Tuesday, 30 June 2015


After 28 12-hour days, I'm finally home again. Well, at least for a week and a bit...

We had Oysters Kilpatrick on the Friday night with a glass of white wine, just before I fell into bed as I have been travellung since late Thursday morning.
Saturday morning after a good-nights-sleep, I start the day with a wonderful breakfast - everything on my plate is homegrown! Well, the grains for the bread weren't but I baked the bread. After 4 weeks of fruit and vegetables which get washed in a chlorine solution so they still have colour despite being cut up a week before being served, this IS heaven!
While I was away, Steve picked up sone aviaries from Brisbane. We decided to move the birds into the chook pen, so it becomes more interesting for them and a little less mess for us. The suspended aviaries are handcrafted and great quality! I'm sure they will actually survive the birds.
Bella is mean as usual but I think he likes her new spacious home. If she wouldn't have killed 2 previous boyfriends, she wouldn't be alone but now I'm too worried to give her company.
Stormy and Sunny love the new cage and the space.

'What did you say?!'
The aviaries have a small door at the front and a larger one in the back. I'm more than happy with the craftmanship and the guy obviously knows birds as well!
The new suspended aviaries are spacious and offer shelter from sun and wind but still maintaining air flow. Perfect for the QLD weather.
I also asked Clive to do up a nesting box for the chooks. The wind blew the lid of my ebay timber nesting box off and crows got into the 'cat toilet' nesting boxes. This one is crow and weather proof. I'm going to add some shadecloth in that large door for additional privacy but so far, the hens love it.
3 eggs I was given - despite the cooler weather.
Busy at work.
The aviaries and nesting boxes are good quality and they're heavy! While carrying them inside the chook pen, I really struggled. To carry 120 kg between 2 people is a lot! This is the end-result: my arms turned blue-green-yellow with bruises from carrying those heavy items. My whole body actually ached. No wonder after a full day of carrying and gardening! I soaked my poor aching body in some Epsom salt and some nice smelling bath salts and everything was alright again.
I also ordered a 'Grandpa Feeder'. The chooks will have to walk onto the platform to open them. Hopefully this will save me some money as I currently feed a large swarm of wild birds, so called 'freeloaders' 😉.
Despite it being winter, the garden strives. The Pigeon Pea looks beautiful and I'm looking forward to trying those peas (and sharing them with my chooks).
I already harvested a bucket of those beautiful Roma Tomatoes and when I looked today, there's at least another bucketload! Can you ever have too many tomatoes?
The Bauhinia flowers spectaculary at this time of the year.
I placed some lavender next to the front entry door. I just love that scent.
More tomatoes are growing...

But not just the tomatoes, everything is coming along, such as these snowpeas.
This forage gardenbed for the chooks. Potatoes are on the way next to it.
The herb garden is also in full bloom.
Cabbages, spring obions and more snow peas are amongst the Lavender, Marigolds and Nasturtiums.
My garlic is sprouting as well. Lots more is coming - no more vampires!
Dill, Sage, Curry, Tarragon, Parsley, Rosemary, Basil, Oregano, Chives and others are in this gardenbed. I have planted all my fruit and vegetables from seed this year, so I'm super proud that of how well they have come along!
Lunchtime - a green tropical smoothie with ingredients out of my backyard - how great is this?
Steve is burning some unwanted items - unfortunately including my pellets I've collected to make gardenbeds. Ah well, I'm sure, I find some new ones.
In the evening, I light the Chimnea to enjoy the BBQ. How good is life?!
The fire was nice and warm but it took off a bit more than I envisaged. However, no harm done, I really enjoyed watching it.
After dinner I retract myself to my study, light the candles and wish this part of my life would never pass.
However, now I have to go to bed. 5 more days until we're on the road again and I want to enjoy every second between now and then.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Happy 16th Birthday Hera!!!

Today my beloved Hera turns 16 years old! Happy Birthday Miss Hera!!!! Have a wonderful day and I'm looking forward to come back home soon and take you to the beach.

I've adopted Hera from the RSPCA in August 1999. I think she's a German Shepherd x Kelpie - I will never know for sure. She's my first dog I'm solely responsible for and it has been a learning curve for me. I grew up with the mellow characters of a whippet, so owning a working dog is an absolute challenge. I think the most difficult thing was to listen to everybody's opinion and decide what's best for me and my dog's personality and our lifestyle. She has turned out great! Very obedient despite being dominant and still independent, she's got a great personality and has become a lot more mellow in her old age.

She always loved the water and she has travelled around the world with me. She's been to many places here in Australia and overseas, such as Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

Today my golden Lady is turning 16. She doesn't hear very well, she's got problems with her hips but she's still the best girl in the world and I'm so grateful that she's sticking around for that long as I love her more than anything.

Happy Birthday Hera!!! May you have a wonderful day with chicken necks and chasing the Magpies. I'll take you to the beach when I come back. Love and miss you very much!

Friday, 12 June 2015


I have to admit it - I love cleaning, tidying and decluttering! I seriously consider this as my next career also I'm not to sure how to deal with people who are the total opposite of me (like hoarders) as I just don't have the understanding. Maybe I learn but let me show you, how I declutter my home.
When I moved back to Australia after an international work stint, I had over 200 boxes of stuff. I also had a rather large rental. When I bought my first home, I let go of a lot of stuff and only moved with about 40 boxes. But of course I started to accumulated again. By the time I left my first home, it took 2 truck loads to move all my things. When we moved into our forever home in 2012, we moved into the smallest home we ever lived in. 3 bedrooms, no garage or shed, no proper outdoor area. Our furniture were too big, I had no space to put anything anywhere and all cupboards were filled to the max. I had the tiniest kitchen ever - even my Grandparents who live in a 55 sqm flat had a bigger kitchen than me. Unfortunately I also had a lot of kitchen stuff. So we stored things in the guestroom and renovated to create more room. In 2013, I discovered Down to Earth and my simple living journey started.

In the beginning, I struggled. I believed in order to live a simple lifestyle, it has to be minimalistic. I started to get rid of everything which I wasn't using. In one way it was liberating, on the other hand, I do like a little clutter. I didn't mind getting rid of the glass bowl set from my Grandma which was very good quality and there was nothing wrong with it but in the 10 years I owned it, I never used it once. I gave it to charity knowing someone will buy it and love it more than I did. But I had some decorative items I don't actually use for anything other than to look at them and I didn't really want to get rid of them but had the feeling I had to.

It took me until now to be at the right point for me. Simple living and minimalistic living aren't the same. I live simple but not minimalistic, also there's certain properties of a minimalistic lifestyle in my home. Let's take a look. This is my linen cabinet in the back entry (which used to be the world's smallest laundry). Up the top I store big blankets for the unlikely chance that it does get cold. Next shelf is our linen. I currently have 5 sets of linen for 2 beds (Master bedroom and Guestroom) as well as 2 sets for the Daybed. That is more than enough for a weekly change of linen, so normally during 1 month, I use all sets. The one in the Guestroom stays on as we don't have visitors very often. The next shelf is our towels. I've got about 4 sets of towels - none of them I'm happy with. When I finish this stint in two weeks time (currently at work), I will go and have a look if I find some nice towels at Myer in the EOFY sale. I'm looking for thick fluffy but water absorbent towels, so if anyone has a recommendation, please let me know!!! Below the towels you see some of our stockpile, mainly toiletries such as deodorant, showergel, soap and the first aid kit is there as well. In the bottom is my little cleaning basket and toilet paper. Something of everything, so definitely not minimalistic but also not cluttered!

Last year, we increased the size of our kitchen by adding some more cabinets into what used to be the dining room. Now I have a lot more bench- and storage space. I put items I don't use very often at the top like those coffee makers which I normally take with me when we go away. I also have a lolly jar I love which reminds me to get some nice German lollies to put inside it. The coffee grinder on the far right is about 10 years old. I bought it in a German bakery and it reminds me of my Grandma who was with me when I bought it. At that time I didn't drink coffee and bought the grinder for her, so she could have freshly ground coffee when she visited me. It also reminds me of my childhood. I loved grinding the coffee with Grandma when I was little and I always loved the smell of coffee, also I only started drinking it about 5 years ago.
In the bottom you see my butter containers and 2 items I splurged on recently - a porcelain bread tin and a glass bowl. How simple is a glass bowl? But every time I use it, I'm so excited! So excited, I think I might buy another one in a different size as I use them for baking which sometimes requires more than one bowl. I follow the strict "one of each rule" for all other items. Since I have the glass bowl and the porcelain tin, I make much better bread - I have discarded most of the plastic items I have with exception of items I use for freezing. For some reason it's much mor enjoyable to cook and bake with items you need to be careful with.

These beautiful lilies aren't out of my garden unfortunately. The priority to install my cottage garden bed is pretty low for Steve, so I have to wait a little while. I bought these ones when I came back from Bargara where I had a nice couple of days with my girlfriend. They were fresh from the Farm and they lasted until after I had left to go back to work. They were so beautiful! Buying cut flowers isn't frugal, it isn't simplistic or minimalistic but I enjoyed them so very much and they cost very little. This is my new rule: If it's not cluttering, if it's pretty and if it brings long lasting enjoyments, then I can have it. I had those flowers on the kitchen bench so I could admire them all day long (and I did).

Here's my cookbook selection, I bought a few recently such as 'Nourishing Traditions' and 'Real Food' which I absolutely adore. There's just not enough meals in a day to cook all of those lovely recipes. I also love some of the Woman's Weekly cookbooks. Steve loves when I try out new things - sometimes they're great and I write them down in my cookbook and whenever they don't turn out great, we call it a nice experience. I like trying new things with simple basic ingredients. 

Since I bought the Thermomix, I make lots of things I never before would have thought of making. I didn't have any kitchen machines before I bought this one, so I wanted one which does it all. Yes, it's a bit pricier but I know it will last a lifetime, it does the job of 11 different machines and look how little space it needs. I use the Thermomix at least daily when I'm home. Another rule "Buy the highest quality item you can afford."

I only recently started to stockpile. I didn't like doing it for a long time. Mainly because both my Mum and my Grandmother kept a stockpile and often things expired and were thrown out. Now where I live 30 mins away from the next Supermarket, stockpiling is a better option. To avoid having to throw things out I do the $21 challenge where I will only but very few fresh things, such as dairy and bread for Steve (I still cannot bake bread which pleases his taste) and otherwise only use items out of the pantry. The item on the far right with the red and yellow packaging is German gravy. Steve and I both love this gravy and my family has oversupplied us - now I know why they always had to throw things out. I know they meant well and I'm grateful they think of us but we only use this gravy once a month or so and there's 2 packages in each of those, so below you see about 2 years worth of gravy...
This is our savouries draw. In summer we would use hardly any of this but now in winter we like some pasta and lots of casseroles and stews. 

And these are things we use on a occasional basis and get replenished when I have none left or when I go for another stockpile shopping experience to Aldi's. 

Some bulkier items in here as well as the popcorn maker which we use once a week for our movie night and Steve's beloved slowcooker. It looks so nice and neat these days! I used to have so much kitchen stuff! Everything I have now, I actually use on a regular basis. Another of my rule "If I don't use it for a year, I get rid if it."

Recently I bought this coffee machine for Steve. He doesn't like using the espresso machine and he always leaves the hotplate on so I was always worried about him burning down the house one day. This coffee machine is super easy to use and there's only 1 button to press - you don't need to turn it off. Coffee stays hot until after lunch  (we tested it in winter, so in summer it will stay hot longer), so Steve can have as many hot coffees as he likes. Now he's happy and I'm relieved.

We keep items we use daily and which are open right underneath the coffee machines, so it's in easy reach. Note, I did not buy those Tim Tams but I did have a couple before I left for work. By now they will be all gone. That another rule "keep items you use daily/often in easy reach."

Benchspace is important to us but we also don't want to have to take things we use daily out of a cupboard once a day. We 'sacrificed' an area for our 2 coffee machines and use the other side of the toaster, kettle and bread storage. See rule above 😉

Therefore we try to not put anything on this bench. The microwave is the only thing there but I use this bench for food preparation.

The fridge is 8 years old and it's started to make some noises, it also sometimes just stops cooling stuff. I fear we will have to replace it soon.

Steve's German beer mug collection which he likes to display. He only uses them for special occasions. Not minimalistic but a simple and effective display.

We bought the dining chairs recently but the table is still from my Grandma. It's a good solid table made of oak and it can be extended if there's need for it. I would prefer a small round table but since this one is in good condition, there's no reason to replace it. I always put table clothes on as I like the look of it.  On the table we have pepper, salt, oil, vinegar and serviettes. I normally have some flowers out of the garden and a candle - simply beautiful!

Our living room is very clutter free. Eventually we will replace the couch with an L-shaped lounge which would fit the space better. I hate cleaning that corner between the 2 couches and just cannot find an item of furniture which goes well there. I have been thinking of putting a large potplant there instead. How do you fill spaces which seem to be like a void?

Books are a big weakness of mine but I'm proud to report that I did sort out a few books lately and donated them to the Salvos. However, I have a few treasures I would never want to part with. The 3 blue books are a German encyclopedia. Probably not of much value today where you can goggle anything anywhere and anytime. But those books are from 1952 from my Great-Grandmother and as much as I love books, I love old books even more! I'm very proud to own these treasures.
No clutter in the bedroom either. I think the bedroom is actually the most simplistic room in the house - a bed, 2 bedside tables and whatever we're currently read. A bit boring really.

This is why I've started to pretty up my bedside table with some decoration. Completely useless - against everything if you want to live a minimalistic lifestyle but it makes me smile before I close my eyes at night and when I open them again in the morning. Well worth while then.
I will write a separate post about clothes and how to dress with 33 items or thereabouts. This is my entire wardrobe and the only reason why it is so full is that I already have some of these items and I don't want to give them away. However, as we travel a lot. Everything needs to match and I will blog about how to achieve this another time.
This is our garage. We've build these shelves and keep everything in labelled boxes, so we know where everything is. I wish I had time to evaluate each of these boxes but so far haven't been able to. I can tell you that one of those boxes is full of nails and screws. If we would keep them in a little screw box, it would be much easier to find the right one we need. Well, there's always room for improvement and one day, I will be able to sort through all of those boxes.
As the laundry inside was way to small to comfortable work in, we built it in the garage. I keep all my cleaning ingredients in there and I love experimenting with new ratios and different oils. So far I'm still on the hunt for the perfect 'All Purpose' cleaner. All the ones I made so far left a white residue and I want something I only need to wipe with once. But since I have plenty of recipes, I'm sure I eventually will find 'the one'.
On the other side of the laundry I keep items such as my dehydrator which I normally use in the laundry, glasses and various bits and pieces.
The laundry has a great size to clean larger items in the sink, make my washing powder, cleaners as well as self-made weed killers and anything else I don't want to make a mess in the house with. I love those little colour splashes too. It's an enjoyable place to work in.
Steve and I are both keen gardeners and of course we get dirty. We have been thinking of an outside bathroom to enable us to clean ourselves up before we walk inside the house. But instead of spending thousands of $, we did the budget option. We use the camping toilet in the shed and we built our own outdoor shower out of a simple $18 hose wand. Since the sun always shines, the water is always warm enough to have a shower - Steve is even using it now in the middle of winter.
Steve really wanted to build a large shed to accommodate our caravan and all of our furniture in case we go and tour around Australia. And he did built a LARGE shed. It's actually bigger than our house.

He landscaped it nicely,

and we placed items in there we hardly ever use, such as Christmas decoration, memobilia and the likes. I wasn't keen on this shed at all. We don't need another place for more stuff we don't need,

But seeing his workbench in there and his desk with my old office chair and his beer fridge, I noticed how much he really likes it and I promised to myself, that this is his area only and I will not interfere, clean up or sort. This one is his man-shed. He swipes the floor daily, so I know he's proud of this area and it has a beautiful view. Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if he would install a TV and put the couch in there one day...
Our home is special to me and I want Steve and I to feel homely and at ease. I want it to be relaxed and I don't want to worry about clutter while still being cosy. To achieve that, I need to make sure that everything has its place and we both know where it is. This is actually the harder part. Steve still puts clean dishtowels underneath the sink instead of the correct draw where they go since Nov 2013. But I guess it hasn't been a year yet...