urban nature Feed

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?

Knowing nature ~ It's hard saying goodbye to something you love

We had a visitor to our backyard this week...

A turtle.

He was a surprise visitor given that we live kilometers away from the nearest waterway.

I know absolutely nothing about turtles, but managed to work out what sort of turtle he was was by searching the NSW Wildlife Atlas for reptiles in the Newcastle local government area. The results revealed only one turtle, the Eastern Snake-Necked Turtle. I checked a few images, and yep, thats him, commonly known as a 'Stinker' (i'm so glad we didn't experience the reason for this common name).

We learnt heaps about these common turtles from this great radio interview.

Leaving him in our backyard wasn't an option as he would have just wandered off and been at risk of being hit by a car. So we decided to return him to a nearby wetland. I hope he didn't mind, but we selfishly kept him for a few days to take advantage of this opportunity to connect with nature. Little Eco named him Taxi, after the book Turtle Taxi by Guundie Kuchling. She took him to preschool and proudly showed him off to her friends.

A few days later it was time to say goodbye. Little Eco begged to keep him and told me how sad she was to see him go.

Saying goodbye.








She was heart-broken. She wanted to jump in and catch him.

Turtle craft

To try and cheer her up, I think we'll do some turtle crafting this weekend. Perhaps a recycled egg carton turtle, or a trash turtle puppet, or a paper plate turtle? I've also printed out a few turtle colouring sheets.


A few extra things....

I'm tired of seeing people throw cigarette butts out their car window.

You too?

I've been dobbing them in. Today, instead of scrambling for a pen to record the tossers details, I quickly phoned Daddy Eco and asked him to write the details down for me. I told him their rego, car colour and make, and where I was. I dobbed them in just now. It took less than five minutes. The tosser will receive an advisory letter reminding them that its not a good idea to litter.

Go on, dob in the next tosser you see.

Have someone you don't know what to get for christmas?

I read about a great gift idea today....You could make a donation on their behalf to help save the Mountain Pygmy Possum. Donations are tax deductable and come with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Pygmy Possums not your thing? Then check out the Karma Currency website.

Have a lovely weekend.

Novocastrians, don't forget Raid My Wardrobe is on this Sunday.

Have a few moments to read? I've added a few goodies to my inspiring reads page.

How can I be annoyed when this cute face is the thief?


Little Eco and I were delighted to be greeted by this sweet little face when we investigated some rustling in our Banana plants this afternoon. How can I be annoyed that almost all our bananas have been gobbled up when the thief is this cute? It's a threatened Grey-Headed Flying-fox.

As you can see, she (or he?) is sadly a little injured. Flying-foxes are social animals and they roost together. It was still daylight and she was alone - not a good sign. After looking closer at the photograph and seeing the injuries I went back out to take a better look and she was startled and flew off. I hope she's OK - but to be honest I don't like her chances. I've looked out for her a few times tonight but she hasn't returned. If she does i'll phone WIRES.

Coincidently, only this morning, I was reading this brand new web page on Flying-foxes and their conservation. Some of you may recall my horror at having a Banana farmer tell me they shoot Flying-foxes to protect their crops. I've also posted in the past about how sad I am at how we treat these gorgeous creatures. They've moved into urban areas only because we've cleared most of their habitat leaving them nowhere else to live! So i’ve decided to sacrifice our current bunch of Bananas and leave them for the Flying-foxes to enjoy. In the future for every bunch I bag to protect, I’ll leave a bunch for them to enjoy. That sounds fair.


Interested in encouraging wildlife into your backyard? Check out Backyard Buddies and the flora for fauna website.

Nature is everywhere - you just have to take a moment to look.

Monday is usually our urban adventure day. But today was busy - so instead we took a moment to wander around nearby streets looking for signs of urban nature. The concept of 'nature' is a little beyond a three year old, so I told Little Eco we were searching for bugs.

I love that nature is never too far away, no matter where you are.








Yes, I stole some violets out of someones garden. Anyone else willing to fess-up to collecting plants from neighbours gardens?

If you're wondering what Little Eco is wearing or what that blonde hair is in a few photos - she's carrying a doll in her mini mei tai.

We made the little nest ourselves, to house an abandoned egg we found, and of course the egg needed a mum. Little Eco enjoyed playing with the little nest, egg and bird all afternoon.

There's only a few hours left to choose your own {eco} adventure and be in with a chance to win a copy of Sustainable Baby. I'll be drawing the giveaway before I head off to bed tonight. So far it looks like the 'Five minute instant raised vegetable garden' is winning.

For more outdoor inspiration head on over to 5 Orange Potatoes for the Outdoor Challenge and for more play ideas head on over to Childhood 101 for We Play

Continuing our urban adventure

I was being a tad unrealistic thinking we could do 24 parks in 24 days. It didn't take me long to realise racing off to a different park each afternoon was just adding another scheduled activity to an already busy scheduled day. So I've backed off to a more realistic rate of exploration.

We've been having a lot of fun and have found some great (and not-so great) parks. My favourites this week were:

Dip-netting for water bugs at Eucalyptus Circuit Reserve, Warabrook:


We were pretty impressed with the freshwater shrimp we found and after having so much fun are planning to join in the NSW Water Bug Survey next year. If you're  interested in identifying water bugs, check out this great Buglopedia.

Playing marbles at Jesmond Park, Jesmond:


For more outdoor inspiration head on over to 5 Orange Potatoes for 'Outdoor Monday' and Childhood 101 for 'We play'.