Saturday, July 15, 2017

Back into the swing of things

The University semester has restarted, at the same time as the school term.

This means routine is back. The children are going to school/kindy and I am going to uni. The 2 older children seem to be enjoying being back in the swing of things. The youngest wants more time at home. For me, going back to uni this week has meant talking to more people than I did in the last semester. I have put myself in situations to be able to talk to others in my classes, rather than sitting back and observing. And I feel so much better for it. I feel like there could be some connections that could lead to friendships, which would be great as in my new town I do not have many of those.

Next week is the beginning of my second teaching placement for the year. And I am excited. I am going back to the same school, with a different mentor teacher. I am really looking forward to seeing how another teacher gets organised, teaches and interacts with the students.

Luckily I have my parents in town, who will be helping me with morning and afternoon routines with the older children. This means I can leave early and get to the school at a more appropriate time and organise myself for the day ahead. I am however looking forward to the full days and hard work in the next 3 weeks.

One thing that is getting interesting is the cold. I knew the weather would be cooler in this town, just not as cool as it has been getting! I had to go looking for thicker, warmer jackets to wear as my jumpers were not quite cutting the mustard! And it will get colder, so says people who have been here longer than me.

Trying to stay warm
Beckie

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Friendship

And it is now July.

I have had a five day visit from an almost life long friend and her child. A friend who has many food intolerances and allergies, who is also on a similar path to me in regards to being more simple in what is in the cupboard and using alternatives to the 'norm'. A friend I have not seen for over 2 years.

I made chocolate at home with cacao butter and cocoa.

We started a sauerkraut. Okay. Honestly my friend started sauerkraut with my daughter. I simply get to make sure it is safe for 6-8 weeks.

I got to discuss different whole food ideas, and alternatives. We looked at organic produce and different companies that promote whole foods and bulk buying with little waste.

We also talked crap. Lots of little everyday crap, and it was divine.

We walked and hung out and laughed and discussed and watched our children and connected.

It was like we have never been apart.

My children were lovely, her son was lovely. There were very few issues with them. It really made my heart sing.

And now she is back in her home, safe and hours away.

Hopefully next time we will be in her home, and time will stand still again.

Being Thankful.
Beckie

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Exams

I am a Uni student. The last week has been crazy busy. I have been completing a practical component on one of the courses I am completing along with getting ready for two exams. The first exam I took a day off from my practical to get ready and then a second day for the actual exam.

Boy. I had not realised how much I had not been doing. It seems while I was distracted with the practical I had not done anything on any other courses. Gah! So a day of complete cramming to try and get new information into my head.

Problem. I dislike the course material and struggle to understand it at a normal pace, let alone at a cramming pace. I'm not going to lie. I cried a bit trying to make my brain understand what was happening and I was very worried going into the exam.

Result. I am so close to failing that course. I am hoping luck was on my side and I gain enough marks to scrape me over the line. I do NOT want to repeat that course!

The second exam, followed the first very quickly. I had also done so little in the last 3 weeks in particular and was very worried I would not be able to cram the information into my head. Luckily this particular course makes far more sense to me and I feel like it just flowed into my knowledge banks. I felt very comfortable in the exam and feel much more confident that I will get over the line and pass the course.

So I am in limbo a little bit for the next few weeks while the exams are marked and checked and double checked.

Cross your fingers for me. Send me positive vibes. I WILL pass both subjects. I really really must.

Beckie

Monday, June 12, 2017

Cups of Tea

Following on from no new plastic, I have recently - in the last 2 months or so- changed from single use tea bags, to loose leaf tea in an infuser.

I was actually thinking about stopping tea bags and had looked at different options, but hadn't settled on anything. I went to the local farmers market, and low and behold, there was a tea stall there. With infusers. I went for stainless steel rather than silicon and picked a loose leaf tea to start with.

After getting used to using the infuser, I have found this switch relatively easy. I did take a couple of weeks or so to get used to the new tea, as I had been having the strongest tea I could find in tea bag form. And seeing my very light coloured tea rather than dark tea was a little off putting initially, however I am enjoying the flavour of the tea more now. As an added bonus, my plants are getting tea leaves as extra nutrients.

I also recently bought a glass thermos type thing from the same market stall, which has a strainer in the top. This lets me put loose leaf tea in the jar, pour in hot water and not worry about choking on tea leaves as I am drinking tea whilst out and about.

What have you switched lately?

Beckie
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Monday, May 22, 2017

No Television

So an interesting thing is happening in my house... We have gone from watching television everyday for as long as the kids could encourage me to let them, to watching maybe an hour every couple of days.

Why? My goodness the arguments, the disagreements over who has the remote or which show to watch or whose turn it is to pick. Then once everyone has agreed, when the show finishes it begins again, or it continues through the show. Plus what happens when the television is turned off after being on most of the afternoon? Arguments and whining that the television is not on, arguing with each other, lashing out, crying.

Now it was not my intention to stop watching the box, however during the last school holidays I greatly restricted access to the television, to the point of hiding the remotes so it couldn't accidentally go on in the morning. The kids had to do other things, play outside, read, draw, sit on their beds bored. And initially it was more whining about being bored than anything else. And it was a great holiday. I thoroughly enjoyed not having the television on at all hours and hearing my kids fight. So I kept it going.

We are now around 2 months down the track and I do not get harassed about the television. In fact I barely get asked at all about it. And when it is on there is very little to choose from. We do not have access to foxtel, or netflix or stan or any of those places. The television is quite a newer one and we can access youtube however I have seemingly got them hooked on Planet Earth type shows at the moment, when it does go on. The kids know they wont be watching the latest show, instead it will be something I pick. And what if they disagree? The box goes off.

This also seems to have had some effect on behaviour. There are disagreements still, however I found the kids would argue after watching television, about things that weren't related to television and it was awful. These disagreements are less. Do the kids still push each others buttons... sure however I don't feel like it is as bad as it was.

Positives... I have no idea what the latest show is and what I 'should' be watching. I can spend time getting house work done, playing with the kids or using my time to become more zero waste. I also think I will use less electricity everything is turned off at the wall, nothing is on standby.

Do not ask me what is happening in TV land, what the latest reality shows are up to or which celebrity is in which show, because chances are I have no idea what you are talking about. And I am happy with that.

Beckie

Homemade beeswax wraps

Continuing on from trying to have less plastic in the house, well at least trying no to buy any more, I gave homemade beeswax wraps a try.

You-tube makes it look simple.

The way I did it was not simple. Maybe it was the muslin wraps rather than tighter weave cotton material, maybe it was the cold night air, maybe it was the paint brush, maybe it was the bickering in the background. Either way it took me over an hour to beeswax 4 sandwich sized wraps (30 cm x 30 cm) and one small wrap (about 15 cm x 15 cm).

Oh. My. Goodness.

Trying to make the wax easier to melt by grating it. Such a hard job by hand so try the electric grater/mixer. Or don't. The wax wont come off the grater/mixer. You have now lost the ability to use that kitchen appliance, unless you are making more grated beeswax.

So how did I go about making the wraps? After some research online I followed the most common method... I melted the beeswax initially in a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water, used a paintbrush to put it on the fabric (which was on an oven tray), then had to put it in the oven so the beeswax was more evenly spread. Frustrating. I tried pouring the wax onto the fabric. Disaster. Checking that the beeswax covered all of the fabric was time consuming and I had to paint a few times to ensure it was all covered, plus the fabric moves all over the tray when I am trying to spread the beeswax with the paintbrush.

Myth or Fact?

When you are told wax gets everywhere and you will not be able to use the utensils again, correct. No more oven tray and silicone sheet for my biscuits. The old metal dog bowl I used to melt the wax... un-usable.

Does the beeswax burn when you pick the newly wet wrap up from the tray? Yep, I have sore thumbs and fore fingers from trying to pick it up without dropping the wraps on the floor.

Wax cannot be removed from anything. False. I had some drops on my oven top. I was able to remove the spots with eucalyptus oil and a little bit of heat.

Bees-waxing is not as easy as it looks.. Gah!

UPDATE: SO I went looking in my pile of donations and found some cotton shorts, cut them up and gave them a go with the beeswax... I had nothing to lose, right? So. Much. Easier! The fabric makes a difference! And the wraps are pliable and thinner and great. Less beeswax was used too. I now have a much smaller donation pile.

And whats this melting in a pot on a double boiler then putting in the oven fiasco? Just put the cloth on the oven tray, sprinkle the grated beeswax onto the fabric, trying to keep the spread even, pop in warm oven (about 160 Celsius) once it looks all melted, pull it out and use the paintbrush to move beeswax to where it is needed. You still burn your fingers to get the drying/cooling part going but much easier and quicker to harden than the muslin cloth.

So I also got the first beeswax wraps, cut them up and popped them in the oven, and scraped as much of the beeswax as I could off and put the far superior cotton fabric onto the melted beeswax to make new wraps.

Note- I did try a flannelette square, however it used more beeswax, and it a little thicker than the cotton fabric squares.

What to do with the muslin wraps I had cut up for the beeswax wraps? I sewed 2 of the same size together and will be using them as tea towels, dish washing cloths, wipes, spill cleaner uppers and then washing them to use again.

All the off-cuts from the pants and the muslin wraps I have popped into a square cushion insert and am using it as a cushion. NO WASTE. Yeah!

Beckie

No new plastic

In a bid to start making a slight difference, it may be small however all the small things add up.. I am trying not to bring any new plastic into the house.

This is for anything. No rubbish bags, no shopping bags, no new utensils, plates, cups, or toys that are plastic.

Which means a few things have changed here.

- I have made some beeswax wraps - which I will blog about later - instead of using cling wrap/glad wrap. We have used this for sandwiches, snacks, and covering cheese or leftovers
- We are all using cotton bags for shopping, which has so far gone well as I am leaving a bag in my handbag so that I always have at least one handy.
- We have made some small bags for fruit and veg so that we do not need to use the small plastic bags, which the kids love using at the markets.
- Instead of putting a plastic bag into the rubbish bin I am putting rubbish straight into the bin and washing it out if needed when it is emptied.
- When I am buying groceries I am paying attention to the amount of packaging in something and if possible going for the loose items without plastic. I am not completely successful with this as I haven't really started making snacks from scratch for the kids for school, but I am hoping this will change down the track.
- I am beginning to ask for no straws with drinks if we do happen to get something whilst we are out.

This does not mean I am throwing away the plastic items I have already. I have given some things away and also sold through a garage sale. What I have I will use until I no longer can and then I will try to re-purpose them, while I replace with non-plastic items.

Small steps, that I hope the kids will begin to think of as second nature and as they go into the world will think about how the things they are using affects the environment.

Beckie