Monthly Archives: November 2011

Meet the Girls!

So, if you’re looking for sage words of wisdom today, the only ones I have to offer you are these:

 

Do. Not. Have. A. Garage. Sale. In. The. Pouring. Rain.

 

10 little words. So much rain. So little benefit. Boo.

We did, however, make enough money to finally buy our first three chickens! So we can still notch the weekend up as a win.

We welcomed three lovely chicks yesterday afternoon, and, being absolute novices, have spent the past 24 hours checking on them, making sure they’re comfortable, helping them to settle in. I’m fairly sure they’re keen for us to just leave them alone, actually!

We’re only just getting acquainted ourselves, but let me introduce Gertie (black Australorp) Mabel (Rhode Island Red) and Betsy (Isa Brown).

Already, I find watching them, just hanging out with them, to be an absolute pleasure. There’s something inherently calming and Zen about them. Plus I love their smell! Weird.

It should be anywhere from 3-6 weeks til they start laying and, can I tell you, I’m ridiculously excited at the prospect! Imagine: Sunday morning, pop outside, collect some fresh eggs, cut some chives from the garden and make ourselves scrambled eggs for brekkie. Pair it with the rocket and tomatoes we’re now growing, and I think I just died and went to edible gardener heaven!!

But in the meantime, the kids and I will continue to hang out with the girls, getting to know them and just relishing in the spark they bring to the yard. I am a woman enamoured.

 

Other simple pleasures of the weekend:

I hope yours was fabulous!

Tell me, do you have chooks? Do you have any tips for our girls? An amateur would love to know! xx

Clearing the Decks


This time tomorrow, we will be surrounded by strangers. They will be inspecting our belongings. Handling our knick-knacks. Sitting in our chairs. Rifling through our CDs and books. They will want to buy them for 5 cents.

Yes, we are having a garage sale.

And it is forecast to rain, rain, rain. (This will only end well, I can assure you.) UPDATE: It did end well actually. Well, sort of.

This will be the second garage sale we’ve held this year. But we are also determined that this will be our last. Ever.

So the past couple of weeks have been spent sorting through our clothes, linen, decor, knick-knacks, sporting gear, music and DVD collections, craft supplies, books and kitchenware.

Yesterday, Sparky had had enough. You could say he cracked them. And I could sympathise. I wanted to crack them too.

I was so sick of sorting through stuff. Things. Things that just take up space and energy and time. Things we have spent so much money on in the past. Things I don’t need anymore. Things I never needed in the first place. Things I bought in the hope of using them. Things that made me feel like a better person. Things I was guilted into buying. Things I’ve been guilted into keeping.

I could count on one hand the number of things we came across that I had any genuine love for.

The rest of them, I had felt compelled to keep because:

  • someone I love had given it to me
  • it reminded me of good times in the past
  • it made me feel a sense of achievement, in looking how far I’d come
  • I felt I should keep it, because everyone else does

 

But what I’ve discovered over the past six months, as I’ve read about embracing a slower, simpler life, is that none of those reasons listed above is a good enough excuse to surround ourselves with vampire belongings.

  • selling something a loved one has given me doesn’t mean they love me any less
  • selling something that reminds me of good times in the past doesn’t mean those times were any less fun
  • selling something that shows me how far I’ve come in life doesn’t make my achievements any less valid
  • selling something that other people think I should keep doesn’t matter. If they think I’m weird thats OK – I am weird.

 

So, we’re clearing the decks. Starting down a new, simpler path. Learning to be more mindful of what things we bring into our home, because we recognise that our time as a family, and our energies, are far too important.

Far too important to spend reorganising boxes of papers, old snow gear, clothes that don’t make us feel great, CDs we don’t like, movies we’ve never watched, games we haven’t played.

So tomorrow, we slap some price stickers on it all, sell to the highest bidder, and give away whatever’s left at the end. Nothing from the garage sale comes back into the house. And I can’t wait!!

“But…It’s Free.”


Gift With Purchase. Freebies. No Obligation. No Questions Asked. Free. Free. FREEEE!

We are surrounded by marketing campaigns designed to rope us in to buying something we may or may not need, just so we can score a free doodad that we almost definitely do not need. Designed to make us feel as though we’ve come out winning. Designed to make us feel good.

How often do you gratefully accept these freebies, only to toss them out months later because, oddly enough, it wasn’t what you were buying in the first place and, shockingly, you have no use for it?

Me too.

Currently, in my bathroom cabinet sits my travel toiletries bag. And next to it sit two hair-care branded travel toiletries bags that I’ve been given. For free. Of course.

Maybe you’ve seen these:

  • Beer glasses free with a case of beer.
  • Branded keyrings.
  • Pens.
  • Squeezy balls.
  • Drink bottles emblazoned with a bank’s logo.
  • T-shirts.
  • Hats.
  • Tote bags.

The list of free things surrounding us is endless.

Only, they’re not really free. Did you know that?

There are resources used in their production, money spent on the marketing campaigns they are part of and wages to pay those who sell the actual products you’re buying.

But there is also a major cost to you.

You paid no money for it, but you store it in your home. It contributes to the clutter that stresses you out. At some point you will have to pick it up and decide where or how to rid yourself of it.

Your time is more important than that. Your well-being is more important than that.

Next time you’re offered something for free, try saying no.

That’s what I did last week when I was buying some face cream:

Shop Lady: “And you get a lovely woven basket for free.”
Me: “Oh, no thanks. I don’t have any need for it.”
Shop Lady: “But…it’s free.”
Me: “Oh, I know. But I don’t need it. Thanks though.”
Shop Lady: “But… it doesn’t cost you anything. I can give it to you right now. You could give it to someone for Christmas. It’s free.”
Me: “No thanks. Here’s my money.”

Then she got a confused, crazed look on her face and chased me out of the shop, shrieking, “But it’s freeeee. Freeeee! You don’t have to pay for it! Give it away!! It’s freeeeeeee!”

*The final part of the story may or may not have happened. (Hint: It didn’t.)

Now, as I’m clearing out, decluttering, sorting and tossing in preparation for the garage sale on Saturday, I find myself wishing I’d said no a hell of a lot more.

Slow Your Christmas: Handmade Christmas Cards

There was an explosion. A craft explosion.

Feathers, stickers, glue, glitter. It was fabulous. The kind of explosion I would have loved as a kid.

Who am I kidding?!

The kind of explosion I love as an adult.

Isla and I got creative last week and made ourselves some handmade Christmas cards. I don’t generally do a Christmas-card-sendout because I’m just not that organised, but I do love writing cards for our immediate family. They just give a little more room for a message than gift tags.

There are many many many more beautiful and creative handmade cards out there (try this or this for inspiration) but these were cheap, easy, quick and are fun and colourful. This year, our Christmas is all about colour – jewel colours in particular – so these sticker-feather extravaganzas fit in perfectly!

There’s not much to them, and I really just wanted to show that handmade cards don’t have to be fiddly or kid-free zones. These took us maybe half an hour to make. Win!

Bits and pieces:

– pre-made cards from art/craft store
– feathers from art/craft store (I got ours from Riot)
– tub of Christmas stickers from Riot
– other miscellaneous bits and pieces

Do you have any other fun/easy/colourful ideas for Christmas? I’d love to hear them – I’m starting to get ridiculously excited for December now.

And once the garage sale is over this weekend, I feel we’ll have the mental energy to get planning. Leaving December for fun times, beach-going and mojito-sipping!

Organise Your Home: Create an Admin Area

{via Refreshed Designs}

I’m about to contradict myself. (Best get used to it – I do it alot!)

Last week I started to talk about the importance of having a “landing strip” for your Slow Home. Somewhere to open and sort your mail, drop your purse and keys, hang your bag and hats, sit down to remove your shoes etc. I made it sound like it all had to happen right inside your front door. But that’s not the case.

Many of us don’t have the space in our entryways for many of the jobs a landing strip entails – storage, a seat, hat stand/coat rack, mirror, exit drawer, shoe storage, key holder, mail opening and sorting etc. In fact, most people don’t!

I have been reading Apartment Therapy’s 20/20 Cure, where they suggested it’s more feasible to divide and conquer these tasks. Maybe you have room somewhere near your front door for a stool, a couple of hooks on the wall and a small basket to hold your shoes/toys/gumboots? Or room enough for a small shelf and hooks, where you could place your purse, keys, bags and umbrellas?

Point being, this would give you somewhere to put your things when you come home – somewhere dedicated – so you can always keep track of them. That is a big part of creating a slow home – not needing to search for your handbag and keys before you leave, simply because you always put them in the same place.

Then, to divide and conquer, you could have a separate place where you open your mail and sort it into junk/recyclables, things requiring action and things to file. You could also have a notebook in the same place where you can take notes, write your to-do lists, work out your budget etc.

With this in mind, last weekend Sparky and I finally put up the shelf desk I’ve been yapping on about for months. The idea is to give me a place to open the mail, pay the bills on the laptop, sort the paperwork that inevitably mounts up in the running of a household, answer emails etc.

Previously all this happened in the “spare” room (which is currently a store room) and outside the central flow of our home. So, inevitably, I would dump the mail in the kitchen, open it, leave it in a pile for a few days, move it to the spare room when we had people visiting, form another pile, lose track of what was in the pile, forget to pay the bills on time, wind up with a huge stack of filing, etc. I’d also put off writing emails and doing the internet banking, because the kids always manage to need me if I try and slip into the spare room for five minutes. (Is that a Universal Law of Parenting? Please tell me it is.)

So this centralised admin hub (what a sexy phrase that is) brings all of those things together. And, unlike many of the best laid plans, this one actually works. It includes the laptop, a place to keep filing until I get a chance to do it, a nifty little charger/cord tidy, an open spot for things that require action (if I see it, I’m much more inclined to actually do it), a notepad and a couple of pretty things.

We need to buy some stools, tidy up the electricals, oil the shelf and paint the walls. But she’s functioning, which is awesome.

This system could work in many parts of the home too – the kitchen if it’s big enough, a nook in the living room or the study – as long as it works and works for you, then there is no right or wrong.

Do you have a dedicated admin area in your home? Where abouts in your house is it? I’d love to know what works and what doesn’t!

And, in the meantime, have a wonderful weekend. Sydneysiders – go to the beach or stay in the shade somewhere with a cold drink. It’s gonna be a hot one!! xx