Monday, 6 February 2012

Success and Failure

by Megan at The Byron Life

This summer was going to be the season where I put all of those dreams of growing my own food into action. I prepared the veggie beds, sowed the seeds and watched in awe as everything took off and grew, grew, grew... success! Well, so I thought.
Nature had some other plans...
We've just had the coldest start to summer in 50 years and the rain we've had, oh my, the rain...the North Coast has flooded at levels not seen for decades.
It's enough to send this fledgling gardener back to the fruit and veggie shop for supplies - we certainly can't live off my garden, the harvest has been dismal.

The top photo showed what happened to my precious little pear tomatoes after all that rain - they split their sides in protest!
And the mango tree we waited for YEARS to come good was looking spectacular, full of fruit... until the bats got to them!! Waking up and finding half the fruit lying on the ground, half-eaten, was devastating.

We salvaged what we could from the mango tree and when I cut into that first home-grown fruit it was divine. So sweet and juicy, just perfect...Worth the pain.

So, I've notched up a bit of experience now. Bring in the tomatoes and ripen them on the kitchen window sill. Bag the mangoes before the bats get to them. Sure, there's a lot you can read from books and blogs - but nothing really beats learning by doing, does it?

Watch this space to see how I fare with Autumn... I'm not giving up! Floods and flying foxes won't stop me.


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Days Like These

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

It is days like these when we have nowhere to go and no real commitments, that I wonder why it isn't possible to be still more often. Today I declared it was a "home day". And just what is a home day? A day where we never leave home; no shoes need to be put on, no hats, scarves or gloves need to be tackled. It's a day where I stand at the window, cup of tea in hand and watch the world go by. It is a day where I enjoy simple crafts with my children, no one needing to be hurried, no one making us late. It is a day where I smell curries and soups and muffins cooking and baking, ready to nourish us through far too many busy and hurried days ahead.

It is days like these where I reflect on our choices, our dreams, our aspirations and instead of planning I think "be still". It is days like these where I accomplish our greatest goal - simplicity. It is days like these when absolutely everything else can wait and I'm reminded of a favourite poem...

Cleaning and cooking can wait 'till tomorrow
For babies grow up, as we've learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep


It is days like these, where my greatest wish for this world is for everyone to stop. Stop the negative and anxious thoughts. Stop the dash to the shops. Stop the hurried list of things to do. Stop. Stop. Stop. Be still. Be still. Be still.

I hope each person reading this soon has a plan to be still. To breathe. To relax. To be...

Saturday, 4 February 2012


by Eilleen

Hello everyone!

I am currently writing this blog post in a hotel in Sydney far away from my home in ONC (Our Nation's Capital). It is the last weekend before the end of school holidays, so my children and I thought we'd come up to our nation's largest city and have some fun.

I love Sydney. I enjoy many of the things this city has to offer. I even enjoy the hustle and bustle! I have come here often for work and for pleasure and some pivotal moments of my life have happened here.

One of those moments was a talk I attended during the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House in 2009. That talk was presented by Germaine Greer on "Freedom".

Freedom, I believe, is a deeply personal state. *My* state of freedom would be different to others who may seemingly occupy that same state. I believe its because freedom is the ability to act in accordance to one's own values. Ergo, this means that oppression is (according to GG) when one is compelled to act in accordance with a set of values that is not their own.

If freedom is a deeply personal state, and if we are to operate as a "free society" then freedom is something that needs to be negotiated and redefined at all levels. Perhaps a key part of that negotiation and redefinition is to respect all people's values and not use fear to compel them to act in ways that do not fit into their value system.

That talk was huge for me because its when I believe I started to ask deeper questions regarding consumerism.

Are the companies who produce, and governments who ensure that there are goods for us to buy respect our values? Or do they try to instil fear and anxiety to compel us to buy what we do not want?

Is consumerism a form of social control?

Am I (and my community) living in accordance to my (and our) values?

Anyway, lots of deep thoughts for me at the moment, so I thought I'd leave you with this image I found in flickr:

"Freedom is a Toilet Tissue" Photo by Russell Higgs <-- click to read Russell's story about this photo.

I wish you all a good weekend!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Lifestyle Transitions

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
A wry smile crept across my face as I read my co-writer Aurora's post, immediately preceding my day to write. I have a comfortable morning routine, honed over many years. Or had, shall I say? My husband, transitioning into retirement, now has put everything into disarray.

Many of the same things still get done: breakfast cooked, dishes washed, a load of laundry started, bed fluffed and made up. And sometimes, now it's even him doing some of those things, so I really can't complain (although I do prefer he stay away from the laundry - and I do speak from experience).

But some things have changed too. He's an early riser, so I find my day now tends to start earlier too. I usually read the newspaper as my breakfast muffins or oats are cooking - he has the paper. I take my mid-morning cup of tea in to check my email - he's on the computer. I go to vacuum the living room - he's watching something on television. My late-afternoon walks with the dog are now more likely to take place much earlier, and now there are three of us. Dinner plans now are a topic for discussion instead of up to my discretion.

Spending patterns are in flux right now too. My grocery list has changed - he's now eating lunch at home instead of at work. And I had to reinforce that idea too. We'd often go out to lunch on his day off. But now that every day is his day off, that pattern needs to be broken. He's now readjusting to fixing and eating lunches at home most of the time.

Most of our household bills will remain the same, but we're still waiting to see about car use and gasoline expense. He's not commuting to work, but with more time to spend together we are getting out and about, doing things together. It's a good thing I do so enjoy his company.

As he said a couple of days ago, his "accumulation" phase is now ending. Now we're looking at how to start using the funds we've saved up for this time, and how far we need to plan ahead. Neither of us is quite old enough for government health care. Without the company health insurance, we're going to have to shop for our own coverage for the time being. Not constrained by corporate dictates of who we can see, we'll probably re-examine our health care providers - perhaps changing dentists, optometrists, and doctors.

We've saved and planned for this day - but it's always been "someday." Now that it's here, it's going to take the both of us a bit of time to readjust.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Morning routines

By Aurora @ Island Dreaming

Keeping house doesn't come naturally to me. There are aspects of it I love - gardening springs to mind. There are aspects I despise - washing up in particular. The rest of domestic life falls somewhere in between theses extremes, more often than not skewed towards the negative end of the scale. My natural inclination is to spend a lot of my time living in my own head pondering other matters unrelated to the reality in front of me, whilst those very real things build up, topple over and cause an even bigger mess.

Then I became a parent and the time I had to just live in my own head and ponder 'things' pretty much evaporated, along with the mental energy that went with it. That is when I really began to focus on my day to day life, my surroundings. I saw the ugly reality of the two day old washing up pile, the laundry still waiting to be folded, the stuffed to bursting cupboards of 'stuff'. I had been brought down to earth with a bump and actually had to live in my physical environment - and it appalled me. I began to change.

The decluttering commenced, the housework was manageable, time had been freed up for baking and gardening and crafting. Life was good and getting better. Just when I thought I had 'got' it, it was gone again in a whirl of sleepless nights and the chaos of integrating a new baby's preferred routine with the one that was already established. More chaos ensued, though a more manageable one.

Routines are grounding, I get that now.  The more chaotic and time constrained life is, the more important it is to integrate a little bit of routine. A morning routine is especially grounding, it sets you up for the rest of the day. Get the first hour right and the rest should follow. And so I am trying to begin again, to get off on the right foot. I wake up, come downstairs and put the coffee on. I put in a load of laundry and I wash up last nights dishes (both of which can be done with a foggy just woken up state of mind) getting my least favourite jobs over and done with. We sit and eat breakfast and drink our coffee and get ready for the day. The most productive hour of my day, unchanging, regardless of the rest of my schedule. A little normality has been restored.

Other routines will follow and routines will also evolve over time if they no longer suit. If like me you are disinclined towards routine, a simple plan for the first hour of the day is perhaps the best place to begin. Set several things going all at once - the coffee, the laundry, the washing up - and let each thing flow into the other, stirring you to life gradually.

So, how was your morning?