Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Yes, I could live in this modernist home

Silly Blogger has uploaded these photos opposite to the way I intended - sorry! I came across Modernist Australia via Apartment Therapy and it's one of my new favourite sites. I love modernist - I love retro. This house absolutely cracked us up, as not only is it in the small town we holidayed at last year (Numerkah) but it also has that kitsch retro ethic we both love! It's a little overdone at the moment, but with paring back in areas, a new paint job and some fab flooring, this house would look divine, we think!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Sustainable Monday - make your own deodorant

One of my fave blogs - and fave bloggers - posted a great little piece on making your own deodorant. As you know, I got stung with the 'must do it now!' bug, so I purchased the two ingredients to make my own.

Those two ingredients are as simple as pie to find - bicarb soda and corn flour (corn starch in the US). I made the one part bicarb, six parts cornflour mix....

We've been using it for three days and thus far it's great. It's quite refreshing not to lather your armpits every morning - dabbing on powder is so much nicer. You perspire a little but you don't have an odour - and you're doing the right thing by your body!

I have been shampoo free for a week now (only using bicarb soda and the occasional vinegar rinse) and my hair feels fuller. It's not as shiny at the moment as there is an interim period where my body accepts that it has to make my own hair oil again (the glands are kick started by the no shampoo method!) - but I have read to give it time to adjust. So far, so good...

You can tell I'm a fan of bicarb soda!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Ahem....my favourite vintage pillowcases

Part of being sustainable - or being as sustainable as you can be - is using things from the past (new or unused) and not purchasing new. We live by that ethic in this household...we counted four new things in our main lounge the other day - the rest is vintage.

These are my all time favourite pillowcases. I hope these don't offend anyone! We use these all of the time and they never fail to give us a little smile. They are very much showing their age, but we don't mind. We got them in an estate sale years ago and just couldn't bare to part with them via Retro Age. Sometimes old linen just needs to be kept, don't you think?

My sustainable ethic is becoming stronger and stronger the older I get. But it still amazes me how little people know about reusing, recycling and being sustainable. I couldn't believe it when my own sewing teacher laughed at my pins as they were ancient and I should get some new ones. I told her these were from an estate sale and were just as good as new ones, albeit with a little more personality. It makes me feel good to reuse old things that have previously been loved by other people. I love reusing old stuff...do you?

Friday, 26 March 2010

Coco Chanel glamour

I read this post on Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op with much interest today. Homemade deoderant - ooohhh eerrrr. I couldn't wait to skip to the supermarket to buy the corn starch (here in Australia it's corn flour) and mix the bicarb and corn flour into my new oh so special deoderant.

And then I got to thinking...what to keep it in? I needed something special - something that would make the ritual of putting on deoderant something lovely again. I instantly thought of my Grandmother's Chanel No 22 bath powder I had in our ensuite. She had given it to me a long time ago and I had stashed it away. This is the perfect vessel, I thought!

I got my homemade deoderant ingredients ready and went off to hunt for the Chanel container. I yipped when I found it. And then I yipped some more when I realised there was so much powder left in it. I couldn't throw Chanel out just to make my new deoderant! So I have popped some on my body, I have luxuriated in the scent and the sparkle on my skin...and I have stashed away my new deoderant supplies until this gorgeous loveliness is finished. It is just divine. A pure joy...as I am sure my new environmentally friendly aluminium free deoderant powder will be when I make it...

Thursday, 25 March 2010

The ever abiding calm

I am quietly, but ever so diligently, working through my days with some big goals in mind. 2010 must be my year for motivation and dedication - as I used to give up after around a month! Not now. Have no idea what's changed. Perhaps I am older and am no longer willing to live my life the way society wants me to? I want to live for me.

We got our wonderful seed packets from Eden Seeds this week - they are open pollinated and natural. I've started off with 10 herbs that are all going to be sowed into egg containers and planted into containers. A little herb garden just outside our window. I can't recommend Eden Seeds highly enough - everything with the order was absolutely perfect and the seeds look nice and healthy...

I have been getting some great emails of late - one particular one that arrived some days ago had a link to '80 ways to steal valuable minutes from your work day'. I don't necessarily hold that this list is just for the work day - I think there are some great hints for every day life. Here are some of my faves...

Jonathan Fields - "Batch & Focus - Multitasking kills time. Again, sounds counter-intuitive. But, every time you switch your attention, there's a cognitive ramp up time. It can range from a few seconds to a few minutes. So, if you constantly cycle between checking email, IM, twitter, texts, voicemail, calendars, blackberries, apps, scores, stock quotes, news, current projects and more, then respond to each, the time you lose to incessant ramp-up becomes substantial. Instead, minimize time lost to nonstop cognitive ramping by batching your time and focusing on individual categories of tasks with intense, yet discrete bursts of attention."

Erin Doland - "If you work for yourself or work from home, set strict office hours. This is an important rule for you and for everyone else in your life. These boundaries keep you at your desk and productive throughout the day and also remind people that you are a professional. When you're done with work for the day, clear your desk, hit the do-not-disturb button on your phone, turn off the light, and close the door."

Carolyn Heacock -
"Start scheduling certain days to do certain things, so there is a flow to your week or your month. This adds structure to an otherwise crazy week."

Jonathan Salem Baskin
"Another tactic many of my clients use is the 'touch once' principle, which means they resolve things the first time they encounter them...whether opened email or a telephone call. If you avoid parking things in 'to do later' piles, whether actual or virtual, you free those minutes for more constructive work."

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Sustainable Monday - on Tuesday

I have my sewing class on a Monday so my usual Monday posts have been out of whack. This is Sustainable Monday - on a Tuesday. Today I would like to introduce the shampoo and conditioner I am currently using.
Bicarbonate of Soda is my current shampoo. I lather a load up into a paste and scrub it through my hair. I leave it for around a minute (use the time to wash yourself if you're water conscious) and rinse it off.

Vinegar is my current conditioner - you can use any vinegar, but I am currently using apple cider as I had it in my pantry. I pour some through my hair and then rinse it out. Yes, I smell of vinegar for around 5-10 minutes but then the smell disappears.

Apparently my hair is brighter (more colour - and I don't colour my hair) and it is definitely softer. I feel great doing it - better for the environment, better for my body (no chemicals) and better for the hip pocket! I'll see how my hair fares in the coming weeks...

Sunday, 21 March 2010

A final farewell to Pop

Last week was a little strange - one of those weeks that comes out of know-where and hits you for six. A defining week. A week I will look back and remember as a pivotal point in 2010.

My beloved Pop (Alfred Redmond Collier) was finally laid to rest last Friday at Springvale Cemetary in Melbourne. He passed away in 2004 - when Logan, our eldest, was less than a year old. Due to my Nan not being able to decide what to do with his ashes it was left to the executor of his estate - my Aunt - to make a decision. So she decided to go against his wishes and inter him, rather than scattering him. My entire family is estranged from my Aunt (apart from my Nan, who has dementia), so we only had five days notice to be a part of his final day. It was a difficult day but I am so glad he is finally somewhere where I can visit him.

Other things happened throughout the week that will have no meaning here, but I have kept on going with the decluttering of the house and our builder completed the carport and courtyard walls with Shadowclad. According to my wonderful Goalscape software (click on the link at the top of this blog), I am now around 60% through the house. The amount leaving this property to go to thrift stores and being recycled is just amazing - we are really cleaning our surroundings! And it feels so much better - and it gets easier as you go!

Today I focused on the kitchen and laundry. I had already completed an initial decluttering exercise in the kitchen a couple of months ago - that was difficult, as I had trouble deciding what to let go. Today I put out even more. Do I really need four collanders? No. At most, I need two. So the other two will go. Do I need two graters? How many kitchen bowls does one really need??

I am not in the best headspace today due to Friday - I have so much more to tell you, but I think I'll leave it here today and come back tomorrow :)

Have a lovely week!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Sustainable Monday - on Tuesday

Time has gotten away from me this week. I missed both Sunday's and Monday's blog thingies - oh dear! Never mind...

The first of our vegie patches is going in, as you can see above. This is quite a mammoth plot, but it's hard to tell in that photo. Every worm we come across is lovingly being immersd in the soil - every snail we find goes...ahem...over to the neighbours....

Our first compost heap is around a week old - it's amazing how much it has already grown! We have turned it over once or twice to keep the air going through it and have already found so many good little critters breaking everything down.

We have put in layers of kitchen scraps (no bones or meat - or dairy, if you don't want vermin), shredded paper (all of our mail with our names and any other personal details on it) and dried garden leaves this week. It already smells like soil. Next I'll be adding some straw - and then it's basically back to the start (manure) again. Easy so far!

And we have been keeping a watchful eye on our community of late - keeping an eye out for local produce and other handmade goodies. I am now buying local free range eggs and lettuces (before I grow my own!) and picked up three beautiful aloe vera plants from a lovely lady selling them in her trailer in her front garden (in her dressing gown). I was wrapt when I drove past and spied them - I love the soothing relief the aloe vera gel brings...

And don't forget Earth Hour is on Saturday 27 March at 8pm. We're making it a fun night with the kids - I am enjoying teaching our sons about our earth and reusing and saving what you can.

PS. I am keeping up with my decluttering goals - the house is now 50% done! Gee it's feeling good :)

Saturday, 13 March 2010

What's the right decision?

We are struggling to make a decision this evening. Perhaps you could give some advice?

Our local Council just changed the cat ownership laws and they came into effect at the start of March. Prior to March you had to house your cat indoors between sunset and sundown and then the rest of the time was up to the owner's discretion.

We moved to a rural community from Melbourne in 2000. Our cats were each one year old then. They had acres of land to run around on and were always wearing their collars and bells to alert the wildlife of their approach. Yes, there were times they got hold of a tiny animal or bird, but this has been a rarity. There were no sunset/sundown laws in that Council area.

We moved to a semi-rurual township just over two years ago and the sunset/sundown rule came into effect. We locked the cats up inside at night - but after two months of nightly wailing/scratching - they scratched through carpet we put on the back on the laundry door - and general loss of sleep (us - with a new baby, too!), we were defeated and let them out at night time.

The new laws are that cats have to be on your property 24 HOURS A DAY. No jumping over fences - no nothing. As they are 11 years old it is not often they go elsewhere, but they do still roam occasionally. The Council brochure recommended wiring the fences to keep them in, putting curved rails up so they couldn't jump over any fences (removing trees, too) or building them a cat run to live in permanently.

Justin and I agreed they weren't a menace to society so we haven't done anything about them. We didn't think locking them up in a cat run at their age fair - and we can't put them down, either. We have called local animal welfare places to see if there is a local 'place' that takes cats for long term happy boarding, but there isn't.

And tonight we overheard one of our neighbours telling their guests they have a cat who defecates in their backyard and they are debating whether to call the ranger or "put it in a bucket and drown it". We don't get along well with these neighbours (you can probably tell why) so there is no use talking to them about this issue. It may not even be our cat - we doubt it;s ours, but we just don't know. The fine for not locking your cat up permanently is around $450 per cat from memory.

These are our options for Percy and Maple:

1. Build a cat run at a cost of $500-$1000 - at 11 years of age we think they will cry 24/7 and the neighbours will complain and we don't think it's ethical to lock them up, anyway
2. Have them put down
3. Keep going the way we are and risk almost $1000 in fines, should our neighbours (or another neighbour) complain

Any ideas? Our heads are swimming...

Thursday, 11 March 2010

100% store update

I have a June deadline to work to (more information on that coming) - so I am spending some of each day updating each listing on the website. I feel so calm doing it - it's quite strange, as most people would think it a tedious job. But I love measuring the fabric and making sure everything is in order. Getting ordered is making me feel quite calm, serene and more in control. I can highly recommend decluttering and ordering your house and life! Wish I had done it sooner...

While I'm at it, I have been putting fabric on sale - some of it is close to half price! Our sale fabrics are here. More coming soon!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A daily teaching - His Holiness The Dalai Lama

It has taken me a while to grasp on to the power of YouTube. I don't often visit the site as I don't like to 'browse' sites just to look for something to look at or watch - but I somehow found my way onto YouTube listening to a teaching from His Holiness The Dalai Lama. I have been jumping to teaching and documentaries, enraptured at being able to listen a man who I consider my teacher. I am blessed to live in an age where the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism have found me in Victoria, Australia and I have been able to find and learn from the lessons of the Buddha and His Holiness The Dalai Lama since I was 17 years old.

He is one of the most important people in my life. I am going to listen to at least a single teaching every day - what a way to learn these days. I never want to stop learning. I hope to post some teachings on here regularly...as this blog just isn't business - it's about me, too :)

For His Holiness The Dalai Lama webcasts click here.
For YouTube videos click here.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Sustainable Monday

I learned a lot about sustainability and our modern lives this week.

We kept building our rock composts last week but unfortunately worked out the mass weight of the compost would have weakened the walls eventually. As an important component of compost heaps is air and air rotation we didn't want to put any mud on the stones to keep them as a wall. So we decided to purchase two simple cages from Bunnings Warehouse - one is above. Each cage is the perfect size for a compost heap - and, at a cost of just $24,95, we thought it money well spent. The rest of the compost bins on the market can sting you upwards of $400 - and while there is merit in them (faster compost, cleanliness etc), we wanted something old-fashioned and 'normal'. We don't like newfangled! We started our compost heap with kitchen off-cuts (no meat, bones or dairy), fresh dirt, some old grass cuttings and some chook manure from a local farm. I'll rotate the manure with horse to give it some extra nitrogren - but fingers cross it will all work out! I am hoping we can use this first heap within 8 weeks - I'll let you know. We start the second one in a month...

I have been researching iron-deficiency anaemia and ferro liquid quite a lot. By chance I came across the most interesting site. It's called Food Intolerance Network and their site is called Fed Up with Food Additives. I have been an avid reader of the site for several nights - it has the most interesting (and sad) statistics about our modern life...including...

1. In the last 30 years two supermarket chains have built their food owndership to 80% of the Australian market
2. Bagged salads made from lettuce and other green leaves are washed in chlorine, dried, sorted and put in plastic bags with modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) where low levels of oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide keep it looking fresh for up to ten days or even a month but destroy vital nutrients
3. In the UK there are more than 6000 varieties of dessert and cooking apples, but many have been lost to production and only survive in the national fruit collection because supermarkets only stock 10 variaties
4. Supermarket advertised vine-ripened tomatoes have been picked at the 'breaker stage' - meaning they are a good size and should be ready to turn colour - and ripened artificially with ethylene gas

That's just a snap shot. I can't wait to get this new organic vegie patch - the quicker, the better.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Decluttering your home - a clean walk-in-robe

I am continuing on with my 2010 goals - the shock of the broken toe and little Gabriel's iron deficiency (he's now on a prescription pending an urgent visit to a kiddies doc) has subsided and I was able to crack back into decluttering our house this week. My goal was our walk-in-wardrobe. We want a professional to build cabinetry on all walls next year, so I wanted it clean, tidy and simplified 'to have it ready'...

These two pics don't show you much, but I went through the room from top to bottom. Dusting, cob-webbing, wiping, vacuuming, cleaning...everything. I removed all of the 'stuff' from the shelves and floor (floor is just about to be re-done, too...polished concrete, anyone?). We even went through our clothes - any clothes too old were piffed out, any clothes we don't wear anymore was donated to charities and we even removed excess steele hangers for recycling. Throughout the week, everything found a new home. And what hasn't found a home will soon...

This week my goal is our ensuite. I want it perfect from top to bottom and also clear of stuff I have been stuffing in there. And what I also may start working on is our bedroom - the last bit of that part of the house. Woot!

If you'd like to join in the decluttering fun feel free! Anything removed from your surroundings - small or large - is a great foot forward...if you need some support you can find it here...

Friday, 5 March 2010

Happy Friday!

As you know, I've had one of those weeks - just a little glitch, I am sure, but I am very glad it's the weekend, let me tell you! The end of the week was spent in the kitchen cooking up a storm for my son's school Carnival - lots of yummy banana cake, chocolate weetbix slice and chocolate crackles. We could only spend an hour at the Carnival today - boy, did it rain! I can definitely sniff Winter around the corner...

I haven't done this meme in a long time, so given I don't know whether I can string another sentence together, I thought this an opportune time to put this one up to date...

Meme - one word answers only!

1. Where is your cell phone? Recharging
2. Your significant other? Justin
3. Your hair? Brown
4. Your daughter? None
5. Your son? Two
6. Your favorite thing? Freedom
7. Your dream last night? Forgotten
8. Your favorite drink? Coffee
9. Your goal? Freedom
10. The room you’re in? Dining room
11. Your church? Buddhist
12. Your fear? Loss
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Retired
14. Where were you last night? Kitchen
15. What you’re not? Naive
16. Muffins? Date
17. One of your wish list items? Millionaire
18. Where you grew up? Melbourne
19. The last thing you did? Cleaned
20. What are you wearing? Black
21. Your TV? Sony
22. Your pets? Fish
23. Your computer? Laptop
24. Your life? Fulfilled
25. Your mood? Determined
26. Missing someone? Yes
27. Your car? Camry
28. Something you’re not wearing? Underwear (!)
29. Favorite store? Recycled
30. Your summer? Finished
31. Like(love) someone? Boys
32. Your favorite color? Red
33. Last time you laughed? Today
34. Last time you cried? Wednesday
35. Who will repost this? Unknown

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

A just Madmenned myself...

This is such a great idea! If you love Mad Men then you'll love Madmenning yourself...enjoy!

Putting it into perspective

I got two fabulous emails in the inbox this morning. One was from Lissane at Sorted with the following lesson:

Productivity in 11 Words
One thing at a time
Most important thing first
Start now.

There is power in this simplicity - as the polar opposite is:

Everything at once
Overwhelmed with choices
Do nothing: just waste time.

This made me sit and literally just stop and breathe. I had forgotten the Buddhist thought of 'take one thing at a time' - and not to worry. So I reminded myself that recent health issues with our little one must be put into perspective. Get him into an excellent doctor, talk to doctor and wait. Once that was all organised all we can now do is sit and wait. And not worry.

I also got an interesting blog post from Tim Sanders. It's an interesting one if you have a business - or a life goal - you want to succeed at. Tim's post is below:

These days, I'm reading the classics in motivation and leadership.

They were written during and after the Great Depression (30s/40s) and influence a second round of great books in the 70s & early 80s. One of the seminal works was Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. While much of the book is either dated (you have opportunities in the USA) or low level (how to market your personal services), many ideas are still very relevant.

Hill had unique access to industry titans like Thomas Edison, JP Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and Charlie Schwab. He studied them for 25 years and discovered the "secret" to their success. They all possessed four key assets that shaped their thinking into a powerful sword of success:

1. A clear purpose - They started with the Why, not the what they are doing. The purpose was worthy and just. It elicited powerful emotions about the value of the mission.

2. Intense desire to fulfill the purpose - Desire is when thoughts combine with emotions to create energy. You must be willing to weather heavy criticism, multiple setbacks and a potential loss of everything. This desire will give you persistence.

3. A mind free of negative thoughts. You choose to spend your mind-time on solutions, previous successes or positive thoughts. You chase out the negative thoughts like a healthy body attacks disease.

4. A network of supporters. You can't do it alone, and you need help. Not just any help, positive help. You need people that will give you the honest but positive feedback you need to overcome adversity and chase your most ambitious dreams.

Today was definitely filled with the universe telling me to slow down, think and put everything into perspective. And it's worked.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

And then you get side-swiped

I had everything under control. Yes, I did. I was kicking goals through 2010 and was quickly working towards them. Every day seemed to glow with a certain perfection and I found myself thinking 'surely this happiness can't last'.

No, it can't.

We found out today our two-year-old Gabriel has iron deficiency amaemia and needs to be under a paediatrician's care immediately. We don't know much more than that - other than now we start a round of tests to see what has caused it - as this is the symptom of something else, apparently. And you really shouldn't Google illness as I have just found out there's a host of things that can cause this - cancer, stomach bleeds, ulcers, bad diet and lead poisoning. Yep - trust me - don't Google illness!

I was going to start a special little Tuesday night 'thingie' tonight but my heart just isn't in it, folks. We only got the phone call at 6.30pm. The boys are in bed asleep and now it's time for us to chat and process things, taking refuge in each other instead of worrying due to Google searches!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Sustainable Monday

I've had a rather busy Monday - a very satisfying day, but one that has sped by! We managed to start our new compost heaps today. We're recycling rocks from our garden and positioning the two heaps behind our shed. I'll go through how to build and create your own compost heap when I have more energy (hopefully tomorrow) - for now, here is a shot of the start of our rock walls! We're putting a base of either chicken or horse manure down with straw to start the compost heaps and then we'll go from there. It's a much better system than the Bokashi we are currently using - the Bokashi is wonderful, but the fact you have to 'buy' your organisms goes against our ethic of doing everything without assistance from anything other than the earth...and we have a backyard big enough to sustain two rotating compost heaps. If you have a small backyard or live in an apartment then I would highly recommend a Bokashi bucket - it's an amazing devise and well worth the output to recycle your kitchen waste.

As sustainability is a large part of my life - and the ethic of Retro Age largely rotates around using that 'which is already made' I have decided to dedicate each Monday to sustainable posts. I hope to give you the tips we have come across while living a sustainable life - and will take you through our sustainable goals as we progress through them this year...

I had another sewing class today - I can't believe how much I am learning each week. Today the teacher and I discussed how to stop the 'slinky' vintage fabrics from moving while I am sewing them - we think we have come up with a plan, but only time will tell. It's hard to cut along the grain with rayon and other movable fabrics, but I am getting there - actually, sewing great straight lines if I say so myself! There's much to keep on learning, so I am looking forward to our classes this month.

Lots of business work today and more to come this week. I was listening to Goldfrapp in the workroom all day - I love the music and her voice. Enjoy :)