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Slowing Down The "Slow Living Essential" Way! - May 2012

I have been following Christine at Slow Living Essentials for a while and in January she set a challenge to record on our blog, monthly, how we have "slowed down" under nine categories - I have been doing this for the last four months and really got a lot out of it. This is my May reflection on Slowing Down - the Slow Living Essentials way!

Here's what I did...

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.
As busy as this month has been for me, I usually cook from scratch, and especially in the crock pot in the cooler months. A new recipe that we will try again was sizzle steak (thin BBQ steak) rolled around grated seasonal veges (parsnip, zucchini, garlic, onion and carrot) then popped in the bottom of the crock pot, topped with a bottle of diced tomatoes from the tomato bottling frenzy of 2009, some salt, pepper and a dash of red wine. Cook for 8 hours on low, top with cheese and eat - YUM! Really melt in the mouth stuff! Love my crock pot! With the hours I have been working - my crock pot has really got a work out this month! (heres my favourite crock pot website for you - a year of slowcooking

PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve.
Hmmm... not so good with this category this month. I currently have three part time jobs, some only one day a week/fortnight, and then managed to pick up another part time job and then another one thinking/hoping that they may each become a replacement for two of the other jobs. But sadly for my time work balance, I have ended up with four, one or two days a week jobs - but gladly for my uni payments and my bank balance!

I have bought two new chickens to help eat the waste food I get from one of my jobs in a catering kitchen! All those carrot peelings, egg shells, broccoli stalks and salad scraps were going in the bin - now they come home in a yellow bucket to be devoured by the chooks. They act like they have never been fed when they see the bucket come out of the boot! But I can assure you, they eat like royalty!

This is Dawn - a Pekin Batam cross. Very young and very docile. I went to check on them at 9pm last night and she was still sitting in this spot - in the pouring rain!? Docile and not very bright is our Dawn!

This is Drizzle - a young Indian game hen. She is very fast and very flighty. Maybe I should have called her Lightning!
My chookies are named for meteorological themes - so we have Sunset (golden brown) Thunder (black) Cloud (white) Storm (grey) Dawn (light browny pink) and Drizzle (rain spotted browns)

REDUCE: Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.
Doing this challenge has made me realise that this is a lifestyle thing for us anyway. Our council has the three bin system. Red bin for waste, yellow for recyclables and a green one for green waste. Each bin is collected fortnightly. We don't have a green waste bin - what doesn't go to the chooks or worms goes in the compost. Bigger items like branches (including two whole 30 foot trees and 12 Cocos palms) are "incorporated" into the gardens and on any slopes (to help stop the soil disappearing into the neighbours place every time it rains (Have I mentioned the climate change before - its not meant to rain in winter in Brisbane!) and we grow things on and around them. Branches are stepped on (jumped on) every so often too help them get small enough to rot down. They all decompose eventually! We put our recycle bin out one a month, maybe 3/4 full and the waste bin out fortnightly (cause it often smells) but only 1/2 full (and it's been downgraded to a little one!) Thinking about it, I'm not sure how we do it but having spent a week at a friends place babysitting  I know our levels of waste are quite low!

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade products.
As I run out of commercial products, I have been researching what to replace them with that I can make myself. This month I have only managed to make a "miracle cleaner" from the cheapskates website and although I haven't used it extensively - it seems to do the job and cost me nothing as I had the ingredients at home.

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month?
I have been busy attempting to try to grow once again veges for human consumption but once again seem to be feeding the local possum population... This does not amuse me, surprisingly. It gets quite depressing to raise some seeds, prick the out to larger pots, nurse them through the weirdest winter weather for a long time (we defiantly have climate change in Brisbane even if its not recognised in the political arena!) then plant them out, in cages, to be eaten by the local possums with great joy and relish...
I planted sunflower, broad beans, broccoli and zucchini that the possums have eaten and have spring onions, 4 potatoes, runner beans and asparagus that are still to be attacked...

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
Due to working, sleeping on occasion, working a bit more, feeding the family and going to work, I haven't created a single thing... :( I have some invitations for a friend to finish this weekend for his 50th birthday gathering but really,  that will fall into June.) This challenge is making me think that I need to rethink my working life so that all work and no play doesn't make Jill/Kara a dull girl!

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
Oh, I haven't been entirely fair - I haven't just eaten worked and slept - I have studied and exam-ed as well this month! (How much fun can a girl have?) Apart from the occasional Sunday paper at the market with a cup of tea, I have managed a few uni texts (very good getting to sleep material) and a couple of new cookbooks, and I got a copy of "The Moneyless Man" - Interesting timing as I finally have some money with all the work I have been doing!!! Excellent read though - food for thought!

ENHANCE: community: The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.
I have babysat for a friend while she went overseas - both her kids and her husband! I have given blood, organised the basketball teams, been to movie world with interstate family On $35 tickets!), given lots of my junk to the local school in the guise of "craft materials", did a car boot sale at a local children's charity and encouraged my neighbour to join a local wildlife care group to learn more about the animals that she interacts with in her backyard like the blind possum that she hand feeds every day.

It was very very cold that morning at the Car Boot sale - the kids looked like animated jackets but had a ball spending their $2! It was the cheapest five hours worth entertainment I have come across in  long time!

ENJOY: Life! Embrace moments with friends and family.
Mothers day cuppa at the markets, a whole weekend of chat, wine and good food with friends that have been around for so long, they are really family not friends and a "work do' to farewell some of my husbands workmates. Quality time not quantity time this month!

Its really good to check in and actually examine what I do with my time and see what trail I am following each month! This months refection has shown me I need some "me time" - and being able to blog for the first time in a month is a good start! Once again, a fabulous thing to do!

Thanks for the opportunity to share again Christine!!!


Kathryn Ray said…
Wow! I thought I was busy in May.

I love the names of your chooks.

I'm very impressed with your lack of waste.
Christine said…
I enjoyed reading your update, Kara! Your sizzle steak sounds delicious. My mum makes something similar.. a roulade of sorts. Loving the slow cooker at the moment, too!

Your 'enhance' for May was HUGE! Had to laugh at the $2 for the kids..I bet this burnt a hole in their pockets..what fun to be able to watch. ;)
Practical Frog said…
Yes the $2 did burn a hole in their pockets - but $2 goes a long way when you spend a lot of time chatting up people on stalls who then sell you things for 10c at a time. Their Mom was *thrilled* when she got home and they displayed their treasures for her!

The chooks and ducks I had 10 years ago all had astrological names - Comet and Metor the ducks, Heaven and Earth the naked neck chooks and star the bright white chook... I cant remember the rest now! - Kara
Linda said…
Hi again, My goodness! You really do need some 'me time'! Be careful you don't burn yourself out. You are doing great things with your rubbish reduction and I am definitely making sizzle steak sometime soon! Great post!
Anonymous said…
Woah you smashed it this month considering you have so much on the go!
Really excellent read, and I FEEL your pain regarding Brisbane weather! uuuuugh.

You are one busy lady, well done getting so much achieved as well as so many jobs and study!
x Borgy
Practical Frog said…
Thanks for dropping by guys! Yes - I need some me time... Time to sit and watch my chooks with a cuppa, do a bit of craft and have a coffee with some friends would all be nice. Hopefully it will settle down in the next few weeks. Im over the rain here in Brissy... So much for warm, sunny winters - I might as well be back in NZ! - Kara
africanaussie said…
that sizzle steak sounds great - I love dinner cooked in the crockpot. somehow how or another I missed the challenge this month - will have to do it next month.
Practical Frog said…
Hey AfricanAussie, better late than never I think - Do one anyway - I love looking at your garden! - Kara
Evi said…
Oh my goodness, Kara, you have been one busy woman! How do you fit all that in?
I think that chicken and shop scraps idea must be the best bit of lateral thinking I've heard of in a long time! Brilliant! and I am loving your chooky names!!! I am gonna have reread this post and follow in your very busy footsteps - no more winter whining for me, it's time to get cracking!
Practical Frog said…
Hi Evi!
You have how many kids??? You are never one to be sitting around or whining! I love popping into see what you and yours have been up to! - Kara
Barbara Good said…
What a busy time you've had, all those jobs and studying as well. The studying bit though does sound like fun to me, for some reason I love studying (it's a wonder I ever left uni, but I was there for a good few years longer than most doing add ons and new courses). I have my eye on a masters course as soon as I can figure out how to fit it in with working part time, raising two kids under four and everything else, I'm sure there's a way though.

I've had quite a good look around your blog, that link to the slow cooker site looks perfect for me, I've just discovered slow cookers.

Thanks for sharing your month, lots of ideas there for me to take away.
Practical Frog said…
Thanks for dropping by Barbara! Nice to meet you! - K x
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