Saturday, July 31, 2010

Trading Up: July

I'm excited to report many trade ups in my first month!

Out: Old polyester doona
In: Australian Made, from Australian Wool Woolen Quilt and Underblanket (we haven't put the electric blanket on the bed yet this winter!!)

Out: Artistry Creme Caramel Hand Cream
In: Grown Vanilla and Orange Hand Cream

Out: L'Oreal Shampo & Conditioner
In: Sukin Purifying Shampoo & Nourishing Conditioner

Out: Cussons Japanese Spa Body Wash, Lyx Body Wash, Natio soap
In: Est Cinnamon Orane Spice soap ball

Out: Burts Bees Peppermint Lip Balm
In: Est Velvet Vanilla & Orange Lip Balm

Out: Rexona Women Aerosol Deodorant
In: Miessence Unscented Roll-on deodorant

Out: Colgate Toothpaste
In: Miessence Mint Toothpaste

Out: The Body Shop Moringa Milk Body Lotion & Moroccan Rose Body Milk
In: Grown Mandarin & Rosemary Leaf Body Cream

Out: Vanilla Fridge Spray
In: Ecover Lavender multi-purpose spray

Out: Finish Dishwasher Tablets
In: Herbon Dishwasher Powder

Out: Morning Fresh Dishwashing Liquid
In: Herbon Ylang Ylang Dishwashing Liquid

Out: Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent
In: Herbon Eucalyptus Laundry Detergent

This looks like a long list but we've still got a ways to go - especially in the laundry and skincare areas. Where possibly we've sourced the most local product, before anything else - ie replacing America's Seventh Generation and Burt's Bees with products made as locally as Hawthorn and Altona.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Melbourne Bikefest 2010

Put this one in your diary.
From 24th to 28th November 2010, 1000 £ Bend in Little Lonsdale street will be doing double duty as the home of Melbourne Bikefest. There will be lots of forums, activities and informational sessions over the 4 days so keep your eye on their site - more details will be announced soon!

Ode to Pashley

My beautiful bicycle gives me freedom.
Freedom to start and stop when I want.
Freedom from the string of cars going nowhere in peak hour.
Freedom from performance enhancing bicycle apparel.
Freedom to stretch my legs.
Freedom to park right in front of the shop.
Freedom to take a shortcut if I like.
Freedom to take the scenic route.
Freedom to enjoy my journey, not suffer it.

My friend Kat and I were thrilled to attend last week's Cycle Chic Friday at Denmark House. I really appreciated Mikael's thoughts on what's required to foster a strong bicycle culture in our cities and Mike the cameraman also had some great thoughts on sit-up bicycles. His comment that there is likely a basic human need that makes us feel good about 'getting somewhere with our own two legs' really resonated with me. I love knowing that I can get somewhere under my own steam, it gives me a feeling of confidence, pride and power.

How about you?

It's a new decade!

I've started thinking about this differently, looking to the past and planning for the future.
In the last decade I accomplished many things

  • I completed my degree
  • Moved out of home
  • Rented by myself
  • Saved the deposit for and bought my first house with my then darling boyfriend of 5 years.
  • Experienced 3 very different jobs - taking learnings from each one
  • Searched for and found our sweet little dog, finally our own!
  • Saved for my own beautiful bicycle with my casual job
  • Sewed many gifts for friends and a few outfits for myself too
  • Married my darling husband
In the next decade I'm looking forward to ticking off the following (in no particular order)

  • Visit Europe
  • Learn to knit - started
  • Learn to play accordion
  • Build our sustainable, energy efficient, beautiful straw bale home in the country
  • Build a kitchen garden and chook run
  • Begin our own little family
I'm sure this list will continue to evolve, and I'm so excited to get stuck into it! Bring on the Twenty Teens!

      Thursday, July 29, 2010

      Where were you going to be?

      My house uncluttering project is well underway again - and yesterday I found a blast from the past as I reached into the darkest depths of our hall cupboard. Among some old old Star-Shots photos (shudder) and some graphics projects, I found a couple of '2008 High School Reunion' predictions - one of which yours truly featured in. My head was stuck on a model's body and the caption read 'Fresh from her overseas travels - she made it!'

      There was only a couple of things right about the picture - my hair was as short then as it is now and I really feel that I have made it - if it means making my own decisions and surrounding myself with inspiring people and happy memories. Not that there's nothing more to do. No, it just keeps getting bigger and better! As far as the overseas travels part - that's still on the to-do list. It was interesting seeing what my peers thought would become of me in 10 years time - where did you expect to be 10 years after high school?

      Uncluttering took a back seat tonight as I ironed my way through the study - then listed some of my half-decent treasures on eBay. That's usually something I'll put off forever so it felt really good having it under control, photos and all - hopefully I'll earn a few bucks to put towards our very own copy of Brian Hodge's Building Your Straw Bale Home. Sounds like a good deal to me... 

      Tuesday, July 27, 2010

      5 words...

      There's been a few changes around here lately. Strangely since returning to Melbourne married and 30 last month, I've also come back with an entirely fresh set of ideas. Well fresh for me. No longer am I collecting more and more bags/shoes/clothes/jewellery that I think I need, but I've started clearing out... using the mantra I picked up on my first very inspiring visit to zenhabits

      Does     this     simplify     my     life?

      Nope? Out with it then! Room by room I've been more ruthless than ever before - uncluttering to my heart's content and down to the essentials. I've kept some items aside for friends who I think might enjoy them, sold some on eBay with a few great ideas of how to spend the cash, and there is a bootload of goodies to drop of to our local op-shop with still 3 rooms to go!
      It's incredible how we hardly ever (or never) use some of the stuff in our home - I made a decision that if its in our house, it better have a very good reason - and this is the statement that I fall back on if I hesitate.

      With my attention being diverted for the last week, I'm still halfway through Day 3 and look forward to ticking it off tomorrow evening. There's 3 boxes of stuff and 1 pile of clothes from Day 2's efforts, and I was simply amazed when I was able to completely empty 4 drawers of the chest in the guest room - I could relocate some other things there and make more room in the hallway cupboard to store our suitcases and spare dining chairs! This is really working!

      I've found myself asking those same 5 words in other areas of life too - and I'm becoming more interested in just what sort of nasties are in our everyday products. Starting with toiletries, I'll slowly be replacing each chemically laden product with a clean, green alternative and I look forward to sharing my results with you. A couple of brands I've got my eye on are trilogy, grown and sukin. These are high on my list as they are all Australian/ New Zealand products, all avoid some of the most infamous chemicals such as parabens and sodium lauryl sulphates, and they have recognised their responsibility to incorporate environmentally friendly, recyclable packaging across their ranges.
      From skincare to cleaning, and the kitchen and laundry products are next on my hitlist - we've been pretty good at choosing biodegradeable dishwashing and laundry detergents, however we've been buying Seventh Generation - an American brand. Upon closer inspection of the cleaning aisle at Passionfoods, I discovered 2 eco-friendly brands which are made right here in Victoria - we'll be working our way through these ranges first!

      So my journey of informed decisions will continue, and I look forward to sharing it.

      Wednesday, July 21, 2010

      Roll up! Roll up! It's Cycle Chic Friday!

      OK all you Cycle Chics! Tomorrow is Cycle Chic Friday @ Denmark House - come on down from 5pm dressed to impress for the chance to hear Mikael Colville-Andersen speak about how Melbourne and other cities can be inspired by Copenhagen's transformation.

      And while you're surfing - drop in to CycleStyle - a Melbourne based online store with all those gorgeous OS cycling accessories that you've been dying to get your hands on!

      See you on Friday!

      Monday, July 19, 2010

      Less really is more

      It's funny what a collector I became when preparing for our wedding. I thought I needed it all - beautiful lingerie for every single day, a new dress for every occasion and not 1 but 4 swimsuits! Needless to say my darling husband was the one dragging my suitcase all over the place, not me!
      Since we have returned home and settled into married life, a strange thing has happened. I no longer need so much stuff. I don't want to accumulate more stuff that I can't use and with the help of my new guardian angels, Unclutterer and zenhabits I look forward to removing all the extra stuff around our house over the coming weeks. Just because it looks nice or fits well, doesn't mean you need it. Just because it fits in the cupboard, doesn't make it useful. I'll be selling some select items on eBay but the rest of it will be donated to our local Savers store. Unlike clean-outs I've had in the past, I'm being particularly ruthless. I even considered taking out all the clothes in my wardrobe and only putting things back as I wore them, over a series of months, to truly see what I can live without. Now I don't think I'll need to go to this extreme but I did happen to find an article with this exact plan called The Clean-Slate guide to Simplicity when I bumped into zenhabits the first time the next day! Uncanny!

      So, with the following definition from Unclutterer ringing in my ears, last Wednesday I began my new role as an Unclutterer...

      An unclutterer is someone who chooses to live without the distractions
      that get in the way of a remarkable life.

      By the time I'd gotten home I'd already thought of things all over the house I could clear out so my first evening - though very productive, was a bit scattered. So the next morning I came up with a strategic plan to cover the whole house - room by room....let's see how I'm going!

      I only wish I remembered to take before and after photos - the difference is already tremendous! It should be much easier to keep our place clean too...

      Declutter goal
      Day 1
      Wed 14/7
      4 earrings
      5 books
      2 nail polishes
      8 nail polishes
      10 books
      at least 8 earrings
      1 bangle
      5 broochs
      2 hair stylers
      Old prescription medication
      Unused bathroom products

      And downstairs – 4 old magazines and a set of coasters, a little teacup and saucer and a set of salt &  pepper shakers
      I had already been thinking of certain items I could get rid of all day – so there wasn’t much concentrated activity but
      it was a good taste of some areas where I know that more can go.
      Day 2
      Thurs 15/7
      Nightstand and centre drawer of dressing table
      Drawers in guest room
      Completed nightstand – I wasn’t using any of the two bottom drawers so I have moved some clothes into them and most of the items (which were keepsakes) are going into a box with my treasure chest of old jewellery.
      Top of dresser – seriously culled lots of jewellery. I was ruthless. Lots to give away – including 2 watches to friends if they want them. I’m keeping a small selection of necklaces and bracelets that I received as gifts when I was younger. I’m OK with that – they won’t clog up my useful jewellery box space as they are going in the roof.
      Centre drawer – threw out some old things, moved candles downstairs, consolidated 2 boxes of matches and rearranged the inserts so Trav and I have one each for fragrances. deodorants stay at the front. Roll ons will fit better!

      Trav cleaned out his nightstand and  bathroom basket – there were 4 bags of rubbish to throw out!

      Didn’t get to guest room but had a really productive evening. as I was putting clothes in the other drawers, I came across at least 10 more tops that I could give away without even blinking – and reduced my pj selection too. Who needs that many pjs??

      I also diverted from the original plan and pulled out a bowl and plate from hutch to give away.

      Day 3
      Hallway cupboards – shoes, bags, clothes. make the spare dining chairs fit in there! – straw bag, toiletry bag, pink bridesmaid dress.

      Day 4

      Day 5
      Rest of study – desk, sewing desk, cupboards

      Day 6
      Clothes in my drawers – singlets? pjs? socks?

      Day 7
      Clothes on top of my cupboard

      Day 8
      Clothes in my wardrobe

      Day 10
      Buffet, Hutch and entrance
      -          ikea swirly platter, a vase or two? blue ikea bowl and plate

      Day 11
      Have another look around the kitchen – we did a pretty good job of this a few months ago and don’t think we’ve accumulated any extras, but it’s worth a once-over!

      Friday, July 16, 2010

      If you can't find time, make it!

      Over the past few months, I've been considering what I need less of in my life. Where am I wasting my time? What things are taking up my time that perhaps didn't in the past? What do I want to do with my time instead?

      Lots of reasons to use or dodge Facebook can be found all over the net like these ones here, here and here. There's lots of good ones but basically I'm tired of logging onto Facebook to find out what my closest friends are doing. I miss phone calls and emails. So today I cleaned up my profile, removed apps, Likes, tags and my photo albums. I've let everyone know how to find me and will check my profile for the last time next Friday night. I'll give it 3 months. I'm not being anti-social - in fact I'm trying to be more social. I've already banned the website at work and am looking forward to this little experiment!

      Wednesday, July 14, 2010

      Happy Bastille Day!

      In honour of my 2 year anniversary at this job, I decided a distinctly french flavour was in order for lunch. I headed down to Noisette and was not disappointed. The counter windows were filled with delicate desserts, macaroons, filled bagels and baguettes - as long or as short as you like and of course pastries pastries pastries!

      I selected a sweet escargot, une petit baguette filled with proscuitto, avocado, cheese and semi dried tomatoes and some little macaroons as a treat for dessert tonight.

      On the way out I stopped in to Thomas Dux Grocer, it is beautiful, large and has hundreds of organic and gluten free items - understandable when you remember that Woolworths took over Macro's stores to create this 'boutique experience'. Shame. It's got the looks and the charm, but why would I put my money there when I can help my local grocer thrive instead?

      And another supermarket revelation - I don't step into Coles very often, and today I noticed that their produce area has been renovated and has another beautiful farmstall feel about it - well it's got a few wicker baskets here and there anyway. I couldn't help but notice their 'fresh cut' section - not only can you buy watermelon and other fruit already cut up - in a bulk, buy what you need set up - but there is also vegetables! Carrots, celery and many others all peeled and cut for you to pop into the boiling water or roasting pan when you get them home. Huh? Have we all really lost that much time in every day that we can't even chop up our vegies? I love that I get an unfamiliar feeling in these stores now, I'd much rather pick out my greens at the local green grocer and prepare them myself thank you very much!

      Now if you'll excuse me, there's a sweet, glossy escargot calling my name...

      Saturday, July 10, 2010

      not just a tree

      While trying out my new local coffee house Keffa Han yesterday, this quote stood out to me

      A tree is not a tree without its rootz, Anon

      I like it, it reminds us that we wouldn't be where we are today without our past.

      I don't know about you, but more and more I seem to be leaning towards practical choices rather than pretty ones. Although I love my decorations and adornements, lately I seem to prefer the basics as I ponder what difference I can make and what I might be remembered for one day.

      Thursday, July 8, 2010

      Stuff, d'ya like stuff?

      Not really, since stumbling across the Story of Stuff last night, why can't this sort of message be splashed across my Yahoo News page instead of Lilo's fingernails???

      Watch it!

      Monday, July 5, 2010

      What a day!

      As I write this I'm relaxing on the couch, with laptop, rug and one sleepy black pug on my lap. On the other couch sleeps a larger fawn pug. Don't ask how I did it.


      Last night was our first dining experience at Cafe Fidama (I know I know, we took our sweet time didn't we?). Well they are certainly not wrong when they say 'Nothing they do is ordinary'. We were seated at a cosy seat next to the window, a rarity apparently but this is one of the benefits of eating out on a Sunday night. Ronnie our waiter made us feel welcome straight away and we began with their famous homemade ciabatta as well as delicious saganaki, accompanied by fresh lemons and plump juicy kalamata olives.
      Travis chose the special duck breast with orange infused polenta, while I went with the harissa marinated lamb ump with spiced chick peas, sesame spinach, grilled eggplant and tahini yoghurt with a local Del Rios Pinot Noir. It was all just delicious! We both struggled to finish our mains, could have had something to do with the side of shoestring fries we also enjoyed...
      Of course we were feeling confident enough to look at the dessert menu - not difficult when the pastries, ice creams, shortbread and chocolates are also made in-house. Trav had the renowned slow cooked lemon tart and I chose the orange and dark chocolate creme brulee. We had such a fantastic evening and left with a hot tip to find an excellent bakery down a Trentham laneway on our trip to the country the following day. We could have rolled home - we don't seem to have learned yet - there is such a thing as too much of a good thing!

      This morning, after a rude awakening to the unexpected jingle of a collar and a strange pug on our bed, we got everyone out the door and were heading towards fresh air by 11am.

      On the way our conversation turned to plans for our dream house. I love so much that we are both so sure about this! I started researching suffolk sheep and straw bale displays on the web and as we followed the road from Kyneton to Lauriston a house under construction caught our eye. 'Nah, that looks like mud brick' I said but Trav persisted and did a u-turn - the signs out the front said 'Strawbale Spaceship' and 'Professional Straw Bale'. One more u-turn and we dared each other to go down the driveway! We could see 2 pairs of legs through a doorway and soon we were introducing ourselves to Mark of Professional Strawbale! He was working on this bachelor pad and happily spent some time with us discussing the process and benefits. He encouraged us to research, research, research and to keep in touch. Well that was meant to be!
      Soon we turned into the back entrance to Lauriston Reservoir, Travis proudly saving us $2 but also cutting off access to the 'facilities' since they've blocked access across the dam wall. We parked on the water's edge and Rossi and Dudley proceeded to run in various circles and sniff various trees. It was a crisp but still 8 degrees, with a pocket of blue sky here and there. Our roast pork rolls were delicious, washed down with Holgate Mt Macedon Ale, and followed up by super sweet strawberries and yummy shortbreads. My man can shop!
      After a stroll around the right banks, we made our way across to the pine forest. There was no chance of anymore 'king of the forest' photos, as neither of us was keen to lay down on our bellies - let alone try to get both dogs to stay still and look in the same direction!

      We headed out through Drummond and Denver and soon arrived at Trentham, we found Red Beard Bakery easily and soon were enjoying piping hot coffees and fresh scones while we pondered the build-your-own wood fired oven books. I was also delighted to realise that they attend the weekly farmers market at the showgrounds and this more than made up for the fact that their bakers have Mondays off.
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