Sunday, April 20, 2014

Getting back to basics

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately. Getting the new office setup and putting the inside of my house back together has kept me busy, but has also encouraged me to accept what I've been ignoring for a while - I've let a lot of things slide. 

The garden is a prime example. We had a very dry and hotter than usual summer this year which made growing vegies problematic to say the least. With that in mind, I kept it to just one bed of tomatoes and capsicum and a couple of pumpkin plants that I let run wild. Once they were in, they got very little in the way of tender loving care from me, except [fairly] regular watering.

Even in the midst of that neglect, there's still an abundance of fruit to pick. Rather than see another season end without preserving part of my tomato crop, I got organised.

Tomatoes - Ready to cook
I use a simple method of preserving tomatoes, I cook them, put them through a food mill to remove the skins and the larger seeds, then bottle and process in a water bath. Nothing fancy, no added anything. 

Tomatoes - jars of puree
If all goes well, I'll get another couple of tomato preserving sessions in before the plants need to be removed which will put a few more jars of organically grown, pure tomato puree into the cupboard for 'later'. Not to mention a fulfilling sense of accomplishment, too.



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

{Studio Office Renovation} Almost done!

The renovation of an old 'shed' into my new office has been a long, long, and frustrating saga. Several times, I thought I'd secured a builder to do the work but it seems my job wasn't big enough to warrant their skills so, disappointment invariably followed.

It was serendipity that brought a young builder to my notice earlier this year and he jumped at the opportunity. So, nearly a year after stripping the shed and being excited that work was about to begin, I can finally say, "It's done!". Or, at least it's as done as it needs to be to be put to use. Nothing has been done to finish the interior but, after waiting so long, I don't care! Prettying up the inside is a luxury for some other time. Right now, the priority is to get my house back.

The outside is still being painted but here it is:

New studio/office
It's an incredible relief to have this space finished. Now I can separate work and home and hopefully, be better at both. 



Saturday, January 11, 2014

Learning to be Self-Employed

The last 12 months have been an extraordinary learning experience. Even though I've run my online business as a moonlight job for a number of years, in reality I've been a salary earner my whole adult life. Walking away from that apparent security has been tough but incredibly liberating.

I readily admit I squandered a great deal of the first six months of 2013. Some of that time was devoted to 'decompressing' but an awful lot of it was also, although hard to admit, lost to floundering aimlessly.

By the second half of the year I was beginning to get a feel for working for myself and working from home. I started thinking about goals, revisiting dreams, taking stock of my life and making the time to appreciate everything for which I am grateful. It's amazing the impact this change in mindset had on everything around me. 

Unfortunately, the brakes were slammed on some of my plans when I tore the cartilage in my left knee. Thankfully not badly enough to need surgery but it certainly slowed me down considerably. However, this enforced inactivity gave me an opportunity to read and listen to audio books on time management, motivation and similar subjects so the time definitely wasn't wasted.
One of the books that helped get me back on track.

Once I was able to, I started walking in the mornings. My morning stroll takes around 40mins and is sufficient to get the blood circulating but not overtax my still temperamental knee. Other than helping with physical well-being and stress management, I find my morning walk fires up my motivation and imagination. I walk in silence and just let the thoughts wander in and out as they choose. On my return, I know, as I walk through my front gate, I'm ready to tackle anything!

As 2014 begins, that's me, ready to tackle anything!

If you too are self-employed or a small business owner, please feel free to share any hints and tips for beginners.



Monday, June 3, 2013


In older Australian suburbs, lemon trees are (or at least were) a standard feature in most backyards. If you're like me, living in a small town in regional Victoria - you'll have two.

Lemons are, at various times, a bane or a boon. They're a bane when the tree is laden to the point they're falling on the ground and I'm too busy to even bag them to sell at my front gate. They're a boon when I'm making lemon cordial or I need a squeeze of lemon in the raspberry jam.
Ripe lemons ready to pick.
There are lots of other uses for lemons and I'm going to start trying a few. Here are just two of the great ideas I found on See the whole post here.

Boost Laundry Detergent
For more powerful cleaning action, pour 1 cup lemon juice into the washer during the wash cycle. The natural bleaching action of the juice will zap stains and remove rust and mineral discolorations from cotton T-shirts and briefs and will leave your clothes smelling fresh. Your clothes will turn out brighter and also come out smelling lemon-fresh.

Keep Insects Out of the Kitchen
You don’t need insecticides or ant traps to ant-proof your kitchen. Just give it the lemon treatment. First squirt some lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Then squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Finally, scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance. The ants will get the message that they aren’t welcome. Lemons are also effective against roaches and fleas: Simply mix the juice of 4 lemons (along with the rinds) with 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water and wash your floors with it; then watch the fleas and roaches flee. They hate the smell.

Can you add any more uses to the list?