Saturday, 31 March 2012

Greening my skin cleansing routine

I read on Nicola's blog - if it came from a plant about the way she is greening up her toiletries and in paticular, her skin cleansing routine which got stuck in a loop in my brain and eventually I had to do something about it.

I'm pretty good at buying green/natural/organic skin care lotions and makeup in the first place but I have a book called 'The Green Beauty Guide' and I wanted to make some bits an pieces out of that since I was on the cusp of needing more product anyway.

So I dug the book up, re-read some parts and dived into the kitchen to make some lotions and potions for myself...

Here's what I did...

I made up a cleanser with a combination of olive oil (which I normally use), rice bran oil (cause its a lot lighter and not so gluggy), some rose massage oil from the body shop, a few drops of rose and jasmine essential oils with some vanilla extract for scent.

It smells divine!
  I decanted that into a flip top bottle and voila - step one of my two step cleansing process was made. Julie Gabriel advises a two step method of face cleansing to get all the grime off; first cleanse with a oil product and wipe off as much as you can and then to use a soap (I made my own) to get the oil off as well as the bits that don't come off with the oil. She said it doesn't matter which order you do it in soap/oil or oil/soap but that if you do both steps you will be 'cleaner' than if you use one process alone.

Then I made a strong cup of green tea, waited for it to cool and used this with a drop or two of jasmine essential oil and a splash of vodka (for preservative) and decanted this into a spray bottle for my freshener/toner. I decided that I was having a floral theme for this set of face cleansers! 

The neighbour pointed out that if it didn't work on my face - I may have invented a green tea cocktail - either way, it will make the person using it feel better!!!

The moisturiser recipes were a bit further than I wanted to go that day so I dug out the moisturisers that I don't use for various reasons (to drying, too thick, too watery) and mixed them together in a small container until I got the consistency that suited me, popped in a few drops of Rose massage oil, a few drops of the floral essential oil and vanilla essence again, a bit of vitamin E and called it quits. Its a frugal moisturiser rather than a home made green one! I did start thinking that all those moisturisers may react together and burn my face or cause some sort of issue so I tested them on my hand for a few days before using it on my face. So far so good!

Once I got them up on the shelf - I decided that they needed to be a bit more decorative and jazzed them up a bit with some scrap papers. I still need to seal the paper covers with some PVA glue as so far, every time I pick up one of those containers - I have wet hands!

So far so good! I could kid myself that my skin is looking better. I think that may be due to actually cleansing my skin twice a day as I enjoy dong it as it smells divine and feels good!

There's lots of recipes for homemade green face care products on the net. Try a few and see how you go!

Score card:
Green-ness: Really green as all the ingredients were natural and I could eat the first two just about!
Frugal-ness: Since I had all the ingredients and bottles, this project didn't cost a cent - cant get much more frugal than that!
Time cost: About 1/2 an hour to make up all three products.
Skill level: Just like baking a cake - just follow the recipe!
Fun -ness: Great fun - and I enjoy the process of cleansing my face much more now!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Whats it like to live with no TV - at all, forever!?

My husband and I have been together for about 10 years and when I moved in with him, he hadn't got around to replacing his TV from his move and mine was wrestled from my flatmates woebegone embrace... to simply sit in the garage for the next few years!

We have been TV-less for at least 10 years now and between you and me, I don't know how people find the time to watch so much not-so-riveting rubbish!! 

The first question people always ask (and usually in incredulous tones) is; "What do you do all night then?" The flip answer I sometimes give alludes to my husbands prowess and although that may be the case - most evening we simply talk. We sit with a cuppa outside in the pergola and actually talk and discuss our day, dreams, hopes, kids, gardens, plans, whose fault it is for leaving the chicken coop  door open and the subsequent ruin of a part of the garden - you know, all the things that make up a relationship!

We spend a lot of time on the evening meal quite often cause we sit with a cuppa at the table and try and talk which ever child is in residence to make another cuppa or dessert or even into doing the dishes!

If we are not talking - we read, a lot. I often have four or five books on the go at a time. Mainly non-fiction for me and my husband is working his way through the classics he has always meant to read on his brand new kindle. Because we read - all our kids end up reading. Thursday night is our night to bug the librarians at our local library and since we can get out 20 items at a time - we often do! Kids follow your example - if you read, they will read too!
Its great fun to be able to sit and spend time discovering stuff together!

Homework gets done in our house because we don't need to find out who is pregnant to who on 'Go Home or Away'. I can usually read what I want to read on the couch and still be available to answer questions, advise or encourage the reluctant homeworker on those nights when I'm not feeling so academic! If the homework has an art component - I usually get stuck in with the "presentation" aspects while they do the research and writing part - its a team effort!

We also sew, mend, fix bikes, do dishes, entertain, play the odd board game or do a jigsaw, bake, write real letters, email, blog, fold washing, play sports, pay bills, do my uni assignments, talk on the phone and generally all the things you want to get done but never have the time for!

And yes - we do watch movies. But not every night as people imagine. We have laptops (two), a desktop computer (one) and a short throw projector and screen to go all out with and have movie nights. We sometimes have the neighbours over for a pot luck dinner and movie in our backyard. That's way better than any night in front of the box!

I'm often asked how I keep up with the news then. I listen to the radio in the mornings and if I'm in the car - 97.3fm, just a standard mainstream station in Brisbane - and with news every 1/2 hour - you don't miss much. I like the Sunday paper as well and if I'm going to have time to read it, I grab one at the markets and spend an hour or so reading that in depth. If there is something happening that I want more information on, I usually go to the net for that sort of thing. We don't "watch" the news on the net although I believe you can.

What are the pit falls of not having a TV then? - Well, the main one for us is a bit embarrassing. When we visit people with one on, neither of us can take our eyes off it! We find them VERY compelling! Most people turn them off after 1/2 and hour of trying to get our attention.... Ooops!

Neither of us were big TV people in the first place and it simply happened rather than was a conscious decision that we made. Another big benefit is no ads in our lives. The kids dont bugg us for things cause they aren't exposed to it constantly, including junk food.

If you were thinking of getting rid of your TV - I would certainly encourage it! Start with a TV free evening - but go out, don't stay in and make it hard to give into the pleas to turn it on. Go for a picnic dinner/BBQ at a park, go for a family bike ride, go to the library or whatever appeals so that no one notices that they aren't watching TV. Maybe introduce a movie night where everyone gets to pick a movie on a rotating basis - again its a choice rather than blind absorption of whatever some TV exec wants you to be exposed to.

Make not having the TV on fun and you are 3/4 of the way there to eliminating it altogether!

Good luck! Let me know how you go!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Feeding your cat: A frugal and healthy way!

One of the issues with owning a cat is that they need to eat. Left to their own devices they will hunt and kill all manner of animals and bird that we would prefer they didn't. So the responsibility falls to us as their owners to provide approprite and healthy food for them.

Like most pet owners, we bought standard pet food in a can from the local supermarket. Fairly quickly, Isobel (the cat) let us know that she was a fish girl and no other canned anything would suffice. So we got her big cans of fish. I started to resent these cans of fish as they absolutely stink after a few days in the fridge (Oh the joys of living in the tropics!) so we bought smaller cans that didn't go off  as quickly but were more expensive and we had more packaging to dispose of.

One day while I was in the local fish market shop - I spotted some wee fishes that reminded me of the ones we used to catch at the wharf as a kid and take home and give to the family cat. So I ordered two sardines and two stripy yellow tails (the packing probably weighed and cost more than the four fish did) and took the home for Madam Isobel the cat to try.

It turns out she LOVES fresh fish and we have discovered a better way to feed the cat - unless you are a sardine that is...

Here's what I did...

First I stop by my local fish market when I'm sure I'm on my way home (you will only park the car with fresh fish in it in a car park and pop into the shops and get chatting with a friend, once, I can assure you!)

At home, I unwrap the package and repackage the sardines into two's if they are big 'un's or three's if they are little 'un's.

Currently, we re wrap them in a bit of cling wrap and wryly note that even though the humans in our house are finally cling wrap free - the cat isn't. And I have 60 metres left of the stuff!

Then we pop the packages in the freezer.

At night when we feed her, you replace the ones she gets with frozen ones that then sit in the fridge defrosting for 24 hours in the designated cat fish bowl.

This system works - as long as you drop by the fish markets regularly. I usually buy a kilo at a time and that lasts about 10 days depending on the size of the sardines and costs about $6. She doesn't mind the yellow tails but on the whole seems to prefer the sardines.

Its easy to dish them out - I simply start unrolling the cling wrap and then shake them onto the ground and she pounces on them and munches away. If you feed the cat on the grass, the ants (or the possums or the neighbours cat) will clean up whatever gets left behind. If you try this, wrap the fish loosely. Cold slimy cling wrapped fish is unpleasant to fiddle with for long periods of time.

Since she has been eating the whole unadulterated fish, I think she is healthier and not so demanding for food. She has access to water all the time and wants/gets only a handful of cat biscuits in the morning and at night. She is defiantly eating less biscuits since she started on the fresh fish and I know what she is actually eating. I imagine that whole fish contains a huge amount of the essential bits and pieces that she needs and that the bones and fins clean her teeth as she eats.

We have been discussing a free flow freezing method where we would freeze the fishes whole but on a tray separately and then once completely frozen, pop them into a bag or box and remove them individually as we needed them to cut down n the packaging. We are yet to try this method!

At any rate - if you have a cat and a fish market close by - this may be a cat feeding option worth pursuing.

Score card:
Green-ness: 3/5 Better to feed the family pet a sustainably fished fish than canned fish byproducts
Frugal-ness: ?/5 I'm not sure its hugely cheaper overall.
Time cost: 3 minutes to repackage and pop in the freezer.
Skill level: Pretty darn easy!
Fun -ness: Not much fun feeding one animal to another - Sardines are pretty little fish too!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Team colours: A cheap way to tell your teams apart!

As some of you may know, I play basketball (albeit badly...) on Tuesday nights. Its a pick up social game at the local PCYC and each week, the teams are made up with whoever turns up. For the last few years there has been a core of about 13-15 of us playing a 5 a-side game. this means there is a sub for those nights its just too hot to run in the Queensland heat, you ate too much dinner before you came or your mobile rings while you are on the court! (We play for fun, not sheep stations!)

This year we have had twenty or so players turning up each night. The PCYC is ok to give us two courts and to have 2 games going on at the same time but we discovered that we can't tell who is on whose team as they change each week! We had been given some netball bibs many years ago and so we had enough for one team - thus making us bibs v non-bibs each week. With two games playing now - we need a better solution and so I made up these 'sashes' for us to wear out of old sheets from the op shop...

Here's what I did...

First I went through my cupboard and cursed myself for giving away all those single sheets during my get rid of fifty things blitz! Then I wandered down to our local op shop and picked up four single sheets for $2 each! I thought that was a bargain.

Then I cut (ripped them actually - quicker and easier, also more accurate for me - but makes for messier edges in the long run) them into six strips. (One for each player + a sub)

I folded the ripped sides in twice and sewed up the long edge making a long hollow tube.

Then I folded up the ends and double sewed them shut - hoping to trap all the raw edges inside the sash.

A few minutes cutting off the threads that didn't get tucked in...

And voila - in an hour I had four sets of  six team colours for our Tuesday night game!

They are folded in half in this image

It only dawned on me later that I only needed two sets - Two teams could've played against a non-sash team each...

I made these quite big as they need to fit a wide variety of people. Some tall, some skinny, some athletic, some not so! If they are way to big, you could tie a knot in one end to temporarily shorten them for that game. I'm not sure what I did to the green one to make it smaller - but that might be the other way to go and custom make them for each member if they are the same people each week.

 If I was making kids ones I would look at making them width wise rather than lengthwise as I have done here

I'll give them a trial run on Tuesday and let you know how they go!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for using recycled stuff and re purposing it!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 $8 for four sets of team colours has to be some sort of record!
Time cost: About an hour. If you are a real sewer maybe less cause you know what you are doing or more cause you don't take every shortcut like I did!
Skill level: Another straight line sewing project! Pretty basic skills required!
Fun -ness: Good fun making something that will be used by lots of people!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Getting rid of ants in your home - naturally!

I have lived in this house for over ten years and for over ten years we have hosted a great many ants as they use the front of the house as a massive any highway. I don't know where they go and I don't know where they come from despite efforts over the years to trace their nest.

They march across the back of the neighbours house, along her gate, across the fence, along our gate, along the side of of our house, across the front and down the side to the fence where they disappear into the 'good' neighbours place (Good fences make good neighbours. When we put up a huge non-see through fence they became much better neighbours!) 

The highway is usually about 10cm to a foot wide and, as a general rule of thumb, that where they stay. I'm guessing that all the rain has upset them and in the last month or two they have been coming across our verandah, not the front of the house

When you have visitors to the front door, its quite a sight.

Over the years we have sprayed 'em with everything money can buy but are getting worried that its actually affecting us more than its affecting the ants. You spray them, they all die, you clean up 20 million tiny black bodies and within the hour, you wouldn't think you had even had a go at them. They are back in the same quantities as before - the missing 20 million or so making no apparent impact of any kind!!!

I researched the net extensively and started my battle in earnest a few weeks ago...

Here's what I did...

First I accepted that I wasn't going to be able to find and kill the nest as we think it is on the neighbours neighbours place. I wanted to move them from the front door and verandah back onto their age old path across the front of the house.

With that goal in mind, I got a jar of Vicks vapour rub and created a simple barrier across the path that they were using. It worked a treat. Then they walked around it. Knowing it worked, I then extended my barrier all the way to the ceiling and down to the floor. They didn't like either the smell or the texture and kept their distance.

Then I started spraying a mixture of Eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil diluted in water on the inside of the verandah and around the door hoping to kill those that were trapped in there already and to deter those who weren't with the smell. Apparently ants don't like strong smelling stuff - pepper and cinnamon were also cited but I didn't know how to get them to stick to the walls!

This worked. For a whole hour or so and then they were back. After a while I discovered that you can just kill them by spraying them with water. You don't need chemicals at all. If you have an ant invasion in your kitchen for example and want to kill them, just use a fine mist and spray them and then simply wipe them up.

I spent the whole day spraying the verandah at 1/2 hourly intervals and by four o'clock, I was ankle deep in little black bodies - they just kept coming. They do not learn quickly! The verandah, however, smelt like the inside of a Eucalyptus would!

I kept up the spraying with diluted Tea tree and/or Eucalyptus oil in water for a week. Eventually they more or less gave up. I actually think I have driven them inside the ceiling of the verandah but at least they are not crowding around the door and frightening off my visitors.

I now have my bottle of spray sitting on the verandah so I can pounce on the if they break the barrier and before they establish their path again.

It was a pretty horrible thing to do. I didn't enjoy it one little bit but eventually they got the message and are more or less off the verandah. The neighbours got their house chlorine cleaned and insecticided to get rid of the ants. Cost a fortune, stunk like the Billi-o and the ants were back in about two days

In a case like this - simply making it too hard for them, consistently, is the way to go. They need to be trained that this area is no longer safe and not to come back. The Vicks barrier is still working. Full of dust and other bugs now but the ants wont go near must smell too much for their liking.

Good luck if you have ants on a large scale!

Score card:
Green-ness: Petty green in that I'm  using natural chemicals not man made concoctions.
Frugal-ness: Much much cheaper than proprietary spays or insecticides
Time cost: You need to be dedicated with this sort of invasion... Lots of time needed at regular intervals.
Skill level: Just point and spray. 
Fun -ness: Not much at all - I prefer to live and let live normally...

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Peg bucket out of an old milk bottle!

My husband does the washing in our house. He was fussy when I met him about his laundry and continues to be so to this day. In order to retain domestic harmony (and cause I'm too lazy to wash pedantically like he does) I most magnanimously let him be in charge of the washing!

One of the things he has always done is use a milk bottle for a peg bucket. Its cheap (free really), quick to make and does the job perfectly...

Here's what he does...

He simply uses a pair of scissors to cut the bottle into this shape.

Then cuts a bit out of the back of the handle so it will hang on the line.

And the pegs go inside after he has poked a couple of drainage holes in the bottom.

And it is done! Simple, easy and green!

A 3 litre bottle hold enough pegs for a wash in our house and the hole is big enough to get your hand in an out of with a fist full of pegs easily. The other great thing is that it sits flat when you want to put it down and is still easy to get the pegs in and out of. If you dont leave it on the line (and he doesnt) it will sit easily on the laundry shelf or on the table...

You can make one for every day of the week if you go through enough milk!

We use wooden pegs so that when they break (as they always do) we can just chuck 'em into the greenery and they can decompose in there with out looking like rubbish, as the plastic ones do.

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 Totally green! re purposed, recycled and useful!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 How frugal is free?
Time cost: 1 minute! Takes longer to rinse the bottle than to remodel it!
Skill level: Cutting without the pasting!
Fun -ness:More  fun if some else is doing the washing of course!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Down to Earth. A guide to simple living - The Book

I came across Rhonda's website when she was just starting to end the process of getting her book published and watched with interest as the proof copies appeared and read her posts about what she was thinking. Lots of people were writing to say they had ordered copies and so I thought I would have a look at one too - Having never seen a blog turn into a book, I was curious to say the least.

My first port of call when looking for any book is our local library. I wandered through the catalogue, backwards and forwards and couldn't find Rhonda's book anywhere. So I emailed the chief Librarian and asked if she was thinking of buying it and if so, I'd be keen to borrow it.

It arrived at the library on the same day that the books went on sale! I got first dibs on it and by the time I picked it up a day later, there were 13 people with requests in for it already - Now that's a popular book!

So what did I think?

Its great! I somehow thought there would be more recipes, more 'how to's,' more projects to try rather than philosophy, but on reflection, the practical side flows from the philosophy. You wont muck around with time consuming activities if you don't believe the reasons for it in the first place.

I think a fair bit of her audience will already be practising a fair bit of these idea's already - I know I am and it was comforting to read someone else's version about what I do and how I think. It's good to see a fair few of us are all thinking along the same lines! It strengthens my resolve to pay off that mortgage, to cook from scratch and to drop out of the consumer rat race as quick as I can!

Its a decent read - not a 'flick through, Hmmm.. that looks interesting'  - type book. With over 325 pages, theres a lot of information to take in. A blog is usually written in bite size pieces. This book is written like a book - not a series of posts. That fact took me a little while to get my head around.

Rhonda has a lovely writing style and in her previous life I believe she was a professional writer. Each chapter is set out to build on the last one, building a complete case for simple living! It's gentle, warm, friendly and enticing. Rhonda tells us how it was for her but encourages you to undertake your own journey - not create a replica of her's.

The pictures are glorious, the layout attractive and easy to read and the book is a good size for reading at the table or in bed. It also fits quite well into medium handbags to take to show others!

All in all a really good book to start exploring simple living and to build on the start a lot of us have already made!

Well done Rhonda!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Wow! I've been Leibster-ed!

I'm speechless!
But I have a big grin on my face!
Evi, over at Sister Sun has given me a Leibster Award!
Thank you Evi - I am really quite chuffed! Especially since I haven't been blogging for very long!
A Liebster Blog Award is given by bloggers who have been Leibstered themselves to other to talented and loved bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word, meaning dearest or beloved, but it can also mean favorite. The idea behind the Liebster Blog Award is that it is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers in order to create new connections and bring attention to these wonderful blogs!
There are a few rules that go along with accepting the award: 

- Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
- Link back to the presenter who presented the award to you.
- Copy and paste the award on to your blog.
- Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs with 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed. (with Bloggers followers gadget not working well - I actually cant tell how many followers a blog has at the moment)
- Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment on their blog. 

(Sorry Evi/Becky, I borrowed the above blurb from you, hope that's ok) 

So, here is my chance to pay it forward and let you all know about a few of the blogs I have been *lurking*  on for a while (I'm still new to this world and a bit shy...)

So, in my best award presenting blogvoice - I would like to award the following bloggers, in no particular order, their very own Leibster Award! - Enjoy!

Nicola over at If it came from a Plant for a wide variety of topics, great book reviews and wonderful menu planning ideas!

Christine at Slow Living Essentials for her encouragement and support, really interesting posts and for starting the monthly reflections that I have come to enjoy so much!

Juggler over at Juggling my Home who seems to be everywhere doing so many things, looking after her two CF boys and she makes cheese!

Brydie at CityHippyFarmGirl  for wonderful food pictures and recipes, lovely family stories and, of course, her precious new baby that she has shared with us!

And Trish over at Living the Gentle Life for being in the same boat as me - living in suburbia and trying to lighten the load on the planet, become eco-responsible and connect more with the world around her!

Congratulations to you all! I really enjoy logging on and seeing what these women have to say every few days and take on board a lot of what they blog, into my own life. I hope this award makes your day - just like it did me! Enjoy!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Bread tag electrical cord markers - sorting out the powerboards!

I don't know about you... But most of our power boards are in hard to reach places - behind the couch, stuck way back under a cabinet, under the desk - I know I'm getting old when I need to plug in or unplug some thing and have to climb under the desk, that's for real!

And then to add insult to injury, I usually end up pulling out the wrong plug and having to go through the procedure all over again...

I was cruising the net one day and came across this GREAT idea to quickly and easily label my cords for once and for all...

Have a look here! There are some other good ideas for cord lableing as well!

Here's what I did...

First, I had to collect these bread tags from work as we don't actually buy bread...

Then you simply write the name of the appliance on it with a permanent marker.

Then attach each clip to the RIGHT cord (Tip right there for beginners!) and drop it back behind the couch, desk or cabinet. And next time you want to pull a cord for some reason - all going to plan - you'll be able to pull the right one the first time!

How easy is that??? Good luck!

Score card:
Green-ness: Repurposing what is essentially a throwaway item is as green as you can get!
Frugal-ness: Finding a use for something you already have without spending a cent - much frugalness!
Time cost: All of 30 seconds!
Skill level: Supa-dupa easy!
Fun-ness: Great fun being this organised!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Time saving, money saving menu planning!

Like most people, I have a reasonably active, pretty filled up life. One of the things that I used to always be behind the 8 ball with was grocery shopping and sorting out what we are having for dinner. The two kinda go together.

One day I came across the concept of Menu planning. Since I started that, I have taken a HUGE amount of stress out of my life by knowing whats for dinner each night, saved a ton of money case we don't need to buy takeaways and we eat a lot healthier - cause we aren't eating so many takeaways.

Menu planning is a wonderful thing!

Here's what I did...

First I get out my diary and note how many meals I need (are we off to a birthday dinner, having visitors, working late, playing sport, going to a concert?) I have a quick look to see how many crock pot, fend for yourself toasted sandwich or baked beans on toast meals the family will need and then I get out a handful of cook books and start browsing. I get paid fortnightly and so I do a fortnightly menu plan and grocery shop and so I am looking for 14 ideas for dinner.

I flick through the books and/or the net (usually make a list of the recipes or meals that appeal.

I make a list of the meals that i think I want to make and also write a a side list of bits and pieces that I'll need to buy if I make these dishes.

Then I start slotting them into the days of the week. Tuesday is basketball night in our house. Whatever is for dinner has to be ready and eaten in about 40 minutes between getting home and getting out the door on time! Its a good night for slow cooker meals, quiches and toasted sandwiches!

Some nights I work late and the family has to fend for themselves - so that's fried egg sandwich night for the boys. Some nights we just do takeaway and be done!

Other nights we have friends over and so that might be a home smoked salmon with lots of wine night!

Once I have put them into the "book of lists" (my personal to do list list book with my lists for crafts, the garden, menus, master shopping list, to do today, bills to pay, etc) I pop the list on to a whiteboard inside the pantry so we all know whats for dinner and I can look inside in the pantry in the morning and defrost the meat, start up the crock pot or make a note to get cream, milk or asparagus or whatever I need for dinner. Much less stress all round!

Then I use the side list of ingredients I made as the basis for the grocery shop for the week. I made a master shopping list (that I keep in my book of lists) and scan it to remind me to grab toothpaste, cling wrap, mustard, flour or whatever I'm running low on. 

Saves me lots of time, stress and money! Give it a go and let me know how you go!

Have a look at Nicoles blog and how she goes about meal planning while youre about it!

Score card:
Green-ness: Stopping yourself from buying things that you forget you have and throwing them out is a pretty green thing to be doing!
Frugal-ness: Only buying what you need and whats in season is a great frugal way to live!Time cost: About 15 minutes once you get into a routine of menu planning as you tend to fall back on old favourites time and time again!
Skill level: Pretty easy really!
Fun -ness: Great fun to plan yummy dinners in advance!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Slowing Down - Reflections on February 2012

I have been following Christine at Slow Living Essentials for a while and last month she set a challenge to record on our blog monthly how we have "slowed down" under nine categories - I did one for January and really enjoyed it. This is my February reflection of Slowing Down - the Slow Living Essentials way!

Here's what I did... 

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. I have starting making an effort to have leftovers each night for the hubbies lunch so he isn't buying junk food each day. He is the biggest junk food consumer in the house as he is on the road all day and its easier to buy a lunch than to pack a lunch. 

PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. I do a fortnightly menu plan and use that as the basis for my shopping list - and then try to stay out of the shops. Also been making a bit of an effort to use up some of the preserves and jams that we have. Strawberry Jam tarts for dessert tonight!!
(Although I did make some yummy Plum sauce from my childhood to add to the collection despite my need to use up our preserves not add to them!) 

Messy to make but very yummy!

REDUCE: Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. Done a bit of mending this month - not as much as needs to be done, there is never THAT much time in a month!! We shred all our junk mail and paper waste and pop it in the compost heap making a virtue of a nuisance that we get, despite the no junk mail sign on the letterbox - Shredded junk mail seems to make good chook nesting material too!

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade products. Made some more washing powder and saw a recipe on Cheapskates for home made carpet cleaner that I want to give a go. Also have tried to get rid of the ant invasion in an environmentally friendly way - but am not winning at this point... That's an epic post in the making!

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Just my microgreens... Still. But doing this diary keeps me thinking about setting up another variation of our vege garden in the hope that one configuration will work - one day!

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Made a Valentines card for the beloved! I think he may have guessed who it was from though!? I also meet with a few ladies from the neighbourhood on a Monday morning to work on craft projects, chat and enjoy each others company. I'm working on a horseshoe at the moment for my nieces wedding in a fortnight!

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. I went through the on line catalogue of our local council library and couldn't find Rhonda's book - Down to Earth on it anywhere. So I emailed the chief librarian (well, they will make her email available to the meddling public) asking if they would purchase a copy - and Voila - today I get an email saying the book is sitting there waiting for me! Looking forward to getting that and settling down for a cuppa this afternoon in the hammock!

ENHANCE: community: The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold. I have been volunteering at the local PCYC Blue Light Disco this month - the 300+ kids who attend, love it! I on the other hand, go home deaf and disorientated! I'm not sure how this is good for me... But the Sargent assures me its good for the community!!! I have also taken  over the running of our social Basketball games - this I really enjoy even though I STILL cant shoot!

ENJOY: Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Ahh... Valentines day, Mother In Laws Birthday, dinners with a number of good friends and my afternoon tea party!!! A very social month for me which is one of my goals for 2012! Spending more quality time with those whose company I enjoy!

Once again, good fun to do!  It 's great to sit and reflect on my progress once in a while - this is a fabulous idea! Thanks Christine!
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