Last night, Cam and I had our dinner – miso green beans, sesame + soy potatoes and sashimi’d salmon on rice – nice and early (and Ari did too) so that we might make it to Readings Books in Hawthorn to listen to one of my long-favourite bloggers, Rhonda Hetzel of Down To Earth talk about her life and her book, The Simple Home.
We made it just in time for the (rainy! it rained!) 6.30pm start and took our seats quickly as Rhonda chatted to some other attendees. Even though we’ve never met, Rhonda knew she knew me and let it be known, so and I ambled over for an introduction and a big of a snuggle. Rhonda is pretty much Australia’s self-reliance grandmother, as far as I am concerned and it seemed apt to grab a hug even though we’d only chatted online previously.
Apart from being a kind of surrogate, sustainable grandmother-to-all, Rhonda’s a fellow blogger (as I mentioned) so there’s a familiarity that goes with that (if you are a blogger, you will understand!) That made a hug a good idea too. It was such a delight to finally meet her in the flesh.
So, once I settled into my seat and stopped making a hugging spectacle of myself, and a few more guests arrived, Rhonda began speaking about her book.
She’s the kind of lady that can’t help but tell a story, so it was a total pleasure to hear about how she came to the simple life, a bit about her family and previous careers and a lot about her first book Down To Earth and this brand new Rhonda book – The Simple Home.
I really loved her message of frugality, simplicity, family, friendship, kindness, cleverness and home. It’s the kind of stuff that makes sense to me, so it was pretty ace to get her spin on it, especially since she’s got years of experience and a pretty gorgeous life in a chicken filled, veggie filled, Hanno* filled home.
Some standout things she talked about were: stamping out the use of chemicals in the home, how nice it is to make your own cheese, the importance of family connections, learning to mend and having a sewing basket at the ready, baking bread, amazing Welsh onions, cultivating a rag bag, making your own washing liquid, avoiding waste, organising your family’s money, preserving and creating a cleverly stocked pantry and heaps more beside.
Rhonda’s on tour at the moment, talking to people on the east coast about her book and her life. You can find out if she’s going to be in your neck of the woods here. Go listen to her speak!
Here’s a few spreads from her latest beautiful book so you can get an idea of what it’s all about.
The photography – by Julie Renouf – is just gorgeous and the book is beautifully designed by Laura Thomas. Rhonda’s editor Jo Rosenberg was trying to blend in up the back of the event, but was totally outed by her author!
It’s so lovely to see strong, collaborative relationships amongst creative teams – it really turns a good book idea into a great one when everyone’s on the same page (Teehee! Publishing joke!) You can see that in this book.
Have a look! (And you can listen to Rhonda on Radio National’s Life Matters here.)
Thanks for all the ace inspiration, Rhonda. You are a bit of a hygge queen, I think!
* Rhonda’s husband!
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ALSO… bonus things!
Speaking of grandmothers… look at this gorgeous clipping of Rin and one of her grandmothers, Dur-e Dara. Rin was just 6 years-old and she and I were living in Richmond at the time (1994). Dur-e (and Rin’s grandpa David) used to spend a lot of time with Rin, helping me to balance being a single mum and having a job and all the others things life had to offer. The years zoom by, I tell you! This was from The Sunday Age, 1994.
And this one is me when I used to have a cafe in Richmond around that very same time. It was published in the local paper. #sofamous I owned this cafe (called Blue Heaven, after the milkshake flavour) with a business partner, Christine. Do you know who used to work behind that counter with us? Marieke Hardy! She was just an adorable high school kid at the time, but so smart and sassy and funny. Naw. I cooked a lot of eggs, made a lot of coffees and cut a lot of sandwiches in those days…
I remember I had my hair cut super short so I didn’t have to mess about with it every morning. Cafe days start early and I had hungry customers, so hair was the least of my priorities. #moderngirl
Okay. I will stop with the nostalgia now. (Birthdays always mean dragging out the photos albums and boxes. I can’t help myself!)