"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday 18 December 2021

Re-usable jam tins

The mousebirds have decimated the fruit on my trees this year, so this week I had to pop into the supermarket to buy a tin of jam.

Looking at all the jars and tis of jam, I spied this...

Tin with ring pull, and re-sealable, re-usable lid

A tin of Rhodes jam with a re-usable lid.


Yes, the lid is plastic, but it is really well fitting and will allow for the tin to be re-used for a myriad of times - until the lid deteriorates. 

Button, screws, beans, seeds...  And if one had to pierce that lid with tiny holes, the it could even be used for sprouting seeds.

Well done, Rhodes.  You thought outside the box.

Sunday 5 December 2021

Christmas tree alternatives

I know everyone will slowly be gearing themselves up for the Christmas Season.

For many years when we were first married and our children were young, we had a traditional live Christmas Tree - complete with real candles and lametta (German tinsel). The number of long, boring years that the poor tree stayed in the same pot - I used to feel sorry for it. When it finally caught the conifer fungus bug and died, I looked for alternative options. 

The first two pics are from Christmas 2016 - looks simple, huh?  Trust me it isn't. Getting those balls to hang in a straight line horizontally wasn't easy - and seriously tried my patience.  

The second two pics are from 2018 - my beloved late husband, Ronnie, made me a Christmas village scene from an old pallet which was then simply decorated with lights and strategically placed candles. It was absolutely stunning. The little nativity scene at the bottom is from when my children were small and was purchased as plain wood items - which I then painted.  

Apart from an Advent Kranz I can't decorate for Christmas anymore. It just isn't the same.  Plus, the grandkids don't come for Christmas - it is just too far to travel, their animals (cat and multiple dogs) are left alone whilst they are away, and the roads are hyper dangerous at that time of year.

But, I do love to see Christmas decorations. Has anyone recycled anything into Christmas decor?

Sunday 14 November 2021

Repurposing glass jars

I confess - I can be OCD.

For instance, there are very few seeds which pass through my kitchen without me having to "grow them on" - that has resulted in approx. 70 lemon trees in our lemon orchard, numerous apples trees, and most of my summer veg are all grown from something that originally passed through my kitchen and whose seeds were saved from last summer for re-using this summer.

I have another (annoying" habit to confess. I cannot chuck out a glass bottle or glass jar. Any size, small, large, fat or thin. I do drive myself crazy...


My kitchen windowsill is my plant ICU nursery. And that nursery prevented me from opening the window. I had to move all the sprouting veg before I could open the fly screen in order to open the window.

So, this morning I sat down and Googled. And found just what I needed to get that ICU nursery more conveniently situated without having to move it out of my kitchen.

The first pic is of my cluttered window ledge - you can see there is no way to open the fly screen without having to move the plants that are growing there.

 The second pic is of the hanging plants - and an empty window ledge. 

And the third pic is of the plain "strung up" jar.  

I think these will make excellent Christmas gifts too - add a bead or two, or some ribbon, or whatever takes your fancy in order to "tart it up" a bit.

The tutorial to make these jar hangers can be found here: 

Friday 15 October 2021

Easy peeling fresh hard boiled chicken eggs

Has anyone else fund that trying to peel a freshly laid chicken egg which you have hard boiled results in the shell sticking to the egg white and ripping the egg white off as you try to peel it. I saw this hint somewhere and have just tried it - and as you can see, it works 😊
The hint?

Steam the egg instead of boiling it.

I placed a sieve which was suspended just touching boiling water in a pot. Place the egg in the sieve, and then put the (pot) lid in the sieve on top of the egg. Steam for 10 - 12 minutes. Plonk the now cooked egg in cold water for 3 minutes and then peel. The shell comes off beautifully.

The added benefit - you could do this whilst you're using the pot for something else - for example potatoes for a potato salad - thereby saving on electricity / gas consumption because you don't have to switch on the stove for a second time.

Wednesday 4 August 2021

Learning something new at my age

I read somewhere recently that one can clear the glass of a wood burning stove with wood ash from the fire.  So naturally, after one of our winter fires left the glass all "smoked" up recently, I had to try it.
Dirty, smoked filled glass

I took a small wad of loo paper (I don't buy or use paper towel in my home) dampened it and dipped it gently in the cold ash of the fire and then carefully wiped the glass.
Just a dab of wood ash on some tissue (loo) paper

Wow - it works!! 😀  It works beautifully.

Previously, as it doesn't easily "rub" off, I had taken a blade to the gunk in order to carefully remove it without scratching the glass.  But this is now a breeze.

Just be careful to use the fine wood ash - not the tiny (or  bigger) chunks of charcoal which may remain in your ash tray.
Leave the "chunks" of wood ash behind and just take a bit of the finer ash

If only I'd know this since 2012 when we first had the Rosie installed and keeping us warm during winter...
The glass in front of the fire pit
is clean again.  Nothing nicer than
seeing the flames of the fire that
 is keeping you warm - it
somehow adds to the warming effect.

P.S.  The "ashed" bit of loo paper went straight onto my compost heap.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Thank you

This is just to reach out to all of those who have contacted me since my last post - whether through comments on previous blog posts, or through personal e-mails.

Firstly, thank you to you all - too many names to mention, but you know who you are.  I was so very touched that you took the time and trouble to contact me.  Bless you - you will never know what strength you sent my way - even through the tears.

It has not been an easy time since 17 August 2019 - and has been one of great loss, angst, misery, guilt, loneliness and adjustment.  I think I am finally coming out the other side with some semblance of sanity - I hope I am.  I still have too many "bad days" but at least there are longer periods of better days in between.

Covid-19 also hasn't helped anyone I guess - with life taking on an even more abnormal and surreal slant - if that is possible?  I hope you have all managed to weather the various lockdowns, and have successfully managed the virus if you were unfortunate enough to catch it.

Our son, RSon, or Richard as he is called, decided to relocated himself and his business to our smallholding so that I could continue to live here.  That would not be possible if I was on my own, so I am very grateful for that.  The thought of having to leave Ronnie's and my dream, and move back to a town and trying to live squashed between neigbouring houses (or even in a block of flats / apartments) seriously didn't appeal - especially after having spent 3 months in Cape Town with Ronnie when he was ill so that he could have instant and easy access to treatment.  But, I fear smallholding life is very isolated for a relative young'un and his chances of meeting with, and interacting with people of his age is now limited to clients that he may visit / work for.  That worries me.  But, he, for now, seems happy enough.

My enthusiasm for being self-sufficient and living an eco-friendlier life was completely drowned out by my loss, but I hope to get stuck into the garden and preserving, recycling and repurposing things once again this coming summer.  I am finally trying to keep busy once again - albeit in a much more muted fashion.

Without trying to lecture anyone, please can I ask you - go to your partners - hug them, tell them they are loved and show them your love in each and every small way you can.  Most of all, give and get hugs.  You have no idea how much strength, energy and warmth a hug gives until they are no more.

I will try and write a post when the urge is strong enough and I have something I think you would enjoy my sharing with you.  In the meantime, thank you all again.

Stay safe everyone.


Sunday 18 August 2019

Ronald Peter Nieckau

Ronald Peter Nieckau

18/07/1953 -  17/08/2019

Rest in peace, my very, very dear Ronnie.  

The horrific, last cruel four and a half months should not have to be endured by anyone - least of all you - the bravest, gentlest and kindest person I know.

Your bravery, compassion for others, sense of absolute fairness, enjoyment of life, humour and oh, so gentle spirit lives on in our memories.  Your achievements and fulfillment of dreams are recorded on this blog. 

Forever now I am a rudderless ship - adrift at sea.  The gaping hole left by your loss is unbearable, and my only consolation is that the cruel, short illness - so very, very bravely born - will not, and cannot, harm you anymore.

“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

Rest in peace, my Ronnie Bunt.  I love you.  Always.

Wiedersehen - until we meet again…

Monday 29 January 2018


I will be taking a leave of absense from this blog.  I have started another blog to help the residents of Cape Town who are about to hit Day Zero.  

Day Zero is when the 5 dams which supply Cape Town hit a collective total of 13.5%.

It is the day when level 7 water restrictions take effect and when everyone within the Cape Town metropole is limited to 25 ltrs (+/- 6 gallons) of water / person / day.  That 25 lts must include what they need for drinking (hydration), food prep, hygiene, cleaning, laundry, pets, etc and also covers what they use at the gym school and workplace...

It is no mean feat.

Day Zero is currently expected to hit on 12 April 2018.  Should weather conditions remain hot and windy, evapouration will bring that date forward.

All the hints and tips I'm sharing on this new blog are from the members of the Water Shedding Western Cape facebook page.

Having them all in one place, makes them easier to access - and removes the negative, complaining posts that tend to abound in public forums / facebook groups.

Necessity is certainly the mother of invention!!  I'm blown away with the amazingly innovative ways that people have come up with to reduce their water usage.

You're welcome to join in - you never know, one day you too may need some assistance, or idea's on how to live with 25 ltrs / person / day...