Making Greener Cleaners

I’d like to thank The Accidental Hippy for inviting me to post today.  Life can get pretty crazy and I love the concept of slowing down, casting off unnecessary ‘stuff’ and living a life mindful of our impact on others as well as the planet.  There have been some inspiring posts right here on this

Recipe – Chocolate Bread

Today’s recipe title is care of Miss Squid.  We call it Chocolate Spread, she calls it Chocolate Bread – which makes sense to a 3 year old. A friend shared a recipe she was planning to make with a parent’s group I’m in.  It certainly got my ears perking with “Home Made Nutella Type Spread”.

Home Made Chocolate SpreadHome Made Chocolate Spread

Making a Sheet (or Book) Bag – Part 1

I finally managed to secure some day care so that I could get back to (part time) work, which is a huge relief for me as the budget was starting to get a bit scary. Unfortunately it was not my preferred option of home based Family Day Care, but in a long day care centre.

Sheet / Book BagsSheet / Book Bags

Welcome To My Internal Dialogue

Welcome To My Internal Dialogue

As I predicted when I set my goals for this year “Nothing New” has been a challenge, and not one I am particularly happy with my progress on.

Early in the new year I was out shopping, as one does, and was accosted with a mountain of marked down Christmas decorations, and I mean seriously marked down (50 cents for a box of decorations that had been $10 the week before).  I picked up a few and then headed on in store and discovered the wall or stationery supplies that broadcast the “Back to School” sales.  My knees almost shook.  I am a stationeryophile.  I could happily window shop for a couple of hours at a stationers.

<Wouldn’t you know it  – the mountain of “stuff” beside my bed couldn’t possibly wait any longer for it to be dealt with – it has only been there and growing for 6 months or more, and I’ve started researching a different post – and that is only the procrastination over writing about this one!>

Anyway, it was when I looked at all the “stuff” I wanted, the penny suddenly dropped.

No new stuff.

Two months.

I looked at what I had stacked up on top of the pram and started trying to justify it “The discounts of buying at this time of year outweigh the nothing new rule”, “It is so pretty”, “I’ll want it later, when I am allowed to buy it”, “It is not for me”.

I put the Christmas decorations back.  If we want new decorations next year, we can make them instead of Chinese made plastic.

The Christmas cards went back.  I’d prefer to send out home made cards, and I have a mountain of craft stuff getting ignored at home anyway.

The pencils went back.  I already have enough, and spares, no matter how pretty they are.

Some stuff was kept as rewards for the potty training Miss Squid – a part of me thinks I should have put it back too, but it is harder to make sacrifices on behalf of children rather than ourselves.  I have already had a bit longer to process this now and will try harder to not let my children to become excuses for my lack of control.  They will too benefit from understanding that the flotsam of life is not what is important, if I can show them that.  They are by no means suffering.  They both have wardrobes and toy boxes filled to overflowing.

On a different trip I was again tempted by some very pretty, hugely discounted notebooks.  I failed on that day and I brought home several “for gifts”.  One has made its way to the right of my laptop as I write, my notebook to write ideas when inspiration strikes.  I did not need it. I have a few stashes of books and note pads that you pick up in sample bags, at conferences, at work, over time.  They are not pretty, but they are practical and they certainly serve their purpose.  I could have used them but they aren’t nearly as inspiring.

I succumbed.

It will be used as my inspiration book when I need to work out what to write, or if I just need to get something out of my head.  It will serve as a reminder of my lack of commitment. It will also be oh-so-pretty in my bag.  I will use pencils and pens I have at home.  I won’t buy any more, no matter how lovely their matching sets full of perfect points of promise.

I am starting to be better at making the decisions, but some days I am so very aware of how large a part of our culture consumerism is.  I didn’t think I was too bad, I thought I was reasonably well aware of advertising and how they manipulate you but a conscious drive not to buy any new non-essential things has really highlighted to me how insidious it is.

Since I started writing this post *cough* days ago, things are sitting more comfortably with me.

I was window shopping yesterday whilst waiting to meet a friend and found myself thinking “I should be looking at an op (thrift) shop to see if I can find things there”. I was also aware of the ethics of shopping.  My budget mind was delighted to see work tops and pants at $15 a piece in one shop.  At another, similar pieces were $25 – $40 a piece.

Then my head got thinking:

  • I couldn’t make them for $15 a piece
  • but they have economy of scale,
  • they are made in Bangladesh, by people who probably live below the poverty line
  • does that matter when I am trying to keep my family fed and clothed and housed?
  • I don’t want to be below the poverty line either – different scale, granted, but a real fear for me
  • I don’t have to think about this if I buy second hand

Ah ha!  This was a good place to get to – a good reason to buy second hand.  Then I looked at Ebay.  That was depressing.  There is so much new stuff on there or people want to recoup their costs, and set their reserves at $5+ (plus postage) – and suddenly we are back to my head thinking “But for $15 I can buy something new!”.  Welcome to my head.

In think I will reacquaint myself with my local op shops and see what I can see.  Then, if I can not find anything that I want, I will consider going shopping.  Ultimately I should be given a uniform for work, but I have worked there for a while now and haven’t seen one yet.  For now, I just need a couple of options that fit well (yay for losing weight, but boo for losing weight too) and look reasonable.  I will look at sourcing from other places too, but I think this is my first real challenge that I am conscious of for #NothingNew

A mixed bag in the end.  Onwards, upwards.  #NothingNew


Do you buy things you don’t need, just because you like them?

We Keep On Eating – Meal Plan 29th January – 11th February

Meal planning is still progressing relatively well.  We had a few unplanned/leftover meals mostly due to celebrating Miss Squid’s Birthday and not having the energy to cook properly.

We also had an unplanned “take away (out)” meal for Miss Squid’s actual Birthday – is anyone surprised that when you ask a 3 year old what they want for dinner it involves chips (fries)?

In the good news, we again limited the number of trips to the supermarket and have residual stocks in the fridge/freezer/pantry as well.

We are still over budget this month, but not by nearly as much  (it is a work in progress).

When I saw how close we were to the end of the month in this next meal planning block, I had hope that I could wait ’til the new month to go shopping to both stretch the budget and clean up some of the left overs etc.  It soon became apparent though that some of our staples were running out (think toilet paper and Vegemite) and that I would need to go shopping this month.  In time though, I might look at revising my meal planning to allow for end of the month run outs of stocks on hand.  I expect that this will make our next month food budget easier to stick to.

This fortnight I will be using up some recipes planned but not used last fortnight, and have left a space for one leftover/freezer meal.

Our plan is:

  1. Out to dinner with visiting relatives
  2. Veggie patties (not used last fortnight)
  3. Sushi (not made last fortnight)
  4. Rice paper rolls/wraps (not made last fortnight
  5. Crockpot vegetarian lasagne (freezer meal)
  6. Home made burgers
  7. Polenta Crumbed Lamb Chops (CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Book 2)
  8. Roast
  9. Chicken Korma
  10. Steak with steamed vegetables
  11. Salmon portion with salad
  12. Homemade pizza
  13. Homemade burgers
  14. Leftovers/freezer meal

This week I plan to prep my food correctly before it gets put away.  I want to wash/dry vegetables and put them into the Tupperware Fridge Smart containers I have.  I have found they do help keep things fresh and it also justifies their place in our home if they actually get used.  Interestingly, I just discovered by looking at that site that tomatoes shouldn’t be stored in the fridge, but apples should.  I might even try that this week to see if I can get more life out of them.

Do you have any small tips/tricks to get the most life out of your groceries?




Social Media, It Takes Time To Learn.

A friend recently asked on facebook for an invitation to Pinterest, which reminded me I have an account. I logged on for the first time in an age and invited said friend, who was very excited by it.
I had another look round, and it seems I am just not getting something. I find it very hard to use on an iPad (where I do most of my recreational web browsing), the app was clunky too and seems to indicate an expectation of specific “pinterest browsing” rather than just being able to pin interesting this one sees in the course of a day.

I did manage to get the “pin it” button into firefox, but it was quickly forgotten about.

My “social networking” in the most common modern sense started with facebook and was a late adopter as I was unsure about giving out that much detail about myself. I bit the bullet and had fun with it, I played a lot of the games in the early days of my account until I worked out quite how much of my attention they were sapping. I went through and deleted and blocked all the games. This cleared up my feed a lot and freed up my time for the people I was trying to keep in contact with. I have family all over the country and it makes me feel a lot more connected to be able to see some of the mundane stuff that one tends to post on facebook, as well as the big news too.

I was a really late adopter of Twitter, and thought it was all a bit odd. I did like that I didn’t have to be so transparent as on facebook where duplicate accounts and pseudonyms are very much frowned on. It did take a while for the critical mass of an interesting feed was achieved. It took me a long time to get over me being “polite” in not wanting to impinge on  friends of friends or acquaintances by following them. Once it clicked that ANYone can follow ANYone and the way to get Twitter working was to follow everyone that you have the remotest interest in or people that you commonly see retweeted by other people on your feed.  That is how you get to see more of the conversation going on around you. I enjoy Twitter now that I have a critical mass of people to follow (I think I follow about 100 people now on my personal account).  The other knack of Twitter is to follow “celebrities” – they might be politicians or actors, models or brands, but by following people you don’t actually know, you will get a lot further with Twitter.  The other really useful “people” to follow are information casters, for me it our local police, city council, traffic control, government departments. Last year during the floods, cyclones and fires so much very important information was gleaned and shared over Twitter and facebook.  I find Twitter to be far more immediate for that sort of thing, as people are used to their feeds moving quickly and get far less upset by small tidbits being shared over and over again.  Facebook can tend for people to get crotchety about their feed getting filled up with stuff they don’t want to know about, without seeming to understand that they can control what they see, and not by modifying the behaviour of their “friends”.

I find Twitter can be quite time consuming if I have a day where I don’t want to miss any of the conversation, so now I regularly accept that there will be stuff I miss but checking in 2-3 times a day.  Ideally I’d like to check more often, but I’d be a basket case.  So far TweetCaster is my preferred way of getting to Twitter, but if someone wants to put in a good word for other apps, please do.  My Accidental Hippy account hasn’t reached critical mass yet, so if you follow me, let me know and I will follow you back!

Coming full circle though, to Pinterest.  I haven’t quite worked out what I’m doing wrong.  I certainly do not find myself whiling away hours “pinning” things like I have read at The Organised Housewife and other places.  I would really like to understand it better, because it sounds like it could be a useful tool.

Do you use Pinterest?  How do you use it?  Can you offer me any tips?

Time For Alarm

Time For Alarm

I have continued to go to the gym at least twice a week, but it is starting to slip down the priority list a bit.  I think it is time to step up again and deliberately make some time and space to get to the gym.

Sleeping patterns in our house are a tenuous thing at best given the demand that two small people put on their parents, one can never take any sleep for granted.  Things have been changing here and Miss Squid is finally letting us sleep beyond 5am.  It has only taken 3 years!  The sleep has been wonderful but I do miss being able to get stuff done before the day gets started.  I think it is time to start setting an alarm again to get some much needed quiet time for writing before the girls wake up, and to get to the gym to start my day nicely, and get it “done” whilst I still have the energy. I find that while “after dinner” or “once the girls are in bed” sounds like a good time to get things done, it is in fact, not. I am way too tired and I just want to sit down and relax or just plain sleep.

The good news is that my weight has been relatively stable for the last month or so, which whilst I’d love to see it decreasing, stable is excellent too.  My weight is tantalisingly floating around the 70kg-ish mark.  I would love to drop to 68kgs and stabilise the weight there as I think that would be a good sign I won’t go back to the 70s again – and I’d love to be able to say that!

So, my next mini goals are:

  • to set an alarm to go to the gym every second day and write on the others
  • to lose 2 kg to get to 68kg and commit to never get to 70kgs again
  • to aim to have enough quality posts on hand to be able to post regularly without having to worry about the ebb and flow of life



Cheap Tuesday Tips – Be Present

Cheap Tuesday

Hey look, it is Tuesday again!

Today’s tip it to slow down, just a little bit and be present in the moment.

Life too easily gets way too hectic as we try to squeeze everything into short time frames so we have more “spare” time to enjoy our lives.  For a long time I thought there was great skill in multitasking (and there can be), but we should not strive for it to become the norm.  Concentrating on one thing and doing it well is a great thing.

I have been so busy/distracted thinking about other things in my morning shower I can’t remember if I’ve washed my hair, so I wash my hair (again) just in case, but if I slowed down a bit and was a bit more present my shower could have been that little bit shorter or I could have used less shampoo and been a little bit less concerned about my mental state or frustrated with myself. I have also had times where I have been so rushed/flustered to move on to the next “to do” item that I have not set the washing machine to the intended cycle/closed the detergent dispenser all the way so none of it gets used/forgotten what I was doing and had to retrace my steps.

This is a big challenge for me, but a worthwhile one.  I think my relationships will benefit from having a bit more one on one time if I can retrain myself to not to seek out every way to multitask.

My goal this week is to do things once and do them properly, by just taking a bit more time. I hope this will in turn save me time, energy, and ultimately, money.

Do you find yourself having to repeat some tasks because not quite enough attention was given to it to start with?