Category Archives: Simple

So how does a Slow book tour actually work?

Krzysztof Niewolny

Welcome to this week’s episode – a catch up on all things travel now that the US leg of the Slow book tour is over. We’ve received so many questions about the logistics of our trip over the past few months, so today we dive into them all, talking the how, where and why of our time away so far.

First up we talk about how we managed to do the tour – the decisions we made and steps we took in order to pack up our lives in Australia and hit the road. We then go into the nitty gritty of accommodation and planning, including a sweet hack for longer stays in Airbnbs or VRBOs and the benefits of spending more time in a home-like environment when travelling with kids. We talk about the difference between the first half of their trip and the book tour, and also why we decided (after a test run of the #vanlife in the Yukon) not to go down the campervan/caravan route.

Then it’s onto how we came up with our itinerary, the decisions made around food (i.e. not to stress about it) to make our lives easier and how we’ve structured our days. We spend time admiring the resilience of our kids, and talk about the power of expectations and how we managed them throughout the trip: the highs, the lows, and the things we’d do differently next time.

Ben finishes up by sharing some touching words, and I share my advice for people wanting to travel with their families: just do it.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you’ve travelled with kids or plan to in the future. Be sure to get involved in the conversation on Instagram, and use the #slowhomepod so we can see what you’re sharing.

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Tips on Reducing that F****** Ironing Pile.

I am very, very, very bad at keeping up with my ironing pile. Like, bad enough that there are clothes at the bottom of the basket that may or may not have been there since…May. That kind of bad.

I generally manage to take care of the top 75% every couple of weeks, but rarely seem to find time/motivation to finish it completely. (That’s probably a sure sign that we have more than enough clothes in this household, don’t you think?)

This has been something that’s bothered me for a while now. Growing up, my mum was Master of the Laundry. No sooner had you discarded your dirty clothes than they were in the washing machine, hung, dried, ironed and back on the bed. I grew up using this as one of many measures of competency at home.

And while that is super admirable and my hat is forever tipped to such Laundry Masters, my recently adopted path towards the simple life has seen me looking for a better way (for me). And as a result I’ve cut down so much on the amount of ironing I need to do, which leaves me time to do more pleasurable things, like scrape paint off windows or clean the toilet. Some tips for you:

1. Shake, shake, shake! 
My sister told me about this method, and it really works. As I’m hanging up the wet laundry, I give all the kids’ clothes, plus mine and Sparky’s tshirts, jeans, etc three really good, firm shakes before I peg them up. This plus line-drying generally takes care of most things.

2. Sort and fold straight away.
Not always practical, I know, but when I can I like to fold and sort the clothes as soon as they come inside or out of the dryer. It means they don’t get all creased up sitting in the basket for who knows how long.

3. Drop your standards a little. 
I can’t be sure, but I don’t think people talk about us behind our backs due to this non-ironing thing. “Oh, would you look at that rumply family? How embarassing for them. Can you believe they walk around with unironed clothes?”

Point being, I no longer iron tshirts, the kids clothes, pyjamas, outside work gear, exercise clothes, jeans, shorts etc. I iron Sparky’s work shirts, anything really creasy like cotton and linen, and a handful of my delicates. I will admit that I love ironing pillowcases and teatowels though. Weird, I know.

How about you? Do you iron? Do you avoid the ironing? Do you outsource it? Are you the Mayor of Wrinkle Town?

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 (!!)

K.I.S.S: Chaos Reigns. Time to Make Friends with it.

Lately I feel as though I’ve been hit about the head with the crazy stick. Renovations, sick kids, parties to organise and host, the terrible twos, health troubles of my own, Sparky’s insane work schedule, keeping some semblance of a social life (barely) and running the house have all left me reeling.

I figured, when this new level of crazy didn’t disappear after a couple of weeks, that it must be the new kind of normal so I’ve decided to embrace the chaos rather than fight against it.

A clever lady once told me:

“Only be as organised as you need to be.”

While another said:

“Your house should be clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be fun.”

I want to simplify life, not crowd it with stress and anxiety. So I’m accepting the fact that there are only so many hours in the day and many, many things that need doing and that means something has to give. Sometimes that’s housework, sometimes social engagements, sometimes showering(!) I just think it’s important for me to be an active participant in choosing to do (and not do) certain things each day.

I am a worrier (particularly of what others think of me) and a stresshead by nature so I’m sure this will take some work, but I feel as though I’m making peace with the craziness that is this stage of our life. And what’s more, I’m starting to like it.