New Year, New Direction

I haven’t written here for a while now – in fact it’s been well over a year since I last blogged regularly. The longer I’m absent, the harder it becomes to return; it feels as though the first blog post after a long break has to be a reintroduction of sorts, that I can’t just pick back up where I left off without providing an explanation and apology for my absence.

So here is that explanation-apology-reintroduction post. It doesn’t say much, really, but it gives me the freedom to talk about anything I like in my next post.

2017 was a busy year for me. On paper, it looks like a year full of success and achievements. But the final few months, in particular, were some of the busiest months of my life (perhaps excluding the time spent writing my PhD thesis, which I don’t find at all comparable to regular busyness). In the middle of the year, when I knew my life was already full to capacity with work and home life and study and volunteer activities, along came a new opportunity that I just couldn’t say no to. And instead of making room by dropping something else from my long list of commitments, I just added it to the mix and hoped for the best.

I got through the last few months only with the support of family, with too many days in bed recovering, and with asking too much of my husband while he’s trying to finish his PhD. So in 2018 I’m refocusing towards a slower pace of life. I’m not sure yet exactly how this year is going to pan out; I’m still not good at letting go of the things that I know aren’t as important to make more time for the things that are. But I want to be at home more to support my husband. I want to give myself more space to think and breathe and be. I want to enjoy life every day, not just look towards a future where I might finally have everything I want.

All this might mean I have more time to write. But then again, it might not. Slowing down is about choosing to do less, and choosing to prioritise the things that are most important to me right now. And as much as I love writing, it still falls fairly low on my list of priorities – below supporting my husband at home, below looking after my health and well-being, below spending time with my family and friends, below choosing sustainable but time-consuming options over convenient but wasteful ones. And, as much as I love blogging and reading other people’s blogs, the last thing I want to do after spending a long day sitting in front of a computer at work is to spend my evenings and weekends sitting in front of a computer screen writing and reading.

So all this is to say: I hope to see you again soon this year, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t quite happen.

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Local Treasures

I love walking around my local neighbourhood and discovering all sorts of quirky little gems tucked away on verges, fences and front yards. The kinds of things you miss when travelling by car because you’re driving too fast to spot them.

Here are a few of the local treasures I’ve stumbled across on my perambulations.

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A garage with a green roof. (The neighbouring roof was also rather green – covered with moss and lichen!)

Painted wooden bird

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I thought these were baby pears, but when I went back later to check on the fruit it was all gone.

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Stairs to nowhere

 

Perhaps most exciting of all, this beauty was parked up in my neighbourhood for weeks.

gypsy caravan

The caravan was sitting outside a house I’ve privately nicknamed “the urban homestead”. Many mornings on my way work I see hens roaming around the front yard and rabbits nibbling the long grass. It’s a delightful scene, and certainly improves my morning commute. The addition of a gypsy caravan just made the whole scene even more magical.

peter rabbit

Not one of the urban homestead’s rabbits. I actually snapped this photo in Beatrix Potter’s garden in the Lakes District – a descendant of Peter Rabbit?

5 reasons I love my fruit and vegetable box

Earlier this year my family started getting a box of fruit and vegetables delivered to our house each week. We decided to order from a company called Ooooby — Out Of Our Own Backyards — because they specialise in local, organic produce, but there are a ton of other companies offering a similar service.

After a couple of months using the service, here are five reasons I love our fruit & veg box.

1. It’s fresh, local, seasonal, and organic

So this is four reasons rolled into one, but they’re all related. Ooooby makes a point of sourcing all their produce as locally as possible. The fruit and veg arrives fresh at our doorstep within a day of being delivered to Ooooby. Because the food is fresh and locally grown, it’s in season too. And Ooooby also focuses on organics, making it much easier (and cheaper, and less packaged) than buying organic produce at a store.

2. It’s super convenient

Between our weekly Ooooby box delivery and a bulk shopping trip for dried goods every month, we don’t have too much more in the way of grocery shopping. That saves a lot of time each weekend that we used to spend traipsing around the supermarket.

3. It’s like Christmas every week

I get excited about receiving a package full of healthy, tasty goodness each week! Opening up the box and seeing all the fresh colours there gives me a thrill similar to unwrapping Christmas presents — but without all the waste and misdirected consumerism.

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Sneak peek… look at that colour!

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A week’s worth of delicious fresh fruit and vegetables

4. We get to try new types of food

Each box comes with a different variety of fruit and veg, depending on what Ooooby’s growers have available that week. And each box includes all sorts of items I never would have bought (or even seen) when shopping at the supermarket! So far the new types of food I’ve tried cooking thanks to Ooooby include:

  • Chestnuts
  • Kale
  • Beetroot
  • Tatsoi
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Fennel
  • Daikon radish

We’ve also received exciting new varieties of familiar plants, like pointy capsicums and rainbow chard.

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Another week’s haul (minus a bunch of kale that had already been sent to the fridge)

5. It’s (almost) waste-free!

The main packaging is the box, which Ooooby collect and reuse each delivery. Aside from tape on the box, paper to protect leafy greens, paper bags for dirty root vegetables, and the odd rubber band, our produce now comes virtually packaging-free, which makes it much easier to avoid plastic and other waste — perfect for Plastic Free July. It also means no more pesky fruit stickers! And we can now buy organic, fair-trade bananas without the plastic tape they come wrapped in at the supermarket.

Of course, getting our produce delivered is not a perfect setup. We have less control over how much fruit and veg we get each week — some weeks we’re barely scraping by and others we end up with a lot more than we need. And when the supply chain is this short and local, any hiccups at the supplier’s end have a much greater influence on us as consumers. But on balance, I’m totally in love with my weekly produce delivery and I highly recommend it as a way to buy local, seasonal, and plastic-free food.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Ooooby in any way; I’m just a happy customer.

Summer in the Garden

I’m spending my summer holiday at home. There’s no better time to enjoy the garden than a lazy summer day.

Gratitudes

Many months ago I announced that I’d be sharing a list of things I’m grateful for on this blog every week. Well those posts have been rather more sporadic than I planned, but I still love the idea of remembering the good things in life, and what better way to start the week? Things I’m thankful for:

  • Listening to rain drumming on the rooftop while tucked up warm in bed.
  • Taking my shoes off outside for the first time this spring and enjoying the feeling of warm bricks and cool grass against my bare soles.
  • The internet, for making it possible to talk face to face with friends and whanau on the other side of the world.

What are you grateful for today?

A little bit of spring sunshine

A month has passed since my last post, thanks to an urgent deadline at work that kept me too busy to blog. (In fact, for a couple of weeks there my life consisted solely of work and blues dancing. Although it was far from a perfect work-life balance, blues is an excellent way to spend one’s limited free time!)

While I’ve been otherwise occupied, Mother Earth has been hard at work too and the season’s first bright, fragrant flowers are springing up all over the place. With the warmer mornings and longer days, it truly feels like summer is coming. Now I’m just waiting for the sun to stop hiding her radiant face behind grey cloud and misty drizzle.

A piece of sunshine in the garden

A sunny pair of daffodils

But perhaps I’m looking in the wrong place? It turns out sunshine comes in many forms, and I was delighted to discover a little piece of blogging sunshine in the guise of an award nomination from Simple Is The New Green! I have to start by saying thank you for the nomination; it’s wonderful to receive recognition from fellow bloggers. For those who haven’t come across Simple Is The New Green before, I recommend you go check it out. The author has a refreshingly grounded take on simple, green living.

And now, here are my answers to the questions posed:

1. What does your ideal day look like?

There are too many enjoyable activities in life to fit into a single “ideal” day, but a damn good day might start with a lazy morning reading in bed, followed by an afternoon amble through the bush or along the shore, and topped off by a night of blues dancing!

2. How do you find instant gratification that doesn’t cost anything?

Snuggling with the resident cat (or any cat really); strumming on a ukulele; being in a park or on a beach. Honestly, this is such a brilliant question — what are some of the simple things that give you pleasure?

I was trying to take a photo, but she was determined to smooch. Human 0 - Cat 1

I was trying to take a photo, but she was determined to smooch. Human 0 – Cat 1.

3. If you knew a disaster was coming and you have 10 minutes to evacuate your house, what would you take?

I actually have two answers to this question. My immediate response was: my wedding ring and the necklace made by my husband (both of which I would normally be wearing), childhood teddy bear and cat. However, that answer is more appropriate to the question “What would you save if your house was on fire?” i.e. those things that are most precious and irreplaceable.

When I reframed the question in terms of evacuation due to a natural disaster, then I’d add in the survival kit that I keep meaning to assemble (food, water, solar-powered torch, matches, etc), some warm waterproof clothes and sturdy boots, and a cellphone to get in touch with family.

Spreading the sunshine

As the final part of the award, I’d like to nominate the following blogs that I thoroughly enjoy reading:

And here are my questions for these bloggers to answer, if they feel so inclined:

  1. What motivated you to start blogging?
  2. Have your motivations changed over time, and if so, how and why?
  3. What is one book that changed your life? (If you aren’t much of a reader then you could share a movie, life event or even blog that’s had a big impact on you.)
  4. What are some of the simple things in life that give you pleasure?

If you aren’t one of my nominees, feel free to answer these questions anyway — I’d love to hear your thoughts!

“This over-busy world”

I was amused to find this poem in my inbox this morning, courtesy of the Academy of American Poets:

Leisure, thou goddess of a bygone age,
When hours were long and days sufficed to hold
Wide-eyed delights and pleasures uncontrolled
By shortening moments, when no gaunt presage
Of undone duties, modern heritage,
Haunted our happy minds; must thou withhold
Thy presence from this over-busy world,
And bearing silence with thee disengage
Our twined fortunes? Deeps of unhewn woods
Alone can cherish thee, alone possess
Thy quiet, teeming vigor. This our crime:
Not to have worshipped, marred by alien moods
That sole condition of all loveliness,
The dreaming lapse of slow, unmeasured time.

Titled Leisure, this poem was written by an American poet called Amy Lowell, and I find it resonates with widespread commentary on how busy and stressed modern life is making us all.

Except… the poem was published in 1912. Which makes me wonder if all this talk about how busy we are is actually something that’s gone on for centuries — a bit like the dangers of modern media and how the youth of today are so lazy and disrespectful!