A recipe for fun: MUD KITCHENS!Β 

There are some beautiful, fancy mud kitchens turning up on Pinterest. Looking at them you could almost be forgiven for thinking a mud kitchen is just too expensive or too much hard work. But out here in the real world, mud kitchens are just good, clean fun. Well, not clean exactly πŸ˜€

So what do you really need to make a truly awesome mud kitchen? It really only takes THREE things…

1. Mud

Dirt + water = mud. It’s free. It’s fun. I’m sure you have some lying around. If not, pick up a cheap bag of garden soil from Bunnings and dump it in your designated spot. That brings us to number…

2. A place to get muddy

Choose your spot wisely. Near a hose is good. Near the clothesline you hang your white linen on? Not so much. You only need enough room for a kid, the mud and…


3. Junk from the kitchen

Think old pots and pans with scorched bottoms,  rusted patty cake tins, that old broken wooden spoon you didn’t want to just throw away. If you can put mud in it or stir mud with it, it is perfect!


And that’s it. No pinterest required. Have fun!

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A Quiet RevolutionΒ 

​”Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.” ~Marianne Williamson

We live in a world where homesteading, which is really just living much the way our grandparents would have, is a quietly revolutionary act. In a society ruled by corporations, this is one of the few ways we can take back control of our lives and reclaim responsibility for our future and for the future of the Earth.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS to corporate greed and control. No, I’m not ok with you forcing farmers into unsustainable practices whilst offering (forcing) them ridiculously low prices for their produce. Farming is a profession which should be respected, celebrated and supported. I do not wish to be party to your bullying tactics.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS to losing touch with seasonal living. Sorry, but I am not ok with eating out of season food that has been trucked in from out of state or worse still, shipped in from overseas. Those unnecessary food miles and the resulting pollution are not ok with me, thanks anyway. I would much rather wait patiently and truly enjoy the first magical strawberry of the season.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS, I’m not comfortable with large-scale monoculture practices and the subsequent chemical use. I would rather not ingest those pesticides if I can avoid it, and I’d prefer not to be responsible for degradation of our soil. Instead I will work to repair the soil on my small patch and feed my family food that barely needs rinsing.

Keeping animals for food, even if it’s just for eggs, is a way of saying NO THANKS, I am not ok with the factory farming industry and it’s unspeakably horrible treatment of animals (buying direct from one of the many wonderful, ethical farmers in this country can send the same message). I would rather watch my hens forage around my yard and gratefully accept the eggs they gift me in return.

Cooking from scratch is a way to say NO THANKS, I am not ok with accepting the highly processed and packaged foodlike items that are robbing us of our health. I would like to know what is in my food, know that it nourishes my children’s bodies. I can do without all of the unnecessary plastic that pollutes our planet.

NO THANKS, but I don’t want to accept a one size fits all life for myself or for my children’s education. I don’t want my clothes to be made from oil. I don’t want to rely on a factory to provide me with something so simple,  so everyday, as a dishcloth. I don’t want to pay for things I can do myself. I don’t want to live detached from the Earth I came from. 

Like a toddler I want to scream, “I can do it myself!”

Suburban homesteading is a way to take back control. Control of our spending, control of our health. Through growing, cooking and preserving our own food we can accept responsibility for ourselves and for our impact on the Earth. We can thumb our noses at the corporations that try to tell us how to live, from the clothes we wear to the water we drink. 

The problems of the world can seem insurmountable. We can feel lost, powerless and afraid. Or we can take back our power. 

Each person who plants a garden takes back some control and responsibility for themselves. Each person who plants a garden inspires a friend to do the same. Slowly, quietly, the revolution is spreading from one backyard to the next. 

Have you joined the suburban homesteading revolution?

Get started with these ideas for homesteading in the suburbs.

 

Changing the feel of your home

“Your home is always so peaceful and calm”.

I laughed when he said it because the kids had been screaming ten minutes before The Mister and His Mate walked in. But when I stopped laughing for a moment and looked around my home, soaking up the feel of it, I realised he was right. Somehow over the last year these four walls had become a haven of calm in a never-endingly busy world (tantrums notwithstanding). How had this happened?

The changes happened so slowly, so organically, that it felt like they happened all on their own. I wondered, was it the renovations? I suppose that helped. There is a lot more natural light now. I certainly don’t miss the carpet. Or that wall we apparently  didn’t need πŸ˜‰

But it was more than that. Simpler than that. It was a changing of the culture of our home that has brought this feeling of calm, of quiet purpose, of peace. And as luck would have it, they were changes anyone can make regardless of budget or whether you are owning or renting. No renos required.

5 Ways to Create a Peaceful Home

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1. No t.v.

Ok so we have a tv. We even watch it *gasp*. We just don’t watch a lot of it and we very rarely watch it during the day anymore. Actually we rarely watch tv at all on weekdays. Movie night has become something to look forward to.

This is the number one change we have made that completely altered the feel of our home. It’s astonishing how noisy it feels even having it on quietly in the background now. It puts me on edge. We do often have calming music on low instead but it is always something relaxing and unobtrusive.

2. Clean and uncluttered

It’s amazing how much STUFF we can accumulate over the years. Pointless, expensive, takes-up-too-much-space stuff. Trust me- you will feel better and your home will feel calmer if you declutter. One of my favourite things about my home is the feeling of space and airiness. That all comes down to less stuff.

Jumping off the consumer bandwagon isn’t just good for the sense of calm it can bring to your home. It will save you $$$. It will also minimise your carbon footprint because less stuff equals less landfill, and less resources used in manufacturing things we really don’t need.

As for caring for your home, a daily rhythm will help you stay on top of chores without it feeling overwhelming. My home always starts to feel chaotic if I’ve strayed from our rhythm for more than a day.

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Rhonda’s book is a must read

Rhonda Hetzel of ‘Down to Earth’ fame talks about the acceptance of housework as an everyday part of life being a mindset change, and that was a light bulb moment for me. Instead of wasting our energy resenting the time and effort it takes, we can instead incorporate housework into our daily rhythm. We can take pleasure in a job well done and enjoy the resulting peace in our home.

A rhythm to our days, our weeks, the seasons, brings a sense of peace and purposefulness all of its own.

3. Organised homeschool materials

This one has taken a bit of trial and error to find what works for us, and will certainly look different depending on the style of homeschool you subscribe to. For us moving our formal activities into the kitchen, into the heart of our home, has meant that mama gets more done in a day. And that certainly helps.

It has also necessitated a change in the way we organise our materials. A pretty basket is the lynch pin of our system. I’ll chat more about the specifics of our bags and baskets another day, but the important part to note is that having a system keeps us neat and tidy, and most of all, organised. Chaos feels…well, chaotic. Organisation feels calm.

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Our homeschool basket keeps all of our materials on hand and tidy

No matter what materials you use, how many materials you have, or where in the home you ‘school’, make sure there is ‘a place for everything, and everything in its place’. Baskets are invaluable. Remember that πŸ˜‰

For those who don’t homeschool,  the same principle applies to books and toys. Reduce the volume,  organise what you have and display attractively. You’ll see more use, more respect for belongings, and won’t feel overwhelmed by ‘kid things’ taking over your home.

4. Smells of beeswax, cut flowers and homecooking

Forgetting how delicious a made-from-scratch dinner smells, what is just as important is what our home DOESN’T smell like. It doesn’t smell like harsh cleaning chemicals or synthetic fragrances. We make most of our own cleaning products now. It’s cheaper and the smell isn’t stuck in your nostrils for days.

Our children draw with beeswax crayons, and warm beeswax on the windowsill and in their soft hands to model with (think playdough for big kids, but better). We burn beeswax candles instead of turning on lights in the evening.

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Beeswax candles smell amazing and contain no nasty petrochemicals

Bunches of cut flowers from the Farmer’s Market fill vases on the kitchen bench. Herbs hang to dry in the sunroom windows. Fresh air streams in through gauzy curtains and wide open windows. The home smells fresh and alive.

5. A sense of quiet purpose

Maybe I should have put this one straight after ‘No T.V.’ because this is what has filled the space. Before, there never seemed to be enough time. Time to relax or time for hobbies. Often there didn’t even seem enough time for chores.

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Baking days are a set part of our rhythm

While the chores are still there, there is now a whole lot of time that we didn’t have before. Those hours we spent watching T.V. are now spent playing games, gardening, reading, baking together, preserving food and taking up crafts. The home hums along to the steady ryhthm of these activities. The dishes in the morning, the knitting in the evening.

And that’s the key, I think. The rhythm of the home.

Homesteading and homeschooling together have given us new rhythms and a new raison d’Γͺtre.

Have you found your rhythm?

Homesteading- what is it?

You’ve heard me talk about it. Suburban homesteading. But what is it?

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If you get up in the morning and put on gumboots instead of slippers, you might just be a homesteader.

If you ready your kids for school and find yourselves sitting around the kitchen table ready to start your lessons, you might just be a homesteader.

If it’s time to put dinner on and you send the kids outside to collect what you need from the garden, you might just be a homesteader.

If the change in seasons means something to you beyond a change in wardrobe…
If a hole in a sweater means work not shopping…
If you keep animals but not just pets…
YOU MIGHT JUST BE A HOMESTEADER.

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Homesteading- it’s a bit of a buzzword. You’ve probably heard it more than once, even sussed out that it refers to living a more self-sufficient lifestyle. I’d wager you could even list off a half dozen or so activities you think it includes. And you wouldn’t be alone if you’re still a little…vague about the idea.

And that’s because homesteading is more than a location. More than a set of actions. It’s a lifestyle, but more importantly it’s a mindset. And that’s why homesteading can happen on a farm or in your suburban home. And it’s why anyone can do it!

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To be a homesteader all you need is the drive to become a more self-sufficient. That’s it! If you want to live more naturally, be less reliant on shops, save yourself some money, and become a maker not a buyer, then you’re set to be a homesteader!

And because this is a mindset change,Β  these pearls of wisdom may come in handy πŸ˜‰

“Use it up, wear it out. Make do or do without”

And

“It’s not about where your home is, it’s about where your head is”  ~Rhonda Hetzel

So- are you a homesteader?

Shared on
Our Simple Homestead Bloghop

Recipe: tomato sauce (it’s like ketchup but better!)

Here it is!

After promisingΒ  (and forgetting) then promising again, here is my current favourite recipe for tomato sauce. Or ketchup if you are American. I will not be swayed on terminology, especially with Matt Preston declaring our take on catsup more sophisticated due to it being more vinegary and less sugary than its American counterpart πŸ˜‰ And who is going to argue with Matt Preston?!

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Homemade tomato sauce

You will need:
1L vinegar
1kg sugar
150g salt
6 cloves garlic (crushed)
6 cloves (ground)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp sweet paprika

5kg tomatoes (peeled and rough chopped)
1kg brown onions (peeled and rough chopped)
1kg green apples (peeled, cored and rough chopped)

Allspice (to taste)

Glass bottles and lids

Step 1
Place vinegar, sugar, salt and spices (except allspice) into a large stockpot and bring to the boil. Prepare the tomatoes, apples and onions (see here for how to peel tomatoes quickly) then add to vinegar mixture once it is boiling. If your pot isn’t ridiculously huge you may want to halve the recipe.

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Tip: if you have a food mill for step 3, you can skip peeling your tomatoes. I don’t have one so I peel- easier now than later. I also don’t bother to remove the seeds. They cook down soft and add good flavour.

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Step 2
Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer for 2 hours. While the sauce bubbles away, wash your bottles in hot, soapy water. Rinse clean and leave to dry.

Step 3
After two hours, pass the sauce through a food processor or mill in batches. Return to the pot and bring back up to the boil. Add ground allspice to taste (I like plenty and feel it adds body to the sauce). Keep at a simmer until you reach desired consistency-no more than a half hour or so. The sauce will thicken a little more when it cools, so keep this in mind. Or, you know, forget and accidentally make chutney. I may or may not have done that once or twice πŸ˜‰

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After passing through the food processor

Step 4
Place bottles in a hot oven to sterilise for 10 minutes. The lids can go into a bowl of boiling water. Rummage around in the drawer to find a ladle and funnel. They are probably at the back πŸ˜‰ Fill your bottles. It should be hot sauce into hot bottles to avoid glass cracking. Fasten the lids tight.

Step 5
I am going to go ahead and tell you to waterbath your sauce so that it will be shelf stable for 12 months. This is the current recommendation for safety reasons. I don’t want anyone blaming me for contracting botulism! Personally, I am old-fashioned and happy to use the overflow method for bottling sauce. But I told you to waterbath for safety. Remember that :-p

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You can reuse old bottles so long as they don't have plastic lids and no cracks

So long as you keep your ratios of tomatoes, salt and vinegar the same, it is safe to half or double the recipe. Hell, you can quadruple it if you have a massive tomato glut. Do NOT mess with the vinegar and sugar ratios though! You can also play around with the spices, or use different varieties of tomatoes, apples and onions. Make the sauce your own πŸ™‚

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We picked these on a family trip to Stanthorpe

The batch I bottled yesterday has tomatoes from a local farm as well apples and tomatoes from our recent trip down to Stanthorpe. I love buying the local produce wherever we visit.

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My little Apple Picker

Apologies to those I promised this recipe to months ago.

Happy bottling xx

Mini-Series: Holistic Homeschooling

A while ago I wrote this post on how we accidentally found ourselves unschooling. A few months later I updated to say we had moved to a more holistic model of homeschooling, promising to tell you more about the change…and then I left you hanging :-p

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But I finally sat my butt down behind my screen and shared my thoughts on holistic education in a series of blog posts. You can find them all here πŸ™‚

What is holistic education in general?

And more specifically,

What is holistic homeschooling? 

As well as,

Holistic Homeschooling as an aspect of Homesteading. (coming soon)

And for those of you who have made the decision to send your children to a public school, this post talks about how to ensure your children still get the holistic education you want for them 😊

I hope you enjoy this mini-series on educating THE WHOLE CHILD. Make sure you have subscribed to the blog so you don’t miss out on future posts. You can find the subscribe option in the sidebar 😊 And please share your ideas and feelings on the subject. We have so much to learn from each other!

See you soon x

Seasonal Craft: quick knit an Easter Bunny

Easter is almost here but there is still enough time to quickly whip up one of these cute knitted bunnies!

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These are quite possibly the EASIEST  toy you can make. Even a novice knitter can manage these as it’s simply a square of garter stitch.

I’ve done the sewing part in purple so you can see easily,  but you would generally want to use the same colour as your knitting so that the stitches are invisible when you are finished.

Step 1
Knit a square of garter stitch. That’s just rows of knit stitch (no purling). You can knit any sized square you like. The bigger the square, the bigger the finished bunny. I cast on 30 stitches and then kept going until I had a square. No counting rows required. Doesn’t get any easier than that! When you have your square, cast off and weave in your ends.

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Step 2
Run a thread through the knitting in the triangle you see below. The thread runs across the middle of the square, up to the midline,  then back down to the start to complete the triangle.

Quick tip! Easiest way to find the middle is to simply fold your square in half. No need to measure or count rows πŸ˜‰

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Step 3
Pull on the ends of the thread and magically a head shape will start to form!

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The two little corner triangles become the ears, the large triangle in the middle is the head. Stuff the head as you go. Wool batting would be perfect, but I’m using siliconised soft fill as it is all that was available at my local fabric store.

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Step 4
Secure the stitching around the head and then begin to stitch along the back, filling the body with stuffing as you go.

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Step 5
Attach a pompom for a tail. Cuteness!
Tie a knot in the end of a thread and position the knot in place of an eye. Stitch straight through to the opposite side of the face and knot the other end for the second eye. Cut off the thread.

Alternatively,  you could use stick on eyes or stitch on buttons, but I think knotted eyes are safer if you are giving this to a small child who is likely to put toys in their mouth (I’m looking at you, darling daughter!)

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And voila! Easter bunny done 😊

I’ve made one each for my children to find during their egg hunt on Easter morning. I would love to see what you’ve made and hear about your Easter morning traditions.

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Happy crafting x

Quick tip: starting a herb garden

Want to start a herb garden but not sure where to start?

When you have a recipe that calls for fresh herbs to be added, instead of paying $5 a bunch for some limp leaves, spend the $5 on a small plant to stick in a pot by the door or plant straight into your garden. $10 will get you a more established plant like this thyme I’ve planted today. I can snip of the handful of leaves I need and it will keep growing ready for next time.

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On today’s menu? Soup made with this fresh thyme, carrots from the garden and leftovers from yesterday’s rooster.

Take aim and fire!

I have recently discovered some people find it offensive for a suburban homesteading page to discuss despatching animals to feed your family. Trust facebook to bring out the ugly in people.

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It has me wondering though… are our followers not aware that we here at ‘Forage and Forge’ all about becoming as self-sufficient as we can on our little patch of suburbia OR do people not really know what suburban homesteading is? Maybe people believe we should strive for self-sufficient vegetarianism? Hmmmm

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So I have (of course) decided to write a series of blog posts explaining the how, what and why of suburban homesteading 😊 Which makes NOW the perfect time to ask any questions you have about this way of living.

Fire away!

A year on…

We’ve been here a year now.

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The garden has been mostly kind to us

We’ve been here a year and I now have a much better understanding of the small parcel of land we call home. I know where we get full sun and where the shadows fall. I know which areas flood and which drain well. I know which soil has rubble beneath the surface, and which is home to the worms.

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The old patch has been left to run wild at the end of summer

So we are planning to start a new vegie garden in a different location, and turn last years patch over to some dwarf fruit trees and herbs. This will be a major project with new fences, new pathways and all included, and will more than likely be a long and slow process.

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Planning in progress

I’m so excited. Planning is such great fun!