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.


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!


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.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

All about April

April 2017

I have been questioning if my study path is the right one, finances are tight so should I give it all in and get a job to have a better money flow going in the short term? Or keep plugging away at the long term goal, with a decent wage on offer in 3-4 years? The kids were frustrated at not being able to get what they wanted, when they wanted and I was getting bogged down by it all. My mind was not comprehending what I needed to be doing and I fell way behind and lost motivation. I am still not 100% sure I am on the right track, however I am going with the long term plan at this stage. I explained to the kids why I am doing the study and what that will mean financially for us and I think they understand (as much as a 9 and 10 year old can understand). Hopefully they will give a bit more of a hand to help us get through the next few years.

I have been looking at zero-waste and what they could mean for my household. I can see so much potential to help me save money and give the kids a good role-model in environmental matters. Add in healthy and local food options and I am finding I am going more down the zero-waste path than I thought I would. I recycle far more than I have previously with the recycle bin full every fortnight for collection, and the rubbish bin is lucky to have 2 'inside bins' worth of garbage a week. I am focusing mainly on cutting down my plastic use, specifically single-use plastic like zip lock bags, fresh fruit and veg bags, rubbish bags, shopping bags... you get the idea! The kids and I made some fruit and veg bags for us to use when we go to the local farmers market, by cutting the arms off 2 small tshirts and sewing the bottom closed - this made a bag with built in handles-, as well as using the legs of a pair of shorts - where the hem at the bottom was used to run a ribbon through making a drawstring bag. I am also using these in the fridge as they are cotton, are breathable and can be washed. So far we have had no problems using the bags at the market and the stall holders are happy for us to use the cotton bags and not the plastic ones. My youngest loves using his 'batman' bag to put the apples in and gets lots of comments as he walks around with it. I am thinking I will get my daughter to help make a few more cotton bags as back ups as she is very keen to use the sewing machine.

Having a few dramas with my boys father, however I do not feel that will ever change. I guess I am having to relearn how to manage the outbursts as I had hoped with the separation that was done with. 

I am using a program through the uni called 'Headstrong' which is giving me assistance in keeping my mental health in check, well not really in check, but helping me work through simple issues in my head. I have found it very helpful. Mindfulness is very important, as is not giving my thoughts permission to take over. I have done a few exercises that make a lot of sense. I must say though, that the biggest thing from this program was looking at what my values and goals are. I don't think I had ever sat down and really thought about my values, what is important to me and writing them down. Was a bit eye and mind opening.

I have set up an ancestor shrine/altar for Samhain, which will stay up until Imbolc. I am enjoying lighting a candle and some incense for my beloved ancestors and letting them know they are welcome here. I smile every time I see my grand parents photos, and my beloved dog Andy's collar. Also on this altar is a house protection bottle my daughter and I have put together during April, with star anise, salt, garlic, rosemary, lavender, cinnamon, quartz, amethyst and lots of positive thoughts and words.

Hope everyone had a positive and blessed April.