Category Archives: Green

G is for Green: A-Z of Simple Living

This January, we’re taking an in-depth look at the why and how of simplicity with the A-Z of Simple Living. If you want to make 2015 the year you create a simpler, slower life, why not join us?


Simple living is not just about decluttering our cupboards, saying no to extra committments and learning to live with less. For me, one key element of living a simpler life is also learning to tread more lightly on our planet. To be good stewards of the earth.

This means learning to live green when and where we can.

I know a statement like that is often met with eye rolls and exasperation. Not only are we bombarded with the message that we need to be doing more to 'save our planet' every day, but you already have enough to do without adding something else to the list. Right?

But the easiest place to start living green? It's in your home. And it takes much less time and effort than you would imagine.

And starting is as simple as:

Replacing one of your household cleaners with a homemade green cleaning alternative.

Next time you are at the grocery shop, pick up these four things:

  1. an empty spray bottle with an adjustable nozzle
  2. a bottle of white vinegar
  3. a box of baking soda
  4. a tub of citric acid

You can then use a combination of these to clean most surfaces in your home:

  • kitchen bench
  • oven
  • stovetop
  • coffee machine
  • kettle
  • blocked drains
  • shower – glass and tiles
  • bath
  • vanity
  • mirrors
  • glass doors
  • windows
  • toilets
  • grout

Add some essential oils (lavender, tea tree and clove are all I use) and you have an entire green cleaning kit for your home.

The reality is, you do not need a cupboard full of expensive, dangerous chemicals to keep your home clean. A handful of natural, non-toxic alternatives is all you need.

It's all I've used for 3 years, and as far as I can tell, my house isn't a nest of filth and mould. It's simple, it's green, it's easy and it works.

For example, to clean the kitchen sink and benchtops:

  1. Sprinkle the surface lightly with bicarb soda and spray with white vinegar.
  2. Leave for a few moments, then using a clean damp cloth, scrub the surfaces that require deep cleaning. The bicarb acts as a scouring agent and will lift stains off your benchtops and stainless steel sink, while the vinegar helps to remove bacteria.
  3. Rinse with a clean cloth and wipe dry.

(Of course, always test on an inconspicuous surface to ensure there are no problems.)

If you're looking for more recipes and suggestions, check out the Ultimate Guide to Green Cleaning.

Other Simple Ways to Live Green:

Reduce Household Waste:

Buy Less:

  • do you need it?
  • will it last?
  • have a 30-day buy list

Use Your Resources:

  • line dry your laundry
  • use ceiling fans instead of air con
  • use window coverings to regulate heat and cold

Make Your Own:

  • household cleaners
  • laundry liquid

What is the best green living tip you've received? Do you have an amazing homemade stain remover recipe? (Because I really need one!) Let me know in the comments below…




Simple Living – Does it Have to be All or Nothing?

Simple Living - It Doesn't Have to be All or Nothing

So, I have a friend. And this friend is working to simplify her life, has been for years.

She has purged her family’s belongings, simplified their calendar, got out of debt, adopted green cleaning, got rid of all but her most wearable clothes and, more recently, started trying natural body products.

She’s doing OK.

But she feels bad because, well, there’s more to change.

There’s always more to change.

She still drinks coffee from her (gasp!) Nespresso machine.

She still gets her hair coloured.

She enjoys travelling to far-flung places.

She buys organic denim.

She eats non-organic food.

She is a fan of a gutsy shiraz.

And she feels bad about some of these things.

Not so much because there is anything wrong with buying quality jeans or drinking red wine (there’s a First World sentence right there) but because she feels that, in her quest to live simply, she should be all or nothing. That something worth doing is worth doing right.

And to me her, I say – nope.

What is “doing simplicity right” anyway? What does that look like?

To some people it’s living in an RV or a tiny house, while to others it’s living in the country and creating a self-sustaining home.

To some people it’s going digital and using technology to remove as much physical stuff as possible, while to others it’s completely eschewing modern gadgetry in place of old-fashioned pen, paper and ink.

To some people it’s DIY everything, while to others it’s fair-trade, locally-grown, support the farmers/growers/brewers/makers/roasters.

To many more, however, simplicity lies somewhere in the middle.

It’s cutting back our belongings, growing some tomatoes and line-drying our clothes.

It’s getting our bills and statements delivered via email, digitising our photos, signing up to Spotify and keeping a journal.

It’s mending our clothes, making our own laundry detergent, shopping locally, buying secondhand.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s enough just to do what you can.

I really believe that this idea of all or nothing – we need to be super-crunchy/ultra-minimalist/hardcore homeschoolers/insert your stereotype here in order to do simple living right – is harming our ability to step up and try something new.

For me, it’s all about baby steps. Often those baby steps will lead to bigger things. But sometimes they won’t. And that’s OK.

What’s not OK is sitting by and doing nothing when what you crave is a simpler, slower, more contented life. If that’s what you want, then ignore the voice that tells you it needs to be all or nothing, and take a step.

Just one, tiny, baby step.

  • Clean out your car
  • Buy your fruit and vegetables at the farmers market
  • Check the op shop before buying that thing you need from a big box store
  • Opt to receive your bank statements via email
  • Use white vinegar to clean your kitchen benchtops
  • Declutter the utensil drawer
  • Say no to a plastic bag
  • Eat a meat-free meal
  • Smile at a stranger
  • Go do some colouring with your kids
  • Say no to a social engagement

Every one of these baby steps has an impact on the life you live. And while it’s not the same as upping sticks and moving to the country, or selling your home and travelling in an RV, these steps matter.

Each change, each step, each little shift in the way we do things makes a difference. And – not to sound too Pollyanna here – but I do believe that if each of us made small changes where possible, we could actually start to shift the world.

You can do something. We can do something.

It doesn’t need to be all or nothing.

5 Surefire Ways to Create a Cluttered Home

5 Surefire Ways to Create a Cluttered Home
{ via aesthetics of joy }


If you love clutter, if you enjoy feeling overwhelmed, and if your favourite way of dealing with stuff is to pile it up randomly all over your house, then this post is going to be incredibly helpful to you.

I’ve got the five best, never-fail techniques to help you create a cluttered home – and keep it that way.

(If, by chance, you actually enjoy having an uncluttered home that’s easy to live in, feel free to do the exact opposite. You know, if that’s your thing.)


The Five Ways to Create a Cluttered Home

1. Never leave a room better than you found it.

Pay no attention to the toys on the floor, leave the clean clothes unhung and let the coffee cups sit on the bench. As you exit a room, studiously ignore anything out of place, and do not, under any circumstances, pick those items up and return them to their rightful position.

2. Never finish what you start.

This is my personal favourite, and already exists as part of life for those of us living with young children.

No kids? Don’t let that stop you!

Simply start a task, project or activity and stop before you’re done. You may want to succumb to distraction, laziness or procrastination – these are the best ways to avoid finishing anything, and therefore adding to the clutter further.

3. Do not ever tidy up as you go.

Don’t pack the dishwasher as you finish breakfast. Do not pick up the previous game before the next one is pulled out. Don’t file your papers as they’ve been actioned. And most definitely do not, ever, put the clean laundry back in the wardrobe once it’s folded.

In addition, I highly recommend leaving things out long after you’ve finished using them.

That toaster sitting on the kitchen bench? The glass you just drank from? The notepad you just wrote in? The shopping you just brought home? Sure, it might take mere seconds to pack away, but that’s time you could spend making another pile.

This way, you will amass many unnecessary stacks of things in a very short period of time. It’s the perfect way to add clutter to your home with no effort whatsoever!

4. Ignore the clutter creep.

Don’t listen to the frustrations or annoyances that crop up when looking around your home. Ignore the little voice nagging at you. And certainly don’t take any action.

Do not move through your home and pick up everything that is out of place. Do not sort it out. Do not put it back in its rightful place. Simply let the clutter slowly increase, and gradually take over your home.

5. Employ the Shove and Hide Method.

If, in a moment of weakness, you decide you have had enough of the clutter (or your in-laws decide to visit) you must employ the excellent Shove and Hide Method of tidying.

Do not waste your time putting things back in their rightful position. Instead, scoop up an armful of clutter and shove it in a random cupboard. Repeat this process for any piles you find, ensuring the cupboard is nice and full when you’re finished. This means not only are your cupboards now cluttered with random mess, but when you find yourself looking for something, the contents of said cupboards will be spread around the house. It’s a win-win for clutter!


OK, OK, I’m taking my tongue out of my cheek now to say this: I am not trying to make you feel bad. I am as guilty of every one of these things as anyone. I procrastinate, I shove, I ignore the mess and don’t finish what I begin. Part of that is life, but the other part is a lack of awareness.

I figure if we can put a name to the behaviour, if we can see the consequences laid out before us, we are far more likely to actually pay attention and make the necessary changes.

Pay attention for long enough and these changes will become habit. And habits? They become our normal.



3 Unexpected Benefits to Owning Chickens

3 unexpected benefits to owning chickens


We love our girls. Betsy. Mabel. Night-Time.

Their soft clucking. Their scratching. Their endless activity.

We love what they bring to our yard and our home. And I’m not just talking about eggs. Although free-range eggs fresh from the backyard are pretty awesome.

The responsibility and compassion the kids learn from helping to care for the girls is priceless. As is the fact they grow up understanding that food doesn’t actually come from the supermarket. That there is often poop on eggs. And that’s OK.

Truth be told, I expected these benefits. But I have been so happy to discover they are not the only ones.

There are three unexpected ways that owning the girls has impacted our lives, for the better:


1. Waste Reduction

It’s no secret that chickens will eat most table scraps.

But they also love grass clippings, weeds and spent vegetables that have been pulled from the garden.

Fruit and vegies that have past their prime? Chooks love ’em.

Cheese gone hard? Chooks love it.

Stale bread? Chooks.

All this food and garden waste that would otherwise be tossed in the bin, going directly to landfill to slowly release methane gas into the atmosphere, is instead used to feed our girls. And as a thank you? They give us delicious eggs every day.

Talk about a good deal!


2. Living Composters

This is a tip I learnt direct from Don Burke (’cause we’re tight) and it is such a good one:

Toss weeds, grass clippings, the chickens bedding straw, prunings and regular tables scraps into the pen, as described above. But then watch as the chooks (AKA the living composters) turn that waste into the richest of black gold over the following months.

They aerate the soil, scratch it over, add manure and help break the waste down much quicker than simply tossing it all in a compost bin.

Every 3-6 months, shovel out the top few inches of soil in the chook pen and use it in the garden as a top-notch compost and soil conditioner:

  • you can put it directly into the beds (particularly new ones) and fork it through the soil
  • add it to the compost bins to break down over time into a less rich (but still amazing) compost that can then be used anywhere


3. Peace and Happiness

There is something meditative about watching the girls cluck and scratch and work. Something wholesome. Earthy. Beautiful.

I have spent many a spare minute just watching the girls go about their business. Figuring out their personalities. Establishing the pecking order. (Betsy is The Queen.) It’s so easy to lose yourself for that moment, escape from your own head for a while.

And it simply adds another dimension to our home. Which is what this Slow Home journey is all about. Making room and time for the things that matter.


Do you own chickens? Or other livestock?

I dream of a day when we move to a small-holding in the Byron Hinterland. Goats, chooks, a horse or two. Vegetable garden and an orchard. (Thankfully, dreams are free!)



We are not stupid. We know things are out of control, we are worn out, over-committed, under pressure. But how to change? How to start living a slower, simpler life?
Join the Slow Home BootCamp – a free 20-part email course – that will kickstart your Slow Home journey. Learn more and sign up right here.

How To Make Your Own {Green} Carpet Deodoriser

how to make your own carpet deodoriser

You may remember we bought a puppy about a month ago?

It is no coincidence then, that this post tackles how to keep your carpets smelling fresh. Even after they have been assaulted by the peeing machine (AKA Cash the Dog).

As is always the aim with the green cleaning recipes here, this one is made using all natural ingredients, actually works, and will cost cents to make, as opposed to dollars to buy.

You’ll need:

  • bicarb soda
  • tea tree oil (or eucalyptus or lavender)
  • something to hold the bicarb mix – preferably with holes in the lid (a shaker is perfect, but you could use a pringles tube and punch some holes in the lid. Get creative!)

To Use:

1. Fill the container with your bicarb.

2. Add 10 drops of your chosen essential oil.

how to make your own carpet deodoriser

3. Shake well, to ensure the oil is distributed throughout the bicarb.

4. Sprinkle lightly over the carpet you wish to deodorise. Leave for 15 minutes or longer.

how to make your own carpet deodoriser

5. Vacuum the carpet as normal. Revel in the fresh smell!

6. Use as often as needed. I generally do this once a month to keep the carpets smelling…not smelly.


Do you have a dog? Does he pee everywhere? Can you give me some hints on toilet training?

Are you looking for more ways to create your own Slow Home? Your own simple life? Sign up to be part of the Slow Home BootCamp – launching June 29, 2012!