Saturday, April 24, 2021

Choosing a value driven life

With so much going on in the world, I choose to hunker down here in my house and garden, trying to live a value driven life, rather than a life buffeted by fashions, advertising or even bad news. This is where I can provide those I know and love with my time and the results of my efforts and work. This is where I am nurtured and where I am content. I concentrate on the three big Permaculture values -care for the earth, care for people and Fair Share. The kind of values which most spiritual paths will identify with, too. 

I started this blog in 2008, when I was on the first couple of rungs of  the ladder of learning to live simply. I was in a stressful job, and I felt stuck. I needed a plan in which I could be kinder to myself and it wrote about it here

When I go back and read the first couple of years, I can see how much things have changed since then. I have added new skills such as making bread and quilting, along with new garden beds, new habits such as budgeting with YNAB along with a new garden shed. The blog was my way of both documenting and creating accountability for my determination to live a more value driven life. I wanted to be less busy but more happy, to work less and spend less but enjoy life more, and to be more creative and to live out my values. Eventually I was able to move to part time work, then finally to retire, having paid off our suburban home and ready to live more on less. 

This beautiful illustration is from Brenna Quinlan

We are all feeling a bit overwhelmed, I think, by the stresses and changes of living in 2021. Right now we are back in lockdown here in Perth. 

I try to concentrate on what is in our power -to do all the good we can do. Some of these things are remarkably easy to do! But they will 'leave a trace' for others to follow.

Brenna says "We're always talking about doing less bad, but why don't we shift the conversation to one about doing more good? Imagine if your ecological footprint was a measure of how much carbon you captured? Or if the goal wasn't just to achieve net zero, but to assist our ecosystems to thrive once more.  We can all kick start this way of thinking in our homes and communities. We can be a beacon in the dark, inspiring others to do the same, just like so many have inspired us."


We have moved our 'parked' savings to a bank which does not invest in fossil fuels or live animal exports or the weapons trade. They invest instead in projects which will be good for the earth and the community. We are very happy with Bank Australia. 

Find out if your bank is doing this by checking out or dontbankonthebomb.

We try to spend our money with local businesses and services. I firmly believe we can do good this way, keeping people in work and letting the money circulate in places where it can do the most good. In Australia large businesses swallow up small family owned businesses -especially in hardware, groceries, fruit and vegetables and butchery. I get better quality services and goods from small places and usually reduce the food miles by HEAPS as well. For example, here in Perth one grocery chain sells eggs from Queenslad -over 3000km away. I shop at an independent store where I can get them from either Harvey (a town a couple of hundred ks away) or Gingin (quite close to my northern suburb home). 

We try not to spend it all on ourselves! The past few months I have been using YNAB as the tool for managing our budget. I have no personal or business relationship with YNAB but I can heartily recommend it as a way of giving us power over our money. With the tools and tutorials it offers us, we have been able to feel more completely aware of each dollar and what it is for.  This then means that, because we are in a very fortunate position of having a bit more money coming in than we can justify in spending on ourselves, our charitable giving can be supported.  We also donate to a small number of regular charities. Our long term favourite is St Judes School in Tanzania The Pat Giles Centre for Non Violence , St Barth's homeless services  and CARAD -Centre for Refugees and Detainees.  

We try to invest ethically. In Australia, we have a superannuation arrangement which puts money into an investment fund during our working life, to use when we retire. DH and I arranged for our superannuation funds to only be invested in ecofriendly investments. No fossil fuels! No weapons! The superannuation manager was a bit surprised, to be honest, that we requested this, but they did have options for people like us-even if he had to go and look it up first! 

One thing I am interested in exploring, is using our money to invest in small, local, eco-friendly business ventures. I don't have much money to spare, but it could just make a big difference to someone starting out. 

These are just a few of the ways in which we can do good with our money. 

Next time I will write about how we are trying to do this sort of thing by living our values with regard to what we buy and how we take care of the things we own.

Here are some links for you to enjoy: 

The shearwaters are doing well this year 

We found some daisies! Check the story here 

A great inspirational book about gardening: 

Happy -when surrounded by nature and especially lots of it

How to keep cool -click here 

Farming productively using old methods here 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Simple days, getting simple things done

Our days have been going on in the usual way, with simple things taking up our lives. We are most grateful for our happy, quiet home.

 In the last few weeks a number of important milestones have been passed -DH and DS both had birthdays, and DH is through his hand and back surgery and well on the mend. We have both had our flu injections for this year -DH got one for pneumonia last year so probably doesn't need it to be done again this year. We are not yet on the list for the COVID vaccine but I will be lining up as soon as I am called. 

The tumbler quilt top I started some time ago has become a flimsy over the last couple of weeks. I will always remember this one for the way my 3 year old grandson enjoyed turning the handle on my Accuquilt Go as I cut the tumblers, and them put them up on the design wall. I am planning to use a collection of orphan blocks on the back. I am trying to think of a name for the quilt, but given the helper I had I am thinking of it as 'tumble tots'. 

It  has been school holidays and we have been having a 'sleepover' with the older grandchildren as a special treat. I took both Miss 8 and Mr 6 to the local pool and they had a wonderful time. The pool is geothermally heated at a constant 32C and it is quite wonderful. When DH is a bit more recovered we both will be using the pool again for our 'walking in water' exercise regime -it is good work but kind to arthritic joints. 

Miss 8 continues to progress in her scrunchy making skills with my sewing machine. I think we have made 3 so far, and each one requires less of my attention.

I took advantage of an early in the season rainfall to start putting plants in the verge garden. After the hot dry summer the earth was absolutely rock hard out there, so I bought an auger attachment for DH's drill to help me dig the holes. I had a couple of indigenous plants ready to go in, and have some more to plant this week. Once the rains fell the earth softened a bit and I hope that gradually we can turn this semi-desert into living soil again. In a couple of weeks I hope DH will be able to help me get a trailer load of mulch to protect the bed and feed the soil a bit. 

 We are eating the butternut pumpkins I grew under the citrus out the back, and just this weekend started harvesting the limes. The myer lemons are colouring up, and will be abundant very soon. I managed to get abut 7 good pomegranates from the tree this year -a smallish crop, but I have frozen some kernels for salads later in the year. I have some rocket now growing -it needs cooler weather -and some seedling celtuce coming up from one I let go to seed. I have prepared some of the raised garden beds in preparation for winter crops. 

The nasturtiums are returning to the front garden, and the autumn flowering daisies and salvias are in bloom again.  

Finally, here are a few good articles I found about simple living and growing things 

Simple living vs Minimalism

Why we should embrace regenerative gardening 

The self-sufficiency myth

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Delightful happenings to balance the rest!

 I hadn't meant to leave it so long to make a new post, but it has been a while. Nothing to hold me back excep the number of truly delightful things which we have been enjoying lately. Let me tell you about some of them.....

The most wonderful holiday

DH and I got away for a few days to our favourite holiday place -Kinjarling/ Albany on Western Australia's south coast.  We were between two bouts of surgery which DH had scheduled -he is getting both hands worked on to relieve carpal tunnel syndrome, and also surgery on his back to relieve pressure on his sciatic nerve. As he was not driving much, we took the opportunity to use a free bus ride there and back. I didn't want to drive all of the way. (DH has had his second surgery now, and is at home and recovering well). 

This free travel to our regions is provided by the WA state government to 'seniors' like us. We enjoyed the relaxed 6 hour journey very much, and hired a car in town. 

The weather is notoriously unpredictable on our south coast, but this year we got uninterrupted magnificent blue skies and warm temperatures (not hot like Perth has been). 

Albany has beautiful scenery, and is renowned for the colour of the waters inshore. We spent the time sight seeing, eating at cafes and restaurants, visiting art exhibitions and reading books. It was wonderful! 

A wonderful kid

DH and I have three wonderful grandchildren. Two of them are at school these days, but Mr 3 years old is in need of a babysitter day on Mondays. He comes to us and we have a whale of a time. At the moment he really likes to make cookies. I think we will work our way through most of the recipes in my Cookie Recipe Book -especially the ones with icing, cherries or lollies on top. 

A new mattress

It was playing with the grandchildren that brought us to the awareness that our mattress was in need of replacing. They were playing a game called "Veranda Santa", (from the show Bluey)  which involves lying on beds while one of the kids sneaks in and puts 'presents' under our pillows. The kids said that the mattress was sloping to one side, and in fact when we looked, we could see that the edges had deteriorated. We had a great deal from a mattress company which makes them locally, and we are really enjoying it. 

An election

I volunteered on two occasions to hand out 'how to vote cards" for the Greens at my local State election. I have done this kind of thing before, and enjoy it as a way of contributing to our democracy.  As it happened, the election resulted in a huge win for the local Labor party and I am pretty OK with it, even though the Greens candidate I was helping is probably going to lose her seat in the upper house. Labor is pretty progressive party. 

And the rest of the stuff

Dh and I went to a rally in Perth to protest at the sexual assault of women and the way in which we all live with a daily fear of being attacked or harassed. When a couple of assaults were alleged to involve our Federal politicians -one allegedly happened in a Ministerial office- the women of Australia said "ENOUGH". Rallies were held all over Australia, and the political revelations of more mysogyny and harassment are daily occurrences at the moment. It seems like a lot of women are no longer going to keep men's secrets but instead will be shouting them from the rooftops. We don't want women's testimonies to be disregarded because there is no 'evidence' , we want laws which will actually provide justice for women even while upholding the right to a fair trial for the perpetrators.

So that is a bit of a summary of life with us. Thanks for reading this far. Please leave a message or comment if you feel like it. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Late summer

It is late summer in Perth, and the sea breezes come most afternoons- except when they don't and it gets really hot (39C) and doesn't cool down much overnight. We have been lucky and had some milder weather in between the hot spells. I have most of the garden thriving, or at least surviving! 

My own seedling fig is not producing fruit but it is young,  but I have a quilting friend with a prolific tree, who was glad to bring some along to share! There is something so luxurious about a ripe fig -sweet and sticky but a slightly bit acid too.

Due to the warmth, my sourdough batter  rises quickly. I try not to start it too early the evening before, and can just leave it on the bench. I find myself getting up early to bake before it gets too hot here, and to catch the dough before it gets exhausted. 

I am drying calendula flowers for tea, and thinking about making some herb salt with dried rosemary, thyme, lemon verbena and celery leaves. 

I took this picture of our dresser in that glorious afternoon light that comes just before sun goes down. Once or twice the local State governments have wondered if we should have summer time daylight saving in Perth, but when we tried it, many people found it too hot into the evening, and we were worried about the children walking home from school in the absolute hottest part of the day. So we have sunset to look forward to, with the drop is temperature which mostly arrives with it.

Even though I have two different lemon trees - a Eureka and a Meyer, I have almost no ripe lemons a all at the moment, but I have all the limes I need, though they are a bit hard and therefore not actually ripe yet. I tend to leave them on the tree if I can keep the Mediterranean fruit fly away from them, as DH makes the most remarkably good Golden Lime marmalade. One of our Australian cooks of note, Maggie Beer, says she loves the limes when they are golden. I do too! 

We are waiting anxiously for our first pomegranate to ripen this year. Once I used them to make pomegranate molasses -a big, fiddly job properly left to the experts. Pomegranates are a symbol of Easter and resurrection, and also just the taste of summer! 

After a few days of cooler weather, I returned the shade cloth to the veggie beds. This one has a shade structure I have just made from a salvaged metal hoop from a child's swing set, along with some star pickets and some plastic trellis I have used many times before. I am wondering if I can get another quick crop of snake beans in before the end of March when the weather usually turns cooler?

As a subscriber to Choice Australia, I get the benefit of their product reviews. The cast iron casserole dish is a cheap discount supermarket copy of the well known one that costs hundreds of dollars. I have often wondered about buying the expensive one, but was concerned that maybe it would be too heavy for me to lift, and I didn't want to spend that kind of money with such a risk. Choice said this particular copy held up very well in their tests, and was 90% cheaper! I thought it was worth a try, and I love it. Being able to brown things on the induction stove top and then bung it in the oven is convenient. It is a good size for roasting the free range chickens my local independent grocer marks down Sundays when they are nearing their 'best before' date. 

This picture if part of our first market stall with DH's cheese boards and knives and trivets, and my bags, teacosies. We learned a lot on our first try out, will be working on another one later. This time I want to go equipped with lots of bunting and a sign for our marquee, and take the time to do a bit of extra presentation. My DIL has some lovely pot covers for sale, and I reckon I might be able to pot up some plants to go with them. 


Friday, February 5, 2021

Looking better


Things are looking better for us after a pretty scary week while locked down with the whole of the south west due to a quarantine guard contracting COVID. During the 5 days of lockdown there was also a huge bushfire just north of Perth which has sadly cost 86 homes and a lot of beautiful bushland and countless animals.  Several fire fighters were injured, but none seriously. It could have been worse.

Our own son and daughter-in-law's place was in the 'red' zone of the warning area at the beginning of the week and they evacuated to their other grandparent's place for two days. On the third day it was safer to go home but they brought our granddaughter who has asthma over here for 24 hours just to keep her out of the smoke. 

Today it has been announced that the bushfire is 'contained' and therefore not spreading. The COVID situation seems under control (no new community cases for the whole 5 days) and so we are no longer locked down though there are some restrictions in place. We must wear masks when away from home -inside or outside, for example.

Some people say that 'everything comes in threes" In this case it is that there is a weather event on the way -a cyclone type system has disintegrated into a rain bearing depression and travelled all the way down our coast and we are expecting some rain over the next few days. This is good news so long as it is not too heavy. In the north of our state they are used to monsoons and cyclones, but there has been heavy flooding and some people have needed rescues from flooded roads.  We are here under the cloud in the south west of Western Australia. The rain should put the bushfire out completely, and clear the smoke too. 

DH and I have removed the summer shade cloth from our veggie gardens for a week or so. The garden will be much refreshed by the rain. We have a Mediterranean style climate, so mostly we have a summer drought and any summer rain is unusual. 

The rain will be a test of our new gutters. We finally got our gutters and downpipes replaced this week with ones which will take more flow! 

DH and I have kept ourselves busy with crafting type activities. I will post some pictures next week.
Meanwhile please note the new link on the right of my blog -my DIL has a new crafting business! We are going to be offering some of our own creations in this website too, when they are ready.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Lockdown, fires and other emergencies!

 For 10 months we have been living a dream existence here in Western Australia with NO community spread of the CORONA virus. Yes, that is right -ten months, due to our hard borders, quarantine arrangements and so on. We were living in ways other places in the world could only dream of -going out to dinner and concerts, family meals, friends able to visit. 

We all knew one case could change everything, and on Sunday it was announced that a security guard in a quarantine hotel had contracted the UK variant of the COVID 19 virus -which is believed
to be even more easily spread. Our State Government immediately ordered the South West corner of our state into lockdown. No movements apart from exercise for one hour per day locally, and we are allowed to shop for essentials. 

Then the fires started east of Perth.

Read about it here

Our son, daughter in law and the three children are evacuated to their other grandparents' place. We don't know how long for, as the fire conditions are bad at the moment with strong winds. No rain in sight for several days, although a cyclone 'up north' might bring a bit of unseasonal rain by the weekend. 

Their house is OK at the moment, but more than 50 homes to the north and east of them have been lost today. The air is full of smoke. 

So here we are, hoping for the best. I hope to update this story in a few days with better news. 

Then our son, daughter in law and the three children evacuated to their other grandparents' place.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Quilt Finish!

My first quilt finish for 2021 is a Superheroes panel quilt which I have made and donated to the WAQA community quilt group. Each year my guild gives about 1000 quilts away to shelters, hospitals, refugees, rehab centres and the like. Mostly I contribute some squares to quilts made as a group project, but each year I try to donate a completed quilt. This one is for the boys/men who want quilts to look more manly! 

As I write we are a few hours away from the inauguration of the new government team in the USA and I send all my love to quilters there and hope you are all safe and well. I feel like we are all holding our breath here, to see a peaceful transition. 

We had our first WAQA meeting this year and this was part of the display of community quilts. They all do an excellent job.

I bought myself an Accuquilt template of tumblers and have been turning scraps into a scrappy quilt. Here are the blocks I have made so far, in random order.  I am also cutting anything too small for this quilt into 2.5 inch squares. Anything smaller than that is going to be stuffing in a pillow for the cat basket! 

 I will let you know how this one works out! So far I am just having fun making pairs and seeing what eventuates.