Monday, November 30, 2009

Its fun to get ready!

It is Advent and that means getting ready for Christmas. Not the kind of 'getting ready' that the shops ask us to do -spending, spending and more spending then complaining that 'it doesn't feel like Christmas"!

In our house we have some traditions which make Christmas a lovely time for us without a lot of expense.

Over the years I have collected a lot of Christmas decorations. Some were made over the years by my children. A lot I found in op shops (see the little mice below -which goes with my little china cat to remind me of the Cat and Mouse Carol) . Some I bought from my favourite Christmas shop in the Blue Mountains.

Each year on the first Sunday of Advent the boxes of Christmas decorations come down from the roof. The CD player has our favourite Christmas music on it.

Everyone has to be here to help!

All the decorative items that help make my 'country decorating' real have to be taken down and put away and all the shelves dusted. Books are pushed to the back of shelves to make way for decorative items in as many places as possible.
Some pictures are put away so that Christmas specific decorations can take over.

Then we decorate every space we can.

This year I have given my children the task of trying to count how many 'nativities" I have in the loungeroom. It is more than 5 and less than 15!

I now have a tree in the kitchen, a tree in the loungeroom, several small trees in the dining room and a tree in the family room.

It has become a lovely start to our Christmastide.

This year I have added my Christmas Quilt to the back of the sofa -I am very proud to have made this in my sewing class. And soon I hope to add my newest quilt -an Advent quilt -but first I have to finish it.

I am amazed how many people don't bother to decorate for Christmas. It brings out the child in me and that can't be a bad thing surely!

The final picture is of my DH who was so inspired that he actually sat down at the piano and played some Christmas carols!

I plan to write more about putting the meaning back into Christmas in simple ways next time, with more pictures of my decorating efforts.

My wish for you is for a simple meaningful run up to Christmas.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Travel Options

Since I changed jobs I have had more time on the public transport system in Perth. It is a pretty good system really, the trains are on time most of the time and the rolling stock is new.

I get the 8.10 from Warwick and get off 15 minutes later in Leederville. Off along the walkways and bicycle tracks and I can be in my office in West Perth by 8.40. It is a pleasant walk -this morning I rejoiced in the views of the blue Jacaranda trees in Leederville.

I park the car at Warwick for $2 and the train fare is roughly $3 each way. $8 per day ($40 per week) is not a bad price.

I also get a car park about once per week at our office in West Perth -and then I leave home at 8.10 and I can usually be parked by 8.30 am. The car is comfortable and I arrive at work refreshed -but I have had no exercise! Having the car at work is good if I need to travel to a meeting that is hard to get to by public transport or too far away to take a taxi. If I need to carry anything heavy it is good too.

The car travel used to cost me somewhere between $40 and $50 per week, depending on the cost of petrol, so the saving using public transport is not huge. However there are lots of hidden costs with the car -insurance and registration and maintenance and depreciation and so on. Then there is the cost of the road system and the cost to the earth of all of that carbon being vented into the atmosphere.

I was reading recently that some experts believe that we have already found all the commercially viable deposits of oil and that production is already in decline. In time this will mean that price of petrol will have to keep on going up -and at some time the public transport option will begin to make more obvious economic sense to the average person.

I know many people who do not know how to catch public transport -they don't know how to buy a ticket or read a timetable. They drive their cars day in day out. If we are to live more sustainably on the earth, we are going to have to deal with our transport choices.

How do you get around?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Effort pays off

This week we have been working on the garden in every spare moment, even foregoing our usual early morning walk to get things done.

We both work full time, and have had full social lives on the weekends, but this garden needs our care just now.

The summer is warming up and the biggest task was to spread some wonderful lupin mulch on the veggie beds in the back yard, to shade the soil and protect the moisture within. Lupin mulch feeds the soil by adding nitrogen to the soil. I used it last year on the veggies -and the added bonus is that it smells wonderful!

Last weekend DH worked very hard getting all the back yard covered with in-line drip irrigation. It was a huge job, but it will save a lot of water and put it to better use.

There is still a lot more I would like to have done, but it is so rewarding to see the Seven Year beans climbing the trellis we have made on the fence, and the passionfruit with a lovely crop of green egg shaped fruits.

The tomatoes in
the wicking bed are looking seriously healthy at the moment. We water this only once per week via a tube that puts the water underneath the plants in a reservoir of sorts, and the shade cloth just breaks the heat of the sun.

I wish I had planted more cucumbers -we have only four, but if I look after them that will be a good crop.

It is not all productive in the garden however. I am just as pleased that the jasmine that I planted in a desperate attempt to cover up our ugly fence near the back entertaining area, is now in flower and smells wonderful.

I am even happy that the cannas I had given up on and tried to pull out have defied every attempt at eradication and are now in glorious flower.

It is interesting to see how much food we can get out of our small garden, given the fact that we don't have a lot of space, and the work we do in the garden tends to be a bit sporadic.

We are harvesting huge rainbow chard and tiny lettuce leaves at the moment, along with a large variety of herbs which add a lot of flavour to our food.
The added benefit of course is that the food we produce is entirely organic and totally fresh when we eat it, so we are getting the very best nutrition we can get from these things.

Apart from the exercise required to make it happen of course! However nothing really happens without effort and in the case of the garden the effort seems to be paying off at the moment.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Learn a new skill

Those who are on the journey of simplicity often find themselves challenged to do for themselves what they would have had others do for them in the past.

The idea is that we need to revalue the old fashioned skills that our generation nearly lost.
W e need to find out how to
  • cook from scratch,
  • mend things when they are broken
  • make do with what we have got
  • be resourceful
The idea is that we become more self-reliant, and more able to value the sense of achievement more than the quick lift of having purchased something.

Take this Advent calendar for example. I struggled all day Saturday with those pesky stars. My poor brain could not make them work! It would have been much easier to go out and buy something instead, but where would the sense of achievement been?

As it is I have learned a new skill.

This craft will, I hope, lead me into many enjoyable hours of my future life.

I have already used it to make a whole cloth baby quilt for my neice's child. I had just learned how to use the darning foot on the sewing machine to do free-motion quilting, and it was very satisfying to see the result that this new technique was able to achieve.

This year I have also been setting myself up to grow my veggies from seed -something I have had only limited success in doing in the past.

I am still learning how to manage the veggie garden so that there is a more manageable supply of veggies. At the moment we have huge quantities of rainbow chard, but soon we will be over-run with tomatoes (I hope!).

The thing about growing from seed is learning to stage the plantings over a period of weeks so that there are some veggies in season, some coming on and some going to seed to save for the next time.

All these new skills give me plenty of challenges. I find them far more satisfying than going shopping! And when you don't go shopping, you have time to learn all these new things!

Finally a word of welcome to the new subscribers to my little blog. It is tremendously encouraging to have you here! Please feel free to leave a comment any time.