whatever decision they make but I think things will have to change for them.
I think I have learnt from their experience and now there will be many changes and challenges coming in my life. I need to think about this know, be prepared and have a plan and hopefully the transition goes smoothly.

How do you react to change?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


This used to be my laundry - small and poky. I used it for washing only. There wasn't enough room for folding or mixing cleaners or to turn around. I really disliked this space.
I have a washing machine, a dryer and an old sink in here. I normally don't use the dryer but we live on the boarder to the Tropics and often when it rains, it rains for days and there's no way of drying anything as the air is so humid, so that's when I use the dryer.
I thought long and hard what to do with the space - should I extend it? Should I convert the Guestroom into an utility room? I didn't want to spend a large amount of money as I've already done a lot of renovations over the past 18 months and I wanted it as soon as possible. Finally, we decided to build the laundry in our shed. It's got 3 bays and we only have one car, so there's plenty of space. The shed is also much closer to the clothesline, so I don't have to carry wet clothes too far which is good.
A good friend of mine is a cabinet maker and I asked him for help and of course, he packed his car with all his tools and came up to build my laundry.
How impressive is that?! Thank you Simon for doing such a great job! Of course we all helped out assembling furniture, painting etc and Steve and I really enjoyed this... Well, I certainly did, Steve might have not enjoyed it as much as me but he still did a fantastic job!
And this is the finished product - a nice big laundry complete with walls and tiles and plenty of storage. So by now you must be wondering why I called this post 'stockpiling' when I talk about a new laundry, right? Well, this is a pretty impressive and big laundry and I'm happy to have plenty of space for making my cleaners and folding the clothes but I cannot fill the entire laundry up with laundry-related items...
... so the last cupboard is going to be my stockpiling pantry! Yay!!! Of course, I immediately wanted to fill it (no, patience is not my strong side). If I would have just walked to the next Supermarket to fill the pantry up, I would have paid a fortune. So Steve and I went on a little mid-week trip to Bargara near Bundaberg. This is where we can go shopping at Aldi's. It's about 400 km from us, so we stayed for a couple of nights and enjoyed the beach. On the way home, we stopped at Aldi's. It's a German discount grocery store and as I'm German, there's often things I really like and don't get anywhere else. I ended up buying 3 trolley load of groceries and household products. The car was packed to the rim and I have a big 4WD. We bought enough to get us through 6-9 months and we paid less than $400! If I would have bought these items in our Supermarket, I would have easily paid more than $800. In fact, I checked the prices at the 2 big Supermarkets for the items I bought and was happy to see that despite the cost for petrol and accommodation, we actually saved money. This means that the cost for the groceries at Aldi's plus petrol plus accommodation was less than if I would have bought the same items in my local Supermarket! Imagine that! Look at my beautiful filled stockpiling pantry. I'm so happy!
On the other side, I keep my cleaning products, rags and empty containers which I use when I make my cleaning products.
The build-in in the old laundry remained in place and now stores pantry items I use regularly as well as some of the larger crockery I cannot fit into the kitchen.
So now where I've got all my dry items organised, I look at my meat supply. We like eating meat but I only buy free-range and local as I cannot bear the thought of an animal suffering all its life, just to end up on my plate. As you can imagine this can be pricey. So I had a look around and ended up calling a Farmbutcher. I ordered 1/2 side of beef and an entire lamb. He let me know when he will be doing the job and he said it takes about 3 days to process until I can pick it up. It was a Friday afternoon when I picked up a meat galore.
Beautiful cuts of beef and lamb - steaks, cutlets, roasts - a little bit of everything - just as I wanted.
Sausages, Mince and all the little by-products which I will use to make dogfood.
I knew my fridges wouldn't be able to hold 1/2 a cow and a lamb, so I needed to get all the meat frozen straight away.
I bought a vacuum sealer and this was the first time I ever used it, so I was hoping it is easy enough to do (and it was).
I set up my work area in the shed - glass of wine (it was 6 pm), labels, bags, vacuum sealer and music. It was February when I did this, so it was very warm, there were flies everywhere and Hera and Quentin (who was still alive back then) sat in the garage watching every single move and ended up with a nice dinner.
Before I ordered the meat, I bought a new freezer - 500 L - that should be enough.
Since I'm short and cannot reach the bottom of the freezer, I bought some plastic crates to put the meat in, so I have easier access. Look at that it's pretty full! It took me 6 hours to pack all the meat in portions, bag and seal them. I was exhausted but happy! We paid $7/kg for the beef and $9/kg for the lamb. In total, we had about 150 kg of meat plus bones - that should last a while.
Now where he have stocked up on dry food and meat, we need to stock up on cleaning basics. I bought these 3 buckets which I use for most of my cleaning products for less than $100 (delivered) and they will last me a very long time!

So why is it such a good idea to stockpile?
  1. It's cheaper - buying in bulk is mostly more economic than buying smaller items. You also save money on petrol as you don't have to go to the shops that often. I now go Supermarket shopping once a month and my grocery bill has reduced from $200 to $50 a week. I only need to buy fresh fruit and veggies from the markets as well as dairy from the Supermarket. Everything else I have at home.
  2. You're prepared in an emergency. In our region, cyclones can hit during certain times of the year. In early 2013 we were flooded in and had no power for 3 days. Luckily, we were independent enough to keep living as usual. In early 2012 a major flood cut the highway at several occasions. Stock at the Supermarket ran out quickly and couldn't get replenished as goods couldn't come through. You need to be prepared!
And last but not least, if you want a nicely home cooked meal without having to go to the shops, having to find parking, fighting your way past rushing people and screaming children, you can just get something out of the pantry and freezer and produce this.
Simple life - it's so simple and makes you so happy, you wonder why you haven't lived like that all your life.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Spring Cleaning in Zones

As most of you know, I work as a FIFO (Fly-in, fly-out) worker in WA for 4 weeks and then have 4 weeks off. Previously however, I worked on a residential project, where I was away for 12 hours a day, Mon-Fri and weekends as required. So I know how it feels to come home, be tired, don't want to cook or clean and then get stuck with everything on the precious weekends. Also I have no children, I have pets and as we live in always sunny Central QLD - we're outside a LOT. My house is always (and always has been) immaculate. I just cannot stand dirt or clutter. I normally cleaned early in the morning before I went to work and once to twice a year I do a spring clean.
Spring Cleaning must come from the Northern Hemisphere when people cleaned and aired their homes after winter. Since I live in Australia, I changed the Spring Clean to an Autumn Clean. In Summer our windows and doors are never ever closed, so once autumn settles in and it becomes cooler, we might close a window or door. There's less dust around and the temperatures are nice to work inside the house. I used to do my autumn clean at Easter. This was because I had a few days off in a row where I could clean the entire house. With entire I mean the whole lot: washing curtains, light fittings, fans, take EVERYTHING out of shelves and cupboards, cleaned and returned the items. I wiped every SINGLE book before I put it back on the shelf - and I have a lot of books! I normally started on the Thursday before Easter and before Easter Sunday, I had enough of cleaning.
So what to do? When I read Down to Earth I learnt about cleaning in zones and scheduling routines. Why do I have to clean everything at the same time? I don't! Spring Cleaning in zones was born! When you work full-time, you could take one day a month where you spring clean something, like a particular room or area. My current job allows me to spread the entire house and outside areas (excluding the garden) in my 6 months off.

In January, I had a shorter than usual break plus we went away for a few days, so I only had a week and a bit at home, I decided it's a good time to clean the bathroom and toilet.
I thoroughly cleaned the walls, inside and outside of the cupboards, the light, windows and window fittings as well as the doors, shower screen, bath and toilet. I used bicarb soda, vinegar and clove oil to clean the bathroom. I cleaned all hairbrushes and combs and checked if I still use each and every single item, otherwise it was discarded. It felt good and I enjoyed having a bath in my sparkling bath afterwards.
In February, I autumn cleaned the Guest Bedroom. I washed all bed spread like the doona, pillows and mattress protector, cleaned the windows, the in- and outside of the wardrobe, wiped over the walls, installed a new light ect. Nice and clean - ready for guests.
I worked for all of March and arrived back home in April. As it was school holiday, we weren't planning to go anywhere, so I had plenty of time and cleaned my least favourite room for cleaning purposes - the kitchen. I started with the fridge, removed and cleaned every shelf, checked the expiry date of every product and neatly put everything back in place.

I didn't do the whole kitchen in a day - I didn't need to. I did a draw or a cabinet a day - took everything out, cleaned everything inside and out and assessed the goods. Finally the entire kitchen was done and all I had left was the oven. I had never cleaned this oven before. Sure I cleaned the stove top and wiped over the glass or cleaned a spill but I never actually cleaned it properly.
I removed everything and cleaned all trays and everything else which could be removed. As I have a large oven the backing trays don't fit in any sink and I just put them on the concrete outside and scrubbed them.  It was a bit messy and I did clean the oven on the day of my usual house clean as I knew I will need to vacuum and mop afterwards but it was so much easier than I anticipated!
I used bicarb soda, water and a few drops of tea tree oil as well as cottage garden fragrance. My kitchen sparkles and smells great!!! It was easy enough to do, I just didn't know that. I was so proud, I didn't allow Steve to use the oven while I'm away (only kidding, now I know how to clean it the easy way).
The kitchen is newly organised and clean. Of course I started cooking and baking and everything will get dirty again. BUT I noticed once I cleaned it, it takes much less to 'upkeep'. When I come home I do a deep clean of each zone - but not a spring clean - that takes me an entire day and then everything is clean and tidy. I reduced my times to clean significantly! 1 day a month for a deep clean and then an easy half day for the weekly clean plus a bit of spring cleaning here and there. Fantastic! Very happy.
For sparkling stainless steel appliances, I use homebrand baby oil - it works a treat and is much cheaper than stainless steel cleaner.
My kitchen is very small, probably the smallest kitchen I ever had, but I love it. I bulldozed the old kitchen before we moved in and had this one custom made. Looking back, I probably should have be a bit more patient, saved some more money and extended the house to build a kitchen somewhere with a view. But I don't mind, the kitchen is so pretty, I love looking at it. I have enough space to cook, bake and preserve and now after I decluttered, I even have some empty cupboards! It's functional and I love my appliances.
This is how the kitchen looked like beforehand. The top cupboards were on top of the oven without a rangehood and there was so much grease and grime, I don't think I could have ever cleaned all of that. It didn't feel homely or functional, I didn't even want to put a cup inside this one.
Next time I come home (in 2 weeks and a bit), I will clean the bedroom. I'm really looking forward to that as that means I can sort my wardrobe and check all my clothes. Stay tuned for a fashion parade!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all Mothers out there!!!

I hope your family spoils you and shows their appreciation to you - you deserve it - a mother is the Rock of each family.
My mother still lives in Germany and also we miss each other, we both know that we're happiest where we are at the moment. We keep in contact via social media and nearly hear daily from each other. My Mum has been on a couple of visits to Australia and also on one hand, she'd like to move here, she has her parents and my sister where she is.
My Mum was (and still is) very modern. She always wore the latest quality fashion, the house was in immaculate condition and she took care of my sister and me as she quit her job when my sister came along. It was nice to come home after school and have someone there but of course at the time I sometimes envied my classmates who arrived in an empty house as I felt back then they had more freedom. That wasn't the case of course but when you're young you always want what you don't have.

My Mum wasn't traditional. She didn't cook much or bake, she didn't iron - she was very different to the other mums. Also I didn't show it, I was proud to have her as my Mum. She didn't teach me how to bake or cook as she hardly ever cooked herself and I only ever seen her baking once. But she taught me how to become strong, independent and to believe in myself. When I told my parents I want to study Environmental Science, my ex-stepfather thought I was crazy. I'm glad I pursued it as I have an interesting job I enjoy, earn extremely well and know I can make a difference - even if it's just small.
A lot of things have changed and I now know how unhappy my Mum was when we were growing up. But she stayed strong as she knew we will have the best chances if she does. So she waited until we were grown up and independent to leave her husband, her life and everything she owned behind. I know how hard that must have been for her. She lives a very different life now but she's happy. Over the years I have helped her out and she always felt guilty. I don't know why, she was there when I needed her and now I'm there for her. I'm glad we have such a strong and close relationship and I can't wait to see her again - hopefully soon.
Mumsy, I miss and love you!!! Have a fantastic Mother's Day!!!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

What's growing in the autumn fruit and veggie garden?

Last post was a bit all over the place, my apologies for that. It will take me a while to get over the loss of my beloved Quentin, so please bear with me. When I arrived home last time, I was greeted by this magnificent rainbow straight behind our property. To me it's a sign that Quentin is still around in spirit and I felt happy knowing he's here.
I planted some veggies when I was at home and want to show you around our autumn garden. For me coming from Germany, it's amazing to plant, grow and harvest fruit and vegetables in autumn and winter. I just love the Central QLD weather!

The Passionfruit is fruiting and flowering and is now really taking off.
Passionfruit flowers are just beautiful and it amazes me every time how they develop from a beautiful flower to a yummy Passionfruit.
Steve planted a Tropical Apple Tree for me. I cannot eat fresh apples from the Supermarket, they need to be organic as that wax layer give me a bad allergy. So I hope I will be able to harvest our own soon. Plus the birds and chooks love apples too, so we always have some in the house. I like the look of this tree as well, it has beautiful silvery-green leaves. A nice addition to our orchard!
I've been growing and harvesting eggplants. They were very easy to grow, maintenance free and one bush is more than enough for us two.
When I renovated the laundry, I recyled the laundry tub to a worm farm. I got the idea from another blog and thought it's a great idea! I collect the worm pee for the veggie garden and sometimes feed some worms to the chooks as well.
On top of the worm farm I have my 'solar dehydrator'. Currently I'm drying out chillies to grate them into chillie flakes. I might try chillie jam next, we have so many chillies! the Ringnecks loves them and I use chillies to make my worming mash for the chooks and birds.
This Lemon Tree is only little but it's producing an abundance of fruit. We love lemons! You can do so much with them - I can never have enough lemons.
I planted our autumn vegetables: Strawberries, Peas, Beans, Sugarpeas, Beetroot Capsicum and Silverbeet. The treated greywater keeps the gardenbed moist and I'm looking forward to harvesting and preserving.
In this gardenbed I planted 3 varieties of tomatoes, different kind of onions and corn. Curious how that goes. I've got some great ideas for the next growing season and will prepare some more gardenbeds over the autumn and winter period.
This Lemon Tree is just starting out to grow lemons and I've been busy removing flowers and fruit to grow it into a stronger tree first. Fingers crossed this is the right thing to do.
And this is our fruit orchard and veggie garden. I have about 10 different citrus trees here. As we have a rather large property, we need to mow this area by hand as we can't get the ride-on around the trees. My dear readers, do you have some ideas on how to transfer this area into a more maintenance-free area (in the sense of mowing). I'm looking forward to hear some suggestions form some experienced gardeners. I'm only a newbie and this is my second time I grow something, so I'm looking forward to some ideas. Thank you!
And this is looking at it from the other site. I think I will create a garden bed around the tank and plant the corn there but I'm open to suggestions.
As everywhere - there's beautiful views from the veggie garden to the mountains which I love so much!
More Lemons...
Yummy Blackerries are growing in the Chook Pen.
And lots of fresh herbs growing in containers. I even put a Pineapple in a pot but I guess I have to re-plant it into the ground soon.
Just before I left, I can see the progress of my veggies. I cannot believe how fast they're growing!
Steve also planted a Tropical Nectarine which started flowering.
As you can see there's lots going on in the garden right now and I can't wait to go home (in 3 weeks and a bit) to have a look how everything is progressing. In the meantime, I'd like to collect some ideas on how to transfer the whole area into a food garden, so we don't have to buy fruit and veggies anymore.
How do you plan your food garden?