Category Archives: Books

Ones that I have read

Sunday log

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This was the last week of our summer holidays, as I head back to the office and R1 to vacation care and R2 to his kindy/day care tomorrow.  We had visitors from home, my dad and my teenage half-brother whom the kids adore.  It was also a bloody hot week.

Steps forward

1. Escaping to the air conditioned library, I checked out 4 books which seem to have a theme…

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I soaked them up immediately, reading the first chapter of each and then jumping between books for days.  I have finished No Impact Man and 21st Century Smallholder, but will definitely have to read the latter a few more times.  Reading No Impact Man and seeing the type of lifestyle he led before embarking on his year long experiment at living without environmental impact, I realise that I am already some way along my journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

2. I made jam.  Pretty much, in a nutshell, that is a massive leap forward.  Jam making was the one insurmountable. For nearly a year I read countless books and blogposts regarding jam making, but until today when the kids baulked at the plums from the market because they were too tart, I did not have the courage.  God knows why, because the recipe for plum jam was plums, sugar and water.

So utilising all of my acquired knowledge I jumped in head first.

It seemed like I was doing it right and wrong at the same time.

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I sterilised all of my implements and put a saucer in the freezer for the wrinkle test.  I measured out my ingredients.  (To give you an idea of how huge a leap forward this was for me – I am a grown woman and yet have never ever weighed out ingredients for a recipe before. Truly.) A minute before I had to start the rolling boil the plums were still firm so I mashed them despite the recipe not calling for this action. I conducted the wrinkle test multiple times, beyond the time specified for maximum rolling boil, but the jam still swam on the saucer.

No matter, I poured the runny jam into jars and took photos because I was just so damn proud of myself.IMG_1103

Later I realised I had halved the plums and sugar quantities but not the water.  Oh well, next time.  Because there is definitely going to be a next time. It is so easy!!  (Unless you get it wrong 🙂 )

Step back.

1. This one is dad-related.  He wanted to take the kids shopping for their Christmas gifts, so I met him at a local mega shopping centre.  I hadn’t been there for so long and I seriously had a visceral reaction to it.  My legs hurt after walking around one shop and I realised I was no longer ‘shopping centre fit’ capable of walking all 3 levels for 6 hours at a time.  This was the good part.  Unfortunately, R2 hadn’t lost the art of consumption, and became attached to all sorts of flame wielding plastic men.  I caved in and said he could have them after we couldn’t find a single wooden toy by the third toy shop.

He played with them for all of three minutes before declaring he wanted to collect the ‘whole set’.  My heart broke to see him back on the ‘I want’ merry go round, when we were doing so well off it.

R1 only wanted school shoes, white volleys, as her Christmas present, no matter how much my dad tried to talk her out of it.  But this made me think – am I pushing an unachievable and demoralising asceticism on my children in my own egoistic pursuit of a certain kind of lifestyle?

While these Sunday logs measure my slow incremental weekly progress, my dad’s visit showed just how much my way of living has changed in less than a year.  There were stark contrasts between what we both felt were ‘normal’.  He double plastic bagged every little thing he bought and then ripped the bags open so they were unusable.  He bought a slab of 500ml water bottles which he chilled in the fridge, creating excessive rubbish and consuming energy, when I had a jug of filtered water for drinking.  His first option was buying takeaway when I preferred to use what I had at home.  His suggestion that I poach eggs in a plastic container in the microwave (I felt physically ill at the thought of this).  His inability to be inside a warm home without air conditioning.  Litres of soft drink in the fridge.  Assumptions that I hang out at the shopping centre with the kids.

These all horrified me.  Yet I hadn’t really noticed myself changing so much.

Sunday log

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Really really hard to remember the whole week.  I do recall going back to work, but it still seems a little hazy.  So this week’s log is pretty much all about today.

Steps forward.

1. Due to my forced down time this weekend with a still very sore lower back, I managed to get through some creative projects which have been hanging around for…quite a while…  I finally shaped the soap which has been ‘curing’ on my washing machine since October.  It was my first attempt at making soap, one lot with dried sage, the other with cinnamon and oat.  They didn’t quite work out so I think I may have subconsciously abandoned them, until now.  The shavings will make a great liquid hand wash…when I get around to it.  I also finished the dishcloth (Rhonda’s pattern) I began knitting for my Auntie’s Christmas present a month ago.  It is just as well, as I am flying up to see her on Friday.

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2. Besides knitting, I also got in a lot of reading today.  I am re-reading Tom Hodgkinson’s How to be Free.  When I first read this book 7 years ago, freedom meant something very very different.  Back then, I needed to be free of the ex-husband.  I have achieved that.  Well in terms of my physical location anyway.  I can trace the origins of my desire for a vege garden back to this book, but it never seemed important or vaguely practicable, until now.  Now my vege garden is the centre of my universe (and the kids).  The best part of picking up this book this week is realising that I am on track to freedom.  I have already started to implement many of Tom’s pieces of advice for achieving freedom, such as not watching tv, not having a credit card or direct debit, using minimal technology and appliances, embracing pain and suffering, and leaving the kids alone to do their own thing.  Next on the list will be learning to play the ukelele, stop voting, and work less and play more.

Step back.

1.  I honestly can’t think of a single step backward this week.  Even having the kids away on holidays, which I thought would be a bad/sad thing, has a silver lining.  I get to eat dark chocolate rum ‘n’ raisin Tim Tams and drink cider before cooking dinner.  Out in the open.  I love being able to ‘out’ my secret mummy behaviour.