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Weekend reading

Yesterday, Clare commented on how difficult it is to keep her utensil drawer clean and tidy.  I think it's a problem for many of us. I know my drawer is always untidy and here is a photo of it.  I've tried several ways to make it a bit more organised but it never lasts so now I just frequently take everything out, clean the drawer, then put it all back in. It takes five minutes. When I do this, I take the chance to cull anything that shouldn't be there. And even though it looks untidy, it is clean and it works for me. 

Clare, I think it's good to remember that the work we do in our homes will often look like what everyone else does, but sometimes it's nothing like it, and that is okay.  When you find a solution that works for you, it doesn't matter if you're the only person who does it like that, you stick to the solutions that work. I hope you get your home set to support the way you have chosen to live. Once you've done all that work setting up, it's much easier to carry out daily chores and be content doing it.  Good luck!

It's still a busy time here at Hetzel House. We have Sunny's birthday lunch tomorrow and many days of contented activity after that. We're all getting along well together, Gracie hasn't caught Ec yet and Sunny and I are still going through cupboard, tile and floor samples and colours. No doubt Sunny will ask Sarndra's opinion tomorrow when she's here. I'm sure we'll come up with a simple and lovely home that they'll be very happy in.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Thanks for visiting me here during the week. xx

Young Americans turn to old-fashioned living
Modest dressing, as a virtue
How to make a cup of tea - The Victorian Way
Off grid living in a tiny cabin
Lacto-fermented hot sauce
School lunch in Japan
To cure affluenza, we have to be satisfied with the stuff we already own
New great ape discovered
An ode to the Aussie milk bar
A trip to Lehman Brothers store

Organising kitchen cabinets and drawers

One of the things we did during the blog break was to continue on our quest to make things accessible and easy in our home. I'd been thinking about how I could rearrange my pots, pans and baking trays to have them at hand and easy to get at. They've been sitting in a corner blind cupboard next to the dishwasher for many years and many of them were shoved to the back well out of my reach. I didn't use those pots and trays and was surprised by a few of them when they saw the light of day again.

Like many of the readers here, I do a lot of cooking and baking and my equipment must be easy to reach in the storage space I have available.  The need for that will be greater in coming years. I don't want to give up baking just because I can't reach my trays and baking tins.

We always try to use what we have here and happened to have a set of metal drawers that I bought years ago at Howards.  I've been using it to store various types of clothing and colours waiting to be washed. Hanno fit it into the cupboard space and with minor tweaking, it fit - giving me four good sized drawers to fill with my pots and pans.

But I still had bakeware and frying pans to deal with. I cleaned out the lower large drawer under the stove and placed all the frying pans in there.  They're easy to get at as they're just under the stove. Perfect!  

Then the toughest group, the bakeware. They're all different sizes - bread pans, biscuit trays, cake pans of all shapes and sizes, pizza trays, wire racks, muffin trays, quiche and tart tins. I had these in a lower cupboard but few of them were the same shape or size so they were very difficult to store. Often when I needed something, the whole lot toppled over and I felt like throwing them out. So, simple solution, I went to Howards and bought two heavy metal racks like this, and they're working brilliantly on the top and bottom shelves. Now I can see everything I have in there and it's only my bread and loaf tins that are stacked on top of each other.

This system is so easy. I can see myself working with it well into the future.  All it cost was time and effort in cleaning out the drawers and cupboards, and about $30 for the racks. I'm very pleased that I made the effort to do it because already it's made the world of difference. Do you have spaces like this in your home that need reorganising? They usually take a couple of hours work but it's time well spent if you dive into it.

A dog's life

Gracie was dreaming and making little barking noises when I decided to take this photo just now. When I had the camera ready, her little eye was just slightly open, checking what I was doing. I like to think she was thinking about solving the worries of the world, or even just the neighbourhood's, but I think she was dreaming of her chicken lunch which is cooking on the stove.  💗

BTW, that is my black floral dress near her nose.

Life goes on

Hello strangers. It's been like dominoes falling during these passed weeks. One thing lead to another and sometimes we didn't know if one domino or 100 would fall. But we followed our noses, did what we had to and I've come back to you with a newly renovated laundry, a freshly painted toilet, three new house guests and a cat.

I got this metal trug from Odgers and McClelland. It's very handy for storing napkins, salt, pepper and flowers on the kitchen table.

As you know, Kerry, Sunny, Jamie and his cat moved in with us to wait for work on their new home to be completed. The house is moving along nicely, the roof is on and walls are going up so that now, even if it starts raining, work can go ahead. They've been told they can move in before Christmas.  They've decluttered, cleaned out their apartment and moved in here. Their belongings are stored in our big shed, so a big portion of the work has been completed and the excitement is beginning to grow. In our newly established family of five, I've taken on the job of chief cook, not a job to be taken lightly with two chefs and a six year old to feed, and I'm slowly getting used to shopping for a family again.

Cinnamon tea cake. A great cake for lunch boxes and morning teas.

I had wondered how it would all go. I thought there'd be problems with Gracie and Ec, the cat, and I wondered how everyone would cope with me wandering around during the night when I couldn't sleep. Blending families is never easy but so far, it has been. Beds still need to be made, food cooked, shopping done, the garden and floors need tending and every day, by the time our regular home chores are done, our guests return from school and work and we all settle in again. It feels familiar and different and so far, it's been easy.

Hanno asked me to thank you all for your well wishes.  He's still not 100 percent, he's on a second course of antibiotics but says he's feeling better, although I can see he tires easily.  However, at 77 years of age, with a small amount of help from me and a handyman from Airtasker, he renovated the laundry.  That job started when I noticed that our eleven year old washing machine was leaking. Most of you know we're going through a period of reorganisation and preparedness. We're updating appliances and replacing them with water and energy efficient models so we can hopefully sail through the next decade with household equipment that supports the way we've chosen to live.

So we had a new washing machine installed, then I noticed the laundry sink and metal unit it sat on was rusting from the floor up. Hanno ripped that out and discovered there had been a leak in the wall so I was very pleased he found it and fixed the problem. A new unit was bought and he connected the waste pipes from the washing machine and air conditioner. When the new unit was up, the existing tiles didn't cover the area behind the unit so we got a handyman in to add more tiles.  He also replaced the water damaged plasterboard behind the sink unit and painted the laundry and toilet. I was so pleased to see the work completed because at one stage I was wishing we'd never started it.

We sold the old machine on Gumtree and replaced it with the Bosch model recommended by Choice magazine. For overseas readers, Choice is an Australian consumer advocacy organisation which tests and recommends products and services used in our homes.

We're all catching up on the washing that piled up for a week and the new machine is coping very well with the task. Now I'm starting to think about Sunny's 40 birthday next Saturday. We're having a cooked-from-scratch family lunch for seven adults and three children. I'm still finalising the menu and trying to decide on the birthday cake. I'll let you know more about it later and, of course, they'll be some photos on the day.

Life goes on.

Another update

Many of you contact me about Gracie and want to know more about her. Here she is with her lead on waiting to be taken out. I'll have more Gracie news next week.

I thought I'd be back with you by now but Hanno is sick again with a bad cold that we're hoping won't turn into another bout of pneumonia. Our main focus at the moment, and what we've been preparing for these passed couple of weeks, is getting the house ready for Kerry, Sunny and Jamie to move in. I know! Big surprise, eh? Their first ever house is being built and will be ready to move into before Christmas. They're very excited about it because they've worked so hard to make it happen. The lease on the apartment they're living in now expires next week, so they'll move in with us until the house is ready for them. Both Kerry and Sunny are absolutely exhausted. They've both been working in their shops all day and taking Jamie to school and after-school activities, while working with the builders and deciding on colours and fixtures and making sure all the council requirements and paper work is done properly. And now they're packing up their apartment and decluttering after work when all they want to do is sleep. Having them here will give Hanno and I a chance to look after them during this very busy time. While they're here they won't have to do any housework, shopping or cooking and we're on hand to look after Jamie. They'll be free to work and focus on the house. I think it will be a very busy and happy time here at the Hetzel house.

I'll be back as soon as I can be. I'm not sure when that will be, possible early next week.

While I'm here I wanted to let you know that I have an article in the current edition of the PIP Australian Permaculture magazine. Here are the shops where you can pick up a copy. I'm pleased to say that the wonderful Biome shops in Brisbane stock it and if your newsagent doesn't have it, ask them to get it in for you or subscribe through the PIP website.  The magazine is full of interesting, thoughtful and educational information and it is brilliantly illustrated. My good friend Morag Gamble has her regular article on Permaculture Around the World, the feature articles are on seaweed and aquaponics, there's a family section with kids' pages and 10 Ways to Get Kids off Screens and into Nature. Add to that an excellent rundown on Crop Rotation and Rental Gardening, a Strawbale building project, Save your Seeds by Jude and Michel Fanton of the Seed Savers Network, designing a Food Forest and Homegrown Herbal Skincare. But there is much more to read for everyone interested in living our beautiful lifestyle while developing practical and traditional skills or wanting to grow food and develop self-reliance.

My congratulations to publisher/editor Robyn Rosenfeldt and the staff of PIP on the production of this excellent and practical resource. It's been published for less than three years but it has already developed into a must-read vibrant magazine.

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