Sunday, November 18, 2012

The struggle to become a minimalist

I really want to be a minimalist, I want to have only what I need, including some resources so in an emergency I am part of the solution not adding to the problem.
It seems you have to keep revisiting your cupboards and scale back a bit more every time. I'm sure some hard core devoted people could do it first go, but I'm slow at it. I carefully consider every item.

I have continued to work on the linen cupboard.
How many sheets and blankets do we need?
For each bed I've reduced it to:

  • 1 waterproof underlay
  • 1 winter flannel set 
  • 1 summer cotton set
  • 1 spare cotton set
  • 1 doona with one cover only (On beds most of the year)
  • 1 cotton summer blanket

Spares are incase a vomiting bug takes hold and I don't have the luxury of washing in the morning and remaking the bed that evening. Little children tend to find their stomach contents pop out some what unexpectedly.

This means I now have two sets on sheets for each bed in the caravan. One on the bed and one spare, and caravan doona covers. I have included woollen blankets for the caravans that I'll place on the mattress under the waterproof layer for easy storage incase of unexpected cold weather.

Now my linen cupboard, while far from finished contains all the bedding, hair cutting equipment, bug lamps, christmas decorations, shoe cleaning gear, candles, light bulbs, a tub of paper party plates/cups/cutlery and fire emergency box. Hmmm that's still a lot of stuff :o(

I am proud to say I have recycled over 21 years of magazines. I had them stored and never looked at them. This was before the internet, now days you can find anything you want at the click of a few buttons. I'm glad they are gone, it's another weight lifted off.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vintage caravan restoration continues

We have done very little on our restoration project, here is the first post.

Here is the overhead cupboards being restored.

The original cupboard had two doors and there large areas that could not be reached, so we re shaped it to have 4 large door and a section in the middle for a car stereo and a small door to store ipod etc.

'Before photo' of the cupboard, see the huge wasted space where everything would get lost.

Also I found some doona covers on sale, they are very thick and heavy quality, now before you look, remember "vintage" ;o) Also I want to be mindful of the boys, can't make it too girlie ( maybe just a bit!).

We are trying to maximise storage and keep the weight to a minimum. We found some nice quality wire drawers at Bunnings. A company called HandyShelf make them, you can pick and choice what you want, different draw sizes and they are reasonably light weight and well priced.
They are very solid once put together. One of these baskets will hold our dirty clothes awaiting washing and the other clean towels, the small mesh draw for toiletries, washing powder etc.
Much to my delight I've got more space than I first thought! That never happens!!

It is all very slow though, between study and Pooh health. Oh and I've dropped my hopes of having an en-suit, we will put the porta potty in the shower tent. It was too much to add extra water and a storage tank of black water (is that what it's called? All the poo and flush water?)

Water Spout

Today we took the children to a lego exhibition, it was not an official lego 'do' but something put on to raise money for Destiny Rescue It was a wonderful day and a privilege to be able to support such a cause.

On the way home DS8 saw this, so we stopped and took a picture at 2.20pm. We've never seem anything like it here where we live. I pray no one was hurt.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Finding balance

Gosh I feel so bad for such a scant number of posts this year.
We are studying this year and while first semester went very well, it is so time consuming to do it properly. We have started second semester and are questioning the balance we have in our lives.
We have had hardly anytime living the life we enjoy so much,  I have not kept in contact with friends, not even via emails, which I haven't opened for weeks now, last glance there was nearly 2000 and I'm too over whelmed to sort through them! The children have been unwell with the cold-y flu-y things that are everywhere at the moment and even we have struggled with odd symptoms ourselves, exhaustion, nausea, dizziness and headaches.
 So here's the thing that has come to our attention, we can't do it all at the 100% attention we would like. We are trying to find a balance so there are no losers in our efforts.

We have limited hours left in our life, how do we want to spend them?
Priorities for us: God, each other, family, providing for family, lots of play with children, time with adult children, gardening so we can eat nutritious food, handicrafts and study for future career and mission work.

So something has to give, we are prioritising and practically looking at what we need to change.
When is the last time you did a "check", don't wait until the wheels fall off the wagon, so to speak.

Here's some flowers youngest begged Daddy to buy for me, it took him 10 mins to choose a bunch!
Sharing my flowers

Sunday, June 3, 2012

New kitchen table -stage 1

We packed a little picnic lunch and ventured off to the bush to find a little but very busy saw mill. Note to self, take ear plugs next time.
We need to replace our kitchen table and I didn't want to buy a cheap import and it is sadly too expensive to buy a custom made so we are making our own.
The problem with doing it yourself is it takes SO long! Not even close to the usual experience of choosing a table at the shop and they deliver it the next day and your eat on it that night, no, not this way :o-

We found the saw mill, spent 1/2 an hour walking around in dried cow poo until we found the bits that would do it job, $100 and 5 pieces of hard wood later we had our picnic and headed home.
Here it is, step one:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

1:30am Rat encounter

Let this be a warning to all men, put cornice in your wife's cupboard!

This morning at 1:30 am I wake to my necklaces making noise in a closed cupboard.
On opening the door there is a bush rat at head height looking back at Pooh.

What do you do at that hour of the morning, how do you remove a rat? Is it going to leap from the cupboard and go for his throat, run on to the floor and run through the house of sleeping children, get lost under toys or clothes?

It just seems very bad to my confused just awoken mind.

Pooh gets gloves, maybe he can catch it? It's not going to stay in a container with paper like an obedient spider. No way, springs straight past onto the floor of the bedroom and into the corner where my chair resides.

Words fail to express the horror we felt.

 A stroke of early morning genius, call the dog. She was very bashful about coming into the bedroom, normally the forbidden zone, however on entry in less than 2 seconds she spied and caught the offending rat.

Victory and relief rushed through my body then remorse, I sort of felt sad, the bush rat is very very cute, but lets remember it crossed a boundary.

So needless to say I'm sure, Pooh is currently installing cornice into the now defiled cupboard, the dog is by the fire and the rat, well by all accounds it will reappear shortly in a new form ;o)

A wood fire dinner

Tonight we had the most delicious dinner. DS won a blade roast at the club last night and we cooked it in the wood oven. I have to share this recipe, it is amazing, the gravy is second to none!

  • Heat out the dutch oven in coals or wood fire oven 
  • In the thermomix chop 2 onions and cook with 30g olive oil, 40 mins. Add 1 cup red wine, 3 crushed cloves garlic 1 cup beef stock. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer briefly.
  • Seal 2 kg blade roast in hot dutch oven, once sealed add onion and stock mix and into coals or oven for 2 1/2 hours.
  • If you don't have a thermie, then seal meat first in hot dutch oven, remove meat and cook onions, and add the rest as above, stir, add meat and cook as above.
  • Turn and check from time to time, when ready. Remove meat to rest. Wrap and place in an insulated container or cover with foil and blanket.
  • Get gravy made with pan juices. Add corn flour and whisk, add more water and red whine, 1 TBS brown sugar and splosh of vinegar. You can do this in the thermie or the dutch oven.
  • Carve up and serve with veggies. Drown in gravy!

The point being, use your camping equipment and skills on 'normal' days, saves money and tastes oh so good!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Local Radio

During our busy semester, our DD was a guest speaker on our loacl radio. It was a terrific experience for her and I thought I'd use this post as a reminder about local radio stations. Free and fun activity if anyone is interested in this sort of thing.
Sorry about the photo quality, it was on a phone and we couldn't get any closer, so zoomed in.

Vintage caravan restoration

We have a camper van, a thing that has tent like ends; it's great except when it rains. We had a horrible experience last year, it poured and poured, the wee ones got diarrhoea, it was a long walk to the park toilets and the littlest got very ill and ended up in hospital. So from then on I wanted a 'real' caravan. I wanted to be able to pull over, open the door have lunch a cup of tea and keep driving, no set up.

We had a check box of things we felt were requirements.

  • Under $10,000
  • Not too long, around 18 foot.
  • Single axle
  • Bunks and queen sized bed.
We finally found it and it was in another state, a huge task to go and see.
We met possibly the dodgiest vendor in all of existence. While our new van fits all of the above criteria except the queen bed but that can be changed, it was internally in poor condition. It was carefully disguised and we felt quite sad later. However it had towed beautifully, couldn’t be happier as that's extremely important. So the renovation begins in our study down time.

Here’s the before interior view:
The aim is for a cute vintage caravan, all new lining boards and a tiny ensuite. I have had a ball googling pictures and I think we might acutally go quite.. ahem... loud! I'm considering flowers on the outside!
I have decide on white linings, Micheal Miller fabrics (vintage prints), through Etsy of course and I'd love red and white checked flooring but I can't locate any as yet.
Sadly this is a long term project and our study break will be finished soon and all life as we know it is on hold again, until the end of the year.
Pooh, the body in the picture, found a screw had gone through electrical cable! I'm so glad he pulled that overhead cupboard off. Perhaps a complete rebuild is a blessing in disguse?

Electricity goes up 20% & carbon tax, reduce usage!

July 1st the "promised" 20% increase in power comes into effect. I *think* this is on top of our governments idea to give us a carbon tax. Either way it's time to reduce our reliance on our electricity usage.

*We have one tiny refrigerator only (as in no freezer in it) and 1 deep freeze chest style.
Out fridge uses very little power and we turn the freezer off by a timer every night. I can't reduce them much further other than doing away with them altogether which is possible. I could survive using a pot-in-pot style to keep a few things cool, I'd prefer not to at this stage.

*We have a tiny solar panel on our roof, in fact it was my Christmas gift last Christmas from Pooh. Of course Pooh bought a regulator and is so small these days, amazing. This panel charges two second hand small sealed gel batteries that we got from a mobility scooter man. Here they are in the cupboard, looking rather dodgy at this stage, but we are still in the "testing phase"!

*From these batteries we run a car CD player and radio. We have car speakers through the ceiling, the sound is awesome and if the main power goes out we can listen for community announcements during bush fire season.

*Also from these batteries we have some 12volt lights that are in the ceiling, neat little down lights so at night we don't require the mains power and of course when it goes out which it does regularly here we have very little interruption to our life.

*On top of this, we use a tiny inverter, you can get them cheaply from Dick Smith or car supply places. We charge our lap tops too. While studying, between the 3 of us, there was always a laptop charging. We just changed over to charging this way.

*We have the computer modem on other than that we have nothing else plugged into mains on stand by mode. We turn the TV on for a few shows then turn it off.

Replacement: Worcestershire Sauce Recipe

I don't know very many people that don't use worcestershire sauce. We certainly do and a homemade recipe was shared years ago and in the spirit of casting off supermarket reliance, here is our  tweaked version:

In a 3 litre bottle  (an old juice bottle is perfect) put:

  • 2 litres vinegar. White, brown, malt whatever you want.
30 grams (1 oz) of the following:
  • tamarind (optional, from indian grocer)
  • Chopped garlic
  • Cayenne pepper
  • whole cloves
  • sea salt

  • 1 tin treacle 850g
  • 3 TBS fish sauce
  • 2 lemons chopped 1/8th with skin left on (they add flavour)

Mix all together in bottle. Leave for 6 months, turn occasionally, give it a shake. When you go to decant, strain into another bottle. We have 3 bottles on the go, one we are current decanting from, one that will be ready soon and one that has just been made. We really like the stuff!

What can you make that you normally buy?

I was pondering how supermarkets are a relatively new concept. My grandmother, long since departed did not have supermarkets for the bulk of her life. I am trying to make a conscious effort to reduce my reliance on supermarkets, to avoid their excessive chemicals, their packaging and over inflated prices.
But lets be honest some of their stuff is just darn convenient, so this week I have started to look through my pantry and see what I can replace with home made products. Well, not entirely home made, the basic ingredients still come from the shops but at lest I have a better idea of the contents.

CUP-A SOUP, this weeks replacement item. We rarely use them but they are good to have on hand for an emergency meal. Google recipes, there are so many wonderful sites with recipes to try. Something like this. Here's the one we are sampling this week. I tried to stick to organic ingredients, but my milk powdered isn't :o(
However, very simple and store in a glass jar.
For our child with wheat allergies, we cook 3 TBS rice/water in the microwave and 1 TBS of this mix so he can have a 2 min noodle equivalent.

A productive silence

In some ways I can't believe it has been so long since I've posted, on the other hand I've not had time to scratch. As mentioned earlier we have undertaken study again and it has absorbed almost every waking hour. Here we are at mid semester and taking a well earned break from the books.

We have made some interesting discoveries! Having no time to go anywhere or do anything, we have hardly spent a thing!
We used our food supplies and just popped into the shops if we really had to, never spending more than needed.
We filled the car up once a month which is amazing as we live in a rural location and not walking distance to anything.
The only clothes we got where 2 pairs of $6 track suit pants for the wee ones. I don't think I've even op shopped.
I've not had time to craft, except for one set on gorgeous fabric coasters for a friend, I used scraps and 3 precious hours :o-

Our needs and wants went down and it has been reflected in minimal spending. We did well with our studies so all in all a productive silence.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentines day

Our Valentines Day.
Pooh took me for a walk on the beach and provided a snack. It was gorgeous, the day was so clear and the ocean was awe inspiring. I made those in the picture below. While it cost us very little and certainly came in under our $10 limit, we both thought it was a hoot and appreciated the efforts, especially the time together.
Pikelets for morning tea and brewed coffee of course.

I crocheted love birds and made a card.
Here's the link to the free pattern:
You have to join, it's free and you get their great newsletter with lots of links to freebies.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I have always been curious of minimalism. The problem I had though, I'm a hoarder and recycler of all things remotely useful.
I have so much stuff and it is ruling me, I hate it.
In an effort to understand minimalism, I down loaded 2 kindle books, appropriate don't you think, Miss Minimalist (Francine Jay) and Clear your clutter with Feng Shui (Karen Kingston). Both books I enjoyed very much they had different things to offer. It seems like all things you have to get into the head space  of minimalism. I love the idea the Miss Minimalist had, can she walk away in an emergency (political or natural etc) and feel ok? I know I could not! I like the idea of working towards it though.

This would have been a ridiculous concept a few years ago, but secretly I wished a disaster would befall my house (not my family!) so I could start again. I suspect I'd just pile up the stuff again so learning to part with things and file things safely is by far a better lesson.

I love the idea of never having a dvd again. A physical disc that gets damaged. I want to down load my movies as I want them off 'the cloud' which I'm still to get my head around.

I want to sort all my photos digitally on the 'the cloud' and various hard drives so I can't lose them to theft or disaster.

I would like to transfer my books to kindle or pdf. I suspect I'd always want a few 'real' books for inspiration. I love the feel of books and looking at the pictures.

Can I transfer all my cook books to digital? Some are available as kindle versions but lots are not. Can I scan and transfer to pdfs. I have no idea, would that even be legal?

How about no cd's or a reduced amount and using my ipod?

How can I de-clutter my kitchen? Now that makes me feel a little faint. Baby steps, baby steps.