Sustainability

Downsizing

warning: rambly post ahead!

I suppose we’ve been downsizing for ages now. Years really. Let me think… probably when Eli was still a baby (he’s 4.5 now), was when this all started. Before this I was a moderate level hoarder. I come from a line of moderate level hoarders on both my mother and father’s side. I actually find quite a lot of joy in “stuff”, and things that bring back memories, and more than anything in having just the right and perfect things for a project somewhere in my stash!

For many years it has been with great pride that I can help my kids to make, on the spot, any craft project Mr Maker sends our way. Just a few months ago a friend sent me a photo of some lovely candles and suggested we make some for a girl’s day, and I said “Oh yes, I have a heap of soy wax we could use!“. In actual fact, I had a whole kit of candle making supplies including wicks, dyes, and scents.

I still like this part of me, even though we are downsizing and becoming more minimalist. For sure I do almost all of this to please my husband. Not in a weird “he’s controlling me” kind of way – just in a way where I know this is his preference, and that it would reduce his stress a lot if we had less stuff. Plus he is always going on about the cost of keeping “stuff”.

But on the topic of the cost of keeping stuff, let it be know that there is also cost in always having to buy new things. And there is also an emotional and stress-level cost in getting small children into the car and taking them out on an errand to get the “stuff”.

I do agree that physical clutter in your house, or space contributes to mental clutter, and I suppose that’s another of the reasons I am into downsizing and decluttering, because I certainly have plenty of mental clutter to get rid of. Plus I like to not have so many decisions to make all the time, and less things to clean up and tidy!

Anyway, I think that’s the end of my ramble post! Not sure what the point was other than to get this stuff out fo my head!

Sustainability

No Spend Month Summary

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

So we finally finished our no spend month. It felt like a lifetime, especially the first and last weeks! Here’s a summary of how we went!

How Did We Do?

We have done pretty well! Lots of temptation, but we survived. We did spend some money on a few birthday things for family and friends. I don’t regret doing that though – it was good family time, and gifts are important, especially when this is only one month of the year! We didn’t really ever talk about gifts and how they fit into it, but I think they’re perfectly acceptable (within reason).

I also went and got a massage one day. I was stressed, in desperate need to alone time, and the tension in my shoulders was just crazy. It was amazing, and I do not regret that either. I have been a far more relaxed and happy mother in the days following it then I was for the week before it!

We also had one or two slip-ups, but for the most part, we resisted any temptation, and really denied ourselves a bunch of things we would have bought without thinking.

Thoughts & Feelings

After about a week I totally regretted doing this month. Hah! But it also had some benefits. I liked that we could easily explain to the kids about what we were doing and why we couldn’t buy them things, but I missed being able to go out and do something special as a family. We missed out on some really fun and important events because they had entry fees, and that was dissapointing.

BUT, it was a good experience overall. I was able to identify where I just spend money without thinking, and that in itself is a pretty powerful thing!

Next Time?

I’ll be honest, I’m not in a rush to do this again. We manage to stick to our budget well almost all the time, so we’re not exactly spending big, or racking up debt. This no spend month came at a frustrating time – with a number of events on, and at the same time as we started to get into all this zero waste stuff, so it was annoying to not be able to enable our new love for zero waste stuff because we weren’t spending things!

I think if I did this again I would allow op-shopping (thrifting), and I would also allow entry to events (within reason)! Also, possibly giving ourselves more than 2 days notice like we did this time would have been helpful!

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Sustainability

Zero Waste – The Next Steps

Here are my personal next steps. I’ll let you know how they go!

  • Sew some more reusable bags (this will use up some of my fabric stash also – yay!).
  • Sew a reusable cutlery bag for days when we go up the coast.
  • Have a go shopping at the bulk food store (not aiming for perfect first time – just better!).
  • Commit to always buying F&V from Charlie’s (plastic free packaging).
Sustainability

How Far We’ve Come

man with dirty hands doing the peace sign - Photo by Eddie Kopp on Unsplash
Photo by Eddie Kopp on Unsplash

I thought it might be fun to document all the ways that I’ve moved from single use to reusable items, and from plastic to an alternative over the last few years. Partly to provide some sort of inspiration to other people, but also to give me a bit of a reality check. We are at this stage with zero waste and sustainability, where most of the obvious and basic things are done, and we are now moving on to the things that require more sacrifice, preparation, and thought. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and for your mind to get a bit “you suck at this, look how far you have to go!”, so this post is here to remind myself “Hey! Look how far you’ve come!”.

KITCHEN

  • Converted from Tupperware to glass jars for all pantry items (storing flour, etc.
  • Stainless steel straws for everyday smoothie use.
  • Keep cup for coffee on the go.
  • Reusable water bottles to take with us.
  • Plastic free lunchboxes every day.

GENERAL

  • Using microfibre clothes for cleaning instead of chemicals (in plastic bottles no less). I know microfibre isn’t perfect, but I didn’t know at the time, and it is at least a step in the right direction.
  • Recycling.
  • Reusable bags for groceries (the trick is remembering to take them!).
  • As of yesterday – a compost bin! Have spent quite a few hours already watching youtube videos on the best way to compost!
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

BATHROOM

  • Using bar soap instead of  body wash in the shower.
  • Changed to reusable pump bottle for hand washing instead of buying a new one each time.
  • Changed to a menstrual cup instead of using tampons and pads.
  • Using essential oils to replace some first aid supplies.

I’m not sure how extensive this list is.

I wrote this all a week or two ago, and then I see the most wasteful lifestyle choice from people as I browse instagram (cooking in single use foil containers instead of a dish you can wash and reuse – WHY?!), and then I think perhaps I do much better than I think I am.

I am truly so grateful to my mother, who hardly ever used single-use items, except for the “standard” things like cling wrap, and alfoil, and who always made our food from scratch (admittedly this has made us all food snobs to a degree, but there are worse things in life than refusing to eat packet mix cake!).

I feel like these messages have really influenced my life a lot, even without her specifically teaching us anything on the subject. I wouldn’t even consider buying packaged food for my son’s school lunch box. I wouldn’t even consider using a single use foil tin to bake in when I could so easily use a proper dish.  I wouldn’t consider using disposable plates as a lazy night thing (even though we don’t have a dishwasher).

Anyway, even with those things I would never consider, and with the list of things I’ve changed, there is still room for improvement, and a chance to be more mindful about the way I live. I’m excited! This feels so right for me/us, and has brought me huge peace along with the excitement and a new passion project to sink my teeth into!

Personal

Is zero waste and green living a middle and upper class luxury?

 
Bulk Bags Photo by paul morris on Unsplash
Photo by paul morris on Unsplash

This morning on the radio I listened to the end of a segment where they mentioned that some people think consider “green living” (which includes things like zero waste, but also all levels of sustainability), to be a luxury only afforded by the well educated, and middle and upper classes in our society. They went on to say that these sort of movements actually contribute to more of a class divide in our society.

At first listening to this really shocked me, as I haven’t really heard much negative press for green living before. Luke and I had literally spent hours last night talking about the ideas and principles of zero waste, and how we could reduce our waste further. But I tried to consider what I had heard (especially having only heard the end of it), and think if this was really true.

The more I thought about it, and talked it through the more I decided that it wasn’t an accurate representation of green living and zero waste. I do agree that middle and upper class citizens do have more opportunity to change their lives to green living quicker, and with less hardship, but that is actually a luxury they have for pretty much every issue they want to pursue. And to be honest, I don’t think that we should be trying to criticise anyone who sees an issue, learns about it, and then takes action to improve their life and the world around them.

As I pondered all this I ended up brainstorming a whole bunch of different ways that low income families could reduce their waste with little cost. I’ve listed them below.

  1. Sell off unused and unwanted goods.
  2. Refuse plastic bags. If you buy a couple of reusable shopping bags from the supermarket (not the best, but certainly better than the standard plastic bags) each week it wouldn’t take long to have enough to do your whole shopping. If you’re handy with the sewing machine, you could even use old clothes or spare fabric to make your own bags
  3. Refuse straws. 
  4. Compost. It doesn’t take much to start a compost heap in your back yard, but even if you don’t have a back yard to compost in, there are many community garden projects around (particularly in our area – Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast) that would happily have a compost heap.
  5. Bake snacks and treats instead of buying them. Making a round of ANZAC slice, or cupcakes will be a lot less wasteful then buying them pre-made (and individually wrapped!!) in the supermarket.
  6. Make sure you recycle everything possible. The local tips do EXCELLENT talks and interactive sessions on recycling and zero waste, so it’s well worth calling them to book in a time so you can find out all about what can and can’t be recycled. Better yet, organise a group so more people can learn!
  7. Turn your jars into storage! I have a lovely shelf of glass jars that I keep all my pantry items in, and MOST of these jars are just leftover pasta sauce bottles or the like. Reusing stuff you have in a different way is a great way to get greener with no cost.

Lastly I just wanted to say that even though I do happen to be a well educated middle class person, most of the knowledge that I have on zero waste and green living is from free sources. It’s from following blogs and instagram accounts, and searching for things on Pinterest. I know how to compost stuff because I binge watched a ton of youtube videos one time. So the point of that is to say that information is all around you, and you just have to get out there and be hungry for it!

Rubbish Photo by Bas Emmen on Unsplash
Photo by Bas Emmen on Unsplash

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Personal

Family of 5 – No Spend Month

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Today is Rosh Chodesh Iyar (well, technically the 30th of Nissan – but that’s just how the Hebrew months work sometimes…). This month we are doing a no spend month!

Why a no spend month?

The easiest way to sum up why I want to have a no spend month is this – I want us all to get out of the habit of mindless spending. I want our family to move past common consumerism, and to be more grateful for what we have.

I am obsessed with watching videos on youtube about tiny living, minimalism, and simple living. I love those things, and I yearn for them to be more true to my own life when I watch those videos, but the reality is I feel like my life is far from it.

Last week when I came to a head on this, and thought back, I could see that my children were consistently asking for things every time we would go somewhere. Sometimes big things (“I’ll put it on your Wishlist for your birthday” I’d say), and more often small things, $2 things, ya know? Annoying little toys from machines, or their favourite chocolate. Often I would say yes, either to appease them, or to get out of the shops quickly, or even sometimes because I wanted them to be happy and to reward them (or bribe them).

We end up with a hole in the wallet, and crappy toys filling our house.

I could see that the kids were not content with what they had, and worse than that they were always “bored” – so what good were these annoying toys?

Luke and I have been doing a lot of extra spending the last few months – we’ve been using our extra income to buy some big ticket items (new bed, new mattress, photo books, conversion application, mower etc. These were all necessary things, and we don’t regret buying them, but having the extra income also made us (maybe just me?!) a bit more lazy with sticking rigidly to the budget – things like my acupuncture and herbs aren’t technically in the budget, and I have spent a bit of extra money investing in health things. Again, I’m not saying this was so bad, I’m just saying it contributes to a lazy budget attitude, and it’s something I want to reign in.

In summary, I want to give everyone in our family a spending detox, and help us make good decisions about our spending in the future.

You’ve still gotta eat! What can you buy?

Of course! We still have to eat, and pay our bills, and there’s no way around that. I asked on instagram stories for some suggestions of what we should put on our “can spend” list, and got some great answers. Here’s our list:

  • Groceries (stick to the grocery list though, and no extras snuck in like magazines or Diet Coke at the checkout!)
  • Paying bills
  • Acupuncture (am considering this a health bill as we’ve already made a commitment to continue it for a certain amount of time)
  • Petrol

Any extra money from this will just be put into the kitty (we use a cash based system) for some sort of family experience at the end of it all (zoo day, ice-cream party… etc.), or give to a charity – depends how much (or even IF!) we save anything.

Out of interest, what can’t you buy?

So basically we can’t use our bank cards for anything other than to get the cash out that we need.

No online purchases – no games, no apps, no things we’ve been wanting that come up on special (because they totally will now that we’ve committed to this).

No coffees, no buying snacks, no spending money to buy whatever we life (for me that’s often art supplies or crystals). You get the idea, right?

No take-away, no random grocery top-ups above the standard grocery budget, no buying lunch when we’re out.

What do you foresee to be the main challenges?

Surprisingly, I don’t expect the kids to be a bit problem. We will sit down with them today and talk about it (I will try to tie it into our daily study of the sefirot as we count the omer), explain why we’re doing it, and how long it will go for. They usually respond well to these types of scenarios, so while there could be a few hairy days, in general I think they’ll be fine.

I actually think the hardest thing with me will be not buying snacks/lunch out. For example, today we are going up the coast to visit my parents, and will stay overnight. We’ll be out and about during lunch time tomorrow, and usually I’d just buy some lunch. In this particular situation it should be okay, as I only needed to do a small grocery shop this week, and have some spare money from that, so I can technically buy them lunch. BUT to keep with the spirit of it I’ll just be heading to Coles and getting some “real food” things (even if it’s just bread and peanut butter), rather than going to a food court for sushi.

The other hard challenge will be resisting sale items as they come up.

Awesome!

So that’s what we’re doing! I hope it will be a good exercise in self control, and that we’ll be able to stick to it. I am woman of extremes, and so my first thought was definitely to do it for a whole year, but I wasn’t really sure we were up to that! If this works out well, I think it would be a great exercise to do again later in the year!

It’s possible that emergency things will come up. That’s okay. This isn’t some sort of massive things I absolutely can’t fail at – if we need to buy new tyres, or there’s something we have to pay for for school, that’s also okay. For these sort of things though my decision making tool will be to ask myself if it needs to be bought NOW, or if it can wait until next month. And its level of urgency.

One Little Word 2018

One Little Word 2018: Womanhood // January

2018 one little word process photos // January // Womanhood

So at the end of 2017 and start of 2018 I decided to enrol in Ali Edward’s One Little Word Class. I have known of the idea on choosing a word for the year for a fair while, and have actually chosen a word for the last few years, but this year, what with all the big changes in our home life and in our family I thought I would indulge myself in actually doing the course! I just chose to do the course (which came with printables), and then bought an album and a couple of other bits to go with it. So no official kit for me, just whatever I made up.

It’s been slow going getting into the project. I think it’s just because I’ve not done it before, so each month’s prompts are totally new to me not just in the content they produce (based on my word), but also in the idea of them. When I watch videos of seasoned OLW-ers like Essie Ruth, they seem to know the mechanics of the prompts, and so are able to then create using their word a bit easier. I’m not sure if that totally makes sense written down, but hopefully you understand that I’m trying to say, that the more years you do the project the easier it is.

Anyway, it’s the end of February and I finally finished both the January and February prompts! I have decided I really like watching the videos and knowing about the prompt at the start of the month, and then actually completing it in the second half of the month. That way I’ve had time to mull over it and think it through. Again, perhaps this won’t be necessary in future years when I’m more familiar with how various prompts work, and how I want my book to look.

My word for 2018 is “Womanhood” – a word that I thought I kind of knew, but that I am absolutely loving exploring deeper. When you really put something out there, that you want to learn more about it, I feel like Hashem honours that, and will teach you! That’s certainly been my hope & prayer.

January One Little Word Tour

// I started the album with a photo of myself, and some embellishments. I wanted to put myself front and centre in this book, because I really see this as a personal journey of self discovery.

// On the back of the photo I made a mixed-media page with my word “Womanhood”. On the opposite page I added a personalised “January” title card, and one of the quotes from the kit.

2018 one little word process photos // January // Womanhood

2018 one little word process photos // January // Womanhood

// On the back of the monthly card I included a reflection on how I related to my word this month, and added my completed prompt cards.

“Womanhood” in January

January was such a busy month for me that I struggled to find time to even think of my word. But on reflection of the month, I realised that I lived a certain reality of womanhood – serving others, mothering, creating celebrations and family traditions, and recording family stories. These mothering and homemaking aspects of womanhood are beautiful things, and our resilience to get through things, to keep going, and to also find the space for self care is so important.

In January I sent two of my children off to school. One to year 1, and the other to part-time Kindy. I went from homeschooling 3 kids all day every day, to only have 2 kids at home half the week, and 1 at home the other half! I experienced  VERY broad range of emotions. Everything from joy to guilt, sadness to pride, and relief to disappointment. 

Emotions. They are a massive part of womanhood.

Emotions. They are a massive part of motherhood.

I think I want to really FEEL all those emotions, respect them, acknowledge them, and also process them well and control them.

Reason Why: I feel like I’m on a journey to discover a deeper layer of Biblical womanhood and all its complexities.

Quote: “Her intuition was her favourite superpower”

Definition: NOUN. * The state of being a woman *The qualities considered to be natural to or characteristic of a woman. *Women considered collectively.

Let Go: *Immaturity holding me back. *Past idea of womanhood that don’t align with Biblical/Jewish values.

2018 one little word process photos // January // Womanhood

// The next spread includes some more prompt cards, and my planning page for the year ahead. 

Invitation: *Wisdom from Hashem in how and why he created women. *A deeper love and connection with myself and my womanhood.

Note To Self: You are a mighty woman with a strong purpose and an everlasting God on your side!

The Year Ahead:

In what ways is my word already part of my life?

Well, I am a woman, so I guess it’s a pretty HUGE part of my life! I’ve only just started exploring womanly rituals and sacred spaces as they relate to Judaism.

More//Less

More: Self care, self acceptance, self AWARENESS, and more inner beauty.

Less: Self doubt, hurt and pain, confusion.

What do I feat most in the coming year?

Not completing this project! (not in my album, but should be:) Getting too busy and distracted to finish.

Maybe, more seriously though, not growing in my potential or exploring my womanhood enough. I want to be more enlightened by the end of the year! 

What am I most excited about for the year ahead?

Embracing my own womanhood and really exploring this topic without reservation. I’m excited to see what Hashem reveals to me.

2018 one little word process photos // January // Womanhood

// My last page for January is the intentions page!

Intentions:

Physical – *Holistic health (oils, food, supplements, herbs etc.) *KNOWING my body. *Monthly cycle/pregnancy – tracking and acknowledging

Emotional – *Meditation *Acknowledging the various parts of my monthly cycle. *Gratitude lists *FEELING emotions (all of them!) and not being afraid of them!

Spiritual – *Meditation *Bibilcal femininity (study) *Establishing feminine prayer rituals *Brachas *Gratitude *Rosh Chodesh

Relationships (family) – *Coming back to being a nurturing mother *Being vulnerable, honest, and growing together with Luke.

Creative – Exploring art journaling more and especially exploring womanhood THROUGH art journaling.

Relationship (others) – *Limiting social media *Cultivating good, honest, womanly friends.

Art Journaling, Vlog

VLOG: Why SAHMs Should Make Time For ART!

inhale the future, exhale the past

Mums! Do you ever find yourself wishing you had more time for art? Or like it goes to the bottom of the priority list in your life? Well this vlog is for you. This is how I went from never having any time for my art, to making it a priority!

Key Points:

My story of going from being cranky and frustrated to making art a priority and being a happier, more attentive mother because of it.

Making art a priority – adding art journal pages to your to do list!

Consequences of not doing art, and consequences of not doing the washing.

Not doing any household duties in the evenings after the kids are in bed.

Blocking out time in your daily schedule for art.

Prioritising art is not self indulgent.

If you know you only have X hours during the day to do your chores because the evening is blocked out (for art!) then guess what?! You will get it done! (within reason!)

Lets continue the conversation – let me know in the comments what’s stopping you and we can try and find a fix!

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Rosh Chodesh

Rosh Chodesh Shevat 5778

shevat art journaling page

Rosh Chodesh Shevat

What is Shevat all about?
This is a month BURSTING with information and insight. The explanations of the month are as full of growth and potential as the month itself! The dreams we made in Kislev, the progress we made to work through anger in Tevet, are culminating together to be planted like seeds in Shevat.

There are so many aspects I could talk about this month – newness, gratitude, food, nature, righteousness, or trees, but I just want to focus on one or two. I will put links at the bottom to all my favourite resources, so you can do your own research if you want!

Shevat is a month to start bearing new fruit and to welcome newness within you. We did so much work on ourselves in Tevet, tilling the soil so to speak, that now it is time to really bury those seeds, water them, get excited, and feel the growth and new life rising within us.

I challenge you this month to say “yes” to some things that you’ve been putting off, or de-prioritisng. Say yes to self care, and say yes to new experiences – especially ones that take you out of your comfort zone a little and bring some excitement!

Of course I can’t go past the obvious connection to food this month, starting with the tribe of the month is Asher, which means happiness, and is connected to the sense of taste. The tribesmen of Asher were rich because they were abundantly happy. They were so happy because of their contentment with what Hashem had given them – they were not a tribe who often compared themselves to others, or were always wanting more.
They experienced pure joy and happiness because of their contentment with what Hashem had given them.

So it should be with our food – not always lusting after this meal, or what someone else has. But being content to eat good, nourishing food. Being mindful of the food we eat.

At the full moon this month is the minor holiday of Tu B’Shevat, which is like a new year for the trees. A great time to be mindful of the environment and our responsibility to look after it. But also to be mindful of the food we eat. Definitely make time to research a Tu B’Shevat seder, or just put out a platter of the 7 species of Israel to enjoy on this day.

There are many many rules in the Torah about food, and this reminds us that God really does care what we put in our mouths and when. I am loving researching kosher laws, brachas before eating, and Jewish ways of eating this month. The purpose of eating is the elevate the godliness in food, and we can do that by honouring God with good healthy food that he has deemed acceptable.

I’ll end with this quote from At The Well.
“Jewish teachings have long equated humans to trees. The Rebbe equated a tree to the spiritual life of a human. The roots represent a person’s faith, the body represents the spiritual life through intellect, emotions, and practical achievements, and the fruit and seed the power in each of us to in uence others and help everyone in our community become their own healthy trees. “It’s not enough to feel and experience God just when you’re in prayer. You need to feel and experience him in the every day.

Holidays:
Tu B’Shevat. – Full of Moon of Shevat. 15th.

Questions & activities for personal reflection:
Spend some time in nature this month. What are you doing to help repair the world in an environmental sense?
Be mindful of what you’re putting in your mouth. Think about why you are eating, and ask yourself if this is how Hashem intends for it to be.
What new things do you hope to welcome into your life this month?
Are you content with what Hashem has given you, or are you always wanting more?
Write out a continuous gratitude list. Don’t break your list up into days, or worry if you miss a day, just keep adding to the list every time you thin of something to be grateful for!