Monthly Archives: August 2011

My Name is Brooke and I am on a Decluttering Bender.

Sorry for the radio silence, friends. Every spare moment lately has been spent clutter-busting our home. I’m only a fraction of the way there, but damn it feels good. I feel lighter somehow.

I’ve been reading lots about minimalist living and the slow home movement, and buzzwords aside I think they’re both really interesting, desirable, accessible ways to live. They both apply to what this whole journey is about.

So far:

Sparky and I have cleared our wardrobes, with the hope of sharing one wardrobe and getting rid of the other, as it clutters up our bedroom far too much. This 30 minute exercise netted us 5 big garbage bags of clothes to donate and two big garbage bags of pure crap, which was recycled or tossed as a last resort.

Yesterday I cleared out both of our bedside tables (netted another huge bag of recyclables/rubbish) as well as our bathroom cabinet. Another big bag full’o’junk there.

Went through my multiple piles of costume jewellery and tossed 95% of it. It was mostly tarnished, broken, mismatched or really really ugly. I actually don’t wear much jewellery, so I need very little in the way of this stuff.

I cleaned out my craft cupboard and threw away two more bags worth of random scraps that I’d been keeping for “just in case”. Nope, no more.

I sorted through our cookbooks and bookshelves, put aside all those books I’ve borrowed over the years and never returned (sorry, Dad!) and now have a big basket that I will try to sell to the local second-hand bookshop or otherwise donate to Vinnies.

You know those magazines that you buy/subscribe to and keep for no real reason? Yeah, me too. But as of yesterday: gone. I tore out anything I really wanted to keep and the rest was recycled. (I did keep my Organic Gardeners though – I use them a lot).

This morning I’m tackling the laundry and may just be crazy enough to try and tame the beast that is our “store room”. Maybe.

K.I.S.S: Paper Traps!

I’m very very bad at lots of things: returning phonecalls and emails, cooking with chicken (it freaks me out) and keeping our bills and other admin-y type things in order.

As a result of the last one, I occasionally am late paying bills – oops – which really bugs me. It introduces unnecessary stress into my life, and as we know, I’m allll about reducing stress.

I’ve been looking at my life and trying to pinpoint the recurring stressors, and while there are many, there are a few that I think can do a better job at managing:

– paperwork/filing
– bills
– weekly meals/grocery shopping
– managing appointments/schedules

I read somewhere that the best way to deal with paper traps is to touch it once. That is, to have a place where you bring in your mail, open it, recycle what’s not needed, sort what is and pay your bills or take any required action. It means you know exactly what to do with every thing that comes in your mailbox. Of course, my life isn’t that predictable and usually when I bring the mail in I have a hungry baby in one hand and a stack of mail and local newspapers in the other, with a nappy beg around my neck and a toddler hanging off my knee. But, you know, the intention is there…

So with all that in mind, and as part of our ongoing renovations, Sparky and I have decided to build a bench in the back family/dining room that will function as a hub for all that kind of stuff.

I saw this one on design*sponge a few weeks ago and knew that was basically what we were after, so hopefully in the next couple of weeks we will put ours together.

The plan being that we incorporate a place for all the following in the one space:

– opening mail
– recycling any unnecessary mail
– box for action (bills to be paid etc)
– box for filing (paid bills)
– laptop
– phone/laptop/ipad chargers
– home phone
– notepad
– shopping list

Ours will be higher than the one featured above, and we will have a couple of stools tucked in underneath which means I can check emails, pay bills etc while keeping an eye on the kidlets. A vase of flowers or an indoor plant, plus a couple of artworks on the wall and it should match in really well with the midcentury/industrial/nanna/eclectic/crafty/diy vibe we’re going for (!!)

Green Living: Rosemary Water Hairspray

{unrelated except that our rosemary is in the background}

Here’s something interesting I came across recently. You can make a hairspray alternative using rosemary and water.

I’m really keen to try this out, as even though I barely use hairspray, I am mindful of the fact that it is really toxic and could be inhaled by the kids on occasion.

I’ll let you know how it goes, but this is what you need:

a handful of (dried) rosemary sprigs
a French press
boiling water

1. Put the rosemary in the French press and fill with boiling water.

2. Allow to steep and cool for a couple of hours

3. Transfer to a spritz bottle and use in place of hairspray as needed.

Green Living: Shopping Vintage and Second-Hand

Spring is (nearly) in the air and I’m feeling sartorially inspired. I’m keen to find some new-to-me spring and summer clothes, accessories and shoes that are pre-loved, vintage or second-hand.

I immediately turned to Etsy (gah!! the choice is paralysing!!) and eBay and have started to slowly buy some bits and pieces for the warmer weather.

I know that the environmental benefit of buying vintage from a seller in the States and having it shipped to Australia is debatable (no resources used to make a new item versus the resources used to have it shipped here) but the majority of what I’m buying is local, so I’m OK with the occasional international purchase.

These ones have already made the cut and are currently being shipped:

from Specialty Vintage on Etsy

While these delicious treats are in the Definitely list:

From Margaret and Olivers on Etsy

From Thriftage on Etsy

From Sally Jane Vintage on Etsy

From Sally Jane Vintage on Etsy

How about you? Do you shop vintage or second hand at all? Do you have any red-hot vintage tips for me? Any must-visit stores? Do tell!!!

Green Living : Make Your Own Baby Food

We’re in the throes of introducing little Toby to all sorts of new fruits and veges at the moment (he is such a guts too – would literally eat anything and everything we offer him!) so making baby food is at the forefront of my brain these days.

Making your own baby food is really simple, and I find that if I do it all on a Sunday (my cooking/baking day) then it’s hardly stressful at all. Like most things, if you do it in bulk, the benefits are outweighed by the slightest bit of extra work. Plus it’s a lot cheaper than buying baby food all the time, and I know exactly what’s in it. (Better still when I can get local and/or organic fruit and veges to use, but that doesn’t happen all the time. Or most the time.)

Some good combos, as approved by Toby are:

– pear and apple
– pumpkin, sweet potato and corn
– carrot and corn
– pumpkin, potato, zucchini 
– (rice or pasts can be added to any of these as bub develops)

1. Peel and chop your chosen fruit/veges. The pieces should be around 2cm each.

2. Put in a saucepan with a little water – around 1-2cm.

3. Bring to boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer until the fruit or veges are tender.

4. Use a blender or a stick mixer to blend up the food for young babies, and a fork to mash it up once your little one can handle slightly chunkier food.

5. I freeze Toby’s food in plastic containers and pull it out as needed. 

When you’re travelling or get caught short, there’s now a few good, organic baby food options at the supermarket.

Raffertys garden is a good one, but I’d go for their organic products, as last time I looked I realized there’s no mention of their regular products being GMO free. So best avoided I’d say!