Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spring Challenge: Day 1 (27 days to go)

This Spring will span 14 weeks, I decided to set myself a worthwhile challenge - I'm going to ride my bike to work for 2 days each week, and by then not only will the weather have improved, so will my fitness and timeliness! I hope this will become a habit and I'll aim to record each day's ride - so here we go...

Day 1

Departure: 8:05am (35 minutes too late)
Conditions: 10, mild, partly sunny, slight wind.
Attire: Black mary janes, stockings, navy pinstripe asymetrical skirt, merino t shirt, zip top.

Wow, it was so pleasant today. There was no bite in the air as I jumped on my bicycle, no gloves, scarf or goose bumps! I was late because I didn’t plan my outfit or pack last night. So when I realized I’d overpacked my basket bag, I then repacked half of my stuff into a pannier, then when I went to put the pannier onto the bike I had to run back to the kitchen to get the hook. Lots of silly little things. When I ride in on Thursday I’ll be preparing the night before, and relaxing on my way to work in the morning.

Coming Home

The wind had picked up a lot and the temp had just pushed 13 (not the anticipated 17). I added another layer and gloves for the ride home and the wind seemed to push me sideways more than backwards, there were a few spots where I felt like it would have been faster to walk - but that didn't stop me having a big grin on my face all the way home! I rode up Footscray Rd Bridge and almost all of Pilgrim street! Success on Day 1!

Monday, August 30, 2010

What do you do for fun?

And how much fun do you fit in every day? I think this question can really help put our busy lives into perspective, it's a really good one to ask yourself when you're feeling overwhelmed. So often we're exhausted after just getting all our daily jobs out of the way that we don't have any time or energy to give back to ourselves. We could fall into the dreaded trap of Up - Work - home - dinner - bed - Up ....

For fun I garden, cook, sew, catch up with friends, read for pleasure, ride my bicycle, research my latest interest (right now it's all about sustainable living) and I'd like to think I get to do at least one of these things every day - but if I don't make the time, it won't happen.

Yes, we all have the power to make time.

Working 6 days a week means that any 'spare' time is very precious to me, and I've noticed just how refreshed I feel after doing something that I was really looking forward to - just for me.

The trick is to remember why you enjoy doing these things - because I enjoy cooking I won't allow it to become a mundane job - I'll give it just as much importance as any other commitment by making sure I allow enough time to enjoy the experience. I don't look forward to or enjoy my ride to work when I know I'm running late, but I do enjoy it when I'm zooming around without a clock ticking. So if I don't prepare well I won't be able to make the most of these activities. If you have a problem getting started - it might be helpful to remember how you feel while you're doing it and when you've finished. All this becomes easier with priorities and good time management. Things I continue to work on.

As spring approaches and the social calendar starts to fill up, I'll be prioritising my own wellbeing at the top of my list, it's not selfish - I'm no good to others if I haven't looked after myself first.

All last week I looked forward to the sunshine that was promised for Sunday - hoping to spend the afternoon outside just soaking it up. Under grey skies I still managed a quick ride to the shops but it was then perfect weather to spend all afternoon and evening in the kitchen and I didn't feel slighted in the least!

Lately I've really enjoyed preparing lots of meals in advance - I just love looking at a freezer and fridge full of delicious, healthy meals, it means there's more time to spend on ourselves during the week. Following from last week's successive meal planning (the chicken stock worked a treat in Friday's risotto by the way!) yesterday we made:

Basil Pesto
Tomato, Eggplant and Olive pasta sauce
Pea & Ham Soup

I think all the pasta will be gone after tonight's family dinner, there's 9 of us so it will be a good opportunity to see just how far 1kg flour and 9 eggs really goes! I'm looking forward to opening a bottle of Sisley Estate Merlot to share!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Call me converted...

In the days before I was trying to simplify my life, my husband bugged me about getting a breadmaker. I resisted for a couple of reasons - I enjoy making bread from time to time and didn't want to be replaced by a machine. I saw a breadmaker as another gadget to add to the kitchen (after clearing out so much useless stuff!) and one that also uses quite a lot of electricity.

So about a month ago we brought one back from his parent's house to test it out. I still wasn't convinced - even the sheer size of the thing is a turnoff in our small but very efficient kitchen. Now I think I'm starting to see the light - we've enjoyed homemade bread for the last few weeks (except for an odd indulgence from the farmers market) and it certainly is convenient, like most households we'll tend to run out of milk or bread more than anything else so at least one of these is now covered (until we get a cow!). The breadmaker sits on the laundry bench (not taking up any valuable kitchen space) and we awake to the smell of warm fresh bread every few mornings. I haven't tallied up the exact cost comparison - but I'd say the homemade bread definitely comes out in front.

Keeping it local

I think I'm pretty good at buying local where possible, but when I started to investigate the labels on all the food in our pantry I realised that I have a long way to go. Inspired by Gavin and many others endeavours to stick to their 100 mile (160km) diet - I've decided to begin by aiming for as local as possible with as many products as I can.

Enter Paul at Yarraville's Old Style Butcher. When I dropped in yesterday for my fortnightly shop, I quizzed him on where his products come from. As usual he happily obliged with a big a smile on his face.
I didn't know what to expect but was thrilled to hear that not only does he try to buy Victorian, he prefers it to be as local to Yarraville as possible! The beef is from Inverloch (down Gippsland way), Pork is from the Otways, Lamb is from Corio (out near Geelong) and the free-roaming chicken is from La Ionica in Thomastown - in fact the only non-Victorian meat is the kangaroo.

Old Style Butcher has recently opened their online store - and although it would be a time-saver, I quite enjoy the experience when I visit the Old Style Butcher.

Scanning the supermarket shelves last night I had a few wins - I needed tomato passata (no longer purchasing tinned tomatoes) and was lucky enough to find one brand offering an Australian product. My second win was Warrnambool Vintage Cheddar cheese (no more plastic cheese on our lunches and a Victorian replacement too!) and finally a block of parmesan cheese made in Tullamarine.

They are out there people - you just have to look!

I am waiting to hear from Laucke Flour Mill who offer breadmixes from their Strathalbyn SA and Bridgewater on Loddon VIC sites - our local Yarraville IGA are very interested in stocking their items. I'll also be finding out if the Warrnambool butter is available closer to home too.

The Greening of Gavin: My House

What a week!

I was thrilled to be spending every single evening at home this week! We cooked a succulent roast beef for friends on Sunday night and enjoyed the leftovers for 3 more meals.
Then on Monday I made Rossi food, sausage rolls (first time!) and 2 flavours of ice cream (again - a first!)
On Tuesday we enjoyed the sausage rolls as a quick dinner and the ice cream as a late night snack when Trav returned from the Reserves. I also made herbed breadcrumbs using an unsuccessful loaf from the breadmaker - planning to use it the next night.
On Wednesday we had roast chicken - stuffed with those delicious breadcrumbs - and then made a basic stock from the chicken carcass. The chicken lasted 3 meals in total and on Thursday after a trip to the butcher I crumbed and froze some chicken and wiener schnitzels all ready for several meals in the future.

We'll be using the stock in tonight's risotto. What I've learned this week is how much can be saved rather than thrown out. Almost from every meal we were able to reuse some food to create the next meal, and this has helped our menu-planning greatly.

Although all of this probably makes complete common sense to many of you - I must mention that my latest source of inspiration is Gavin of The Greening of Gavin over in Melton - his blog recounts his journey over the past to years - from his initial 'A-Ha' response to the Inconvenient Truth, through purchasing a hybrid vehicle, installing rain water tanks, solar panels, a chicken coop, to upgrading to edible gardens and making his own cheeses (and everything in between). Gavin and his family live on 0.19 of an acre in the outer suburb and they have a version of my dream home. Each corner of the yard is put to fantastic use and virtually nothing is wasted. Oh to have enough chilli's that they need to be pickled! Oh to enjoy fresh eggs every day! Gavin we're looking forward to visiting you on Sustainable House Day and I challenge anyone living in the suburbs who says 'I just don't have room' to check out Gavin's blog.

Monday, August 23, 2010



From a week of running here and there - and hardly spending any quality time at home - I rose this morning earlier than normal, cooked breakfast and coffees, made lunches and was even able to sit around for a few minutes with Trav before heading off to work early, and arriving early.

What a difference a bit of me time makes. All week long I'd just been looking forward to Sunday - it was promising to be a sunny-day and I had some gardening to do. After returning from the farmers market with food to fill our empty fridge, I raced straight outside to dig out some roses, plant my camelias, move a variegated jasmine, divide and replant some rock lilies, move some climbing structures and plant beetroot and broccoli seeds! It was such a beautiful afternoon and I think it really reenergised me.

Did I mention that I christened my new little shovel - a Christmas present from Mum? Unfortunately the Bunnings special was no match for the well established roses I was digging out. After bending it backwards and forwards so much that I expected it to snap - I resorted to christening another shovel - the one in Trav's army pack! It has remained unsoiled for about 2 years until I pulled it out and I tell you it's a nice tough one! I wonder if he'll let me keep in in the shed?

Of course this afternoon of pleasure was complimented by dinner with friends on Saturday night at Kelly's Restaurant and visiting the Tim Burton Exhibition on Sunday afternoon and enjoying a homecooked dinner and a bath Sunday night. Bliss!

Here's my very exciting birthday gift from Deborah - Babushka Doll just like my Babcia's except these ones are measuring cups for cooking. And still embracing the cooking theme - this beautiful apron which Deborah made just for me, finishing it with a cute ruffle! Can't wait to cook!

Doesn't it go to show just how useless we are to others if we don't look after ourselves first?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

When is a bicycle lane like a parking space?

I raced the storm home last night. It was going to be a close call and I admit I did send an SOS out to my husband when I checked BOM at 4:50pm, but after closer inspection, I thought it gave me about 40 minutes so I jumped straight on the bike.

Have you seen the new residential development going up at the city end of Lorimer street? They've put parking spaces along the street and called them a bike lane too! I took a crappy picture so you'll have to wait to see what I mean - but I ask you this... When is a bicycle lane like a parking space? So... when a car is parked there the bicycle ends up on the road? Is this just how councils can brag about so many km's of bicycle lanes?

Well that's my rant for now. I got home with rain stinging my face but overall in a much better mood than the rest of the week, I was really much more positive and had way more energy for the evening of ironing!

Doesn't life work in strange ways? When we were visiting Dad I noticed that my Uncle's (born bachelor) health seems to be worse than ever, thanks to a diet of late nights, sleep ins, daytime TV, drinks and packet soup. He hardly ate anything at meal times and had a serious limp - he was complaining that he'd been walking too much. Of course the rest of us know that the more you walk, the more energy you use the more your appetite increases and the more fuel you'll put into your body. Nah - he just had sore feet.

Anyway I was wondering how I can help him a bit more, considering he lives on the other side of town it's not always easy to visit - and we just heard that his friend bought him a computer while we were away - and asked Trav to set it up and help him out with it. I wish I was there when he walked in and saw it!

So now there's a great reason to visit - and I could even bring over some homemade freezer meals for him too!

Traffic Report 19.08.10

Departure: 7:50am (20 minutes too late)
Temp: 9
Attire: Oxford heels, stockings, fishtail skirt, singlet, tshirt, cardi, roll neck poncho.

Well I picked the right day to get on the bike again. There was hardly any wind and I didn't even need to put on my gloves or scarf! In fact it was so mild that I'd taken off my poncho after a few minutes, and then my cardi even before halfway!

My ride is about 12k/s and it takes me about 40 minutes to ride through Footscray, Docklands and finally Fishermen's bend. Today I consciously tried to take it easy - the length of my ride means that if I sweat too much I really need to have a change clothes and that just adds precious weight to Pashley and time when I arrive at work. Yes Yes I was bringing my outfits in by car for a while there but that requires added planning so I try to avoid it.

The layers really helped (and of course the mild weather) but the distance and a bit of a head wind on Lorimer Street got the better of me. I make sure I take it easy for the last stretch, cruising along and using the breeze to lower my body temperature by the time I stop pedalling.

I had a spare t shirt to change into but I found that when I arrived a quick freshen up with deodorant was all I needed! This is of course a different story in summer - so I'm going to make the most of these cooler days while they're still here.

The ride itself was lovely, the grass on Footscray Road has been freshly mown, giving off that clean spring scent and the City of Melbourne has finally removed that rusty bit of pole that was poking a couple of inches out of the tramway at the intersection of Docklands Hwy and Docklands Drive. Yay!

Lorimer Street still scares me a lot. The outbound bike lane disappears quickly and you can either take your chances on the shared footpath - with many driveways whose high walls prevent any visibility whatsoever (did that once and never again) or you can share the 2 lane road with cars and trucks. I wince as I hear a loud engine approaching behind me and lots of them pass so close. Too close. Can't wait to show you the bike lane on the way home, it's not even funny.

Overall I definitely feel more relaxed and positive today than I did yesterday in the car. I'd prefer to have given myself more time to get in as I was at my desk 7 minutes late, and I could have been 15 minutes early - it's a much more enjoyable journey if I'm just cruising along admiring the city - not worrying about the time.

Operation Adasch - Success!

Our secret mission to surprise Dad in person on his 60th birthday went off without much of a hitch! The friend he was staying with got him out of the apartment while Trav, Uncle Les and I shuffled in and made ourselves at home - then when Dad returned we were all sprawled across the apartment with our cold beers!

Other Les did spoil the party a bit when he asked when my sister was arriving - that was going to be suprise number 2 - it just happened a bit earlier than we'd planned. Soon we were all relaxing in this beautiful beachfront apartment and I realised that this is what Saturdays are all about - what have I been missing?

The weather was low 20's and sunny and on Sunday - Dad's birthday we took him out for lunch to the Surf Club - where another old friend Rod was waiting to greet us! Dad isn't the sort to show a lot of feelings-  but I think he was pretty moved that we'd all made the effort to spend the day with him. He even scribbled down his details on a coaster for Rod so they could keep in touch in the future!

Soon our 3 day getaway was coming to an end, Monday was a beautiful warm day - without the wind from the weekend so we enjoyed a very long walk along the beach before heading to the airport and home. There were so many cyclists - and why not - with those beautiful wide paths along the ocean? Mountain bikes were popular but there were heaps of colourful cruisers too! Wish I had my camera! To my amazement there are no ice cream shops in Kirra - as one lady put it the closest is the 7-11! You're kidding! I think making ice cream would be an excellent hobby for Dad, he didn't seem to pick up on the idea as quickly. Oh well - our second QLD winter escape has come to a close, but it's a nice feeling to escape the chill of Melbourne's winter for a few days, I think it should be an annual thing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

To get more done, just slow down

The wake up call (bad pun) is already working. Tonight, instead of going across town to browse some accordions at a music store and then racing back to drop into Spotlight on the way to the video store to pick up Coco Avant Chanel and then getting home at 8 and finding that I don’t even have time to make dinner and paint my nails while watching the dvd before picking up my husband and his mates after the footy. I’ve decided to just make it easier on me.

With my new direction there’s no need to take a trip across town in peak hour to see some accordions that I’m not planning on buying yet. It’ll be Spotlight, video store then home for me. I’ll enjoy baked bean jaffles for dinner and enjoy my dvd with Rossi on my lap as I knit along. Simple.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

One busy bee

Now and then we get subtle and not so subtle reminders that we just might be taking on a bit too much. This week I got 3. First was a strange dream where I was pregnant twice at the same time. Then I came down with a bit of a cold and then, probably the least subtle one came when my husband queried my interest in learning a musical instrument. Fair point actually. Where was I going to find time to learn and play the accordion if I can’t even make time to ride my nice bicycle to work? And the more I thought about it – the more I had to agree that all I do is rush around, walking too fast, cutting others off at the shops, flitting here and there trying to get everything on my to do list done. In fact on our honeymoon I had to consciously make sure I walked next to him, not dragging him along behind me. Is this the simple life? It’s definitely not easy, calming, or simple.

Considering I’ve got 5 books on the go, a half finished dress to sew and a pair of hardly started legwarmers to knit where do I think I’d get the time to dedicate to a new hobby? I have the concentration span of a little black pug and am forever thinking up ‘quick and easy’ little projects to do instead of doing what I’d originally planned. A few years ago I learned how beneficial list writing, goal setting and habit forming skills are in ensuring things get done. This is how I planned and completed my decluttering mission, and how I’m creating a cleaning routine at home (from absolutely-nonexistent to at-least-presentable).

In my effort to begin simplifying things I started with a full declutter of our house – and now I’m setting cleaning tasks which will hopefully become habitual so at least those everyday duties will soon be on autopilot and we’ll be able to enjoy a lovely clean home.

It’s clear that the next thing I need to improve is my time management – I seem to fluff around for ages before actually climbing into bed, so it ends up being 11:30 instead of 10pm and of course that doesn’t help in the morning when I’m supposed to be getting up for work. Over the next two months I’m going to aim for a 10pm bedtime on work nights and I’ll keep track on a chart on my wall (I love charts!). This won’t be easy - I’ll have to constantly watch myself as I know I’ll very easily get sidetracked with a ‘great new idea’ or I’ll start something that takes about 3 times longer than I’d thought. The other catch is that we might have up to 2 nights a week when we’re out for dinner (next week it’s 3!) so because there’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ week, it’s going to take more than the average 28 days to form this new habit.
I won’t aim for anything else than getting to bed by 10pm and getting my chores done. If I want to ride my bike, I will, if I want to finish sewing that dress (in time for this summer) then I’ll do that too. I think this is going to be an excellent exercise in learning how I use my time and how I want to use it. I really enjoy ticking things off my list, but hopefully instead of ending up with a huge list of things that I’ve thought up but haven’t given myself the time to do, I’ll have a carefully considered list of just a few things that I really see benefit in, and can fit into my life. But as I find time here and there to read a few pages or knit a few rows, it won’t be because ‘I’ve got to get it out of the way’ it will be because I actually enjoy it.

And in a couple of months, if I’ve found a different pace and have been able to make the best of my time, I might then start to think about picking out my accordion – confident that I’ll have the time to dedicate to learning and that it won’t sit in a case at the bottom of the cupboard after 3 months. From what I’m seeing it might take that long to find one anyway!

I don’t want to be one of those people with 20 half finished projects – who finds it easier to drop something than to see it through to the end, and I’m looking forward to separating the ‘time issues’ from those which are due to a genuine lack of interest.

Speaking of busy bees, today I came across Queen B – run by a wonderful woman named Cate, who produces pure Australian Beeswax candles in NSW. I’m so inspired by her vision is to rid Australia of paraffin and soy based candles, one household at a time – and her mission to ensure that her candles outperform all others.

Did you know that one of the true benefits of beeswax is that it’s an instant air purifier ioniser? It cleans and freshens the air as it burns – not just masking other odours but actually filtering dust, germs and other toxic nasties out of the air! I love a multitasking product! What a perfect replacement for our ‘scented’ candles and air freshener. Australian, natural and good for you! I can’t wait to receive my candles Queen B!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One box to go!

Our uncluttering project has almost come to an end - just    one    last    box    to go! Another boot full of books, toys, vases and other odds and ends has made its way to our local Savers and I can see the floor in our study! We've made so much room in the cupboard that we've actually got bare space! Not a good reason to try to fill it with new stuff though.

This has been a pretty ruthless journey - and I'm feeling so much lighter as I walk around our home these days. Now we need to be just as ruthless when letting new things inside!

Monday, August 9, 2010

To line or not to line?

Are you like me? Used to using your supermarket bags to line your bin? I'd like to go one step greener and it sounds plain silly to pay for bin liners to be manufactured and transported while trying to reduce our use of plastic shopping bags.
So what are the options? Let's think about this, all we want is to be able to contain our rubbish until it hits our garbage bin ready for collection. The liner is only really required for a few days or up to a week at time. It then gets tossed and simply adds to the amount of our rubbish. Is there a better way?

  • Biodegradeable Bags
There are a few degradable bin liners and shopping bags on the market now, but these will only break down in certain conditions - and landfill isn't one of them.

  • Newspaper liner
Some people have had good success lining their bin with their old newspaper. This sounds worth a try.
  • No liner
As we recycle everything possible, and are now donating all our suitable food scraps to our worm farm, we've found that most of our actual rubbish is now packaging from other products. It's possible to use discarded packaging - ie plastic bread and cereal bags to put meat scraps and other stinky items into (or wrap in newspaper) so it's more difficult for germs and odour to take over your kitchen. Every once in a while the bin might need a rinse out. Some councils have recommended that people concerned with the smell of some items could freeze them until rubbish day.

  • No bin
Yes. I said no bin. Take a look at this inspiring read from Melissa over at Frugal & Thriving - it can be done!

Moi? Our kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and study bins are all mounded plastic so they're easy to keep clean. I think we'll be trying out the 'No Liner' option when our last few bags run out. But I'd like to keep sending the newspapers to the recycling bin after reading this summary about alternative methods. With the amount of rubbish we've reduced I don't think this will be a difficult task at all, and I'll let you know all about it!

So how do you wrangle your rubbish?

Trading Up: August

It's only early in August and we've already made a great trade up - our old hand-me-down Dishlex dishwasher was becoming anything but energy efficient - stalling in the Heat cycle meant it was probably pushing a 'negative' energy rating, and we knew it was time to trade up.
After researching the most efficient brands and models on these government Energy Rating and Water Rating websites, we decided we couldn't quite afford the highest rated appliances so we turned to eBay and yesterday hooked up our new old Asko 1605 for a fraction of the price. I'm thrilled to report that after only being used once before we bought it and stored for several, it runs like a dream.

And not only did we save another one being manufactured and imported from Sweden - we saved ourselves a lot of money too! Another eBay success story!

I can also report on another happy Freecycler - some lucky person now owns my 12 bridal magazines and I've saved another box from clogging up our cupboards. Happy days!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I see a light

It was so great dropping a whole carload of useful to others  but useless to us stuff off on Friday - I felt instantly freed. Saurday and Sunday we worked on the shed. Well it's more like a upboard in the garage but we like to talk it up. It's so easy to collect lots of extra stuff, those things that you might need one day, or someone was giving away - and it all adds up.
Before: there were shelves but not much order to what goes where, so usually it would be as easy as opening the door and tossing something in without looking - and closing the door before it all collapsed on you@
After: Our tool box has been replaced with a proper tool chest with drawers - no more gingerly poking around for the hammer between saw blades - it's now all accessible. We've got 2 boxes of things to return to mum's place, 4 items for the op-shop and a binload of at least 2 years of nonsense. What a way to finish the weekend!

I'm planning to wrap this thing up on Wednesday - bookcases and study on Tuesday, buffet on Wednesday - cant wait!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...