Embrace your inner granny with Rebecca Sullivan

Embrace your inner granny with Rebecca Sullivan

I came in to my research for today’s episode with Rebecca Sullivan, founder of the Granny Skills Movement, expecting to spend a significant amount of our chat focusing on the topic of her beautiful, most recent book ‘The Art of the Natural Home’. We’d talk about the importance of bicarb soda and the utter delight that is making your own ferments, why we’re seeing a return to the traditions of our grandparents and how it’s been co-opted in to hipster life. And we do discuss all of those things in this poggie.

But what became apparent real quick is that Rebecca is also a woman whose passion for tradition, heritage and intergenerational connection goes way deeper than any riff on green cleaning or sauerkraut could begin to touch. So we dive head-long in to a discussion about her recent pilot program that placed grandparents in local high schools, who then taught students home economics, wood working and other traditional skills. I loved hearing about the impact of this program on not only the kids, but also the grannies who were doing the teaching. It speaks to a significant issue in our society currently, where older people are often marginalised, lonely or left to spend their later years in nursing homes, their wealth of knowledge disappearing as they do.

Granted, that seems heavier listening than a discussion on vinegar and bicarb, but it’s an important one, and something I want to continue exploring over the coming months.

We also talk about the importance of failure, and the liberation that comes once we accept and even embrace our own screw-ups. As a keen balcony gardener, Rebecca shares her best hits for container growing, including some of the native edibles that are most likely to survive some light-to-moderate neglect.

Rebecca and I talk about the point of view that says ‘chores’ are something we need to dread, and the mindset shift we’ve both made (usually) that sees tasks such as making, mending, growing, cooking, cleaning, preparing and experimenting as something more purposeful and fulfilling rather than a drudgery to be suffered through. We both freely admit that Netflix and convenience play a regular role in our lives too, so it’s not all bad news, but this mindset shift is actually an important one to think on.

This is a genuinely delightful conversation with a genuinely delightful woman who I have decided is my newest firm friend, whether she knows it or not. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

This week’s poggie is sponsored by our friends at ettitude – makers of ethical, organic bamboo bed linen (and now pyjamas!). Head over to http://www.ettitude.com.au/slowhome and use the code “sleepbetter” to get 10% off your first order.

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

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Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

You may have heard that we recently hit 2.4 million (!!) downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! Not only does that fact blow my mind, it’s also thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

Plastic: Say No to the Big 4

Plastics: Say No to the Big 4

Last year Ben and I tried our hand at Plastic Free July. That is, we tried to cut our use of plastics to zero for a full month, alongside tens of thousands of other counter-cultural, environmentally-minded souls. And… it was a bit of a bust.

We tried our best but the truth is that we were vastly unprepared. We hadn’t really thought through our daily needs or systems, and we hadn’t gathered the required replacements for many of our plastics, which meant we were left high and dry when time came to go food shopping. Or buying takeaway. Or grabbing a coffee. Or living, really.

We learnt a lot though and the past 12 months has seen us make vast improvements in our plastic reliance, to the point where our regular Monday morning garbage pick-up consists of one small bag of rubbish as opposed to the multiple big ones we used to throw away. There have even been a few weeks where we haven’t put our bins out at all because they’ve been empty. (And that is a damn good feeling.)

Over the next four Mondays we’re going to take a deep dive in to the issue of excessive plastic use and what small changes we can make – starting today – to reduce plastic use over time. In part this series is timed to coincide with Plastic Free July, but also because I can see that there is a mainstream desire for change that wasn’t apparent even this time last year. I think we’re all just overwhelmed at the enormity of the problem, unsure of where to start. And that’s where we want to help.

Inspired again by Plastic Free July, today we offer you some simple ideas to stop using the Big 4 single use plastics altogether, with just a few easy swaps and a couple of habit changes.

The Big 4 single use plastics we’re looking to cut out are:

  • drinking straws
  • takeaway coffee cups
  • plastic water bottles
  • plastic shopping bags

After listening to today’s episode, hopefully it becomes clear that these are four products we really, really don’t need to be using at all. Ben and I give you a few re-useable solutions for each of the above products, and also encourage you to flip the script when it comes to plastic. Sure it might feel a little annoying in the beginning, but nowhere near as annoying as oceans choked with plastic bags.

I’ve also created a list of resources below that should help you get a head start on saying goodbye to plastics for good.

Enjoy!

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

You may have heard that we recently hit 2.4 million (!!) downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! Not only does that fact blow my mind, it’s also thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

50 ways to (seriously) reduce your food waste

50 ways to (seriously) reduce your food waste - Episode 169 of The Slow Home Podcast

I’m going to say this straight up: today’s episode is BIG. It’s packed full of practical tips and it moves prettttty fast. But I also think it’s going to prove to be super valuable. And I don’t just mean valuable in terms of the quality of the info we share, but also quite literally – in terms of the money you’ll save and the positive impact you’ll have on the environment. In short, this is an epic poggie.

So what exactly do we talk about in this epic, valuable pogpast? Food waste.

Ben’s got some astonishing stats to share in this episode, but needless to say, the level of food waste in Australia alone is eye-wateringly high. And given what we know about food security in the developing world, and even many communities in our own backyard, it’s truly devastating to think about. And while some of this waste is a result of systems put in place by massive supermarket chains both here and globally, a lot of it is not. Much of the food we waste in Australia is wasted in our own homes, and it’s this waste that we want to focus on in this big ol’ pogpast.

In part today’s episode is a pretty natural continuation of the overall theme of slow living – quality over quantity, use only what we need, local, intentional, environmentally conscious – but it’s also been spurred by the recent ABC series, War On Waste. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet I’ve included a link to it at the bottom of this page, along with a heap of other helpful resources. It makes me happy to see the ideas of sustainability and mindful living start to make their way in to the mainstream and I hope this is a sign of big changes to come. (God knows we need it.)

Despite my occasional dip in to big-picture despair, however, this episode is the antidote to the what-can-I-do’s. It’s quite literally packed full of things we can do today. OK, probably not all of them today, but I can guarantee you there is at least one idea we cover in this episode that you can try today. No purchase of backyard chickens necessary.

We start the show with a list of our own tips, tricks, hacks and changes, and follow that with a bomb-awesome collection of your tips, gleaned from a Facebook post only a couple of days ago. You guys are clever and committed and your ideas make me so so happy.

So BEHOLD! Our monster list of tips to help you minimise food waste:

Planning and Organisation:

  • Meal plan regularly and be realistic with that plan. If you know you’re exhausted by Thursday night, then don’t plan and buy the ingredients for a super-involved meal. Chances are it will go to waste. Similarly, if you’ve got kids and you wish they’d eat broccoli but you know they gag on it it, then buy a different veg instead.
  • Meal prep once a week (or at a regular time that works for you). We spend an hour or two most weekends doing things like cutting veggies for lunch boxes and dinner sides, maybe cooking a few big trays of roast veg or a pasta sauce and the difference it makes during the week is amazing. Not only do we have the makings of a couple of dinner meals, but we also have at least a few days worth of lunch sorted too. Think things like: felafel, fish cakes, meatballs, pasta sauce, stews, soups, curries, salads in a jar for work lunches, hommus, veggie sticks…
  • Go shopping with a list and don’t deviate, to avoid the just-in-cases or the impulse buys
  • Be sure to learn your quantities and buy only what you need.
  • Check your pantry and fridge before you go shopping or write your meal plan
  • Use what’s in your pantry and fridge before shopping or plan next week’s meals around what’s already in there.
  • Make a habit to clean out the fridge before you do the groceries. Doing this gives a good indication of what you are and aren’t actually eating, and allows you to use what’s already there in the meal you go shopping for. It also stops food from mouldering away at the bottom of the fridge for weeks on end, as the leftovers get used up or composted.
  • Embrace leftover meals! We have one, sometimes two nights a week where we plan on eating leftovers. This, plus the fact we eat leftovers for lunch quite often means we don’t usually have leftovers in the fridge by week’s end.
  • Scratch it nights are bomb. It’s basically a meal where we use what we’ve got or have something simple from the pantry. It sometimes looks like an omelette or veg on toast, other times it’s French toast or pancakes.
  • Be less fussy with the appearance of food. A bendy carrot is fine to cook. Cut out soft spots. Mould is obviously to be avoided but don’t be so hasty to toss the entire lot if one apple goes bad.
  • Know the difference between Best Before and Used By dates, and (in some instances at least) go on smell rather than date. Yoghurt, dips, sour cream etc are good examples of this. Seafood is probably not.
  • Treat the “Use within 5 days” warning with scepticism. Be curious before assuming food has spoiled and defer to the common sense taste test.
  • Keep perishable food that won’t last long at the front of the fridge to ensure you don’t waste it.

Good Food Storage Habits

  • Put dry goods in containers once they’ve been opened so they don’t go stale, get weevils or spoil. (Crackers, flours, pasta, cereal etc)
  • Lots of veg can be stored in containers in the fridge to avoid becoming dehydrated and lacklustre. Celery, carrots, cucumber sticks, carrot sticks, zucchini, beans, snow peas, herbs – simply trim ends and put in glass jars in the fridge with a little bit of water in the bottom. This keeps them fresh all week.
  • To keep kale, spinach, lettuce and other greens fresh for as long as possible – rinse well and trim as soon as you get home from the shops or market and wrap a stack of the leaves in a damp clean teatowel, storing in the fridge. This keeps them fresh and green for much longer than leaving them in the crisper.
  • Meat – only keep out what you’re cooking in the next day or two. Separate rest of the meat into meal-size portions (or better yet, take containers to the butcher and ask them to separate for you) and pop in freezer, labelling if you need to. (We don’t.)
  • Glass jars are great for storing excess veggies, fruit, herbs, sauces, etc.
  • Sturdy glass containers like Pyrex are great for storing excess meals, meat, bones, offcuts for stock and soups, etc.

In the Freezer:

  • Broccoli and cauliflower stems can be fried up or rinsed and blitzed in a blender. Freeze the blitzed stems on a tray and transfer to jar. This can be added to sauces, pies, soups etc. It has the benefit of adding nutrients to your meals, and is undetectable to fusspots/kids.
  • Don’t compost your squishy, over-ripe bananas. Peel, slice and freeze on a tray, then transfer the rounds to a container. These are perfect for for banana bread, smoothies, protein pancakes etc
  • Freeze your parmesan rinds and add to soups.
  • Keep all your veggie offcuts, peels, skins and trimmings in a container in the freezer. When there’s a good amount, put it all in a big saucepan, cover with water, and cook for a few hours. It makes a delicious rich (free!) veggie stock that can then be frozen and used as needed.
  • Do the same with your leftover meat bones, roast chicken carcasses or seafood.
  • Try a bulk baking session once or twice a month. I make things like chocolate cake, date loaf, chocolate slice, bliss balls and apple muffins, freezing them in containers until needed.

Random Food Waste Tips:

  • Think about food as money. When you have to toss out your waste, picture yourself tossing cash in to the bin. It’s a great motivator to waste less food!
  • Chickens are great for reducing meal scraps to virtually zero. So are dogs!
  • Composting and worm farms are excellent for those scraps chickens can’t or shouldn’t eat, as well as scraps like egg shells and coffee grinds.
  • Composting/worm farm/chickens are great but don’t let them become your easy out. Try to only give them genuine scraps and veg offcuts, and instead focus on maximising your use of all the good stuff.

Now over to the collective wisdom of you, our wonderful listeners!

There were, of course, some common ones that many of you contributed, including:

  • Meal planning.
  • Composting (traditional pile, compost bins, enclosed tumbler set up OR Bokashi bin, which can be used to compost dairy and meat).
  • Backyard chickens and other pets.
  • Making your own freezer scrap stocks (both veggie and meat versions).
  • Be sure to eat leftovers for lunch/dinner.

Then there’s these super practical genius ideas too. Many of which I’ll be implementing over the coming weeks!

  • Freeze apple slices left over from the kids’ lunch boxes and when there’s enough, use them to make apple sauce. Freeze leftover cheese (you know the slightly hardened, maybe slightly sweaty pieces left over from a party) and use it for homemade mac and cheese. (Morgan)
  • Freeze foods that are commonly used but rarely all used in one recipe. Chopped onions, celery, small portions of lemon/lime juice, etc. (Candace)
  • Keep the top shelf of the fridge for food that needs to be eaten in the next few days. When going through the fridge, move things up to the top shelf as needed. (Em)
  • Use a meal planning framework. For example: Meat free Monday, Taco Tuesday, Pasta Wednesday, Soup/Slow Cooker Thursday, Freezer Food Friday, Kids Choice Saturday and a big, more involved family meal on Sunday (which is then used for leftovers during the week). (Briana)
  • Learn to recalibrate quantities of ingredients as your household needs change. And then challenge yourself to the occasional month of cooking from food that’s already in your freezer or pantry. This will likely mean lots of soups!  (Jennifer)
  • Combine backyard chickens (who get the fresh scraps) with a soldier fly larvae farm (that gets the rest of the scraps or anything not suitable for chooks). In a big old life cycle of food recycling, the larvae are then fed to the chooks. (Wallace Bear) 
  • Figure out how much meat your household eats in one meal (this family of four eats about half a pound of meat per meal, which is approximately quarter of a kilo) and then freezes meat in those portions. Pull out the meat as needed a day ahead and defrost in fridge. (Jessica)
  • Learn to love casserole dump bags! When you arrive home with your casserole ingredients, prep all meat and veggies straight away and put everything together in a large zip lock bag, freezing it until needed. Then when it’s time to pop the casserole ingredients in the slow cooker, it all goes in together. (Wendy) 
  • When meal planning don’t forget to account for all three meals a day and two snacks as well. This can help stretch her shopping out, saving money and food waste (Abby)
  • Get an enclosed composter, which means you can put soup bones and other traditionally ‘uncompostable’ materials in there. (Amanda)
  • Make a fried rice with all the little bits of veg left in the fridge at the end of the week. (Kim)
  • Move to Florida in summer! It’s so hot that there isn’t much cooking to be done (except the occasional crock pot meal) and as a result, eat mostly fresh veggies and fruit. (Deb)
  • Try getting a weekly seasonal fruit and veg box delivered. Plan your week’s meals around what’s in season once the box arrives. (Carly)
  • When meal planning, go all in. Figure out how many apples, oranges etc you eat in a week and buy only those amounts. Invest in a thermos for leftovers for school or work. (Kel)
  • Cook less food than you think you’ll need. If people are hungry there is always snacks like fruit and cheese. (Colleen)
  • Write a list and keep it on the fridge, to act as a reminder of what needs to be cooked or eaten before it goes off, then use that list to inspire meal planning and online food shopping. (Mandy)
  • Delay food shopping for a few extra days and get creative! (Sam
  • Worm farming is great for those people who don’t have the space or inclination for traditional composting. (Amy)
  • Avoid stockpiling randomly. Instead try having a 72 hour kit of ingredients and keep very little else on hand. (Danielle)
  • Make delicious bubble and squeak with leftovers! (Lisa)
  • Focus on only buying fresh fruit and veg, so all the leftovers can be composted. (Dallas)
  • Buy only what you know you’ll eat, not what you think you SHOULD eat and not what you wish
  • Make Friday night dinner an “allette”. ie An “all goes in the omelette”. (Mamta)
  • Make end of week stews and soups, learn to grow your own, learn to dehydrate foods. (Angel)
  • Keep leftover cooked veggies in a container in the freezer and make felafel out of it. (Teach me your ways!) (Margaret)

PHEW! I told you there was a lot of wisdom in this episode! If you’ve got a cracker of a tip we haven’t included please leave a comment below and we’ll pull them all together and update the master list.

In the meantime though, let us know what one change you’re going to make this week to reduce food waste, and be sure to share it on social media too. (You can use #slowhomepod everywhere there are good hashtags).

Enjoy!

This week’s poggie is sponsored by our friends at ettitude – makers of ethical, organic bamboo bed linen (and now pyjamas!). Head over to http://www.ettitude.com.au/slowhome and use the code “sleepbetter” to get 10% off your first order.

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the show:

You may have heard that we recently hit 2.3 million (!!) downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! Not only does that fact blow my mind, it’s also thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

Meditation Basics: Present Moment Awareness

Meditation Basics: Present Moment Awareness - Episode 168 of The Slow Home Podcast

Today is the third and final episode in our meditation basics series and Kevin Janks is back for one final, insightful meditation mini-workshop.

In this episode he explores a technique I was first introduced to by my psychiatrist, in what proved to be a precursor to my mindfulness practices, my meditation or even my simplifying efforts. Simply put, she encouraged me to pay attention to everything the present moment has on offer – but to do that by tapping in to one sense at a time.

When I found myself feeling overwhelmed I would move through each sense – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell – one at a time, exploring everything it had to offer before focusing on the next. And what I learned through that practice is that paying close attention to our senses is to be only in the moment. It helped to transport me away from the headspace of worry or regret or stress or anxiety and only be in the moment of my senses. When I was overwhelmed it proved to be a steadying point for me, and as I began to explore meditation and mindfulness over the years, I realised that this very simple practise was a strong, if unintentional, foundation in my own efforts to live in the moment.

In today’s workshop Kevin talks us through the following ideas and then leads you through a brief guided meditation where you’ll have the opportunity to practice what you’ve learnt:

  • This practise is all about being in the moment, simply because our senses are only ever in the moment (you can’t be touching something yesterday).
  • By noticing what’s actually happening in our lives right now, we can liberate ourselves from the state of constant ‘rehearse and replay’ that at times dominates our lives.
  • With practice, it quickly becomes quite easy to draw joy and love from even the most basic of events, like feeling the sun against your skin or observing a bird flying through the sky.
  • Take time each day to simply observe your senses. Noticing sights and sounds are great to do whilst walking or commuting. Really observe the tastes of the food you are eating and begin exploring the depth of senses that surround us at any given time.

I’d also really encourage you to try this technique at least once every day for the next week and see if it has any impact on your ability to live in the moment, or your well being in general. It’s such a simple, powerful, accessible strategy and I’d love to hear if it has an impact.

Enjoy today’s final workshop from Kevin, and if you’d like to download the meditation-only playlist from the last three weeks you can download it here and listen any time you’d like!

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

You may have heard that we recently hit 2 million (!!) downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! Not only does that fact blow my mind, it’s also thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

The little things are the big things with Helen Hayward

The little things are the big things with Helen Hayward - Episode 167 of The Slow Home Podcast

The thing that struck me immediately upon reading Helen Hayward’s blog and books is the way she writes about seemingly small things with such depth and attention to detail. Her words are so intentional, I couldn’t help but feel the carefully considered weight of each and every one of them.

And while her most recent book, A Slow Childhood: Notes on Thoughtful Parenting is, obviously, about parenting and raising a family in a very slow and considered way, so much of what Helen and I speak about in today’s poggie applies well beyond motherhood and parenting in general. We talk a lot about what it means to live an examined life, and why, as we’ve both discovered over the past years, those little things really are the big things in life.

One of the most common questions I’m asked, and can rarely answer with any kind of surety, is how to get (or keep) older kids on board with a slower pace of life. And while Helen’s two kids (17 and 20) have grown up with slow-ness at the centre of family life, Helen talks at length about the benefits of that, which I really enjoy digging in to.

Helen and I also talk about one of my favourite bug-bears: the myth of work-life balance and why she’s not even sure that long-term balance is a possibility, but rather requires an endless process of tilting – always in to one thing and away from another. To be honest, it’s pretty rare to talk to someone so willing to admit that balance is not only elusive, but often damaging to pursue, and I found myself wonderfully disarmed chatting with Helen!

I hope you enjoy the episode.

This week’s poggie is sponsored by our friends at ettitude – makers of ethical, organic bamboo bed linen (and now pyjamas!). Head over to http://www.ettitude.com.au/slowhome and use the code “sleepbetter” to get 10% off your first order.

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the show:

You may have heard that we recently hit 2.3 million (!!) downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! Not only does that fact blow my mind, it’s also thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!