Simply decluttering January

Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life

Following a link from Sustainable Eats’ Simple Lives Thursday meme (from last week) to Dr. Laura’s Adventures I just discovered an ebook I am going to buy and read Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life. The first 12 pages are available free and just reading those has re-inspired me to work on our clutter. I’d add it toΒ  my 2011 reading list there on the right but it’s not on Amazon and I don’t have time to create that list by hand right now.

I’m not sure if I’m ready for a truly minimalist life, but the line “I enjoy clean, tidy, uncluttered rooms… but don’t like to clean” is so true for me. I really am sick of living in a cluttered, messy environment where we can’t find the things we want, but on the other hand, I really don’t see us getting better at staying tidy with the amount of stuff we’ve got.

I think part of the secret is having a place for everything (which we don’t have), but the other part is just having less of everthing, to need a place for.

Two years ago I undertook to focus on decluttering in January…Β  And, I did do some decluttering, but no where near enough. So it’s time to try again. I declare January 2011 decluttering month. And I plan to start with my wardrobe. I’m not back to my pre-pregnancy weight yet (10 months on!), but I’m getting there, and I’m never planning to be pregnant again, so I can begin with all the clothes that are too big for me now.

But I also plan to get rid of a whole lot of clothes I’ve been hanging on to that I *might* want to wear again one day, but somehow didn’t between the last two pregnancies. With very few exceptions (my wedding outfit is the only one that comes to mind) I figure if I didn’t wear it between the last two pregnancies then it is probably years out of date and has to go!

Second up will be our overloaded filing cabinet. Perhaps we’d file things more quickly if we could fit them in there without a struggle.

First things first though, which is to empty the walk-in-robe of the boxes of kids clothes (too big for the Ms Ten Months too small for Ms Four), which are sitting in there because the studio/spareroom/storeroom got flooded in the horrid rainstorms early this month. It’s time to get organised!

Re-skilling for sustainable living

Ages ago Rhonda at Down to Earth had a post about reskilling for simple living.* The other day I came across the first post I wrote in response, and it made me think about it some more.

I’ve never been terribly handy and neither has Mr SustainableSuburbia. Over the years (we’ve been together for 16 years), we’ve gained a few home handy skills, doing a few small projects together (paving, building an above ground sandpit, building a straw-bale chook house, a few other things), but I still feel very limited. I think in recent years Mr has learned more than I have in the home handyman arena, partly because since we’ve had children there has been a more traditional division of labour, however we’ve tried to avoid it, and partly because he was just enough more handy than me in the first place, that when one of us has to do something (while the other one looks after the kids), it ends up making more sense, often, for it to be him. Not to mention he can’t breastfeed…

Rhonda writes that we can get caught up talking about food production and forget the other things we can learn to do to help us live more sustainably, but for me food production – and equally food preservation – is still a great place to start. I often think that I know a little about a lot of things, but haven’t quite mastered anything. We have apples on our apple trees this year, but are not doing anything at the moment to prevent coddling moth (should we be?); we have our moreorless organic vegie garden going (not truly organic since our compost includes our conventionally farmed food scraps and we often buy conventionally grown seedlings), but we grow fairly haphazardly and probably with far less productivity than we could have; we’ve had our own chooks for years, but don’t make nearly the use we could of their skills beyond egg production; the past couple of years I made apricot jam, but that’s pretty much the only food preservation I’ve ever done, so in winter we eat almost entirely store bought produce.

Anyway, this next year I’d really like to focus on learning some more do-it-myself skills in more depth. Whether that means food production and preservation, learning to crochet or improving my knitting, or building myself a work bench for my seedling production I’m not sure yet, but it means something!

I just have to keep reminding myself that right now I don’t have much time to do anything in depth (much less learn new things), but as Babe#3 grows I will have more (although I’m thinking that crawling/toddling period is pretty intense too…), so I just must be patient with myself. As I’m writing I’m feeling a bit discouraged and impatient, but then last night I was up with Ms 9months from 3:00-4:30 and then she woke again at 5am… and because she usually sleeps through I didn’t go to bed until nearly midnight. So yeah, I’m a little tired today. Gotta cut myself some slack.

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*Okay, I’ve just gone and re-read her post and it’s not all about reskilling, but it does mention reskilling and it is about simple living, but anyway…

keep having floods!an

My happy list

In spite of and in fact because of crazy rains and flooding, Kate from Foxs Lane has been inspiring people to write happy lists. Here’s mine:

  • Full body baby excitement
  • Caffeine free chai tea
  • Today’s beautiful sunny weather
  • Eight year old intense focus
  • Four year old best friends
  • School holidays and lazy mornings
  • My birthday πŸ™‚
  • My wonderful husband
  • Living close to my lovely mother
  • Chocolate mud cake with cream
  • My perfect (last) baby
  • My perfect baby sleeping πŸ™‚
  • The wonderful and disparate communities of the blogosphere that inspire and encourage me in so many different areas, from happy lists, to writing (more), to parenting (better), to living more sustainably
  • My brother having a baby on the way!
  • My brother maybe moving back to Australia soon
  • A meal made up entirely of leftovers, so no cooking tonight!
  • A (relatively) tidy house
  • A breeze coming in the front door
  • Looking out the window and discovering that the comfrey has grown to over a metre tall while I wasn’t paying attention (time to make some comfrey tea which I was reading about earlier today at Slow Living Essentials
  • Also while looking out the window discovering that the towels I thought were on the line have been brought in (and presumably put away), because something else is there
  • Biodynamic, gluten free, preservative free sausages for the BBQ tomorrow night
  • Christmas season festivities
  • Mr 8’s wonderful school
  • Chooky goodness and home grown eggs
  • Good friends to hang out with, and good friends to do child care swaps with πŸ™‚
  • The Mr getting home from work in less than half an hour

I could go on and on but while it’s making me feel happy and grateful to write, Ms Babe-number-three is starting to get impatient with my preoccupation, besides she run out of left over roast carrot!

Thanks Kate, that was great idea.

High density sustainable urban design

I’ve been reading bits of books & book reviews lately talking about sustainable urban design and the advantages of increasing density. Books like Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature, and Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability.

And I’m wondering how they address the issues of social pathologies that arise with higher density living? I haven’t actually read the whole books, I emphasise, just reviews and/or extracts. I’ve put some of these sorts of books on my wishlist (my family have always done wishlists) and my birthday’s coming up, so maybe I’ll get to find out… On the other hand maybe they’ll be way too technical for me and I’ll retreat to reading escapist fiction πŸ™‚

Australian bush food rules!

Via Permaculture Pathways, I just discovered this great research into the nutritional benefits of Australian native fruits and herbs.Β  The research was funded by the Australian Government Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation to support industry, and basically found that a lot of native foods trump exotic foods hands down. For instance, all but two of the foods studies are higher in antioxidents than the ‘blueberry standard’, and all contained Vitamin E, some comparable with the ‘avocado benchmark’.

I’m inspired to find out which ones grow well in Canberra now and plant some. I’m guessing, for instance, that Kakadu Plums don’t, but I think Quandongs might….

The booklet is downloadable for free, or you can order a printed copy for $25.

Introducing new chooks

Little Brown on Kid #1's LapThree weeks ago we introduced two new chickens to our chook run, which is to say we introduced them to our one remaining Hen, Henny Penny. At six weeks old, Little Brown and Ocean, as they were quickly named by Kids # 1 & 2, were the youngest chickens we have yet acquired.

I wasn’t sure just how Henny Penny would go with them, so initially we shut them in the house (which has a bird-wire door at the front) and just let them out for short supervised periods, or the kid sat in their with them. Henny Penny hasn’t been roosting in there all winter, she’s been in the lemon tree, so it didn’t bother her, though we did have to bring out the nesting box, aka grass catcher, for her to lay in.

Henny Penny the White Sussex, beneath the lemon tree

After a few days we started leaving them out with her unsupervised and though she hasn’t exactly made friends with them, she didn’t attack them either, which I know can happen with introducing chicks to a flock (though I don’t suppose you can call one chook a flock!). I’m not sure how old the chicks need to be before you can stop worrying about that, but anyway, it all seems good now. She let’s them know who’s boss (and she’s huge, so I’m guessing she’ll stay boss even once they have grown up), but aside from that they get along fine.


Confessions of a serial blogger

I’ve done it again. I’ve started a website, thinking to write under a pseudonym, but then turned it into a personal blog, and guess what? Anonymity just doesn’t work for me.

Here’s my confession. I started this site with the intention of making it a business. A writing for profit site.Β  I’ve been blogging for more than ten years but not advertising on my blog (and no, I don’t have enough readers to make it worth while, nor have I tried to get them), and I didn’t want to corrupt that by targeting keywords (like “solar power for homes” for instance). So I decided to start a new site and try my hand at doing just that. But I didn’t much want to write about “18th birthday gift ideas” or “work from home India”, I wanted to write about something I am interested in.

So, I started Sustainable Suburbia. The problem was, in typical style, I quickly turned it into a personal blog! I’ve been wanting to blog about our journey, slow though it may be, towards sustainable living for a while. I’ve talked about it a little on my regular blog, but by starting a whole new blog on this subject I’ve figured I could help focus my attention more on it. And yes, that is working. But. When I blog, I naturally read other blogs and comment, and – who should I be commenting from, the regular-blog-me, or the Sustainable-Suburbia-blog me?

The thing is, I started writing here under a pseudonym (Kaye), because – well, to be honest, I guess it was for two reasons.

1. Maybe I’m not that comfortable blogging for money – why? Well, that’s a conversation for another time, but I guess part of it is the idea that I want to reduce consumerism, yet I’m putting ads on my websites and hoping people will click and, presumably, spend money.

2. Writing to target keywords is not necessarily going to be the most fabulous writing. And in my research of this career path I keep reading that the important thing is to write lots of okay content that accurately targets the keyword phrase you are using (ie if someone searches for it in Google and finds you, they are going to think that’s a reasonable result), not to focus on good quality writing. It’s not like writing for an editor of a magazine who cares whether your writing is good. Google doesn’t care if your writing is good, just that’s it’s not spammy, and does do what it says it will (ie if you call your article Solar Power for Homes, then your article gives people some useful information about solar power for homes). So it’s foolish to waste too much time on perfection, the secret is in quantity (not just on your own site, but writing for other sites like Ezine Articles.)

So, my conclusions?

First, I’ve switched to writing under my real name, which is Kirsten. Hi there πŸ™‚

Second, and I already figured this out earlier but I haven’t implemented it fully yet, I’m going to keep the ‘money’ posts separate to the personal blog posts. So I can focus on promoting the money posts (outside of the blogosphere), but on writing the personal blog.

I have these dreams of one day having the money posts be really good, almost magazine like. In fact, that they wouldn’t necessarily all be money posts as such (keyword targeted), but that there’d be an article side to this website and a personal blog side. And the article side could even pay people to write good articles (me included). But that is a dream for the future, and for right now I need to concentrate on promoting the money posts, writing the blog posts, and getting the vegetable garden sorted!

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