Weekend reads

This week has been full, appointments, school concerts, kindy art shows, jobs, and various other coming and goings.  But somewhere in there I made a Facebook page.  If Facebook is a platform you use and would like to join me there you are most welcome!  It will be a place I link to the blog as I write new posts, as I know not all people have a blog list which automatically updates like mine.  (My blog list is huge, though only the 10 who have most recently posted are shown in my sidebar. They automatically rotate up or my list would go on forever.) I will also link little snippets of our days and various interesting articles from other bloggers and sites there I feel are relevant to the topic of living a slower more mindful life.

I have read, and noticed things have a slowed in the blogging world as many people favor Instagram at the moment, but there are many small time bloggers who find the ever shifting and changing algorithms of Instagram baffling.  There remains a wealth of knowledge, encouragement and beauty in the blogging world.  I hope this new Facebook page will give me a chance to support and share other bloggers valuable work and help my blogging colleges get their important work out there. 

A Simple Living Facebook page

The Minimalists - 1 in 10 out rule
We all need to consume things.  But when we are decluttering and simplifying it can feel like one step forward and two steps back.  I loved this concept.

A Ted talk on what makes a good life, based on an amazing long term study by Harvard.  HERE

A local family who has done the big shift to tiny living, read about them HERE  
and on Facebook HERE

A gorgeous American couple who live in a beautiful Yurt.  Watch them on You Tube HERE

This is the company who we have just ordered our first 30ft yurt from, we will later be adding a 20ft or 24ft one which we will convert into bedrooms for the boys.  They show the construction process which is really interesting to see.  Check it out on you tube at Pacific Yurts

Well it is a long weekend here and the sun is shining.  May you have the most wonderful weekend and are able to sit and enjoy some time to do the things that fill your tank.  

Much love, 

The power of custard

Its funny the things that can trigger a massive life change isn't it?

Sometimes those triggers are obvious.  A health scare, a change in family circumstance, a new job or a new baby.

For me, it was custard.

Yep, you read that right.  Custard.  It was about 6 years ago when I read a blog post from Rhonda at Down to Earth with a recipe for a simple egg custard.  I can’t find the exact post now.  But it contained vanilla, milk, sugar, cornflour and eggs in a pot simmered over the stove with a whisk for a few minutes.  I was surprised.  No double boiler, no instant custard powder, you didn't even need to separate the eggs.  Apparently it was super easy, simple and quick.  What??  I had been told my entire life that egg custard was a pain to make, a tedious thing.  All the women I knew used custard from a carton, even though they were all very good home cooks.  Upon this discovery I decided to give the recipe a try.  It was then I made a life changing realization...

Custard is not the deep yellow I had come to know.  It is creamy in colour.

Perhaps that shouldn't have come as such a shock, but it did.

Home made custard.  6 years later it's still a favorite.  

Of course I knew on some level that some food contained colours, flavors and preservatives, but it had never dawned on me until that moment the extent at which they did.

This new knowledge triggered me to begin to question all the foods we were eating, I realized that many of the things I was using as a "short cut" were full of things I didn’t want to be serving my children.  Slowly and surely I began to implement changes to the way I cooked, growing more confident in using fresh herbs and spices, learning how to add depth and flavor to my dishes by putting a little more time and effort into my cooking.  It wasn't even a lot of extra time, I mean I was already in the kitchen.  I had been conned into thinking these “short cuts” were saving me vast amounts of time, but the truth is they weren’t.  At most it was a few minutes of prep time, if that.

I discovered after one week of cooking every thing from scratch that the “short cuts” (which weren’t really short cuts at all) were the thing that was making Angus, who was a baby so damn miserable.  I was trying to do the right thing by feeding him what we were eating, together around the table.  He was eating casseroles with fresh meat and veggies, spaghetti bol, and a good variety of dishes I would prepare for our family.   On the surface we looked to be eating a healthy, well balanced diet.  One week after cutting all colours/flavors/preservatives and cooking everything we ate from scratch he was sleeping through the night.  He had even stopped his strange head banging he had started to do out of irritation.  It was a revelation, not only were these additives unnecessary but they were in fact HURTING my child.

From there my desire to live more greenly and simply grew and branched out into other areas.  Green cleaning, making laundry liquid, soap making, baking, gardening, fermenting, preserving and sewing are all areas I have explored and continue to implement in our families day to day life. 

A few of my favorite simple living books, and my home journal.  

These changes slowly began to propel us in a different direction.  My days started to take upon a new rhythm.  I found meaning and importance in the tasks I had previously considered dull.  I realized there is a huge amount of value in the work I was doing at home not only for our family but that it was better for the environment.  I discovered a deep sense of joy and satisfaction in making my home a place people could drop into at any time.  That there was always a cuppa to be had and something in the sweet tin to enjoy.  Around the kitchen table we talked about the guts of life, the kids doing their thing in the background.

Bit by bit over the years we have added to these changes, Simplifying our lives, de-cluttering, and changing the way in which we consume.

Now we are about to embark on a brand new chapter of moving to our farm 18hrs away in NSW.  We will be learning how to live totally off grid, starting out in yurts.  To those on the outside it sounds like a huge transition, and in many ways it absolutely is.  I would be lying if I didn't say I'm a combination of excited, apprehensive and anxious about how we are going to pull this whole move off.  But it is also just another step on the journey to simplicity and living a greener, more sustainable life.

And it all started with a simple egg custard recipe.

My encouragement today is to remember that the little changes matter, even the seemingly insignificant ones.  Each small change we make in our lives has the ability to propel us in a direction we might not be able to even begin to imagine.

Much love,

Quick getaway.

It dawned on me in the middle of last week that a Church camp had unexpectedly crept up on us!  So we threw some bedding and bits and bobs in the old caravan for a quick get away with friends.  We are getting pretty good at getting away now, though I have come to the firm conclusion I do prefer bush camping rather then being cooped up in a caravan park.  Its what I grew up doing and whilst a caravan park is convenient.....It does lack the soul of being out in the bush, surrounded by nature without another person in sight.   

We stayed at a small caravan park in Port Pirie and spent a couple of days exploring the Southern Flinders Rangers.  The scenery was truly spectacular and we spent most of our free time bush walking and 4WDing, making the most of exploring all the local landscape had to offer.     

Aggie had a blast exploring with us, scrabbling up rocks hot on the scent of all kinds of wildlife.  She was rather dismayed to be on a leash the whole time I think!  

 I love that camping invites slowing down and playing games. 

This fellow is ultra competitive.  He lost this game.  Hence the photo....bahahahah!

Much love, 

Small, natural and mindful gifts.

I have been listening to a really lovely pod cast recently called "Dispatch to a friend"  HERE The podcast is about two dear friends who write to each other and share the news of their daily lives.  They then read out the letters on the podcast and chat about them in more detail, its a beautiful insight into their friendship.  Listening to it triggers some kind of warm nostalgia for slower times.  They talk about farming, baking cakes, family and a myriad of other topics as it takes their fancy.  It's just the loveliest show to listen too and I highly recommend you check it out.  

The idea of actual letter writing captured my imagination as a result I was inspired to hand write a few letters to dear friends and make a little care package or two, though it seems my letter writing skills need work and my handwriting is as messy as a 10yr old boys, made more apparent by the beautiful paper I was writing upon.  Ugh!

This thought was spurred on by a young friend who sent me a picture of a rainbow he had drawn.  I quickly sewed him up a little Waldorf gnome, blue in his favorite colour along with a little rainbow cape from fabric I found hidden in my stash.  I mixed up my friend a few rollers of essential oil blends I thought she might like, and of course I couldn't ignore her eldest son, so I wrote him a note too.  I didn't think he would be so keen on super gnomes mind you as he is a little older, but I know he will enjoy the oils also.  

This little gnome is made from all natural fibers and stuffed with wool and lentils so he feels good to squeeze.  Perfect to fit in a pocket.  

I have always loved essential oils and usually have them diffusing in the cottage with one blend or another.  I recently bought the most beautiful beginners kit from Young Living Blending up little unique roller blends is just lovely, and makes for a simple and thoughtful gift.  I have made some for Will to help him sleep which he finds helpful, and have made my own uplifting blend as a natural substitute for perfume.

Well that's all for now,
much love,

A completely ordinary morning.

An slow and completely ordinary morning, among the mess of daily family life.  There is endless beauty in the familiar.  

An actual letterbox, for our actual farm.  Can you quite believe it? 

Much love, 

Spring time in the garden.

Well its spring time here and warmth has started to creep into our days.  Our citrus this year is on the small side, due to not enough water I suspect.  One of our orange trees has no fruit at all, which is highly unusual.  There seems to have been so much wind I suspect all the flowers blew straight off before the bees got the chance to pollinate them.  Our little lemon tree is light on fruit also.  Normally the gnarled little tree produces so much fruit it's astounding.  This year there is enough for our needs but we don't have the excess we are used too.  

Everything is beginning to grow again and the warmth invites us all out to play and potter.  Unless it is windy.  Goodness me.  There is no wind like the wind that blows a gale over the vast, flat, unending plains, picking up dust and pollen as it goes.  I have never known such wild winds until we moved here.  

Whilst the warmth is nice, we are not getting any where near enough rain.  This certainly shows in my garden and the surrounding farmland.  The land around here is good, reliable cropping country but this year the crops are stunted, some are quite sparse.  If the season doesn't pick up its going to be a hard year for our farmers.

This country of ours can be a beautiful but harsh, unforgiving lady that's for sure.  

I went around the garden yesterday morning looking at our ramshackle garden and took note of the flowers waking up.  I'm glad I did as looking out there now I doubt there will be any flowers left by the end of today!

The dogs have decimated so much of the garden we tried to create in this house.  Aggie the Scottish Terrier is the prime culprit.  That little dog!  As soon as she has the scent of something she goes digging.  As a result simple is the look we are going for, or I'm happy to settle with alive at this point in time. 

"Trouble?  What on earth are you talking about"
Don't be fooled, these two sleeping beauties are full of mischief, even old Tessa who is nearly 14yrs old now still has the odd burst of puppy in her, though they are few and far between and usually motivated by food.  

At the farm we will use raised beds for veggies and herbs with boarders around any ornamental garden beds like below.  Without exception.

Well, I best be off.  Henry is at kindy today, so its unusually (and blissfully) quiet! 

Much love, 

Simple kombucha.


Its one of those things I knew was good for me for a really long time.  It's an ancient naturally fermented drink, full of good bacteria.  Amazing for gut health.  Good gut health is fast becoming a well recognized component which is essential for overall health and well being.  But.....Lets be real, the "SCOBY" which is the mushroom like thing that makes kombucha so amazing for its health benefits is well....... pretty ugly. 

Anyway, after getting hospitalized with a nasty case of pericarditis last December, which turned into a chronically inflamed heart which caused ongoing chest pain and chronic fatigue.  My approach to health has been top of my priority list.  My goal is to reduce overall inflammation, eat foods which support my immune system and help my gut health.  

One of the various things I have done is to introduce fermented foods into my diet on a daily basis.  Kombucha and sauerkraut are things I really enjoy, and I genuinely find they help my tummy feel better.  So I thought I'd share how I make kombucha, the slack persons way.  Its super simple and it is quite expensive to buy if you wanted to drink it daily. 

First you need a SCOBY, which is a kind of fungus or mushroom which full of beneficial bacteria.  This is the little (ugly)  workhorse of the whole thing.  

The SCOBY, clearly not blessed with beauty! 

Preparing the brew for the first ferment.  The SCOBY remains out of the tea until it is cooled.  

You can get a SCOBY off someone else who brews kombucha very easily, as they make baby SCOBY's on the top of the tea, or if you buy a bottle of kombucha you can feed it with sugar and tea and a SCOBY will grow.  

Like a giant cup of tea - simple!

I have few SCOBY's as you can see, I either give them away as they form or feed any spare to the chooks.  Mine are square as they will take to the shape of the container they are in.  

So firstly you need a sturdy glass container.  This big one of mine holds a little about 1L and it was simply one I had in my cupboard.  To this I add about 3/4 of a cup of white sugar, a black tea bag and a cleansing herbal tea bag, and fill with hot water to allow to steep while it cools.  I chuck some roughly chopped ginger in at this stage.  When it is tepid I drop the SCOBY in, cover with a lid/clean cloth and set aside on the bench for a week.

 Making up the honey and lemon mix that will flavor each bottle for the second ferment.  

A week later its ready for its second ferment.  I like to keep it simple and make up a mixture of local raw honey and fresh lemon juice.  About 1 good table spoon of honey and the juice of 2-4 lemons.  I mix this up till then honey is dissolved and then pour evenly into the bottom of the two glass jars you can see pictured.

 Straining the SCOBY off.  

Then I strain out the kombucha into a jug, and pour the fermented tea into the bottles for their second ferment.  I secure their lids and leave these in a cupboard for a few more days.  Then I pop them in the fridge ready to use.  Super simple, and ginger, honey and lemon make a lovely addition to the tea.  You can also add fruit and experiment with all kinds of flavors if that's your thing.

Then we are at the beginning of the cycle, ready to start a new batch, you might like to keep a little of the "old" tea to put in with the fresh tea and the SCOBY but to be honest I usually forget this stage and really the whole thing is pretty flexible in my experience.  

The bits down the bottom of the jars is roughly chopped ginger, also known for its anti-inflammatory and tummy benefits.  

I hope if kombucha is on your list of things to do, this post highlights the simplicity of it.  It costs nothing to set up, is super simple to maintain, is really good for you and on top of all that really make for a lovely, refreshing drink.  

Much love, 

It's official!

So, it's official - We bought a farm!

Contracts are signed, money has been handed over and the deal is done.

What does this mean for us and the little old cottage?

It means we aim to have her done and on the market in about 4-5 weeks time, realistically priced.  (there is a lot of work to do prior to then!)We have a real estate agent lined up who comes highly recommended by dear friends and he certainly feels like the right fit for us.  We aim to move to the farm over the Christmas holidays, ready to start the boys in their new school at the beginning of the year.

The farm is truly beautiful and I'm excited to be able to begin to share our plans with you.  It is 45 mins inland from Port Macquarie, NSW.  The property is 265 acres and a combination open grazing land and hilly rain forest.  It's climate is sub-tropical, so lots of warm weather and rain.  Very different from what we are used to here.  We are able to open it up to the last time it was logged in 1990, as per strict environmental guidelines.  This will greatly improve the amount of sheltered grazing land.  At the moment there is about 60 acres cleared.  Currently there are cattle on the open land and the rain forest is mostly left to be wild.  We will be clearing out a lot of the undergrowth and will push goats through the hilly parts with movable, electric fencing.  There are a lot of weeds on the property and are a large part of the undergrowth which needs to be cleared.  We aim to have a chicken tractor or two and breed a good heritage duel purpose chicken that's suitable for both egg and meat production.  Something we hope will be good as a backyard pet and also for the small acreage farmer.  Joel Salatin has some great techniques about running a bio-diverse property and the advantages it can bring.  Grant will also have his wood roach farm which he has been busy growing and expanding in preparation for the move.  He sells them in bulk primarily to lizard breeders and has a link in the sidebar, if your in need of some woodies.  ;)

Port Macquarie, which will be our large center, though there are smaller towns closer.  Looking out to the ocean.

There is a HUGE amount of work to do.  They entry road needs serious repair, there are sheds and infrastructure to build.  The property is totally off grid so that will be a learning curve in itself.  However technology has come a long way and we should be able to live a pretty comfortable modern life.  We will have a generator for backup, LPG for hot water and cooking, a composting toilet, large galv rainwater tanks, and some kind of natural system for filtering grey water, maybe reed ponds?  Council approval will dictate that.  We have a lot to learn and we hope we will have a lot to share upon the way. (Whats life without an adventure or two right?)

A little peak at the property. 

You may be wondering about where we are going to be living?  Well upon a lot of research, too-ing and fro-ing we have decided to built a 30ft yurt, from Pacific Yurts which will be custom made for us and and shipped in from USA.  We will then build a second smaller yurt which we will kit out as bedrooms for the boys and second living space.  We are buying in cash, so we are being very slow and mindful of budgets, choosing to act slowly and methodically rather then rushing to do it all at once.  There are going to be a lot of unforeseen costs in this venture and we need to leave room for that.  I'm not going to lie, its already proving to be challenging to force ourselves to act slowly.  My desire for the boys to find this transition simple, comfortable and for life to be as "normal" as possible throughout this period is at direct odds with going through the process slowly and doing things only as we can afford them. 

A rough to-scale sketch of the yurt floor plan.  Above the master bedroom in the big yurt there will be a mezzanine which will act as a study/sewing space.  

The reality is, we don't want to rent.  We want to live on our farm together from day one, with all our pets.  To line out part of a shed takes time and money, at the end we would be stuck with a lined out shed and little chance we could get any return on it in the future.  I mean a farmstay/B&B is not an appealing retreat if it is situated next to a workshop/machinery shed.  Shipping containers are not actually that cheap by the time you kit them out, whilst also being very time consuming.  Access to actually deliver such huge items is also problematic on the farm tracks.  So, after much consideration we have settled on yurts.  One big one and one little one, linked by a corridor which will double as the laundry.  This will give us the space and privacy we need as a family.  They go up in a matter of days and once up the entire outside and inside of the yurt is instantly finished.  Which is a huge plus for this for this Mama who is tired of the dust and the dirt of renovating.  They come with NASA designed insulation, and have three layers to them.  From there popping up a few stud walls to create a couple of rooms and lining them with timber match lining is relatively simple in comparison to a more traditional build.  We will then build a simple, modern and functional kit kitchen.

Yurts are such a beautiful space, with their round walls, exposed woodwork and lovely high ceilings.  We plan to call the yurts home for a number of years until we have managed to save, buy and self build a kit home.  At that point we will disassemble the smaller yurt, move it to a private location on the farm, freshen them both up and make them into two beautiful nature/farm stay B&B's and open them up to the public.  The big one will be suitable for a family and the smaller one will be more suited to a couples retreat.  So whilst we sound crazy, we have an extensive long term plan that is bound to keep us busy for the next few years and beyond!  (What could go wrong?!)

You may be asking what that means for this little blog?  Well in our researching we have found a lot of American and overseas people talking about how they set up their off-grid properties, but far fewer Aussies.  As a result we have been thinking we may record our journey via a YouTube channel.  With the perspective of things we have learnt which are relevant to an Australian audience.  As we slowly develop income streams from the farm, links will be added to access those on banner or sidebar of the blog.  I'm contemplating a Facebook page to increase the blogs reach, though I'm somewhat hesitant to add another social media platform.  Is it really a worthwhile extension or simply another thing to add to my "to do"list?  I love Instagram and blogging, I'm not sure I feel the same about Facebook.  What are others thoughts?  The blogging side of it will remain much the same.  I'll still share as I do now, with the aim of keeping it real, being imperfect, writing about family, simple living, creativity, and various ramblings as they come to me.

Anyway, what an epic post hey?  When I started this blog I didn't think it would take us quite so long to get to this point, but persistence and patience always pays off.  On that note I had best tackle the washing before the kids run out of socks! 

Much love,

Baby steps to waste reduction.

You know the amazing zero waste people?  Whose entire waste for a year goes into a glass jar or a single small bin?  They amaze me.  Seriously I’m in awe of their waste reduction super powers.

But I’m not them.  Not that I wouldn’t like to be mind you.

So instead, like I do most things in life - I tackle the issue slowly.  Sometimes I even do it terribly.  This post is about the tiny baby steps we can all make that are worthwhile, even when we do them imperfectly.  It's about swapping one habit out for an equal habit in.

It’s easy to look at zero waste and think its all too hard.  That we could never get there so there is no point trying.  But like all small changes we make over a period of time, they slowly add up.  One day we look back and realize we have come a really long way.

In South Australia, there has been a plastic bag ban at the supermarkets for a long time now.  Instead I use cotton tote bags, and little cotton draw string bags for my veggies.  I have bought various items like my cotton veggie bags from HERE, Spiralgarden which is a fantastic, family owned business.  They are such a simple switch to make.  Even I can manage it and organisation is NOT my strong point.  After I unload my groceries I stuff all the bags into a bundle, then shove them into my handbag.  Then when I next go to the car next I bundle them with the rest of my cloth bags on the passenger seat.  I always keep a single reusable bag in my handbag for those purchases I make whilst on the run - the chemist, gifts, clothes what not.  It’s a pretty simple switch to make, and the bonus is it feels really good to know I'm not about to strangle a bird with a plastic bag that will eventually find its way into landfill.

To prove if I can manage to shift my daily habits to greener ones then anyone can.  This is Grant, looking for his Agriculture degree certificate.  In the kitchen dresser where I *may* have put it, with all the spare crockery....Because that's where one keeps their important paperwork right?  I mean, obviously.

This issue of the Great Pacific garbage patch WATCH HERE was the key motivator for me to try to change my habits.  I’m not perfect.  Not even close, but I sincerely believe if each of us makes a few small changes, slowly those changes will be come our new normal.  Then we make a few more changes and hopefully, over time they will all eventually snow ball into a massive culture shift.  Along with pressure on our Pollies to implement changes to legislation, new technology and improved recycling.....Hopefully one day we will actually halt this huge problem, and perhaps even reverse it.  (Big dreams I know.)

The thing is - our actions matter, and there is simple, ordinary stuff we can each do.  If we the consumer don't consume it, the manufacturers wont make it.  (Unless its Cadbury Caramilk chocolate, which was consumed with a cult like following and great gusto and then Cadbury ceased production.  What the deal Cadbury?!   I'm still mourning the loss....I'm not sure I'll ever truly get over the betrayal....But moving right along.....)

A few simple tips:

- Reusable Cotton bags.  This is an instant and direct swap.  There is no need for plastic bags the vast majority of the time.  None.  Except maybe laziness.  I’m not going to lie.  I too get caught out on occasion, usually because I couldn’t be bothered putting in the 30 seconds it takes to be slightly organised, then I kick myself and think of the video.  It motivates me to do better.

Cloth shopping bags.  Fully bio-degradable, and pretty.  Win-win!

- Beeswax wraps or other reusable wraps instead of glad wrap.  These can be bought online, plenty of Eco stores sell them or there are plenty of Aussie homemakers making them who sell them via small ebay shops.  They are also simple enough to make if DIY is your thing. Biome is a large online retailer that sell all kinds of solutions to waste reduction and green living.  

Home made food.  Sourdough, Sauerkraut, bananna cake and kombucha.  My beeswax wraps are in constant use.   

- Using containers with lids to store left overs in.  Bonus is they stack, and if you buy glass you can reheat directly into the oven.  Also a direct swap in and out and I can throw them in the dishwasher.

- Purchasing the item in the cardboard/ paper option rather then the plastic when possible.  Ie; when I buy pasta from the supermarket, I buy pasta that comes in a cardboard box, with only a small plastic window.  I buy a block of butter and leave it on the bench to soften rather then in a plastic tub.  It's not perfect, but it’s still a better choice whilst being convenient.

- Baking a simple cake/slices for school lunches.  Home made popcorn and fruit make great snacks.  Fast, and cheap.  My kids still take some packaged foods to school, I’m not perfect at this.  But I can minimize it, plus its healthier.

- Get into the habit of bringing a drink bottle and a piece of fruit with you for those times when the kits get the dreaded "I'm hungry/thirsty I need to eat RIGHT NOW!"  I have a picnic hamper that fits all our drink bottles in it, plus a wet bag that carries spare cutlery and other little bag with cloth napkins in it.  The hamper stays packed, and I toss any last minute food/drinks in it as I leave the house.  I bring it inside after the outing, chuck the dirty stuff in the wash and re-pack it instantly so its always ready to go on a spur of the minute decision to head out.

Reusable women's sanitary items.  Even if we still use disposable items occasionally for the convenience factor, there is still a huge reduction in waste.  A solution doesn't have to be perfectly executed for it to still be better.  I use Hannah Pads.

- Saying “no” to the fad/collectible/cheap/crappy toys.  (Coles minis and happy meal toys anyone?)We love Lego, my kids love their action hero’s, we own a plastic doll, and far too many small plastic figures, Henry is obsessed with those magnetic plastic shapes you build with......BUT, we still say no to junky collectible mini things that are simply going to add clutter, break and irritate the crap out of me.  I try to avoid the re-peat of toys that are simply rehashed into what ever the newest and latest fad is.  I’m not too controlling of this as I know others like to gift things to them.  I value the relationship over the need to put my foot down over gift giving.  It’s simply not my way.  Though if I'm asked and I can gently and positively influence a gift choice I will.  My point is we can filter the things that we allow and choose to enter our home, every little bit helps. 

There are lots of "how to live zero waste" posts out there which are amazing.  But it can seem such an overwhelming goal.  Not all of us have the head space to make big drastic changes, or have the energy to cook everything from scratch, or are able to travel to a bulk food wholesaler.  But that doesn't mean we cant take baby steps.  Most of us can do that.

This post is about the simple baby steps.  None of us start at our destination.  Eventually these baby steps will add up, and who knows, perhaps one day as these changes will become our new norm, and as we continue to add more baby steps to our everyday routine we may too find our families wheelie bin is only half full at the end of the week.....and who knows where that could lead us?

Much love,

NOTE:  I'm not affiliated in anyway shape or form with any of the companies I mentioned in this blog.  These are simply places and items I personally choose to support and products I use in my day to day life.  I have nothing but good experiences with these companies and am happy to recommend them.   

Anxiety and the joy of creating.

Those that have been reading a while, may know that I struggled with PND in the past, after our third babe was born.  A combination of a prolonged recovery after a c-section and a sweet babe with terrible reflux which left him with a burnt, raspy little voice were the precursors to this.  Henry was only able to sleep for an hour at a time, very occasionally two for the first year of his life due to pain and discomfort.  Throw in no family near by, two other small children needing their Mama, owning our own business and a husband working long days.....well really it was inevitable.  There is only so much fuel in a persons tank.

Let me preface this post by saying I am quite well these days, and the darkness that hung over me like a stormy cloud after Henry’s birth has well and truly lifted.  But I believe the discussion around depression and mental health should be an ordinary one.  Something we talk about freely and openly.  It's not something that should be talked about it in hushed tones, nor hidden away.  It should be part of the modern day narrative, as we discuss health and well being.  We need to be educated and sensitive in a way which allows us to step into the trenches alongside those struggling with depression.  To help lift them up and fight away the darkness with them.  To empower them to seek help, to remind them it is not their fault but that it’s a  physiological condition.

I'm no longer on medication for depression, and mostly the sun very much shines in my life.  But like someone with a bad knee may experience aches and pains which slow them up, I’m still prone to bouts of anxiety and mild depression.  Something I share with 1 in 4 Australians.  Everyone experiences anxiety to a degree, and certainly it can be a useful emotion and kick us into much needed action.  But in excess?  It can make us feel paralyzed and worthless.  Incapable of doing anything much which we feel that is of any use to anyone else, let alone ourselves.  Even when we may know logically this is not true, anxiety can be insidious and utterly over whelming.

For me, living a slow and conscious life helps immensely.

Knowing the actions and things I undertake matter, that they have a value attached to them for the well being of our family.  The action of taking the time to find purpose in the small and often repetitive tasks of mothering.  There is power in that.

There is something about the slow and deliberate action of creating which gently untangles the knot of worries that sometimes find a home in my chest.  The chaotic noise that can fill my brain to the point that I feel like on a bad day, I feel I may actually burst.

Ritual helps.  To turn on calming music which drowns out the unhelpful probing thoughts, to tinker with my essential oils and turn on my diffuser.  These simple activities remind me to be present, that I am in control, that the actions I choose to undertake can be more powerful then the mess of thoughts.

And to create.

To pick up a task that requires me to have busy hands.  Hand sewing, baking, gardening, writing.  As my hands undertake the often repetitive movements of the activity in front of me, the knot slowly unravels, my thoughts untangling in the process.  Slowing to match the rhythmic movement of my hands.  Soon enough the voice of logic is louder then the voice of anxiety.  I find my center and I begin to feel more like my usual self.

For me if I litter the day with small, mindful rituals I remain on an even keel.  Poaching my two home grown eggs in the morning while my coffee brews, making sourdough, a simple but nourishing tradition generations upon generations have undertaken prior.  I often think of those before me as I carefully tend my loaf.  Wondering if like, me they have loaves that mysteriously fail despite doing the same thing as usual, or if they got a perfect loaf every time.  I imagine younger people might experience more frustration and baking failures, then as they grow older these activities gradually become intuitive.  An extension of themselves.  Patience, timing, rhythm...merging into a beautiful part of who they are at their very core.

I also like to spend time in prayer - or meditation if prayer is not your thing.  Just the simple act of taking time to acknowledge thoughts in stillness can be deeply helpful.  For me, sewing and writing are really the two big tickets in unraveling the tangle of anxiety when it begins to make a nest in my mind.  During these windows of time is when I most feel like “me”.  These activities resonate to the very core of who I am.  When undertaking these tasks I take the time to breathe slowly, to remember that of which I value.  I take the time to be thankful and look for all the beauty in life.  For it is always there, even if we have to dig a little.  Even in the darkness.

Gardening, cooking, sewing, painting, writing, knitting, crocheting, building....all these tasks are creative.  The list is endless.  What don't need to be Pintrest worthy, nor even end in a tangible item at the end.  Simply the process of using our hands in a way in which helps us to be mindful is the goal.

I wonder what value and worth others find their creative pursuits bring into their lives?

If you are struggling with your mental health, I urge you to seek help.  There is SO much help out there and its OK not to be OK.  Beyond Blue are just one Australian organisation that can offer a wealth of information and support.

Much love,

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