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April 2011
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June 2011

May 2011

Introducing Emu, Flappy, and Duffa Dilly Bong


Daddy Eco was away this weekend, and wasn't there to talk sense into Little Eco and I when we spotted three very cute four week old Pekin Bantams at the Farmer's Market.


We had plans to add a couple of Pekins to our backyard flock (because they are so good with kids)....


..perhaps in a year or so....

Backyard_chickens_pekins_4 point of lay so that we don't end up burdened with a rooster or two....


..after we've made a few changes so that we can safely eat the eggs despite our yard having lead contamination.


..and definitely not in the next six months, as our chaotic morning rush-hour routine is already full enough.


But how could we resist?


Surely, following your heart rather than your head every now and then is good for you?

Thankfully the seller offers to accept back any roosters and it looks like in the next few weeks I'll be making a few changes to our chook pen and backyard.

How about you? Have you ever bought a pet or farm animal on impulse? Are you glad you went with your heart?

Is it possible to live a simple and sustainable life while working full time?

I hope so, because I’m now working full-time.

I recently started a new job. My career till now has focussed largely on threatened species conservation, mostly in rural, rural-residential, and bushland environments. But I’ve become increasingly passionate about urban nature. I believe that a love of nature is what drives us to care about our environment (and alternatively, that a disconnection with nature is what causes people to not care about their impact on the environment). The only way people are going to love and connect with nature is if they encounter her often. Given that most of us live in cities these days, for that connection to happen, we need urban nature.

My new job is in urban conservation. I’ll be facilitating the restoration of an urban creek by helping landholders protect and restore the important creek that runs through their backyards. How cool is that! Helping people protect and restore nature in their very own backyards.

Urban_concrete_creek1 {This isn’t the creek I’ll be working on (this is our local creek), but parts of the creek I’ll be working on sadly look just like this}.

I‘ve always had a bit of a thing for creeks and am extremely excited about the project.
But to be honest, the decision to accept this job was almost heartbreaking. I’m not yet ready to let go of my existing job (particularly given that the new one is only a six month contract) so am currently balancing both jobs, and between the two have no choice but to work full time.

Urban concrete creek 2

I know hope we’ll cope. It’s only for 6 months. Thankfully Little Eco loves her preschool and childcare centre and begs to be the last one to be picked up. Daddy Eco is also more than happy to take on more tasks around the home. But I’m still terrified that the balance, connection, calm, love and creativity that we try to nurture in our home will disappear now that life’s a little busier.

For days after accepting the new job I woke in the early hours of the morning in tears, worrying that I’d made the wrong decision for our family. I’d fret over the time with Little Eco that I’ll miss. I’d admire the day-to-day life of mums like Fiona, Amanda and Ginny, living with seemingly endless time to spend with their children, and with fields and forests for their children to run in, and wonder if this urban-living working-mum gig is truly what I want.

It is. For now.

IMG_4142 {To make-up for lost family time in the afternoons, we’ve been waking at 6am each day. Some days we go for a walk together. Some days we just cuddle in bed for a while. This morning, I found myself sewing a heat bag for Little Eco and then helped her sew a soft doll kit that she got for her birthday}

After one week in the new job I know we made the right decision. We’ve managed to (mostly) maintain the balance, connection, calm, love and creativity that we treasure so much. I’m excited about the work. And so far I’m thinking that yes, it's going to be possible to live a simple and sustainable life while working full-time. I know it’s not going to be easy. I know that sacrifices will have to be made. And I know that this HUGE dose of Mummy guilt is not going to go away any time soon.

How about you? Any of you working full-time or almost full-time? Got any time saving eco tips for me? Or any advice on bonding as a family despite the hours spent apart?

A frugal and eco birthday party

We recently celebrated Little Eco's 4th birthday with an attempt at a good-old-fashioned simple and frugal birthday party.


The party invitations were free. I made them using Picnik and printed them on our home printer.

Little Eco is obsessed with Pass the Parcel. To her, it's the most important part of a party. But there's no way I was going to buy 23 plastic thingies to use as prizes, so instead I printed my favourite free printables on recycled paper, creating....


sewing cards (downloaded from here and here),


paper dolls (from here, found via here), and a few stickers to make up numbers after getting a little tired of cutting.


I wrapped the parcel using old maps rescued from work.




We also had a treasure hunt. The kids decorated their own treasure bags (and party crowns) and then went in search of a few treasures....



Treasures included a few lollies and a pack of home made play-dough.


Little Eco continued last years vintage dress theme, wearing a dress she excitedly discovered at an antique store.


We re-used last year's handmade party bunting and floor cushions (which have also done the rounds of a few parties in between).

Each child also made their own mini pizza, even flattening their own dough. Sadly I don't have any pictures of that delightful chaos.

I decided in the end that there's nothing simple about simple birthday parties. I had my poor parents and sister cutting, baking, mixing and creating till late the night before. It was worth it, but I think next year i'll embrace unstructured play time.

How about you? Do you have any eco or frugal party ideas?

Creating more time for life by ignoring the computer for two weeks

Today was my first day back at work after two weeks recreation leave. We had the best sort of holiday - we stayed at home. I'd planned on using some of my holidays to write a load of blog posts. However, I just couldn't bring myself to sit in front of the computer. Each day I considered it, and each day I resisted.

I typically spend the majority of my work time sitting in front of a computer and I often spend a few hours there again every other evening. There have only been a handful of weeks in the past 15 years where I haven't spent days at the computer. I decided I needed a break. So half way through my holidays I stopped trying to force myself to sit in front of the computer and instead embraced going computer free.

Ignoring the computer created more time for living....

IMG_3379-1 ..time to dye a few easter eggs..

IMG_3399-1 ..time to bake hot cross buns..

IMG_3468 ..time to pot up a few more house plants in thrifted and recycled pots...

IMG_3504 ..time to start a long-planned natural and lead-safe backyard playground (more on this later)..and time to finally start planning our lead-safe urban food garden.

The_courtyard_system_Home_grown_aquaponics ..time to select the aquaponics system I want to save up for...

IMG_3591 ..time to reflect while preparing for Little Eco's preschool birthday celebration...

IMG_3609 ..time to prepare a frugal and eco birthday party for Little Eco and 23 of her friends (more on this later). These paper dolls were one of the pass-the-parcel prizes (from here, found via here)...

IMG_3663 ..time for handmade birthday presents...

IMG_3741 ..time to make a rainbow....

IMG_3964-1 ..and time to watch Daddy Eco grow a beard especially for my birthday (he's planning to shave it off tomorrow. I think it should stay. Agree? Want to help me convince him it needs to stay?).

Ignoring the computer left me feeling more alive, connected and productive than i've felt in a long time. That's a feeling I want to maintain, despite the many hours I typically spend on the computer.

How about you? Do you think you and your family would benefit from ignoring the computer for a few days or weeks? Do you have any hints for reducing the amount of time spent on the computer?