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January 2012
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March 2012

February 2012

Outdoor urban adventure

Planning our next urban adventure

We often go on an outdoor adventure or two on the weekends. But during the week I'm full of excuses. We can go days without spending more than a few moments outdoors.

I've decided to reinstate a daily green hour.

In his book 'The Green Hour', Todd Christopher suggests that the nature deficit disorder that many children experience today can be alleviated by reclaiming a ‘green hour’ a day for play and discovery in the natural world.

‘A green hour is simply a time for families to unplug, unwind, and recharge as they reconnect to the natural world – and to each other’. - Todd Christopher

To get the ball rolling we're planning another urban adventure

60 green spaces in 60 weekdays

Using Google Maps I've identified 60 green spaces within our neighbourhood. We're going to try and visit each of these green spaces over the next three months. Each weekday afternoon either Daddy Eco or I will take Little Eco to one of these spaces.

Playground fun on day 1 of our urban adventure

We won't have a plan for what we'll do once we get there. We'll leave that up to Little Eco. We're going to embrace unstructured outdoor play. Some spaces have a creek, or bushland, or a playground, whereas others are little more than an oval or playground.

Sharing a moment with a tree.

We started our urban adventure a few days ago. Little Eco is enjoying selecting a new 'dot' to explore each day. 

Collecting cicadas on day 1 of our urban adventure

How to plan your own urban adventure

You can create your own map of green spaces like ours above using Google Maps. Bring your neighbourhood up on the map and then click on 'My Places' and then 'Create Map'. Give your map a name and you can then start adding 'placemarks' by clicking on the little blue placemark symbol and then clicking on a green space. I mapped almost every public green space within a few km of our neighbourhood.

Your approach to planning an urban adventure can also be less technical. Last time I planned an urban adventure I simply photocopied two pages from our street directory and highlighted all the parks and green spaces.

Do your children spend much time outdoors on weekdays? Are you interested in planning your own urban adventure?


Two seasonal summer soup recipes to use up zucchini and tomatoes

Have you been taking advantage of the abundant tomatoes and zucchini at this time of year?

Here's two of my favourite summer seasonal soup recipes from the archives:

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Fresh tomato and basil sunshine soup.

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Pea, potato & zucchini soup

What is your favourite way to use tomatoes and zucchini?

I was over at Childhood 101 yesterday writing about active learning through messy play.


Slow Living Diary {January 2012}

The sort of information I share in this blog is different to what I might share if I was chatting to a friend over a cuppa. I’d probably tell them about the delicious batch of lemon balm tea I made and how I had to throw it out because it went mouldy, or the crazy challenge I’ve signed up for.

Reading some of the entries in Christine’s monthly diary ‘Slow Living Month by Month’, I got the sense that the information being shared was cuppa fodder. I couldn’t help but join in.

So grab a cuppa and real along. This is my January in a nut shell.

{Nourish}

Brown rice vegie bake

It’s been a busy month so I’ve resorted to regular favourite meals, including lentil loaf, dahl, and brown rice vege bake (shown above). To save on cooking time I’ve been cooking in bulk and we eat the same meal for few a days, varying the vegetable side dish. It's boring but reduces cooking and washing up time.

{Prepare}

Bargain! $1 box of tomatoes.

I’ve enjoyed preserving plenty of free and frugal fruit this month. There were the free foraged apples and last week I turned a $1 box of tomato ‘seconds’ into five bottles of tomato sauce.

Our lemon balm bush needed pruning so I made a jar of lemon balm tea. I stripped off the leaves, washed them, dried them in the dehydrator, and chopped them in a food processor. It was absolutely delicious and I was feeling rather pleased with myself, until a few days ago when I discovered the jar of tea was full of mould. Looks like I didn't dry the leaves enough.

{Reduce}

My new (old) folwers unit

I was thrilled to receive this old fowlers unit from Kate in a LETS trade. Up until now I’ve done my bottling in a pot of boiling water on the stove. I’m looking forward to being able to process more bottles at once.

Working from home has reduced the amount of driving I do. I'm working from home three days a week, but I have been a little too easily distracted, so I have been trialling the pomodorro technique.

{Green}

After a few months of wondering whether to let my hair grey naturally, I decided to continue dying my hair with henna. On a recent visit to a local Indian grocery store (super cheap source of spices and pulses) I was thrilled to discover Henna for only $4 a packet instead of the $24 I usually pay when buying it at the organic food store.

{Grow}

Very little has been happening in our garden. There’s always rhubarb and a few herbs, but that’s about it at the moment.

My garden has been neglected for almost two years since we discovered the lead contamination. Making the garden lead safe is going to take some effort, so I've been delaying until I have the time to plan the garden carefully. That ‘time’ is not far away because I’ve enrolled in a Permaculture Design Certificate course. I can’t wait!

{Create}

Easy reversible headband

I enjoy making birthday gifts. This month my mum got a new bag for her dancing shoes and one of Little Eco's friends got a headband made from vintage sheets using this easy tutorial.

Playdough - My favourite frugal birthday gift.

Little Eco and I also enjoyed making frugal and fun playdough as birthday gifts.

I was thrilled to have my first magazine article published. It was an article in Peppermint Magazine on ethical and sustainable places to eat, shop and play in Newcastle. I've started to really enjoy writing so was excited about the opportunity. I also enjoyed writing this months post over at Childhood 101. It was on a personal topic, enriching the life of an only child, and it was a pleasure to read some of the comments from Mothers in a similar situation.

{Discover}

I recently discovered that the 22nd of April is International Mother Earth Day. That is one day I will definitely be celebrating!

{Enhance}

In a moment of insanity I registered for WildEndurance and managed to convince six friends to join me. We'll be walking 100km in less than 36 hours to raise funds for the Wilderness Society. I thought it would be a fun way to spend my 40th birthday.

{Enjoy}

Mums new engagement ring :-)

We celebrated my Mums 60th birthday, which turned into a surprise engagement party. I was thrilled to see my mum share this wonderful surprise with many of her friends and family. My Mums long-term partner had planned, and kept secret, the engagement for months and even had a ring custom made. The ring was made by re-using gold and stones from sentimental family jewellery.

So what would you share with me if we were chatting over a cuppa? How was your January on the simple living front?


Skipping the supermarket and thoughts on 'outsourcing working mums' and 'DIY punk housewives'

Quick week day vegetarian meal. Zucchini and corn patties.

Skipping the Supermarket Challenge Update

We thankfully breezed through our first month of the skipping the supermarket challenge. I thought I needed something from the supermarket a few times, but then found I could do without, make it myself, or use a substitute.

I've been trying to remember to take photos of our meals to proove that we're not missing anything. I hope to share them all at some stage. The above is zucchini fritters, with local olives bought from Organic Feast, home made tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes from a friends garden (thanks Monique!), and cucumbers and onion from our Purple Pear CSA box. The zucchini fritters have become a new weekday favourite.

Speaking of weekday favourites, have you been following Linda's Tuesday Night Vego Challenge? I've been loving all the super fast seasonal vegetarian recipes being shared each week.

I'm thrilled to see a number of families joining us in the challenge. So far we have Baudains family from Ordinary Eco, Cooper family from The Organic Gypsy, Sarah from Fig nut mum, Kate and Mark from Purple Pear Organics, Tara from MUMedia, Kim from The Little Black Cow Blog, Kirby, Shae from Yay for home, Sara from Star-bright gulls, Kylie from Mealy and I, Kim from The Little Black Cow Blog, and Stacey from the Domestic artisan.

Some are joining for a month, and most for the entire year. I don't mind how long people join in, even if It's just for a week. I remember a time when I was at the supermarket every second day. Leave a comment here if you would like to join us.

Inspiring reads

Have you visited my inspiring reads page recently? I added some great reads there during January.

Calamity Jane's post on Why are we doing this? has been on my mind.

“Right now we need to figure out how to sustainably keep large populations happy and healthy in cities where their concentration is most efficient, we need to come down off of the drug of convenience slowly and explore the genuine possibility of change.…

..If I believe that massive-scale agriculture is defiling our land, and corporate food products are defiling our bodies, I can base our diet instead on whole foods from local farms.

If I believe that using fossil fuels supports global bullying and violence, not to mention environmental degradation, I can make the time to walk and bike whenever possible.

If I believe that the immense resources sucked down and shit out for every piece of plastic crap we think we deserve is inexcusable, I can mend broken things, reuse materials, buy second hand, do without."

You can read the rest of the post here.

I’m in awe at Calamity Jane’s ‘DIY punk housewifery’. But I also want busy working mums like me to feel like the ‘radical political action’ Calamity Jane speaks of is achievable by us too.

Despite being a busy working mum, I manage to achieve much of what Calamity Jane speaks of by outsourcing.

We pay someone to clean our house once a week so that I have time on the weekend to visit the farmers markets and make sauce or jam or yoghurt and so on. We pay someone to grow our food locally so that I don’t have to worry about not having time to get our garden up and running again. I buy ‘handmade by someone else’s hands’ more often than I make myself.

I don’t feel guilty for any of this outsourcing, nor do I think my life is any less sustainable than someone who makes everything themselves and grows their own food.

As I’ve said before (here and here), it’s important that I find 'my sustainable sustainable life'.

The beauty of this journey is that there are many different routes to the same sustainable outcome.

How are you going finding your sustainable sustainable life?

How are the other Skipping the Supermarket challenge participants going with the challenge?