Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Reflections on a milestone birthday year

Isn't it funny how life gets in the way. Before you know it, all your dreams and plans go on the backburner because you need to attend to more pressing issues....such as surviving life with four active kids. You go into survival mode and cover the basic necessities - food, shelter, school, work, footy, dance, and if you're lucky, sleep and rest. And the occasional mowing and whipper snipping of the yard to reassure neighbours that the zombie apocalypse has not yet commenced, you are indeed alive and the house is still habitable.

But in the process, if you haven't been careful, you start to realise that you no longer do anything just for you. Something that relates to you and only you. All those things that you like to do - yoga, gardening, writing, reading, being creative - get squished out as other activities like housework and footy and dance and karate take precedence. Unfortunately there are only so many hours in the day in which to cram everything in. Don't get me wrong, I love that my kids are so active, but where is the time for me? When do I get to do what I want to do?

This year is a significant birthday milestone for me. At my last significant birthday I had a mini freak out as I felt that I had not achieved everything I set out to achieve by that time. I considered myself a failure - what had my life become? I compared myself to where everybody else was at that time (big mistake I know, but they were all gallivanting around Europe and I was at home with two toddlers so of course it seemed more glamorous!). I was unsure of myself, I was unhealthy and I was unhappy. I was a smart intelligent woman but I felt trapped by circumstance and I became resentful of everything and everyone. I vowed to myself that I was not going to feel the same way at my next milestone birthday. So in the past 10 years, I have consciously made the effort to travel more, I have attained my Masters degree, I have got myself back in the workforce, I commenced this blog, I have started and stopped yoga more times than I can remember, I completed a solo overseas trip and walked up a volcano, and in the past couple of years tried very hard at improving my stress levels, overall health, fitness and strength. I have been trying to find me again.

Approaching this next milestone birthday I feel I have begun to become more comfortable with me. I have come to recognise that I am a chronic negative self-talker and I need to stop. I have come to terms with the fact that I am a natural introvert and putting myself out there to be more extroverted is exhausting for me, and if I don't recover and recharge with alone time, I become sick, stressed out and not a very nice person to be around. I am also starting to find my voice and say 'no'.  I am gradually starting to 'let go' of some things and get the others who live in this house to assist with jobs - they don't do it the way I do it, but I have to let that go if I want it done. In the past week I have begun meditating - more out of curiosity's sake than anything else - but already I feel as though creative thoughts are being to creep back in. Like a hidden treasure chest with a creaky lid, I am beginning to dust off the cobwebs and am starting to find me again.

It is my plan this year to start working towards some new goals that I have been considering for a while, but because of circumstances, and little Miss Negative Self-talk, I keep putting off. Life is too short and I would much rather say 'Remember when I....' rather than 'I wonder what would have happened if I had done...'. To begin, this year hubby and I will be ticking off Number 1 on my bucket list...trekking the Incan Trail to Macchu Picchu in Peru! I'm so excited I can't wait!

Its currently raining, complete with a thunder and lightening show, and the smell is amazing (I'm going to ignore the fact that I spent three hours this afternoon moving the sprinkler every 15mins to give the veggie garden a good watering! - but I digress - maintain positive thoughts - focus!).  Although it's intense, after a while it passes, everything cools down, and the calm returns. Much like my life, I know that I will have time for me again, I've just got to keep a hold onto 'me' until it passes.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Getting my mojo back

Its been a while since I have posted something 'homesteady', but life has been crazy crazy for far too long. I studied my Masters part time for 3.5 years (hence all the crazy other posts), I went back to work part time, my babies all started big school, and  most recently I have started a new part time job working more hours. Sometimes you just have to let things slide until you can get your head above water again. For your own sanity you have to focus on what is going to get you through - sleep, eat and surviving. But now I am starting to feel the need to rediscover the 'old' me, and get back into my interests, find that homesteading mojo I have been putting to the side for far too long, plus look into some new ideas that were always on the '....when I finish this bloody study I'm going to.....' list.

So to get back into the swing of things, I have ditched the traditional housework-on-my-day-off routine and made these instead

 - Laundry detergent (makes about 10L)
 - Almond meal (sounds fancy if I said I 'made it' but I really just ground up almonds)
 - Toothpaste - I use this recipe
 - and cake...just cause it smells good and I wanted cake (I added poppy seeds to this recipe)

So to keep this post short and to the point as I soon have to go pick up kids, my new 'thing' is trying to decrease our waste, and in particular our plastics. I got interested when I somehow stumbled across Zero Waste Home and through a bit more research an Australian version at Gippsland Unwrapped. Although we are SO FAR from a zero waste household, I am trying to do things gradually (all at once doesn't work in our house). My first goal is to decrease the amount of non-recyclables. I know that it does take quite a bit of energy resources to recycle, but we have to start somewhere. I'll get to recyclables in the process, hopefully. So here is a pick of a few things we have been doing to decrease our plastics and waste

Here, I have fruit and veggie bags and also some homemade beeswax wraps which I use in the kids' lunchboxes. I roughly followed this recipe and used our own beeswax.

We already compost, make a lot of food from scratch and give food scraps to our new puppy (he's a bitsa rescue pup, he's destructive but cute), but I think we can do more. I have also been planning meals which answers the dreaded question 'whats for dinner mum?'..every..single..day, and I don't have to 'think' during the week. I have a planned list on the fridge and the kids now know just to refer to the list. ON the plus, I try to get those things that we need for our meals on our fortnightly shop.

I also hope to attend a UHC event next weekend - garden porn (aka seed catalogues). Between work, study, and football on weekends I have not been able to attend events as I would like.

But I feel like I'm coming back. Slowly.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Exciting happenings

Welcome to the New Year!

It has been so hot here over the last couple of months, and with a complete lack of decent rain, my garden is really struggling. As I stood watering the veggie garden at dusk last night and looking over our main food production area, I became so depressed and disappointed with what I saw. I'm starting to get a little ticked off watching the rain approach us on the BOM radar, seeing it on the nearby hills, smelling the beautiful rain but watching it fizzle out or miss us completely. It didn't help that we went on holidays for two and half weeks over a very hot period. Although our veggie garden was looked after, everything else was not, and I almost cried when I saw it. Due to the lack of moisture, we have lost the majority of our raspberry, olive, blueberry, and plum crops for this year, and the remaining fruit trees have either dropped a substantial amount of their fruit or their fruit are quite small. We almost lost some of the newer fruit trees we planted last year but they seem to be hanging in there now. This bleak and negative outlook is not a fantastic way to start the year so I am going to share some of the exciting things that have been happening over the last couple of months.

The first awesome piece of news is we finally harvested some of our own honey!!! 

Very, very exciting for us! We have waited a long couple of years to harvest, and watched enviously as numerous urban beekeeper friends extracted their honey and honeycomb from hives that benefited from all the flower gardens in the city. But that first taste of our own honey...Just.Awesome! All up we harvested approx 2kgs in honeycomb and approx 6kgs in honey from five frames from the one hive. We now have five hives on our place thanks to a few free swarms, so hopefully will be able to harvest more in the future.

The next exciting thing has been the commencement of our rec room near the pool. This is going to be an ongoing project for us this year as we endeavour to learn more Reno skills and do most of the work we can do ourselves, and get specialists in for the things we can't. Hubby is off to do a 'Pergola and Decking' course over the next month, so after we get the doors on he is going to commence the deck. By sending him on this course I am also hoping for him to erect a pergola over the western side of the house so I can grow some deciduous vines over it to shade the summer sun. All part of my permaculture retrofit to our place :)

And more permaculture retrofit news - I now have swales in my orchard! Very very exciting stuff! Hubby built me an A-bob thingy and off we went to mark out the swales in such a way that we missed most of the major trees.

A couple of the smaller ones will need to be moved over winter, and once it gets cooler, I have some nitrogen fixers such as tagasaste, acacias and even (fingers crossed) a couple of silk trees that I germinated from seeds from my mum. These trees, once grown, will provide shade for the swale and the soil, nutrients for the surrounding fruit trees, shade for my berries from the hot afternoon sun and hopefully dissipate the flow of frost in winter as they are evergreen. A couple of jobs still to do are mulch the swales and direct the overflow from the tank into them. I'd like to mulch with lucerne bales but most of the local bales, even rubbish stuff, is being used to feed stock. As you can see from the pics we have zero topsoil but I am working to try and improve this :)

The last bit of good news story is that I have a fence around my veggie garden to keep the chooks out. I love my girls dearly but jeez they make a mess.  They learned to 'bounce' on the netting I had over the gardens to make it go saggy then they could eat my veggies. I added a bird bath and small flower garden in the middle of the yard to encourage good insects into the garden. We have also found that the local bird population as well as our bees have been relying on this and the pond in the orchard for fresh water in this dry hot weather.

Next blog I hope to share some of the harvest pics and preserving I have been doing lately.

Stay cool and lets hope we get some rain soon!