Slow living

Downsizing blog

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

– Graham Hill, LifeEdited

Six months ago we started living closer to our values and moved from a big house in the suburbs to a narrow 75 square metre workers cottage that shared a wall with our neighbours on both sides, just a few streets back from the beach.

Our families thought we were mad to downsize just as we were expecting the pitter patter of more little feet, but the way we saw it we were gaining so much with a more walkable bayside suburb, a tighter community and a smaller cost of living and environmental footprint.

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A simple weekly shop

Zero Waste Shopping, plastic free shopping

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

– Michael Pollen, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

My nan used to always say that what you spend at the greengrocer, you save at the doctor’s.

I have been going to the same greengrocer every week for the past six years – he has seen me single, pregnant, with a baby and now a son who tottles around the store with his little trolley opening blueberry packs and stealing nuts that fall into the dispenser tray.  I think Bob is about 70 odd and he’s told me before about watching kids grow up in his store…  I’m pretty sure that some of the boys who help carry my shopping back to the car are probably customer’s sons who were offered a job the day they turned 15.

Shopping this way is good for everyone; the fruit & veg isn’t plastic wrapped like the supermarket’s and I know that the person who buys the fruit at the wholesale market has actually tasted it and had a conversation with the grower. I can do almost my entire shop here waste-free, save for the odd milk carton or yoghurt tub, and it’s cheaper overall when you consider that I’m not buying much packaged food and instead making most meals from scratch. A quick stop to the butcher and the bakery next door and I’m done.

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A simple wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe minimalist

There is nothing more peaceful than living in a simple home that has been de-cluttered Konmari style in order to be surrounded by only a few things that we truly love. Realising that less is more certainly makes for a much more mindful shopper.. enjoying the art of browsing and mentally absorbing the designers creativity without the impulse to purchase. Over the years I have learnt a few things about a capsule wardrobe:

+ The happy dance rule. If it doesn’t inspire a happy dance in the change rooms don’t buy it. Unless you physically cannot walk out of the store without taking that AMAAAZING item home, then leave it on the racks – if you’re unsure now, you will only grow to despise the purchase in a few short months. This applies to everything from clothes to beauty products to items for the home, just a few happy dance shopping trips later and you will have saved a lot of money and  saved the planet from the tonnes of environmental resources that go into making goods that no-one really values.

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A simple garden

A Simple Garden

First and foremost we’re growing good soil.

– Fabian Capomolla, The Hungry Gardener

After years of getting overexcited by lovely books such as The Italian Way I have learnt that in order to make peace with the possums in our neighbourhood, I’m best to keep it simple and grow only herbs and lettuces. Herbs are so easy to grow (and exey to buy), and lettuces are a goodie to grow at home as they are often on the Organics Dirty Dozen list. Anything else I figure local farmers are probably much better poised to grow for our family. Here’s a list of the herbs that I grow:

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A simple cleaning routine

DIY cleaning productsWhen you break it down you only need a small handful of basic cleaning solutions to keep a natural clean home. I tend to refill amber spray bottles that I have bought in the past. Over the years I have developed a few of my favourites based on the below pantry essentials:

  • Bi-carb soda
  • White vinegar
  • Vodka
  • Vanilla essence
  • Olive oil
  •  A few basic essential oils

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Storage

small space living storage

The best storage solution is none at all.

At times one might feel the need for clever storage solutions in order to have an organised home, when really what’s required is just less… When it comes to storage ideas for small space living, I believe the first step is to declutter the Japanese way so there is less to store and we are left with only our favourite things.

I find when we love the the things we own, our useful items become our design aesthetic, especially if they’re made from natural fibres… household tools made from wood, natural grasses, horsehair, linen etc often look good enough to be left out on display so there’s no need to hide them away in a cupboard. For example we store our broom on a peg rail in the kitchen, and our spare white bedsheets live stacked in a wire basket on the shelf in lieu of storage space.

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Sustainable sustainability

Simple living

Once you make the mental shift towards sustainability, you’ll find that slowly everything will just fall into place.

When I first had Oliver I began to think about the world that he would inherit, and how different it was to the world I was born into as an 80’s child with wooden toys and landline phones and long bike rides before sunset.

By comparison Ol has been born into a much faster era made up of overstimulating technology, plastic toys and extreme advertising.

As much as I can I try to create family rhythms at home that are based on my childhood, and even my mum’s childhood as a nod to my Nan, however these days the reaches of technology and plastic are pretty prolific… When I grew up we collected shells on the beach, now we collect plastic. 

As part of this journey I came across Zero Waste legend Bea Johnson’s interview on CGTN America (in a late night YouTube rabbit hole no less) – an unforgettable clip about how Bea and her family live without contributing waste to landfill.

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On simplifying life

How to simplify your lifeThese days I think we tend to overcomplicate life – taking on too much, without ever taking the time to step back and reflect.

By being busy we feel as if we’re achieving, but at times it can begin to feel like a bit of a treadmill. I’ve listed below a few quick ways to get back to basics and pair things back to achieve a bit more clarity.

+ Turn off the TV. It is amazing what can be done with those spare hours each day, even if it means just spending more time with the humans in our lives… we can take back so much time with just one switch. Continue reading “On simplifying life”

Christmas

Simple Christmas

Christmas has become pretty overwhelming of late and each year I dream about taking the boys away to a secluded cabin on a lake somewhere and avoiding it altogether. In my dreams we fish for flatties during the day and play cards at night, we have long sleep-ins and read books out on the deck in the morning sun, me sipping hot coffee while the boys feed bread to the local birds…

Failing that dream ever coming true, I have been trying to work out ways to help the boys to focus on the important things and enjoy the magic and meaning of Christmas.

I have worked out a few things along the way…

1/ Involve them in the act of writing cards, and have a conversation about the person and what kind and meaningful words you can write together. Continue reading “Christmas”

Life Coach Shannah Kennedy

Lifestyle podcast to plan your best life

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

– Leonardo da Vinci

Six years ago I met the lovely Shannah Kennedy and we spoke about this quote, my all time favourite… so one can imagine the smile on my face when I later saw it in her signature book – The Life Plan.

It has taken a long time to get here but I can earnestly say that meeting this woman changed my life, and today I am living my best life, intentionally and simply.

I don’t know where this journey will lead, but it made sense that the remarkable woman who set this course was the first to be interviewed on the Simple Origins podcast…

This recording discusses the importance of simplifying, boundaries, positivity and reading a good book. Over the years Shannah has collected a few:

You Can Heal Your Life – Louise Hay
Extreme Art of Self Care – Cheryl Richardson
Eat That Frog – Brian Tracy
The Slight Edge – Jeff Olson
The Judgement Detox – Gabrielle Bernstein
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari – Robin Sharma
Essentialism – Greg McKeown

Enjoy x

The little votes

Ethical clothing

When we think about it, the most powerful vote we have isn’t the one coming up in the next election, but rather all the little ones we make every single day, with our dollars.

Every single time we make a purchase we are choosing to condone that brand’s behaviour, whether they’re a small family business or a large corporation, we are saying ‘yes I agree with your practices, keep doing what you’re doing’.

This is an incredibly powerful thing; we have the power to support those humans who are trying really hard to change the world and do the right thing, and we also have the power to starve the multinationals and bring about change for the better… Big brands are always trying to work out what their customers what, and nothing speaks louder than dropping sales. Continue reading “The little votes”

A simple pantry

zero waste shopping Australia

I have always believed that your name can influence your life; my friend Fabian’s name means bean counter and he’s a gardener, another friend Crystal has a salt business, and since I married and changed my surname to Jarred, I have developed an obsession with jars.

In particular I’m quite fond of the angular jars with gold lids that so often contain pickles and relishes, and have roped in both my mum and sisters (all condiment queens) to set aside their prettiest jars. From a sustainability perspective, I believe recycling should only ever be the last resort and that reuse is always a better option.

The trick to removing that sticky label glue is Tea Tree Oil (or any citrus-based essential oil that happens to be on hand, Eucalyptus likely works just as well).

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Essential oils

Spring scented flowers

Over the years, I have developed a few  favourites:

+ Lemon essential oil is the secret trick to removing the sticky label glue from jam jars. After scrubbing the label off simply add 10-15 drops to a cloth and rub away the glue from the jar. It also makes for a nice cleaning scent for bathroom/sprays (although take care not to use citrus on wooden floors).

+ Jasmine. Makes for a simple perfume on spring days when the sun returns, or any time of year really… it’s a lovely scent to rub on the wrists with a little carrier oil – almond or jojoba. Continue reading “Essential oils”

Frugal gardening

How to take flower cuttings for a potted gardenThe other day I was giving my niece a tour of our potted garden in the back courtyard and as I recounted a special story behind every plant it occurred to me that all of my favourite plants stem from my childhood.

They reminded me of fairy hunting adventures in the rose garden surrounding our farmhouse, or of my dad fondly recalling how his mother always had a Daphne bush by the back door.

Mostly though, my botanical preferences were instilled during holidays spent at my maternal nanas house in Wangaratta, who was also a Daphne fan (I imagine they featured in a lot of Australian backyards in the late 1950’s, kind of like lemon trees).

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A simple washroom

Simple laundry organisationBeyond going without a dryer and using natural washing powders, there are a few washing rituals that help to make the laundry a more sustainable place:

+ A washing day. Rather than doing little loads all week,  a less taxing strategy is to wash larger loads all at once. I tend to have a washing day at the start of the week while Ol’s at school so I don’t spend the time I have with him worrying about the washing, but rather focusing on much more important things… like playing trains…

+ Choose reusables and natural materials. Forgo the cleaning wipes for a few thick cloths and a bit of home made spray, plus I always try to choose wooden scrubbing brushes over plastic ones when it’s time to replace the old ones… I don’t feel so bad throwing an old wooden brush away knowing that it will take about 5 years to biodegrade, over about 500 for a plastic one. One of my favourite sayings in life is that the truth is in the feeling… whether it’s a job that you love, a person you love to spend time with, or just picking a wooden scrubbing brush, it applies to all manner of decisions…

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