STREAMLINE – If One Comes In, One Goes Out


This is a fairly simple strategy – for every item that you welcome into your home another one needs to leave.  Whilst this strategy will not turn you into a minimalist overnight, it will certainly maintain the status quo.

One of the most popular applications of the ‘one in, one out’ rule is clothes.  Buy a new shirt and then choose one that you can move on.  If you are having trouble letting one go, perhaps it is time to ask yourself why you bought the new shirt in the first place.  Did you really need it?  The last time I looked, we can only wear one shirt at a time so why do we need a wardrobe bulging with clothes?

Appliances are another area where we can tend to buy a new version yet retain the old one.  It is usually consigned to the back of the cupboard or the garage ‘just in case’.  Just in case the bright new shiny one breaks down?  Do we really buy things expecting them to fail?  If the previous one needed replacing it is time for it to go.

We recently purchased a new refrigerator.  After a considerable time spent looking and debating the various options available this is the one we bought.

RefrigeratorOf course, there was the question of what to do with the old one.  The Duke briefly canvassed the option of keeping it downstairs as a ‘beer fridge’ but we realised that it was completely unnecessary and would use up space and electricity.  I advertised it on Freecycle and am pleased to say that it has gone to a young couple who were trying to set up a home with very little in the way of resources.

Old refrigerator

Most of us live in relative affluence and virtually everything we buy is an upgrade/replacement/newer version of something we already own.  Therefore, there will be something to move out of your home.  If the previous item was broken it should be consigned to the rubbish/recycling.  If it is still functional someone else may benefit from having it.  No-one benefits from it being stashed away to deteriorate in your garage or basement.

As an aside, I find this principle of ‘one in, one out’ a fantastic disincentive to shop.  “Why spend my hard-earned cash on something when I have a perfectly good one at home?” is the question I often ask myself.

How effective are you at ‘one in, one out’?

Decluttering – The How

1 Comment

I have done quite a bit of decluttering over the years and most of the time we are in maintenance mode here.  However, every now and then we have things that need to be moved along.

Once you have decided that an item no longer belongs in your home, the next question is, “Where does it belong?”  I try not to throw things to landfill if I feel that there may be someone who can use what I no longer want or need.

There are several options of what to do with your stuff.

Sell it – eBay or Gumtree

Give it away – Freecycle

Donate it – Lifeline, Salvos or Endeavour Foundation

These are just some of the popular and well-recognised methods here in Australia.  Of course, there are others here and I am sure there are different, yet similar options in other parts of the world.

Today I have advertised and sold a queensize bed and mattress using Gumtree.

2013-10-12 01The mattress has gone to a new owner today and the base and frame have been sold to someone else and are planned to be picked up early in the week.

Fridge/freezerFreecycle is a worldwide organisation dedicated to keeping items out of landfill.  I have assisted in that goal today by advertising our old fridge/freezer and some assorted used fencing wire.  Both items have been requested and I am just in the process of making arrangements for them to be collected.

WireNow there is just the child’s car seat which is listed on Gumtree.  I will keep my fingers crossed.

2013-10-12 04

As you can see, there is a diverse range of things that can be sold or given away.  Before you rush off to the rubbish dump or toss things in the garbage bin, stop and think about whether someone else might be able use what you no longer require.

What options do you use when decluttering?

Step Outside


Most of the time I write about things that I do in and around our own home.  These include many things that can be bundled under the guise of simple living such as growing fruit and vegetables, sewing and mending, cooking from scratch and decluttering.

Split wood

There is certainly enough to keep us occupied in our own corner of the world, but what about the bigger picture?  Whatever the reason, I do not think it is healthy to withdraw from the world around us.  Developing and maintaining connections with your neighbours and the broader community are vital to our well-being and possibly our ultimate survival.  If everything turns pear-shaped the first thing you will need is the support and co-operation of those around you.

There are so many exciting initiatives that have developed from a seed of an idea.  Some, such as Freecycle and LETS are relatively well-known, however, there are many less publicised ventures that are worthy of promotion.

I am planning a series of posts to highlight some of these ventures and how you can become involved and make a positive contribution to the community in which you live.  If you have any particular favourites that you would like to suggest please leave a comment or email me if you prefer.



Slow Living – April


Here we are with another month ended and it is time to for a review in the spirit of Slow Living Essentials

I must say that a do feel like a bit of a fraud as there does not seem be anything slow about our lives.

Here are the Slow Living categories:

{Nourish}  We have continued to be very diligent with making our packed lunches every day.  It is now 9 months since I changed my diet to one which is gluten and mostly grain free.  I am feeling much better and as an added bonus have lost 8kg.  My main focus has been ensuring that we do not waste any food.  This makes for some interesting but nourishing meals.  This was made from some leftover bits in the fridge last week.  You can read more about it here

Lunch served

{Green}  We are starting to reap the benefits of SAM – our Solar Air Modules.  It is essentially solar airconditioning and we are using it to very effectively keep the bathroom and bedroom warm and dry.  I can reduce the humidity from 90% to 65% in the matter of a few hours.  You can read more about it here


{Grow}  It is well into autumn but I have still been picking cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.


{Create}  We have made 2 more raised garden beds.

New garden beds

{Discover}  I have made a start on putting all of the family history research into a computer program and getting rid of a pile of paper in the process.  I am discovering new facts and remembering some previous discoveries as I do it.

{Enhance}  I have gifted 2 pairs of boots via Freecycle.


{Enjoy}  I have celebrated my birthday, met a friend for lunch and spent a morning with another friend – morning tea and then window shopping.

Now I am off to check out some of the other slow living blogs.

Til next month………..

Press Play


I feel as though I have had the ‘Pause’ button on as everything has been on hold while the bathroom was being done.  Now I can see the things that I want to do.  These include:

2012-03-20 01

  • Dust and polish the furniture in the front entry
  • Replace the ornaments and china from the sideboard (these have been residing on my sewing table)
  • Sort out the other clutter that has also accumulated on the table
  • Get back to doing some sewing (including more gift bags which I have cut out)
  • Sweep and wash the verandah – this has some sawdust remnants from the building work

2012-03-20 02Mention of the gift bags reminds me that I did not do an update post for Lazy Brownie Day in February (25th).  I hope to have lots to post for March and get back on track to have a planned, organised Christmas.

Yesterday I picked up some crochet cotton that a friend bought for me in a sale.  I am going to use this to knit some dishcloths.  There are lots of patterns available but I think I will start with the one that Rhonda has in her book, ‘Down to Earth’.

2012-03-20 03I am also pleased to report that almost everything that I listed on Freecycle under the generic heading of ‘Handyman Materials’ has been collected.  I love the fact that someone is going to be able to use these things and it has freed up some space in the workshop.

I am busy at work this week (working off-site for the next 3 days) so it will be the weekend before I make much progress.  Tonight I have finished folding the washing that dried on the indoor airer over the past few days and now it is time to catch up on some ironing.

Going, Going, Gone….

Leave a comment

Today we have spent the day at home catching up on several jobs.

The Duke painted the ceiling of the bathroom and I did the edges of the cornices and also the new architraves on the window and doors.  The ceiling is finished but the architraves need another coat.  We have had the dehumidifier running in the bathroom for most of the day to get the paint thoroughly dry.

Here is a photo which shows the new lights and also the painted ceiling and window frame.

2012-03-18 01I also sorted out various things in the workshop and space under the stairs.  Then it was time to list some things on Freecycle.  Sometimes I do not have much success and other days everything is wanted.  Today was a good day as I have found new homes for 3 small tins of paint, 2 spraycans of paint, a bathroom stool, the old showerscreen, some excess tiles from the laundry, tiling materials (adhesive, grout etc) and some timber slats.  It is great that other people will be able to use them and we have freed up a bit of space.

We moved the cupboard that had previously been at the foot of the stairs and it is now ensconced in the workshop.  All of the paint and painting equipment is now sorted and stored in the cupboard.

As is often the case, the re-arranging is a work in progress so is actually looking worse than when we started but that will soon change.

The showerscreen and mirror should be installed tomorrow so I am looking forward to that.  It will mean that I can then replace all of my china and ornaments back on the sideboard.  These were removed before the bathroom renovation so they would not be damaged when equipment was being brought in and out of the house.  Things will soon be back to normal.

As Poppet would say, ‘what is normal?’

Make Do


Last year we swapped the single bed in the sewing room for a new (to us) bed and trundle bed.  Miss O used to sleep in the single bed when she came to stay but once Izz was also sleeping in a bed we had to re-think the sleeping arrangements.  I was not prepared to give up what is primarily my sewing room to have 2 single beds available for occasional use so I had to think laterally.  Bunk beds were not an option due the young age of the children and the proximity to the window, so we opted for the single bed plus trundle.  We found it on Gumtree, in perfect condition and only $50.  We bought new foam mattresses and were very happy with the outcome.

The next question was what to do with the existing bed.  No-one I knew needed one and I could have advertised it on Freecycle but there was a degree of emotional attachment.  Sentimentality is the last thing a minimalist needs but this bed is one that my father made over 50 years ago and I was not keen to let it go.  However, it had to justify its existence in our lives.

We had an old day-bed which we had acquired from Freecycle about 10 years ago with the goal of restoring it for use on the long verandah – imagining lazy afternoons lying reading a book and listening to the birds in the shrubs nearby.  This was a great idea but one that was unlikely to happen due to the very poor condition of the timber.

Finally, we agreed that the day-bed could be dismantled for firewood except for the wire mesh base which The Duke has appropriated for use as a sieve.  The single bed which is quite narrow (750mm) will be a day bed.  It has been on the verandah for some months now, waiting for me to make a cover for the mattress.  Although it is undercover there can be rain blow in to that area so I had to consider how to manage this.

I decided to cover the mattress in vinyl which can be bought by the metre from Spotlight.  A few weeks ago I did some measuring and we went to Spotlight with intentions of buying the vinyl but I discovered that it would cost me about $120.  I gulped and wondered whether it was really worth spending that amount of money on something which was certainly not essential and was really a way of retaining something I did not want to part with.  So we went home and I looked for alternative ideas.

I found this heavy cotton bedspread (actually I have 2 of them) in the bottom of the linen cupboard.  I am going to use it to make a cover which can be removed for laundering.  This does not address the issue of the mattress getting wet so I found the large, heavy-duty plastic bags that were the packaging from the new mattresses we bought for the trundle beds.  I will make a cover for the mattress from one of these.  We will bring the mattress inside if bad weather is imminent but otherwise I will only have to wash the cover and the mattress will stay dry and clean thanks to the plastic cover.

This project will be completed with no extra cost.  The bed will have a new use and I don’t have to part with it just yet.  We may even put a headboard and footboard on the bed but in the meantime it will be perfectly functional.

I am looking forward to finishing this and enjoying some lazy afternoons.

Caring & Sharing


Tonight I want to share a story I heard today.  While many of us have too much stuff and are constantly looking for ways to reduce the clutter in our lives there are others who could benefit greatly from things we no longer need.

Freecycle is an amazing concept which allows members of a local group to offer anything they no longer want to others in the group.  Everything is given without bias or selection criteria and today Miki* discovered the wonder of this phenomenon.  She listed several items, including 2 bicycles.  There were several responses for the bicycles and she chose a recipient who lived not far from her to take one of the bikes.  The lady collected it as arranged and later sent an email to reiterate her thanks.  Only then, did Miki find out that this lady had just lost her home due to legal wrangling beyond her control.  A bike may not seem like much recompense for a house but the lady was so thankful for Miki’s generosity of spirit and said that it restored her faith in human nature.

sharing-is-caringThis sort of story will not come to light every time you list something on Freecycle or give away unused items by other means.  You will, however, know in your heart that you have made a difference to someone’s day.  What better Christmas gift could there be?

*not her real name

Weekly Challenge – Week 9


Back to a slightly less controversial topic than last night’s post.  It is Monday and The Challenge continues…………it is now Week 9.

However, action for the planet does not need to be controversial.  Take a look at the list and you will see that all of the things I do every day make a difference – sewing clothes, re-fashioning garments, knitting dishclothes, re-purposing used furniture, giving away things that are no longer required and growing vegetables but to name a few.

1. Clean car inside and out -DONE

2. Finish making sandwich wraps for Miss O and Izz – DONE

3. Create a spreadsheet for future holiday packing needs

4. Make trackpants for Miss O and Izz – DONE

5. Send emails to book accommodation for New Zealand trip – DONE

6. Buy and plant seedlings for winter vegetables – DONE

7. Email friend to arrange to meet for lunch – DONE

8. Finish knitting dishcloth and sew ends in on first two – DONE

9. Make dressing gown for Miss O – DONE

10. Upload music to my iPod

11. Declutter and clean bathroom cupboard – DONE

12. Plan birthday celebration for Missy – DONE

13. Make an appointment to have our tax done – DONE

14. List 2 items on Freecycle – DONE

15. Clean kitchen windows – DONE

16. Book train trip  for New Zealand holiday – DONE

17. Follow up what I need to do to change my superannuation

18. Assemble the required paperwork for our tax appointment

19. Finish pinafore for Izz – DONE

20. Discuss 80th birthday celebration plans with my mother – DONE

21. Clean patio using high-pressure cleaner – DONE

22. Clean back wall of the house using high-pressure cleaner – DONE

23. Organise quote to have poinciana tree lopped and mulched

24. Plant seeds in seed-raising mix – DONE

25. Clean windows on southern side of house

26. Clean paths using high-pressure cleaner – DONE

27. Trace sewing patterns for my mother – DONE

28. Read 5 outstanding magazines & file or re-home – DONE

29. Clean out bottom drawer in the kitchen – DONE

30.Dust furniture in the front entry

31. Read  and re-home 5 more magazines – DONE

32. Thin out and re-pot bok choy seedlings

33. Sand and paint window frames in laundry and bathroom

34. Clean fronts of kitchen cupboards

35. Make a vinyl cover for the newly-created day bed

36. Buy birthday gift for Izz

I have crossed a few more things off the list, including the kitchen windows (and flyscreens).  I ended up listing about a dozen things on Freecycle.  Most have been promised so now to see if the people who have asked for them follow through and collect.  Some small items which are not worth the trouble of listing or people travelling to collect are in a bag ready to go to the op shop on Wednesday.

Perhaps, this week I will try to focus on the everyday things that we can all do to make a difference.  By incorporating some simple strategies into your life you will save money as well as doing your bit for the planet and the welfare of future generations.  The savings would more than offset the costs incurred that will possibly flow from the implementation of the carbon tax.

Shopping – Green, Ethical, Sustainable, Organic, Fair-trade, Local

1 Comment

How do you balance the competing priorities when you shop?  This is a question with which I constantly wrestle.

While meandering through blogland I found this gem of a post at Little Eco Footprints.  If you are concerned about the impact of your shopping habits I would strongly recommend that you read this and also the very wise comments.

Buying ‘green’ products may salve your conscience but it is not enough to just toss a few green cleaning products in your trolley and assume that all will be well.  Where were they made?  How much transport was involved in getting them to your supermarket?  Are they really ‘green’?

I think the priority should be to reduce consumption because everything, yes, EVERY single thing that you buy has been manufactured and that process uses resources and produces greenhouse gases.

While we can and do produce some of our own food there are still many things which I have to buy.  My priorities are to buy things as local as possible and with the minimum of packaging and preferably recyclable packaging.  Organic is not particularly high on my radar. Here is a reason why.

Today while I was shopping I saw a tin of organic kidney beans that were product of USA.  There is nothing wrong with produce from USA if that is where you live.  However, these beans had been processed, canned and then transported halfway around the world.  I can buy dried kidney beans at Simply Good in Morayfield.  This is a family-owned local business where I can put my purchases in recycled paper bags that I bring from home.  See a previous post for more detail.  Even if the beans happen to be imported there is much less weight/packaging to transport a 25kg bag of dried beans than individual steel cans of processed beans.

I try to buy some things second-hand and also re-home things that I no longer need.  For this I generally use my local Freecycle group.  Freecycle is a fantastic concept which was born in Tuscon, Arizona and is now a world-wide phenomenon where people can give away almost anything (there are rules).

Good quality items, which can cost a little more are also my preferred option as they have a longer life and are much more ‘green’ in the long run than something that gets used/worn a few times before it breaks or wears out and is then discarded to landfill.

What are your priorities? How do you decide?  Have you tried to reduce your overall consumption?