A Quiet RevolutionΒ 

​”Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.” ~Marianne Williamson

We live in a world where homesteading, which is really just living much the way our grandparents would have, is a quietly revolutionary act. In a society ruled by corporations, this is one of the few ways we can take back control of our lives and reclaim responsibility for our future and for the future of the Earth.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS to corporate greed and control. No, I’m not ok with you forcing farmers into unsustainable practices whilst offering (forcing) them ridiculously low prices for their produce. Farming is a profession which should be respected, celebrated and supported. I do not wish to be party to your bullying tactics.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS to losing touch with seasonal living. Sorry, but I am not ok with eating out of season food that has been trucked in from out of state or worse still, shipped in from overseas. Those unnecessary food miles and the resulting pollution are not ok with me, thanks anyway. I would much rather wait patiently and truly enjoy the first magical strawberry of the season.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS, I’m not comfortable with large-scale monoculture practices and the subsequent chemical use. I would rather not ingest those pesticides if I can avoid it, and I’d prefer not to be responsible for degradation of our soil. Instead I will work to repair the soil on my small patch and feed my family food that barely needs rinsing.

Keeping animals for food, even if it’s just for eggs, is a way of saying NO THANKS, I am not ok with the factory farming industry and it’s unspeakably horrible treatment of animals (buying direct from one of the many wonderful, ethical farmers in this country can send the same message). I would rather watch my hens forage around my yard and gratefully accept the eggs they gift me in return.

Cooking from scratch is a way to say NO THANKS, I am not ok with accepting the highly processed and packaged foodlike items that are robbing us of our health. I would like to know what is in my food, know that it nourishes my children’s bodies. I can do without all of the unnecessary plastic that pollutes our planet.

NO THANKS, but I don’t want to accept a one size fits all life for myself or for my children’s education. I don’t want my clothes to be made from oil. I don’t want to rely on a factory to provide me with something so simple,  so everyday, as a dishcloth. I don’t want to pay for things I can do myself. I don’t want to live detached from the Earth I came from. 

Like a toddler I want to scream, “I can do it myself!”

Suburban homesteading is a way to take back control. Control of our spending, control of our health. Through growing, cooking and preserving our own food we can accept responsibility for ourselves and for our impact on the Earth. We can thumb our noses at the corporations that try to tell us how to live, from the clothes we wear to the water we drink. 

The problems of the world can seem insurmountable. We can feel lost, powerless and afraid. Or we can take back our power. 

Each person who plants a garden takes back some control and responsibility for themselves. Each person who plants a garden inspires a friend to do the same. Slowly, quietly, the revolution is spreading from one backyard to the next. 

Have you joined the suburban homesteading revolution?

Get started with these ideas for homesteading in the suburbs.

 

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The Holistic Homeschool

This article is Part Two of a series on holisitic homeschooling.

I know, I know. I promised this post moons ago. I’ve been busy writing an article for the next issue of Mulberry Magazine (due out very soon) and writing/procrastinating/agonising over my plan and report for the Home Education Unit. Not to mention the general business of running our micro homestead. But here it is. Finally πŸ˜‰

The holistic homeschool. What is it? What does it look like? What is the point?

In Part One of this series I talked about holisitic education and how it differs from traditional education. The topic is HUGE but at it’s core we can boil holisitic education down to a few points: rhythm, balance, relationships, a transdisciplinary approach. A holisitic homeschool takes these values and ideas and applies them to the home and to home education.

Here’s how it works at our house ☺

Our home hums along to a gentle rhythm. This makes sure our day-to-day life flows gently and with purpose. Children thrive on knowing what comes next and what to expect. And to be perfectly honest, so do I. When your home is also a homestead, daily rhythm becomes imperative. Those animals aren’t going to feed themselves unfortunately. At least the bread rises all on its own πŸ˜‰

Aside from a daily rhythm which includes our everyday chores, our meals, our lesson time, play time, self-directed learning time, etc., we also have a weekly rhythm. This helps us balance our lessons to ensure we are addressing all learning areas across the week, sharing our time between home and community, between lessons and play, between inside and outside.

Overlaid with this we have our yearly rhythm. This includes family celebrations, festivals, seasonal planting/harvesting/preserving and celebrating the cycle of seasons. We endeavour to live seasonally, with respect for nature and our place within the environment.

Each of these rhythms seeks to bring balance to our lives and our learning, to foster an understanding of and respect for the environment and to help us become productive members our chosen communities.

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One of our old rhythm charts


TIP! Writing out your rhythm on a chart serves as a helpful visual reminder to the whole family.

While we are focusing on bringing our lives into a harmonious balance, we are also seeking to balance our learning. Unlike traditional schooling, book learning isn’t deemed to be more important than learning (both through and about) art, music, handwork, yardwork, or even the learning that comes through being bored and at a loose end. It’s amazing the things you learn when you’ve got nothing but time and imagination!

Aside from the intrinsic value of each of the areas mentioned, we also believe that utilising these as tools is helpful in learning the more traditional subject areas. We discover science through story telling, maths through the art of form drawing, English comprehension through drawing and modelling. And this is just to name a few!

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A story began this science lesson outside with friends. We learn handwork with the help of songs. Drawing helps with comprehension of stories. Story and manipulatives assisted this maths lesson.

A balanced approach to learning has us overlapping between the subject areas. As holisitic homeschoolers we aren’t into learning subjects as separate entities, studied individually. We try to incorporate head, heart and hands learning- to bring story, song and art- to all areas.

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Art, song and story make it into all of our learning

We’re also not very interested in sitting still in one spot for our lessons. We learn in the garden, on our nature walks, at our co-op, and on family outings. We learn in the kitchen, in the playground, on our blackboard and in our books. It happens on our couch and on the floor. Learning happens in all sorts of places with all sorts of people. It happens as part of our daily life. It happens just as often while jumping around as it does sitting still. Actually with my kids it very rarely involves sitting still for long πŸ˜€

On a very practical note, we have tried curriculum and no curriculum, very structured and rather unstructured curriculum. We’ve gone DIY and we’ve gone open and go curriculum. For us, a Waldorf-inspired approach works best and we have found Kristie’s curriculum at BEarth Institute to be the right fit for us (nope, not being paid to say that and that is NOT an affiliate link. I just love the curriculum and wanted to share it with you all).

While we dedicate LOADS of time to pursuing personal interests, to freeplay and to just doing our own thing, we discovered unschooling just wasn’t for us. We prefer the structure, the rhythm, the balance, the parent/teacher-child relationship that comes with a holisitic model of homeschooling. We enjoy the magic, the art and the story of the Waldorf approach (even if the anthroposophy isn’t for us).

I’d love to hear what model of homeschooling you have adopted or are drawn to and why πŸ™‚

Happy Homeschooling xx

How to peel tomatoes when you have MILLIONS of them!

I’m having another sauce bottling day. Bottling days are some of my favourite days and for me they are an integral part of suburban homesteading. I may not be able to keep a cow, fish in my own dam or spin fleece from my own sheep, but EVERYONE with a stove can bottle their own sauce. Seriously,  my home smells amazing today!

And while bottling sauce is easy, it is rather time consuming, so it helps to know a few tricks. This includes how to easily peel bucketloads of tomatoes πŸ˜‰

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Step One
Put a large pot of water on the stove to bring to the boil. Rinse your tomatoes. Discard any that are rotten. If you wouldn’t eat it fresh, your definitely do not want to preserve it!

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Step Two
Score the base of your tomatoes using a sharp knife  (a paring knife is easiest to work with if you have one).

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And YES, I do mean score every single tomato. This is the most time consuming part of the process but I promise,  it makes step four so much easier!

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Step Three
In batches, add your tomatoes to the rapidly boiling water (and it will be at a rapid boil by the time you have scored them all πŸ˜‰ ). When the skins start to pull back from the score marks, use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes from the pot and put them into a bowl of iced water.

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Step Four
Wait a minute for the tomatoes to cool enough that you can handle them without scalding your fingers. In the meantime add your next batch to the pot to boil. Once the tomatoes are cooled a little you can peel them. Thanks to the scoring, the skins peel away easily. Really, they pretty much wipe off with a rub of your thumb. Told you the scoring was worth the hassle πŸ˜‰

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Step Five
Keep repeating the process for each batch until you have peeled the MILLIONS of tomatoes. Keep all of the discarded skins in a bowl to go into the compost. Done!

Now all that’s left to do is tidy your work area before you start on the sauce itself 😊 Or any other fabulous recipe you want to use your tomatoes in.

Tomorrow I will share my current favourite recipe for tomato sauce x

Quick tip: starting a herb garden

Want to start a herb garden but not sure where to start?

When you have a recipe that calls for fresh herbs to be added, instead of paying $5 a bunch for some limp leaves, spend the $5 on a small plant to stick in a pot by the door or plant straight into your garden. $10 will get you a more established plant like this thyme I’ve planted today. I can snip of the handful of leaves I need and it will keep growing ready for next time.

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On today’s menu? Soup made with this fresh thyme, carrots from the garden and leftovers from yesterday’s rooster.

Take aim and fire!

I have recently discovered some people find it offensive for a suburban homesteading page to discuss despatching animals to feed your family. Trust facebook to bring out the ugly in people.

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It has me wondering though… are our followers not aware that we here at ‘Forage and Forge’ all about becoming as self-sufficient as we can on our little patch of suburbia OR do people not really know what suburban homesteading is? Maybe people believe we should strive for self-sufficient vegetarianism? Hmmmm

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So I have (of course) decided to write a series of blog posts explaining the how, what and why of suburban homesteading 😊 Which makes NOW the perfect time to ask any questions you have about this way of living.

Fire away!

A Little Loo Lovin’

You know you’re a parent when you find yourself sitting on the toilet,  cuddling a cranky toddler while you’re doing a poo.

Cranky toddlers aside, we humans produce a fair bit of *ahem* waste in this particular room of the house. As far as I’m aware, a composting loo is a no-no in suburbia. Short of moving to the sticks and digging myself a bush dunny, there are a few ways to make going to the toilet a little more sustainable.

Swap the loo roll

There are better options than highly bleached 3 ply in a plastic wrapper!

*Who Gives A Crap
This toilet paper is made from 100% recycled paper. It comes wrapped in pretty printed paper which can be reused, recycled or composted. My nieces and nephews don’t batt an eyelid when their gifts come wrapped in Who Gives A Crap paper πŸ˜‰ Added bonus: 50% of profits go towards providing toilets to third world communities. Environmentally AND socially responsible!

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My nieces birthday gift in Who Gives A Crap wrapping paper πŸ˜‰

*Family cloth
Flannels for your fanny. Bamboo for your bum. Think cloth baby wipes in adult size. Basically you buy/cut/sew yourself a stash of soft cloth squares to use in place of toilet paper. Keep a designated bin with a lid in the loo for putting used cloth into, then wash in your machine just like any other towel. Personally I’m not sure I love my husband enough to clean his shitty wipes,  but think it’s a lovely option for when you’ve only done a wee. If you use these for cleaning a Number 2, well you’re a better woman than I! It’s not such a stretch to cloth wipe when already using cloth nappies on the little ones, and your privates will love you for it.

* Bidet
No need to get the plumber out, you can buy little hose attachments from Bunnings that will do the job just fine. Hatchling Cloth Nappies has put together an easy to follow tutorial that won’t cost you the earth. This is on The Mister’s to-do list to make cloth nappy changes easier, but you can use the exact same equipment for washing your bum. Apparently a bidet is THE most environmentally friendly option there is. A nice bit of family cloth to dry up wouldn’t go astray πŸ™‚

Cleaning up

Ditch the harmful chemicals. They are no good for you OR the waterways.  Instead make yourself some homemade cleaner,  invest in a good toilet brush (look for bamboo or coconut husk) and use cloth cleaning wipes for wiping the seat etc.

*Vinegar
White vinegar is extremely safe to use. It disinfects and kills odours. Plus you’ve probably already got this in the house for putting on your hot chips, right?

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*Bicarb Soda
This little gem is probably lurking in your pantry too. You can buy it in a cardboard box so it’s completely zero waste (reuse, recycle or compost). Bicarb is useful for getting stains off the toilet bowl, although it doesn’t have any antibacterial properties of its own. If you shake this all over the surface and then apply the vinegar, the bicarb will foam, doing half the work of lifting away debris for you. Less elbow grease when it comes time to scrub with the brush πŸ˜‰

*Lemon juice
This will help restore a bit of the lost sparkle in the old porcelain. Rinsing with lemon juice or citric acid helps get rid of stubborn stains and leaves the loo smelling lemony fresh.

*Tea tree oil
Proven to be antibacterial, antifungal and mildly antiviral,  all homes should keep tea tree oil in their arsenal. Dilute in water and wipe all of the surfaces.

Secret Women’s Business

On average a woman will menstruate for 4-5 days a month, every month, between the ages of 12 and 51. Of course, Mother Nature kindly lets you take a break while pregnant, and will sometimes extend your time off while breastfeeding. Even accounting for a slow start and a tapered finish to your  menstruating life, that is an awful lot of pads and tampons used! Each one comes individually plastic-wrapped in a box which is also wrapped in plastic. Each one is chemically treated to make it nice and white for you. There are better options.

*Organic products
Brands such as Naturcare and TOMS make their products from organic cotton. These are a good option if you’re mainly concerned about chemicals coming in contact with your skin. They don’t make  a huge environmental difference as they are still a throw away option, although organic cotton farming does use less water than conventional methods.

*RUMPS
Re-usable menstrual pads, often known affectionately as Mumma Cloth, are a sustainable option for pad users. Given women are all different,  it’s probably best to buy a couple of sizes and styles to try before investing in a whole stash. Just like family cloth, keep a bin in the toilet to put your used pads in then wash in your machine. Mumma Cloth is made in the same fashion as cloth nappies for babies, with layers of absorbent material between soft cloth. You have the option of different fabrics,  wings or no wings, organic, etc. This can be a great way to support talented work-at-home-women. Try The Cloth Pad Shop for a variety of different pads made by women around Australia.

*Menstrual Cup
You’ve got the Moon Cup, Juju Cup (Australian made), the Diva cup, just to name a few. If you are a tampon-user this is probably the option for you. Just rinse and re-use. Sterilise after use as per manufacturers instructions. It’s as simple as that. I know a lot of women prefer to use their cup in conjunction with a cloth liner for peace of mind, especially when new to using a cup. Keep in mind cups come in different sizes and it may take a month or two to become comfortable with inserting the cup. Just like a tampon, if it’s in correctly you shouldn’t be able to feel it.

Be Waterwise

*Flushing
We’ve all heard the rhyme, “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”. This can be a good way to reduce your water usage and is our guideline at night and during nap time. Personally I find older toilets quickly start to smell using this method though. Another way to cut back on the water is to use the half-flush option. If your toilet isn’t dual flush, it’s time to upgrade.

*Tank water
You can have a plumber come out and rig it up so that your cistern fills from your rainwater tank. This is a job for the professionals,  but is a great use for tankwater and will make a difference to your water rates. Much better to use water that runs off your roof than water you pay to pipe from a dam hundreds of kilometres away.

Have you made any sustainable changes to your toilet? I’d love to hear any tips you have!

How to save $1000 a year!

I had a peek into your bin. I see you have some spare cash? You must or you wouldn’t be throwing out that much food. I’ll take that $1000 a year please.

Oh yes. You did read that right. $1000. One THOUSAND dollars. That is how much food is thrown away by the average Australian household each year. ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS! I have to keep yelling it because it is so damn shocking.

I don’t know know about you,Β but I don’t have that kind of money to throw away. Never mind the environmental impact all that waste is causing. Even if you don’t have one green bone in your body, surely you want to save yourself a grand?!

So what are we going to do about it?

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Eat the WHOLE apple

Reducing food waste

*Meal plan.
If you know what you are going to eat, you know what you need to buy. No more buying something you might want to use and then throwing it away when you inevitably don’t use it.

*Grow your own.
A lot of food waste is fruit n veg that has gone rotten. Let’s face it, if you buy a week’s worth of lettuce on Monday, it’s not going to be fit to eat by the weekend. Into the bin it goes. If you grow lettuce, you can just pick off the leaves you need each day. Grow your everyday veg and pick what you need, when you need.

*Preserve food.
As soon as you get home from shopping, divide up the meat into meal sized portions and freeze it. AS SOON as you get home. A lot of meat is chucked because it has gone off sitting in the bottom of the fridge. Same deal with produce. If you score a brilliant deal on beans, freeze them! Or pickle those cucumbers you found on sale at the farmer’s market.

*Store your food properly.
Know what goes in the fridge and what goes in the pantry. Keep your fridge at the correct temperature to prevent food spoilage. Invest in a bread box. Onions and potatoes both like to be stored in a cool, dark place but they don’t like being stored together. Can you think of any more storage tips?

*Keep fruit in a fruit bowl.
You know,Β where you will see it and therefore actually eat it :-p

*Eat your leftovers.
It is crazy how many people DON’T do this!
Roast lamb -> shepherd’s pie.
Steamed rice -> fried rice.
Get creative and see what you can whip up. And remember, leftovers make fabulous lunches all on their own.

*Feed your friends.
Too many eggs? Gift some to your neighbour. Had a party and there is food left over? Send everyone home with a tasting plate. Just add a bit of everything.Β  They’ll enjoy not having to cook when the go home tired but happy.

*Use it up.
Stale bread? What about croutons, bread crumbs, tartlet casings or even bread and butter pudding. Mmmm pudding. Broken biscuits make great bases for cheesecakes and slices.

*Cook it before you need to throw it!Soft fruit is great for jams and stewed fruit dishes. Try this recipe for Stewed Rhubarb. It’s the same basic procedure for stewing other fruit too, so why not try apples for another classic?
Or try turning soft bananas into soft serve icecream! Just blend and freeze.

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Apples on sale? Dry some for a healthy snack to keep in the pantry

So what about when you do have food waste? What then…

*Compost. Pretty much everything except meat can go in here (meat attracts vermin). Keep an airtight container on your kitchen bench for collecting scraps.

*Worm farm or towers.Β  Just mind you don’t over feed them.

*Feed to chickens. Don’t feed them mouldy food and don’t feed them chicken. Canabilism isn’t good for chickens. They can eat eggs though!Β  Remember, chickens are the ultimate recyclers πŸ˜‰

So now you’ve reduced your food packaging waste and your food waste. What else is lurking in your wheelie bin?

One THOUSAND dollars are year is not a made up figure. Have a look here for details.

It’s times like these

I’ll be honest; renovating has produced so much rubbish I am almost afraid to show it. Quick, look at this cute pic of my daughter playing in our new (still unfinished and unfurnished) living room!

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Now while you are still smiling, look at this…

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YIKES! And that is just the packaging from the flat pack Ikea kitchen :-O It doesn’t include any of the old kitchen and flooring we had to dispose of. Scary, isn’t it :-/

Times like these there is only one thing to do- reuse as much as we possibly can!

And so we are experimenting with sheet mulching. This is a permaculture method of preparing garden beds where you first lay cardboard, followed by organic matter, then nitrogenous matter, then aged compost. You allow it to break down and are hopefully left with rich soil to plant into next season. We will be trying this around our fruit trees as well.

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It’s not just the garden that has benefited from what would have been recycling at best (landfill at worst). Our homeschool has been able to use quite a lot. I know, I know. Who wants to fill their home with rubbish? But just look!

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As we sort the pile we are collecting the interesting pieces to add to our art and construction area. We have all sorts of building materials now to use in play, projects, construction and science experiments.

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These fantastic ramps were used in a science lesson on slope and gravity. The cat has taken to hiding inside when the kids aren’t busy racing cars all over the board πŸ˜€

We have used large flat pieces to line the lower parts of one wall in this room to create a giant drawing board! Once it is covered it will end up in the garden for next year’s sheet mulching.

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My favourite project though has got to be this Montessori-style Multiplication Board. Yes, it is just a 10×10 grid drawn on with a Sharpie, but honestly,  my Little Mathematician is so in love with it and had no idea I had made it from ‘junk’ until I discussed this blog post with him.

Once again, you can find full instructions on how to present the Multiplication Board on InfoMontessori. Basically though, this material is used to learn times tables.

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Here is our set up  (please note, the grid should be numbered 1-10 across the top. I added this after taking the photo but you can see it in the picture above). The child chooses which times table to work on. In this case it’s 3 times as noted by the giant die. You then take 3, one time by placing 3 beads in the first column. The child counts the beads and writes the equation 3×1=3 on their paper.

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You then take 3, two times by placing 3 beads into the second column, count the beads and write the equation 3×2=6. From here you just continue across the board, using the (yellow) marker at the top to help keep track of where you are (this is where the written numbers help). Once the child reaches the end they can check their answers against a times tables chart.

We keep this material available on our maths shelf for our Little Mathematician to work on whenever he chooses. At the moment it seems to be his favourite activity and gets picked almost daily! Not bad for junk πŸ˜‰

(If junk isn’t your thing, or you don’t have any cardboard going spare, you can order a traditional wooden multiplication board from A2Z Montessori).

This has been a good opportunity for us to talk as a family about junk/rubbish/landfill and the ways we can contribute to either the problem or the solution. For The Mister and I it has been the shock to set us on the path of aiming for zero waste.

Staring at the pile of cardboard we both felt so awful that we had inadvertently caused such a huge amount of rubbish. We just knew that the next logical step from our homemade/homegrown/homecooked/homeschooled lifestyle was to now begin looking at reducing the waste we produce on an everyday basis. Look forward to lots more on that topic in the future!

Are you a (striving for) zero waste home?

Season Envy- it’s totally a thing!

I’m suffering from a serious case of season envy. In case you haven’t heard of this terrible malady, here’s the definition:

Season Envy
A serious condition whereby the sufferer lapses into a state of melancholy after reading blog posts about their favourite season, whilst being unable to experience said season themselves. Symptoms range from a mild longing to a heart-crushing envy. This condition is not to be dismissed lightly.

Ok, ok. I made it up. But it really should be a thing. Honestly,  I’m not the only one who suffers from this. Kelle from Enjoying the Small Things wrote a beautiful post describing her personal treatment for  Season Envy here (yes, I do think the condition is serious enough to warrant capitals).

Unfortunately Kelle’s remedy isn’t an option for me because it is Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. ALL.OVER.IT You wouldn’t know from all the Autumn (Fall) posts on the internet, but it is totally true. Half the world is experiencing Spring. Crazy!

If all the baby birds and buzzing bees haven’t tipped you off, Spring is a pretty busy time in the natural world. Gardens included. I’m miles behind in my planting but here is what we have been up to so far…

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We’ve experimented, less than succesfully, with growing tomatoes and capsicums in our DIY seedling tray. So far only one baby tomato plant has appeared. I’ll keep you posted on the fate of our remaining seeds.

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The warmer weather has been hard on our lettuce. The cos went to seed so we have had our first go at seed saving. I managed to get enough seeds that I can swap some with a friend. Confession: I am ridiculously excited about this step towards sustainable gardening. The iceberg lettuce wasn’t so fortunate however. We lost 3 plants to rot after a large storm. Another plant is about to bolt. What we did manage to harvest was DELICIOUS. Seriously,  iceberg has no business being so flavourful! I’ll try growing some more in a cooler spot. We NEED to have it in our chicken sandwiches πŸ˜‰

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In all of the excitement of moving into our new kitchen, a bag of potatoes got forgotten at the back of the cupboard and decided to sprout themselves. If you have potatoes that have done this,  don’t throw them out! Dig some shallow trenches  and pop them in. Next season you will have LOTS of yummy taters to dig up. Growing potatoes is particularly useful for breaking up hard ground and they are one of the easiest vegies to grow.

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Zucchini seeds have gone in…

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As well as beans…

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And cucumbers!

The beans and cucumbers are big enough to stake now,  so I’ll have to get a wriggle on in the trellis-making department this week. There is also a large patch of ground to clear so we can get the beetroot and pumpkins in.  And we need to take another crack at germinating our tomatoes and capsicums.

Meanwhile the garden is still giving us lots of leeks, rainbow carrots and WAY TOO MUCH KALE. We’ve got a few varieties of onions and some radishes well on their way, and I spotted a small sweet potato last week. We aren’t done eating the potatoes we harvested from Winter either!

Spring is definitely busy…and I guess that is helping my Season Envy.  Just a little.

Do you suffer from Season Envy?

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Sustainable home: the humble dish brush

When we think of reducing our environmental impact we usually think about recycling or, if you’re really good, buying less. If we aren’t buying less we are buying big ticket items like solar panels or hybrid cars. Not that there is anything wrong with that (at the risk of sounding pretentious, I have both and think they are worth the expense if you can afford it) but there are 101 small ways to reduce our impact, both in terms of waste and carbon output.

When we view the problems of waste, pollution and climate change it can be so overwhelming. Just let me crawl into my melting igloo and pretend it’s not happening already! But as consumers, as humans, we all have the power to effect real change with each small choice we make. Starting with the ever so humble dish brush.

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Now when you finally manage to draw breath again after being completely awed by my beautiful new kitchen sink (thank you Mister for the fabulous reno work), you will probably be left wondering what is so special about this particular dish brush?! Well it’s ethically produced and biodegradable, that’s what.

This particular one is my favourite and is put out by a company named Eco Ants. Unfortunately they are NOT paying me to tell you how awesome it is, but I will go ahead and tell you anyway. Because small changes over time add up to a big difference, and this may be one change you can make in your home. Whilst looking suitably eco-chique, the brush is 100% biodegradable,  made from sustainable timber and coconut husk, and is vegan if that’s your bag. I picked it up at my local Flannery’s.

But while I’m extolling the virtues of my dish brush, it isn’t your only option. White vinegar in water is fabulous for bringing shine back to cloudy glasses. Just use newspaper and then compost it when you’re done. Old t-shirts cut up make lovely soft cloths, while old towels cut into squares are better for scrubbing pots. You can hem them if you’re feeling fancy. I have a HUGE collection of face cloths in lieu of paper towel for washing grubby faces and hands. My kids aren’t known for being delicate with their food.

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So why not a regular dish cloth? A regular dish cloth from the supermarket is usually made from viscose rayon and acrylic binder. Basically it’s a chemical-laden cloth created from trees, producing large amounts of pollution  and using up A LOT of water to make. And at the end of its life it becomes landfill. So let’s take a step towards a more sustainable kitchen…

A small step: regularly wash your cloths in hot water and reuse as many times as possible.

Big step: buy eco-friendly products or make your own.

Bigger still: When your green products have been used and reused to death, compost them!

Like most people, I have a LOOOOOONG way to go when it comes to making my suburban life more sustainable, but it all starts here with the humble dish brush.

What small sustainable change have you made in your kitchen?

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