Thursday, 1 December 2016

The tryhards guide to be eco - in the bathroom


Today is part two of my series “The tryhards guide to being eco”. What did you think of part one about food? Did it get you motivated to make changes? If so what changes did you make?

This time we are focusing on the bathroom. There is so many products to be had in tiniest room of the house, but everything we use can make a difference.

First up cleaning products. I’ll admit we do use cleaning products in the bathroom as my husband is a self-confessed clean freak and has quite high standards of cleanliness (I don’t always meet it) so he does most of the cleaning which means in turn he’s more in charge of the cleaning supplies. We do buy most of Earth Choice products which are a slightly better option out there on the market but he will let me use bi-carb and vinegar to help clean the muck that gets caught up in the basin drains. You pour a generous amount of bi-carb over the plug hole leave to sit for about 10-15 mins then pour over some vinegar then wash it all down with boiling water and it cleans up quite nicely.

Toilet paper you can buy in partly recycled varieties or you buy Who Gives a Crap (love that name) which is 100% recycled. I personally haven’t used any of these myself as we get our toilet paper for free (a client my husband works for owns a cleaning company so we get given boxes of it) but I have heard from people that do use it that it's very good and quite well priced.

Beauty products can be quite detrimental not only to the environment but also to your health. I try to put the least amount of chemicals on my body as I can. I use Melrose Botanical shampoo, Vegesorb face cream, Moo Goo deodorant, Lush lip-scrub and Ere Perez lipstick and foundation which are all free from chemicals. I use arrowroot power instead of talc and I buy Tilley Australia soap from the chemist which comes package free (extra bonus). I make my own body lotion which is so easy. A 1:1 ratio of coconut oil and cacao butter – melt together in a saucepan, whack in the fridge till it sets again, pull it out and let it soften a bit then whip it up in the mixer (I use a whisk attachment) and pop it in a jar (you can add a few drops of lavender oil if you like after the melting process before you put it in the fridge).

I haven’t quite been able to bring myself to use a menstrual cup or reusable pads, I just haven’t quite gotten there yet but I use the brand TOM which is organic and better than most of the other brands out there.

I’ve tried bamboo toothbrushes but haven’t enjoyed the taste of them (they taste like the wooden stick the doctor sticks in your mouth when you say ahhh) or that feels like it cleans properly. So I do still use a conventional toothbrush until I can find one I’m happy with. Same with toothpastes, some of the natural brands I found didn’t keep my teeth white or leave that clean mouth feel, I’ll keep looking – anyone know a good brand to try?

You don’t need a blow-dryer as you can just let your hair naturally dry and it feels great on a hot day to have wet hair anyway, so you save on electricity and less plastic crap in the bathroom taking up space and damaging your hair.

Yes there is more I could do in the bathroom when it comes to being eco but I’ve made a few little changes which are better than none at all and I do need to work in with my husband who isn’t as big on the eco train as I am.

See you next time when we tackle the topic of clothes.

What eco things have you tired in the bathroom? Do you have any tips to share with me? 

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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Finding Time for Self


As most people would know once you have children you wonder what you did with all the time you once had. Yes time alone and with ones self are few and far between but I’ve discovered it’s vitally important to make time for it even if it’s only 5-10 minutes.

When Star Boy is sleeping during the day (roughly 3-4 naps) I’ve usually got 20-30 minutes before he wakes up again so by the time I have a loo break, get something to eat and drink, there’s only about 15 minutes left. I fill these 15 minutes with my legs up in the recliner reading a book (it can take 2 days to finish a chapter) but its soul satisfying to do something that’s me. Sometimes I get out my journal and do some writing which I’ve found fantastic for getting out all the thoughts and worries inside my mind out, especially on those rough days when you think you’ll snap in half. Occasionally I'll use a yoga app and do a 15 minute quick session, except it's kind of funny when you are doing the calm meditation part at the end and you hear a baby start crying.

Yes the house looks like a bomb has hit it and there’s toys, books, clothes, dishes everywhere – they all get sorted once he’s in bed and my husband is lending a helping hand. But those few moments where I get to reconnect to myself and my passions are shining diamonds and are appreciated more than when I had the whole day to myself (except you can add that to your Christmas list if you’re looking for ideas for me– ha ha!)

Recently I borrowed “The Desire Map” by Danielle LaPorte from my local library and I slowly worked my way through. I discovered through the soul searching prompts and directions given in the book that I’ve got a passion and drive for writing – inspirational writing to be exact. It lights me up and fills me up with love. I’ve never felt so strongly about something in my life. My goal is to one day get paid for writing and even write an inspirational book.

I would never have realised this if I hadn’t taken the time out and reconnected with myself and found those few snippets of time for myself. Yes it did take me 2 weeks to read and work my way through the book (heck this blog post took over 2 days to write with all the stops) but it was better than never making that time at all.

Motherhood is a crazy vocation and you can easily lose your identity and become just a mum. But do yourself/your kids a favour and reacquaint/discover who you are and stay true to that person. Model what you want your children to become – a happy individual who is passionate – fill your cup so you can fill theirs with the over flow, they will thank you for it one day.

Do you make time for yourself? What do you do for yourself? How do you fill your cup? 

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Sunday, 20 November 2016

How to have a more mindful Christmas


The silly season is upon us once more and the celebrations will be starting shortly, but is it possible to stay mindful and present during the Christmas season?

Yes you can with a few minor tweaks you can have a much more mindful and in the moment Christmas.

Remember everyone has their own agenda.

This is a big one I’ve had to learn hard over the past few years. Everyone one has an image of how they want Christmas to be, including what food, what presents, what people talk about, how everyone will act, what photos will be taken etc. A lot of families clash over Christmas because everyone wants it their way. We need to drop the expectations and just go with the flow, see what happens on the day. If everyone wants to play “Cards Against Humanity” then go with it, if a family member can only show up for an hour than let them and enjoy the hour they’re there instead of laying on the guilt trip, if the computer doesn’t connect to the Internet to call overseas on Christmas Day try again later and enjoy the company of the ones who are in the house, if someone wants to bring a dessert but you want to be the centre of attention with only your food on show just get over yourself and let that person bring the damn dessert especially if that dessert took hours to make and they enjoy making Christmas food (all examples of Christmas past in my family). People put so much pressure on having the perfect Christmas, the perfect Christmas is enjoying each other’s company and dropping the expectations they will act a certain way – they don’t know how you want them to act they cannot read your mind.

Do you really need presents?

Presents are becoming so overrated. People trying to outdo each other, or you go out of your way to get someone what they want and all you get is coloured socks and a tissue box cover (worst present ever). We all have more than enough stuff in our homes and most of us just go and buy what we want when we want it anyhow. The last 2 Christmas my brothers and I haven’t been buying each other gifts instead we all go out to lunch in the January (sans kids). It’s been so nice to have a day where we all catch up instead of just giving each other gifts cards or exchanging money. If there is something you really want ask a few people to combine together. One year I want a new camera so my family and inlaws all went in together and combined both my birthday (only 4 days before Christmas) and Christmas and I was able to get one present that I really wanted. This year my 2 of brothers are going in together for my birthday and getting me a massage voucher and my parents and inlaws are combining together to get me a custom made dress and skirt. That way I’m only getting 3 presents over the whole lot but its 3 things I really want. Also buying experiences for people is a great idea, I love getting my massage voucher every year and my inlaws love getting a dinner voucher from us to a different restaurant each year. One of my brothers buys my parents musical tickets, this year he’s getting them Aladdin tickets. We got my dad last year a season pass to the Waratahs games, he loved it as he got to enjoy it for weeks instead of just adding some new trinket to the shelf.

It’s your Christmas too

I think some parents forget it’s the kids Christmas too, as thing have been done a certain way for so many years. Now that we are all older and married and have kids, it’s becoming harder to fit everything in. Last year we went to church then lunch at my mum’s but could only stay about 1.5 hours as we needed to get over to MJ’s family as they were having lunch too and half the family was leaving about 4:30pm to head to another family dinner. We were so dead by the end of the day that I struggled to enjoy any of it as I was rushed off my feet (didn’t help I was 5 months pregnant either). This year I just had to say no we cannot come on one day to everyone it’s just too hard and my sister-in-law said the same (she’s got 3 kids). You need to do what works for you as well, yes be flexible but you can only do so much. Thankfully this year we are visiting one family on Christmas Day and then the other family Boxing Day so our little Star Boy will end up with 2 Christmas this year.

You don’t have to do it all

If you have lots of friends and family spread it out and push some into January if you can. Try to space them out and allow a few days in-between if possible. Relax, sleep, bake at home, journal, and exercise – take care of yourself too.

The most important thing you can do this Christmas is relax, go with the flow and have fun. Remember what Christmas is all about – the birth of Jesus. Don’t get snowed under (pun intended) with all the trimmings and trappings of Christmas, connect with your heart and keep God as the central focus and the rest is just icing on the top of a wonderful yummy Christmas cake.

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Monday, 14 November 2016

The tryhards guide to be eco - with food


When it comes to being eco/sustainable I’m such a little tryhard, I want to do the best I can but I can only do so much with the resources, situations and circumstances that life throws my way. Basically I do the best I can every day, yes I can do more but I’m starting. So I’ve decided to start a new little series call “The tryhards guide” where I’ll share my little tips on how to be a little bit more eco in your daily life.

I’ll start the series off with “How to be more eco with food”

Food is a tough one as so much of it comes in plastic and there are oodles of imported fruit and veggies out there. Just small changes can add up and make a big difference.

1. Menu plan and make a shopping list

Yes I know so many people tell us this but it really does work. Knowing what you are going to eat for dinner every night really takes the stress out of “what’s for dinner?” and prevents food wastage as you only buy what you need. Yes sometimes when I go to the shops I’ll spot a few items that I forgot to put on the list and it’s tempting to get that chocolate block that’s half price, but by having a list you go straight to each aisle you need and have a more streamlike focus. I’ve started taking this one step further, since having Star Boy it’s been hard to go and do our big weekly shop so I now do a bigger monthly shop of all our staples with Coles online and have it delivered to the house. It’s great as it’s stopped that impulse buying, I can order any time of the day or night and pick a time that’s convenient to me for delivery. Then when we need little top ups my husband works near a set of shops and he’ll head up on his lunch breaks or when I take Star Boy for a pram walk I’ll pick up the odd items we are missing. Since starting this I’ve found we are buying less food and using up more of what we have already in the cupboard.

2. Farmers Markets are your friend

Farmers markets are fantastic, not only are you eating more seasonal fruit and veg, you are eating local not imported food. We have market that’s a 10 minute drive from our place and it’s so much fresher, nice and taster than the shop bought stuff. You know your eggs are fresh when there’s feathers still attached. Only thing, there is now a trend with some markets of plastic but it’s not hard to take your own bags we’ve all got those reusable bags hanging around the joint, keep them in the car. The one I go to you have to use the plastic bags to get your produce weighted in but afterwards I just transfer it over into my own bag and hand the plastic bag back. I’ve gotten a few strange looks from the seller but I just tell them to reuse it for the next person. Most of the time the produce is either cheaper or on par with the shops and 80% of it is chemical and pesticide free.

3. Recycle your soft plastics

I have spoken about this before, you can recycle your soft plastics at your local Woollies or Coles. Cereal packets, plastic bags, frozen veggie packets, muesli bar wrappers etc can all be recycled. Just keep a bag in your laundry and fill up with all your soft plastics and next time you’re near the shops take it along with you and add it to the bin at the front. They get remade into new items. Yes it is better if you can avoid getting soft plastics in the first place but thankfully we can now recycle the ones cannot always avoid.

4. Freeze baby freeze

Use the freezer to your advantage by buying sustainable meat choices when on special or organic veggies, just wash them and freeze in meal portion sizes. I do this with organic kale, I wash the kale, strip off the leaves and portion them out in zip lock bags (yes zip lock bags are plastic but I already have heaps in the cupboard from years ago that I just wash out, dry and reuse over and over). Spinach works well with this too, also when I make Star Boy’s food I freeze up all the pureed veggies ready to just grab and go.

5. Skip the multi packs

Buy individually if you can: this is good with foods such as apples, plums, peaches, kiwi fruits, potatoes, onions, tomatoes etc. We were always throwing out so many potatoes and summer fruits because I would buy the big bags, buy only what you know you’re going to eat. So say for example you need only 5 potatoes for the week for recipes then only buy 5 potatoes. Peaches and summer fruit can go off quite quickly so only buy a handful of them. I’ve sometimes just bought one of each, yes you do get the odd comment about it but it doesn’t really matter because you are not throwing the off fruit out later or wasting the money you spent on it either.

6. Buy in bulk

Yes I know the point above is skip multi packs but certain items are better if you can buy them in bulk as it reducing the packaging and the many trips up the road for them. We buy rice in a 5kg bag then decant it as we need it. I would love to live near a bulk food store that you can use your own bags like the store Naked Foods but there isn’t one nearby. We buy bulk items from Costcos and there’s no plastic bags at the checkouts which is a thumbs up.

Every little step and change helps, it’s better to be doing little than nothing at all. What do you do to be eco with food? Do you have any other ideas to add? Let me know as I’m always on the hunt for new ideas. Next time we’ll see how you can be a tryhard in the bathroom.

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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Disconnected


Disconnect

It’s such a strange feeling, you are there but you are not really there either. You are completing the action but action is far away and not a part of you. It’s separate, spilt away, outside looking in. Filled with immense sadness and immense relief. Heavily weighting on your heart but knowing its part of the journey and part of growing and letting go.

My breastfeeding journey has been a painful one since the start. Overproducing, under-producing, mastitis, lumps, latching issues, hitting, biting, screaming, wrestling matches, the works – 6 months of feeding hell. Added with a month long battle of bottle refusal (as he needed to gain weight), every feed was ended in tears most days – mainly my tears (so much pain). Then a complete about-face and bang one day just takes the bottle and within a week no longer wants breastmilk.

The sudden stop was a shock to the system – mine not his, he hasn’t looked back – engorgement, lumps, concrete sitting on my chest but that’s not what has hurt the most. The emotions that have surfaced are crazy. Yes I’m relieved as the pain and fighting are over but the sadness and disconnection have been almost too much to bear. There are many positives to this now, I can wear more of my wardrobe, my husband can help out with feeding time, going out it easier (no more feeding tops) and of course no more wrestling but it’s as if a piece of my heart has been pulled out and the stitches aren’t keeping it together.

Feeding now feels so foreign and separate. This too shall pass I know, I’m not pushing the feeling away but allowing space and presence for it to just sit there and be (a big change to my old ways). A taste of what is to come with being a mother how to let go and mourn the losses but to move forward and embrace the next stages.

A week later Star Boy was ready to move into his cot in his own room, no longer sleeping in the bassinet at the foot of our bed. It’s almost felt too much too soon another “bang here we go next phase please”. Motherhood is a delicate balance of knowing when to hold and when to step back something I’ve been learning this month and yes I know he’s only 6.5 months old and still needs me a great deal but it’s only going to get bigger from here on out. As he ages he’ll become more and more independent of me but my arms will always be out stretched so he can run back into them at any moment.

How do you cope with your child’s changes?

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