Friday, January 27, 2012

From Pinterest to real life

I'm sure it's no surprise that I lovelovelove Pinterest (jumping on bandwagons seems to be a favourite past time of mine.....).  Anyway, I absolutely love that I now have somewhere to store inspiration found online, other than my bookmarks and images folder, and even better, I find more inspiration in everyone else's pins.

I've just discovered that Nicole over at has a once a month post 'From Pinterest to real life' on the last Friday of the month, and immediately thought that this would be perfect to motivate me to actually try out some of my pins (as I've said before, I'm great at the planning, not so good in the doing, especially without a motivation!).  I figured if I put this on my calendar, to go on my to do list, things might actually get done, and I might get my creativity back.

I've only made one 'crafty thing' that I've pinned, making canvases with photos, and they turn out beautifully.  I've only made a couple for myself, and have done a couple more for Christmas presents.  So here's my first 'From Pinterst to real life' project!

Sorry for the less-than-stellar photos, that's what you get with an iPhone in a not well lit kitchen!!  I highly recommend giving this project a go, sooooo easy, quick, and they make wonderful, personalised gifts.

I had contemplated doing some crafting today, but it's currently 35deg and we're all a bit slow today.  It's DS' 9th birthday, so he's currently choosing playing with presents and watching a bit of tv.  I can go with that!  I got online earlier, remembering that there was an e-mail that a new Knitty issue wa up, and as I opened the site, thinking about making myself a coffee, I remembered a post from my previous blog.  As you'll see below, some things don't change!!!

The Power of Suggestion   (Originally posted December 9, 2006)

It is currently 40.1C (104F) here at 1:35pm in the afternoon (which means it's still going to get hotter today), I'm sitting here in as little clothing as possible required to remain decently covered, the airconditioner is going, the kids are vegging with DVD's, and this is what it looks like in front of me

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

It's 40C, and I had an urge to have a stinkin' hot cup of coffee!! After I'd just made myself an iced drink!! Why? Because I'd clicked on to the new Knitty, and not only is it the winter issue (thereby invoking memories of shivering when it's about 1C), but I always sit and have a cuppa when I'm perusing the new Knitty. Apparently that's become so ingrained a habit that being 40C doesn't make a difference (and BTW, I don't normally sit liquid on the computer, this was purely for photographic purposes only!!).

 My view this afternoon, I really am a creature of habit!

Browsing through posts made between 2004 - 2009 was a rather interesting trip back in time, to see how I've changed, and to see what hasn't changed.  That's a post for another day, I'm off to dream of cooler weather requiring knitted woolies!

Photo Finish Friday

Just a quickie today, some tidbits from my week just gone.

This was my office on Tuesday. Love my job!

Celebrating Australia Day with my sis, home from OS for a little while.

More fresh goodness out of the garden.

The objects of our affection

Night vision

What remained of tonight's Piri Piri Chicken, Jamie Oliver style

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Living intentionally - the verdict so far

Aussie and proud ('scuse the post-Australia Day breakfast dirty dishes, this is a warts-and-all blog after all!!)

Happy Australia Day to all you Aussies here in this beautiful country of ours, and to all those scattered far and wide across this planet!! My dear sister, my kids and my mum and I went to our local Australia Day breakfast this morning, I love the events like this that draw our community together, and as always I was reduced to tears when as a community we sang 'We Are Australian' (I know, I'm a sap!). It's days like today that when we stop to remember where we've come from, what we've been through in our relatively short 'life' as a nation, and how it is the Aussie spirit to lend your mate a hand when he needs it that makes me so proud to be Australian. I know our history is far, far from spotless (what country's isn't??), and I pray that as a nation we can continue to move forward in harmony, to celebrate the differences of all the people and cultures who inhabit this huge land. We are so incredibly blessed to live in this country of freedom, of wealth and peace, I can only speak for myself but I know I take all of those things for granted - especially never haven't experienced any other culture than where I live - and I am trying to be intentional about giving thanks for the blessed, blessed life I live.

To the topic at hand - a week and a half into this being intentional gig, and so far, so good!! Very, very far from perfect, but different, and a good different. Routines are becoming, well, routine, especially in the morning. Get up - make bed- make coffee - prayer/quiet/reading time - shower - breakfast (yes, I had to put 'eat breakfast' on the list, because I kept getting to about 10:00am and wondering why I was hungry!). I'm absolutely loving the menu plan, it's absolutely taken away that groan of 'what am I going to cook tonight?', but still allows the flexibility of impromptu dinners with family and friends. I especially loved shopping from the plan, it's made me so much more prepared, and again has taken away the 'wondering' factor of meals in this house.

I think the 'to do' list has made the biggest difference, especially prioritising the MIT's (Most Important Tasks) a la Simple Mom, and eating my frog each day makes everything else seem so much more achievable. I've also found applying the same concept to my job brilliant, and am absolutely LOVING crossing everything off my various lists. I think that might be why I've found this way of managing my life relatively easy to adopt, I love lists. I write lists for everything, and the fact that this 'process' involves a few lists makes it right up my alley. I find crossing tasks off the list so satisfying, and I can see what I've acieved and what still needs to be done at a glance. I'm still finding the balance of the most realistic number of items on the list, because I have a propensity to put too many things on there, and not get everything done, and feel like I've failed, and wonder why I bother to keep going.....rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.

Prioritising my MIT's and eating my frog have freed me from that stupid self-imposed guilt, and I'm being much kinder on myself as to my expectations of what I can achieve in a day. I'm a single mum with 3 kids who works full-time in a job that takes a lot of mental and emotional energy, I'm involved in a couple of ministries at my church (including being a worship leader), I play taxi to the kids after work and on weekends, and have just committed to the gym again after about 6 months of being unwell. Oh yeah, being unwell would be the chronic illness I have that involves constant pain and can flare-up at any time and knock me off my feet. Just for fun. And I still expect myself to keep a tidy-at-all-times house, maintain a neat garden (that of course I'm growing all of our food requirements in (insert roling of eyes) ), cook everything from scratch, renovate my house and engage in all my various creative pursuits. And this year DD's calisthenics will involve sequinning. Yep. Reading that makes me tired. And realise more than ever how ridiculous my expectations are of myself.

We can't do it all, as women, as humans. I don't know whose expectations that we can are higher, ourselves or society's, at the end of the day I don't think it really matters, because ultimately, we are the only ones who can decide what is important to us, what are our priorities, and what is most worth spending our valuable time on. God gave us all 24 hours in a day to 'spend' on following His directions for us, and He gives us the desires of our hearts, He 'creates' what is important to us, and at 35, I think I'm *just* starting to work this all out. I can't do everything. I can't worry about what anyone else expects of me. I have to work out how to 'spend' my 24 hours (and I so wish I didn't have to spend any of them sleeping!) wisely and most effectively, and sometimes that means not doing, it means just being. And we need to be intentional about that. We need to find the balance that's right for us - God, family, work, play, serving others. I'm *so* not 'there' yet, and I don't know if I ever will be, because if there's only one thing in life that's constant, it's change, and we need to be willing to move, to bend, to be moulded, and at times to be refined in the fire. I learned a long time ago that life is a rollercoaster, and the only thing we can do is hang on for the ride - I know for me it has sometimes felt like I'm clinging by my fingertips, and other times I'm firmly secured in the seat, loving the thrill of the highs, and that's all part of the balance.

When I started posting on here again, my intention was to record my journey of living intentionally, to have something to hold myself accountable, and to hopefully see a record of progress. As I think more and more about being intentional, about applying these principles to my life, I'm finding more focus, thinking more about what's *really* important. Whilst I know what's important to me, I've never actually sat down and defined exactly what that is, identified what my priorities are that I need to spend my hours on, and I starting to write here again is helping me with that. This blog will likely evolve and change as I go along, as I find my balance, as I live with intention and purpose. I have no idea if I'll be doing this solo or if anyone will join me on the way, ultimately this is the journey God is leading me on, and I'm just going to hang on for the ride.

What's important to you? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Photo Finish Friday

I love taking recording life in photos, but I'm not very good at maintaining any form of consistency indoing so! So, as part of this being intentional thing, I thought I might be more motivated if I post pics on a regular day, and Friday becames it for no other reason than photo and Friday go together!!

I love Instagram. It's such an easy app to use, to take pics, edit and upload, and keep for future reference. Much as I love taking photos with my DSLR, I love the simplicity and convenience of Instagram, and I've started using it more often of late. So without further ado, here's the round-up of the week that was!

on the needles

A baby hat started waaaay too long ago, must get cracking on it!

The (completed) back of DD's cardigan (Starsky Jr)

Sock that just needs the toe grafted

Eldest DS' Cristmas present, still need to weave the ends in!

on our plates

blueberrymilkyoghurtcinnamon smoothie (forgot the banana!)

Cold rolls, new fave of the house!!!

Seriously yummy tea tonight - crispy skin salmon, potatoes from the garden, salsa from Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals.

in the garden

The tomato patch - 23 plants and counting!

Siting on the ground weeding this afternoon, looking through the plants looked like a miniature enchanted forest :-)

Not long until they're ready now :-)

Cucumbers growing up the fence, we're getting at least one every second day, mmmmmm

Off to pick up the needles and yarn :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Finding My Rhythm

It's a curious process, this organising/decluttering/developing routines thing. I've been there, done that before - 10 years ago I discovered Flylady and thought everything was going to be so much easier! *Pffft*, being older and somewhat wiser now I know that anytime we want to change, it's not just a matter of finding the program/tools/step-by-steps that tell you what to do, it's finding what works for you, and then actually *doing* it.

Being intentional.

Funny, that. To get things done, you actually need to get things done. I think the biggest thing I've noticed this week since I've been paying attention to what 'works' for me is that to some degree....... I actually really like routine. I say that in a small voice because I've always 'gone with the flow', and eschewed conforming to a 'strict' routine, but the reality is that I like the rhythm of what is becoming routine for me, finding the flexibility within the structure. Of course I've always had routines in my life - get up, get organised, go to school/work/etc, come home, get tea, go to bed, etc etc. But I've always felt it's scatty, and rushed, and mildly chaotic (ok often stupidly chaotic!!) - lunches being packed when it's time to go to school, birthday presents being bought on the way to the party, notes going back to school after they're due, I think you get the idea. And I've always known it can be different, not scatty, it can be rhythmic and organised, without a whole lot of undue effort. I'm starting to find that now, starting to find my rhythm. Part of that is coming with finding a routine that works for me, for us, and feeling my way through the nuances of my strengths and weaknesses that are becoming apparent through this process.

I'm discovering that the more I do, the less I have to do. The more I practise being intentional throughout the day, the less 'stuff' there is that has to be done. If I do something straight away, rather than putting it off (putting things away/doing a load of washing/pulling those few weeds), it's done and dusted, and I'm somehow finding more time in the day, to the point I've actually been able to go outside with a book and not feel guilty about the housework that's not being done!! Yes, I am on holidays, but I've always been good at wasting the time of my holidays away on mindless acitivties (i.e. too much time on the computer or in front of the tv!), but I'm finding now that I'm getting most tasks done by lunch-time, leaving the rest of the day free to do the things I really want to do and enjoy, guilt free. Quite a novel place for me to be in!!

I'm under no illusion that this is another 'quick fix', and that maintaining what I'm developing won't take effort and focus, of course it will. I'm only a week in to this new way of thinking, and I'm encouraged by the positive changes I can see already. Like most things that involve significant change, it's a matter of babysteps, kaizen thinking, being intentional. I've been encouraged by a few things in particular, little things that are 'big' things for me:

- writing my first menu plan, and shopping from the plan
- following my morning routine
- less 'screen' time for all of us
- eating together at the table every meal time
- crossing off things on my daily 'to do' list
- taking time to stop and pay attention to all the 'small things' that bring joy
- finding a whomemeal bread recipe that all the kids love

impossibly blue skies

Just as I've been writing this, I checked the page I had loaded for Down to Earth, one of my favourite blogs to read, and the post I saw was 'Routines and how to build them' :-) God never fails to make me smile with the ways He provides exactly what we need - when I read the post, the 'bingo!' that I wrote about in my previous post became 'eureka!!' when I read Rhonda's post. She absolutely hit the nail on the head in regard to routines, and I only wish I could have articulated it as well as she did. Effectively, how I feel about daily routines is 'ditto' what Rhonda wrote, lol!! This is what I'm working on, being flexible within a 'loose' structure, and tailoring each day as it comes (and not beating myself up if I don't get everything on my to-do list done!).

Some link love to leave you with (note to self: schedule 'write blog post' on to-do list before 1am!!!).

My dear friend Sue, also in pursuit of the simple life :-)
What Are You Waiting For?

Rhonda @ Down to Earth on taking one step at a time (and doing things with purpose!)

Establishing routines at Unclutterer

Saturday, January 14, 2012


So, this 'living with intent' thing, being purposeful, isn't just going to 'happen' without some thinking, some visualising and some planning. Yes, I've known this for quite some time, and yes, I am really just working this out now. I've been here, at very similar conclusions and with muchc the same intentions, at the beginning of the year for quite a few years. I plan, I make lists, I create folders that I think will somehow change my life, make it run smoother. What I fail to do is plan properly how to implement all these changes, and I love the saying 'failing to plan is planning to fail'. I also want everything to happen now, for the house to be fabulous by the end of the week and for all our routines to be, well, routine immediately.

It doesn't work like that. Yes, obvious, I know.

So, this time is different. This time I'm thinking, researching (i.e. reading blogs of those who seem to have a pretty good, sensible handle on all this stuff!), finding what will work for us, and letting it all sit and marinate. I've already started implementing some changes, being intentional in things I do, and ignoring (as much as I can) the little voices that say 'leave the dishes, go and watch tv/read/browse aimlessly online'.

The first thing I found that has *really* triggered the cogs turning in my brain and my heart is SimpleMom's blog, and an e-book she has written 'One Bite At A Time', subtitled '52 projects for making life simpler'. Now, I'm normally quite wary of any 'x steps to .......' books etc, but this one caught my attention, and for good reason. The author, Tsh Oxenreider, says on the site

'One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler is a simple living handbook. I took my favorite ideas that I already wrote on Simple Mom, then rewrote and reorganized them into manageable chunks. Broken down into manageable chunks, One Bite at a Time provides you with steps, tips, links, and motivation to slow down and simplify.

Here’s the thing: I bet most of you know what to do to simplify. You’ve heard most of the little tips and tricks to slow down life and make tasks less frustrating. It’s just overwhelming to know how to start.

With this book, I’m giving you permission to focus on just one thing at a time, until you’ve got that task down—and then you can move on to the next one.

52 tasks. Practical. Do-able. Given to you in a one-at-a-time, take-a-breath format, for you to tackle at your own comfortable pace. You know what you should do, you just need a handbook. That is the gift this book is giving you.'

I love that - 'I bet most of you know what to do to simplify........It’s just overwhelming to know how to start'. Bingo!!!! That was *exactly* how I was feeling, and couldn't articulate! I would really encourage you to have a look at the sample of the book, and at $5.00 it's a small invesment to make for something that could be very helpful (disclaimer: I have absolutely no connection with Simple Mom, just love her work!!).

I've also found a few posts from the Simple Living sites and some others that have really resonated with me, and I've been mulling over these past couple of weeks as I feel the tendrils of change winding their way through my head and heart.

Simple Mom

The ONE difference between lon-lasting resolutions and spectacular failures

Goals make us available, not perfect

Two ways to make New Year's resolutions actually STICK

Questions to help you make some goals

Resolve NOT to

Simple Organic

My 2012 Green Goals

Happy Simple Living

So now I need to go and be intentional. I need to pluck the thoughts and concepts currently floating around in the soup of possibility in my brain, and start writing, to work out how I'm going to make this all work for us, in a way that will 'stick', and fit in with us and our life.

It's a good thing I like making lists :-)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

With intent

I've had this post marinating in my head for a week or so now, and I'm still not entirely sure how it will turn out!

I don't know why now, maybe it's been reflecting on the year past, and thinking about the year to come, but it's occurred to me recently that I'm not particularly intentional or purposeful, and I've realised that that's one of the reasons I'm not very good at achieving goals I set. I'm great at making plans, defining goals, and identifying what it is I want to do, but I'm often not very good at actually doing it. I've been reading a few blogs whose authors have written about their plans for the new year, and I started seeing a common thread that really struck a chord with me - living with intent.

That's when it hit me - that's not something I really do, in the big picture, grand scheme of thing. I don't live with intent. Many of the things that have happened in my life have happened because I've either just let them, or not done anything (or much) to stop them. This is not something I'm beating myself up over or anything, it more a realisation that being intentional is a real key in achieving goals, and heading in the direction I want to go.

Case in point - I'm not the world's best 'housekeeper', I do what I have to do because I have to do it, but it's always a chore, I procrastinate over getting jobs done (wasting more time and energy), and the house is more often a mess than it's not :-) And it's because I'm generally guided by how I feel about doing something, rather than being intentional about doing it. If I simply changed my thinking and behaviour to being intentional about what I do, rather than doing things when I feel like doing them, I'm pretty sure life would run a bit more smoothly!!!

But it's not just the 'practical' things like housework cooking etc etc, it's the 'self' side of things I'm generally not intentional and purposeful about, either. Ask the people who know me, and they'll tell you I'm good with the ideas and the plans, but I'm not very good at following through, and I usually end up stopping/dropping something along the way. I call it being inherently slack, and if I get bored with something or it gets too hard, I often stop whatever it is - perfect examples are exercise, journeys/'exercises' in my spiritual life, artistic pursuits etc.

It's dawning on me more and more that if I just make the choice to live with intent, life will be different. I'm not talking about huge changes, or life suddenly becoming easier or anything like that, but my gut feeling is that if I change my beaviour in small ways, then some things in life can
change in big ways. I make excuses that my life is busy, working full time as a single mum to 3 kids, dealing with pain every day blah, blah, blah, but at the end of theday, I can make the choice to say 'no, I'm not going to flake it on the couch/spend way too much time aimlessly browsing online/ zone out in front of the tv', but choose to spend 10 minutes - 1/2 an hour tidying up/cleaning out a shelf in a cupboard/planning a menu for the week/ getting up earlier/ cleaning out the car, and then those jobs are just done, creating more time for the things I want to do - knitting that jumper, writing that story, sewing that top - and often whinge I don't have time for. I had a crystal clear example fo this the other day - whilst I've been on holidays, I have set myself of doing a 'big, I've-been-putting-it-off' job each day, and these jobs have taken up surprisingly little time. The other night I finally tackled cleaning out under the kitchen sink, which I thought would take ages, a job I have been putting off for months. It took 19 minutes to do. 19 minutes. When I finished, I sat back and thought about all the time I'd wasted sorting through the cupboard looking at stuff, all the times I'd put the job off, and it took 19 minutes to rectify that.

I know this is not new, this is not rocket science, and if anyone's reading this, some of you will be thinking 'how did she not know that?', and all this is stuff I've always known, but I've not applied ot my life. So now is the time to change, to start living with intent, being purposeful, changing my behaviour, which will honestly make me a better role model for the kids too. It's not something I thought I'd be blogging about (I mean really, who wants to read this stuff??), but I've also realised that the times in life I have been successful at achieving goals are the time I've been held accountable - losing weight through Weight Watchers, getting my degree, saving for my house. So I'll hold myself accountable to whomever wants to join me on my journey, to continue blogging it all along the way - I know I'll need a record to keep track, and it will keep me intentional :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Where to now??

So, the verdict is in. No more running for me. My physio and podiatrist effectively said I'd be stupid to consider continuing to run (only they said it much mroe nicely), and the arthritis has affected my feet to the point where I limp and hobble around more so than walk normally. But, I can still walk, and I know this will pass eventually, so for now I'm trying to work out how to exercise without involving weight/pressure on my feet. Swimming is the obvious answer, and I'll be taking the plunge (pardon the pun!!) tomorrow.

As I've mentioned previously, the downturn in my health has made me really think about what I eat, wht I'm putting into my body and I'm aiming for as wholefoods and organic a diet and lifestyle as possible. I've switched to Dominant household cleaning products, and so far so good, the scents don't bother me, and the products last for aaaaages. I've also been buying organic food as often as possible, which is made much easier with the opening of an organic grocery store in our town recently.

This is an area where I have a constant internal tug-of-war. I firmly believe that organic food is what is best for us to eat, as it is free from the chemicals that have pervaded our food over many years. I also believe that the less chemicals I have in my life, be it what I eat or clean my home with, the better that is for dealing with a chronic auto-immune disease. The struggle comes in that the cost of organic food is higher than non-organic, and while I believe that this cost is very reasonable and should be paid, I have a tight budget when it comes to food, and I try to make it stretch as far as possible. I buy organic fruit and veg from my friend who owns the local store and delivery business, and flatly refuse to buy from the supermarket. I buy tinned and packaged organic produce as I can afford it, but I do often have to go with a non-organic option due to finances. I would rather be a 100% organic household, but until the cost of organic food drops (which I hope it will as the consumer demands more organic volume available in the marketplace), that won't happen, and I have to weigh up my priorities.

Part of working towards this goal (an organic and wholefood diet and lifestyle), I have resurrected my veggie garden this year. I don't have as much planted now as I had hoped to, but I do have a thriving garden, and I'm slowly working my way through 'deep cleaning' my backyward, and transforming it into a beautiful area that will supply as much of my food needs as it can. This season we have tomatoes (20+ plants and counting, about 7-8 varieties), lebanese cucumbers, mini capsicums, eggplant, potatoes, silverbeet, beetroot, carrots, corn, lettuce and I've finally established a herb garden. There's actually more planted than I thought there was!! I believe that I have plenty of space to provide us with varied, seasonal produce (and therein lies the key, eating food that's in season, but that's a post for another day), it will just take planning and effort on my part. Growing as much of our own food as we can will reduce the impact of our consumption on the environment, I'll know how it's grown, and what chemicals aren't used, and I only have to walk out my back door to get it, not get in the car and drive to the shops. To top it all off, I love pottering around outside, taking in what's growing around me, what's come from a tiny seed, and I never fail to delight in seeing those tiny green seedlings poking through the soil that become big, beautiful plants that produce food that we eat. I'm going to set myself a goal each year in the garden - this year it's to harvest enough tomatoes for me to preserve to last us for the year, so I don't have to buy tinned tomatoes. I'll be recording the progress here, so far it's all on track!

Lots going on in my head as to what I want to achieve this year, much of it involving things around the house. I had the carpet pulled up a couple of weeks ago, and I'll sand and paint the floorboards.

Before (looks like the 70's vomited all over the floor!!!)

After (even the bare floorboards are sooo much better!)

The boards are in great condition, they just need sanding and then I'll paint them an off-white colour. In keeping with my low chemical impact ideals, I've found a paint that is no VOC (Volatile Organic Compunds), ecolour is a range of water based, non-toxic paint :

'The ecolour technology is an Australian invention that turns recycled and re-refined waste engine oil into a water based paint. Australia collects and recycles over 300 million litres of waste oil annually, 80% of which is currently used as a dirty burner fuel producing high carbon emissions. The oil acts as a preservative and provides durability, superior coverage and smooth application qualities to the paint. ecolour is committed to making a real and positive change to the environment and our sustainable paint solutions are leading the way for a brighter future.'

So excited to have found a local supplier as well!! The carpet hasn't been the only thing to go - after a random converstaion with some visiting girlfriends the other day, the mantlepiece and built in corner bookcase in the loungeroom is gone too!!



Next to go will be the tiles around the fireplace, just not sure yet what to replace them with (I'd like to move the fireplace and cut out half the wall, but that's another post entirely!!) It's all a start anyway, I have much to learn about DIY, but it's going to be a fun ride along the way :-)