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A New Relaxing Spot to Start the New Year

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front verandah

Front verandah

Since the dog has taken over the backyard (and made a mess of my gardening attempts in the process) I’ve decided to concentrate on the front yard until our puppy settles down.

First things first, we bought a new outdoor setting for the front verandah and celebrated with a mini-date while our toddler slept.

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Keeping a Household Manual

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For all you Flyladies, this is also known as a Control Journal. I don’t like to use the word control though so instead I’ve named mine a Household Manual. Rhonda at Down to Earth uses a Home Management Journal. What is a household manual? Exactly what it sounds like, it is a complete manual of instructions, information, and advice about your home and family. It contains everything you need to help you stay organised around the house. We’ll look inside the household manual, in depth, a little later but for now let’s discuss how to get started with a household manual.

Probably the most versatile format for a household manual is a binder. This way you can add and remove things as your household changes, rather than having to start a new book. An ordinary notebook will not give you the same flexibility. With a binder you can simply swap out old pages for new ones when they need to be updated (things like emergency information & phones that are likely to change over time). You won’t be able to do this with a notebook without it getting very messy & confusing.

Materials you need:

  • Binder
  • Dividers
  • Plastic sleeves
  • Paper
  • Pen

Once you’ve found all the materials you need to create you binder, it’s time to start gathering together all the information you are going to put into it. Scout around the house (and in your handbag) for any notebooks, files, outstanding bills, phonebooks, To Do lists, takeaway menus, anniversary & birthday lists etc. These are what you are going to organise into your household manual. If you have a spare hour or two it’s best to gather all of these together to begin with and that way you can sit down and compile your manual all at once, if not, you can skip this step and gather this information as you need it. Now that you have your binder and all of the information you need to put in it together in one place you can start compiling your manual.

Household manuals do not need to look pretty. In fact, to begin with, it’s better if they are messy. That way you won’t feel intimidated to add to it. Household manuals are a constant work-in-progress so if you want them to look nice and contain neatly printed pages, you’ll need to update those pages regularly. It’s often easier & quicker to add new information by writing into the manual rather than finding the right document on your computer, updating it and printing it out again. Once you’ve been using your manual for a few months you might type up a neat version of some pages and print them out but in the beginning this is not necessary.

Another option is to use someone else’s printouts and simply add your details to them. There are heaps of printouts available online, there’s a thorough list of options on tipnut.

Here are some of the things in my journal to get you started:

  • Emergency Contact Information
  • Shopping List
  • Meal Plans
  • To Do
  • To Buy
  • Budget
  • Prescriptions
  • Outstanding Bills
  • Routines (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, Yearly)
  • List of Birthdays & Anniversaries
  • Family Fun Day Ideas
  • Gifts Ideas
  • Holiday Checklist
  • Evacuation Checklist
  • Moving Checklist
  • Address Changes
  • Meal Ideas
  • Takeaway menus
  • Recipes to try
  • Home Maintenance things to do
  • Garden tips
  • Cleaning tips
  • Books to read
  • Parenting articles
  • Family history information
  • Child development checklists
  • Wills
  • First Aid booklet
  • Australia Post Parcel Charges information sheet

What are some of the things that you have in your household manual?

Magazine Mania

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Monday Morning

Australians have a love affair with magazines. According to Ibis World Australian magazines employ over 5000 people and generate $2 billion in revenue. I myself love sitting down for some quiet time with a cup of tea and flicking through a glossy magazine. They’re perfect reading material when you don’t have the energy to concentrate on a novel and need some time away from the computer screen. Today I want to highlight some of the best Australian magazines for those pursuing the simple life. Many of these are available in public libraries, alternatively you might like to try gumtree, ebay, freecyle, friends, neighbours, local thrift shops & garage sales for back copies. You might even be able to order backcopies at a reduced rate online.

Grass Roots

Australia’s most popular self-sufficiency magazine

PO Box 117, Seymour, VIC 3661

Ph: 03 5792 4000

Earth Garden

Practical solutions for green living

http://www.earthgarden.com.au

G

Green Living Made Easy

http://www.gmagazine.com.au

Organic Gardener

Your guide to sustainable Living

http://www.organicgardener.com.au

Warm Earth

Warm Earth is Australia’s practical guide to organic gardening. Published since 1993, Warm Earth does not contain paid advertising. Every issue contains 48 information packed pages about growing food in your backyard. Written by organic gardeners, for organic gardeners.

http://www.warmearth.com.au/

(No) Rubbish Day

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Today is rubbish day. The street is lined with dark green wheelie bins full of waste but there’s an empty spot on our footpath. My husband informed me last night that he was not taking the rubbish out. He wanted to let me know that he had made this decision consciously and not forgotten. He explained that this week we had produced a single bag of waste. The rubbish bin was practically empty and there was nothing in there that couldn’t wait until next week.

I’m not exactly sure why we only have one bag. I think perhaps it is the culmination of all the changes we’ve made to our lifestyle slowly over the past few years. Now that we have a compost bin most of the organic waste goes into the garden. Animal products are bagged and frozen until bin day. We reuse or recycle as much as possible. Takeaways are a rare treat so we don’t bring in the extra waste associated with outsourcing our meals. I’ve done away with glad wrap, aluminium foil and baking paper. And we also don’t buy those disposable cleaning wipes that are always advertised on TV.

Perhaps the biggest change this week is that we have survived without any disposable nappies. Absolutely zero. Up until now we have used disposables overnight, on holidays, during illness, and when we’ve gone out for the day. I’ve noticed that when my husband changed Miss M’s nappies, he usually grabbed a disposable rather than a cloth nappy. So last fortnight I devised a little experiment – I left disposable nappies off the grocery list. If they weren’t available we wouldn’t be able to use them. It worked! And now I won’t be adding them to the shopping list next fortnight either. I wish I had done this from the start, but my theory has always been do what you can manage and concentrate on the good of every cloth nappy used rather than every disposable. Each and every nappy helps. Besides, I’m a first time mum so I’m still ironing out the kinks of new motherhood.

How many bags of rubbish does your family produce each week? And, what things do you do to reduce your trash?

Simple Living in Mainstream Media

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Tonight on A Current Affair, Rhonda Hetzel was interviewed about simple living. She has a column in Women’s Weekly, one of Australia’s most popular women’s magazines. It seems that simple living is becoming more and more popular. What with global economic crises and environmental disasters the idea of becoming less dependent on corporations and more self-reliant seems to be the ‘in-thing’ once again.

Indeed, these days, I can manage to buy any number of gardening and organic life magazines from the newsagents. The local library has plenty of books to help me grow veggies, be self-sufficient, make my own clothes, and even make & use home remedies. In Brisbane, community gardens are scattered throughout the city as are local farmer’s & crafts markets which is encouraging a move away from thoughtless spending. Consumers are becoming more aware of where their produce is from, what’s in it, and the conditions by which it is made. I believe the term is ‘ethical spending.’

While the thrifty do-it-yourself mindset seemed to have been discarded by the baby boomers, their parents skills and way of life is being rediscovered by another generation concerned about their finances and the escalating cost of living. What’s old is new once again.

Regrow Spring Onions in a Jar of Water

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It’s true. You can regrow shallots in a glass of water. Here’s the results of a couple of days, actually it could be a week or more as I forget when I actually ‘planted’ this bunch. Since then I have simply been changing the water each day. You can see where they were cut and the fresh green regrowth.

I only recently read about this technique on a number of websites and thought that I would try it out for myself. As you can see, the results speak for themselves. If you already have a vegetable garden planted, or a spare pot lying around, plant them in the soil and apparently they’ll grow back indefinitely (ApartmentTherapy).

New Additions

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From this morning our little household has grown from four to six with the addition of two lovely baby guinea pigs. Many many years ago when I was still in primary school I wanted pet guinea pigs. I wanted them so bad that I used to beg my parents to get some for me but to no avail. Even tears and tantrums were ineffective against my parents steely willpower. To console myself for not having pet guinea pigs I bought books about guinea pigs and played with friends guinea pigs and even made a clay guinea pig in art class. Yet it was never the same as having my very own pet guinea pigs.

So today Mr T, Miss M & I went for a road trip across town to the Cavy Cottage to pick out some new additions. And so, with no further ado, I’d like to introduce you to our very first family pets:

Smokey and Dusty are eight week old brothers. That’s Dusty at the front he’s the more adventurous one and less comfortable with people. Smokey is hiding at the back and seems to be the more docile one (he’s easier to catch and seems to be quite content being held).

Mum promised that when I bought a house she would buy them for me and she has, to some extent, come good on that promise as we used our Christmas voucher to purchase their new abode. Thanks Mum! xx