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Slow Living Essentials Montly 9 Link up - January 2014

I have been following Christine at Slow Living Essentials for a couple of years now! And in 2012 she started a monthly round up to record on our blog, how we have "slowed down" under nine categories - I have been doing this since she started it at the beginning and really get a lot out of it. 

Here is what I have been up to!

Click on the link to go to the link up and visit other linked up blogs!

Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 link up - Grab my button!

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.  

We have made Sunday night, "Pizza Night" this year (How's that for an awesome New Years resolution?!) We cook them in the BBQ and sit around with a glass of wine waiting for them to appear and then gobble them up. Each week I choose a topping and then make the same pizza over until I have perfected it and we are too full to move! Highly recommended activity for a Sunday evening - especially with a glass of wine!
We put four bricks into our standard 4 burner BBQ with two pizza stones on the top and start her up with the lid down. Once its nice and hot, we go into pizza production - remembering to turn it off once the bases start to burn a little and letting the heat in the bricks and stones cook the last few pizza's - its been great fun!   
PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. 

I haven't done a lot of preserving over summer - too busy, too hot, too much like hard work in the heat... But I did start making these cute and tasty home pickles from Jamie Olivers new cook book "Save with Jamie".

For stock piling, I have twelve items on my shopping list that I am buying up big on each month in an effort to make a deliberate stockpile in the cupboards. January was dish washing liquid. Every time I shopped, I grabbed another bottle of dish wash - even if I only popped in for milk. I now have 12 shiny bottles of detergent sitting under the kitchen sink to be used for the rest of the year. I think we use about 1 a month and if so - then I have a years supply. The idea is that I can knock it off my shopping list and not run out. I have toothpaste, rice, vinegar, pasta and other staple but non perishable items on my list

February's stockpile item is toilet paper.... I don't think I can buy (and store) a years supply in a month - but I'll see how I go!

REDUCECut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. 

I fixed my favourite metal bucket!!! The neighbour fixed my watering can when it sprung a leak as he is an ex metal worker of some description and has welding gear (and goodness knows what else in that shed of his) When he gave it back to me he mentioned that silicone on the bottom of it would have been quicker and easier... So obvious when you know how! So when my bucket finally sprang a leak, I purloined the husbands tube of silicon and Voila! One fixed and still useful bucket! You could probably do this with a plastic bucket as well I reckon...

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade products. 
I have been no 'poo for a while and each week I grab my containers from the bathroom and top them all up - the shampoo, the conditioner and the scrub. Its fun, extremely cheap and gives me the opportunity to scent them differently each week with essential oils, depending on what mood I'm in at the time!
For Christmas, I made some wee scrubs to give to two special people made from sugars, salt and coconut (That one smelt so good, I nearly ate it rather than gifting it!)!
I have also made some really good window cleaner that works as well as any commercial product that has got to cost less than 50c a bottle - I have the "how to" post in production.

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month?

I grew and harvested asparagus! It was sooooooo cool! Ok it was about 20 spears over 15 days and I didn't actually get a real meal out of them but I got something edible out of my garden!
Chillies I don't have a problem growing - this is the first harvest for 2014 on its way to the English school we host students for. We eat about 3 chillies a year and I grow about four tubs like this a year. Why can I only grow things I don't eat???

I hope I'm not jinxing my zucchinis... But look - Flowers!? These things are meant to be super easy to grow and I am meant to be inundated with zucchini and begging neighbours to take armloads of them every time they stick their noses out their back door. I'd just settle for a meal or two if they can survive my level of vegetable gardening skill!
CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. 

This is my Christmas Table. I love doing this sort of thing so when Christmas planning time came round and we volunteered to host a big celebration - I got to pull out all the stops. Many hours of work but very little cost went into it. I had an absolute ball putting all this together!

I made all the crackers, hats and popped a bit of matching lace around a whole bunch of jars filled with flowers. I made napkin rings, collected bottles to hold candles and made extra pennants to hang over the table - The food was very simple, I dint have time to worry about such trivialities!
DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.

We went away for a week over new year and I sat on my backside and read 5 books cover to cover - it was fabulous! I re-read some classics ( In Defence of Food, No Impact Man) and then devoured a couple of novels. Currently I am reading cook books and a non-fiction one called "How the dog became the dog" that documents the transition from Wolves to Dogs and how that impacted on Humans and their way of life. Very interesting! 
ENHANCE: Community: The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.

I love the Lifeline BookFest!!!
Another couple of pleasant days talking, selling, reading and playing with books. If you are going to volunteer - make it a charity that gets you to help out with something you love doing. The time flies by and you have lots of fun!

ENJOYLife! Embrace moments with family and friends!

A week in a cosy rainforest retreat with the husband, a pile of book, lots of good food and no TV, phone or internet reception! (The phone in the picture is the only clock I had!)

 January is THE month for Birthdays in our house - we have eleven of them in a three week period - right after Christmas...

IMPROVEChange or create a habit, work on an aspect of mind, body or soul that needs a wee tweak.

 This one is my addition to the 9. I have been setting myself wee challenges that improve my life over the month. I have gone carless one day a week, stopped buying anything but petrol from a petrol station, been a guest at Christmas, and tried to exercise more. This month I want to do a no spend month and pay off my credit card entirely. I know that I will have to put my next Uni subject on there and before that goes on at the end of February I want the card paid out!
I find these bitsy blog challenges to be really motivating. Because I know I have to report back here, I tend to stay honest and it stays in my consciousness - or is it because I write it down... Either way its a good way to make some changes for me!

As always I enjoy popping over to see what other slow livers are up to. Sometimes I can't get past the security things (You know, put in the letters or numbers thingos)  but even if you cant see my comment, know I have been and enjoyed!

Thanks for the opportunity to share again Christine!!! Have a great month everyone! - Kxx xx


Christine said…
Whoa now, did you just say 11 birthdays in three weeks? Right after Christmas? Yowza! So great to catch up on your world again, Kara. Loving this pizza night you have going! How long do you find your BBQ takes to heat up the bricks and stone? Have a wonderful month! x
Kathy said…
I too am appalled at 11 birthdays! We only have 3 in January and I think that is too many! Very much fun to read what you are up as well and I am envious of the asparagus - how did it used to grow on the ditch banks with no help from us and it refuses to grow in my garden? Sigh! I like your idea of an improvement goal each month too...thanks!
marigold jam said…
Interesting post and I am especially enjoying reading about summer things in the depths of our interminable wet winter here in UK.
Practical Frog said…
Yes, Eleven (11) Birthdays straight after Christmas - its a bit of a struggle for all of us - But February only has 2 so that's not so bad!
Its interesting that I cant grow "normal" veges but have some success with the slightly more exotic ones!
Ah, yes, winter - we had one of them once, Marigold Jam. Not a lot of fun, so we decided not to bother with one again. The subtropics has wettish summers (when we are not having a drought) and gorgeous winters (when it doesn't rain). I hear Britain is not having the best winter this year?
- K xx
Barbara Good said…
Nice wrap up - love the pizza night with one topping until you get it right! I'm off to try the Jamie Oliver pickles too. I have the book but haven't tried that yet.
Evi said…
Ha ha!! I had a good laugh at your fantastic new year resolution…what a beauty!! If only we all made such tasty ones, none of us would fail!!!
I do feel for you having 11 birthdays just after Christmas - I thought I was hard done by with 7 in the first 6 months! You lot must be a very organised bunch with all those Capricorns around!!!
Have an awesome February!!
simply bev said…
Your January sounds like my May! At least my crazy birthday month doesn't immediately follow Christmas! Wonderful looking pizza, by the way!
Practical Frog said…
The Pizza night is such a success! Its almost an evening off for me and it stretches the evening out into a relaxing end of week catch up time. I can highly recommend it. This weekend its Pumpkin and Chorizo, next week is Prawn and Pesto. Pop in if your in the neighbourhood!
The birthdays in January are fairly small affairs, BBQ at a park, Breakfasts and smaller gatherings. I'm lucky that a few of my relatives are overseas and so its posting rather than hosting that's called for!
The rest of the birthdays are spread out during the year so I don't have another crazy month!
- K xx
sustainablemum said…
Wow 11 birthdays! We have had two in our family and several friends it probably was about 11 in total but not all family.

Your pizza night sounds great! A lovely way to end the weekend.
Practical Frog said…
Not all of the eleven are family but close enough to warrant a bit of a fuss! Roll on February - just Valentines day, 2 neighbours a very good friend and a mother-in-law! - K xx
africanaussie said…
That is great that you have continued on with this every month. I did it for a while and really enjoyed it. Those pickles sound good I will have to keep that in mind for when my garden starts to provide an over-abundance....always hopeful.
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