Sustainable Living March

02 April 2020


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) that I have been using in March:

Nourish
Last month I commented on how I was looking forward to a greater variety of vegetables in my weekly veg box after months of mostly root vegetables.  I was so happy to see cabbages and spring greens in my boxes this month, I have many recipes that I love to cook using these ingredients it has been great to change our meals as the season changes.  We have had Colcannon and Kale and Potato Cakes.  We have pie night once a week, one of the pies I make is vegetables cooked in a miso sauce with mash potatoes on top, we call in miso pie here, it has been lovely to add green leaves to this pie once again.

I have also been enjoying smoothies again, thanks to kale from my garden.  It is a hardy enough variety to survive the cold of winter but it doesn't really grow when it is cold.  I made the decision to stop picking the leaves until it warmed up enough for them to start growing again.  A week or so of warm sunshine this month and they have all had a growth spurt.  I have a smoothie about once a week for breakfast, along with the kale I add grated courgette (which were home grown frozen last summer), a banana, some yogurt and a dash of flax seeded oil.

I have been so grateful for my veg and fruit box this month.  They have been inundated with new enquiries and have been able to take on more staff to help with the growing and the delivery of their fruit and veg. I am so glad that they have been able to continue to provide this valuable service to their local community.


Lesssen
When I heard that people were panic buying toilet roll last month I admit that I wasn't that concerned by this news.  We do have toilet roll in our house, but only for guest use and I knew we would not be having many of them over the months to come.  We have used cloths here for a couple of years.  By pure coincidence I needed to make some new ones last month as the last batch I made were starting to become worn out.  I managed to find a unwanted brushed cotton sheet in a charity shop just days before they were all closed and made another batch which should last us for six months or so.  I started making and using cloths as I was rather shocked at how much it was costing us to buy toilet roll, I bought a bulk amount through a company I use to buy dry food in bulk, it made me realise how much we were spending on something we use and flush away.

I am also glad that much of my cleaning both of the house and ourselves makes use of ingredients that you might find in the kitchen, all things we buy in bulk and thankfully have plenty of at the moment, which lessens the list of things that I need to buy when I venture out for my weekly shop.  I use bicarb for cleaning the bathroom, white vinegar for the cleaning the loo and all glass such as mirrors and windows, hard floors are cleaned with our homemade liquid soap which is a bar of olive oil soap ground up into a fine powder and dissolved in water, we use fine oatmeal in the bath, strained through the leg of an old pair of tights, we wash hair with rye flour made into a paste,  I put together my own tooth brushing powder, a batch of which I made this month.

I mentioned last month about micro fibres and how they are everywhere in our water systems.  I thought you might be interested in the work of this organisation who are doing some amazing research into this. Two of the people who have been involved were the subjects of episodes 111 and 112 of the wonderful podcast, Wardrobe Crisis

Thankful
I have never been so grateful as I am now to have an abundance of beautiful outdoor space right on my doorstep. We have a good sized garden which I have spent a fair bit of time in this month and so many footpaths we can walk on which are a short walk along the road from our house.  It has been good to go out every day for a walk, something that I strive to do normally but don't quite manage every day.  I tend to take my daily walk around 4 o'clock each day, a pick me up at the end of the afternoon before I come home and start cooking the evening meal.  I am really enjoying the rhythm of this in my day.


Create
I couldn't resist casting on another pair of socks at the beginning of the month.  I have realised what a great project they are to have in my handbag, they are always with me when I am out and about.  This is the first sock of the pair and has reached the stage of shaping the toe.  When I was thinking about what I have been creating this month, whilst writing this post, I remembered that this sock was languishing in my now little used handbag.  Now that I rarely leave the house I need to remember to work on this project at home otherwise it will become somewhat neglected!  I have also been adding rows to my shawl, I am on an easy section at the moment which means I can read or watch something whilst knitting, it is growing much faster than I thought it would.  I cast on a cardigan for Alice but have not got very far with it, the stitch count seems to be out on the pattern, I have sent a message to designer but I have yet to receive a reply, I was hoping to have it ready for her birthday in May, I note that this designer has a Ravelry group so I am thinking it might be a good idea to join and see if someone else can help me!

Grow
March bought with it a period of lovely warm weather, sunshine, it coincided with peoples movement in the UK being restricted.  A friend told me that her daughter had commented on this and wondered whether there was a link, Earth breathing a sigh of relief.  It was wonderful to once again be able to harvest my kale which I mentioned earlier, my over wintered cabbages and leeks are also putting on growth and my purple sprouting broccoli is now starting to flower I hope we will have enough for a meal in a day or two.

The spell of warm weather meant that we spent time in the garden, tidying up, staking out plants that have been blown about in the winter storms and spreading compost that has been fermenting slowly over the past year.  The garden is ready for the sowing of seeds which I shall start towards the middle of April, it is too cold here to start any earlier than this, even with a polytunnel, I end up with lots of seedlings that are ready to go outside and the temperatures are not quite warm enough for that to happen. I have however sown some salad greens as they can sit happily growing in the polytunnel for now.

I have managed to get my seed order completed online and they are on their way now.  Demand has been really high, but they were offering slots every evening to place orders and hopefully everyone will be able to get what they want.  I don't usually order until now anyway so it hasn't delayed me particularly.  I am just glad I was able to get what I needed this year and grateful that the online company that I use is still able to provide this valuable service.

Sanctuary
After writing about the importance of sanctuary in my life I realised that I wanted to include it in this round up. Being sustainable is more than our awareness and actions that preserve the beauty of nature and Mother Earth, it is about looking after ourselves too, looking after our health, and well being keeps us sustainable.  My sanctuary this month has been my friends, both online and those I know in real life.  I cannot thank enough, those who come and read and most especially those who have been generous enough to comment.  Your heartfelt and thoughtful comments have been wonderful.  I am also grateful to those who are still finding the time to write posts, I am really enjoying spending the time reading about how all of you are finding ways to get through this difficult time.  It is effecting us all the world over, I feel like I am part of a wonderful support network.

My friends in real life have also been a source of sanctuary too, through messages sent electronically, to long phone calls chatting through, and making sense of the day to day aspects of our lives, that we would not have given any thought to a few weeks ago, but are now fraught with worry and anxiety.  The adjustments to having our partners at home full time and no longer able to earn as they cannot work from home have been much easier to make knowing that friends are going through the same thing.  Talking, it is so important and makes our burdens a little lighter, it is sustaining me through this uncertain time.


Learn
As a home educator, I am used to my life revolving around the home but we don't spend all of our time at home, far from it, on some days we are out for most of the day.  All of the things that shape our day to day rhythm outside of the home have stopped so whilst we might be used to being at home for some of our learning we have had to make big adjustments too.  I have spent many hours thinking about how this could work for us going into the future.  It would be very easy for us to drift along spending our days surfing the net and generally becoming rather idle.  I suspect that even this would lose its appeal after a while.  Contact with the outside world is still possible, thank goodness for technology, Alice now has a virtual play date four afternoons a week, a time for her to spend chatting and playing along with her friends, they in their house and she in ours.

What is important in all this change, this adjustment, is finding the positive in our lives and holding on to that.  I love the meme that this blogger posted, about changing our mindset and embracing what we have in our lives.  I have also realised that this is a good time to embrace more resting.  Life in general can gradually get faster until we don't even realise that is where we are at, it is only when we are forced to stop that we realise that this was the case.


Fun
Two or three years ago I started a craft group at my house for some of Alice's friends and their siblings.  We were originally five adults and eight children, one family moved away last year, who meet in our house for five hours, we craft together in the morning before tidying up and eating lunch together round our dining room table (each family bring their own food!) followed by a story, in the afternoon the children generally play and the adults chat, whilst having a go or finishing off what we started in the morning.  We have made all sorts over that time we have tried sewing, painting, paper crafts, stone painting, needle felting and in March we made hand dipped candles.  Usually there is one family amongst the group who has done something similar before but I was really pleased that no-one except us had ever tried hand dipped candles before. With hot wax and excited children, I did wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew, and the kitchen would look like a whirlwind had been through by the time we had finished, but that wasn't the case at all.  Everyone absolutely loved it and it was one of the few times that everyone wanted to carry on after we had had lunch.  We have had to pause this group for now, it has an uncertain future as another of the families is hoping to go off for an extended period of travelling to find somewhere new to settle and call home.  They have had to postpone these plans for now but it has been in the back of my mind that it will make the group a little small and maybe it is time for it to come to an end.  There have been many things that we have loved and enjoyed during our home education journey, it is sad when they stop but something else always comes along soon after to fill its place.  I am so glad that if candle dipping is our last activity together it was one that we had so much fun doing.

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 April roundup on Monday 4th May.

26 comments:

  1. Thanks for such a positive and inspiring post.

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  2. I really enjoy these posts, it's like a little peek into your life and sharing with you the ups and downs in many aspects of your day to day living. I'm glad you've found a way for your children to still interact with their friends though the period we find ourselves in at present, so important I think. I love the sound of your craft group, what a shame if it has to fold but as you say, I'm sure you'll find something else just as fun to do instead. I'm not surprised that online seed retailers are busy, it seems everyone is spending more time in their gardens just now, especially last week when we had some lovely sunshine.

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    1. Thank you Jo. It is so important that we try and maintain our connections when we cannot meet up isn't it. I think it is one the reasons the so many bloggers are writing at the moment they want to keep those connections going.

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  3. Never apologise for a Long Read, it is a joy to absorb your words and share a sense of the thought and feeling behind them.

    A sensitive subject this going to the loo stuff - we all do it but no-one wants to talk about it! I agree with you how wasteful the toilet paper situation is and delighted to see your mention of cloths. Would you be prepared to go into more detail . . . about using and washing and the real practicalities. I have a hunch that this might be a time when people are ready to learn about doing things differently from how we have always ‘assumed’ we will do them.

    Take care, stay safe, stay well. 💚💐🌈

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    1. Thank you Jayne.

      It is sensitive subject, the loo, isn't it. I did want to go into details here, I thought that might be a bit much for some. Now that I have started the conversation I think I need to do another post with more details, I think you are right about this being the time when people are ready to learn about doing things differently.

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  4. You seem to have the perfect balance for getting through this challenging time. If nothing else, this situation is showing what is most important to us.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. Thank you Ellie. It is always about balance isn't it. It is what I strive for, although I don't always get it right!

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  5. A lovely positive post for these daunting times. Love the wool in your newest socks. My Kale seed is just coming up in my veggie patch, can’t wait until it’s big enough to eat. Hope the good weather lasts. Take care. B x

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    1. Thank you B. I am not sure about this wool, whether I like it or not. I bought it a long long time ago and then ended up making a hat with some it which I have now unraveled, maybe when I have knitted them both I will work it out! It has gone cold again here, with north winds but still no rain, having rain for months and months over the winter it now hasn't rained for a month!

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  6. I always enjoy your posts and a longer read is a real joy. You give us such inspiration to live a more sustainable life and show us easily it slips into our lives to become commonplace habit, I thank you for that. Our family try to do all we can to leave as small a foot print on this beautiful planet as possible, it’s blogs like yours that give us the incentive to continue on a healthy path.

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    1. Thank you Laurie. I think that is so true that any changes you make to try and be more sustainable need to slip into our lives to become a commonplace habit. It is lovely to hear that your family do all you can too, it is always good to know that you are not alone on this journey.

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  7. Excellent post.... Sharing, how we are coping, is so important, at this time.

    I washed baby diapers, years ago. So I suppose that your version, is like that. Do you soak them in a diaper pail, like I did, with baby diapers? And then, wash them,in hot water? I ask because this is new to me, and I am always interested, in something new to me.

    Stay safe
    💛 😌 💛

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    1. Thank you WoW, you are right that it is important to share how we are coping, it helps to make us feel less alone doesn't it?

      I had wanted to write more details about the loo cloths but thought that an introduction might be best first with more details in another post, I didn't want to put people off!

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  8. I did enjoy this. I love hearing about what you have been up to. I was fascinated about your home made cleaning goods, cloths, shampoo, toothpaste etc. You really should do a post on how you make them.xxx

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    1. Thank you! I think you are right I do need to do another post about all the things I make to do the cleaning round here, I will do one soon xxx

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    2. I already do most of my cleaning with three extremely old-fashioned ingredients - hot water, soap and elbow grease. I always love to read how others do things and look forward to your ‘house work’ post when you have the time/inclination 🙂

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  9. Loved reading your post, I am fascinated as to WHY the panic buying is still going on. However I guess more people are staying home so they need more food? and supplies? I have what I need and I continue to clean like I always do. I did start doing door nobs and handles daily just in case. We are trying our best to only go out once a week if that.

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    1. Thank you Karen. I cannot fathom why people are panic buying at all, it does seem to be slowing down here now which is good. I read somewhere that in London 25% of all meals are eaten out, 25% that is a lot so I guess more people need food at home as they can't eat out anymore.

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  10. I do enjoy these gentle and inspirational posts. As others have mentioned, I would also love to read more about your loo cloths and house cleaning methods. X

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    1. Thank you Jules, I will do a post on my house cleaning later this week x

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  11. Now that I'm blogging again I'm also reading blogs again...and enjoying it immensely! I didn't realise how much I'd missed the companionship and sharing! It's great to see so many blogs still going strong - although I notice you also had a long hiatus!
    I remember the monthly roundups on Slow Living Essentials and occasionally joined in....and I hope to join in with you next month! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello - Evi

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    1. I did have a long hiatus but I am so glad that I am back blogging again as it is wonderful to have the companionship and sharing at this time. It would be lovely to have you join me for my sustainable living posts, thank you for popping by and leaving a comment.

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  12. It sounds a peaceful place, your home and the surrounds where you live. Having a garden and a wider space to look out upon, to visit and to walk in is a very special thing right now as I think it helps us to remain connected to nature. I love sitting out on our verandah and looking out to the gum trees that line the ridge just beyond our home and going for a walk along the path by the little creek is a joy always but even more so right now. MegXx

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    1. I do live in a peaceful place, and I do feel blessed right now. My local countryside feels very special at the moment.

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  13. Fascinating to read about your home cleaning, some of the things I'd heard of and others definitely not eg oatmeal for the bath! If you ever feel like doing a separate post about this, I'd be all ears! I always seem to get to your posts late, but I do get to them :-)

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Hello......would love to hear from you :)