I set my new Bokashi bin up after Christmas. I use my small compost bin to collect the food scraps over a week and then it goes into the Bokashi bin with the Bokashi bran. Could not be easier. I am getting the tea or juice now which is very exciting! The main use for it will be my front garden which has sandy, dry soil even though I have put so much organic matter into it. It just sucks it all up. I am hoping the Bokashi juice will take the strain off my front garden and help keep it well fed and more able to sustain itself through our hots summers in South Australia. The Bokashi bin contents will go into the the compost bin out the front adn maybe once in a while I’ll put a binful into the compost bin out he back. Today I have also tried what was suggested in this video . I have put Bokashi juice into my sink drains and the toilet just to see what happens. I am now getting plenty of juice but was pleased to hear in the clip that I need not worry if I don’t because it will depend on what I feed the bin. I have also used the juice today on my pot plants to see if it improves them. They are pretty healthy but it would be nice to see them even lusher. In about a month’s time I should be seeing a difference in all these things and I shall report back. By then I should have my worm farm going and they love Bokashi tea!
Most people are kind. There are a few who are not but the vast majority of the human race is considerate and kind. You get busy , though or stressed or preoccupied and kindness just doesn’t flow as easily as when you are relaxed. Shari’s Berries blog has a random act of kindness generator which can be used in so many ways. You can click it and get a random . You can focus on just family or just work colleagues. You can also download the whole list of acts of kindness and you could customise it to suit your mood and how you want be. You could create challenges. They really make you feel good. I did one last year and some of it was actually hard but I learned so much and it was just a positive contribution to my life even though I was the one doing the acts of kindness. It works. It creates a well world and a well you.
I have wanted to try making home made shampoo but had a lot of thinking to do. I grew up when dry shampoo was a thing. I hated it. It made my hair dull and clogged and it never ever felt clean. I am sure all those powders go into your pores and then they can’t breathe. I haven’t enjoyed putting chemicals in my hair either because your pores would absorb those so I was an early adopter of organic shampoos. I don’t like the notion of putting bicarbonate into my hair. Futurederm explains my point of view reasonably well. Bicarb is a household cleaner, it’s very alkaline. I don’t want it in my hair. So I have been thinking. Castile soap is used to wash and condition wool and fibre and is also quite strong. I wasn’t wholly keen on the idea of a shampoo made from Castile soap because I thought it would be too harsh on my hair. So I have been researching and looking things up. The video shows the basic approach I have taken and thenerdyfarmwife has some good ideas which helped me get an action plan together.
So what have I done? I looked at the ingredients for the melt and pour soap. I thought they were better than using Castile soap. When I was making my soap the other day I saved a third of a cup and poured it into a bottle. I added a third of a cup of coconut cream. I then added some vitamin E drops , some fresh rosemary and some lemon zest. I topped the bottle up with orange flower water (distilled water would be fine) and left room for it to expand. I shook it up well on a regular basis during the day. Next morning I used it. It’s quite thick and like a hair mask . It conditioned my hair as well. There was some lather and then it vanished. It cleaned my hair well and it made it feel stronger. For me this is a once a week treatment.
I made a spray to put on my wet air with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to about a cup of orange flower water. It fits nicely in a little spray bottle and by the time I had put that on my hair felt renewed.
Today I used Castile soap and coconut cream. About a third of a cup of each. I added a few drops of Argan oil, a teaspoon of honey , a few drops of vitamin E and topped it up with orange flower water. It’s quite thin and didn’t lather so I have just added some more Castile soap for the next try. It cleaned my hair all right but I don’t find this shampoo to be as good as the other one. Not for my hair. I think it will help , though, and I might have to fiddle around with the quantities until I get it right for my hair. Everyone’s hair is different and so you do have to be prepared to try adjusting the mixture.
I am just wondering what will happen if I mix the two shampoos together! Best of both worlds and it might be right for me. In any case, I am happy with the way this has gone. I wasn’t expecting it to be perfect but it has turned out far better than I anticipated and so I shall persist until I get it right. Experience is a great teacher.
With the Castile soap I used the one recommended for babies and generally it seems to be recommended to add Castile soap and other liquid in the ratio of one to one. Oil will cut back lather. I have used plastic containers because glass and I in the bathroom never go well.
I have just made my first batch of organic melt and pour soap. Some time ago I made soap the hard way with lye and, for me, it was too much messing around. There are some good videos about how to make soap from scratch these days , though. I went for the melt and pour. Couldn’t be easier. You can buy a kilo of melt and pour organic soap for around $13-$20 dollars. I made sure mine didn’t have palm oil. Organic melt and pour can be made from different oils and butters. I chose one with a coconut oil base. I forgot to put in the Vitamin E drops and I decided against essential oils. I went with lemon zest and fresh rosemary instead. I also put in half a cup of coconut cream but you wouldn’t know it! The mixture was still pretty clear. You just melt the soap in the microwave as in the video and I used a bamboo stick to stir it all together. I sprayed my little muffin container with oil and after a couple of hours the soap came out really easily. Now that I have done it once I can now become a bit more adventurous. I would have used about 500g and it makes quite a few small soaps and isn’t arduous.
I have just made my own eco lipbalm and am more than happy with it. I found a few empty containers . I decided not to use old lipbalm tubes I had because I am getting rid of plastic in my life. These containers I can refill and you can see how much you can make with the recipe. I shaved the beeswax off the block. The beeswax took longer to melt than the other ingredients so next time I shall melt that first. I zapped the mixture in 20 second bursts in the microwave. In between I stirred for a little while to melt the beeswax as much as possible. It look 3 lots of 20 seconds in a ceramic dish. I could then pour it into the containers. I had a little bit left over so I mixed it with an old lipstick and it has made great lip gloss. I used half and half because that’s how it worked out but I like what I have made. I have a bottle of Vitamin E oil but you could just as easily use a Vitamin E capsule and pierce it with a pin to get the oil. I used coconut oil and will try this recipe with almond oil next time I buy almond oil. I bought the shea butter from the Honey Shoppe in the Adelaide Markets. It doesn’t cost much. Now for the recipe:
1 tablespoon beeswax
3 tablespoons almond/coconut oil
2 teaspoons shea butter
5 drops Vit E
You can use a couple of drops of essential oils if you like. I just left mine plain.
It was only idly wondering which made me go to the Apple store on my iPad to see if there were any compost apps. They have apps for everything. Why not compost? A couple came up but I have done an online search and appcrawler has come up with a lot of paid and free compost apps. The benefit of having hem on a device is the device can go in a plastic bag if necessary and you can still use it. They are more portable than a book outside and lighter. I’ll try a couple of the free apps first but I was looking at Home Composting, which is paid because it looked like the sort of app I’d find useful. I want to see how they work first, though, so the free apps are the way to go.
I am sticking to my promise of getting my composting really well organised this year. I was given the little bin on the left for Christmas. That gets all my kitchen scraps. There is a plastic black pail with a handle inside. I just put my first pail into my bokashi bin today with the bokashi bran. My big compost bin in the garden is getting plenty of brown matter at the moment and I put soil in there as well as the canister of bits from my vacuum cleaner. The bokashi bin will empty into it and I shall have plenty for my worm farm too when I get that going in the cooler weather. At any stage I can break my compost chain and just dig a trench in the veggie patch and bury the organic scraps directly into the soil. Plan B for if I need to bypass the steps for any reason. As it stands my composting process just got a whole lot easier this year because I have thought about it. I am hoping the apps will give me some even better approaches.
Morag Gamble shares her knowledge and experience in a really good way. She knows what she is talking about because she lives it. She has a really good Facebook page if you look her up. As part of revamping my compost system this year I wanted to make a worm farm and have decided to create an in ground one. I have my little compost bin with a lid which I was given for Christmas where my peelings and kitchen scraps go. When that is full it will go into my bokashi bin. I then have a big compost bin outside which I have always had in my garden. I decided my old indoor compost bin would easily convert to a worm tower. I cut a hole in the bottom with my jig saw, drilled holes in the sides and then set it upside down in the garden. I put the swing top lid on it which is now on the bottom of the bin with the hole cut in it so it does not clip on. I can feed scraps in and it will protect the bin from heavy rain which we seem to have at the moment. I am getting the worm farm ready now but I won’t put worms in it until after the summer heat passes. I have set it in a shady, protected spot but 45 degree heat can be very harsh and damaging. By April my bin will be ready and the weather will be kinder. I can get worms for the bin then. I feel now like I have a more complete composting system which will serve me and my garden better. I had to think it out what would suit me and the little compost bin at Christmas was what put it all in place for me.
I am not going to use a bokashi bin because I am short of composting space. I want to make my composting more effective. I have decided to remodel what I do with kitchen scraps. I now have a small compost bucket with a lid to use for peelings etc as I go. That will be emptied into the bokashi bin.When necessary the bokashi bin will be emptied into my big compost bin out the back or be dug directly into my veggie patch. I am still investigating it all so this is by way of the first post .
My bokashi bin arrived yesterday and so I am set to go. Unfortunately, we have storms forecast for tomorrow so I guess that will be research day and I should be able to get my system in place over the weekend. The old indoor compost bin will be repurposed into an inground worm farm.Bit by bit I have got my garden to be better . I do it gradually and plan the things I want to do and as I talk about them I get other ideas so by the time I am doing something I feel ready and confident. I am excited to see how the bokashi bin works.
I saw “It is your year to shine “ on my new calendar. I thought I’d make myself a picture just to remind myself!
The Little Veggie Patch Co are good at getting people growing! Their approach is based on doable ideas , a straight forward approach and then upcycling where they can. They have approached gardening in a very visual way. Their book, the 1-Minute Gardening is a photo book with text which gives you tips and ideas. I was lucky enough to get a copy of it as a present for the Christmas before last. The main point to this video is you can grow vegetables anywhere. You do not need a huge amount of space. In one of my homes I was growing veggies in the wall box on the front patio while I was setting up a big veggie patch in the back garden. In my current home I am rejuvenating my veggie patch and growing some veggies and herbs in pots . Parsley grows around my back garden. It’s green, attractive and can make a nice pot plant! I like to have fresh herbs and I like to have fresh vegetables. I have mixed success with the vegetables but I never give up. I grow silverbeet and potatoes because they always work and fresh potatoes are lovely. Grow what you can because even if you don’t immediately become successful it is a very relaxing activity and gets you outside. There is a lot of evidence now that gardening has a good impact on your health and wellbeing.
On a whim I bought the four pack of journals put out by Flow magazine at the beginning of last year. I had never heard of Flow . I just thought the journals would suit me. I’ve since read Flow magazines and been to their website and follow them on Instagram. It’s a very positive, helpful way of looking at life. The journals were guided and gave you things to do and each one had a theme. From the lists one I actually learned I only need to make lists when I am under pressure and can do them really well. I also learned how I trick myself by writing lists and then doing a lot of things which are not on the list and then not having time to do the list things. I can use lists to make myself feel inadequate. That was a real eyeopener. The slow living one was good because it was what I was trying to achieve. It gave me a way of looking at it and then a way of developing my life in my own way. Through this year of journaling I have used the journals to plan and achieve ideas. I have evidence of how I do things from conception to completion and the journaling about it meant I could back track and look over what I had been doing both for information and to self correct or review. The journals helped me to plan and achieve so many things last year. I finished the last one the other day. My daughter knew how much I liked journaling so she had bought me the next version of a journal for Christmas. It has some guided spots but I am left a lot to my own devices. I have levelled up in journaling. themuses has some good ways to get you motivated into journaling. I find the paper versions work for me because I am not being tracked, quantified, saved or interfered with in any way. It is just me and my journal. It’s not private but I am developing ideas and concepts. It is 100% my time and my space. I have found that journaling is that Mahatma Gandhi saying you hear – Be the change you want to see in the world.
Today was the day. I had my material, beeswax and pinking shears. One of the co-presenters at our Living Smart SA course at McLaren Vale had suggested using an iron to infuse the wax into the cloth as it spread it very evenly and it permeated the cloth more effectively. This is why I had chosen to use the video from the Half Acre homestead. That lady had made me feel very confident about making these beeswax wraps. If you want to use the oven baking method then MoralFibres UK explains it very well. She also shows you how to make a beeswax snack pouch and explains how to care for the beeswax wraps.
I used my wooded chopping board trolley in the kitchen because it’s mobile. I heated about a cup of beeswax which I had in an old cake tin on top of my stove. At no stage did I let it boil. I kept it melted and warm. You can get beeswax locally in the southern suburbs of Adelaide from the beekeepers at Aldinga Beach(DoBee is on Facebook) or at Lonsdale. The Honey Shoppe in the Adelaide markets will also organise beeswax for you. For the wraps you don’t need a lot. My cup of wax was too much but I have saved it because I’ll be making more of these. I made 4x38cm ones, 2x28cm ones and 2×18 cm ones. It doesn’t take too long.
Make sure you ventilate the area you are working in. I was in the kitchen and had the back door and windows opened. Melted wax is melted wax. You might not need the fumes even from beeswax.
I cut the lightweight cotton material to size with the pinking shears.
I melted the wax on a very low heat and put the iron on
I put old towels and then a sheet of foil on my chopping board trolley.
I used a 6 cm paint brush to brush the melted wax quickly over both sides of the cloth
I put a layer of foil on top and ironed quickly
As I was doing the first one I realised the beeswax was a bit too thick in some places on the cloth. My decision was to use the next cloth to iron over that first one to absorb some of the excess beeswax. Worked like a charm. No streaking.
I then painted the second cloth and so on. I was putting the finished ones on a wooden board . They dry quickly but now, a few hours later, they are even better. I love the look and feel of them and can’t wait to make more! I have Christmas 2017 nailed.
I am very appreciative of all the people who use their webcams and go on the internet to teach others how to do something. We learned about these beeswax wraps at the Living Smart SA course at McLaren Vale. They are a good alternative to cling wrap and will help save the planet from all that plastic. They are not a a complete alternative but they are an option. I was lucky enough to get one as a present for Christmas and so it has made me even more enthusiastic about making some myself. This lady from the Half Acre homestead explains and shows very clearly how to competently make a beeswax wrap. I have everything because I have some beeswax from my candle making days. I have the material, the old padding and the foil wrap. I just need to get the pinking shears.Fortunately they are not too expensive. I really am going to make these because they are easy to do and they are really useful.
I was reading an article about a woman living in a Berlin apartment who is keeping bees. We do have a bee crisis and I know that Europe has different programmes to encourage back yard people to become beekeepers. Keeping them in an apartment block sounds very daring to me. I love bees and am concerned their numbers are dwindling but I understand it better now. Farms have basically become uni crop – just corn or just wheat or just lentils. Then farmers tend to use sprays which do not help the bees and are killing them. The farmers are dealing with difficult weather conditions and are doing what they can to stop their crops from being destroyed by pests or fungal diseases. If Europe can do it, we can do it. I loved watching that video. It is clever and inspiring and you can see that a back yard bee keeping exercise has turned into a business. It is well thought out and the level of care is obvious. There is also someone locally who provides honey from a back yard bee keeping establishment. I don’t know whether it’s good to keep back yard bees or not. I am going to find out. I wouldn’t want it to be a danger to myself, pets, children, people. Maybe I won’t be keeping bees. Maybe I can help someone? My plan for the new year to to find out what is offered locally by way of bee keeping courses. I then plan to find out where we have our local bee keeping people. It’s the sort of thing which could become a community project so that no one has the weight of carrying all those bees. I don’t know. I am creating a plan and then I am going to follow it through because it is not about me. It is all about the bees.
For me, Carrie Fisher will always be the one who would front up with the tough stuff in life and normalise it. She always had the knack of being able to talk about difficult things but just say them so everyone would realise they are a part of life and living and need to be dealt with. She was a princess but not of the sugar plum, prissy sort. This interview covers a lot of ground in a short time and reveals how adept Carrie Fisher is in dealing with body image issues, female actor issues, growing up , being a working woman and …just talking about it. Just patting her dog and talking about it. She has had an impact on how women see themselves and she has enabled those conversations which have helped modern women redefine who they are and what they can do. She will be remembered for her social justice gems because she was so direct and straight forward in her approach.
Chie Hitotsuyama is such a talented and inspired artist. Her newspaper sculptures are so carefully crafted and created and the complexity of the thinking involved is impressive. It is not only a wonderful way to recycle newspaper and all this print material we keep producing , it is just art. Beautiful, touching art.
I want one. I want to be able to print green. I want to be able to print pots and green decorations. Pretty sure these eco-friendly printers will take the world by storm once they get going and will transform landscaping and gardening. Designing green spaces with this eco printer or similar means there will be even more personal and creative input into landscaping. It will be a really great way to get children into gardening and will be very helpful for those who have mobility problems but still want to create green spaces. PrintGREEN was created by students Maja Petek, Tina Zidanšek, Urška Skaza, Danica Rženičnik and Simon Tržan, with help from their mentor Dušan Zidar, at the University of Maribor in Slovenia. The PrintGREEN website gives you more information about the projects of this team. They are involved with other eco-friendly projects besides this printer. The thinkingkinghumanity site gives more information and pictures to show how you can use this printer to create living prints. It’s ingenious. I hope they are available and affordable soon. The best thing is it is all organic and can all be composted. That is sustainable living.
This is such a remarkable story. It tells of the power of resilience, a positive mindset and a determination to believe in yourself and never give up. Human beings can be so surprising and so inspiring. Whether you want to be like him or not is beside the point. Could everyone survive and overcome what he did ? He must have had an unstoppable faith in himself and a willingness to never give up on himself. Were those all failures or simply the training he needed to become the success he has been? I am not saying the name because you may not have worked out who it is. He is not someone I have thought about much. I shall now because he has never let anything get in his way.
I decided to try this recipe for eco deodorant because I had all the ingredients and containers. I also tried the idea from yesterday’s video to put the solid deodorant into a twist stick. As you can see from my picture it’s not as neat as the one in yesterday’s video. That will come with practice. The only thing I changed in the recipe was to swap the quantities of baking soda and corn starch. I also used bicarbonate instead of baking soda. It does come out a lovely lemony colour and it smells really nice. I put it in the fridge to harden. I mixed it for a few minutes to make sure the solution wouldn’t separate and that seems to have done the trick. Next time I think I’ll use my stab blender to mix it up. Today was a good day to try it in Adelaide because it is 36 degrees Celsius and a bit humid. So far all is going well. I also had some left over I couldn’t get out of the bowl. I used that on my hands and it has really softened and hydrated them. Bit of a bonus really! Why am I bothering? Because deodorants go onto the skin in your armpits and that is where significant lymph glands are located. I take the point from the eco deodorant fans that it’s probably a good idea to really check what is in your deodorant and antiperspirant. It wasn’t much bother to try this out , though. It took me 5 minutes to make it and about 3 minutes of constant stirring and then 2 minutes to put it into containers. It seems to be working. I have a longish car drive to make in the heat later on and that really will be a test.
My eco deodorant not only survived a long, hot drive, it has worked on days over 40 degrees Celsius as well. I was wondering if it would melt in the heat but it doesn’t. My friends and family are assuring me this recipe is working and I feel a lot happier now because it is totally natural and so easy to make.
One evening at the LivingsmartSA course at Mclaren Vale we made eco deodorant from corn flour, bicarb, rosemary, thyme and lemon grass oil. It smelled divine. Couldn’t bring myself to use it as an eco deodorant and said I would make savoury biscuits . Here they are. So light, crispy and delicious . I think the ingredients were 2 tbsp cornflour, 1 tbsp bicarb, rosemary and thyme about a teasp and a few drops of lemon grass oil . I told Dani, the lady who showed us how to make the dry eco deodorant, I was going to do this and the eco deodorant biscuits have taken my biscuit making to a whole new level and realm. The video shows you a different sort of eco deodorant. It was important that we had eco deodorant brought to our attention. We do need to be careful about what is going on our skin because those things are absorbed straight into our blood stream. There are some more recipes for ecodeodorant The Homemade experiment.
Eco deodorant biscuits
3/4 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup parmesan
1 quantity of ecodeodorant mix made up to 1 1/3 cups of flour with SR flour
teasp or dollop of mustard
1 large egg
pinch sea salt
tabsp poppy seeds
tabsp sesame seeds
Oven needs to be preheated to 180C and the biscuits take bout 15 mins to cook
Grease/spray two biscuit trays
Mix all the ingredients together until they make a dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board and roll dough out to about 4mm thick
Use a cutter to make biscuits and lay them on the tray. They don’t spread or rise much.
Kids Under Cover is a charity which is providing a simple yet effective solution to youth homelessness. Young people, like other people, become homeless for a variety of reasons. Kids Under Cover has taken on the challenge of youth homelessness to at least work on that. The video explains some of what it does. Their site explains more:
We respond to the needs of young people at risk of becoming homeless due to extreme conflict or overcrowding within the family home, mental health issues, and the housing affordability crisis. Taking an early-intervention approach to preventing youth homelessness by combining accommodation and scholarships for young people at-risk of homelessness.
It’s the early intervention approach which is invaluable. Stepping in to resolve and solve issues before another life is stopped in its tracks. We need to find ways of supporting young people and their families through difficult circumstances and Kids Under Cover is a way of looking at a tough situation and finding a practical pathway to success. One of the things the organisation does is have a cubby house challenge where the bespoke cubby houses are auctioned off to raise funds. You can read about it here because it is an innovative and novel approach to fund raising and awareness raising which has been very popular. It’s a great way to encourage our builders and architects and then involve the general public. All in all it’s a very positive and winning scenario. The next cubby house challenge is March 2017.
Germany has things called Schuttberge. They are made of all the rubble from World War II. The bombing was so severe and the subsequent rubble was so profuse, the Germans had to think their way out of it. There was nowhere to put it. Much of the rubble has been turned into Schuttberge. There is one called the Birkenkopf in Stuttgart. It is a place for people to get outside in the fresh air, to walk and ride trails and then to reflect on the meaning of war. It’s both a place to relax and operate as a memorial. You can read about the Schuttberge at Spiegel online. Why am I telling you this? Because I have been thinking about all the plastic, much of which will not break down. I blogged about how Adidas is recycling ocean plastic into sneakers – will they break down when their life is finished? Then there is much on the internet about the plastic bricks which may or may not be a fire hazard. People are thinking and we need to keep thinking. Plastic would be an insulator. Can plastic rubble not be turned into landscaping or safe building material somehow? Bike trails, parks, mazes, hills, waterproofing ? Could we not use all this plastic and turn it into something good like they have in Germany? Would it be suitable to stop degradation around beach and river areas? Could it be used to fill areas which actually need filling? Would it be safe? We need the scientists and environmentalists in on this. They would know what is feasible and what isn’t. Could it be used to build coral reefs? I feel sure now we need to get rid of plastic unless we can invent one that is safe for the environment. With war we do destroy the environment but we are doing that knowingly now just by daily living. We need to change our ways but we also need to work out a safe way to upcycle the things we cannot recycle. For the next while, at least, until we get smarter, we need to focus as much on upcycling as recycling.
This lady has a very calm, reassuring voice but she also has some good ideas for Christmas. Since she is so relaxed, there is no sense of panic! I am about to get my home decorated for Christmas and I do that in a big way. I love my home to look Christmassy and anyone who visits appreciates it and understands that Christmas is important to me. It’s has always been about appreciating people and valuing them. It has always about being festive and sharing meals. It has also been about being calm and having time out in what has become a busy, frantic life for people. I always want my home to be the place where they feel they can just stop and relax at Christmas. For that reason I pay a lot of attention to how it looks because it is something which diverts and involves others. It adds to their well being. This video has given me a fresh look at my decor and what I might do and I appreciated the fact the video just talked us through some approaches.
Image : Dishmaps
Carotenoids have long been known for their nutritional value and capacity to boost the body against nasty diseases. They ought to be top of your eating list for the good they do but maybe, from time to time, we just need to remind ourselves how valuable and easily sourced these foods are. The top 10 are:
- Baked sweet potato
- Cooked carrots
- Cooked dark green leafy greens
- Cos/romaine lettuce
- Cantaloupe melon
- Sweet red capsicums
- Dried apricots
- Cooked peas
- Cooked broccoli
- Cooked peas
There is a really well explained piece on How Stuff Works about the current research into carotenoids and how they impact positively on health. it’s a bit of a long read but well worth it because it is so enlightening. The very latest research is on older adults and how carotenoids appear to improve brain function and thinking. Well worth investigating and pursuing further. Nutrition for any age group is essential but if it impacts on how well you thing then it’s to be highly encouraged.
As much as anything, I use my blogs to sort out my thinking and to store information so that I don’t lose it as I am trying to clarify my ideas. Saving energy at home is one thing I am determined to get better at. To do that I need to get the information and then think about it, sort out pricing and so on. This post is about where I am at and where I plan to go. We have had a number of long outages where I live in the last couple of years. I am thinking I need some back up power. I have managed and I have been okay but one of the outages was extended. I was lucky. I still had a mobile connection. I was thinking maybe I could use portable solar panels in my garden, as campers do, to back up my main supply in these sorts of events. I was thinking also it might contribute overall to my energy saving plan for my home. It is not worth my while getting permanent solar panels for my home but portable ones could be an option. I don’t go camping so I am not familiar with these devices. I need to get a level of understanding first, then prices and then decide on that one. Meanwhile I am revisiting all my appliances and looking at how I can save energy. I have replaced a computer monitor with a more efficient one. So efficient it even tells me how my energy and CO2 I am saving. Compared with what , who knows, but still. I have replaced items with more energy efficient ones as I have needed to change devices and equipment. That is something to be planned. Most people can’t just throw out what they have and replace it with greener equipment. There is plenty of help on the net to help thinking around energy use. There is an energy rating calculator so you can look at the brands you have. SA Govt has some good information for energy use at home so that you can do a home energy audit or you can get your energy supplier to do a free one on your home. There is also a downloadable pdf for energy usage on different appliances so you can better inform yourself as to which ones use the most energy. Some people are very good at getting their homes to be be very energy efficient. That is a whole big lot of thinking and planning but it can be done. Most of us need to think it out one step at a time. I am starting with the appliances , the usage and now seeing whether portable solar panels are an option for me.
Mildred Walker was a very well credentialed writer who was also a creative writing teacher who dies at the age of 93 in Oregon. Her novel is about Montana where she had lived for a long time. There is no sex, no drugs , no violence and no drama. It’s a slice of life and about Montana. It held me captive for the whole time I was reading it because it was so sane and normal. It was about a young girl growing into a young woman who was discovering what love meant and who was living her life in Montana. You come to understand the rhythm of life in Montana in 1941 and you get to be a part of that life as you read the book. You can see and feel the change of seasons. You come to love the farm and the slow lifestyle. People are living rather than being entertained, stimulated or diverted. They are battling the elements and relishing the small things in life. It is such a contrast to how we are living now. The descriptions are vivid and the experiences are very real. It is not ramped up, artificial or confected. It’s life and the descriptions allow a full appreciation of the experiences in a place like Montana just before WWII. I loved being an invited guest there.
Adidas with Parley have brought out some new sneakers made from ocean plastic. Should be water, shouldn’t it? We shouldn’t have to gather plastic from the ocean. The planet needs to get rid of plastic because as handy as it can be we are very bad at disposing of it and far too much ends up in the ocean. You’ve seen the fish. You’ve seen the videos. There are now attempts to put it right. I’d like to think these sneakers can be disposed of properly when they come to the end of their life. People are trying to solve the plastic waste problem now and there are some very good discussions going on which give me hope that eventually we shall solve this problem. Adidas is trying to find a good use for plastic recouped from the ocean. They cannot solve the problem alone but at least they are making an effort. There is another company making plastic bricks for housing. At best it really ought to only be used for disaster areas or areas which need quick emergency housing. Even though the bricks are supposed to be fire treated there is no proof as yet that they will survive hot sun and plastic fires are hideous. We need to keep talking about that one. Where there is a will…and it’s not as if we don’t have the brains and technology to solve these sorts of problems. The conversations are highlighting the issues. Firstly, we need to clean up our act. Secondly,we need to dispose of this plastic wisely. Thirdly, we probably need to forget about plastic. It has done more harm than good. BYFUSION explains the plastic brick idea on its site.The discussions around it are on The Insider Facebook page .
Zic Zazou certainly know how to make recycling creative and fun. It’s great to see artists make use of everyday items in such an inspirational way. We live in an acquisitive world where we create so many unwanted items. To see them repurposed in a productive, imaginative way is just great.
According to the information under the video clip: In 2009, oil wells around the world pumped an estimated 84 to 85 million barrels out of the Earth, and countries consumed just as much [source: EIA]. That is a lot of oil. We still have oil but it is difficult to access and is encouraging practices like fracking which come with all sorts of concerning problems. It also has meant difficulty negotiating with areas of the world where the oil is because we are so oil dependant. Not having oil would impact on industry, the military, transport, electricity, asphalt, production of plastics and polymers, agriculture. It would create job losses. We pollute the planet so much because of oil but we seem to be locked into a mindset which says we need it. We won’t necessarily go backwards without it. We have the capacity to think our way through and find other fuel options which are more planet and lifestyle friendly. We also have the capacity to rethink our lives so they are not so oil dependant. Do we need all that plastic? Do we need to fly everywhere? Do we need to transport our food huge distances? Can we get to places without our car? That can be a hard one if we are leading busy lives. Public transport can make the day so much longer and , in some places, it is not an option. If you start work at 4am in Adelaide there are no public transport options. Public transport times and efficiency would have a big impact of how many cars we have on the road. People ought not to have to have a car in order to work. There are also implications within all that for personal safety . These are difficult problems but not beyond our bounds for resolving if we think about it. I haven’t yet heard any defence of leaving the oil in the earth because maybe the planet actually needs that oil in the ground as part of its survival mechanism. There is always an assumption we can take things out of the ground in vast quantities and it means nothing to a living planet. We don’t just need to think about oil consumption, we also need to think about preserving the place we live. It always surprises me we do things just because we can and then don’t think the process through properly so we look at implications and effects. It’s not rational to behave like that. We can do better and we could come up with things which suit us and our environment. Why not?
It is a pity this book has not been allowed to be published in China. The rest of the world recognises it as a powerful account of a very real country going through change and turmoil . It is told through the eyes of the granddaughter but covers the three generations of women who lived through, and survived , some very difficult and troubled events. Jung Chang now lives in Britain and likes it there. It allowed me to understand a lot more about China and its people. It also allowed me to understand a lot more about our current world. She is straightforward and honest in her account and the journey of three generations of women is astounding. It is a tribute to people who can think, who can carry on and who are very resilient. It can be a difficult read at times because it was a horrendous time in China and people had to withstand so much. Other nations have been through similar things and the stories are just as compelling. Human beings do a lot to harm others but there are also human beings who can rise above it and endure. The over 600 pages go quickly and the whole book was very absorbing and enlightening.
This video features @misterwoolybear whom I follow on Instagram. Australian men are not so good at wearing scarves and yet we do have the weather for it and it is a great way to beat the strong winds and cold we have been having. This video gives some ideas as to the sorts of scarves and styles men can use so they feel more comfortable wearing the scarf and go beyond the draping a scarf around their neck which isn’t very helpful in the cold weather !
Image : Sustainability for all
I am big on reusing, repurposing and repairing. In the end it’s a habit which you can develop and a way of thinking. I also have got my friends and family into that style of thinking too. We help each other repair things, or find a new use for things or a new home. I collect things to recycle and to hand on to charity organisations so I know that they will get good use. One of my friends said that was a good way of thinking because it gives you a sense of purpose. He is helping to rebuild things to be handed on to charity organisations and refugee camps. As a world we have improved our capacity to redistribute and that is because we have thought about it. Organisations like OzHarvest build the relationships so they can redistribute food to the needy. Adelaide has a number of artists who have created wonderful pieces from leftover and excess materials. Some are beautiful and intricate art works. Others are metallic sculptures which are as impressive as they are inspirational. Greenpeace has a good post about getting beyond reuse, recycle, reduce. We are doing that, but we need to keep thinking about it. We cannot live sustainably on a planet which keeps producing more and more and more. In the end you have enough and enough is plenty.
Yet another example of age being a mirage.Older people are repackaging themselves and redesigning their purpose in life. Deshun Wang expresses it beautifully : he has spent his whole life preparing for this. Stereotyping is restrictive and constrictive for anyone and any group. It is great to see older people just being and if they are the ones who will free us of ageism then they are serving a great purpose in life.
The Living Smart program started in Western Australia and has been well loved and well endorsed. It has made a difference to how people perceive sustainability and the environment. It has managed to allow people to see that working together as a community preserves an environment for the future as well as allowing an opportunity to live in a healthier more welcoming environment. There is a disconnect between the people who just want to make their money and run and those who want to be part of a growth mindset which enables us to live healthily and well on this planet for generations to come. The short term , quick reward approach is hard to counter since people find it very hard to resist riches and money. It is also really hard when working conditions make it so hard for you to relax and have free time. You just want to survive and follow the path of least resistance which largely means ignoring your footprint on the earth. Living Smart has allowed people to take a step back and get rid of the fear and procrastination and just do: find out that networking and being with others is how you manage some of it, if not all of it. We now have this course in South Australia at McLaren Vale, Unley and Glenelg. I have been lucky enough to be in the McLaren Vale course and already I can see I am in a room full of people with ideas, experience, a nice way of being and that invaluable attribute of enthusiasm. It’s that enthusiasm which forges a positive road forward in terms of sustainability and the environment. It’s not an alternative. It is. It is, because you can see and implement the options and find a way of doing that so that others can do it. I grew up in an Australia which cared about the land and knew so much about natural environments. We were then submerged in suburbs but that connection with the land is unstoppable. It is now burgeoning as ecoburbia.
There is a fine line between dealing with and managing a control freak and being the victim of emotional abuse. Victim being the operative word. If you feel like a victim , you probably are and you need to get the help to deal with that frame of mind and set of behaviours. Easier said than done depending on the nature of the controlling behaviour. We all like to be in control. We want our coffee the way we want it. We want to be able to relax in the way we relax. We want to make phone calls the way we make them and do our washing the way we do it. We need to bring control freak back into common parlance so that we recognise unhealthy controlling behaviour in ourselves and then unhealthy controlling behaviour in others. It is really difficult when they play a key role in your life. uncommonhelp gives some really practical advice as to how to deal with control freaks. The best bit is that it is all doable so even if you find it hard to stand up for yourself you have a chance of being able to master these suggestions. Dr Judith Orloff analyses the situation better so that you can get some clarity. That’s important. Often you feel very confused. There is usually a reason that people become controllers. We shouldn’t minimise the behaviour by calling them micro managers or helicopter parents. wikihow explains really well the difference between someone who has strong views and boundaries and one who is a controller. Sorting it out for yourself is how you manage it. If you are not able to do that , it is important to use trusted, successful people to get help and information.
Emotional abuse is very difficult to identify and even more difficult to prove. It’s sly, underhanded, artful and calculated. It’s important to know it is happening to you and it is important to notice it might be happening to someone else. Emotional abusers often have their reasons. It that awful cycle of abuse where you have been abused and you become the abuser. Emotional abuse can occur in the home , at work, from society at large …people. Unless we are clear about what it is and how to manage it then victims will continue to suffer. It can have dire consequences. A person can be so robbed of themselves, their hopes and dreams until they are in despair and dysfunctional. The worst thing is they have nothing to show anyone. Just what they think and how they feel. It has to be stopped like any other form of abuse and knowledge is power. The image straightens it out in people’s head. It helps clarify what is going on. There are some excellent sites which identify emotional abuse behaviour and symptoms. It is something we can deal with if we get the awareness out there as we have done with so many other things. Healthy Place looks at the short and long term effects of emotional abuse.
Pinterest also has some good help.
I cannot say a lot about this. You just need to pause for 5 minutes and watch it. DNA is a powerful force for good. Who we are is our DNA. Such a powerful video.
This is simple, straight forward, doable and cheerful. Great way to approach life. Some of these are more me than others but, in short, I can achieve all of this and can see it would make a positive difference!
It’s the Noarlunga Library’s fault I haven’t been to a library in 20 years! I used to be at the library every week and it was a great place for my daughter . They played their part in ensuring she loved books and reading.She even went back as a volunteer when she was older. It was a great library then with all the foreign language books, the wealth of health books, the craft and art books and the massive choice of fiction. They installed computers and allowed us access to this new Internet thing. I booked the two of us in for an hour at a time and we were lost in Netscape and just loved it, so much so I bought my IBM 486 computer and suddenly we could find everything online and were spending lot of time online .The library became superfluous to requirements. Last Wednesday was foul weather in Adelaide and I had the urge to go back to the library to see what had happened to it. It is an airy, well thought out space now. There are not so many books but there are more electronic media, magazines and computers. They even had some retro computers in their own special spot which were fully utilised as flat screens sat idle and unpopular. That was really interesting. There were more magazines and they were really well organised and covered a wide variety of interests. The staff set me up well and quickly and I was borrowing in no time. I also had an update and explanation of how it all works online now. Libraries are linked and so you can book resources you search and they will come to your nearest library. You can read books online or download them to a compatible reader. What interested me as I wandered was there was a map of the proposed changes to the Port Noarlunga foreshore to include and upgraded walking trail. It was clearly explained, there were photographs and it was information worth seeing. There was a lot of art work featured too. It wasn’t overly busy, probably because of the weather. Everyone there was engrossed in what they were doing. I came out with a number of books and some magazines which have already gone to work really hard in my life with the ideas they have brought me. A book or magazine brings you specific content which is curated in a careful way. It is focused learning and focused presentation of material. Books have things which are not necessarily on the internet. It’s another way to see the ideas and creativity of others. The library is now going to be a regular part of my life because it is a learning space which allows you to explore in your own way. I am still discovering the online part of it but I can see that will help broaden my searches and access to information. On a computer you are available to others. In a library you are available to yourself and that thought struck me clearly. Libraries are there for you and your own self development and that has been lost in the passion for technology . Originally, computing was just for me on my IBM 486 but now it has become a place where I am expected to be there. I am used to it and do well with technology but it was lovely to just have me time in the library where my learning needs are met uninterrupted and without any expectations other than my own and that is a library’s biggest asset in 2016.
Why shouldn’t here be a song about Slough as there are songs about New York, Paris, Chicago? There are films about the Snowy River, Paris, Seattle. Why not Slough? Why don’t North American Indians call themselves pelican names when they are happy with Sitting Bull, Hawkeye, Lone Wolf? Why can’t people have mental legs as they do a mental head? Why do we think one person is weird and another one is okay? Why shouldn’t we have songs about anything we like? The French make songs about cucumbers, run away dogs, picnics, voyeurs, cigarettes. I didn’t know what I was going to get when I went to see David Brent. I just knew I liked Ricky Gervais and what he stood for. I know he is a complex thinker and can fight effectively for animal rights. I know I liked The Office .The film is set in and around Slough, Berkshire where Ricky Gervais was born. The humour is British and I had some really good laughs throughout the film. It’s a complex film, though, and not to be given a post modern reading. You listen to the song lyrics, you know the actor is being a character you know who is then reflecting on that character. The film questions how we define normality and how we define mental illness. It clearly examines how mental illness is not a disease, it’s not an illness as such, but a person with hopes, thoughts, dreams, relationships and more than anything, feelings. A person is not this bit or that bit but a collection of traits, experiences and thoughts and is a whole . It’s a Gestalt reading of human behaviour. We are not our fatness or thinness or our job or the clothes we put on. We are all sorts of things and some of those things are transient, some of them are determined as acceptable by the norms of society. He questions political correctness, body image, language usage, content of popular culture, work place expectations. It is a film which puts everything under a lens but not in an arduous way. It’s thought provoking and it makes you wonder. If you are familiar with people with mental illness there is a lot which you can relate to. You could even be asking yourself well, maybe it’s not right to call someone that when all they are is a square peg in a round hole. Who are we to put down and judge? Where did we get the parameters from to judge them? You don’t ask yourself that, though. You look at the film and realise people are people and they are all on the road of life trying to get somewhere and trying to do their best at getting there. I really enjoyed this film and I am glad I went to see it. It will be one of my favourite films. I need to think about it some more!
That was bizarre. The woman is in a completely different age group to me, she is at a different stage in life and yet, her video looked like my life at the moment. I am watching the ocean, walking on the beach, enjoying my yarn arts, reading , doing yoga and walking in nature. I really am taking the time to take the time! She articulates well what slow living is about and why you need it. We do glorify doing and it’s as though life has no meaning if you don’t have this grand todo list of where you have been and what you are doing. I am lucky I have a dog who really loves walking. That may sound odd but my other dogs preferred playing , running around, fetch, all of that. This dog is in my life now and she just loves walking. She started me off on this slow path. I was thinking I needed to reclaim my life. I have always had too much to do, have supported others, done so many things and worked really hard. I have achieved a lot and it has defined me but all the time the things which were important to me were being neglected. I did some sewing, some knitting, some crochet, some cross stitch but now I have time to really think things out and to really involve myself in my projects. When you are driven like you are in life then you pump a lot of adrenalin and it eventually impacts on your health. You don’t sleep properly, you don’t exercise properly and even if you think you are eating well, once you slow down you realise you were limited in your choices because of time and energy. I have had a chance to meet people, talk more, really notice the clouds. In many ways it is as I grew up. We often had times just wandering or sitting and looking or sitting and chatting. Like the woman in this video I love my technology. It can be very inspiring but it is also a great way to produce and share ideas and keep connected with people in a really good way. I have found it odd that after years of being uber busy I now have tome to think properly and notice. I am doing a journal about slow living. It is already set up and I follow the pattern. The balance she talks of is what is missing. If you work then there is so much to do there is no balance. Over the years the amount of things expected has increased. Profit, cost cutting, profit, streamlining have all meant good people are pushed too hard. They are reliable. They are there , and because they are there, they are overworked. The only solution is to work less and want less. When she talked of decluttering it was an indication we are driven to collect things in one way or another. To be slow, you need to simplify your life and be genuinely content with less.
When you are reading Hugh Holton’s Chicago Blues it’s hard to think of it as the city which has been the home of such great blues music. He does write some blues lyrics in his book and so you wonder whether the lyrics came first and inspired the book or vice versa:
They call it the windy city
‘Cause the wind there has no pity
Like a freight train roarin’ toward you,
Like its whistle blown’ through you,
Through your heart, through your heart.
I found it a hard read because I don’t like violence or violent texts. I persisted because I thought at least it would challenge me and my thinking. For the first 80 pages I was thinking, I am just going to put this in the bin. I don’t want to read it and I don’t want anyone else to read it. Right, it’s going in the bin. Okay, I’ll race through this bit and hope it gets better. I was brought up to respect and revere books , so binning them is sacrilege. Half way through the book it had settled a bit and so had I. It really was a freight train coming at me , it really was whistling through me and it really was crashing through my heart. For the first half of the book the narrative was lost in all the violence. Everyone was harsh, hard, brutal, aggressive. Then a husband and wife sit in the den together and read . For the first time you have normal people doing normal things. You then get great lines once in a while like:
“He opened his mouth and let a couple of drops fall on his tongue. He savored the taste for a moment before smiling. The Odds-n-Ends Souvenir Shop was raining beer. “
This novel was so unlike anything I read so it will take some time to decide what I really thought. I did read the second half very quickly and found it much more satisfying but ,I guess, by then, I knew what I was in for and could manage it psychologically. I just had to detach myself and read and then look at it from a critical point of view. In lots of ways it is very Old testament – If you live by the sword , you die by the sword. It was also very much about the complications of police , politics and mobsters which has some relevance in today’s society. It was written in 1996 and yet you can recognise it as current. Maybe Chicago has gone mainstream? Its difference was what made it a valuable read for me. I learned a lot but I cannot be sure that I’d ever read a book like that again.
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is one of my favourite pieces of music. It is a very demanding piece to play on a piano. To see Tina S play it on a guitar as she does is just totally amazing. She has played a guitar since she was a child and it shows, but to see how skilled she is, how relaxed she is and how beautiful she can make this sound is a tribute to her dedication to playing her kind of music. It also shows just how modern Beethoven’s music can be ; that it is in fact timeless. I love the classical version but am happy to find such a skilled electronic performance of it. I can’t believe how fast and accurate Tina s’s fingers are. This really is impressive.
Sister Madonna Buder is Nike’s new Unlimited Youth face and this is the ad. She started running in her 40s and has now become the Iron Nun because she can succeed in the Iron Man challenges. There are other videos of her on You Tube. She works hard, she is very clear that making the effort is what gets you there. She learned you cannot always succeed but just making the effort would get her to go where she wanted. As an 86 year old she is a great role model for anyone. She is showing that older people can be just as impressive and inspiring as younger people. She is rewriting the belief that old people need to limit themselves. Nike has taken it one step further to show that youth, in fact, is a state of mind and a lifestyle choice. Being active works. Putting yourself out there works. Looking after your mind, body and spirit works.
Jeffrey Ford knows how to write a good book which keeps you absorbed and guessing. Part of my current challenge was to read a chapter of a book everyday. I chose The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque because I had started reading it and had then just left it. Not because of the book but because of my life. It had just exploded into being busy and things like reading were being neglected. It’s a fascinating story and you never know where it is going to go next. It is set in 19th century New York and is full of art and artists. It is really good to read a book where you find out a lot about the way artists do things and go about things. It is bizarre and like nothing else I have read because it is so strange. In the end it is why it becomes compelling. I had started to read my one chapter a day which became two which became three and soon I needed to finish the book. It is well written and in many respects you are held at a distance so that you view the work and observe. Art appreciation. The story then takes a turn and you are hooked and lost in the reading of it . I cannot say more. It would spoil it for you if you want to read it.
I find challenges really rewarding and positive. They always create good change for me . They get me on a path where doing the challenge creates some good changes and puts me in a frame of mind to get a different perspective on things. I do all sorts of challenges but not all the time. It doesn’t matter what the challenge is . You can feel the growth. I am watching someone on Facebook do a make up challenge. I can see how she is becoming even more skilled, more adventurous and more adept. As someone who is studying that sort of thing then it is making her use all her skills and abilities. The feedback she is getting has to be doing her good and making her feel confident. This challenge came to me from a friend in an email because they know I like challenges. So I am up to day 4 and ready to read my chapter of my book. I have found throwing out one thing a day to be the best thing. It gets rid of clutter, useless stuff or makes me think whether it needs to go to charity or can be repurposed. Every challenge has taken me on a journey of self discovery and the challenge has always improved my life. In a fortnight I should feel wonderful. I’d like to thank whoever made up this challenge.
Living Smart is a sustainability initiative which started in Western Australia and is mushrooming now around the states. I am hoping we’ll get the courses this year in my local area. The idea is to give people proper and usable information to help them create a more sustainable lifestyle. It is quite clear from the video that people are clear about what they have achieved as facilitators and participants are very clear about what they have learned and put into use. You can get more information from the Living Smart website and on Twitter @LivingSmartAu. The good thing about this programme is that it relates to all age groups and all age groups can benefit from it and the natural sharing they do with each other.
This is a well constructed, well thought out, powerful video. It almost had me in tears. Not because it was soppy. Not because it was tugging on heartstrings but because you could see and feel the impact of human kindness. People are homeless for all sorts of reasons. In my lifetime what were a couple of so called vagrants about the place now and again has become a regular encounter with people who are homeless. There are children going to school from cars. There are people sleeping in doorways and anywhere else just to get shelter. Not just here. Not just there . It is a global problem and some are doing it worse than others. There is no easy answer but the video points out quite clearly the value of a hug, a smile, a bit of a break. Someone who will reach out to the homeless and treat them as a human beings who need recognition and nurturing. We cannot solve everyone’s problems. Some are there as a philosphical choice. Some are there because of lifestyle choices. Some are there because they are mentally ill and there was a decision to let them fend for themselves. All sorts of reasons. You can see most of them have lost teeth and that is the same everywhere. You can see most of them are thin. Worldwide they have the same look. We have made a difference by looking at ways and means of ensuring they have food and drink, warm clothes and blankets and sometimes a safe place to sleep. On one French news programme I watched a couple of years ago they had a place where they took people in for the night to get them out of excessive heat or cold. They could not take everyone but it was a start. One man just was so angry. The person in charge was very good at trying to de-escalate his anger and to get him to be calm. He succeeded but then the man became very aggressive again. In the end he was given a blanket and asked to leave so the others could rest and have some respite. It is a difficult thing to live and a difficult thing to be a helper. The video shows us not to give up on ourselves or them. Just to do simple human things which will make a difference. To be kind. Just be kind. In the two years since this video has been made the world has been kinder. We just need to keep reminding ourselves.
This is a short German film with a simple message which is developed thoughtfully. You need no German to understand it. It is developed without words and that is where the power of it lies. I got the film via Craig Maatta’s blogpost. He followed me on Twitter this morning. I looked him up , found his Facebook page and then the link to his blog. Within 5 minutes I was feeling a whole lot better. I have bookmarked the Craig Maatta blog because it is very positive and gives you practical ideas for making yourself and others feel better. Smiling is one of them!
This is unbridled joy. How to live life to the fullest. Love how it dives into the pile of leaves. Our animal friends teach us a lot! Would love the life of a labrador!!