04 February 2020

Sustainable Living January


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 decisions mindful and intentional, and my life in general as sustainable as I can make it.  These are the words (you can read my thoughts behind each of them here) that I been using in January.

Nourish
Winter here means lots of root vegetables in our weekly veg box, I always love them at the beginning of the season - not so much by the end!  We have been having lots of roasted veggies either as a tray bakes with lots of lovely flavours, as a lunch with dips or accompanying fritters, pies or bakes.  I have also been making lots of soup with them and experimenting with the best mix of veg to make a spicy vegetable soup, carrot, potato and sweet potato has been the best combination this month.

We usually have a salad for lunch at least once a week here all year round, in the summer/warmer months it is really easy to make up a salad with local ingredients that you would traditionally put in a salad.  I am loathe to buy tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce etc in the Winter as they all will be imported from overseas, this month I have been getting creative with ingredients some from the veg box and others from the pantry to create some really tasty salads.

I have also been making a salad to eat as an accompaniment, an old favourite made with celeriac.  If you have not come across this vegetable before it looks rather odd, often quite knobbly on one end, it has white flesh and smells very like celery.  I know that celery is not popular with everyone, so if you are not a fan of celery you may not like this vegetable either.  The salad I make is very simple so I though I would share the recipe with you:

Celeriac Salad
I head of celeriac
Sunflower oil
Mustard Seeds
Mayonnaise
Yogurt
Wholegrain or Dijon Mustard
Gherkins

Heat a couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil, when hot add the mustard seeds and leave to cook in the oil until they start to pop, the exact amount of each will depend on how much celeriac you have but you want enough to coat the celeriac without any left over.
Peel the celeriac, grate it and place in a bowl/dish that you will serve the salad in, once the mustards seeds have started popping pour the hot oil and seeds over the grated celeriac and stir.
Mix equal amount of mayonnaise and yogurt along with a teaspoon or so of your preferred mustard, again quantities will depend on the amount of celeriac you have.
Chop the gherkins in to small rounds and mix in to the salad.


Lessen
We have been having a bit of a declutter here this month.  I like everything to have a home, a place to be put away, whilst this can give the impression of a tidy house a lot of what we put away may be tidy but it is then never used again or it is forgotten about, so when we need it, we cannot for the life of us remember where we put it.  Clutter of a different kind, I have read that some call this deep clutter.  Whatever you call it we have been going through some of it and creating more organised and easy to use corners of our house.  We managed to rehome all of our unwanted things, a very slow process as some of it was going to friends or family we don't see that often.  There have been times this month when it felt like we were drowning in stuff.  It has all gone to pastures new now and I am enjoying the space that we have created.  Decluttering is a constant process though and there are plenty of places that still need attention.

I took delivery of a bulk food order this month.  I do this every three months or so, it feels like a lot of money to be spending on food but it is cheaper to do this in the long run.  A few friends add to my order for themselves too which is extra work for me but I am happy that they get to take advantage of the reduction in prices too.  It is also a reduction in packaging too as many of the items are in larger quantities than you can buy in the shops.  We don't live in a particularly big house but with clever use of space we have created the storage to enable us to do this.

Grow
We are in the full throes of Winter here, that means cold temperatures with frosts, a little bit of snow and lots of rain, there is very little growing in my garden.  I use this time of year to finish off the clearing and tidying up that I didn't manage in the Autumn which is what I have been doing this month.  I haven't quite got the garden to the state I would like it to be as yet, hopefully I will achieve that in February.  I planted my garlic cloves at the beginning of the month, not quite as many as I had hoped, I could do with some more and have been hunting for some locally without success as yet.

Inside I have been sprouting - not the small green cabbage kind - pulses and seeds, something I have done every winter for nearly twenty years.  They are soaked in a jar of water for 24 hours then drained and spread on the trays of my seed sprouter.  It takes anywhere from five to ten days for them to be ready to eat, at that point they have a small shoot and occasionally the beginnings of a leaf if I have left them that long.  They are packed full of great nutrients and make a tasty addition to our winter salads.


Thankful
I have so much to be thankful for this month.  One of my brothers, after a very difficult year last year seems to have had a better month, it was so much easier to have the twice weekly phone conversations with my mum.  We had a wonderful trip to London with my parents who we have not seen for a few months, we went to the V&A, one of my most favourite museums, to see an exhibition that Cameron wanted to see for his Arts Award that he is working on.  We got to stay with my mother in law (the first time I have done this without my husband) and had a lovely time.  We have restarted our french class after a break last term.  We have started a new art class for older home educated children which Alice and Cameron are really enjoying, I am so grateful to the mum who organised for this to happen.  Whilst the children are in the art class I get to spend some time with my friends which is such a lovely nourishing way to start my week.


Create
January has been mostly about socks, knitted socks.  I completed one pair and continued working on another that have been on the needles for about two years or so.  It is the second sock of a pair, a complicated pattern which makes it a much slower knit.  I have turned the heal, knitted the gusset and am now working my way down the foot.  I really hope to have this sock finished in the next few weeks as I have bought some yarn to make myself something and I would love to cast it on.  I know that if I do this that sock will sit there untouched for some time!

I have also been adding the odd row to Alice's tunic I am past the buttonholes and working my way up the body, I am about 2/3rds of the way up and again I hope to have this finished by the end of this month.

I host a craft group at my house every month, for Alice and some of her friends.  This month we had a go at painting pebbles, an activity suggested by one the children.   I will admit that I was a little sceptical about doing this but I really loved it, it was lovely to all sit together for a couple of hours painting and drawing our designs.  I have been using mine as a weight to hold down pages of a book so that I can work from them without needing to use my hands.  I want to create some more of these to use as plant labels for when the veggies growing in the garden.

I also got my watercolour paints out, after a long break, to add to the pages of my nature yearbook that I started last year.  It has a double page for each week of the year, I add to it as and when and will do so until the pages are full, which will be many years away I expect.

Learn
At the end of last year I had come to realise that the way I was doing the housework was not sustainable and frankly not working.  I was ill for most of November which meant the housework did not really get a look in, except the essentials such as the laundry and keeping the kitchen clean.  Come December which is often a pretty busy month the house was starting to look decidedly grubby and unkempt.  Up until that point I was doing most of the housework on one day, all at once.  For me this was hoovering, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, ironing and changing the beds.  Sweeping the hard floors and laundry were done as and when they were needed.  It would take several hours and felt like a big chore, there were areas of the house that rarely if ever got any attention and during busy weeks it all got pushed to the weekend, a time when I really did not want to be doing any housework.

I knew I needed to change the way I was doing things.   I hadn't even given it any thought when a solution fortuitously fell into my lap.  The Organised Mum has a method she calls TOMM (The Organised Mum Method).  Where by she divides things up in to three levels of jobs some are done every day, the next level is time spent on a particular room, which is the same day every week (Monday to Thursday), the final level is Friday Focus whereby you focus on one room and do a deeper clean, depending on the number of rooms on your list this might be every six to eight weeks.  I have been doing this method since the beginning of January and my house feels like a different place already.  There have been mornings that I haven't, for whatever reason, been able to do all the jobs on my list as I know I will back in that area again the following week, it no longer feels as the jobs are piling up.  I have made my days suit what we are doing each day so I don't do the rooms in the same order as The Organised Mum.  The only job that I haven't worked out where to fit in is the ironing, this is still a work in progress - the TOMM method does not include it as she doesn't do it!

This has been a huge learning curve for me.  Embracing the housework and doing a little bit each week day.  As I have absorbed this routine into the rhythm of my week I have found that I have time at the weekends for doing those jobs that I have always wanted to do but rarely have the time to, the ones that have sat patiently on the shelf and now their time has finally come.   I have read many posts on housework over the years, many which allude to the fact the people are doing what their mothers did.  My mother, whom I love dearly, was not a fan of housework or keeping a particularly tidy house.  When I would have been old enough to remember my mother doing housework she herself was back at work full time and my parents paid for a cleaner, she was the fairy who came in and magically transformed the house and did the ironing whilst we were all out.  Housework is something that I have had to figure out for myself, it has taken me a long time but hopefully I have found a better way of doing it, I will let you know in the coming months how sustainable it is for me!


Fun
It has been a pretty busy month this month, with two visits away from home to catch up with family and lots of wonderful new activities that we are now doing on a regular basis.  The highlight of the month for me though was spending the weekend with my brother, his partner and their two year old son, my nephew.  They are the relatives that live closest to me, although still a two hour drive away, Cameron and Alice love spending time with their aunt and uncle and now that they have a child, their cousin too.  On one of the days that we were with them we spent an hour in an inflatable theme park, we all went in and had an hour of madness and fun running around through the assault course, down the slides, playing in a huge ball pool and so much more.  We were exhausted and hot when our hour was up, but it was definitely more fun than an hour in the gym (not that I have ever set foot in one, they really don't appeal to me), it was a great workout!  It is so important to have a bit of fun in our lives.

Thank you for reading through this rather long post, I do hope you have enjoyed it.  You are most welcome to join me, if you publish a post do let me know in the comments below.  I will be returning on Tuesday March 3rd for my roundup of Sustainable Living in February.

28 comments:

  1. You always seem to fit so much into your days and I'm happy you also find time for fun. The inflatable parks are great aren't they, and make you feel like a child again.
    I used to think decluttering here was/is a work in progress but now I think my home doesn't really work for me. Ideally I would like to move but, for now at least, I will try to make some changes to adapt it to my lifestyle and possibly check out the TOMM method :) x

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    1. Thank you Jules, we do fit alot in when I look back and reflect on it all, maybe if you were to write down everything you do you would have a long list too.

      I regularly fall off the decluttering cart, we hadn't done any for ages hence doing lots recently, it is hard to keep it going isn't it.

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  2. What a lovely post. It was interesting reading about different aspects of your life. Oh yes, housework, least said, haha. I'm glad you've found a method which seems to be working for you. I'm looking forward to seeing your socks when they're finished. It can be hard continuing with a project when another is calling to be cast on so well done for resisting temptation.

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    1. I hope I can keep this housework thing going, I figure that a week off here and there will not matter when I am on top of things - that is what I am hoping anyway.

      The socks are slow and steady, a few more row added today it might be a few more weeks before they are complete.

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  3. Gorgeous sky!!!

    Ahhh yes house-work! I never seem to get a handle on it, for myself. Have read many "ways" of doing it. None ever stuck. Guess I am one, who has to work it out, for myself! -grin-

    I take it, you are only posting once a month or so......

    🌱 😊 🌱

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    1. I am glad to read that it is not just me who hasn't worked out the housework. I am determined not to see it as a chore as I am sure that is not helping me either.

      Sorry not to make it clear, I will be writing a post like this once a month (next one on 3rd March) between now and then I will publish a post every three to four days as I usually do. Hope that makes more sense.

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  4. Celeriac salad is a classic in Switzerland (where I grew up), it is found on every mixed salad plate, which is a popular lunch dish. I love it but it is not a hit with my family. What a good idea to add gherkins. I can't resist gherkins! Thanks for the reminder, I haven't eaten celeriac salad for ages.

    Well done for making housework work for you. We are much more disorganised than TOMM but somehow the house is mostly ok. I work full time, as does my husband, and we all share cleaning and laundry. It is quite entertaining to watch our daughter (16) handing out tasks to her younger brothers. She is in charge of all children's bedrooms and the children's laundry folding. Richard and I do the rest as and when needed. Everyone does their own ironing, even the 12 year old, if he can be bothered. I am terrible with my own ironing and set a bad example no doubt...

    Lovely to see how your January has been, thanks for sharing.

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    1. I don't think the celeriac salad would be quite the same without the gherkins for me. I hope you like the addition, I can't resist them either, I have to hide them in the fridge when I have opened a jar.

      I am not sure if I could do TOMM if I worked full time, I don't think the housework would get a look it all if I did that. I am out and about most days during the week but rarely first thing so I have time to do some of it then, or later when I get back. I am hoping that at some point when the house is really clean, it will not matter if I have a week off every now and then as a break, just as long as it doesn't become a longer break than that!

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  5. I thought you were TOMMing!! We have been using the method since September and we're going strong until Christmas and Dad dying. However the beauty of the method means it is fairly easy to jump right in :-)

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    1. It is isn't it. I am hoping that if I need a break I will take one and it won't matter too much, just as long as it doesn't become a longer break than that!

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  6. A lovely post. As for housework I used to have a cleaner when my three boys were young and I worked full time. After a few years when one cleaner decided to give up I decided not to replace her. All three boys took on cleaning their bedrooms and changing beds for pocket money. Husband took on the washing and ironing and I did the rest. It worked really well and I felt that the boys earnt their pocket money well. Now that they have all left home housework is more manageable. I’m certainly not a slave to it preferring the odd very busy day where I have a blitz rather than constantly chipping away at it. As I say to my family I like to see the dust before I actually clean! B x

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    1. I like your way of organising the housework when you were working that sounds very manageable. It is important to find a way that works for us and our routines isn't it.

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  7. Although I can't stand celery I adore celeriac, it's just so versatile. Anything that can be used at this time of year to make a slaw or salad is a good thing!

    Glad you're getting on well with TOMM, I don't follow it myself but it seems to be along similar lines to other approaches that helped me when I cleared out all my hoarded stuff and started to become organised. Hope it continues to work for you.

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    1. Celeriac is versatile isn't it, although you have to be careful as it can overpower things as it has a fairly strong taste.

      I think housework is one of those things that we all have to find the way that works for us, I is working for me but I know that it wouldn't suit everyone.

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  8. I have a rhythm for cleaning the house daily and everything has its place. However, I do need to declutter the closets...I did a major food inventory and hope to plan out meals to decrease the surplus in the cupboards especially. wish me luck!!

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    1. I love that you have a rhythm for cleaning that works for you. Ooooh glad to hear that you are meal planning as I know that is something that you have wanted to do for a while.

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  9. Suma is brilliant, my garage is the base for a group order each month and it's great to have well sourced organic goods without quite the packaging or costs of the supermarket.
    I'm interested to hear about your newly acquired housework system. I spend pretty much all day Friday cleaning and it makes me irritable for sure, i would love a better system and also if you only do everything on Fri, its good for the weekend and then mucky from about Sat afternoon!
    I iron on Sun evening, usually while watching Countryfile so no one else is bothered by the loud iron noises. Thats mainly because we are looking towards the school and working week from Monday so need it ready for then and don't have time during the week.
    Gorgeous sunset photo too :) !

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    1. Suma is great for that isn't it. I don't order every month, more like every 10 - 12 weeks. Housework is something that needs to be done. but it is the working it into life without it becoming a chore that I have struggled with. My mum used to do the ironing on a Sunday afternoon too, I remember sitting with her whilst she listened to the Classic Serial on the radio. I hope you can find a rhythm to your cleaning that works for you.

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  10. I thoroughly enjoyed your long post with lots of ideas for a more sustainable way of living, which we are trying to embrace. I will try the recipe for celeriac salad as it is one of my favourite vegetables ( it makes a lovely dauphinois half and half with potatoes) and i’m Now going to check out the blog on housework... anything that could help me get a grip on it will be great. And I don’t do ironing so that bit will be a doddle!

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    1. Thank you Gina. I love dauphinois with celeriac and potato its delicious isn't it. I hope you find something useful in the link on housework, it is important that it doesn't become a chore but it does need to be done.

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  11. A very interesting post, a little window how someone else manages through the layers of day to day living. I stitched an embroidery years ago "You can touch the dust, but please don´t write in it"!! sums it up. It always amazes me how you never get visitors when you have toiled over housework but they seem to do so when it needs doing again. xcx

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    1. Thank you Chrissie, I am glad you enjoyed reading. Your embroidery sounds similar to a sign my mum has in her house, a tidy house is a sign of a wasted life! And yes to what you said about visitors!

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  12. What a wonderful post!

    Ah, housework! I have a similar system of doing certain things daily...and when I stick to it, it works marvelously. It's the sticking to it that I find difficult ;). I try to consider "Future Me" when waffling over whether or not I want to scrub the loo on a given day, and that usually prompts me to just get on with it. Same for dusting and sweeping etc. I, too, found myself leaving everything until the weekend and then several hours in a row of housework isn't fun at all and I wouldn't do a very good job of it.

    Decluttering is something I need to keep on top of....we rehomed a LOT of stuff when we moved, but for some reason we still have far too much. *sigh* I try not to look at the corner of the basement where the 'leftovers' are piled. :)

    I'll be writing my own version of this on the weekend...I'm really enjoying this sort of chronicle. It helps me realize I'm doing more than I think. xo

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    1. Thank you Mel. I am hoping that I manage to stick to this system of housework, not least because it has freed up so much time at the weekends. I also figure that it doesn't matter too much if I miss a day or days here or there.

      Decluttering is a continuous process isn't it, stuff has a habit of coming into the house without us really noticing it and the then suddenly we find ourselves overwhelmed.

      It would be lovely to have you join me.

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  13. Another beautiful post, thank you for sharing so many of your thoughts.

    I didn't realise there was a name for my way of keeping on top of the house. I used to do everything in one day like you, but it became a pain, and if my "house day" did not happen then catching up always seemed very hard. Now I do a little every day, at odd times when it suits, and the feeling that it is a chore has gone away.

    I am always mindful of the fact that we are very lucky to have the 'problem' of housework - it means we have a home of our own and possessions to care about. Many do not have that. xx

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    1. Thank you Jayne. So glad to hear that you have found a way to do the housework without it feeling like a chore. And yes we are lucky to be doing it at all and have a safe place to call home.

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  14. Good point about buying things we don't actually need! Oh, I just love your celeriac salad, must give that a whirl de-cluttering is certainly soothing, instant gratification. I need to get on top of the housework so will give your tips a try.xxx

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    1. I hope you liked the celeriac salad. I also hope you have been able to get on top of the housework.

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