Garden magic.

The Fairy Garden

Despite my best efforts I have let winter get the better of me again this year. I have really felt the oppression of the grey skies and the claustrophobia of day after day hiding from the rain. Even when outside I’m wrapped in so many layers that I don’t feel fully free. The first signs of spring have appeared here and there and I can already feel myself breathing a little easier. September 1st is the unofficial first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere and it is my absolute favourite day of the year. Spring brings hope and restoration and rejuvenation.

Little Fearse has been asking me lately if she can plant something. They have been talking about gardens a lot on Play School and I think she has got the green thumb bug from there. I’m still stalling over that veggie patch and am not a confident gardener, but I felt as though maybe I could manage a small succulent garden. Of course, I did already have a small succulent garden in the bathroom which I managed to kill, so time will only tell whether I do any better with this one.20140820_125042

I took her to the nursery to choose some pretty succulents and then we took some cuttings from a couple of plants at home. At the op shop she chose a little shell, a miniature bird bath, a tiny little gentleman bear and an old Christmas angel to decorate her little fairy garden. She was super excited and kept saying things like “This is fun! This is a good day!

The three of us made it together. Little Fearse got a kick out of throwing dirt around with the trowel and BP got a kick out of teaching her how to squeeze the pot to get the plants out and I got a kick out of being outside.

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When her garden was finished I made the most of the sunshine and set up a couch my Mum picked up from hard rubbish and restored for us. We always intended to paint the cane coffee table (something Mum’s cousin picked up from hard rubbish for us) the same colour, but I’m tired of waiting for it to happen. There are enough different greens in our yard for it to not really matter anyway. I added a few more potted plants and created a little oasis, ready for some yard fun during the spring and summer.

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I’m feeling really excited about the change in seasons. How much are you influenced by the weather? Do you enjoy all seasons, or have a preference for one?

Mama xo

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Today I bought something new.

I had been eyeing off this beautiful colourful teething jewellery for a few weeks at the market. It is designed to look great on but also provide your child with relief when teething. Little Fearse loves chewing on my necklaces, teething or not. The business is run by a local Mum. She sells her product through Facebook and the market. It ticks a lot of ethical buying boxes, except the fact that a) it’s not a necessity and b) it’s new. Little Fearse isn’t even teething at the moment. (I’m still a little traumatised from her last bout of teething, to be honest, which left us all sleepless – and helpless – for over a week.) I bought a teething bracelet without even really thinking about it. It was a strange anomaly in my personality – some kind of minor blip in the system. I have spent the rest of the day feeling guilty.

This is also on top of (full disclosure) the breaking of my no “new” clothes rule – I purchased a pair of jeans at the op shop on Saturday (half price purple tag got them down to $3.65) and a shirt at the market today ($1). I have kind of evened that out by donating a pair of jeans and shirt from my wardrobe. I still feel a little alarmed at how easily I slipped back into old habits.

Purchasing something new didn’t feel good and it didn’t give me any buzz. Finding the vintage shirt at the market for $1 gave me a buzz…but it still didn’t feel good afterwards. I’m a little disappointed in myself, to be honest.

These are minor purchases that really don’t mean much in the scheme of things – except that I feel I’ve let down our project a little.

On the upside (because it’s always good to end on an upside) we discovered the joys of frozen watermelon today thanks to a comment on our last post from Verity. If you love our blog, I reckon you will enjoy Verity’s blog The Happy Rebel. She is also working on reducing her consumption, but in a much more challenging environment. Read! She’s very inspiring.

I hope those of you in Victoria are surviving the heat okay.

Mama xo

Our BNN celebration

Last weekend we held a “thank you’ op shop themed BBQ for our friends who have supported our Buy Nothing New journey. Every time someone takes the time to talk to us about our Buy Nothing New lifestyle it is really touching to us. When people ask questions, or tells us we’ve inspired them to make a change it helps us to feel that we have made progress and that our small contribution is worthwhile.

We invited our friends to wear something silly or serious they’ve picked up second hand along the way. Many came in outfits that included second hand items – handed down hats, pretty brooches and bright blazers. And then there were our friends who came dressed entirely in op shop outfits and looked both fabulous and fun. We had a great time choosing our own outfits.

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BP found most of his outfit (robe and boardies) at our local second Savers. The jersey was purchased second hand at a Brooklyn flea market. I found my dancing costume (great for spins with Little Fearse) at Savers, too. Little Fearse’s princess dress and chicken hat were a lucky St Vinnie’s find that I thought were ridiculous. Little Fearse thought they were BRILLIANT. I tried them on her for size one day earlier in the week and she refused to take them off, chucking a spectacular tantrum when she had to have a shower that evening. She knows what she wants, our daughter.

I finally felt like I found my food mojo on Sunday. We planned a simple meal of local meat and a few simple salads plus barbequed veggies and corn. That week a few great recipes popped up in my feed from Mamabake and I added those to the menu. I cooked from the time I woke up until the time we all sat down to eat and I was happy with all the food we provided. I feel like it was a bit of a foodie break through for me.

The best of all was where most of the food came from. It was really something to be able to serve local or home grown foods to our guests, showing that our food habits really have changed in our first BNN year.

Our menu included the following home grown goods:

– Jimmy’s lettuce and spring onions

– Pam’s zucchini

– Dave’s olives (which I pickled, successfully!)

– Tanya’s cherry tomatoes and beetroots

– Dad’s lemons

I was also able to offer guests Emma’s beetroot chutney, Tanya’s onion relish, Dad’s & my pickled lime, Dad’s quince chutney, local green tomato chutney and the Wedderburn Community tomato sauce. The eggs were local (bought at the market) and the meat was from a butcher who is now selling at the market and sources his meat from local(ish) farms with good practices. Almost all the other veggies were from a local grower who sells at the market. The fruit was also bought at the market, but not locally grown. Our gorgeous Barb made a passionfruit sponge to go with our fruit platter. It was the crowd favourite – who can resist a perfect passionfruit sponge?

I really want to get our own veggie patch underway this year. I’m quite overwhelmed by the thought of starting it off, as I’ve had little success with growing anything in the garden previously. In fact, I had to hide three pots of dead plants before our guests arrived on Sunday! I have an old bath and bricks donated from a friend to create a raised bed, probably at the back of our BBQ area, where there is a lot of sun. Any tips or tricks (or good starting points) much appreciated. I’d love our next celebration to include foods from our own garden.

Thanks to all of you who were not able to come on Sunday, too. Every comment or view gives us a thrill!

Mama xo

PS This year we are sharing a photo a day of something we are grateful for, inspired by Hailey at 365 Grateful. We are doing this on our Facebook page. Please like us if you want to keep up with our grateful photos. Our Facebook page is a companion to our blog. We often share stories, post photos, ask questions and post links to things that we think our fans will enjoy reading. We’d love to include you in our social media community as well as our blog community. xo

A clothes shock take. Arg!

Inspired by this post on Extra Organised I decided to stock take my clothes. It took me two days. TWO DAYS. I had no idea I had so many clothes. Recently I told BP I was going to need to get some new clothes for work. I only have on pair of black pants and one long sleeved black top to get me through the winter. After the long and involved stock take of my wardrobe I’ve decided I no longer need new work clothes…or any new clothes. Possibly ever.

Deep breath.

I own 371 items of clothing. I have not yet counted my accessories. I’m afraid to. I have also avoided counting my shoes. THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY ONE different items of clothing! No wonder I can never decide what to wear.

And in the process of the stock take I put aside an additional 23 items for donation and 31 items of clothing to sell on eBay. That brings my original total to 425 items. I’m pretty upset with myself.

There is one aspect that I feel is out of my hands. Every year for Christmas I receive a huge tub of undies and socks. This is incredibly kind and generous and useful. Except I don’t need a new giant tub of undies and socks every year. I don’t wear my undies and socks that hard (does anyone?). I currently own 59 pairs of undies and 41 pairs of socks. SERIOUSLY. If I wore all those undies an equal amount of time I would wear them 6 times in a year. The socks? About 9 times. That’s not wearing out amount of time.

The other thing that has upped the number of items is my maternity wardrobe. This spans three different sizes and consists of a variety of maternity and “non-maternity-but-maternity-friendly” clothing. Much of this is second hand and most of the items are currently out on loan to a pregnant friend. This is an area of my wardrobe that is worth keeping a-hold of for now, but won’t always be relevant and will be easy to get rid of. This makes up 45 items in my wardrobe.

The best thing about the stock take was that I finally got up the courage to sort my wardrobe. As most people find when they do a big clear out of their wardrobe, I learned a few things about myself.

  • If it goes into the mending basket it’s probably going to stay there. Either I get motivated or I out-source. Some items have been there for years!
  • I have held on to things that I really like even when they don’t fit me or suit me. It was easy to get rid of them when the reality of how much choice I have hit me in the face.
  • There is no point in holding on to that pretty purple hand-dyed slip from the late nineties. I’m never going to wear it again. It is never going to be 1997 again and even if that becomes a ‘thing’ again I will definitely be too old to wear underwear on the outside…or skirts over pants.That’s over. Get rid of that skirt.
  • Holding on to my old stretched out singlets isn’t necessary. I have 28 singlets. I am definitely going to work my way down to a more realistic number of singlets – though I do wear one every day.
  • There are not that many items I’ve bought in recent years that I really love. The things that I enjoy wearing are my oldest clothes – wardrobe staples. Maybe I was truer to myself then?
  • I DO NOT need any new work clothes. I work 5 days a fortnight. I can come up with 5 work outfits a fortnight out of my current wardrobe. I could come up with 20 if I needed to. I DO NOT NEED ANY MORE CLOTHES.

This has been a really eye opening experience for me. I don’t think I’ll be joining the six items challenge any time soon. I obviously have bigger wardrobe issues than I realised.

Mama xo

Give it up!

As well as selling some of our random goods, we’ve also found plenty of places lately to give our things away. Once we were a one stop donation family – the local St Vinnies. No longer! Since really analysing what we have to give away we’ve realised a few things. I’m going to break out the dot points here.

  • Op shops only want things they can sell. They don’t particularly like books. They definitely don’t want things in poor condition. They do not want your electrical goods.
  • Savers will take your electrical goods. They’ll take your clothes, too, but Savers is not an op shop. They donate a dollar for each item they receive. This isn’t a bad outcome, but it’s not the same as the whole profits going towards a charity. (And lets not even start on how much money raised actually goes to a charity anyway!)
  • There are many, many, many specialised charities looking for particular goods at a particular time.
  • Freecyclers tend to be really picky about what they want and what they don’t want. It’s hard to know if people are being picky because they want to get something for free to on-sell, or if they really can’t afford that one thing they really need, and they really need a particular type of that thing. It sometimes feels like it’s less about giving away and more about getting.

So here’s a mini run down on things we’ve given away.

Rags to the Country Fire Authority: the local CFA has a small wheelie bin out the back for rags. They ask for cotton-only clothing with no zips or buttons. I was able to donate some of the badly stained children’s clothes I mentioned here.

Books to a retirement village: Melaleuca Lodge Retirement Village on Phillip Island has an attached second hand bookshop. The bookshop raises money for the village. We donated a huge box load of books here. We have also recently discovered that our local YMCA where Little Fearse goes swimming has a book corner you can give your books to, or purchase books from for a small amount. I’m not sure who the money goes to.

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Bill’s Bookshop – that’s our box of books right there.

Toiletries to a woman going to an orphanage in Fiji: Through a FB group I have ‘liked’ I discovered a woman was looking out for toiletries to take with her on a trip to a Fijian orphanage. She was after soaps and shampoos for the children and wanted to take some special items for the women working at the orphanage as gifts. I receive a lot of toiletries as gifts from students at the end of the year and often don’t use them. I donated a variety of hand creams, perfumes and soaps to be taken to Fiji.

Children’s clothes on Freecycle: When I last received the clothes on Freecycle there were many I didn’t need. I took out the ones destined for ragdom (above) and redonated the rest to a Freecycler, with some added unwanted items of ours. It’s good to see them being passed on and on. The woman I received them from originally got them on Freecycle, too!

Household goods to St Vinnie’s: I know that kitchen items sell well at St Vinnie’s, so I didn’t hesitate to donate these to them. I also donated toys and other random children’s goods.

Our clothes to Red Cross: Our local Red Cross op shop is very small and only receives clothes, so we donated ours here.

I’m going to make just one final point on donations. During the severe 2009 bush fires in Victoria BP and I volunteered to help sort the clothing and goods donated to families who had lost their homes. There were two huge HUGE warehouses full of clothing and household goods donated. Some of this stuff was really useful and would have really helped families resettle. A lot of the stuff was really awful. Stained. Full of spiders. Torn. Worn. Broken. Covered in animal hair. Stiff with food or bodily fluids. Seriously. If it is in such bad condition you wouldn’t wear it – don’t donate it. Find a different way to recycle it. (For instance, if it’s pure cotton put it in the compost – the worms will love it!) It’s an insult to those people who have lost their EVERYTHING to think that they will enjoy wearing your stained, see-through, torn, hairy old clothes.

We’d love to hear about other places you have found that liked to receive particular items.

If you’re looking to pass on any of your baby goods and you live in Melbourne, I’d highly recommend you check out whether it is something St Kilda Mums needs. They do a great job re-homing baby goods for Mums in need.

Mamaxo

A BNN first birthday.

This year I really liked the idea of challenging ourselves to creating a fun and happy first birthday for Little Fearse without buying anything new. There were parts of the preparation that were really satisfying and other parts that were a little soul destroying. Would I recommend a Buy Nothing New birthday party? No, I would not. Is it possible? Absolutely! Would I do it differently if I was doing it again? For SHIZ. My best resource for this party was Pinterest. If you’re not already addicted, get onto it. It was fabulous and a perfect spot to store all “my” ideas (i.e. the ideas I stole from all over the web).

Here are some of the features of Little Fearse’s Very Hungry Caterpillar first birthday that gave it a real BNN vibe:

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I learned how to make the pompoms on YouTube. I heart YouTube. Big Poppa leadlighted a butterfly on the window using tissue paper. You’ll notice we have a lot of knitted food hanging from the roof. I already had all of that…you may have seen it on my vintage cup cake stand in the last declutter post.

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These paper bag puppets were a teaching idea I found on the ‘net. We painted them and filled them with all the foods the caterpillar eats in the book. We had a reading of the book and each kid had their own puppet to stuff. They then got to take them home. This was really intense to prepare…lots of painting and cutting and colouring and sticking etc. Click on the pic for the original link.

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A lot of cutting out – luckily we had a few people to help. Also very expensive to colour copy. I just couldn’t face all that colouring in! Worth it, though. All the kids loved this activity…except Little Fearse of course! Click on the photo for the pdf.

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These take home bags were a hit. I’ve been sent some really cute photos of kids from the party working on them…and one message ‘thanking’ me after a gorgeous guest ground play dough into her Mum’s carpet. Hehe.. ooops. Of course, I got this idea from somewhere else, too! (Click on the photo.) As for the bits and piece, I put a call out on our FB page a month or so ago wondering where I could find second hand googly eyes etc. A lovely friend raided her own craft cupboard and came up with all the goodies. The bags had been crumpled up under my desk at school since February, so it was good to find a use for them. These look very BNN in comparison to the place I got the idea from, but the kids loved them none-the-less.

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I originally searched for cloth napkins at op shops and couldn’t find them anywhere! Eventually I found this unopened packet of cocktail napkins for 49c at St Vinnies. I also planned to buy small plates at the op shop for the party and then re-donate them the next day. I couldn’t find any small plates at my local op shop, but did find an unopened packet of small reusable plastic plates, also for 49c. I was pretty happy with both finds.

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I commissioned a very clever friend to make the cake from an idea we found on the web. This was even cuter than this, if you can believe it. It had cupcakes surrounding it with Little Fearse’s name and little lady birds. They were thoroughly delicious, also. She uses a recipe from Magnolia Bakery in NY. I could have eaten ten thousand of these.

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And the birthday girl herself. Dressed in a Very Hungry Caterpillar dress made by her Nan, a cardigan that was mine when I was her age, shoes that belonged to one of my gorgeous friends when she was Little Fearse’s age and tights collected from Freecycle. A very BNN outfit…and isn’t she gorgeous?!