Monthly Archives: October 2011

How to Start.

You want to start living a slower, simpler life? You can physically feel the weight of your possessions weighing you down? You are tired of feeling exhausted, strung out, stressed and cranky?

But you don’t know where to start, right?

I have been there.

In fact, I find myself there every single day. The only difference between us is that I have taken the first steps.

And that’s all you have to do to start simplifying and slowing down your life. Just start. Do one small thing. Don’t tackle the store room, the garage or the kids toy box[es]. They’re too big. You may get halfway through, become overwhelmed, stop, get disheartened and find yourself more discouraged than before.

           So, trust me, start small.

When people are trying to pay off multiple debts, they’re often told to put all their efforts into paying the biggest one first. Makes sense.

But the better way is to pay off the smallest one first. It will take less time, and you get a victory. You win. You beat that debt and won’t ever go back to it. This makes you hungry for more victory. So you focus on the next smallest debt. And so on. It snowballs and you build momentum.

I’m finding our journey towards slower and simpler is similar.

One day I cleaned out the kitchen drawer. You know the one – random utensils, chopsticks, a couple of lego blocks and a fine dusting of Weetbix crumbs and raw sugar at the bottom? Come on – everyone has one. No shame in it.

  • Next I tackled the medicine cabinet above the fridge.
  • Then the bathroom cabinet.
  • The hall stand.
  • The fridge.
  • Tupperware drawer.
  • Laundry shelf.
  • Cleaning cupboard.
  • Dry goods cupboard.

None of these is a big thing on its own. Most took me between ten minutes and an hour to do. But combine the impact of having a clear, decluttered kitchen, bathroom cabinets and wardrobes, and suddenly I felt lighter. And I hadn’t even started the big stuff yet.

So, truly, just set aside 15 minutes and tackle that one thing. Then let me know how you go.

I can almost guarantee it will prove addictive!

 

Strawberries in the Garden and Why They Suck.

I was watching Gardening Australia on Saturday night (because I’m rock and roll like that) and came across the most exciting thing I’ve heard for quite some time. (Again – rock and roll – that’s me).

Planting geraniums near your vege garden helps to deter possums.

Who knew?!

See, gardening and living a slower, simpler life go hand-in-hand. They’re a match made in heaven. Red wine and chocolate. Peas and carrots…

For me, gardening is therapy and exercise rolled into one earthy-smelly parcel of joy. I get so inspired when I’m outdoors, digging in the dirt, and would find nothing more satisfying than growing our own food.

But since our renovations, we’ve basically just focused on building the gardens again, getting some plants in, fixing the fences etc. There’s been no time for growing our own food.

Slowly, slowly, though, I’ve been introducing some edibles. Some herbs, tomatoes, salad greens and citrus in particular. A few weeks ago I planted my first ever strawberry plants and have delighted in watching the flowers emerge, followed by the tiny little green berries, which slowly, slowly grow and turn pink. When they are just off being ripe, tempting me and Isla with promises of their juicy flavour  –BAM!– possum stealth attack in the dead of night.

The little buggers have gotten every. single. berry.

So you’ll understand why this geranium news got me so excited. This weekend, when I’m doing the obligatory hardware/nursery trip, I’m going to pick up some geraniums and see if we can’t deter us some possums, without resorting to chemical sprays and the like. Because that would defeat the purpose of growing your own, don’t you think?

Meat-Free Monday (on a Tuesday): Easy Vegetable Lasagne

{via MasterChef}

One sure-fire way to feed the family for less is to stop eating meat. I think I could manage that, but to take it out of Sparky’s diet may lead to a mutiny. So we’ve started to eat less meat, with anywhere between one and three dinners per week being meat-free.

Sharing some of our favourite vegetarian meals is my way of encouraging each of us to eat less meat. Bon appetit!

 

Easy Vegetable Lasagne

You’ll need:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 zucchini, grated
  • 1 large sweet potato, grated
  • 2 handfuls mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 x 825g tin crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • fresh lasagne sheets
  • 500g ricotta
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

 

1. Preheat oven to 180c.

2. Heat a splash of olive oil in a frypan, and cook the onion till soft.

3. Add garlic, vegetables, tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.

4. Add sugar and season to taste.

5. Lightly oil large lasagne dish and arrange a layer of lasagne sheets on the base. Top with a thin layer of sauce, then continue to layer pasta and sauce, making one of the layers with ricotta cheese. Finish with a thin layer of sauce on top, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and place into oven for 30 minutes.

6. Stand for 5 minutes before cutting to serve.

 

** The awesome thing about this recipe is, you can substitute the vegies for anything you have on hand. We often include a layer of wilted spinach or silverbeet, as well as some grated pumpkin, squash or carrot. **

 

 

9 Kick-Arse Reasons to Slow Your Home

{via lonny}

We’ve started to look at what a slow home is but now I want to tell you why you should bother.

Yes, there is work involved at the beginning. No, it’s not all sunshine and bubble baths. But, seriously, from what little I’ve already gained, I can tell you you’d be crazy to pass it up.

In an Organised, Decluttered Home:

  • you spend less time cleaning your belongings – because you have fewer of them
  • you spend less time looking for things – because everything has its place
  • you can focus on the things that matter, like family and friends – because you have less stuff to worry about
  • you always remember what you need as you head out the door – because you have a designated entry/exit point

 

In a Green, Healthy Home:

  • you reduce waste and your impact on the environment – because you compost your food scraps or feed them to your chooks
  • you don’t expose your family to unnecessary cleaning and laundry chemicals – because you use effective, natural alternatives
  • your inside air isn’t filled with toxins and VOCs – because you open your windows and use indoor plants as natural air filters

 

In a Light, Airy Home:

  • you have lower electricity bills – because you need fewer lights on during the day
  • you consume less power for heating and cooling – because cross-ventilation and good insulation help keep temperatures comfortable year-round

 

Need More Convincing?

I feel lighter in our home. I feel healthier. It is easier to keep clean (that is a relative statement of course – “clean” being different to “tidy”).  I feel happier. More inclined to be active, to spend time outside. I drink more water. I’m more mindful of what I eat.

I could go on, but I think that could get annoying. I’m fairly certain you understand though. So have at it, friends!

 

What my Two-Year-Old Taught Me About Slowing Down

A morning at the wildlife park is neither slow or easy. Particularly with a toddler and a baby.

Simple? No.

Worthwhile? Absolutely.
I learnt a great deal with Isy at the wildlife park.
The way a two year old will stop and stare – really stare – at the smallest, most insignificant thing is pure magic. There is something to discover at every turn, and a two-year-old doesn’t realise there are other – possibly more impressive – things just up ahead. Instead, a two-year-old will be completely absorbed by what’s in front of them.

An ant.

A feather floating on the breeze.

Pigeons.

Clouds.

A kookaburra.

Ribbon wrapped around a fence.

A turkey.

Flowers in bloom.

Other people.

The ‘what’ barely matters. A child is just wholly present in that moment – be it positive or negative. They wonder and wander and question. (Endlessly. They question endlessly.)

A lot of the philosophy of slowing down is within us from childhood. We simply learn to ignore it, or, worse still, lose the ability all together. We’re far too busy to stop and wonder. Or wander. Or question.

Well, I’ve discovered it’s time to ask, “But, why?”

Or rather, “Why not?”

Why not stop, take off your shoes and feel the grass tickle your toes? Why not lay outside and watch the clouds roll by? Why not take a walk around the block, stopping to look at the trees, the dogs, the houses you come to?

Your inner-child will love it. And your outer-adult will be better off.