first, peel your banana

andy-banana

Bananas don’t last long in the extreme Australian summer heat. Five were dying in our fruit bowl this morning. Mr FD manned up and added two to his lunch time salad, but two from five still left three. I decided to make the two ingredient cookies my granddaughters love (2 bananas : 1 cup rolled oats, bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes) . Except somehow I never manage to follow the recipe correctly – this time not quite enough rolled oats in the pantry- and so I topped up with muesli!

Earlier this morning I had noticed all the New Year Resolution posts popping up online. This year’s resolution for me was to be creative and I have given myself a 9 out of 10 for that resolution. Not quite a 10 because sometimes I am too lazy to do anything but sit and mindlessly flick through Facebook or mindlessly resort to old habits! By creative, I don’t just mean “arty”, I also mean trying too look at a world with a design mind – seeking new uses for things, being innovative in my life as well as creative. I am happy with what I achieved overall though.

Looking at the sad bananas in the fruit bowl, I though that maybe 2017 could be the year to work on food waste. We buy so many vegetables and fruits that just wither and rot in our refrigerator. Much of this is due to the fact that I have great plans for the week, but as each day passes and I get tired and the school work piles higher, I resort to pulling in for takeaway at night rather than even think about making a simple meal.  Bad girl!

Looking at it creatively, trying to minimise food waste also means that I am planning our shopping better – maybe even save money in the process. We will certainly eat better meals, and that will impact positively on my health, which we all know needs all the help it can get!

Mr FD  in recent weeks has become quite the hand at the barbecue, so if I  plan meals around that to start with, I can’t see how we can’t prosper. I have a slow cooker to use in colder months. It also continues on my 2016 creativity resolution, which makes me self-pleased. I am feeling superior already.

So, that’s it, folks – my resolution for 2017 is to reduce food waste in our home. Good for me, my family, the community and the planet. What’s not to love?

Just going to tell Mr FD what his first resolution for 2017 is…

 

 

 

The I don’t need it, I don’t want it, get out of my face revolution

no

Maybe it’s just me but I need to ask: is anyone else not only tired of, truly exhausted by the sheer numbers of people trying to make money from every facet of our lives?

So many so called health gurus, education experts, lifestyle experts… Even people writing books to show us how to show our kids how to use Lego once they are tired of their kit style. Can’t we downsize for ourselves? Can’t we create and innovate for ourselves?

What is happening to us?

Today, I feel like one of those characters in those predictable Hollywood movies where in one day, a man has to face a job loss, wife leaving, kids moving away, car repossessed, locked out of all bank accounts and savings and he just goes mental and rejects society.

Today, I want to go mountain woman and reject capitalistic consumerism and this society that just wants to make money out of every aspect of my daily existence.

I don’t need anyone to tell me how to do anything or everything. I can do it for myself, and I don’t need to make myself poor making another person rich.

A step at a time, a day at a time: new habits

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A post of the Red Shoe Project 2016

 

Next Wednesday, the teachers’ school year starts for our school. In the spirit of living a simple life and minimalism, I have been thinking about how I am going to approach a new school year.

Four years have passed at this school, and things were not always great towards the end of last year. I brought a few things to a head and asked for more than a few changes, which I hope Admin with honour after all their promises. I have my part to play as well.

So, I have dusted off the holiday grey matter and tried to craft a little set of new habits to support my intentions.

Stay focused. I can go off agenda fairly easily when I choose. Make my to do list, my tomorrow list. This year, I am going to break tasks up into small chunks, but follow through with more care and attention. Not just the stuff I want to do, but the staff I have to do.

Be creative. Or rather, find a way to include a creative aspect to every day. I want to upscale my displays and add more wonder and awe to our library, so I am aiming to put aside 30 minutes each day to plan and follow through on a creative endeavor.

Read books. I’ve been spending too much time on Pinterest for a start. Okay, a lot of it is curating resources and information for teachers and students, but I need to read more of the books on our library shelves. So, maybe a target of twenty pages a day? I think that is attainable.

Express gratitude. This can be damn hard some days. Our Principal is in the habit of saying that the students are ”gift to us”. Not sure that I can be that grateful, but at least I can try to listen more to others and  to walk a little in their shoes before adding them to my stick list (the people I am going to hit with a stick on my last day in the job). Maybe collecting the positives and not the negatives in each day? Perhaps, if I try to have one amusing, or interesting anecdote to share with my family at the end of each day, it might help me to express more gratitude.

Meditate. Not something to do at school, certainly, but if I try to spend five or ten minutes either end of the day meditating, or just being silent and still, it may help me through the noise and bustle of my school day. Focus and refocus.

Innovation. One can only try.

a minimalist life lesson

useful

After a lifetime of living with myself, it appears I am still learning things about the person that I am. Since commencing my own Red Shoe Project and working towards minimalism I have learnt:

  1. Pace the project. I can’t start a project “gung-ho” if I mean to sustain it. This is because if I work for large chunks of time the quality control on my decision making diminishes in proportion to the length of time worked. My discipline goes right out the door.

Solution : I work best if I work in 20 or 30 minute chunks of time. A cup of tea, a walk to the mailbox with Augie Dog, or just doing a daily household chore refocusses me and I can return to the task with my decision making refreshed. Then, I can make the correct decision into which pile my belongings belong – bin, donate, save.

2. Don’t get bogged down in the little stuff, too soon. Clear the closet first, before tackling the jewellery and accessories. Chances are a lot to that jeweller that has been lost at the back of a closet, if chosen to be kept, will need some work – chains untangled, cleaning etc. before going into a new place of use. In my experience, it starts a side tour from the main path.

Solution: I have chosen one set of shelves where “tiny projects” such as jewellery boxes can sit and wait their turn. Once the closet is sorted, a home chosen for my belongings that is both accessible and sustainable, then I can sit down and look to the “small stuff”.

Not bad retrospection or reflective learning, whatever you choose to call it, for two days along the Red Shoe Project. It’s nice to find, early in this project, that there are unexpected bonuses – and three tidy closet shelves.

red shoe project 2016

Minimalism : a job for warrior baby boomers!

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Has minimalism been designated as a “young person’s” zone, or am I just unlucky to have come across nothing but twenty-thirty something young persons tell me how to get rid of my stuff?

Try being a baby boomer that birthed three children, now adults, who has been married 38 years and then tell me about stuff. I have multiple potato peelers older than most of the so called minimalism experts.

I started the flirting with minimalism a couple of years back. When we made our tree change I tried to shed as much as I could, but we ran out of time and energy in the moving process and so more stuff than I wanted made the journey to the country with us.

Then my mother went into care and the contents of my parental home of fifty plus years had to be dispersed. That meant incoming, but I managed to keep it to those things I considered important to me. My brother and sister took the mother lode, so to speak.

Not long afterwards, Mr FD’s parents died and though I stated VERY CLEARLY that I desired nothing from their home except for a few select items I thought our children should receive, Mr FD heeded not and a peculiar assortment of household items made their way into our garden shed and home. Most of it pretty ugly.

Now I open drawers and find three potato mashers and five pastry brushes. I make pastry about once every three years, tops.

So, some perky little thing with nice teeth who has only ever collected shoes and drink coasters from holiday nightclubs is not going to know the minimalism I am seeking. I need it in the large family size tub.

Baby boomers have a unique position on clutter. There is the clutter of two lives joined together; the clutter of  children and their lives before they flee home leaving everything in their rooms and the plastic storage containers in the garage. This is then topped by the yours and mine parents’ hoarding of their lives and the stuff we left behind when we fled the parental abode as well.

A weekend, two cupboard boxes and three plastic shopping bags are not going to meet my needs.

I’ve made a decision. I am going to complete the kitchen project kick started by Son while I was interstate. In turn, I think he was influenced by his sister who gave me a set of coffee mugs as a Christmas gift, then refused to leave the house until I shed an equal or greater number of  ugly and mismatched mugs that no one ever used. You know the type – the tiny mugs that only hold a thimble of tea or coffee and so are always pushed to the rear of the cupboard. Also, the cups that were “special” to your children, when they actually were children, but  are now on a top shelf, out of reach even if anyone desired to use them.

I wanted to shed the children’s cups for aeons, but I just knew the gods would go crazy and the very next day one of the children would have a mental melt down that would only be contained by drinking out of the mug they got at Dreamworld in 1997. However, Daughter1, a thirty something, steam rolled me into agreeing to allow her to remove them. That is, I allowed her to think she was steamrolling me and now if her siblings complain about a departed keepsake cup I can point the finger of blame her way. Win, win, for me. She gets to think she got one over mother, which is always a good ploy by any mother. Let them think they win, when in fact you have won big time.

How is any twenty-thirty something going to understand that type of minimalism psychodrama? Move aside this project requires a Baby Boomer Warrior Minimalist!

And no, I won’t be wearing any big girl undies on the outside of a superwoman costume. It’s always the pearls, dahling.

Red Shoe Project 2016 or Creativity + Minimalism = 2016

red shoe project 2016

A couple of years  ago I attended a teacher librarian’s conference in Hobart, Tasmania. There was several keynote presenters, several of whom were authors. I noticed a common denominator. Red shoes.

The majority of the female presenters (there were a couple of males represented, fear not, though education and librarianship are heavily dominated by females) wore red shoes. The obvious conclusion for me, was that creative people wore red shoes. Therefore, I wanted to be creative, I needed to wear red shoes.

Eventually, I found the red shoes that suited me. They didn’t turn out to be magic shoes of creativity, but I really didn’t think that I would ever click my heels and go to Oz. Aus maybe, but never Oz (sorry little joke for me, as I am Australian! Okay very, little joke…)

What my red shoes are however, is that creativity is a mind set. A mind set that I need to cultivate and nurture. It ain’t going to happen if I don’t!  When I look down at my shoes I am reminding myself that I can be what I want to be, and that, yes, I can do it!

So,  fast forward to the New Year. My mantra or theme for 2016 is Creativity + Minimalism = 2016. I don’t have any hard or  fast plan as to what form that will take, but my goal is to be pursue creativity in all things – personal  and professional life which naturally includes my interactions and relationships with others. Our home will be crafted into our absolute sanctuary where we can live simply and slowly.

I acknowledge that this will be more than a year long journey.There will be good days and bad days, probably good weeks and bad weeks, if not months!  I can make a solid start in the next few weeks while the school vacation continues, after that the road will have more twists and turns as I return to work, but I will be kind to myself and just try my best.

 

be-sure

It all comes down to this

FD Christmas 1

The baby is asleep in her crib, her Mama and Papa have gone out to have lunch while they still have baby sitters, Mr FD is napping and I am watching an old version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with Burl Ives as the narrator. Life is pretty good.

My children always called the 23rd of December, Christmas Eve Eve, and I think it was probably the day they enjoyed most – so much preparation and anticipation. On Christmas Eve Eve, they would decorate boxes with Christmas drawings and pictures in which to store their gifts after opening. They would also help with making Christmas treats. The best thing was the marathon of Christmas shows on the television that they would dip in and out of all day. Ethel Merman, Burl Ives, the classics. Good times.

This morning I spoke with Petite Fille. We have made a time to face talk on Christmas morning. This is the first Christmas Petite Fille really “gets” Christmas and so her excitement is such a wonder to share. She will spend it with her cousins, my sister’s grandchildren.  Our Son, home minding Augie Dog, will join them as well.

A new Christmas baby, healthy and happy, and a growing, loving family means we are truly blessed.

We wish you a happy Christmas too – filled with the love, peace, serenity and wonder that you deserve. Take care, dear friends, and  remember to have that second helping of pudding. A third helping if you choose. Just enjoy and be grateful.

 

P.S. My Christmas Fruitcake having survived the interstate plane trip has been voted “the best ever.” Half eaten already!

Being a bird brain may be okay

bird brain 1

Mr FD spent an amusing twenty minutes watching three baby birds play in our garden.

One chick would roll itself into a fluffy ball and roll about the lawn. Another was a little more creative, throwing itself onto its back, legs ramrod straight, and played dead; until its siblings came near to investigate and then it would jump at them! A jokester in every family!

Mother Bird tolerated the later behaviour for several minutes until she reached her limit and gave Chick a nudge to behave.

Kids are the same, nature over, and so are mothers. There’s a deal of comfort in that thought.