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.

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.


Sneak peek… look at that colour!


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.


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.

Self care is stepping away from the computer

I made it through nine days of NaBloPoMo. Then I decided to call it quits.

The truth is, I was really enjoying the opportunity to write every day. But at the same time, I value my time away from the computer too. I spend all day on a computer at work, and I’m aware that giving my body the chance to do something different during my time off is important for my physical well-being.

I usually set aside a few nights each week as computer-free time. I thought I could get away with stopping this practice for a month, but I came to the realisation that spending every evening online just doesn’t working for me right now. And writing about well-being while ignoring my own is more than a little hypocritical!

Having said that, I will continue to write and post each week. I may be bowing out of NaBloPoMo, but I certainly have plenty more I’d like to share over the next weeks and months.

And for now…

Waking Up to Radical Change

Yesterday marked the start of NaBloPoMo (that’s National Blog Posting Month). I intend to take on the challenge of posting daily this month and, having started a day late, I’ll just have to finish one day late too!

I love the way the world throws coincidences at you. This year, at a time when I need to hear it most, I keep stumbling across statements that affirm the importance of self care for activism, like this speech by Scilla Elworthy:

Scilla talks about how self awareness — or “waking up” — is a prerequisite for effectiveness as a pioneering leader when working to create a better world.

She goes on to list ten radical value shifts that will help us survive the crises of the 21st century, beginning with:

“survival of the fittest” being replaced by an awareness that “cooperation is actually more efficient”

and ending with:

“consuming is our right” being replaced by “what we really desire is to satisfy the human longing for meaning and beauty”

I’ll return to discuss some of the value shifts at a later point, but in the meantime make sure you watch the video!

Grand Revelations

Over the past few months I’ve cultivated a set of guilty indulgences to help get myself through the final gruelling stages of my PhD. These indulgences range from edible treats, to peaceful walks on the beach, to rekindling my voracious reading habits.

One thing I’ve found myself particularly enjoying is watching Grand Designs. I think the attraction has many facets — emphathising with the difficulties of managing such a large project, Kevin McCloud’s insightful comments, and of course the inspiration of sustainable buildings.

The most recent episode to air in NZ was about the Crossway house in Kent, crowned by a beautiful parabolic arch and built to high sustainable standards — in fact it’s so sustainable that it subsequently became one of the first UK houses to receive PassivHaus certification.

A passive house is a house that does not require any active (externally powered) heating or cooling. Instead sunshine, insulation, strategic shading, and ventilation systems contribute to a comfortable living environment. Any other energy requirements in the Crossway house are met by solar panels and a biomass burner. Their water needs are also met on-site by rainwater harvesting. During his final visit, Kevin McCloud asks whether the house lives up to its goals as a passive house. The owners, Richard and Sophie, reply that instead of paying electricity and heating bills, they actually generate excess power that they can sell back into the grid for a profit.

Let’s stop and think about that for a second: They don’t pay utility bills. Instead they receive an income for the energy they generate. Isn’t that a revolutionary concept?!

Why do we trudge along in our daily lives, switching out an old light bulb here, turning off a running tap there, hoping that all our little savings will make a difference? If we’re to survive the profound changes that we will encounter in the coming decades, incremental gains in efficiency just won’t cut the mustard. We need radical transformations in the way we do things and this will only come from radical shifts in perception. The revolutionary idea that our homes can generate more than enough power to meet our needs is one of these.

Of course, not everyone can afford to build a brand new passive house. And, quite frankly, if we all tried to then the impact on resources like land and building materials could be devastating. But the financial and environmental arguments for passive design principles are strong, and all new developments and renovations should strive to create passive buildings for the benefit of us all.