Clean and Uncluttered

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Last weekend I was doing some general housework and I cleaned and polished this small table.

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The furniture polish I use is a quantity of the cheapest vegetable oil I can find with a few drops of essential oil to create a pleasant odour.  I use either lemon or lavender oil.  I put a small amount of this mixture on a soft cloth (old t-shirts are good) and apply to the timber then rub it in and buff.

I washed and ironed the doilies and then replaced the ornaments.

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I love this table which I have had for about 20 years and all of the ornaments are special to me.

I keep most things fairly simple but do not subscribe to the minimalist style of an almost bare room.

I prefer the mantra of, “Keep only those things which you use or love”.  These are things that I love.

Simple Style

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Welcome to those of you who have discovered my blog for the first time this week.  I hope you are enjoying the recipes but please take some time to search through the almost 5 years worth of posts related to simple living which encompass sewing, gardening, decluttering and organisation.

A break tonight from dinner recipes and photos.  We had sausages, salad and sweet potato chips.  You need neither a recipe or photograph for that, although I will do a future post on oven-baked sweet potato chips -Yum!!

Sometimes you realise that you have embraced simplicity quite unconsciously.

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I bought a new pair of glasses recently to wear when working on the computer.  They are the black framed ones at the front of the photograph.  I did not notice until I arrived home how similar they were to my existing glasses that I wear all of the time.  I had bought them a few months previously and when I looked closely at the two pairs together they are the same brand and a very similar shape.

When I considered this, it made sense.  I have been wearing glasses for 44 years and have worn numerous styles, some of which did not suit me at all.  These days I can walk into an optical store and dismiss almost all of the frames on offer in a single glance as I know what suits me and I choose accordingly.  Buying frames is really no different to any other fashion choice – know your style and stick to it.

Sexism, Sadness and Simplicity

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The catalyst for writing this post came in the form of a post on a friend’s Facebook page where she posted a link to this article.  While the ‘extreme grooming’ that is described in the article is about a television presenter, it can be seen every day in our offices and shops.

Then just to top it off I found another link via Facebook about the ‘social experiment’ conducted by Karl Stefanovic.  He wore the same suit every day for a year – and no-one noticed.  This was his silent protest to highlight the way his female co-hosts were constantly judged and critiqued on what they wore and their hairstyles.

These articles in the media highlight the unreasonable pressures and expectations that society has on women in general and more specifically women who are constantly in the spotlight such as television presenters.  It saddens me to realise how much of this pressure is on women in all walks of life.

There have been small, incremental steps to break down these ‘societal norms’ but we must all be a part of the solution if things are really to change. The Little Brown Dress project by Alexa Martin in 2005 – 2006 chronicled her anti-consumerism stance in which she wore the same dress every day for a year.  Like Karl Stefanovic, no-one really noticed.  Project 333, is loosely based on the same principle – have a small number of clothes that you wear and love and realise that the world mostly does not care what you wear.  Anyway, none of us should be defined by the clothes we wear.

Wardrobe

To return to the first link in this post, make-up and grooming are yet another facet of us feeling the expectation that we have to present ourselves to the world in a certain way.

Make-up module

I have never been a great fan of make-up and tend to keep my make-up to an absolute minimum.  I no longer colour my hair and have a small but much-loved selection of clothes.  My clothes fit my lifestyle and I feel good in them.

What about you?  Do you feel pressured to present a certain face to the world?  Does your workplace have an expectation of how you are groomed?

Why Blog?

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It is not that many years ago that most of us had never heard of a blog, let alone read one, or heaven forbid, actual written a blog post.  Some days now, it seems as though everyone is writing.  All of this got me to thinking about what made me start and why I continue to blog.

My blog is not an advertising vehicle.  It is not a money-making exercise.

simplicityMy blog is a diary.  I am able to share my thoughts and ideas on a wide range of topics.  It allows me to connect with others who share similar values and interests.  It is me.  Pure and simple.

Clean & Green

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In an online discussion group of which I am a member, the challenge this week was to make some changes in your routine to make your life a little greener.  It was noted that actions that are good for the environment can also be beneficial to your purse.

When I stopped and thought about this, I realised that most of how I choose to live is a result of making the best choice I can in the prevailing circumstances.  Some of these things are what I have always done and others are changes I have made but it is so long ago that I do not even consider them as particularly green.

Here are some of our household patterns.

Use locally-made, environmentally-friendly washing liquid, laundry soaker, dishwashing liquid and dishwasher powder from Kin Kin Naturals.

Make my own wool wash and cream cleanser.

Finished product

Use bicarb and vinegar to clean most surfaces.

Hang clothes outdoors to dry or in front of the fire.  Use clothes dryer rarely.

Washing

Run our home on tank water, grid-connected solar power and solar hot water service.

Grow some of our own fruit and vegetables.  This week I have picked lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, pak choy, lemons, oranges, mandarins. grapefruit and avocadoes.

Compost all our scraps or feed them to the chickens.

Keep chickens for our own supply of eggs.

Catch public transport to work.

Complete multiple errands when making a trip in the car.

Re-use as many resources as possible.

Re-washed plastic bags

Avoid processed foods.

Make choices when shopping to avoid packaging – buy bulk/loose goods.

Use my own bags/containers when shopping.

Meat in containers

Heating from a slow-combustion heater fuelled by wood collected from our property.

Fireplace

Give away items no longer needed via Freecycle or op shop.

Buy only what we need.

Repair things that we already own.

Stitching new lining
This is not a complete list but is an indication of what we do every day to lighten our footprint on the planet.

What choices have you made that could be viewed as ‘green’?

 

Simple Food

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Simple really does come in all sorts of guises and one of them is food.  Here is what we had for dinner on Friday night.  It was the end of the working week, we were both exhausted and not keen on creating a huge meal so I pulled this together with what was in the refrigerator and pantry.  It took about 5 minutes, presented well and was nutritious and filling.

Dinner

The tomatoes, figs and pumpkin were from the garden.  The pumpkin had been roasted to use on pizza and I had some left over.  Cheese, capsicum and cucumber from the refrigerator and finished off with walnuts and dried apricots.

Do you make any truly simple meals?

This is just a quick post as I have been away for a couple of days with my job so no time for blogging.  I am working on a new post about my wardrobe.  It may be ready tomorrow night so look out for it coming soon.

Keeping It Simple

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It is a challenge to just keep my head above water during the week as we are commuting/working  for long periods each day.  It is very easy to just flop in a chair and do nothing, and some nights I do just that.  However, I find that if I do a little bit each day it is less onerous when the weekend comes around.

Here are some of the things I try to do to keep it simple:

Plan meals – on a good week I have the whole week planned out but otherwise I at least know what we will be eating for dinner the following night.

Pantry

Plan what I will wear – as above.  It saves wasting time on thinking in the morning.

Lunches planned and at least partly prepared.

Rinse/wipe the basin and vanity to keep it looking clean.

Washing/folding/ironing – make sure it is up to date.  This morning I hung out the sheets, tonight I took them off the line and they are now folded and put away.  I also handwashed some jumpers and hung them out.

Ironing basket

What do you do to keep the wheels running smoothly?

The Power of One

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This morning I opened  a drawer in the sideboard – it was empty.

Empty drawer
Surprised?  I was about to put away the things that I store in it – the vinyl cloth for the outdoor table and the net food cover.  The drawer was empty because I had been using these items and I only have one of each of them.

Tablecloth & food cover
This started me thinking about other things of which I only have one.  Do I need more than one of them?  Are there things that  could be reduced to a single item?

Here are some things that I own a single item whereas I know many people have multiples.

Dress
Washing basket
Pillow per spare bed
Television
Sheet set for for single bed and trundle bed
Camera
Mascara

I have also managed to just have 1 bottle each of conditioner and shampoo.  We both use the same and have no need for an array of fancy specialist products.

I am working towards having 1 bottle of body lotion and 1 lipstick (have 2 at the moment) but that will take time as I prefer to use things up rather than just toss them for the sake of it.

We are not so good with other things, such as:

2 laptops as well as a desktop computer
2 sets of good tablemats
2 mops
3 hammers (all the same size)
I could go on but this just gives you an idea of some of how easily we can acquire (and keep) multiples of various items.

What is limited/streamlined at your place and what seems to multiply?

Why Simplify?

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Everywhere I have turned in the past week there seem to be messages about simplifying your life.  Some of it has been on other blogs as well as robust discussions both online and in real life.  I am not sure whether it is the start of the new year, the planets aligning or just coincidence.

Flowers

As part of the process of acknowledging that simplicity is at least part of my core values I have changed the byline of this blog to “A simple, sustainable life”.

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This post from Sho-Me Simplicity is well worth reading.  It is quite long but take your time and try to really understand the points she makes.  It is not just possessions that clutter our lives.  It can be too many commitments as discussed here at Living Simplyfree or people whose very presence drains your energy and vitality.

Gone Fishing

Perhaps the final word should come from my mother, who would say “stop the world, I want to get off” when everything got too much.  I do not know the origin of this comment but I think it sums up how many people are feeling at the moment.

Is Simplicity the New Black?

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“Cherishing what you have, not want, is the key to contentment”  So runs the headline to an article on page 4 of today’s Courier Mail, Brisbane’s daily newspaper. What a revelation!!

2012-12-14 01So the mainstream media are beginning to pick up on what many of us already know, you cannot buy happiness.

Will we begin to see people trying to outdo each other in the simplicity stakes – sort of a reverse ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ or will they really understand that simplicity takes a range of guises and it is definitely not a competition?

Is voluntary simplicity the realm of those who can afford to make the choice?

Let me know what you think of this article.

I would also like to say a huge welcome to those of you who have visited today because of the link Rhonda posted at Down to Earth.  I hope you will find something here that is of interest and that you consider coming back and perhaps joining as a follower.

Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing.