Chugging Along

Recently our hot water system broke down, at first we thought it was just the pilot light that had gone out but no. So now we are clueless as to what is wrong with it and have no hot water, except that which we boil the old fashioned way of course. It’s not much of a bother right now as it’s summer so having a cold shower won’t hurt, I’m worried about what we’ll end up doing though come April. The thing is, even if we weren’t doing BNN this would be a tricky situation as a hot water system is rather pricey… a new one is upwards of $500 from what I’ve seen, and a decent second hand one (decent meaning good quality and doesn’t give us the feeling it’s going to fall apart in the next 5 years minimum) can be $270 or more. We simply wouldn’t be able to afford one, and us not being plumbers I don’t have a huge amount of confidence in buying a second hand one… we don’t know what we’re meant to look for.

So that’s one of the challenges we’ve had recently which has been playing on my mind.

We have been active though, I made two outdoor seats out of some plastic bread crates and then found some pillows from an old outdoor setting we had in the garage, they’re really comfortable and a good size for sitting outside with some friends.

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I also got a good deal on two used, vintage, women’s bikes. I’ve always loved bike riding and we’ve both been working on our fitness so bike-riding is something we’ve both been enjoying. I do have to take them down to the bike store though and get them fine tuned, one of them needs the inner tube of both tires replaced, the other one has a bit of surface rust – easily fixed and both of the brakes need tightening.

LittlePops bike

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BigPops bike

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So that’s what has been going on with us the last 10 days or so, what have you been doing? 

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Reflections on our journey so far

I thought I would share from my view some lessons learned in 2013. I am not one to make new years resolutions, when I do though I try and be honest with myself and keep them realistic + achievable.

Our journey so far has been exciting, as a parent I have enjoyed watching Little Pop face her challenges. Our BNN commitments came about at a time when I was unemployed and Little Pops 21st birthday was approaching. I have always tried hard to encourage Little Pop in her hobbies. We are surrounded by a family of artistic folk. When I was young I wasn’t good at knitting, but my nan (bless her) was so patient with me. She followed the pattern to a T – right down to the last instruction, I would start with 10 stitches and end with 21with a few holes here and there.

During my 50th year (and Littles 21st) I received an early present. With no money for a present, Little Pop handed me a lifeline.
“Mum for my 21st is it ok if you don’t buy me anything, actually I would like me gift to be not buying anything new for a year, in fact I would like my present to be not buying anything new for a year…”
I contemplated this idea in my head over the month leading up t her birthday, I didn’t think it would be too hard seeing as we had no money anyway and what we did have was going towards our mortgage and utility bills, but is it that simple?

We have now been doing BNN for almost eight months. Thankfully during that time I did get employed in full time work. Its not the kind of job I had in mind, but it pays the bills.

Little Pop and I are not saints, there have been occasions when we have slipped and bought new things but they are few and far between. We have definitely bought less in the last 12 months than we would normally, which means less stuff coming into the house and vice-versa. As a whole we have become much more aware of our consumption habits and normally walk away for a bit and have a think before buying – do we really need this? BNN has forced us to be more creative and think outside the box, find new ways of doing things (we loved hard rubbish week because we could go around collecting things we thought would make good raised garden beds, these ranged from pallets to old book shelves)

Gifts have been one of our biggest challenges. Many people although they are supportive of our challenge, are not so supportive when receiving second hand gifts. We try our hardest to please others and have found that giving something edible is often well received. Little Pop LOVES making chutney and jams for others and so far that has been one of our best BNN gifts we’ve come up with.

I have loved the BNN challenge, Little Pop has surprised me over and over again with her creativity. We have had many insightful conversations about how consumerism is played into you from such an early age through the media and making the conscious decision to go the other way by not buying into it has given us more time to enjoy experiences together which make us happy for much longer than any material item could.

we have done a lot of decluttering so far and I bite my lip at times when I see things she begged for being given away, but I also don’t see her asking for anything else. I also understand that if we hold on to everything we have we’d become hoarders, sometimes it’s better to just let go. I am very proud of Little Pop and what we have achieved as a team over the past eight months

We have a few projects on the go at the moment, we are cleaning out the third bedroom (formally the ‘stuff’ room… I’m not joking you couldn’t even get in there. We can see the floor now though!), I hope to turn it into a craft room where we can relax and enjoy our hobbies. We purchased a bulk lot of crates at the recycling centre and Are turning them into an outdoor lounge which we will share with you when it’s finished.

Do you have any good recycling projects going at the moment? We love hearing up-cycling stories for the garden, ours is small and we like to maximise it’s space.

Hugs and honey,

Big Pop 🙂

xx

Reactions + Gift Ideas we love day fourteen!

Since starting BNN I have been keeping a mental note of the responses we have received when telling  others about our BNN commitments

One of the funniest conversations I had was at work when I was explaining the ins and outs of BNN and the few items I believed were acceptable to buy new (In this case we were focussing on me buying a new mouthguard for hockey after the dog got a hold of the old one)

Of course I can buy the mouthguard… It’s for my own safety! I’d rather buy a new mouthguard than have no teeth‘ I said

The response I received was equally justified:

well if you have that as a rule you may as well buy a Porsche and claim it under safety‘.

That statement has stuck with me for both it’s humour but also to remind me not to overstretch my limits, for instance when we first started BNN I had a slip up when I convinced myself I had to buy a new lipstick and that was ok because I get chapped lips. Truthfully I did not need that lipstick and I have worn it only a hand full of times since. BNN has taught me to simplify things, yes I could buy that lipstick (just like how I could  buy a Porsche)… or I could make do with the jar of paw paw cream in the cupboard. I’m not saying I can’t buy lipstick, BNN is our journey and we will do with it what we want but having the gift of hindsight has taught me that stepping back and taking a more simplistic view of things can often provide a longer lasting satisfaction than cluttering my life with stuff….or lipstick ever will.

That’s just a little snippet I had wanted to share on here for a while 🙂

PS. todays gift idea!

I have decided it is now officially last minute gift time… What about candles??

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Also did you know you can re-use old candle wax to make new candles?!

Day seven: gift ideas we love

Make someone else’s day. Make a difference !

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Australians spend an estimated $30 billion on Christmas gifts each year, and some $700 million worth of unwanted gifts are expected to be in landfill by February, FEBRUARY… that’s just 5 weeks post christmas. I would rather give a gift that lasts than something that ends up taking up space in landfill and/or polluting our oceans. I know some of my hand crafted gifts might not be things that you can be sure will be kept forever (or at least a significant period of time), but at least I’m trying to extend the life of something which would otherwise be on the fast track to the trash.

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I feel like we are often pressured by marketing companies to buy as many gifts as possible, and this promotes an unsustainable quantity over quality attitude towards gift giving. Since starting BNN we have become largely focussed on our immediate needs, an example is my christmas list this year which contained items such as a hose, a cordless drill and a dandelion remover tool (yes that’s a real thing!) I know this sounds like a lame excuse for christmas gifts but the thing is that I genuinely need those things and they will be something I can actually use… much better than some plastic reindeer that poops jellybeans then ends up gathering dust in my room the next day. The truth is that pre BNN my list would include lots of things I don’t necessarily need, but not this year. I sort of feel as though the pooping reindeer would be taking two steps back after putting in so much work trying to simplify our lives and get rid of all our junk (this is still a work in progress), we are trying to move forward.

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On the other hand I’m all for getting pampered and indulging in a little luxury every now and then. Everyone deserves a little indulgence from time to time, heck I get my nails done twice a month and my sister is always saying ‘isn’t that counted as buying something new?’ (they are acrylics) to which i reply ‘yes they are new’ and I know it is completely the opposite of what BNN is about but It is an exception I make for myself, I take my BNN challenge seriously but I do want to let out the inner girly girl in myself every once in a while and I think this is a small price to pay.

On Big Pops side of the family we have a large brood: 2 grandparents, 4 children, 3 spouses, 10 grandchildren, one great-granddaughter and various great aunts and second cousins make appearances from time to time. For a long time Christmas was pretty crazy for all of us with wrapping paper everywhere and I did feel at times like you barely had a chance to actually take your time and enjoy the gift before another one was thrown in your lap… the excitement of the gifts at times felt like it took time away from our ability to enjoy the moment and actually accept and thank those who gave it to us. This year seeing as most of the grandchildren are now young-adults we have all been put in a Kris Kringle together and so this year we each have to buy one gift instead of our parents feeling pressure to buy a gift for each of us. This saves everyone money and since we will be giving and given fewer gifts I hope we all have much more time to enjoy our gift, check it out think of all the things you could use it for.

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The last few years I’ve had a running joke with my sisters over christmas and birthdays as a few years ago I started requesting charity donations to Oxfam or World Vision instead of physical gifts. They found this funny at first and asked what I would like, to which I replied ‘well I have always wanted a goat..’.

My younger sister bought me a duck and inside the card it said ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t afford a goat so I bought you a duck‘ I still have the card sitting on my bed head and I’m not lying when I say that sometimes I open it up and wonder what my ducks doing these days… did its recipients eat it? did they use it for its eggs? does the duck have a name, or any duck buddies? I don’t know anything about this duck… and I like it.

In all honesty at twenty one years of age I have most of the things I need in life, and receiving a charity gift is something I welcome with open arms. I know other twenty one year olds are not as lucky as me, other communities are not as lucky as us, and it makes me feel nice to know those who are less fortunate will have something to look forward to…something that would otherwise be difficult for them to acquire.

This christmas I will be giving charity gifts, because I think that although christmas is a time for giving, it is not a time for giving just for the sake of it. My gifts this year will have a lot of thought put into them and I will definitely not be giving a pooping reindeer!

Adventure to the unknown.

Today Little Pops novio drove her down to the Knox Waste Transfer Station (http://www.knoxtransferstation.com.au/recycled_good_shops.php) to see if there was anything interesting there.

I would recommend it to anyone looking for gardening + landscaping supplies or sports equipment.

I’m thinking of going back with big pop in the next few weeks to get some old ladders to build up our veggie patch. I’m thinking something like this:

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I will keep you all updated with or progress

Little Pop xx

TGIF

Well Friday has come around again and since we’ve now been doing BNN for a little over a week I thought I would reflect on the progress we have made during the week.

On Sunday we went down to the farmers market and bought a nice sourdough loaf and then sat back and enjoyed a coffee and a Sri Lankan cooking demonstration as well as a nice bag o’ bones for puppy pop. We really love this market and would recommend it to anyone living in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. http://www.mulgravefarmersmarket.com.au/

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Monday we went into Collingwood and had a nice browse of the various op-shops where Little Pop purchased some funky sunglasses. We also stumbled upon a lovely shop run by the NGO Friends of the Earth where you can buy local produce package free (so environmentally friendly!). what you do is come along with a few old tupperware containers fill them up with whatever you’re in need of (chickpeas, pasta, muesli… maybe some kidney beans?) then you pay and take it home, just like a regular supermarket! http://www.melbourne.foe.org.au/?q=co_op/home

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Tuesday we made a lovely mandarin jam which tastes great with a nice cheese or even just some plain toast 🙂

Here is the recipe we followed: http://www.recipelover.com/recipe/1724/mandarin-jam-marmalade-mirowave-recipe-recipe

Wednesday we received a lovely box of fruit and vegetables from CERES, a company dedicated to providing fresh, organic, fair trade, locally grown produce. It was so exciting, we had been anticipating what may be in the box since we ordered it on Sunday. I think one of the best bits is the mystery of not knowing what you will end up with. For just over $30 we got a whole box stacked full of yummy treats 🙂 http://www.ceresfairfood.org.au/

Photo: On the weekend Mum and I decided to purchase our weekly shopping online through CERES - An organisation committed to giving Melbournians access to organic, fair trade, locally grown produce + home delivery! Today our huge box arrived packed with goodies (all for just over $30) here is a small snapshot of what we received.

Thursday Big Pop did a big clean out of the corner of here bedroom, which has been blocking access to part of her wardrobe for months now (maybe years!) and ended up filling a bag with about 20kg of no longer needed clothing and she was so happy!

Now we have Friday, who knows what today will bring! Mothers Day is coming up this weekend what have you got planned?

I think we have been adjusting really well so far to our commitment to buy local and not be controlled by matierial items and being able to write this list has allowed me to visualise how hard we have been working. Something that did come up during the week which never really got settled was if BNN includes digital items such as apps and ebooks, what do you think?

Little Pop xx

First Trip to the Op-shop

Well not my first trip ever.

With Mothers day coming up I made a trip down to the to the rounds at the local op shops to see if I could find anything for Big Pop we are so lucky to live within walking distance to 4 op-shops.

I and boy did I get a serious reality check, I am so used to impulse buying that I have lost control over where my money goes – it’s just crazy! So I went down and bought some good quality jars for making jams and spreads, which is justified as we are currently running low after making some chutneys for various family members. Then I bought a new handbag and a dog bowl for puppy pop and a pair of silver plated salad tongs none of which we really needed. Then instead of going home feeling good about my purchases, I just got home and sat down and felt like an absolute sucker. I seem to purchase things because they’re there – not because I really need them at all and then I don’t even feel good about it afterwards. I didn’t even buy what I went there to buy in the first place – a mothers day gift! So I really need to become more conscious of what I’m buying and make sure I walk away feeling happy with myself.

I went home and had a big rant to Big Pop about how I felt and she thought it was hilarious!It’s not funny at all, I always wonder where my money goes and now I know… it just goes on useless junk I’ll never ever use.

So today was my first bad day as part of BNN and I thought I would have a vent on here. We all have success and failures and it just wasn’t my day I guess.

Little Pop