Saturday, 9 June 2012

Why Compost?...

...Its a question I have been asked a few times since discussing our new composting adventures with friends. Quite simply, its cheap, its natural and its darn good for the environment and your soil! I also discovered that composting at home for one year would save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or what your washing machine would produce in just three months.
Another question I was curious to learn the answer to before we delved into composting was, 'why bother when we have landfill'? After researching this I found a pretty clear answer; When waste is sent to landfill the air struggles to reach the organic waste. As waste breaks down harmful methane is produced. However, if the same waste were to be composted above ground like we do at home, the oxygen is able to help break down the waste while producing significantly less methane, not to mention the added bonus of awesome fertiliser for your garden after 9 or so months..

After researching what the big deal was regarding composting it was a no-brainer and a few months ago Luke got busy whipping up our very own compost bin for out the back. Time will tell if it produces good soil, but hey, you can't go too far wrong!

Luke used left over chicken wire and metal grates and stuffed them with 'hay' we have grown and harvested down the back

There is a hatch that we open when it rains to get some water into the soil
The inside (growing some weeds)

Lila is an awesome composting helper now, whenever she sees food scraps in the kitchen she grabs the bowl and heads straight to the back door.

We've been experimenting with some new recipes lately as a result of going wheat free (which I will go into more detail about at a later time). For now lets discuss my annoyance at cooking beautiful stirfrys in tiny frying pans! It was driving me insane, it was a fine art of slowly turning the food to ensure it stayed in the pan and by the time I got through mixing it all together the food had usually been on the heat longer than I would like and the crispness of veges lost. As well as the lack of cooking space issue there was the chopping of garlic nightmare, after making some changes to our diet we have been using more raw foods than ever before; gone are the jars of garlic, we always buy it in its purest form. This is all well and good except when the recipe calls for minced garlic and crushed ginger. Sitting there finely chopping the two with a toddler clawing at my legs was not how I liked to spend my evenings. Needless to say we had to find some solutions, and today in the Op-shop we did.

Our garlic crusher, $2

The Wok - My initial reaction was "ugh gross", Luke apparently knew what to do though so I took his word for it. $3 

Luke hard at work with a wire wheel on a drill to clean the scum off the wok 
All cleaned up...
...and seasoned with peanut oil. Stir fry cooking tonight confirmed the wok's awesome non-stick characteristics after seasoning.
We have also been on the hunt for a grater to more efficiently grate our bars of soap when making our laundry powder, we had a win with that also. $4.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Time doesn't tick by... bloody well zooms past before you can even catch a breath. Life with a toddler is getting busy, being back at work is even busier. Our poor poor blog has been so terribly neglected.

Mothers day has been and gone. I had a brilliant day this year (last year with a very upset sick newborn was not the best first mothers day), we are prepared for events like birthdays, mothers/fathers day, easter, Christmas and the like to be non-events this year as we continue with this challenge, but what has made it fun is the challenge to show as much appreciation as you would usually do without having to buy a ton of gifts! This year I woke up to coffee in bed (a necessity to my day), and Luke had written me the most beautiful letter which beats all the gifts in the world he could have bought me. I did received one bought gift from him, a lovely jacket that he found in an op-shop. It was perfect, just the right size and colour on me and I think it cost him all of a couple of bucks.

The jacket
As well as gifts from my family I also received a beautiful package from a dear friend over east. I have never met this woman but we have talked online for over 2 years now and are two peas in a pod with our lifestyle choices and taste. I was lucky enough to receive some fair trade chocolate (I had been craving chocolate something chronic) a book titled 'Choosing Eden' which is all about sustainability and the Peak Oil Crisis, a lovely home-made diary, an assortment of seeds for various veges for our own vege garden, and a beautiful handmade baking apron. The gifts were just beautiful, I feel so thankful for the generosity and thought behind such gifts.

My stash
The awesome apron

Our dear Lila has gotten to the point where there was a need for more sleep space. As much as I would love to have her in bed with me it just isn't viable. I'm a play thing for her, and as much as that is awesome, it really sucks at 3am. We made the decision to get a toddler bed and started trawling the papers for second hand beds. We thought this was going to be tricky as we are pretty particular with our tastes in furniture for Lila's room. You would never pick that we have created her space for just under $300.00, including everything, even the painting. It was then I remembered this old looking bed in an op-shop I had been in recently. I couldn't remember whether it was decent, in fact I wasn't even sure it wasn't broken or missing pieces, but I never second guessed it after I mentioned it to Luke, as I knew he would be able to turn it into something awesome... he did just that!

All the tools he could need (all second-hand, just the way he likes it). Acorn finials salvaged from an old shelving unit.

How it looked before - an old plain wooden bed

Luke making a rail to match the bed - he used scrap wood from a previous bed we had

Adapter to connect the recycled turned posts to the old bed's side rail.

Painted with old paint and partly assembled

Assembling the masterpiece

Final product! - Total cost  = $10.00

Wow, I have just realised how much more there is to write now that I am actually writing. Things such as our compost bin, our dietary changes. How we coped with our bankcards being hacked and thus out of use. I really will do my best to get back into the swing of blogging, and trying to find some time to share our news with everyone.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Are we alive?

Yes! Life has been crazy busy with a trip to New Zealand, 8 new teeth for Lila, trips up north for Luke's work and a busy work schedule for myself.

New Zealand was wonderful. The trip itself was enjoyable but the spending not so much. We stuck to our initial plans of packing lunches where possible however there were occasions where we were caught out, including one instance where it cost us a little over $3.00 for ONE BLOODY BANANA! Needless to say Luke was royally peeved. On the whole we discovered that this anti consumerism challenge has become a way of life for us, spending felt weird, it felt unnecessary and thus infuriating when we had to do it. I also felt great pride at the shock expressed from family members when I proudly informed them all my 'fancy' outfits rarely cost me more than $5.00! In fact that's a trend I've noticed a lot lately, a lot of compliments on my clothing and enquiries as to where I purchased said items, of course there is the usual groan when I reply 'op-shop'

Apart from that life has been chaotic and I think rather than trying to re-hash what has happened (zwhich in the anti- consumerism challenge front isn't much more than living our day to day life not spending) we'll just pick up from here and say hi, we're back and we look forward to continuing our journey with you all.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

When life gives you lemons...

...make lemonade, something like that right? It has been some time since I posted, life has been busy. I landed my dream job so we have been busily preparing for me to go back to work. Picked up some great work clothes from the op-shops and had my first day today. All went well and it was just wonderful to give my brain a workout, not that I have anything against nursery rhymes.

We continue to be full time cloth, well that WAS until our washing machine died! Life is really testing us this year so far. We have tried to fix it but we think it is a bit beyond it so we are on the hunt for a new one, well when I say new I mean second hand or free! In the meantime I'm lucky to have a lovely mum helping me out with the use of her machine, I also use the laundromat up the road and have had lovely mums offer to do a load for us! Gosh I just love community spirit.

The past couple of weeks in our area have been road side collection weeks and there is a LOT of junk on the side of the road, but if you look a little deeper you may often find some wonderful gems. We had a look on the weekend and Luke picked up a couple of old kids bikes, bought them home pulled them apart and created one great learner bike for Lila. She is a fair way off using it but it was fun and free. We also picked up a pretty cool wheelbarrow planter box for our herb garden. It was at the house across the road and Luke went over and wheeled it back. I had to laugh as it made the most god awful noise as it was being wheeled, not very inconspicuous at all!

Our planter box, in the 'garden'. Still on the lookout for some good soil...

Building Lila's bike

We have begun making our own bread. I'm not talking the pour the packet into the bread machine kind, I mean kneading the dough then letting it rise, then kneading then letting it rise kind of bread, its a work in progress to make the perfect loaf but my goodness it tastes good and gives your arms a killer workout! It is our aim to one day get a bread machine and have a fresh loaf every morning we need one.

I recently went for a hike with my dear friend as she is in training for a hike in Peru. I was completely expecting to die and her to have to drag me home but I was so much fitter than I expected! I guess all this walking not only saves money but it appears to be helping enormously health wise also.

Spending wise we are still plodding along, having not bought anything for coming up to two months now, I don't miss it really, I mean sure there are days where I'd love a bag of chips or something like that but the moments are always fleeting. The money is still draining out of our account, but it's being spent on much healthier and really, much more delicious things. There's nothing like a beautiful orange after a hard day, sure beats a bag of chips or lollies!

The latest with the No-Poo trial is that I washed my hair! I lasted 4 weeks, and the only reason I did it was because I had to turn up at work which is a very professional environment, and my hair was disgusting! I'm a bit annoyed I did it but I haven't had to wash it again since then. I think going the four weeks without washing has helped cut down the need and I fully plan to stretch it out and find alternative methods where possible.

The challenge has taken on a different vibe now. The initial excitement has died down, and living a less consumption-driven life is just becoming 'life'. It's good in a way, it means that living this way is becoming second nature, but it's beginning to feel like we're not trying hard enough. Admittedly we have many projects still not up and running, things like the vege garden, sandpit, compost bin and the like, and our home-made dish soap needs replenishing, so it's not like we've hit a wall, but we could use some progress to fire us up and make it feel like a challenge again.

Them's be fightin' words!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Free fun..., well, fun! With the no spend rules in place we have been forced to look for free entertainment for Lila. For the most part the parks and walks work just fine but with the recent heatwave in Perth things were getting a little stir crazy in this house. We stumbled upon some information on the Perth Museum last week and after a quick google discovered it opened nice and early and was free. Luke looked up the transport side of things while I packed up some peanut butter sandwiches and fruit. We caught the bus which stopped on the corner of our street to the train station and then took the train into the city. We had such a fantastic day, hours of entertainment in lovely air-conditioning with Lila squealing in delight at all the things to see and do. We went outside and had our sandwiches under some shady trees and watched Lila run though the fallen leaves, splash in water features and explore the musical playground.
We had a bit of time to kill before we caught the train home and as we walked by the art gallery we thought..should we? In theory it was a disaster taking Lila the tornado into a snooty art gallery but in reality it was awesome! Who knew there was such a great play zone for children in there!

Relaxing in the museum


Having a ball

With our New Zealand trip fast approaching I have been thinking about clothing, as I have very few warm clothes that fit me as I am considerably smaller than I was last winter. Usually I would have nipped down to the shops by now and bought the clothing I need, but in keeping with the rules I hit the op-shops and boy oh boy did I walk out with some bargains! I managed some jackets, pants, winter dresses, cardigans, long sleeve tops and track pants, quite a few of which still had tags on. After totalling what it would have cost me in the shops, I found I had got about $820.00 worth of clothes for a whopping $39.60! Very, very pleased.

I have struggled a little this week, perhaps that explains such a gap between posts! We're still going strong but the novelty has well and truly worn off. I've had an urge to buy, and I've had an urge to be lazy with my planning. Some days I have not wanted to cut up fruit before I head out with Lila and would much rather just grab something out. I've sat in a coffee shop with my mum while she ate and I sipped on tap water. I've had some really really hard days which included having a wallet stolen, then found, tripping and hurting my toe quite badly coupled with a toddler whose molars will just not cut through. It's those nights where dinner isn't even ready and it's 6:30 and all I want to say to Luke is "let's go get some fish and chips tonight, I can't be bothered." We're still here though, we're still in this journey and the hard days do pass. We haven't compromised and we have not given in to the oh so easy alternatives.

Most of the cloth nappies have arrived, the last order will come through this week. I dare say we will be full time cloth as of this week which is so exciting! Our 'no poo' journey is still going strong and I have a love hate relationship with my hair at the moment. I also have to let my readers know that I was truly blessed to receive a pack of blonde hair dye in the mail from a dear friend who had some she wasn't using sitting collecting dust in her cupboard. Along with the hair dye was a lovely gift of treats for hubby and I and some cute ducks for Lila to play with! Every day I am blown away by the generosity of people and the sheer volume of opportunities to re-use, repair and recycle if we take the time to scratch beneath the surface!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

What about travel for leisure,... that still allowed? Well in short, no. So I guess now is the time to discuss our intended trip to New Zealand in seven weeks time. This holiday goes against the entire point of this journey, well in theory anyway. Perhaps when I finish discussing our plans it will seem essential? I hope so...

This trip has been on the cards for quite some time, for our family to reunite and celebrate my Oma's 85th birthday. We always knew it was coming and we were always going, but it is only now becoming somewhat awkward with this challenge. My Oma is getting up there in age, she is losing her memory and quite frankly this will be the first and last time she ever meets my husband and daughter. Based on these elements alone I see this trip as entirely essential.

Now however essential the trip is there are still aspects that would not sit well with me, things like taking a vacation from the challenge while we are there and picking back up when we got home. That's not how this works and as such we will be living in New Zealand almost exactly the same as we do here. How?

  • We are staying with relatives to avoid spending money on accommodation.
  • We will be doing a grocery shop and packing our lunches when we head out for the day.
  • We will eat dinner at home and if this is absolutely unavoidable; as it will be for the birthday dinner, we will order the bare essentials, so no fancy drinks (water will suffice), and no entrĂ©es or desserts. 
  • We will travel by public transport when family are not an option.
  • We will sightsee with our eyes and not our wallets.
We will be gone 10 days and I think this should keep us in good stead with this challenge. Although the trip doesn't sit well with me in the grand scheme of things, I think we can make it work.

The 'No Poo' is coming along. I must say my hair is disgusting at the moment. It is oily, knotty and just gross, but I was warned that this is part of the process and my scalp will eventually settle down. Add to the oiliness some re-growth from cancelling all my hair appointments for the year and its quite a disaster zone right now. I have a packet of blonde hair dye coming from a lovely friend over east which I will use as soon as it arrives! Best part is, it didn't cost a cent!

I finally put petrol in the car today, so a full tank has lasted 2.5 weeks instead of 1. I'm really happy with that. I think it comes down to walking more, being direct with my travel when I do have to use the car and having no airconditioning. You will also be pleased to hear Lila and I are surviving just fine without aircon and here in Perth it has been very very hot.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Do you no poo?...

...was the question asked of me recently when discussing this challenge with some mums at a recent catch up. "Excuse me?" I said?
She asked again, "Do you no poo?"
I was completely baffled as to what she was going on about until she explained herself. "Do you use shampoo?"
Well yes I use shampoo, doesn't everyone? Turns out not everyone does and quite a few of these ladies in the group didn't. Their hair wasn't a oil slick or a crazy frizball of knots, it looked healthy, it was shiny, and looked how you'd expect perfectly washed hair to look. I was so intrigued that I researched a little when I got home and learnt some interesting things. Apparently our body is designed to make the perfect amount of oil for our hair, and shampoo and conditioner strips these oils requiring your scalp to produce oil quicker and thus requiring more washes. Apparently if left alone your hair doesn't need any of the shampoo and conditioner hype (this little snippet prompted a lot of "I told you so" from Luke. "See, I've been on the right track all along!"). It does warn you though that there would be a trial period after giving up shampoo and conditioner where your hair will be quite 'gross', and gives you a very simple recipe of bicarb and vinegar to get you through the points where you can not bear it any more. It will however eventually get to a point where you do not need anything... WOW! You guessed it, I'm going to try to ditch the chemicals in that area too.

EDIT - Here is a really interesting article a lovely reader sent me. It really is very fascinating.

Two weeks into January and the air conditioning in our car has decided to play up, and by play up I mean it's not working. We know what is wrong and it is totally fixable but it has lead to many a discussion. I put the question out to a few people to gauge thoughts, is air conditioning in a car essential, do we fix it? The majority of people claimed that having a child in the summer in Australia made air conditioning an essential. In fact the only person who said it wasn't was my mum, who was prompt to state that she never had it with us. After much thought we have decided NOT to fix it. Sure its going to be inconvenient, and gross, and I'll long for the gentle blast of cool air, but many survive without it and it really is only a luxury I've become accustomed to. After all I didn't have air conditioning in my old car and I survived a summer with a newborn.

I went out to a lunch this week with some wonderful mums. We went to a local brewery, which I admit sounds a little odd but it is very child friendly with a huge sandpit and many kids happily playing. There were gourmet pizzas, salads, yummy chips and ice cold beer on our table. It was hard not to order, I felt in a way like I was depriving poor Lila as all the other children munched on the food. I had planned ahead however, and had cut up some fruit and veges for her to munch on while we were there, and I had eaten before leaving home. We had water packed with us so although it was hard and my mouth was watering, we didn't spend a cent.

We have started working on a small trial vegetable/herb garden. It has been hard to get to it as the days are so hot and our gorgeous daughter wakes up burnt if she even dreams about the sun. On Sunday the evening cooled off and became overcast so we took the chance to rip up the bricks and have a look at what we had to work with, which is not a lot at all. In spite of our lack of fertile soil, or any soil for that matter, we feel like we've made some inroads, and our parsley is sitting there nicely amongst the dirt, although looking a bit dead itself at the moment. We're now on the lookout for some nice soil to replace the sandy dirt, then we'll be off to the markets to get our first plants.