Saturday, July 31, 2010

A fabulous book!

First let me just say how much I love libraries! I often come back from a walk at lunchtime near my work with an arm full of books I've borrowed out from the local library up the road (sometimes it can be quite difficult getting them all home since I catch the bus and have to lug them all the way home, very heavy!).

Earlier this week I once again popped up to the library to return a few overdue books (I have so many I forget which are mine and which belong to the library!), and came back with another armfull. This time including a meditteranean vegetarian cookbook (so many yummy dishes to make!), a learn to knit book (I'm struggling to get past the basic crochet stitches so thought knitting might be a good diversion), a herbal book (good to know what things I can plant to create my own garden medicine cabinet) and a book titled "Ten Thousand Acres" by Patrice Newell.

Has anyone read this book, or any others by Patrice?

I hadn't heard of the author before but the front cover struck me.

So I've finished reading the book already! Not hard since the writing is very easy to follow, its not too full of text (has lots of brilliant photography!) and the story is so beautifully written.

Here is how Patrice describes her book on her website:

Ten Thousand Acres – A Love Story goes beyond the angers and arguments of debates on ecology and climate change to the deepest feelings we have for our farm and the wild landscape that embraces it.

It goes beyond the crops and the cattle, high above the olive groves and the old homestead into the old stories hidden in its hundred hills and valleys.

We do not really own our farm, let alone the ancient landscape that rises above it.
Ten Thousand Acres IS a love story – of how the place has come to own us. It is my book of endless discovery of the extraordinary riches that surround us, in the dark of night and the harshest days of drought.
It is about the wild aviary of birds, the boundless zoo of native animals, the abundance of beauty, of trees, plants, grasses and botanic secrets.
I hope to make a contribution to the literature of ‘place’, the new awareness that Australians must have for all the Australia’s within our immense continent.
In words and pictures, my book sets out to reveal the love we must have for the totality of the natural world – the respect for the land that is essential if we (and I mean all of us, ‘all creatures great and small’) are to have a hope of survival.

I fell in love with the writing, and here to prove how beautiful it is, here is my favourite passage:

"On exactly the same day as last year, two frogmouths arrive and take their place side by side on their favourite branch in their preferred ironbark tree. I look up at them. They look down at me.
A few weeks later there are four of them. Two big-eyed babies.
Things are as they should be." pg 93

Looking on her website I see she has another book I'd be interested to read, "The Olive Grove." It's the story of when she moved from the city out to the country, definitely something I'd like to read!

How's your weekend's going?


Friday, July 30, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by soulemama

Have a fabulous weekend!
Along the path to the train this foggy Brisbane morning

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Straw bale!

I have been researching like a nutter! It's what I do when I get onto a great idea or goal. I waste spend all of my time glued to google researching the heck out of a topic that I've just recently discovered. This week that topic is building with straw bales!

Lyndon and I have recently been chatting about living in a shed on our land before we build. That way we can start prepping the veggie patch, chook pen, fruit trees, etc early on and start reaping the benefits quick smart. We would then look at building our house. This would allow us more time to save for the house while living on the property, rather than having to stay living in the city longer while we save. It would also give us the opportunity to get to know our land, the way the sun crosses it, the weather patterns, the layout, before we build so we can incorporate all of that info into the design of the house.

So.... living in a shed. Right. Well I'm no princess and think I could handle living in a shed for a few years. It would have to be insulated though at least. We were then looking at different options for sheds to have on our land and the costs involved. The shed part is easy, making it liveable is the harder part. We then thought 'why not build the shed out of straw bale!?' That would give us practise before we build our house out of straw bale, and would leave us with a great little art/craft studio/guest retreat once we've built the house. It may be a little bit more expensive but will be much more usable and blend in with surrounds a lot more.

This is the basic design we found on the web that we think would suit:

Doesn't that look sweet! So cute! We'd extend the living area bit some more enough for 2 lounges and a small 2 person dining table. We were thinking the total dimensions would be about 10x7m and a bit taller to allow for the loft bedroom.

There are some great examples of Australian strawbale homes on the web and I have been excitedly trawling through all of their websites and blogs.

A lot of people building straw bale houses offer for people to go and help out, giving them experience in the process. I thnk this is a great idea and would certainly look at doing this to learn the trade!

I'd like to know if any of you have had experiences, or know of anyone else that has, with building with strawbales. I'd love to hear your tales, the good, bad and ugly!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Visit to the country

This past weekend we spent a lovely weekend visit my fiance's parents up at Pomona, in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The whole weekend was overcast and slightly rainy, which was just lovely.

After the hour and a half drive from the smoggy, busy city after work, luckily only stuck in coast-bound traffic for a little while, we made it to the quiet ands serene countryside. We met up with the parents-in-law at the Cooroy RSL for dinner. It took me back to when I was growing up and we would join the locals at the local country pub for dinnner each weekend.  Surprisingly the music was really LOUD! It was a 50's band playing the ol' faves, but it was just too damn loud, very unexpected for the patronage at the RSL!

One of the best parts of visiting Lyndon's parents is the guest bed, it's the comfiest bed we've ever slept in! And we take full advantage of it, usually sleeping in until 8 or 9 in the morning!

On the Saturday we ventured out to the Eumundi Markets. These markets are so full of produce, craft, baking, furniture, buskers, hippies, you name it! and its set up in such a way that it's VERY easy to get yourself lost and walking past the same stalls over and over again! I became quite friendly with a few stallies!

I restrained myself and didn't end up buying anything from the markets, except for a yummy lentil and vegetable roll. I'm surprising myself with how well I'm going with not spending money willy-nilly!

After the markets we met up with Lyndon's godmother who he hadn't seen in over 10 years. What a breathe of fresh air she was! She's just written an autobiography and is described by her publishers as a "passionate gypsy wanderer"! Check out her bio and book here. If you get a chance grab a copy of her book and have a read, you will not regret it. It's a great story about the adventures she has had all over Australia. We were speaking to her about our plans for the future and she was so motivating in her encouragement of it all. She's convinced us to live in a shed when we get our property to get a feel for the land first! Sounds perfect to me!

We then popped into the local nursery which was very cute! It's set up like a little cottage garden. Again no purchases, just some lovely scenery.

After this very eventful day we headed back to 'The Farm' as we affectionately call it, and decided to take a walk up to the lookout. The property backs onto the Noosa Trail Network which is a bunch of hinterland trails through some great countryside. We didn't go too far to get this great view of the sunset over Pinbarren mountain:

On the Sunday, we spent the first part of the day walking around the property checking out the new work that Lyndon's parents have had done to it. A lot of new work! It's an extremely hilly 10acres so it was quite a workout. We then lit a burn pile but it didn't last long because of the rain.

Just before lunch we headed out to the famous "King of the Mountain" festival in Pomona. It's a yearly event where competitors run up the 4.5km, almost vertical Mt Cooroora, then back down again. Crazy if you ask me, but the festivities that take place in Pomona on the day where lots of fun.

Then we headed back to Brissie. Sigh.

How was your weekends?

:) Kim

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I wanted to write a post to thank all of you bloggers out there!

Having just started my own blog here, I know sometimes it can be challenging writing posts that are witty, informative and interesting every few days and sometimes, everyday! So I wanted to thank each and every one of you for sharing your advice, wisdom and goings-on to everyone in the blog world.

Your efforts have given me HOURS of enjoyment and taught me tricks of the trade that have helped me on my own path to living more simply and enjoying the little things in life.

Everyone reading this please venture over to the blogs on my blogroll to the right of my page and check out the inspiring bloggers who keep me entertained daily, you won't regret it! (well you might when you realise hours have passed and you have done nothing on your to-do list!)


Friday, July 23, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by soulemama

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Learning to live frugally

Is quite a challenge! I'm not going to lie to you and fluff over it making frugal living out to be really easy to do. I'm very early into this journey towards living more simply and I want to be as honest as possible, so a) I can read back on this blog sometime in the future and remember what it was like in the beginning, and b) so anyone else reading this blog gets to see the journey from my perspective truthfully.

In the past few months I have been reading a lot of books and websites on living more simply and frugally. The reason a lot of them suggest we do this is to do our bit towards saving the Earth. This has lead me to be a bit more passionate about environmental issues recently. Now things like, seeing someone using disposable cups and plates or driving just down the road, really irks me! What a change that has been in me. It used to be me doing those things, not that long ago!

It goes to show that it doesn't take long to change your ways once you change your mindset. Changing your mindset is the biggest change you can make and always the first. Once I discovered the path I wanted to take with my life, I found it really easy to find out lots of websites, courses and books on the topics, I connected with people that had walked the same path and had the same ideas, I was able to decide on some goals and am able to use those resources to decide how I am going to achieve them. But it was that initial decision to not just give in to my every whim, not 'treat' myself because I was feeling a bit low or because I got paid or just because it was the end of the working week that was difficult!

Living frugally and simply is a goal of mine to lessen the impact I have on this Earth, to connect more with nature and to live a life more meaningful to me.

I have been taking small steps to live more efficiently and aware. I have chosen to use public transport to enable me to save momey, car emissions, and to reconnect with nature as I walk the 40 mins to the train station in the morning. It's such a simple act but has had so many benefits. I have also chosen to not buy any new clothes for (at least) 6 months, to learn to make my own green cleaners, to grow as much of my food as I can, to lessen my electricity use, to learn the lost arts of crocheting and sewing, which will enable me to make my own clothes and create gifts. These things I have begun to do while still living in my near-city unit, with no lawn, while still working a 9-5 job and without changing too much to be a drain on my energy. It's the little things that you make a habit that I think have the biggest impact. The things that you would normally do everyday without thinking. So once you have decided that you are willing to change, the motivation kicks in and enables you to make these small changes.

I work close to the city where the streets are lined with clothes shops, cafe's, trinket stores, supermarkets, and generally places where I would normally spend a large proportion of my money. The temptation is definitely there to just go into a shop and see what they have and usually walk out with some junk that I didn't need. But really what is the pont of that? That's just me being another mindless consumer! It's part of the culture. These shops wouldn't be there if people didn't go into them and buy STUFF.

So I have found that making the decision to be frugal is quite hard, making the initial changes aren't so hard because you have the motivation, but when you are then constantly bombarded with the consumer culture it is quite difficult to maintain those small actions. I sometimes catch myself looking at the racks of clothes from the shops lining the streets on the walk from work to the train station and thinking "oh they're only $10, I can afford that." It is a hard task to keep on track but I have found that being almost 'obsessed' with my goals, by going over them constantly and looking at more ways I can live frugally, really helps to keep those goals in the forefront of my mind and, so far, keep me on track.

Let me know what you do to keep on track. I'd love to know what methods you use.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A little unnecessary.....


So sorry I feel like I have been gone for ages! I am super busy at the moment with work, I'll tell you about that in a second.

First though I want to show you some pictures.

I walk past this house that's being built on my morning walk to the train station, and I am constantly astonished by it.

Its the house on the left. Look at the size of it! Seriously how unnecessary!
So I have a few reasons why I would never have a house built like this one

  1. Imagine how many resources are needed to build that huge new house! I think we should start looking at ways to reduce our impact on the earth not look for ways to exploit it even more.
  2. Look at how much space is between the house and the fence on the right, I hope they don't have kids - there's just no yard at all! I love my open spaces
  3. Just think how expensive it would be! I do not want to have to work in the workforce any longer than absolutely necessary and the mortgage for this would be huge!
  4. I'd get lost! It is that big that everyone in a large family could have their own bedroom AND living room! Now I don't see why it is necessary to have that much room. If you can't stand hanging out with your partner/family maybe turning off the TV and reconnecting with each other might help?
Wow aren't I on a rant today! I don't usually get so passionate about things, but that house just seems so unnecessary.

Let's look at it again

Phew ok I've got that off my chest!

So, as I said, work is getting very busy at the moment, and I feel like I'm starting to abandon my blog which I do not like at all! So I am going to have to get a bit more organised and set some time aside each day to write my post and catch up on everyone else's (actually this last part is mainly why I run out of time to write my own posts!).

So my goal form now on for this blog is to post at least every second day! Let's see how that goes.

If you want to see where I work and why I'm so busy, check us out here!


Friday, July 16, 2010

Garden Update

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't grow your own vegies while living in a unit. Check out how my balcony gardening is going.

Cherry tomato's about to pop! This plant has gone crazy and grown about 60cm in the past month (is that normal?!). There are so many baby tomato's coming up like these, can't wait for my first harvest!

2 lemons coming up on the dwarf lemon tree. We nearly lost this tree due to aphids and ants (!) but it's bounced back after some yumming organic pesticide and worm wee!

Hehe do you see the little fella down the bottom of the pot, that's my garden worm! A friend (who is also a keen gardener; we share our produce at work!) went to the Nambour Garden Expo last weekend and bought me a little present for my garden! So Harris (that's his name) sits in my Moreton Bay Fig pot and greets me every time I come up the stairs, very cute!

Even though I live in a unit and have no yard to myself, I have stolen a small piece of the common land that the 5 units in my block share, for a compost bin. This little patch of grass faces only our unit so if it does get a little smelly, it shouldn't annoy the neighbours too much.

In addition to the plants pictured, I have a strawberry plant and lettuce in hanging baskets, basil, bush tomato and a lime tree potted on my balconies and I'm hoping to harvest quite a bit in the coming months so keep an eye out for more pictures.

And just to keep the pictures going I have some gorgeous pictures of trees (I love trees!) that my partners mum emailed through to us recently.


Picnic anyone?

This is what my Moreton Bay Fig tree will look like about 30 years after I plant it out of the pot on my balcony! That's why I currently call it a bonsai!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My very first blog award!

Well I feel as though I'm a real 'blogger' now!

Stephanie from Green's Going Green has awarded me my very first blog award! The "A Blog with Substance" award. I feel very honoured to receive an award this early in to my blogging adventure and am SOOO glad someone feels it 'has substance'!

Please head over and have a look at Stephanie's blog It's so fabulous to read her inspiring blog of getting back to the basics and enjoying the simple things in life, and she does it WITH A FAMILY! I definately look at Stephanie as a role model for how I want to live my life.

I am feeling the blog-love going around at the moment, and love the 'community' feel of blogging. I didn't really expect blogging to be like this, more just like a journal where you write your thoughts and they are kept to look back on later. But I have found the back and forward dialogue between everyone is very inspiring I've learnt and been motivated to do so much more than initially planned through the advice and other posts of those bloogers I follow.

So The Rules for Acceptance of this Award are:
  • thank the blogger who bestowed the Award on you. Thank you Stephanie!!!
  • sum up your blogging experience, philosophy and motivation in five (5) words - simple living / quietness / sustainability / motivating / inspiration
  • pass the Award on to 10 deserving bloggers
Here's my list of 10 deserving bloggers. Please go check them out and discover why I think they're so great and on my daily list of reading!

All Things Quilty
By Way of the Moon
Frolics from Scratch
Living the Simple Life
Plain and Joyful Living
Sewing the Seeds of Change
small things
Towards Sustainability

Oh wow that was hard, limiting that to 10! Please go and check out their wonderful blogs, trust me you will get so intrigues by their blogs you will lose track of time! I have lost many hours in the midst of these wonderful blogs.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Lots n lots n lots o' LEMONS!

This past weekend was absolutely FULL of cooking and baking. I received a huge bucket of Bush Lemons (about 50 lemons in total!) and about 12 limes from Freecycle (it's a bit like ebay, but where everything is free). You can see the huge pile of them below in the picture (on the way to get the lemons I did get sidetracked a little and visited a garage sale and an op shop and picked up the books, kitchen gadgets and patterns all for $3 BARGAIN!)

So when I got home with my bounty I had a thousand things I wanted to make with it all.

So far I have made:
  • lemonade (of course!)
  • lemon curd (for on toast and in tart fillings - that's to come)
  • lemon and lime cordial
  • lemon cake, where you pour a lemon syrup over the cooked cake, makes it sooo moist! Here's the recipe
  • Lemon and basil risotto YUM!
  • Fixed my previous attempt at orange and grapefruit jam, by adding the pectin from soaked lemon seeds, lime juice and rind, passionfruit and apple. Now it tastes much better and isn't overpowered by the grapefruit taste.
But I still have about 15 lemons and 10 limes left.  So I'm thinking about a lemon and lime marmalade (MORE JAM!), maybe a sorbet, and then probably just freezing the rest of the juice for use in future cordials and lemonade.

So I have been a little carried away this past weekend, but don't worry I haven't forgotten about my pledge I made for the new financial year.

So just to update on where I'm at with those pledges
  • Not to buy any new clothes - so far so good, I haven't even tempted myself by going to any shopping centres. Actually come to think of it, I haven't gone to any shopping centres, except for grocery shopping once a fortnight, for months!
  • Master baking bread and making my own bread starter - ok this one I haven't even looked at yet, BUT I have started growing my own ginger beer plant! It's so simple. I'm following the instructions on Rhonda's down to earth blog.
  • To keep my plants alive and make my own fertiliser and pesticide - plants are still alive and I just saw that the cherry tomato tree I bought a few weeks ago has it's first little tomatoes appearing! So exciting! I did a little dance on my balcony when I saw them (3 in total!! tomatoes that is not dances). Must be that worm wee fertiliser I'm using on them. I have also almost made my homemade white oil with oil, detergent and water (I say almost because the oil is in the sparayer and that's as far as I've gone!)
  • Make my own dishcloths - haven't started this yet, but our current store-bought dishcloth is looking pretty manky at the moment so it is spurring me on to get started on making them, hopefully by next week!
  • Make my own liquid dishwashing detergent - nope haven't even looked at this one yet
  • Stick to my new budget - well I'm happy to report that this fortnight is almost oer and I have stuck to my new budget to the letter (or number I guess!). It's great to see the balance in the savings account going up and up and up!
Well that was my weekend roundup. What did you get up to? I'd love to hear if you got up to anything new relating to living simply or learning new skills.

Have a great day!


Thursday, July 8, 2010


Stop watching television, now. Just do it as an experiment. Give yourself a week of no TV and see how your life changes.

I think this was my first step to living more simply that had a huge difference on my life. It lead me to talk more to partner, give myself more 'me' time, have time to learn how to crochet, read books (about everything!), rediscover the joy of baking, get enough sleep, use less electricity, relax more, appreciate silence, learn new board games, have time to write a blog! The list goes on, but you can see where I'm going can't you?

My partner and I stopped watching TV about 6 months ago and really re-connected with ourselves and each other. We then fell back into the trap of coming home from work and turning on the box, unsurprisingly we started to drift apart from each other a little during this time. About a month ago we once ago went back to either having music on in the background in the evenings, or just silence, and we have really reconnected again because we've had to talk to each other again. And I'm not just talking about "How was your day honey?", "Yeah my day was crap as well", etc talk. You will have those converstions in the first few days of not having the TV to distract you because it takes a bit to recreate that connection with your partner where you talk about the deep, deep stuff that you just can't in the ad break of a sitcom.

I've also felt that I have re-connected with myself more as well. The down-time we have in the evenings really allows for more personal reflection on where we are in life, where we want to be and how we are feeling about it all. I also feel much more rested because my mind has quietened and hasn't had the stimulation that TV forces on it. And I love that I have found a few more hours in my day where I can actually be productive - even if that is sitting in bed crocheting, cup of tea by the bedside, bliss!

So just try it, like I said, as an experiment. I would love to hear your experiences!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Budget

Yesterday I mentioned that I had recently re-vamped my budget and have got it to a stage that I am saving $600 a fortnight.

I wanted to detail my budget here (at the beginning of my blogging and living simply journey) and the recent changes I have made to net me that $600 a fortnight.

I will list my fortnightly (because that's how often I get paid from my job) budget items and then detail the changes that I have made:

  • Salary - $1361
    • can't do much about changing that at the moment, although I am only on a contract until November so I am starting to get motivated to try to secure a job well in advance hopefully at around the same salary so that I have no/very little down time between jobs. But I will have a few weeks worth of annual leave that will be paid out to me at the end of my contract, so that's a bit of a back up but I would rather save that than spend it.
  • Rental income - $647
    • I was involved in an accident when I was young and received a payout for my injuries. I very sensibly (for a 21 year old!) used that money as a big chunk of a deposit for a house. This place is my investment property though, because it works out cheaper for me to rent a unit with my partner paying half the rent closer to the city than living in my 3 bedroom house that would take me over an hour to get to work.

  • Rent - $270
    • As you've seen in a previous post I live with my fiance in a small 2 bedroom apartment with no yard and only a few balconies. We pay below the average for rentals in our area (the owner lives overseas so I don't think he realises he could be charging more, but great for us!) and it suits us at the moment. However I am yearning for some yard to garden in. I grew up in the country so was used to living with plenty of land surrounding the house. We are currently on the look out for house rentals in our area for not much more than what we're paying, just not happening at the moment.
  • Mortgage - $615
    • This is for the above mentioned investment property. I still have a bit to pay of this house before it's officially mine.
  • House & Contents Insurance - $30
    • This covers my house insurance for my investment property and contents insurance at the rental. This is one of the budget items that I have recently decreased. I re-evaluated the amounts I had my house and contents insured for and then shopped around for better priced insurance. I'm paying almost half of what I was paying! And that's just from making a few phone calls, easy money!
  • Car Insurance - $18
    • I have a small Holden Barina that I use only once or twice on the weekends as I catch public transport to work. I have started using one of those insurance companies that give you cheaper premiums if you don't drive your car much. I have thought about selling my car but that would leave us with no car and with both sets of parents living over an hour drive away it's something I've decided that we need to hold on to, plus fortnightly grocery shopping would be hell if we had to carry it all on the bus!
  • Car registration - $13*
    • One of those necessary evils that I would be able to do without if I sold my car. Unfortunately this is a non-negotiable.
  • Health Insurance - $17
    • I only have singles extra's cover as I (am supposed to) wear prescription glasses and I still have back pain from the accident I mentioned above when I was young, so I do get a bit of use out of the health insurance. However I was speaking to my sister, who's a dental assistant, and she said that some of her patients put the money they would have otherwise spent on health insurance into a seperate account for any health related expenses. That way you get full use out of all of the money rather than paying premiums that you may not use. I thought this was a pretty good idea but would build up that fund first before cancelling the health insurance. In Australia we have a national health system called Medicare, which is funded by our taxes and ensures free public hospital care and reduced GP fees, so I don't need any general health insurance. In Queensland, our ambulance cover is also provided for by the government and paid for in our utilities.
  • Internet - $5
    • That is ridiculously low isn't it! I am on a 'cap' plan where I pay $19.95/month for a 2GB download limit on my wireless broadband. I split this expense with my partner. I have just reduced this from a 5GB plan because we were never using over 1.5GB.
  • Mobile Phone - $25
    • Because I don't need a landline phone I solely use my mobile phone for all calls and sms. The 'cap' plan I am on allows me to spend $500 worth a month and only pay $49.95 a month. I have only gone over the $500 limit when I went overseas and didn't realise I was paying for receiving calls and text messages!
  • Rates - $84*
    • Rates are property taxes that are paid to our local governments and include water expenses. I only pay rates on my house that I own as the owner of our rental propoerty pays the rates for our unit. It is a little risky being responsible for the water charges of my tenants but there is a clause in their contract that if they use over the 'average' amount for our local area they pay the excess charges. They're great tenants though and have never gone over the average.
  • Electricity - $20*
    • This is another expense that we have just recently shopped around for a better deal. We will save approximately $150 a year with this new supplier plus my partner has a permanent disability meaning we get an extra $215 off our electricity a year. We have also started being very vigilant about our electricity use at home. I have actually printed and laminated signs that I have stuck next to every electrical outlet in the house that has a reminder to turn the light or appliance off after use! We have also vowed not to use any electric blankets or heaters this winter. We're half way through winter and so far so good! So hopefully our usage will drop next quarter resulting in further cost savings.
  • Car Breakdown Service - $3*
    • I am a little ditzy at times and quite often lock my keys in the car or run the battery dead by leaving my lights on, so I definitely get my moneys worth when this organisation comes and saves me when I'm stranded for free because of my membership.
  • Fuel - $30*
    • Because I only use my car once or twice a weekend and occasionally a visit to the parents I do not use much fuel and get by on 1 tank a month, which costs around $60 a month.
  • Groceries - $50*
    • My partner and I have shopping down to a fine art. As an example last Friday we did our whole shopping in about 25 minutes, that's going to 2 different stores also! We very rarely spend over the $100 ($50 each). I think this is partly due to being vegetarian so we don't buy any meat and my partner is lactose intolerant so we don't buy cheese (we still get milk though). Eventually we'd like to investigate Community Shared Agriculture (CSA's) where you buy in a co-op direct from the local farmers.
  • Public transport - $60*
    • Our public transport fees have just gone up, however I love my 40minute walk through our nearby bushland reserve to the train station and not sitting in traffic on the way to and from work. It is much more relaxing and I de-stress from work before I get home so I can be fully present with my partner with the little time we have in the evenings together. After my contract finishes in October with my current employer I will look at finding a job within the surrounding suburbs to save on that public transport expense.
  • Spending money - $100*
    • $100 a fortnight for spending money is quite a lot! But since starting this path to living simply I have been using that money up buying some necessary items, such as plants, potting mix, remnant fabric, knitting and crocheting equipment, etc.

See I wasn't lying. My budget says that I can save $600 a fortnight, let's just see if i can actually STICK to the budget and save $7200 by the end of December. I also have a little left over from all that, about $60 a fortnight if you did the sums, so I will start putting that and anything else I don't use up towards an emergency fund.

You may notice I don't have any credit card or personal loan repayments in there. That's because I have just finished paying them both of last fortnight!! I was so thrilled and of course, did a little dance! I plan on not using my credit card unless I buy something online or there is a real emergency (as I don't have an emergency fund just yet).

Also you will see the little * next to some items. I withdraw this money from my bank account and keep the money for grocery, public transport, fuel and spending money in my purse so that I do not need to use my debit card. The other items with * next to them are expenses that are only paid every few months or maybe even once a year, so instead of letting them accumulate in my bank account (where I have been known to spend it because it 'look's like I still have money in my account at the end of the fortnight), I use something I learnt from Rhonda's down to earth blog and use the envelope system and let them accumulate in little envelopes away from my everyday access.

Well that is my VERY detailed budget. I hope that you are able to get something out of all my rambling. Let me know your little tips for saving money also, I'd love to hear them!


Monday, July 5, 2010

My new financial year pledge

I've finally slowed down and focused myself enough to work out my pledge for the next 6 months, being prompted by Sam's pledge for the new financial year here in Australia (funny how I'm actually at work when I choose to slow down and focus on something that isn't work! Hehe).

So here it is. My pledges for the 6 months to help lead me down my path to living simply.

  1. I pledge, along with Sam, to not purchase any new clothes. I don't have a sewing machine nor know how to sew too well just yet, so I will limit my clothes purchases to only second-hand clothes from thrift shops, etc (except knickers of course, but I should be good for these for the next few months)
  2. I pledge to master the perfect loaf of bread, that is good enough that I am happy to replace store-bought bread with it and to also make my own bread starter. I've seen this on quite a few blogs and it doesn't look too difficult at all, it just takes a little while.
  3. I pledge to keep all of my current plants alive! and to make my own organic fertiliser and pesticides. Fingers crossed this doesn't ruin my pledge and actually kill the plants!
  4. I pledge, to join Sam, in making my own dishcloths. I will look at crocheting mine, whereas Sam will be knitting hers. I saw a great post (I can't for the life of me find it to link to!) about using twine to crochet dishcloths that are a bit more gritty and good for pots and pans.
  5. I pledge to keep trying to make my own dishwashing liquid that doesn't glob up and add more oil to my sink than the dishes do! I've seen a few recipes online but they all include glycerine, and glycerine is really expensive where I've seen it so it's not cost effective at all. Please, please, please tell me where you get your glycerine from or if you have a dishwashing liquid recipe that doesn't use it.
  6. I pledge to stick to my newly-edited budget, which will net me savings of $7200 by the end of December. I will post about my budget changes shortly, so stay tuned if you'd like to see how I can manage to save $600 a fortnight!
Well those are my pledges for this coming 6 months of the new financial year. I'm looking forward to hearing about your pledges and also hearing your comments about what I hope to achieve. It will be interesting to look back in 6 months and see how far I have come in achieving those pledges.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

What a weekend!

Whoa I had a huge weekend! Well huge in the way that I learnt and did SOO much that's leading me down that 'path to living simply.'

Notice the word 'path' in my blog title? To me it is as much about the path as it is about the destination. The destination is fabulous to think about - perched in my rocking chair next to my hubby-to-be, looking out from out verandah-surrounded self-sufficient straw bale house out into a landscape where I can see the natural Aussie bush, a few chickens chasing each other around the yard, a high-yielding vegie patch and orchard that supply us with all of our fruit, vegies herbs and nuts (maybe), and the bellow of our dairy cow that brings us precious milk, oh with a cuppa in hand of course!

But back to the path. I am having so much fun learning all of these new skills that have been lost to our generation, especially when I have successes.

Let me tell you about my weekend.

On Thursday I received a shoe box FULL of yarn with a crochet needle from a lady on freecycle. Have you heard about freecycle? If not, you really need to! It's fabulous. It's really big in the States but there are local goups in my area, and I believe other cities in Aus. It's a bit like Ebay, except that everything has to be free. So you can post anything that you have that you want to give away rather than throwing it out and adding it to landfill, or you can post up items that you want and if anyone has them and wants to give them to you they will reply to you. So a while ago when I started making jam I posted that I wanted some jars. Well now I have a huge plastic box full of them! Then last week I posted that I'd like some yarn if anyone has any spare (don't worry I've given away a lot as well! It's been great for decluttering) and a very friendly lady sent me a box full of very soft and beautiful yarn. I have been using Pip's online crocheting tutorial to learn how to crochet. I am currently up to  lesson 7 (the lessons after lesson 1 are on the right hand side of Pip's blog about half way down the page.
Check it out so far:

It's actually starting to look like a granny square! I'm going to crochet a yellow and white blanket for my sister who has just found out she's expecting. I'm going to be an aunty!! Sooo excited!

So after my crocheting lessons on Friday night (picture this: sitting in bed with laptop, cup of tea, Lyndon's snoring next to me and the cat we were looking after keeps trying to eat my yarn!), we packed up my tiny Barina and headed out to my parent's property about an hour away. They have 40acres way out in the boonies so it was nice to escape the city for a few days. I will let you know what we packed the car with in a sec. First though, on the Saturday mum taught me how to sew. Another one of my homesteading skills I was keen to master. Ok so I am FAR from mastering sewing but it was good to get a hang of the basics. I used a pattern of a singlet that mum had already laying around (warning: it's a little naff and not high on the style side, but good to practise on). Check out my journey in pictures:

Mum getting the sewing machine ready for the novice and me unpinning the fabric from the pattern

Trying not to mess up the paper patterns or mix up the front and back fabric pieces for the singlet

Mum showing me the ropes

Trying to pin on the facing (is that what it was called, I've forgotten already!)

 Ok so this first singlet MAY be a little dodgy!

Gees I'm not paying any attention to where my fingers are in relation to that little stabbing needle!

Adding a little more naff-ness to the singlet and practising my zigzag

 Finished product! (Poser? Me? No not at all)

So that was my sewing lesson with my mum. It was great fun! We drank tea (I drink a lot of tea you may notice, nana-hood here I come!), chatted about my sister who just found out she was expecting a baby, and just fooled around! We had a few little snips at each but other than that we had a ball!

You would think that was enough for one weekend, but no we were up at 4am this morning to go to the local flea market out near my parents house. The temperature gauge on my car was saying 0.5 degrees celsius, that's damn cold! I remember it being that in PARIS in WINTER when we went last year. Anyway thermals and ugg boots on, thermos full of coffee and a car chock-a-block FULL of stuff that we had fished out of our garage and we had arrived and set up at the markets by 6am.

Check out our bargains!

Well I am happy to report that we sold most of it (after reducing everything to $1, then to 50c in the last half an hour) and made a tidy profit of $150 for our troubles. Yes it's not much and actually works out to be only $8.80/hour for each of us for all the time invested into it, BUT we did declutter our unit a lot! I can actually fit my car in the garage. It's such a great feeling knowing we aren't just throwing it all oout either. I've actually done that before, terrible I know!

Soo that was my weekend, and why I hadn't blogged earlier. Although I really need to consider blogging more often so that these posts aren't so long! Sorry if they are really tedious to read because they're so long.

Oh and something else that happened this weekend. My first seed sprouting! I only discovered it about an hour ago. We have avocado, passionfruit and cumquat seeds in pots on our kitchen windowsill and after a few weeks the cumquat seed has actually sprouted!! Woohoo! I did a little dance in the kitchen when I saw it. Sorry I don't have a picture of it my camera died this morning at the flea market (I don't think it likes to the cold either!)

You may remember me talking about Sam's New Financial Year pledge, and that I was going to join her in a pledge? Well my busy weekend has prevented me from sitting down and actually writing something down, so I am off to do that now and will post it tomorrow. Stay tuned and join us if you would like.

What did you get up to on the weekend? Hopefully a little more relaxing than mine!

xx Kim

Friday, July 2, 2010

In the kitchen...

Hello hello

The last week I have been busy, busy in our little kithcen practising baking and making jams. I've felt like a right housewife and having a ball!

I have been doing lots more also, like checking out other people's blogs (I love doing that, especially at work, shhh!), thinking about the pedge I will make for this new (financial) year (have a look at Sam's here, we are going to encourage each other over the next 6 months), working of course, and getting ready to go to the flea market this Sunday!!! I am so excited to clear out all of our stuff, it's going to feel great driving home afterwards with (hopefully) an empty car boot. I'll update you about the flea market next week with lots of photos (warning: they won't be pretty, we have to be up at 4am!)

So here are some of my finished products:

My first bread baking experience turned out pretty well. I don't know how we will go replacing the bread we get from the shops, we like this bread so much we go through it much more quickly!! The aroma's that filled the house while I was baking the bread were so mouthwatering too, this is my second favourite thing about it. I've seen on a few blogs about making your own yeast, I definitely want to try that as it looks pretty easy and will help me in maximising things I can produce myself.

The jam above the bread is my first jam made by myself! Everyday I walk home from work I pass the neighbours FULL cumquat tree with all the fruit just going to waste. So the other weekend I went up to ask them if they minded if I took some to make some jam. I knocked and knocked on their door for about 5 minutes but no one answered, so what did I do? I very sneakily grabbed a whole bunch and creeped home! I didn't take too many that's why there's only about half a jar. I have this great old preserving book that I picked up from the Lifeline Bookfest the other week (absolutely loved the Bookfest, we got over $100 worth of books, and thats a lot because they were soo cheap!) and copied the recipe very diligently. Next time though I won't cook the jam for so long because it's pretty hard/set.

I baked this mandarin cake after seeing it on Rhonda's down to earth blog here. So so easy to make. I was going to make the orange cake that Rhonda made but this is why I couldn't:

Eww gross I know, and I only had two mandarins left but they did the job wonderfully! I have never really needed a food processor before. Weird I know but I have made do with our blender or beaters. But with this recipe I really needed the processer to mix up all of the mandarin into a mushy mess so I could mix in the flour, etc. So I had to think a bit laterally. First I tried the old faithful blender. But all of the mandarin just stuck to the outside in big clumps, barely processed at all, just out of reach of the thrashing metal blades. I was pretty stumped after that and was searching in my cupboard knowing a food processer would be oh so handy right then. Then I stumbled across my large Breville juicer that was hiding in the back of my cupboard (don't use it nearly as much as I should, when I have fruit trees it will be a different story!). And bingo, problem solved! I fed the mandarins through the juicer and then put all of the fleshy parts (that are normally thrown out when you juice) and the juice that came out of the spout into a mixing bowl and added the other ingrediants.

This is how it turned out. I love the little face that formed when I started putting icing on, I just had to take a photo!

While my mandarin cake was cooking, I started on a batch of orange marmalade. Because it was only an after thought and this was a Sunday I hadn't soaked the skin and seeds in water over night to release the pectin. I have now realised I just need to follow recipes and not get so cocky thinking I know what I'm doing. Even after cutting up the rind and adding it and the seeds to my cheesecloth and have it cook with the flesh of the orange and grapefruit for over an hour the result was more of a syrup than a marmalade, because of the lack of pectin released I'm assuming. So I continued to jar it up and when it cooled I tasted it and it was terrible! The grapefruit flavour had taken over the entire jam/syrup and it was extremely tart. I've left it sitting in jars on my bench for a week now thinking about what to do with it. I am now thinking I will re-heat it all back up and add in some apple and passionfruit for sweetness, and some SOAKED orange rind and seeds for the pectin to help it set a bit more. Hopefully I can save it. I will update you on how it turns out.

Here are my finished products. Look at all that jam I have to 'fix'! You can tell I was overly eager to get the icing on while the cake was still a bit warm, it ran all over the sides of the cake and underneath it. It still tasted yummy though!

So some lessons learned from this baking experience:
  • Just follow the recipe - no Kim you don't know what you're doing, stop being so stubborn and just follow that darn recipe!
  • Grapefruit is gross. Period.
  • To make the cake cool down more quickly (so you can get ice it and eat it more quickly) put it in the freezer for a little while !! Hehe
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