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.
NourishWinter 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:
I head of celeriac
Wholegrain or Dijon Mustard
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.
LessenWe 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.
GrowWe 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.
ThankfulI 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.
CreateJanuary 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.
LearnAt 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!
FunIt 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.