Slow living

Downsizing to a smaller place for a bigger life

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

– Graeme 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 guide to essential oils

Spring scented flowers

In the name of simplicity I tend not to blend my essential oils too much, preferring to just use them straight for specific purposes, here are a few of my 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. I also like it for a cleaning scent for bathroom/sprays (although be careful not to use citrus on wooden floors).

+ Jasmine. I use Jasmine as a perfume for spring days when the sun returns, or any time of year really… it’s a lovely scent to rub on your wrists with a little carrier oil – almond or jojoba.

+ Lavender. Great to add a few drops to the bath or shower to inhale and relax. Also a goodie to include in a pillow spray for restful sleep, with perhaps a touch of Rose Geranium to add feminine floral notes.

+ Tea tree. This powerful Australian essential oil is an antiseptic, anti fungal, antibacterial and pesticide. Great to add to vinegar and water and spray around the perimeter of the home to keep insects away. It’s also a natural treatment for children’s nits when blended with coconut oil (much better than those nasty chemical mousses) and works to naturally dry out pimple spots and cold sores. It’s a goodie to clean with given its anti-everything properties.

+ Vanilla essence. Although technically not an essential oil, I do love vanilla essence to clean the fridge and add a lovely creamy scent to other areas of the home.

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 subconsciously 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). Continue reading “Frugal gardening”

A simple washroom

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

+ Have a washing day. Rather than doing little loads all week, it’s a better use of time and resources 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 focus on much more important things, like building train tracks…

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A simple bathroom

Back to basics beautyJust in the same way simplifying the way we eat allows the body to work as nature intended, I find keeping things simple in the bathroom helps to give your skin a bit of breathing space to decompress and get back to its natural rhythms.

There are some basic ways to simplify your beauty routine but sometimes it can be as simple as choosing a lovely old-school bar of soap, using a face washer rather than wipes, and buying your shampoo and conditioner in refillable bottles at the bulk store.

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Making a rental house a home

How to make a rental house nicerSometimes it’s the little finishing touches that make a home feel cosy; like a sheepswool draped over an armchair, a fresh bunch of flowers by the night stand or a few tea light candles above the fireplace.

Sometimes even a very basic bathroom can be made to look so much better with just a small vase of flowers and some fresh linens.

In fact, beyond our furniture, it’s often the little ‘accessories’ that actually determine the feel of a home. Over the years I’ve developed a few favourites… Continue reading “Making a rental house a home”

A sustainable kitchen

Simple home, sustainable homeRewind just 50 years when kitchens consisted of dry goods in jars, bulk meats stored in large freezer chests and imperfect looking fruit & veg – often grown organically, and we begin to realise that Zero Waste is not so much a futuristic idea but more of a homage to a more simple era.

If we take this lens to our kitchens today it’s easy to see the steps to take just by asking ourselves, what would our nan’s kitchen have looked like?

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A sense of community

Outsource to live simplyThe other day I had a spare container and decided to pop into Donnini’s, a pasta shop I had walked past a hundred times on my way to the green grocers without ever stopping in… I’m not sure why not really, habits I suppose. Anyway I was making a pesto sauce and decided to buy a few nests of freshly handmade tagliatelle for us to have as a quick weekend lunch when I got home.

At just over seven dollars to feed our family lunch, I wondered why I had ever attempted to hand make pasta in the past… Why is it that we think the best option (particularly from a health/environmental perspective) is to make everything ourselves from scratch, when there are craftsmen nearby making much better food than we could, that we could easily buy from them in a sustainable manner. Continue reading “A sense of community”

Creating a simple home

simple home design ideas

By living without excess and surrounding yourself with just enough of the right things, you will feel an amazing sense of satisfaction.

– Simple Home, by Mark & Sally Bailey

I think creating the style of home that suits you is a similar journey to curating a wardrobe – working out your most flattering cuts, colour palette, and consistency without following the trends that will quickly date… like a collection of clothes, a thoughtful home is not something you can create all at once, but a journey over time where you happen upon that perfect jacket/pair of jeans/throw blanket.

For me, there are a few elements that make for a simple retreat that is so nice to come home to, where you can hide away from the outside world to cook around a warm stove, listen to soft music, light candles and curl up in your comfiest clothes.

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A simple guide to reusable nappies

A few years ago, back when I was single, I rented a house in Richmond with a girlfriend and convinced her that if we put a door on the formal lounge room we could get a 3rd housemate in to reduce our rent.

As fate would have it a gorgeous vivacious girl named Meredith came to rent that room.

Back then I wasn’t that eco-aware, beyond doing my bit to recycle and turn the lights off, but Mez always had the big Sukin bottles in the shower, and was always a little bit earthy.

Fast forward a decade and it was Mez who I turned to when trying to navigate the possibility of cloth nappies. Here’s the advice that she gave me after years of trial and error:

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