When I Had To Own That Red Display Cabinet

I used to be a fan of the hit NBC series “Parenthood”.

Even though TV is mostly trashy, I enjoyed the Parenthood storylines.  I also loved admiring the different homes/sets for each of the Braverman families. I loved looking at the décor and the furniture, and I loved how each set reflected the personality of the family.

But one thing I couldn’t get my mind off was a set of red bar stools and a display cabinet that featured in one of the Parenthood homes. I loved the colour, and I just damn wanted it for my home!

 

Parenthood Display Cabinet

Image of “that red display cabinet” from Parenthood, from Hooked On Houses

Being Fixated With Stuff

So I began a mission which lasted about 10 months, of looking for something similar here in Australia. Getting the bar stools and cabinet shipped from the U.S. was out of the question due to the cost of freight being more than the cost of the items!

But then one day it dawned on me: what would I put in the display cabinet? I didn’t have anything exotic or precious that was worth displaying in such a nice cabinet. I didn’t want to store my every day dishes in there because I already had a place for those.

I finally admitted to myself that I didn’t really need the display cabinet.

I felt a bit sad at this realisation. How ridiculous, yeah? I had become fixated with something, not because I truly needed it but because I felt excited by the challenge of trying to find the item I was after. It was the thrill of the consumer chase.

If I did end up finding and buying the cabinet, I bet I would have been disappointed a few weeks later. I bet I would have thought to myself, “Now what? So I have this display cabinet, but it hasn’t made me any happier than I was months ago”.

And that, folks, is the consumer cycle that so many of us find ourselves trapped in.

Wanting something, convincing ourselves that we need it, buying it and then moving onto the next thing we want or need. It is one of the mistakes people so often make when decluttering, as I outlined HERE.

We are fixated with stuff.

But our fixation doesn’t end after the purchase. We have to look after the item, and sometimes insure it against theft or damage. We have to find a place to store the item. After the life of the item has ended, we have to find a way to dispose of the item.

We become so fixated with stuff that we find it hard to let go. We find it difficult to get rid of some of the stuff we own- we might have an emotional connection to the item. Or we might be too afraid to get rid of the item because we think our lives will be less fulfilling if the item isn’t around.

 

Fixated with stuff

 

But the great news is that we can break ourselves from the consumer cycle and stop being so fixated with stuff. We don’t have to feel trapped anymore.

I believe it is the number one reason why decluttering does not work for many people. Months after decluttering, they find themselves back at square one- a house full of crap that once again, needs to be decluttered.

You might be asking yourself, how can you break out of the consumer cycle?

Becoming less fixated with stuff is something that does not happen overnight- it’s a process that can take months or years to refine. But the process begins with recognising what your current habits are and your attitude to stuff. Think about how and why you shop, and how you treat your belongings.

Becoming less fixated with stuff will allow you to develop some new healthy habits that will lead to living a simplified and less busy life. Some of the habits to acquire for a more simplified life can be found HERE.

Do you buy something and then forget about it? Do you cherish what you have bought? Are there any underlying emotions or triggers leading you to acquire more stuff?

Do you have a picture in your mind of what you want your life to look like, and so you shop and acquire stuff that will help your life become what you imagined it to be?

If someone offers you something for free, do you accept it because you really need it or is the fact that the item is free exciting to you? Do you accept the item out of guilt or obligation?

Have you ever admired a product in a store but not felt the need to buy it? Or do you immediately need to own everything you admire?

Do you worry about what might happen to you if you didn’t own that particular item? Do you often find yourself thinking “what if I need it and I can’t find it?” or do you have a “just in case” thought process?

Thinking about and analysing your current attitudes to buying and owning stuff can be a real eye opener! Don’t feel angry towards yourself for your current situation, and try not to feel guilty if what you discover about your behaviour and attitudes isn’t quite what you were hoping for.

Even those of us who think we are not victims of consumerism can surprise ourselves when we really stop and think about our last purchase (such as my desire for the red display cabinet)!

 

Now it’s your turn to confess! I’d like to read about a recent purchase you have made, and what your reason for the purchase was? Was it out of necessity or a desire you had to fulfill? Have you ever become fixated with owning something, like I did with the red display cabinet?

Linking up with:

 

I Must Confess

 

Fermenting Vegetables

Say, what? I hear you ask.

Fermenting vegetables (also known as culturing) is the preparation and storage of vegetables in such a way that their sugars and carbohydrates end up being converted into probiotic superpowers that help boost the good bacteria in our digestive systems.

Good gut health is something that is often overlooked but its important to note that what we put into our gut has a huge bearing on our overall health and wellness. Sugars and carbohydrates can be damaging to our gut, and a damaged gut can lead to all sorts of health issues including irritable bowel syndrome, “leaky gut”, autoimmune issues and allergies. It is recommended that people who suffer from these health problems eat fermented (or cultured) foods in order to restore gut health.

The fermentation process cuts down the sugar content in vegetables and produces a by-product called lactic acid, which is helpful in producing health flora in the gut. Fermented foods also contain vitamin k2 which is apparently a cancer fighter, and helps improve levels of vitamins C and A. For more information on why you should ferment, read here.

But now back to my first experiment in fermentation!

Some recipes suggest using whey however I didn’t have any available (it can easily be made by straining good quality yoghurt through a cheesecloth-the liquid that remains is whey) so I stuck with a recipe of water and Himalayan pink salt (although any salt will do).

METHOD

Cut up some vegetables into bite-sized pieces. I used cauliflower, red capsicum, celery and carrots but you could also use beetroot and cabbage among other vegetables. In fact, this method is the same when making sauerkraut from cabbage! Better than the pre-packaged or tinned stuff.

Place the cut vegetables in a tall glass jar and fill the jar with salty water until the vegetables are just covered. How much salt do you add to your water? Enough so that the water tastes salty but is still drinkable. Make sure that you don’t fill the jar with water all the way to the top- leave some space to allow fermentation to occur properly.

Place a piece of cling wrap over the top of the jar, and then secure the lid on the jar.

Place the jar in a dark cupboard and leave for a week.

You will notice after several days, that the water will appear cloudy and murky. This is perfectly normal as the fermentation process is working its magic on your vegetables.

 

Cloudy water is a good sign!

Cloudy water is a good sign!

After a week, open the jar and notice the smell- like pickled vegetables. I have read that if fermentation has failed to occur, you will know by the smell!

And now your vegetables are ready to eat. You can also drink the liquid but as you do, make sure that you add more salty water to the jar to ensure the vegetables are still covered. Keep the jar of vegetables in the fridge.

I’m looking forward to eating my fermented vegetables as a side dish with tomorrow night’s slow cooked pulled pork for dinner!

Let me know how you go with your attempt at fermenting vegetables. I’d love to know what you used!

 

Fermented vegies ready to eat and liquid ready to drink (in my She-Ra mug)!

Fermented vegies ready to eat and liquid ready to drink (in my She-Ra mug)!

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When we’re too busy to sit still

Image via We Heart It

Image via We Heart It

It’s very ironic that I am the mother of three daughters.

Growing up, I was never a girly girl, and spent my high school years at an all girl school where there were girls obsessed with make up, fashion and looking their best. I, on the other hand, was more obsessed with rock bands, Doc Marten boots and doing well at school. Not a bad thing either.

At one stage, I remember thinking how I would much prefer to someday be the mother of all boys as I imagined it would be less stressful as I wouldn’t be surrounded by all the things that typical girls love.

Yet here I am, with three gorgeous girls, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

One of the things I’m grateful for is the opportunity to raise three girls in a way that reflects my beliefs about the roles women play in society. Through my words and actions, I have the ability to teach my girls that its ok to like dressing up and looking good, but it should not be what defines us as women. I want them to learn that its just as important to spend time caring for what’s inside- looking after the mind, heart and soul.

My biggest hope is that as mothers, we create a future generation of women who spend as much time on their overall health and wellbeing, as they do putting on make up and styling their hair.

According to an article in the The Daily Mail, the average woman spends the equivalent of 55 minutes each day (that’s two weeks per year!) on their appearance. When you put it that way, it’s a little concerning that we often say we don’t have time to relax, meditate or just be still in the present moment.

Although we would all love to spend a day at a spa resort or having a massage, making time for our inner selves can be as simple as switching off from all distractions and being still for a few minutes.

My daughters attend a school that has a morning prayer/meditation ritual just before class begins. Sometimes they pray, other times they simply sit still and reflect or listen to soft music, with the whole class sitting in a circle around a lit candle. Its very calming and sets the tone for the rest of the morning.

Here are some easy suggestions that I have tried and work well, especially if you have never meditated or taken the time to practice being still and mindful:

-Spend five minutes before going to sleep lying in a quiet room, without any technology, and focus on creating a still mind. Do this by trying to erase any thoughts in your head and instead focus on your breathing and your body.

-Are you one of those people who as soon as they wake up, check their Facebook and emails? There’s a saying something along the lines of not checking your emails unless you are prepared to deal with whatever you might read. What you don’t know yet won’t hurt you. So instead, focus on creating a more calming morning routine.

-Stand outside in the fresh air for several minutes, taking in slow, deep breaths and counting to 10. Tune out anything else going on around you (including your kids arguing inside!).

I hope you find even a few minutes this weekend to implement one of my suggestions. We need to make the time to be still and practice mindfulness, rather than waiting for the moment to arrive. Let me know how you go!

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on other great posts such as this one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Less clutter, more time

…plus, my first Unbusy Challenge Task!

declutter stuff

 

So you’ve decided you want less clutter, more time. Where do you start?

My journey began by decluttering my home, one room at a time. During my first decluttering session, I managed to fill six garbage bags that I donated to charity. Many more things were thrown in the bin.

It can feel overwhelming but once you begin decluttering it’s amazing how fantastic it feels to be ridding yourself of things you no longer need. It almost becomes addictive!

What Does It Mean To Have Less Clutter, More Time?

Here are some of the ways decluttering my home has resulted in more time to live a more meaningful life:

-Less time spent in the laundry sorting, washing, hanging to dry, folding and putting away clothing and towels. Lower power and water bills. More money and time to spend on activities my family enjoys.

-Less time spent on keeping the kitchen clean and organised. There is less clutter in the kitchen to look after! I can now wash dishes by hand because there aren’t many to wash. Our dishwasher hasn’t been used in over 6 months! Again, this has contributed to lower power and water bills. More money and more time to spend on activities my family enjoys.

-Less time spent on tidying up the kids’ clutter! Fewer toys to sort and pack away. The kids have less tidying up to do. There is more time for the kids to play with the toys they still have, and more money in our wallets to spend on things that bring more value to the family- such as holidays and outings.

-A less stressful morning routine. Less clutter in the home means it’s easier for us to find what we need to pack for school and work. Everything is now a lot calmer (most days!) and we get to school earlier.

This all might sound a little overly simplistic and too idealistic for you. We all lead different lives, have different priorities and values. That’s great! Pick and choose what works best for you.

When you have less clutter and more time, you will start to feel lighter, less stressed and you will change the way you think about the things you have brought into your life. It is a long process, so don’t expect decluttering to be completed within a day or even a week. I’ve been on this journey for almost 12 months and I’m STILL finding things to get rid of on a weekly basis!

You will also discover that you need less to live comfortably. As time goes on, you might become detached from things you previously considered too sentimental or important to get rid of.

If you would like to read some tips on how to create a less busy life, I have a great post over HERE that shares 52 tips for busy people who want to become unbusy.

UNBUSY CHALLENGE:

I’m setting an unbusy challenge for you!

Pick a drawer, cupboard or shelf that you can declutter. Make it something that might only take you an hour to tackle- the “junk drawer”, the bathroom vanity, the linen closet. Focus on decluttering the one space only, unless you are feeling super motivated and want to keep going.

Once you are done, please leave a comment below, or even upload a before/after photo of your decluttered space. I’d love to see your progress!

 

Memories and motherhood

…and how did Mother’s Day originate?

Some of my favourite memories as a kid were the special times I spent with my mother. She worked most nights, so my dad was the one in charge of dinner, bath and bed. But once a month mum would have a night off from work and this night was extra special. Mum would make apple strudel for dessert, be the one to tuck us into bed and tell us a special story about her childhood.

Every Sunday we had a roast lunch, and we would spend the afternoon watching Shirley Temple movies on T.V. When I was 9, mum taught me how to knit. And one of my funniest memories was how she sang an Elvis Presley song on an Australian national radio network so that I could win a rare Pearl Jam Live in Melbourne C.D.

These moments will forever live in my heart.

When I think about the legacy I want to leave my children, I think about the memories my mum created for me. I want my kids to have special moments with me that they treasure. I want them to remember the cuddles in bed on a Saturday morning in the middle of winter. I want them to remember the times I’ve been able to hear them read at their school assembly. I want them to remember the funny conversations we’ve had over breakfast, and the cute nicknames I have given them.

Its easy for us to get caught up in our busy lives and forget the importance of special moments.

Being unbusy helps us return to simpler times, and allows us the freedom to live in the present moment and cherish life’s gifts.

This Mother’s Day, let’s forget about everyday stresses, housework and deadlines:

-Let’s hold onto our children a little bit longer

-Let’s smile at our children’s thoughtfulness, as we look through their handmade cards and sentimental gifts

-Let’s tell our own mothers and grandmothers how much we love them and appreciate all they have done for us

-Let’s think about the mothers and grandmothers that are no longer with us.

Unbusy moments are what memories are made of.

Feel free to share some special moments between you and your mother, or you and your children, in the comments section below.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and may you have a day that you cherish forever!

And while we are on the subject of Mother’s Day:

How did Mother’s Day originate?

The modern version of Mother’s Day originated in the early 20th century, when West Virginian Anna Jarvis wanted to honour her late mother Ann Reeves Jarvis who was a peace activist and helped soldiers from both sides of the American Civil War. Anna campaigned to make Mother’s Day a nationally recognised holiday, which happened in 1914. However, as years went by, the holiday became overly commercialised, much to the dismay of Jarvis. She protested and made her opinions about the matter known to greeting card companies, confectioners and florists (to no avail). She even resorted to failed law suits and boycotts. She wanted Mother’s Day to be about sentiment and not profit, and wanted people to write letters to their mothers expressing love and gratitude.

 

Is Being Busy Overrated?

Not long ago, my husband asked me what we had planned for the weekend. When I replied “nothing”, he looked at me in shock.

You see, every weekend we would have a birthday party, a kids activity or some other commitment to attend or fulfil. There was always an obligation of some sort, and very little time left over to do anything else.

Since when did being busy become the new definition of success or living? If our calendars are full, we must be important and successful people. If we aren’t doing anything, then we must be boring, or have few friends. We aren’t living if we aren’t doing something!

Yet when I think back to my life prior to becoming “unbusy”, it all seemed like a blur. A bit like being on a long train trip- the train’s travelling at fast speeds, you’re looking out the window and watching the world go by but you can’t just jump off when you feel like it.

My busy life did not leave me feeling successful, important or like I was living the life I wanted to live. Initially I thought I was all these things, but when I started feeling unhappy and dissatisfied, it was time to take a long, hard look at this busy life of mine.

Last year I decided to do an experiment, to see what would happen if I made myself less busy.

Here’s what I discovered:

Life doesn’t stop when we do.

Clearing our lives of things that are not important, makes more room for those things that ARE important.

You start to notice things around you that you never noticed before when you were busy. And they are good things!

You begin to feel more happy. Life is great.

I discovered that being busy is overrated.

We all have the same number of hours in a day, it’s how we choose to use these hours that defines the quality of life we live.

This week, think about some of the commitments you have, the obligations, events, to do lists, chores, errands etc…be aware of how you are spending your time and how its making you feel.

Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing some ideas that I hope will inspire you to become less busy.

How has being busy made you feel? Or if you are already “unbusy”, what are some of the positive changes you’ve noticed? Feel free to comment!