A quick reno update!

Here is a quick update on the house reno before the weekend.  The cladding is nearly on the new part of the old stone cottage, and the door is going in.  Its getting there!  We are going camping this weekend in our old vintage van.  Just a quick and easy two night get away, because I am going stir crazy from the same routine and a change of scenery will do us all good.    




I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and I shall see you all next week!

Much love,
Emma
xx
8

happy friday!

Thank goodness it Friday.  I am more then ready for the weekend!  

I feel like I things are calmer this term.  My chaplaincy job working with women and children after the Pinery bushfires has come to an end, as it was a 12 month position.  I have picked up a couple of extra subjects this semester at college, meaning I am doing .75 and I am still working a few hours running a youth program in a neighbouring community.  But my days have taken on a more settled rhythm and I feel like pressure has eased.  

Blogging has been a bit sporadic recently and I thank you readers for hanging on.  We are here and mostly doing well.  I have an array of health tests coming up.  Blood tests, hormone tests, heart tests, sleep tests.......I am so very tired, no matter how much sleep I get and no matter how well I eat I can't seem to escape the tiredness.  I do my best to pull my socks up and get on with it, but the truth is I am completely knackered most of the time.  I have been struggling with this for the last year or more and whilst initial bloods and a once over months ago showed nothing concerning, the fact I cannot shake it means the Dr is going to explore it more deeply.  This is part of the reason my blogging posts have been a little irregular.   

So, we have been working on embracing simple living when life is not and really, isn't that when we need it the most?  

Grant is hoping to get the cladding on the house this weekend, which was delivered last week.  I cannot wait to see it all sealed up.  I'm not sure if he will get the doors and windows in also.  I look forward to sharing the progress shots with you!        

I will probably spend the weekend pottering about with a bit of cooking, a little cleaning, studying, playing games with the boys and hopefully spending some time in the hammock in the sunshine.  The garden is an overgrown mess, but I am turning a blind eye to it.  I simply don't have the energy to tackle too much of it.  I look after a few small garden beds and the rest I am letting go for whipper sippers and mowers.  

These rat bags were trying to show me grumpy faces, and they both failed miserably! 

I'm packing in veggies every where I can at the moment, chasing off the last of the winter bugs!



Making a double batch of lasagne, with garlic, onion, carrot, celery, zucchini, capsicum, and spinach.




A delicious dinner.  Though the boys were a little dismayed to find their favourite meal overrun with veggies! 

"A dog bed you say?........Why would I need that when I have a perfectly good couch?"  says Aggie....


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
Much love,
Emma
xx


17

A bit of a natter.

Goodness, well doesn't time fly?

I know I promised photos but I'm afraid I can't deliver.  The wedding was wonderful, but I got so caught up with seeing old friends I didn't pick up my camera at all!  But I felt so comfortable in my new dress and I really impressed my friends who joked about seeing me not in linen, actually wearing make up and not a pair of Birkenstocks in sight.  ;)

I'm not sure where the time has gone since then.  There has been assignments and mountains of reading going on.  That much I do know.  There has been washing, washing, and more washing.

So here are a few pictures of various things that have been happening around the place since my last post.....(See the washing?)

Will sitting with me composing a song while I worked on an assignment.  The wood oven was crackling away, and the sourdough was proving next to it.


Daffodils and Iris's fresh from the garden.

Chicken stew and dumplings for dinner on a cold, wintery night.  

Angus is continuing to see the ENT and work out his hearing problems.  He had another hearing test and after some initial concern it seems to be fine.  

A mud kitchen pulled together from some bessa bricks, and ply we had lying around, underneath the old grapefruit tree.  Will be a lovely place to play in summer!


I caught up with a dear friend and she surprised us with this Scottish Terrier inspired gift bought form an op-shop.  We are happily reading the May Gibbs book a chapter at a time. 

The Scottish Terrier salt and pepper shakers have been added to my little collection of porcelain dogs.  These are all figures that belonged to my grandparents and are very dear to me.  I am keeping my eye out to find an antique ceramic Scottish Terrier to add.  I also have a beautiful heavy antique crystal Labrador which is sitting with some crystal candle holders which reminds me of old Tessa.  Its funny how collections seem to randomly grow isn't it?

My car died an untimely death, and was sold on for parts.  I have ended up with a new-to-me car.  Meet "Suzi"  the Suzuki.  I really like her.  She's neat, and has a perfect service record.  Fits us all in, and a boot big enough for the dogs, all my stuff, and plants!  Because a car big enough to load up with plants is of upmost importance, yes?  It also has seven seats which will come in handy.  We bought in cash from a private sale.  We nipped into a couple of car yards but thought a cash budget translated to "partial finance" and kept trying to sell us care $5,000 above our budget.....seriously......



Anyway, it is time to get dinner on!  Home made chicken soup and toast is on the menu tonight.
Much love,
Emma
xx
16

A date!

Hello dear readers!

I'm so excited that tonight Grant and I are going on a real DATE!  Well its to a dear family friends wedding, who I have not seen for far too long as they live interstate.  Its one of the daughters who is very special to me getting married.

I even have a new dress!  What a treat!  Granny is coming for the night to care for the boys, and Grant and I get a whole day and a whole night together!  With time for lunch by ourselves between the wedding and the reception.

A sweet dress I found in a little boutique in the Barossa.  It's lovely and thick so it drapes beautifully. I just loved the pattern.  Pair it with a LS wool spencer, thick tights and a pashmina I'll be comfy and warm!  Win win! 

There is so much to do before we go, I have dinner to cook, and we have the old vintage van to pull around to tidy and make cozy for her to sleep in tonight. The yard needs a quick tidy up.  All of these things which should have been done during the week, but we had to go car shopping (I may have accidentally cooked mine....*insert curse words here*) so its been a hectic, long week with late nights driving around Adelaide looking at cars....gah!

But all is well now, and we get to unwind with a rare special night.  I had best go, but be sure I will come back tomorrow with photos!

Much love,
Emma
xx
17

Finding the quiet moments when life is not.

There is so much written today about being mindful, about being still, about not rushing and being in the moment.

And there is good reason for it, it's really important stuff.  With mental health problems at an all time high, work days that never end with the availability of mobile phones, and email wherever we are, and people living more individualistic independent lives than ever before.  Well our bodies are being bombarded with cortisone and never-ending to-do lists. 

It’s not good for us.  But it seems impossible to slow down at times, doesn’t it? 

I’m in a stage where life in many ways, is speeding up.  With the boys, work, and 3 subjects this semester, there is an increase of the outside demands on my time, meaning I am out of the home more than ever before.  The volume and type of jobs around the home hasn’t changed, it never really does.  There is washing to do, meals to cook, a house to clean, dishes to do, homework to help with.  What’s more, all of these things are important to me in creating and building a nurturing family home which is a refuge from the world. 

I am essentially transitioning from being a full time stay at home mother, to a working/studying mother.  I would like to say I have it down pat but the truth is, I don’t.

Studying today, uninterrupted as I was meant to be at college.  What luxury!

Aggie my little study buddy, it was just me and her all day.  The oven was lit and the fire crackling away, occasionally interrupted by a contented grunt coming from the little black bear of a dog curled up in her bed.  What a total princess!  It's a tough life hey?  

What I do have is our core family values which hold us in good stead.  That we value time together over “things”, that we value a simple life, we value books and quiet time together, we value working together, we value nature which is reflected in our somewhat hap-hazard gardening efforts, bushwalks and camping in our old vintage caravan.

I’m not going to share a “how too” because what works for me, will not necessarily work for others. 

But I thought I would share a few lessons I have learnt and a story of how they have unfolded in the past week or so.  The main one is saying “no” to the things I think I could possibly squeeze in if I’m super organized.  You know I’m talking about, the small extra task we think we should do.  On its own these kind of tasks seem innocent enough, add 5-6 of them and suddenly we find ourselves juggling waaayyyy more balls then we ever intended.  Often coming to a head all at the same time.  (What’s with that anyway?) I often find it easier to say no to the big things, rather than the small.  We can justify it clearly and our reasons are understood to be valid by others.  But it’s not the big things that tend to tip us over the edge, it’s the little, seemingly innocent things.  I’m reminded of the children’s book “Who Sank The Boat” by Pamela Allen.  For those of you who don’t know it, the book is about a little row boat and a bunch of big animals all want to get in at once.  One by one they do, carefully counter balancing their weight.  Finally, there is a just a little mouse who wants to hop in, it seems innocent enough – he is a after all, a tiny creature.  But it is him who upsets the balance of the little row boat and everyone goes toppling into the water.  It is really a wonderful picture book and carries a message that can resonate with all ages. 

This week for us has a lot going on.  My car died and un-resurrect-able death last week meaning we are down to one car, with two adults going in seemingly different directions.  I have a short answer task due for collage, a short quiz, a stack of reading, and two essays.  And the usual work/family/homework/cooking etc.  It means I have had to say “no” to coffee with friends, I have had to say “no” an unexpected church council meeting called that I was asked to attend, I knew they would have their quorum so all would be fine, but I also know they would have preferred I go.  It means I had to miss college as it was going to take too much time to try and juggle cars/busses/school run and put too much pressure on Grant to work around me.  I also had to look forward at my schedule as I was asked to fill a space on the preaching roster.  Now I enjoy preaching.  It’s important to me and I take it as both great privilege and responsibility.  But in this very season, it may well be the innocent looking little mouse that tips my row boat.  Each of these extra things on their own are innocent enough, a couple of hours here, a couple of hours there.  But add them up?  Suddenly I would have lost a significant amount of time.  

What would the cost have been?  Well time for one, but I can guarantee I would be more stressed.  Which adds to the chance of convenience food being embraced, which makes me feel tired and unhealthy, which adds stress to my load as I wouldn’t feel able to do what I need to let alone the extras.  If I’m too stressed I turn into a growly-bear like creature who is not pleasant to live with.  I would have had to stay up late to get the house hold chores done, adding to more tiredness, adding to more stress, adding to more bear-like behaviour. 

But, instead I have submitted the quiz and short answer task, completed necessary readings, and the research for the major essay is going strong and I am well into the planning/drafting stage.  My other essay is in the works too, though will be a little simpler.  I’m getting to bed at a respectable time, my paid work is on track, the house is mostly tidy enough and meals are simple but healthy.  Most importantly, my family are getting the me they deserve, and deserve my best.  Not what is left over after I have given my best to everyone else.

The reality is the church meeting went on without me just fine, the preaching roster will be filled, my friend understood my situation and we will have that coffee at a later stage.  I have not added unnecessary stress to our families’ routine by trying to keep the same pace while we are a car down.  There is no need to feel guilty as I will be able to go to the next church meeting, I am allowed to miss a couple of lectures without it affecting my grade if I give notice, there is plenty of time to preach and I can possibly pick up a couple next roster for someone else if need be.  There are few problems so big they don’t have a solution in our everyday lives, yet often we rush about like crazy things thinking we need to solve aaaallllll the problems ourselves, without help.      

Do you see the picture I am trying to paint?  It is important to say no, especially to the little things because they add up.  Even when they are valid and important things.  It is when we say no, that we are able to create space in which to find those quiet, peaceful moments we are so desperately looking for.  That our bodies, minds and souls need more then ever.  When we say no, we are in turn saying yes to the things which truly matter.   

Much love,
Emma
xx


10

Thanks for popping by!

Welcome!  I see a lot of new faces here in our little online home as a result of being linked to Rhonda's blog - thanks so much for popping by, and it's lovely to have you here!  Thankyou to all those that have commented, its lovely to "meet" you and I do hope some of you will share a little of your story here too.  Grab a cuppa and a comfy chair, and feel free to have a good poke around.

Part of our story is that we are half way through renovating our little old stone cottage which we bought in cash after many years of hard work.  It was, and still is a complete renovators delight.  I will link to a couple of posts that show some of the progress, but there are plenty more in my archives.

Before
Early days of renovating
Lounge
Boys room
Kitchen demolition
Demolishing the lean-too


The kitchen as it is now....But probably tidier!

Currently the old lean too out the back which was beyond repair has been demolished, we have a new slab down, the framing done and the new roof on.  The renovations have reached a kind of standstill for a while as we have been saving money for the next stage. 

But I’m excited to share that FINALLY we will be starting the next stage of renovations – no more outdoor bathroom and loo.  Can you just imagine that?!  Such absolute luxury!

Next week we will be calculating the materials we need, putting in the order for the cladding, the gyprock and beginning to plan bathrooms and so forth.  So, for those that love renovations, in the coming couple of months there will be plenty of progress shots to share here as we continue to workout how to maintain the character of the old while building the new! (And maintain a level of sanity through the madness.)

Much love,
Emma
xx


 
22

Authenticity

So often in this modern world we see an image of perfection.  Perfect looking homes, advertising for products to achieve perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect food, perfect lives.

We are bombarded with advertising about things to give us a nicer home, a better car.  We see things to make us more attractive, that will make us happier, to make us better.

When we purchase these dreams dangled in front of us, sure we feel better for a while.  But it's a hollow kind of happiness.  Soon we realize we are no happier then we were before.  The shiny-newness of the car fades.  The excitement of the dream home wears off, and we are left to face the truth of who we are once again.  The fact remains that we are the sum of what is inside of us, not of that which we are able to display on the outside.

There comes a certain point after obtaining the essentials of life like a safe place to live, warmth, proper clothing and adequate food at which we reach a kind of stand still.

The extent of these basics is not as high as modern day media would have us believe.  Beyond a certain point the real truth resides;  If we are not happy without it, then we will never be happy with it.


A couple of photos of a lovely little trip we had to a cheap little holiday house near the beach.  I cant even remember where it was now but I do remember it was freezing!  

No amount of lovely belongings can nor ever will change who we are at the centre of our being.  That if we cannot have a sense of like or acceptance for the person deep inside us, then there is nothing we can buy which will change that.  It simply aids as a distraction for a little while.

You know one of my very favourite things to do?  To have a cuppa with a person who is not scared to show their true colours, to share who they are at their heart of hearts.  To sit down and discuss all that is real, and challenging.  To have the kind of conversations that are rich, and deep, and most importantly real.  An honest account of they are and where they are going, bumpy roads and all.  I love these kinds of conversations.  To get past the everyday polite chit chat and get to the stuff that matters, the very marrow of life.  To encourage each other through fears and uncertainties, to laugh at our imperfections.  To respectfully share thoughts and ideas even when they differ from one another.  To learn and to live.  To be in authentic relationships.

The things we see on the media which tells us how to have a happier life....they are not real.  After a certain point the things we see and desire simply become fluff.  Sure, sometimes fluff is nice to soften the harsh edges we run up against in life, but in the end the fact remains it is still just fluff and can only go so far.  The things that truly help make life brighter are in the relationships we have around us.  When we have the opportunity to be who we are on the inside with others, to share, to laugh....perhaps even sometimes, to cry.

This past week or so I have had a couple of such experiences, which have truly helped to fill my tank.  Once was when I went to a friend/work colleges house for the first time.  I entered her cottage and it was completely un-pretentious.  There was nothing fancy about her home on the surface.  It was a completely ordinary, neat family home.  But within the home held such familiarity and beauty.  There were papers overflowing on the desk, books strewn over the kitchen table, memories and reminders adorning the walls.  Their house told their families story and despite it being my first time there, it was somehow exactly what I had imagined her home to be.  Warm, authentic, beautiful and comforting. 

This morning I had another such soul filling encounter.  A dear friend popped over for coffee, which progressed somehow into a 4 1/2hr catch-up.  We drank hot coffee from oversized mugs, I pottered and made a batch of pumpkin soup.  Coffee turned into lunch, which meandered into coffee again.  Me wearing my husbands trackies, her off the farm.  The floors not swept, beds not made, crazy little Scottish Terrier getting up to trouble, washing machine whirring in the background.

Yes, my house may not be shiny, my garden may contain far too many weeds, my roses need pruning, my car is a little beat up, my curves a little too curvy.  But I feel so very blessed to have such wealth in authentic deep relationships with beautiful family and friends.  These things - these people are the real treasures in life, and I reckon I must be one of the richest people around.

Much love,
Emma
xx 
39

A fresh look and 200 posts!

Well, school holidays are finished and we are nearly finished week one!  Goodness, it is quiet around the place with just me and this little fellow.

Look at those hand-me-down PJ's, He REFUSED to take them off and he went out in PUBLIC in them.....Such a dag.  He gets that from Grant I tell you.

I realized as I hit publish that I have hit 200 posts - I feel like that is some kind of milestone to celebrate!  Thankyou to all those who regularly read and who follow along with our little family.  It means so very much to me!   An extra special thankyou to all those who like, comment and share any posts.  The way a blog grows is partly from the way readers interact with it.  So thankyou for joining us on this journey, thankyou for your loyalty and for the time you spend with us in our online "home".  

I recently purchased a new template from georgia lou studios which I fully intended on uploading myself.  Until it dawned on me I was completely miffed by the entire process, despite the instructions looking beautifully clear.  (Which is not hard for a technological numpty like me, let's be honest here.)  After a period of failed attempts I began to get a little bear-like-growly whenever I looked at my blog.  Then I noticed that they could install it for me, for only $35.  Best. Money. Ever. Spent.  I went out for a coffee with a friend, and came back to a fresh looking blog!  How cool is that?  Just in time to celebrate my 200th post too!

Much love,
Emma
xx

8

Who knew?

Our washing machine has been dying a slow and tedious death for many months now.  So with the mid-year sales on we finally decided to buy a new one and we opted for a front loader.  We have never had a front loader before, but they are meant to be more efficient, and a better use of space as there is a possibility our laundry will end up in a cupboard and the washer/dryer can be stacked. 

Today is its first wash.  Apparently a front loader is endlessly amusing.  The boys crowded around spotting their clothing as the washing swished around, with delighted gurgles of laughter.  Stating "this is even better than watching the dryer!"


So apparently doing the washing is more entertaining than the T.V.  Who knew?  I’m sure their partners will thank me one day, yes?  

Much love,
Emma
xx
10

The joy of creativity.


Creativity.  It’s one of the things that makes us as humans completely unique.  The ability to be creative.  We can express the creativity we possess through a multitude of ways.  In the kitchen, in the garden, writing, painting, music, sewing, knitting and weaving.  Through woodwork, through building, through craft.  The possibilities are truly endless, which is beautiful.  There is something for absolutely everyone.    

Creativity is not only fun, it can serve as a wonderful form of stress relief.  To build something and to make something with our hands.  It gets us back to a slower time.  Back to a pace we are better designed to work at, rather than matching the hustle and bustle of the modern world.  I always find my hand sewing helps me find a place of stillness in my mind.  As my hands rhythmically do their work, that my mind slows to match.  After a period, I find myself formulating a plan to tackle any worries I have, or that I have simply processed the pile of thoughts that have grown to teetering point and filed them all away in my mind where they belong.    

I have been lacking opportunities to busy myself with a practically creative outlet lately.  I have been writing which I love, but I also love to create things with my hands.  I used to make Waldorf dolls, and occasionally I still do.  But I have been craving a new outlet.  I went through a raggedy quilt sewing period and also a clothes sewing period.  These things are still things I love.  Though I’m lacking time for large, time consuming sewing projects at the moment.  But I have been wanting something new to sink my teeth into.  Something rhythmic, something I can do for 20 mins, walk away from and come back too.

And the other day I found it quite by accident. 

Spinning!   





Now you may ask how one accidentally stumbles upon spinning and receives a lesson in it, and I would have to say it was fate.  I have been wanting to learn to spin for years, but the lessons I could find are in the city over an hour away from me.  I was attending a local Mothers group and they were having a display of various crafts and one of them was spinning.

I completely sucked at it, but that’s beside the point.  I am hooked!  So now I am on the hunt for an affordable second hand spinning wheel, with spare parts.  The only way to get better is with hours of practise, and now I know someone who is willing and able to give me lessons!

I’d love to hear how you are creative, what you currently do, or perhaps what you would like to do? 

Much love,
Emma
xx 
15

Here & Now

I thought I would try something a little different today and link in with the blog "Say Little Hen" and her invitation to share our HERE & NOW.  If your interested in joining in, follow the link and play along!  Or even if you are wanting to add some more blogs to your readers list, there are some beautiful blogs out there yet to be discovered!

Loving
Lazy winter school holidays! 



Eating
Goden syrup dumplings, I have discovered the most simple and delicious thermomix recipe HERE


Drinking
Coffee, always coffee.  I would like to say Im brewing some special ultra healthy, winter, disease killing potion but I'm completly boring.  Tea, coffee, milk and water here for me, though I did get a scoby from Sally at Jembella Farm, so wish me luck with that!

Feeling
Thankful after a visit with Sally at Jembella Farm for friendships and the oppertunity this blog has given me to meet with new people who are treading a similar simple pathway.  Im thankful the boys and I get to visit a beautiful, ethical farm, to feed sweet baby lambs and for knowledge and wisdom shared.  Experiences over things any day! 

Making
A little knitted scarf and blanket for one of my neices waldorf dolls I made HERE.  I'm working on my knitting after a lesson from a friend the other day.  I can now knit pearl.  Woo hoo!



Thinking
That I need to get on to college and find out what text books I need to order this semester.  Time to get reading and organising. (Where do the holidays go?!  Nooo!)

Dreaming
About our farm to be, always about our farm to be and what it will feel like to finally get there after all these years of hard work.  Hurry up and SELL little shop!

Much love,
Emma
xx

14

Budget challanges.

According to the recent news, South Australia has a new claim to fame…..We have just received a 20% rise in our electricity prices, which has given us the title of having the most expensive electricity prices IN THE WORLD.  On top of that we can also claim the prize of the lowest wages in Australia AND the highest levels of unemployment in Australia at 6.9%......Let the reality of that sink in for a minute……

OUCH….

Our government has worked hard to push green energy, which in it’s self is certainly a wonderful thing to aim for, if done well.  But the reality is they have done it badly which has left the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable high and dry.  We live in an area where is a large proportion of people on modest incomes.  As a result we see many people being forced to do without heating and cooling, often putting their health at risk as they simply cannot afford the exorbitant power prices.  Solar power is wonderful, but it is often out of the price range for the people who need it most.  Not to mention ,completly unattainable for those who are renting and relying on their landlords to maintain the property. 

We cannot justify the cost of solar on our little old cottage, as we do not plan on being here in 5 or so years’ time.  Which is roughly the time it would take for the solar to pay for itself.  So, what does that mean when the home budget is about to cop a big hit?

It means sitting down, and crunching the numbers to work out where we can save to prepare for the price rise. 

Gym membership? Gone. (hmmphhh, I may have made golden syrup dumplings to comfort myself….Ha!)

Mobile phones? We have gone into Telstra and re-jigged out plans.  We ended up getting more credit and more data for $30 less/month.  I also got a free 6-month trial of apple music, which took the sting out of losing the gym membership.  Win, win!  It pays to keep an eye on phone plans.  (We need Telstra for the rural coverage, and we have always found them very good.)

Other Bills? Check with your provider, we usually keep pretty on top of these as a part of running our business, but it’s worth keeping an eye out on who is offering the best value for money. 

Entertainment?  Well, we have been pretty good at frugal entertainment.  Our monthly camping trips help create a regular special time as a family, bushwalks, the beach, gardening, board games, play dates with friends, maximising the use of our zoo passes which were gifted to us at Christmas.  We do not need to GO somewhere to have a great time as a family, as much as we are told otherwise by commercial media.   


A local hidden gem..."The Rocks". 

Aggie is built for this kind of exploring, she is such a strong, energetic, sturdy little dog!

Food?  As a family of 5, it is not hard to drop $60+ on a meal out.  So, bringing drink bottles, and simple snacks helps immensely.  Even bringing a pack of rice biscuits can hold off the “I’m starving’s” until we get home.  We have embraced hot chips as an occasional treat for a lunch out as $10 can feed us all, and it means we support a small, local family business – Bonus!  Looking for specials on meat is a great saver, chicken marylands all the way!  They are so cheap, and have heaps of meat on them.  They must be an unfashionable cut at the moment or something, which is fine by me.  Making broth from bones, as a base for soups.  Embracing more simple “rustic” meals helps too.  (goodbye fancy cheese, I’ll miss you!) Certain roasts are cheap to buy/kg, and are my kind of cooking.  Whack everything in a couple of big pans and forget about for a couple of hours.  Make a gravy from the juices and serve. Good, easy and cheap!  Being aware of seasonal veggies and growing our own herbs to flavour meals helps bring flavour to meals and save money.  A lot of these things we do anyway, but usually there is always room for improvement.  Baking snacks, rather then buying pre-prepared goods is another.  There are lots of blogs that share great frugal recipes so I won’t go into it, but you get my drift.

Home made chicken soup, made with bone broth and simple veggies.  Costs next to nothing for dinner for 5, and enough left for the boys and I for lunch the next day. 

Cleaning?  Commercial cleaning products are expensive.  Bi-carb, vinegar, and eucalyptus oil do a lot of the work around here, and the bonus us they are both cheap and natural.  I keep a couple of commercial products on hand for the particularly tough times like a bought of gastro.         

Anyway, here are a few of the things that have been in our radar over the last couple of weeks as we juggle our budget.  There are always more, and I’m happy to write about something more specifically if there is interest.

Much love,
Emma
xx
  
9

Quiet winter days.

Well it appears winter has finally settled in….It has been raining here for what feels like forever, but the reality is it’s only been a week or so.  Even then it has mostly been short showers that deliver a few mls at a time, several times a day.  Such is the way after so many beautiful sunny winter days. 

My kitchen is currently filled with drying racks, but I throw my hands up at the sheets and towels.  They are currently going straight in the dryer.  There is no room in this little cottage while it only has 4 rooms for this many people, animals and sheet drying on top of that.  It’s madness I tell you!   


Aggie is patiently waiting for any tid-bits to drop. 

You see, we are on school holidays here, three whole weeks of them!  Though I can’t believe one week is finished already.  We have spent lots of time at home, resting and simply catching up.  There has been cooking to do, and the boys are enjoying taking part peeling the veggies, and cutting things up for hot soups, and various other bits and bobs.   


Fresh baked sourdough....

William and I have made a fresh batch of sauerkraut, and there has been sour dough baking too.  My sauerkraut recipe is basically 1 tablespoon of salt to 1Kg of veggies, this time we used cabbage and grated carrot.    


Lots of squeezing and bruising the veggies to release the juices. 

Will has been so helpful in tending to the fire for me, it appears he has taken it over as the young man in the house.  Yesterday was one of those days I felt like I just couldn’t get warm.  The wind whistled and howled all day long!  

Much love,
Emma
xx
11

Just like that...


The other morning, we were getting ready for school, just like any other morning.  It was time to get Henry dressed and he stopped me, explaining that “he would do it.”  So, I laid out his clothes and left him to it.  And he did it, perfectly.  Just like that. 

This little guy is growing before my very eyes. 

And then it dawned on me, I am no longer the mother of “smalls”.  My smallest can toilet himself, feed himself and dress himself.  He can tell me what he needs, and often, he can fulfil those needs all by himself.

Where did the time go?  How did I miss it?

Oh how I miss feeling Henry's soft breath on the back of my neck.  And look, William looks so little here!  Gussy must be about 4 here I think.

Of course, I didn’t miss it.  I was here all along, guiding and teaching.  But somehow we left the world of “small” and entered…..Well I don’t know what exactly, but we are firmly in a new season and I’m a little bewildered as to how exactly I got here. 

So I have been pondering this the last week or two…..Reflecting on the season of parenting little ones, and realizing the all-consuming challenges of having babies, or toddlers are no longer mine.  But in that, little chubby hands, and sweet-smelling babies no longer are either. 

Just like that..... 

Much love,
Emma
xx
12

The power of encouragement.


A couple of days ago I attended an online blogging workshop which was ran by Rhonda from Down to Earth.  My blog may have been up and running quite a while now, but I sit firmly in the camp of small time blogger.  I'm also a little bit of a complete technological numpty.  There is always something to learn, and fresh ideas to embrace and it was a great opportunity to learn from one of my favourite bloggers. 

The workshop was very helpful.  We received a clearly written file, with screenshots and tips regarding many of the ins and outs of setting up a blog from the very beginning.  There was also an online small group skype chat where we talked and discussed these things together.  It was so lovely to speak face to face.  To hear voices, and see faces - its nearly as good as being in person!  If this course is offered again, and you’re interested in starting a blog, or perhaps have one but have lots of questions then I really recommend you go along. 

I came away with a better understanding of some of the features of blogger, which was great.  Though I still have no Pinterest pin in my sidebar after trying again for the 548th time.  I have a link, but no pretty picture.  (Ha, but I WILL get there, statistically speaking the odds are really coming into my favour now....yes?)

But I came away with a renewed love for the generosity of the simple living blogging world.  The bloggers who line up their side bars with blogs they read, to try and give traffic to to others.  The knowledge readily shared to help others to live a simpler, greener lifestyle.  The empowerment of people like Rhonda to help others start blogs and refine them.  The visiting and the comments left behind by readers who share their lives and thoughts.  It's a special corner of the internet, and I am thankful to be here.


 This kid and his fur friends.  So much love. 

Can you remember a time where we would have all had to buy a magazine to read an article, or go to the library to find out information, or even buy a book?  Now sure, we can still do all those things, especially if we want to cover a specialist topic.  But we can also go on line and look into to other worlds, to read, to be encouraged, to learn.  It’s amazing, isn’t it? 

Encouragement and thankfulness, they are powerful things, aren’t they?

Excuse me whilst I diverge a bit - I’ll come back I promise...The other day I received an essay back from college.  I had worked very hard on it but only received 73% which is a very high credit, a distinction is 75%.  I was, however disappointed.  But then I got to the comments.  You see, I am learning a new writing style whilst studying theology, and I am only a couple of subjects into the degree.  It’s quite different from my previous science degree.  Each essay I get stronger, but I know I can do better, and most importantly I want to do better.  My lectuer's comments were encouraging and helpful.  She recognized I was trying hard, and that I had the potential to help me bump up my writing without too much trouble.  So, she kindly offered to meet with me for a one-on-one to help me tackle the problems I am having, and bring a fresh light upon them.  I am so grateful for the people willing to support and share their knowledge in this world. 

The power of encouragement....I was left to ponder what I would have thought if I got that essay back and not received the helpful feedback.  If I had of worked extremely hard on an assignment to receive a grade lower then I was hoping for.  If my lecturer had not spent the extra time to reach out and encourage me, to offer a little more guidance.  Perhaps I would have been disappointed.  Perhaps I would have wondered if I had reached my potential? 

Encouragement - it’s important to give it, it’s important to receive it.  It can absolutely change lives, it can change the path we are on.  When we are encouraged to try something new, when we achieve success at something we have worked at.  It’s the best feeling. 

I think we all need to encourage those trying to live greener, to live more simply.  All those little baby steps that people make.  They are awesome!  Got yourself some cloth bags for your shopping - good on you!  Learning how to cook from scratch?  Awesome!  Feeling like you’re never going to master a new skill - do keep trying, its ok.  We have all had disasters!  Oh the disasters I have had.....I should share them here.  Just for giggles.

The internet if full of curated photos, of the whole #simpleliving phenomenon.  Some of it is wonderful and authentic.  Some of it is not.  But my encouragement to you, is don’t be dismayed by it.  Look around your home and look at all you have.  Start small, baby steps.  A marathon is won by putting one foot in front of the other. 

I’m not a minimalist, nor do I desire to be.  But I love living in a house that suits our needs.  Where we fit.  Where we value the people who live here, more then the stuff that fills it.  That things have a place and we can tidy them up pretty quickly.

Aggie and Max are tolerating eachother better all the time - an unesy truce.  See my Scottie height fences over the bedroom door?  Keeps the toys chew-free! 

I don’t cook absolutely everything from scratch - or I would never have time for anything else, and whilst I don’t mind cooking, my favourite part is the knowledge I am caring for my family, rather then the actual cooking process.  It is not a deep-seated passion for me.  I do it well enough, and happily enough, but I would never receive a Michelin star!

But my point is, we don’t have to do this simple living thing perfectly, meals don’t have to be Instagram ready.  Its ok to potter along, trying, experimenting.  Learning along the way.  To reach out to others who are also trying to live simply.  To bring encouragement to one another as we try to build lives that care for this planet we live on.  What truly matters is that we give it a shot, that we consume mindfully, that we try and make choices that are better, that are greener.  That we support ethical companies so they grow and can care more widely for the vulnerable.  That when we stumble and eat take out for a week, or buy the crappy thing we go gently on ourselves.  It achieves nothing to dwell on it.   The quicker we accept it as a learning moment, the better we will be able to move forward to continue our own simple living path.  Whatever that path looks like to you. 

Much love,
Emma
xx


 

 

 





     
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pocket money for kids.

            

One of the things we have pondered in our simple living journey as a family is the issue of pocket money.  Do we give it?  How much?  And what for?

For us, we are on a pretty tight budget.  We don’t believe money brings people much joy, and our desire is to raise kids who are content with what they have.  To find happiness comes from within, rather from all the bright shiny things you can buy.  It is also really important they are able to happily pull their weight around the house because it is the right thing to do – not because they are paid for it.  The sheer volume of marketing that is directly geared towards children in todays modern world to make them want all kinds of junk greatly concerns us too.  But like most parents, we want them to know the joy of working hard and earning their own money and the pride that comes with achieving their goals. 


So, week to week we do not give pocket money.  But if the boys come to us, wanting to earn money we will give them extra jobs with an agreed price and they can start and stop those as they desire.

Check out the odd socks - just keeping it real!! 

The jobs we do not pay them for, nor negotiate on are:

- tidying their room (It’s not my crap in there.)

- putting the clothes in the wash/putting clean clothes away. (Because one day I hope they find a wonderful partner and no one likes a slob.)

- picking up after themselves (Its not my crap, and once again no one enjoys living with a complete slob.)

- helping with general indoor housework like vacuuming/dusting (unless I’m ill and Will vacuums the whole house, or if he is particualy helpful above and beyond, I might give him a few dollars as a thankyou.)

- feeding/watering the animals (They depend on us and are family members.)

- picking up after the animals (basic hygiene)

- doings dishes etc. (they are not all mine, and its not all my job,)

- watering the garden (because I’m not convinced they do it well, it usually ends in a water fight - haha!)

- setting/clearing the table (not all my mess and I’m not a maid.)


It might not seem like there is not much left they can do but I assure you there is.  See we don’t pay them for these things as I don’t consider them as “extras”.  I consider them as the responsibilities of the whole family to ensure we live in a clean and somewhat tidy house.  That all members of the house are cared for, including the furry/feathered and scaly ones.  I am not the only one who makes the mess, and by golly I am not going to be the only one who cleans it up.  But these things are not usually a point of resistance.  Work is not an un-plesant thing to do, infact it’s a good thing to do.  So, I don’t find it hard to motivate them generally.  I mean they play with the animals as they potter about, and its caring for their own stuff.


If they are not willing to tidy up their mess, then they probably do not value it enough.  It might mean it is time to have a chat to see if they have out grown it and to take it away and donate it/bin it or what ever the appropriate action is.  Kids love to help other kids, if there is a consistent conversation in the house about helping others, about how grateful we are for all we have, and about passing on those things we don’t need then we can empower our kids to be generous. 


The TV goes off, we do our jobs as a family and then we can each go and do what interests us, after we might do something fun, or they are free to potter in their own little worlds.  I don’t hassle them about doing “extra” jobs for pocket money – that is up to them to decide for themselves.  I believe it is important for them to have control over their finances from a young age, so they naturally develop an understanding about earning, saving and spending as they are ready.  I believe they need to be self-motivated about it.  I’m not interested in nagging them, it doesn’t bother me if they are broke.


Here is an example of what it looks like for us.  A few weeks ago, Angus was desperate for a Lego Ninjago book with a figure that came with it, from the school book catalogue.  The problem was that he didn't have enough money for it.  He was a bit upset, but we talked about it and I pointed out if he saved more he could buy himself a small box of Ninjago, which would be better value for his money.  We had a look and he found the very one he wanted which was $22. So, we gave him a job of filling the wood bin.  Every day he gathered wood with his little trailer and filled the wood bin by the back door, and the little box near the fire for which he earnt $1.  We gave him other options of earning money as well, but this was the job he choose and was willing to do.  Once or twice he got upset and went on strike, as the goal seemed so far away.  $22 is a lot to earn for a little fellow!  But he quickly picked up his little socks and got on with it again, after I allowed his big brother William to do the job and earn the $1 allocated to it.  (He quickly learnt there is always someone else to do the job if he was not.) Every day after he had done the job well, I paid him his $1 coin.  It HAD to be a $1 coin, it couldn’t be any other combination of coins to make up the money.  Each night I had to go and swap out the money from his money box so I would have the right coin for him ready for the next day.  I even tried to give him $2 one day, to give him a boost along, but he was adamant he had only earnt $1 for the wood.  Angus is what we call very particular, and a little obsessive.   😉


Eventually he earnt his $22 and we went to the shop and he bought his box of Lego – he was SO proud of himself!  He has played with it every day non-stop.  Carefully making it on a tray, keeping track of all the pieces.  One day he accidentally dropped his most prized Lego man and Aggie the Scottish Terror chewed its arm clean off before he realized.  My goodness there were tears and my heart broke for him after all his hard work.  But, William came to the rescue with a solution much faster than I could.  He went and broke two of his Lego men to get a red arm and then a black hand off a favorite Star Wars man so his little brother could have his back intact, perfectly as it was.  (With Angus’s obsessiveness, these things are BIG things in our house and he was genuinely shattered.) 



This way of pocket money is completely dictated by the boys.  It is initiated by them, it requires self-motivation, and they will achieve their goals at the pace they are willing to work.  William is perhaps less focused, and driven, but he also applies himself well when he wants too.



When it comes to what they are able to buy – crappy toys that break and will simply go to land fill are a firm “no”.  But this is not hard to explain, and I get very little kick up about it.  They are all too aware of the disappointment that comes when they have been given something for it to only break that same day, and William is turning into a little environmental warrior!  Lego, books, balls, games pieces, collecting cards, stickers tend to be the things they like.  William likes to buy succulents. (which I can’t love enough, seriously how cool is that?!!)and earnt his $1. Once or twice he got upset because he seemed so far away from his goal, but after a day or so of moping (and watching his big brother doing his job and earning his $1!https://www.facebook.com/images/emoji.php/v9/f29/1.5/16/1f602.png😂) he picked up his little socks and kept on going. Today he finally earnt his last dollar and got his Lego, he is SO proud of himself! I'm really proud of his determination and all the little lessons he learnt along the way. Every day he counted how much closer he was to his goal and kept on chipping away, even when it seemed so far away, $22 is a lot to earn for a little fellow.

An old photo of William's succulat patch.

I wonder how others on the simple living, consumer avoidance path tackle the same topic? 


Much love,
            Emma
            xxand earnt his $1. Once or twice he got upset because he seemed so far away from his goal, but after a day or so of moping (and watching his big brother doing his job and earning his $1!https://www.facebook.com/images/emoji.php/v9/f29/1.5/16/1f602.png😂) he picked up his little socks and kept on going. Today he finally earnt his last dollar and got his Lego, he is SO proud of himself! I'm really proud of his determination and all the little lessons he learnt along the way. Every day he counted how much closer he was to his goal and kept on chipping away, even when it seemed so far away, $22 is a lot to earn for a little fellow.


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