Community garden

Friday, 21 October 2016

simple days.

The big boys are back at school this week.  So its just been me and this little guy.  Oh and about 500 loads of washing - gah! 

Bliss.  Midday naps, tea parties, books and days simply hanging out at home.  Goodness I needed it.

Oh....and assignments, uni, work and the rest of the real life important adulting that needs to be done to keep the wheels running in this place.....But lets just focus on the blissful bits shall we?

much love,

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The second bedroom and the cost of our decisions...

I'm not going to lie, the last few weeks I have been thoroughly over renovating.  I have been fed up, longing for a clean, tidy, fresh space.  I have been grumpy and irritable and emotionally tired from the realities of it all.  I have been ready to throw in the towel on more then one occasion. 

Sometimes I look around at friends building brand new beautiful homes, then I look at our little shabby, dusty old cottage......Sometimes the green eyed monster rears its ugly head.  Even when we know we are making the right decisions both for our family and financially, it's still challenging.  The reality is that sometimes the grass looks greener on the other side.   

Even though we know in our heart of hearts its not, it doesn't stop the mind wondering.  People look at what we are doing and exclaim how much they wish they could do it too.  Mind you - some think we are utterly crazy, ha!   

But the truth lies that underneath it all, is that there is always a cost to every single decision we make. 

We bought this house cash, so we have no home mortgage.  We are paying down our business mortgage as hard and as fast as we can.  Its tough.  When we are doing a big job, like finishing a room, we don't all eat together.  Grant works as hard as he can to get the noisy work done before the boys go to bed.  I will often eat with the kids, do the rest and work late to clean up.

We often work really long days.  We own a business and that in itself is long hours and a lot of work.  Grant works full time there and is often up until midnight working on the house.  I work and study and am often up until midnight reading or doing assignments.  Its tiring, its exhausting and its not sustainable for long periods.

But that is the cost of a big fast push.  Its how we tend to work, perhaps not ideal, but it comes out of necessity.  We focus wholly on a big project, then try to smash it out.  The catch is after its done, we allow ourselves to have a good rest and re-charge.  Now we have done the boys room, we will simply potter about on the garden for a bit.  Finish a few odd jobs, go to the beach, catch a movie, take the dogs down to the local river.  Have big hearty family dinners again and rest and chill out.

But this is the cost of being free of a home mortgage before 35.  If you choose to have a big fancy home, there is a cost to that too.  You will have a big fancy home that has an equally big fancy debit. 

All decisions we make have a cost.  I find knowing this really helpful in how we lead our lives and how we prioritise our values.  Is the cost of the decision going to be worth it to us? 

- Do I stay in a job I hate?  Or do I take a risk and find a new job and explore a new path? 
- Do we have children now or later?
- Do we buy a little house in a good area or perhaps a larger house a little further away? 
- Do we buy new and spend more or something older and do it up over time?
- Do we shop for fun?  Or do we look for fun elsewhere and challenge societies perception of what fun is?
- Do we follow the path of least resistance in our lives?  Or do we search our heart of hearts and work towards creating our own unique life that resonates with our souls - despite it looking different from those around us?

What is the cost of maintaining status quo vs the cost of change?  

For us, living in this little old cottage, working hard renovating......the cost of reduced financial pressure, of me being able to follow my call to ministry.  The cost is worth it to us.  It wouldn't be a decision that resonates with everyone - and that's ok too.  Though that doesn't mean it is easy. 

But then again, most things in life worth doing aren't easy.  They stretch us, they challenge our beliefs about us and the world we are in.  They grow us, and that growth and shaping is truly a beautiful thing.    

Grant built a simple stand to help with putting the ceiling up. 

Gussy choose orange - and it gets a thumbs up!

The boys "helping" Grant. 

I'm not sure who is more excited - the boys or I.  I was in beginning to decorate before the floor was even laid! 

It may not be Pintrest worthy, but they finally have their own cosy space.

And they are oh-so happy about it!

Much love,

Friday, 23 September 2016

Spring has sprung!

I love spring, it must be my favourite season.  Mind you I say that every season......except in the middle of summer.....My fair skin is not designed for our hot dry summers.  Spring is full of new growth, new possibilities, new life.  Everyone looks to be outside. 

Henry watering the pots.  I thought by giving him a cup and a bucket to water with his exuberance would be contained, but alas 15 minutes later he was soaked through.  ha!

My camomile needs to be picked and dried for tea.

Fresh baked banana bread.

My beautiful bunch of sour sobs picked by little Henry.  A bit rumpled but picked with love and proudly displayed  "I pick you bootwiful fowers Mama."

Washing in the sun.  I love when its not draped around drying on racks inside our little cottage. 

I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing weekend! 

Much love,

Sunday, 18 September 2016


Things have been plodding along at the little old cottage.  I'm so grateful for these spring days.  There has been organising, soap making, gardening, study (oh my goodness the study.) and of course caring for the boys.  Life has been just so full.

Sometimes it feels like too many things demand my attention.  But then as usual, my mind wanders back to something I read in a book about the Amish.  One Amish woman has just done her housework, another came to visit and with a pot plant or something and accidentally knocked it on the clean floor, making a dreadful mess.  Instead of being exasperated together they laughed, and cleaned it up.  When she was asked if she was frustrated she replied (I'm paraphrasing here.)  "Surely it is a blessing to have my dear friend visit, I would much rather have work to do with my friend then not.  Work is a blessing from the Lord."  Or something along those lines. 

It stuck with me.

We seem to live in a time where busyness can easily be idolised.  Where it can be an avenue of people justifying their worth.  Their contribution if you will.  But each person is special enough without all that "stuff".  Work is important, but not more important then the person doing it.

But instead of busy, I like to think of things as full.  Full.  Its a good word isn't it?  A full cup of coffee, a full table of food, a full bar of chocolate,  what blessings, what joys! 

So right now my life is full.  The study, oh my goodness.  There is no quick way to skim over the Old Testament in Uni.  The only way is to go through it.  (I'm reminded of the book We're going on a bear hunt..."we cant go over it, we cant go under it, we have got to go through it!...")
The reality is, that takes time.  So.much.time.  The history, the stories, the dates.  So many names.  But oh so fascinating.  I feel my brain being stretched.  My thoughts challenged.  What a blessing it is to be able to learn.  To grow.

Mothering is never ending.  The tears to wipe, the tummies to tickle, to books to read, the daily tasks to help with, the lessons to teach, the frustrations to ease, the meals to cook, the cleaning to be done. 

But what a blessing it is to have a full life.  

My organisation point finally back up.  So helpful!  Chargers, pens, notices, sticky tape.  All those bits gathered in the same place.

An old sheet cut into rags for cleaning, enjoying a cuppa and the sunshine.

There has been the ordinary house work, cooking, cleaning caring for the boys, the ongoing renovations.  The never ending washing.  But what a blessing it is to have a family to care for, to be needed so much.  To breathe my sweet boys in as they are warm and clean after their bath.  Sleepy and tired from a day of being little.   

There are pets to care for.  Just look at Ronnie's face!  So much beauty. 

Herbs and greens looking happy, a little nibbled but there is enough for all of us.

Spring is in the garden.

Soap has been made. 

There is church work to do.  Families to help with, friends to check in with, work to be done in my chaplaincy roll.  But what a blessing it is to be part of the community.  To be able to do Gods work.  To have His peace in my days, through the seasons. 

Sometimes it feels so busy.  But then I correct myself and remind myself that my life is simply full.  Because the things we do are all important, carefully chosen.  They are all a part of us.  Of the work we choose to do.  Its the work that weaves the fabric of our lives, the way we teach our boys the important lessons in life.  Work is a blessing.  We are made to work.  To be challenged is a blessing, to grow is a blessing. 

So today as I look at the things I need to fit in.  I breathe in.  And then give thanks, pour another cuppa.  Pop on the washing, stoke up the fire and steady myself to do the work of today.     

Much love,

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The good old days......?

EDIT:  I'd just like to say thanks to the readers who have stuck around while blogging has been a bit patchy and haphazard, who continue to write encouraging messages and wish us well! It means as much as ever to have you all here plodding along the simple living path with me.  I have lost a huge stack of readers just recently (like 300-500 in about 5 days - ouch!) I must admit I was a little dis-heartened at first.  I wondered if I accidentally offended a bunch of people.  Perhaps it was a technical glitch, perhaps my content has been repetative.  I'm not sure to be honest, I am simply me.  Nothing more and nothing less.  But then I remembered I do this for us, for our family.  To record our story.  I don't pretend to know everything, in fact the more I learn the less I know.  But we love trying to diy, to live simply, to be present.  To put first what truly matters.   

I love feeling connected to you all out there.  We little home bloggers, blog for the love of it as life allows, there is no money for many of our efforts, and that's just fine.  So Thankyou for those who continue to pop over to our sometimes chaotic, sometimes messy but always honest and filled with love in our little corner of the world! Xx

When we hop on line and look around the internet there are so many people simplifying their lives.  Its so interesting to see how everyone is doing it.  Some are living on large properties and living self sustainably, some are renting, some are in the city and some are in the country.  Some people have children, some don't.  Some craft, some garden, some are minimalists, some op-shop, renovate and cook. 

Its amazing really isn't it?  That so many of us are all working towards similar life goals but all doing it all so differently. 

Sometimes we can look at all the advertising in the world and become cynical.  We can think that everyone in the world is obsessed with more. 

But when I see preserving jars in mainstream shops, I get excited.  It means that there is a demand for them, that preserving is hitting the main stream.  Cool huh?

Henry checking out the fresh picked daffodils from the garden.

We can get cynical of big fancy appliances like the thermomix, and all in one cookers.  Taking over the old skills, technology blah, blah.  But you know what I see?  A generation of people embracing home made foods.  They don't want to put preservatives in their food, they want to cook from scratch for their families.  They may well be the generation that missed out on being taught how to do it our grandmothers way, but they are forging their own path forward despite that!  They are looking for a way that makes sense to them, to cook the kinds of foods our grandmothers cooked, but doing it their way.  These are often families with two working parents, deciding that investing in home made foods is of upmost importance to them.  The savings then prove them selves, the health benefits become apparent, they begin to look around at what else in their house is chemical laden and they are already half way down the simple living rabbit hole! 

I remember an old high school teacher of mine.  Mrs Lill, she was a wonderful science teacher, quirky, kind and passionate.  She wore blue eye shadow and was just the loveliest lady.  She was the epitome of what a science teacher should be, there was something kind of wonderfully mad about her!  She loved a good story and would tell us all kinds of interesting things about history, science and everything in between.  Often starting with "in the good old days, which weren't really the good old days at all.."  It's a phrase that has stuck with me deeply ever since.

A quiet (rare) school morning.  Will is writing poetry, the little ones drawing.

And you know what?  She was right.  I wouldn't go back.  Modern medicine has saved millions of lives, especially that of women and children.  I would most likely have lost at least one child by now and possibly died myself in labour if it was not for modern medicine.  That alone is enough for me.  But lets look at women and education.  Even in my parents generation the fields at which women are now in has grown considerably, and is continuing to do so.  We have not reached equality, but we are slowly moving in the right direction.

I have the privilege of having a profession under my belt.  Because of it, I know I can provide for my family if need be.  But due to our life choices and a whole lot of luck, I have the choice to stay at home and care for my children.  That's why there is freedom in it.  When we romanticise the "good old days" we forget the brave, strong women that have paved the path for us today.  We belittle the amazing contributions they have made in politics, science, arts, education, religion, health and business. 

I love being at home, but I give thanks to the strong, hardworking, spunky women who have walked before me.  Because of them, I can go back to Uni and study theology.  Because of the battles they fought, I can both be at home, work and study.  Because of them I'm allowed to speak in church, fancy that! ;)

It is easy to sit in our modern thrones of privledge and look around and say things were better then, but there was still problems.  Serious problems that existed within society then, just as there are now.  Let's not look at the past with rose coloured glasses.  Thinking this generation is all doom and gloom.  It's boring and we should know better by now.  

I am forever greatful for the "good old days".  But I am greatful for the choices, for the pendulum making a gentle swing back there with a modern twist. 

I love that corperate companies don't know how to appeal to younger generations.  That they don't want fancy, formal furniture.  Eat in kitchens are a big thing, stiff formal dining rooms are disappearing.  "Vintage" is cool, so is op-shopping, the Internet is filled with cool patterns, people seeing and spreading creative ideas.  It is easier to buy fair trade then it ever has been!  I love that being environmentally friendly is a major branding thing now, and they best back their claims or they will be found out and dragged through the ringer if they claim falsely.  That people are demanding fair trade, co-ops are growing, farmers markets are cool.  In my state, it has become clear that the self serve checkouts are a failure.  Turns out most people don't like them here.  Ha!  If that's not a gentle protest to the bigger, faster, flasher movement I don't know what is.  People crave connection.  As much today as ever. 

So I encourage you to look around and see the good things going on.  The primary schools putting in veggie gardens, and bringing in chooks,  re-introducing cooking programs with the kids.  The parents searching for home made recipies, investing in their home kitchens so they can teach themselves how to cook from scratch, people getting chooks, baking and using green cleaners, churches helping the needing, caring for our mothers and children, Lets use the global connection we have to teach the importance of simplifying, show people how we are all connected, that our waste is all connected.

Little puss sleeping in a hand made wooden toy.  The Internet has been wonderful for allowing people all over the world having little home based businesses.  Allowing people to persue their hobbies, passions and creativity.  

Everytime we see someone trying to move towards a simple life, weather it be eating less processed foods, putting in some herbs or veggies, getting a worm farm or building a compost heap.  Weather they are walking to school or work, making their own cleaners.  We need to high five them!  Not look back in time and say things were better "back in the old days", or point out the way they could do it "more simply" (groan) or point out what they are doing wrong.  Lets celebrate them, like their posts on social media, cheer them on and share the love.  Lets use the checkouts with people to send the message we want them to focus on employment rather then speed.  

Let's not look at the past with rose coloured glasses, instead let's look forward.  Armed with everything we know, and move forward togeather in support of eachother.  Let's give thanks for the past, and for the wonderful oppertunities it has paved the way for us today.

How else can we celebrate the simple living community I wonder? 

Much love,

Thursday, 18 August 2016

home sweet home.

Finally our electric oven is re-connected, Oh the luxury!  It must have been close to two months now, and finally we have a fully functioning kitchen.  Not aesthetically complete, but fully functioning none the less. 

Its hard when your renovating such an important room to make do for that period of time.  Its one thing when you bring in trades, they can usually fit a kitchen in the matter of a couple of days.  But when it is as big a job as restoration of the building, and THEN the renovation of a kitchen it is an entirely different process.  Add on doing it yourself, with a young family....well.  Its not easy. 

A random photo of Henry napping with all his cats.  Just because it's too cute not to share! ;) 

Having been through this process a few times now, with several different houses I know it is a season.  I know it will pass, and I have no desire to run myself ragged through an already difficult process trying to keep up all we already did.  When life if stressful, I focus on mental health, on rest, on our little family.

If you have been reading my blog for a while now, you might notice a pattern.  When things get hard we lean on conveniences.  I'm OK with that.  When we pick up extra work, when we pick up challenge's, we must lay something down to make room for that.  Or we will end up stressed out, over tired, and resenting the things we truly value.  Each and every time, when the challenge or the stress disperses, we quickly find ourselves back in our familiar and enjoyable lifestyle.   

If your a die hard simple living person who does everything from scratch all the time I might have just about lost you about now.  And that's ok too.  I'm here to represent the completely ordinary, the un-spectacular and the bumbling along kinda people.  Trying to live simply, growing over time, and simply enjoying the things we value in life and creating our life style to suit that.

First batch of laundry liquid made in our new kitchen.

When people ask us "how do you do it all?!"  And the simple answer is, we don't.  When we renovate, especially on such a big scale that where our energy goes.  That and our family.  We support the local family owned and run chippy shop once a week, twice if things are completely falling apart.  We eat spag bol for three nights in a row, eggs on toast, and slow cooked casseroles of whatever-needs-to-be-used-up-and-thrown-in-a-pot.  The thing is when you are working to save such a huge amount of money on trades, something has to give.  For us to spend a little extra on our grocery bill is the compromise we make.  For us, life is all about compromise. 

We have estimated, that once our kitchen renovations are completely finished, including the tiles and so forth, floors laid it will have cost us approx. $8000-$8500.  We saved money by keeping the vintage electric oven.  
Kitchen from Ikea : $5700 (including sink, taps, handles, dishwasher, range hood)
Wood oven: $300 (Will sell the old one for parts to re-coup some of the cost, this number reflects this.)
Big re-cycled wood beam: $160
Electrical: $400 (Grant laid all the new wiring in the ceiling and removed the old wiring and the electrician checked it all over, and did all the correct fittings to the power board, safety switches etc.)
The rest went on bits and bobs needed when you renovate.   

I reckon if we have of used trades this figure would have doubled, if not close to tripled considering the structural work like the demolition of the wall, new ceiling, treating the salt damp, restoring the brick fireplace, plastering, hours spent laying wiring, fitting the kitchen, tiling etc.  It does not take long for the trades to add up on an old house like ours.  Things are never as simple on an old place, and you will always encounter problems, which take time, which then costs more money.  Living rurally means tradies charge extra to come out here too.  We have local trades, but things that are a little more specialist like stone masons and kitchen cabinetry companies.   

When hanging a collection, it helps to lay it out, then take a digital photo to refer to as you go along to reference as spacing and layout. 

Since having the kitchen in I have found time in my day to potter about and fluff up my nest.  Sometimes picking up simple living jobs we had let slip.  Other times doing those fun little projects.  Hanging my vintage plate collection was one of them.  None of them are valuable, they are all bought from op-shops.  But I love them all! 

Grant laughed at me.  Now I have my rocking chair and my pretty plates out.  I would love to use them, but the dishwasher will strip off their paint.  So I will make do with just having a few out of display.  There is no point having our favourite things tucked in a cupboard! 

I bought this little glass house at the same time we bought the kitchen from Ikea.  We took cuttings from the garden and found some little pots and bowls and it was a fun little project with Will.  Now the cats cant knock them over.....cheeky things!

Anyway, the boys are all hovering about so it must be dinner! 

Much love,

Friday, 12 August 2016

The garden waking up.

 The days are growing longer and warmer oh so slowly!  The garden is beginning to shoot out, flowers blooming.  Everyone is looking to be outside, much to my delight! 
 The Almond trees are all beginning to bloom.

 All sorts of bulbs are popping up, we have a lovely patch of daffodils. 

The tree is loaded with lemons!  Lemon butter and lemon curd to come soon. 

The boys and I planted some spinach tonight in the raised bed, dug in some organic matter to enrich the soil.  We cleared out some borage and comfrey and transplanted it in the garden.  The kale has been badly eaten, but hopefully it will bounce back.  Coriander is looking great, parsley is busting out of the pot.  Some herbs are frost burnt and I shuffled a few pots about into different positions to see if they would be happier, but as the sun comes out they will begin to bounce back.

Here is my night, completely un-filtered.  Sometimes I think we are tempted to only put forward the best of our lives,  so this is me, being real.  There are dishes in the sink, mess on the bench and todays lunchboxes cheerfully dumped waiting to be tended too.  The wood fire is crackling away and it needs a good sweep.  Clean washing waiting patiently to be folded, table loaded with books and study stuff.  Is it perfect?  Nope.  Is it Pinterest worthy?  HA!.  But its real, Its our life.  A home is for living in, friends are always welcome.  Clear a spot, grab a hot cuppa and settle on in for a good yarn!

Much love,