This blog has always been about living life in a mindful and intentional way, for me this means that most of the decisions we make have been thought about carefully, even if we decide to continue as we are a decision has still been made. When we take a product from a shelf in a shop or tap a button on a screen, should we stop and think about how it has got this point before we do so? It can be hard to make decisions over many aspects of our lives, we are often far removed from the means of production and it can be hard to find out how this operates. Maybe we shouldn't be thinking is there a more sustainable replacement for something, rather do we really need it at all?
To help me keep on track I have come up with some words that I will be using to keep my decision making mindful and intentional, and my life in general as sustainable as I can make it. If you you want to join me you would be most welcome, either using the same words for inspiration or your own that are more meaningful to you. These are the words (you can read my thoughts behind some of them here and here) that I have been using in June:
Regular readers here will know that we get a veg box delivered every week, we eat a lot of veg, but some weeks it is not quite enough for us. I usually top this up at a farmers market and a shop that is near one of the home ed groups that the children go to each week. As these have both stopped for now the only place that I am able to top this up is at the supermarket, I try to buy as much organic as possible, organic veg at a supermarket is always wrapped in loads of plastic. I have been trying to keep this to a minimum, each week when I do my menu planning I have been pulling my recipe books off the shelf and searching for new recipes and reminding myself of those that I haven't made in a long time to make more use of the ingredients we have in the pantry. Black bean and squash burgers, Tofu Nut Balls, Middle Eastern inspired wraps and Sweet Potato Timbales were all delicious and I will definitely be making them again. A Tofu Walnut Loaf and an Onion Salad both of which sounded like a tasty combination of ingredients on paper were not a hit at all, they were both in one meal which was a bit of a disaster! I also had a go at making a fermented chutney which was delicious, I have been eating it with my fermented breakfast pancakes. Whilst looking through my recipe books I was reminded of recipes I had made before including a Savoury granola, it is a mix of nuts, seeds and herbs cooked in the oven with some oil and mustard. I have been enjoying this on my salads this month.
Like most people around the world I have not had a hair cut for months. I had been meaning to sort out an appointment when lockdown started so it is actually over six months since it was last cut. As it is long it is not too much of a problem, however the ends are not looking good. I remembered that I had read about making hair conditioners using herbs, so I gave this a go to see if could help the ends of my hair which are becoming very dry. There are lots that you could use depending on what nourishment your hair is need of, I used elderflowers, soaked in hot water for half and hour to make a 'tea' and then I dipped the ends of my hair into the liquid. I was a little sceptical I have to admit but it has made a real difference, my ends are still a bit dry but nothing like as bad as they were. I am converted!
We have several solar panels on the garage/workshop building at the back of our house, they are connected to a bank of batteries where the power is stored until we need to use it. Pretty much everything that needs power in that building, the exception is the chest freezer, runs off this power supply. We also use it to charge phones, tablets and my laptop. At the end of May we started to run a cable into the house to see if we run some of the things in the house off this supply too. We have used it to run my sewing machine, the hoover, the digital projector and the stereo for a solar powered cinema and Cameron's gaming computer. The savings are not huge each day, but the pennies do add up.
We had some very unexpected news this month. My husband came home from work one Friday and told me he had been offered a promotion. As the main earner in our household (I have a very part time job earning a little) it has been on my mind, throughout the period of lockdown, how safe his job is and whether he would have one to go back to, when the time came that he could consider going back to work. I am so thankful that not only is his job safe but that they have valued his contribution to the company over the last ten years so much they want to acknowledge that with this offer. He has accepted it and is loving the challenge that his new position is giving him.
Most of what I have been creating this month I shared in my last post. A purple linen skirt, a new sock project and more rows on my shawl. I was so excited to discover that my local sewing shop was opening up to allow customers into the shop. They stayed open throughout the lockdown but you could not go inside, everything had to be ordered and paid for over the phone. I like to look and feel fabric before I buy it, I could never buy it online. I bought some linen to make a dress for myself, which is nearly finished. I need to make a few adjustments as the fit is not quite right, luckily I am able to do that without unpicking too many stitches. I will share it when I am done. There was a slubbing in the linen not far from the length that I needed, the shop gave me the extra for free which was rather unexpected, they told me they would be unlikely to sell that 50cm or so. I was able to arrange the pattern pieces such that I have managed to cut out the pieces for a top as well. I shall be sewing that up too when the dress is complete.
The children and I spend every Tuesday morning creating, on one of these days this month we sat and made the pictures in the photo. They are created using a special paper that lets light though it, some call these window transparencies. We used a book for inspiration and came up with our own designs for these summer inspired window transparencies.
I am really enjoying the extra time that I am able to give to my garden this year. It has not had so much attention since I became a parent when it has always come far down the list. Everything in the garden is growing really well, not much is ready for harvesting yet except an abundance of lettuce and salad leaves. The extra time I have been able to spend gardening has meant that I have been able to grow a lot of tender herbs, in the polytunnel, this year. I grow these most years but they often die off for lack of attention. I want to try and grow enough to freeze or dry them for use during the colder months when they won't grow. I have tried a new one to me this year, holy basil or tulsi, I love the herbal teas I have tried made with this herb and was delighted to see that the seeds were available from the company I buy my seeds from. I have about fifteen plants and have been enjoying tea made with my own leaves, I hope to pick and dry some to keep me going for as long as possible.
I have been doing yoga stretches every morning for about the last five years or so. I started with a sun salutation which is a series of poses that flow one from another, it is a great way to warm your muscles up each morning. Over the years I have gradually added more poses and now do between twenty to thirty minutes every morning sometimes more. I have found that if something is on my mind it is a great way to help to make sense of it or release it. I have also found a way to include a short meditation at the end of my stretches. I have long wanted to find the time to fit this into my week and during lockdown have been doing some meditating but it has always been a bit hit and miss as to when I would do it during a week. I have found both of these practices hugely helpful to get through the challenges of the last few months.
I have found more time for reading articles online this month. One I came across offers an interesting perspective on what we should be prioritising as we find a sustainable way forward for the future. I want to hope that these perspectives will be part of the thinking for the future, but the queues that were pictured in the media when clothes shops were reopened here in the UK doesn't fill me with much. The last year has seen a huge increase in people protesting about climate change, last month has seen protests about the discrimination that people of colour face in their day to day lives. As I have learnt about the level of this discrimination and how it pervades through every part of people's lives it has been hard to comprehend how this is possible. How we could have been so ignorant about how this has been going on right under our noses and why is it that there are sections of society who think this discrimination is acceptable. I have been thinking about whether once these protests stop will people continue to demand change and action? We need to be doing more than paying lip service to the latest issue and thinking about the changes that need to happen on how people think and act. It is not going to be a quick fix, just as coming out the current situation or slowing down climate change isn't either, when you have generations of people who think in a particular way, changing that viewpoint and thinking is like a muscle that needs to be constantly worked at to keep it strong and working well. I have always been a little hesitant to speak out and say what I think about issues such as these but this last month has made me realise that not doing so makes me complicit.
We were invited to join some friends for a physically distanced barbecue this month. They have a large covered area outside where we could sit far enough apart but not so far that we could still chat. It was a strange but lovely evening. We had to remember not to get too close to each other but it was good to talk to face to face with someone other than family.
I am sorry there are not many photos in this post. Sadly my good camera broke this month, I am not sure what is wrong with it, whether it is repairable and where I could get this done. I have not taken many photos this month!
Thank you once again for reading through this very long post. I realise that it may seem that I do an awful lot, I suspect you do to, if you were to write it all down like I have here. You are most welcome to join me, either use the same words or your own which mean more to you, let me know in the comments below and I will head over and have a read. I will post my Sustainable Living July roundup on Monday 3 August.