Benefits of Our Simple Changes

It is now some weeks since we sat down and had our family meeting and brainstormed ways that we could simplify our lives and reduce our budget outgoings, energy usage, fuel usage and garbage output. I have to say that the results speak for themselves. It is very satisfying knowing that we can make changes by doing little things

The following things are working really well:

- cooking from scratch

- working on a cash only budget

- buying things with minimal or no packaging

- turning off appliances

- limiting water usage and having shorter showers

- riding our bikes instead of driving

- composting our food scraps

- not eating preservatives and artificial colours and flavours

- washing up in the small sink

- limit trips to town

- using things sparingly

- no take away food

- grocery stockpile

- think before you buy

- grow sprouts

These are the things we need to focus on now:

- riding to work ( still quite chilly in the mornings and dark in the late afternoon)

- buy/ eat local - so far I have only found oranges, red wine, Camembert cheese, milk, yogurt and macadamias. The farmers market is on this Saturday but I will miss it. I am definitely checking out the next one.

- getting the herb garden up and running ready for spring and planting the vegies

- getting water tanks up and running

- grey water system

We still have a long way to go, but it is all a step in the right direction.


Menu Planning

Why Menu Plan ?

There are many benefits to planning out your meals before hand.

- It brings peace to your evening and stops the " what's for dinner" drama

- It prevents panicked take away purchases

- It saves time and money - you only purchase what you need and can have meals ready in advance

- You can plan meals thoughtfully if, for example, you have have family members with special dietary needs or are trying to plan healthy balanced meals or to lose some weight.

How to Menu Plan

1. The No-Brainer Method. This is as simple as " if it is Monday it's Spaghetti day" etc.

2. The Rational Roster Method: This is where you may do a two or three week list of meals and just work through the list and then come back to the beginning

3. The Schedule Matched Method: ( My favourite). This is where you look at your schedule for the next week or fortnight and plan your meals around it. So if you know you won't be home until 5.30 on Tuesday you plan a quick meal or if you are not home to really late then you make sure you plan a meal the day before that has leftovers etc.

In order to carry out this method successfully I suggest that you take the time to list about 20 or so meals.If you don't have that many in your repertoire it's time to search for some recipes or ask some friends or family about their favourite recipes.

The next thing is to group the meals. I use three headings a) quick and fresh 2) leftover style and 3) gourmet ( meaning time consuming)

Now you can match your meals to your schedule. I think it is always a good idea to have some meals in the freezer ready to go as well. You never know when you may need a standby meal. Next time you are cooking, just cook some extra and freeze it.


Christmas in July

No I am definitely not talking about those functions and parties everyone seems to be going to. 

Perhaps I should call this post THINKING ABOUT CHRISTMAS IN JULY. 

Most people ( me included) start complaining when Christmas decorations and 'gift idea' catalogues start appearing around late September. But the strange thing is that many people leave their gift shopping until the last minute and have to battle the crowds and are left with the age old dilemma of what to buy people in your family. You even hear them talking about what you buy the person who has everything !!!! ( Isn't the answer obvious ??)

I want to start thinking about Christmas so that there is no rush. Without prior preparation and planning we end up buying complete rubbish and maxing out credit cards buying STUFF for people that already have enough STUFF.


So, remember the phrase Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance (The Six P Principle).

Think about these things: 

1. Who do you want to give a gift to. Make a list

2. Will you make a gift or buy a gift.

3. If you start now there is plenty of time to make thoughtful gifts

4. If you don't want to give STUFF then do what I have done for the past two years - buy a goat in a village in Bangladesh in the recipients name. Last year we purchased school books, a water well for a village and a toilet. Visit Tear Australia and get a copy of their "World's most useful gift catalogue". http://www.usefulgifts.org/

Anyway, the challenge I put to you all is .... be prepared. Refuse to be sucked in to the marketing concept that people will know you love them by what you buy them. 

Think carefully. Start your purchases now. Mail order from small Australian business houses. Make thoughtful ethical purchases or make it yourself ! Nothing says I love you like the investment of your time !!!!

Let me know your ideas for gift giving or home made gifts.

A Warm Morning


This morning the sun was warm enough to open the front door early. I had a glimpse of spring, even though it is a little way off. Spring is my favourite season.


Aussies Living Simply Challenge - Part Three -Garbage and Water

This next challenge is in two parts. Garbage and Water. Here are the ideas from the website:


* Take your own bags to the shops – this is an idea that has really taken off but it does take a bit of discipline. Don't I know it ! Refer to my earlier post.

* Buy secondhand. There usually isn't any packaging on secondhand goods.

* Buy from a market. You can take your own bags or boxes for produce.

* Buy in bulk or buy from a bulk store.

* Buy meat from a butcher.

* Make your own. If an item for daily use can be made in a factory, it can probably be made at home too and often more cheaply and better for you. I LOVE this one. I usually make my food from scratch but I am currently looking into other areas. The ALS website has many recipes. One thing I am really interested in is cosmetics/ soaps etc.

* Do without.

* Think before you buy.


* Turn it on and then turn it down. - Reduce the pressure.

* The On/Off Shower. Turn off the shower after you are wet and spend as long as you like soaping, shaving, shampooing, etc. Then turn on the water and rinse off. Quite a few years ago when I was a teacher I used to have Japanese exchange teachers come and stay. I would always be puzzled by the amount of times they turned the shower on and off, but never mentioned this to them. Now I know.

* Reusing water is a big saving. Try to use water more than once. Put buckets in showers to catch water for your garden.

* Toilets are water monsters! Each time you flush at least 4 litres of fresh, clean drinking water gets flushed away to be treated again. I have heard of some households having a pipe running from the basin to the toilet so the next flush is ready when the last person is washing their hands. Not a bad idea !

* In the laundry, always use a full load in the machine. This could mean waiting a little longer to wash, doing a quick handwash. Ask yourself, does this NEED washing or can it simply be aired.

* Avoid hot water. Hot water use uses the most energy, so reduce hot water use anyway you can – do you really need the water to be hot or warm? Would cold water do? My mum gave me a good idea recently. She said fill the air pot ( remember these large thermos things) with boiling water and use it throughout the day. I thought this was an excellent idea because we have to collect more than half a litre sometimes waiting for the hot water to kick in.

Does anyone have any further ideas ?

The Local Fruit Shop Dilemma

A funny thing happened in the fruit shop on Monday.

 I have been trying to avoid plastic bags as you know. I walked through the shop selecting my produce and putting things loose into the trolley.

 It was awkward but I could cope.

There were loose potatoes, oranges etc. With the smaller items like mini squash and snow peas I cheated and put them in the paper mushroom bag. ( must sew those small calico bags to take with me).

 At the checkout I fumbled with the loose products ( as did the older lady trying to weigh them).

 She then attempted to put them into a plastic bag and I said very proudly " I've brought my own bags, thank you" and she placed the items into them.

I was then momentarily distracted by the 6 yr old son and then paid the lady.

When I went to leave she handed me my bags and said " I've put your potatoes into a plastic bag because they were too dirty and you wouldn't want them in there( pointing to my bags) ".

 She then started to serve the next person. I stopped, thought, thought some more. Do I interrupt her and say " I DON'T want your bag" or try and give it back albeit somewhat dirty and unusable.

Do I explain my whole philosophy and give her the address of my website to get a full understanding of my reasoning ? Would she even have the Internet ? Oh, the guilt of my first REAL TEST that I failed !!! So, after staring at her whilst all this thinking took place I decided the most appropriate thing for me to do was...................................

..............................go back to the car and whinge to hubby about it.

NEXT TIME I WILL BE READY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Local Food Month

Crunchy Chicken ( http://crunchychicken.blogspot.com ) has set a challenge which I think is really interesting.

As you all know, I have been approaching most topics on this website from the viewpoint of old fashioned living rather than an environmental one. It seems, however, the benefits flow from all viewpoints once you take action, that is, health, wealth, environment etc.

So eating locally was something that was done automatically in my Grandmother's day because it was logical. Food was often grown and made at home and goods were sourced locally because it was the backbone of the community.

So, if I was to support my local community and do the 100 mile diet I could (technically) purchase products that are in a 160 kilometres radius. ( is the metric conversion pushing it a little ??? ) I would need to extend the boundaries a little I think because there are simply no towns in the area.

 I am on the Mid North Coast so I would need to extend to Coffs Harbour out to Scone and down to Newcastle. Hmmmm I think this is going to be extremely difficult. I will start doing some research to see what is around the area.

 I guess the value of the challenge also lies in investigating what is around your local area. I will keep you posted.

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