Saturday, November 10, 2012

Finding Focus and More Makings.

This week, we switched the TV off.

Big step. We have done this before as a whole family, for a few months back when we were first getting into living in a simpler and more sustainable way. I loved it, as our evenings were spent productively, making foods, or brewing, or sewing, or, heavens above, even communicating! But TV slipped back into our nightly routine, and before long we were finding we were watching TV all evening, every evening, and going to bed later and feeling more tired during the day. Our routine had slipped, we were less productive around the house and relying on convenience foods more. We communicated less and felt generally more stressed and disengaged. We have often had week-long breaks from the kids watching TV since then, but haven't been able to kick the habit ourselves.

It's been a great week (apart from me being quite sick earlier in the week!). We have had long overdue conversations about our budget, our goals as a family, how we want to achieve them, how we spend our time. We have been brewing and bottling and baking and creating. The time we were spending in front of the box is now being spent busily doing the things we need to be doing regularly to ensure we can live the simpler life we want to, without getting caught in the trap of not having pre-prepared enough food to get us through the week without buying additional groceries, or even take-away lunches, for example. We feel more connected as a family, and to our home, and to our goals.

Two goals have come to the fore in the last couple of weeks. Major Goal Number One is, we have decided that for a few months, we are buying nothing (apart from food and consumables) (and apart from one little craft book.... ahem.) There was a bit much slippage going on in our finances, we don't need anything above what we already have and we have a number of financial goals that we would like to achieve, that will enable us to meet Major Goal Number Two. MG#2 is that within the next two years, Nath will reduce his working days down to three days a week, while I remain as a non-working mother. This will obviously impact our income quite drastically, which means we have to work very hard while we still have a decent income to equip ourselves to deal with a cut in finances. The priorities in the short term are setting up all of our garden beds to become food producing, upskilling ourselves to be able to produce even more at home (such as fermented foods and cheeses), and setting ourselves up to be able to hunt and forage locally. Eventually we will need more water storage (our current water tank is for the garden, not for other household use), a solar electricity supply and some way of acquiring dairy (I keep telling Nath we need goats.....)

This focus has brought about a reinvigorated energy in us. We have ripped out the garden beds in the backyard, ready for prepping for vegetable planting, and Nath is sorting out his WA gun license. We have planted out a whole bunch more vegetables, from some heirloom seeds I bought this week (six varieties of tomatoes? Yes, please!) We have more chickens on their way, so hopefully with the two young roosters we have currently, we can establish a pattern of breeding and raising chicks to keep some for eating and some for laying. The quails are fattening up nicely and I think we have a nice mix of males and females in there for now.

Tomorrow we build the little woodshed to store the wood we collected at the end of this last winter, so it can dry out all summer ready for next winter. We are also getting into the big shed to do a big sort and clean out, so it can be a functional space for Nath to hone his 'making' skills in. Nath being able to build, repair, upcycle and engineer is a key part of MG#2.

Here are some snaps of some of the makings in our house lately:

Miya's Tinkerbell costume for Book Week at school. It was made from an old muslin wrap of Brannen's, some ribbon, some scrap material and fencing wire! She was chosen from her class to stand up in front of the whole school and say who she was dressed up as, and it was a very proud mama moment for me!

Salmon and broccoli quiche. I haven't made pastry for so long, and I had forgotten how much better it is home made than the shop stuff!

Homemade washing liquid. This is a project I have been putting off for a long time, but it was so easy! I made about eight litres, and it cost me around $1.50. I got my recipe from Rhonda at Down To Earth.

Apple cider. Well, this was a mission. Mainly because I don't have a juicer. I milled the apples in the Thermomix, then ran them through the mouli, then squeezed them through a muslin lined sieve, until I was happy that I had the right consistency of juice. I added whey collected from draining home made yoghurt, and left it to ferment for a few days. It is now completing its fermentation in the fridge, and I am contemplating further fermenting it with brewer's yeast to make it alcoholic, as I love alcoholic apple cider. We'll see.

 I'm making some curtains for the kids' room. I just used an old pair of Ikea curtains I bought when Nath and I were first married, and drew up a simple design, then cut out the shapes from scraps of material I had in my stash. This is the first curtain. It's pinned ready to go, and when I have sewn it all up, I'll work on the second curtain.

I picked up two large bags of cooking tomatoes at my fruit and veg shop the other day, six kilos in total. Tonight I cooked them up into a puree and bottled them with my much loved Fowlers Vacola unit. I netted about five litres, which should last us awhile.

Nath distilled some clear spirit tonight (similar to vodka or white rum, at about 40% alcohol volume). This run netted us 8x750ml bottles, with a total cost of under $20. With each bottle costing us $2.50, this is clearly a significant saving. It is also a more sustainable and ethical choice, with many alcohol companies having been given the thumbs down by Ethical Consumer for their unethical practices, and the environmental implications of large scale production of alcohol that then travels long distances (in our case) to get to us. Not to mention the preservatives and additives found in commercial alcohol. Of course, in accordance with the law, we only use our home-distilled spirits for cleaning purposes!

It's very late here, and I am off to bed. I'd love to hear what makings have been happening in your house lately!


  1. hi nic, i really loved reading this post and hearing what your up to and what your dreams for the future are! love little tinkerbell, what a cutie...and the curtains...they're awesome! bazz makes our laundry liquid-its so much better then the powder we used to buy from the store-hope you enjoy yours too!!! what have i been making?hmmm.. ive started making a few little cute christmas gifts and bazz made a new couch with milk to you all xoxoxo

  2. Hey Mezz :) Saw your couch!! Awesome, very innovative! Love to you guys too, we will skype soon xxx


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