Thursday, 26 February 2015

Introducing Thriving Through Thrift Thursday

"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift."
~William J. H. Boetcker

Thrift is the wise management one's resources - time, property, relationships and networks, and money. It is not about being miserly or extreme.  Thrifts  core ideas are industry and conservation.  I have decided to begin a new series - Thriving Through Thrift Thursdays . I will aim to have one Thriving Through Thrift Thursday post about every month or so.

In these I will include what I have been doing in my journey towards  'thriving thought thrift'. I will also randomly include any new learning or discovery I have made that have about thrift and what it means to thrive through thrift.

What I have done this month to thrive through thrift.


  • Continued making granny squares for a bed throw.
  • Baked two zucchini slices for work lunches.
  • Baked a cinnamon tea cake; a ginger cake with lemon icing; and a buttercake with passionfruit icing - the passionfruit were home grown.
  • Baked chocolate slice; peanut butter slice; and matrimonial slice
  • Made corn fritters
  • Prepared weekly menus for dinners
  • Prepared shopping lists for grocery shopping



I have saved time by:

 Installing a squidgee in my shower. I now wipe over the shower walls after every shower and then spray with Method daily shower spray. This has kept my shower clean and extends the time between full shower cleans and lessens the time it takes to do a full shower clean.

When cooking rice during the week I make extra.  I then use the cooked rice to prepare a simple fried rice during the week for lunches, or for side-dish at dinner. This means I don't have to cook another lot of rice, and is saving time and electricity. If I have no left over meat to use in the fried rice, I thaw a small amount of diced bacon and use that. This is also a good way of using up left over vegetables.

I have prevented waste by:
 I use up vegetables that might otherwise be wasted by adding them to my zucchini slice mixture. Last week it was cherry tomatoes and carrot.
New practices
 I was not aware just how much money we were spending daily on everyday things. Now I am very good at home budgeting. But I have never bothered to track just how much money was going out day to day. One of the reasons I am now finding it easier to track my spending is because I am using my bullet journal as the place I record this information. I wrote a bit about my bullet journal in this post.  I have only just started and find the results revealing even after only a week of tracking. When I estimated how much we had spent for the week and then went and checked the tracker I found that I had underestimated our spending by around 20%.

I have also started to use the junk mail catalogues as a resource for 'shopping the specials'. In the last two to three weeks I have read the catalogues and ringed the items I have identified as a worthwhile special. For instance shampoo that is marked down from $18 to $10 a bottle. So far by using this method I have made savings of $27 this week and $40 on groceries earlier this month, but I have forgotten to keep records of my savings. So I will try and track my savings better for my next Thriving Through Thrift Thursday post.

Don's thrift
This month Don changed the mower blades and serviced the ride on mower.
Sanded and repainted the linen closet doors

Now it's over to you, what have you been doing to "Thrive through thrift".

Monday, 23 February 2015

Our New Front Fence

"So they all went away from the little log house. The shutters were over the windows, so the little house could not see them go. It stayed there inside the log fence, behind the two big oak trees that in the summertime had made green roofs for Mary and Laura to play under."
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Friday's cyclone became a low somewhere north west of us. We experienced some gusty winds and some rain. However many people are unable to return to their homes due to damage. South East Queensland continued to receive heavy rain over the weekend. We hope that things return to normal as quickly as possible for those people affected.

Chloe inspecting the supplies

I thought I would post some pictures today of the front fence that Don and our neighbour built last month here at Amblein (pronounced Amble in). Our neighbour is a concreter and earthmover and also does some work as a fencing contractor. So we hired him to put up our front fence and Don worked as his offsider to help keep the labour costs down. 

Don's a dentist so I can't show his face on the internet. :-)

The work was done over a few extremely hot weekends. Don lost about 5 kilo's in the process. Sadly, I think I found his lost kilo's. 

Just like with the  Cricket, the guys experienced rain delays. But they got back to work as soon as the heavy rain had passed. 

The gate was a Christmas present from our neighbours.

 And the finished fence.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Wild Weather

The brief email from my sister read "OMG how was the earthquake did it shake you guys".

 Er no, we slept through it. At work on Monday everyone was talking about the earth tremors and how they were woken up by the shaking of their houses and rattling of windows. At Don's work his supervisor said in his street all the dogs were barking and the birds flew up out of their nests.

In the afternoon chatting over the fence with our neighbours we found that they slept through it too. As did our dogs - their two and our kelpie/collie cross Chloe.

We gave Chloe a bath today in case we need to bring her indoors

Now it seems our week is going to end in flooding rains and cyclone Marcia is set to cross the Queensland coast south of Rockhampton, possibly as a Category 2. The heavy rainfall event is set to affect a large part of Queensland. We have been told repeatedly to have our emergency preparations done. 

Here is a link to the Bureau of Meteorology's rainfall forecast page. 

This link is to theABC's story on preparing for this weather event. It includes a short SES video on storm preparation. 

And this is the link to the ABC's cyclone emergency preparation page 

This is a link to my post last year on preparing for storm season and the Get Ready Queensland program. 

Stay safe folks and take care.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Living Deliberately vs The Cage

" You have the sole custody of your life. Who you are today is not who you have to be tomorrow. Embrace the possibility of transformation"
~Leeza Gibbons

What is living deliberately? No doubt there are as many answers to that question as there are people living on this earth. So I can only answer for myself. To me living deliberately involves some introspection - pausing to examine my life.   I do this in order to gain clarity regarding how I want to live, both in the moment, and in the future.  Periods of introspection also help me clarify both my values and the principles I would like to see active in my life. Back in the 1990's writing one's own personal mission statement became fashionable. I have kept one since then, and update it every so often as life's changing seasons cause me to change my values. And implicit in my trying to live deliberately is the development of my own self-efficacy

Living deliberately is also a personal declaration of independence. It is about using my critical mental faculties to determine whether something I am being told or something I am being offered is really in my best interests.

I also think that in the hurly-burly of everyday life, we can get caught up in the rat race. Scurrying through our daily grind like a rat moving through a maze, just to get to the finish of another day.   This thought came to mind recently when reading about some experiments conducted on rats a few decades ago. In 1981 psychologist Bruce Alexander, to test his hypothesis that societal causes are a more powerful factor in addiction than was at that time recognised, conducted a study with two groups of rats.  For one group he created "Rat Park" a rodent paradise filled with all the things rats enjoy.  Things like cans to snooze in, wheels to run on, platforms for climbing and other rats for company. The second group were kept in the normal cages rats in laboratories were kept in. These cages though open at the front had metal sides which prevented the rats for seeing each other. In the experiment both groups were offered a choice of water laced with morphine, or plain water.  Reportedly there were relatively few incidences of the rat park residents choosing the drug laced water, whilst caged rats bombed themselves out on it. What Bruce Alexander and his colleagues discovered was that the morphine became irresistible when normal social existence was destroyed. 

Reading this about the reactions of the caged rats got me thinking about the times I felt I was living in a cage; unable to pursue the type of life my soul craved.  Living instead a kind of 9 to 5 ebbing away of my spirit.  However unlike the caged rats I get to choose how I live my life and what attitudes l bring to bear on my life. I know I can be an agent for change in my own life.  Nevertheless at times I faced circumstances that I would rather not have faced. I have worked in jobs I have found unfulfilling. I have worked in jobs where I was working 12 hours a day and being paid for 8.  I wasn't really living in a cage, though it may have felt that way.  I was free to leave. Still, I have chosen to stay in different jobs that did not fulfill me because I needed to eat and pay my bills. This was not something done to me it was a situation of my own making. During my second act I want to choose another way. I want to choose a life with more meaning, and that is why I am trying to live deliberately. So that I will stop needing to put myself in a cage.

I don't think I am alone here. What keeps us in the cage?  The lack of ability to control or manage our own spending (not that I am a spendthrift)? Having to rely on organisations and businesses to meet our every need? Not knowing how to make a better way for ourselves? It is my hope that by living deliberately I can change what I am doing.

One change is to learn how to thrive through thrift. Another is to live more simply

 Yet, I do think in a globalised consumer society a lot of our options for meaningful and simple living remain hidden. Today society emphasises the need to grow the economy as if that is the only thing that matters.  Our attention is constantly kept on things make us feel like we need to earn more money to get more stuff.

But does getting and spending make our life meaningful, or put us in the cage? I can't answer that question for anyone else. However for me, getting and spending is largely responsible for putting me in the cage and keeping me there. How can I get out? I don't know for sure. That is in part, what this blog is for…to help me escape from the cage. But I think choosing deliberate living over consumerism is a start. Earning and keeping rather than getting and spending sounds like another step in the journey. "Just say no," to stuff I don't need. When I do need something, I can avoid being persuaded by advertising and consider whether I can produce something to meet the need myself.  If I can't meet the need myself, I can consider other options like buying second hand in order to save resources - the planets and mine. Perhaps bartering or using a time-bank could fill the need.

So I included the words 'living deliberately' in my banner as a "memo to self", to remind me that during my second act I want to be living my life with intention, not on automatic pilot. To work towards living consciously and unhurriedly. To try and live wisely (although that seems like an high benchmark to set myself), and to learn to husband my resources well, and to develop a capacity for forehandedness.  I believe and hope that living deliberately will help me get out of the cage.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Permaculture Principle One: Observe and Interact

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"

Today I will be sharing my thoughts on Principle One Observe and Interact. Some of this may resonate with you or you may find the principle meaningful in a different way.  For expert information on this and other permaculture principles you may want to check out David Holgrems site.

Good permaculture design is developed through careful observation of, and reflective interaction with, the natural systems present on a site. This process happens both over time and through learning experiences which are formed by repeated interactions with those natural systems.

Over time a knowledge base of increasingly effective interactions with those natural systems is developed.  However we can observe the same thing as someone else, yet “see” it differently - from our own perspective and through the lens of our own values. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder acknowledges there is no right or wrong in nature just difference.

Like the other permaculture principles this principle can be applied to a range of systems including; organisational development, social development, interpersonal relationships, education, and of course food production.
A couple of examples of this principle in action around our property are:
Our property is in wallum country. We have sandy soil that runs down to a hard rock surface that gets waterlogged in the heavy rains and the water sits between the rock and soil. Shortly after we bought the property a six month drought ended with very heavy rain. A few weeks later we needed to hire someone to slash our property, as we had yet to buy a ride on mower. After observing the person we hired to do the work bog his tractor on our property, we have been very careful since buying our own not to use it on certain parts of the property directly after heavy, soaking, rain.

 On our property I have observed the plants (and so called weeds) that grow in the different areas. These plants can communicate what my soil is lacking and what nutrients I might have too much of. Where I observe Drosera (Sundews) growing I know the soil in the vicinity is poor in minerals. In one garden bed where I have applied sugar cane filter press (mill mud) and various mulches I have Bidens pilosa (Cobblers Pegs) growing. Cobblers Pegs like nitrogen, so it could indicate the soil is healthy. But I need to be aware it could be that the “Farmers friend” as they are also known could be 
nature’s way of soaking up excess nitrogen. The plants in the garden appear healthy. However I will continue to observe their progress and be aware that if plants begin to look sickly it could be an indication of excess nitrogen. If this did happen, I can interact with the process by planting some plants that will take up the excess nitrogen. Squash, cabbage and broccoli could be used as “doctor” plants rather than food plants to correct the imbalance. Sawdust could also be used to lower the nitrogen. Bidens pilosa also has the reputation of hosting root knot nematodes, and tomato spotted root. Yet despite this, some gardeners compost the plants.

Bidens pilosa

Are you familiar with permaculture? How do you apply the principle Observe and Interact in your life?

Monday, 9 February 2015

Memo to Self - Life is not one long to-do-list

"We put ourselves at the bottom of our own priority list, we sleepwalk through the possibility of joy"      

~Oprah Winfrey

In my November post "Undernourished?" I wrote that I want to feel more love, joy, secure, prosperous, serene, connected, playful, adventurous, energised, festive, fulfilled, strong, engaged, blessed, nourished, thriving, centred, clear, and empowered. Today I am looking at ways I can gather and incorporate more joy into my life.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary the definition of joy is; a feeling of great happiness; and the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune, and the prospect of possessing what one desires. 

So I made a list of the things that make me feel joyful. In part the list reads:

  • Laughing at sitcoms on TV
  • Weekends away
  • Exploring country towns
  • Walking along the beach
  • Swimming in the ocean
  • Playing chinese checkers
  • Baking
  • Listening to music
  • Watching fireworks
  • Listening to rain and watching storms (as long as they are not severe storms)
  • Visiting antique shops, second-hand shops and op shops
  • Going to the movies
  • Making people laugh
  • Organising things - whether it be large events or just re-organising my cupboards, or my day in my bullet journal.
  • Attending workshops

I will review this list from time to time to make sure that I am including them in my life.  What things make you joyful?

Joy also carries the meaning of merrymaking. And it is this definition of joy; that of merrymaking or joyful celebrating I need to focus on. It is an aspect of joy that I tend to ignore or postpone indefinitely. I do believe, however, our life is richer when we include celebrations and traditions in amongst our daily round.

So why do I postpone my celebrating?  I have been too busy taking care of the business of day to day life, and building my small successes. So now I want to make room in my life for joyful celebrating. Do you celebrate your successes and milestones, and life's significant events? Or are you like me and say to yourself, “well that's done what's next on the list?”

Hosting a small Australia Day brunch was the first action I have taken in my plan to include more joyful celebration in my life. So thank you Oprah (see quote above) for reminding me that even though my goals are important, and the many things I need to do to everyday are important; I need to be higher up on my priority list. This I acknowledge, but I need to make the effort to ensure that I do gather and incorporate more joy in my life. 

No, I am not going to sleepwalk through the possibility of joy.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

A Country Wash Day in Australia in the 40's

"Today's Monday, today's Monday, Monday is washing day, 
Is everybody happy? You bet your life we are!"
~The Scaffold

Annabel from the lovely The Bluebirds Are Nesting blog has mentioned the concept of our home making equipment being our handmaidens, and how we put our handmaidens to work for us. She attributes this concept to Laine who used to blog at Laine's Letters which are held in archive here.

This concept of our home technology being our handmaidens got me to thinking about the days long ago, when home-caring technology was not as advanced as it is today. Recalled to my mind also, was an essay I read last October written by my cousin Audrey Lowe (my Dad's cousin actually). The essay from her book "A country childhood in the 1930's and 40's." was entitled “Washing Day” and described a typical country Monday at that point in time. Audrey wrote "While the milking was in progress in the bails some 500 yards down the hill matters were proceeding apace in the wash house" She then went on to explain the process for carrying out the weekly wash.

A fire was lit under the copper.
The copper was filled with water.
Instead of washing powder or liquid that we use today, slivers were cut from a bar of soap and added to the water.
When the water was brought to the boil, the first load of sheets were submersed into the water and the lid put on the copper. Just think of doing that nowadays in the heat of summer.

When they were taken out of the copper, all hot and steaming, the sheets were put into a slatted box sitting in a tub. Audrey doesn't say why but I think that was for draining the water out of the sheets. Then the sheets were put into a tub of clear water for the first rinsing of the sheets. Now I am wondering - was there plumbing in the wash house? Probably not, so all the water would have to be carried in. After the first rinse the sheets were rung out and then put into the next tub that had water blued with a “knob of Reckitt's Blue in its calico cover", which was used as a whitener. The sheets were rung again and then hung on the clothesline. Meanwhile another load of sheets are in the copper and the towels are soaking in a third tub. After the sheets the "tea towels, underclothes and other cottons and lines receive the same attention.."
Then it is time for breakfast.  - What, all this work on an empty stomach? But that's not all - following breakfast, it's time to wash the really soiled clothes. Of course they have to be rubbed on a wash board.

But wait - there's more! What about the starching? Audrey wrote about this too. "Some chunks of Silver Star starch are put in a basin and dissolved with cold water. Then boiling water is poured on and stirred. The result looks like thin glue. Doyleys and dressing table runners, some blouses, shirts and dresses are immersed in the starch. It acts as a mild stiffener and when ironed they can be described as being crisply starched."

Audrey wrote the weekly wash took four hours to do. How long would it take me I wonder?

Contrast this to my washing routine. I put the clothes in, put in the detergent, select the cycle and toddle off to do other things. Then once the cycle is finished I hang the clothes. No pre-soaking (I occasionally use a Spotless laundry soap if something has a stain but one bar lasts me for ages), definitely no starching and if I hang my clothes out to dry in a timely fashion I have only a small amount of ironing.

My modern washing machine is certainly another blessing well worth counting.

Monday, 2 February 2015

In my garden in February

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” 
― John LubbockThe Use Of Life

I hope John Lubbock is correct, and sitting under trees on a summer’s day watching clouds float across the sky, is not a waste of time. Because in the heat of high summer that's about all I can do in the garden.

We have received lots of rain. The Friday of the Australia Day weekend we had in excess of 180 mls. I was out afterwards, wearing rain boots, watching where the water flows on the property, and taking note of where the water pools.

The callistemon that were planted in December are still growing, despite the heavy rain and intense heat. In January, I planted a Fraser Island Creeper and jasmine, Jasminium nitidum. I really need to stay away from plant nurseries in summer. I cannot stop myself from buying plants when I am there, and it is really much too hot to try and establish new plants.

My carambola tree is covered in tiny pink blossom. It never seems to produce a lot of fruit though. It may produce more if I planted another nearby. The lemon tree continues to bear well. The gum trees are in flower, making the birds very happy.

 My mandarin tree is not looking very chipper. Some leaves are yellow and some leaves are curling.  It is possible that the leaf curl could be caused by our withering heat and the large amounts of rain we have received. I also need to check the soil pH around the mandarin as it could have an iron deficiency.

If I do manage to beat the heat, and the chemo fatigue, to get a few things done around the garden, I will concentrate on the following:

  • Weeding, weeding, weeding

  • Feed the lemon and mandarin trees with a well-balanced organic fertiliser with trace elements. 

  • Spray the citrus with a spray made from 2 cups of vegetable oil and 1/2 cup of dish-washing liquid mixed well, and then added to a litre of water. Some people refer to this mix as horticultural oil. It is used to control aphids, scale, mealy bugs, mites and leaf miner.

  • Feed the mango trees once they have finished fruiting. I would like Don to prune the biggest mango this year, but it is too hot to do so this month. So hopefully, he will have time to do that next month. The Organic Gardener magazine website suggests a light pruning of mango trees will encourage better fruiting. 

  •  Prune the geraniums and the sage.

  • I also hope to re-learn how to use the ride on mower after not using it for over a year.

And I would like to leave you today with this quote, and whether it is summer or winter where you are, I hope this month leaves you with a "rich heritage of beautiful memories" and that it is a month of "delightful doing".
"All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” 

L.M. MontgomeryAnne's House of Dreams