Creating a simple home

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, after splitting up with her boyfriend, who she later reconnected with and married.

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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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 by moving from a big house in the suburbs to a narrow 75 square metre workers cottage just a few streets back from the beach that shared a wall with our neighbours on both sides.

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 foot print.

In a lot of ways the move had been inspired by Canadian environmentalist Graeme Hill who I had been following for years, and today our lives are completely different… all the better for knowing Graeme.

We walk and cycle more often, we’re tighter with our neighbours (given that their front door is literally 5 metres away from ours), Ol can now scoot with reckless abandon as there are few driveways to worry about and there is little traffic around.

On weekends, rather than mowing the lawns and cleaning the house we might take Ol to the beach, or to the park to kick the soccer ball, or down to the pub for an early dinner, where it’s likely we will run into another local family that we know from Ols kindergarten or who we might have met out the front of our tiny house whilst drawing trains on the pavement in chalk.

We have truly traded ‘stuff’ for community and by living in a smaller house we’re out more often, choosing experiences over ownership, and memories over things.

Simple thoughts on usage over ownership

Minimalist inspirationIt’s rare that I get the chance to sit and have a coffee alone, but the other day Sam fell asleep just before I was about to drop into the green grocers and I took the chance to sit for a few moments at the back of Husk in Hawkesburn Village.

I sat there admiring the newly-tiled courtyard, after having walked though the shop listening to the creak of the big wooden floorboards, in awe of the open fireplaces and white washed walls and thought… ‘one day I would love to have a house and a courtyard just like this.’

Why is it though that in order to enjoy something, our first thought is to ‘own’ it? For the cost of a four dollar coffee, I can enjoy it now, and every Saturday for the rest of the year if I wanted to.

I hope that one day we start enjoying things in that moment; appreciating that we already have it to enjoy, because really, isn’t that the key to having it all? Realising that you already do…

A simple guide to baby gear

It’s funny how you can know someone for years and never really connect, yet with others you meet once and become friends for life from that moment on.

My friend Gemma is one of those ones that I got chatting to one night at a party in my mid 20s and before long we were spending every weekend together; gossiping around The Tan on a Saturday morning, heading out together later that night and meeting up again for a roast of a Sunday afternoon.

I had always admired Gemma from afar; she was one of those girls who seemed to have it all figured out. She was beautifully spoken – a trait she gained from her mother and later honed as a journalist, and always seemed to be so well put together wearing ‘outfits’ rather than just clothes.

Anyway, Gem recently confined in me that she and her hubby were expecting their first bub later in the year, and asked about what baby gear she would need, which got me thinking about the true essentials.

You can actually get away with one tenth of the baby kit that so many of the parenting websites would have you believe you need. Here’s a quick list that I put together for Gem. Every baby is different, so if you find that you need extra kit beyond this list, you can always buy it once the bub arrives. Continue reading “A simple guide to baby gear”

A simple weekly shop

Zero Waste Shopping Tips.jpgMy nan used to say that what you spend at the greengrocer, you save at the doctor’s. I have been going to the same green grocer 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 in the dispenser tray.  I think Bob is about 70 odd and he’s told me before about watching kids grow up in his store, in fact 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 when 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 few simple baby tips

Pregnancy is a funny thing. All of a sudden strangers will stop you in the street to talk to you about your pending arrival, particularly women who love to talk about their experiences and pass on often unrequited advice. I would always take it with a grain of salt, as often the advice is more about their own self soothing than about your situation, however one of the best tips I was given when I was pregnant with Ol was to watch the Oprah Baby Language clip on Youtube.

After a while I started to hear the different cries and was able to work him out and get him what he need and it soon became second nature, to the point where I could hear other people’s babies ‘talking’ in the streets. Babies really are clever things and assuming your baby doesn’t have reflux or other difficulties, you can generally keep them pretty content just by observing them closely and listening to what they’re trying to tell you. Continue reading “A few simple baby tips”