Tomorrowland

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tomorrow land from dailymotion

When I rented the DVD “Tomorrowland” I was expecting a futuristic and adorable Disney movie starring the loveable George Clooney. I wanted something easy to watch as I lay exhausted on the couch on a Friday night. I didn’t expect it to be about the world being destroyed by… us. Without giving too much away, this movie is about a teenage girl who discovers a place affectionately called Tomorowland where Earth’s brightest and most innovative people go to try and make the world a better place – only it turns out they can’t compete with destructive humans who are killing the planet at a fast rate.

I felt like I had been slapped in the face. WAKE UP! DO SOMETHING! I think I’ve been lying on the metaphorical couch for a while now. Too exhausted with my young children and business to have time to do much else, I have watched friends do environmentally UNfriendly things and haven’t said a word. But if everybody is like this, then who is left to save the planet from this destructive behaviour? I might not be able to save the entire planet, but as Ghandi famously said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” or in other words, “get off the couch and do something!”.

So I ‘dusted off’ the old blog and I say hello to you again. I keep wandering off but I keep finding my way back here, eager to influence people into eco-conscious living. I’m not entirely sure where to start, but a step forward is still in the right direction.

Oh, and don’t worry the movie Tomorrowland ends on a good note (thanks Hollywood). I won’t give away the ending in case you want to see it for yourself, but it was a great reminder that humans can be pretty darn special when they set their minds to it.

The Mother’s Day book

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I’ve seen this idea somewhere on the internet and what a fantastic idea it is. Basically, if you’re a mother grab a journal and give it to your kids prior to Mother’s Day so they can decorate a page each year. When they’re older they might like to write you a note. If you’re not a mother, give it to your own mother – it’s never too late to start a tradition. Better yet, suggest it to the husband of a mother so he can surprise her with the very thoughtful new family ritual (it works for Father’s Day too of course).

This is the first year we’ll be starting the tradition. I let my three year old choose one for Mummy and Daddy. I think I might take a polaroid of myself with the kids and stick it in there too. I love the idea that instead of cards all these precious memories are kept in one journal and it’s certainly better than getting caught up in the all the mass marketed consumerism of the “you only love your mother if you buy her …” lie. All a Mum needs is to be reminded of what an amazing job she’s doing and how much her kids love her.

Quick, get out there and grab a journal ready for this Sunday!

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The no ‘poo revolution – how to have happy hair!

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happy hair

I’d first heard about NOT using shampoo many many years ago, after I’d heard Jerry Hall (model, Mick Jagger’s ex wife) didn’t shampoo her hair. She was a MODEL, she had trademark long luscious locks, she was a rockstar’s wife! This was no smelly hippy. But back then I didn’t have the guts to even try it. Fast forward 15+ years and I finally *met someone who had the guts! Her name is Lucy and she’s just written a book about it!

Having frizzy and wavy hair I avoid washing my hair too often because it takes so darn long to dry and style, but the longest I can go without washing it is about four days – and that’s at a stretch. By then the front of my hair (especially if I have a fringe) is covered in grease and my roots are the same – however the ends remain dry (this is how I get to four days without washing – I wear a hat to cover the greasy roots while the dry ends give the appearance of clean hair!).

So what is this book all about?

Basically, giving up shampoo. I know, I know, it’s a shocking thought – like giving up soap? But Lucy explains WHY and HOW in the most hilarious and clever way. There’s science, there’s research, there’s experience, there’s testimonials. By the end of reading this perfectly sized e-book you’ll be convinced to give it a go. Best of all, the e-book only costs £2.20! I mean it probably costs you more to shampoo your hair!

Lucy Lulastic and the Hippyshake

You can read all about why Lucy gave up shampoo on her blog Lulastic and the Hippyshake

But why?

Toxins, health related issues, time, cost – there are actually many good reasons to give up shampoo (which Lucy explains in her book), for me it’s the idea that I won’t be so desperately in need of washing my hair every few days. With two young kids washing my hair (let alone drying it) is quite indulgent. Also, I’m frightened by the amount of toxins I put on my body and the fact that my scalp seems horribly dry.

Mostly though, it just makes sense. My eldest son is just over two and I think I’ve washed his hair twice in his whole life – yet he has the most gorgeous, shiny, healthy looking hair.

Now Lucy will take great pleasure in finding out that when her new book made it to the Australian press just recently, my partner sent me a link to the online article saying “maybe you should try this”. Ha! I had already planned to darling, but thanks for the beauty tip!

So, I’m on the mission to go ‘poo free. I’d already planned to chop off my long locks for more easy styling, so a new washing routine seems like good timing! My dear partner, the no fuss bloke he is, is pretty stoked actually. He’s the one who has to babysit the kids while I ‘deal’ with my difficult hair!

You can buy “Happy Hair: The Definitive Guide To Giving Up Shampoohere.

*Whilst I have never met Lucy in person, we are what I will call “internet pals” – we found each other by mutual admiration!

Choose to be happy

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kikki k happiness book

My friend The Wellness Mummy recently wrote a blog post about the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. I couldn’t have agreed with her more, it’s such an awesome thing to do as part of your bedtime routine – to sit and think about all the good things that happened that day so you can write down what you’re grateful for. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for over a year now. I actually found a five year journal where each date (i.e. 18th of March) has five entries for five years of thoughts. I’ve now crossed over into my second year and reading what I was grateful for a year ago really puts it into perspective! A year ago I was thankful for my toddler sleeping better and here I am with a newborn!

The point of this post however is to let fellow readers know of an awesome little thing I spotted at Kikki.K today – the Happiness Journal, which I believe ties in with Gretchen Ruben’s “The Happiness Project“. Along with other gratitude style journals, the Happiness Journal focuses more on, well, keeping you happy! Kikki.K are actually running in-store workshops on how to use the Happiness Journal. How great is that? It would be such a fun project to do with a friend or take a ‘not so happy’ friend along to. I had a browse through the book and it uses each month to focus on things you’re going to do or change to make yourself happy.

If you don’t think you need to work on your happiness as such, keeping a daily gratitude journal is another awesome way to leave the day on a good note. This is the five year journal I used, but there are a few more out there!

five year journal

I love all the projects becoming dedicated to happiness. Personally, I am a big believer that we can choose to be happy. It’s the ‘glass half full’ idea. It’s not just me that thinks it – apparently it’s a scientific fact – read this article about it!

So what are you grateful or happy about today?

 

Raw (un)cooking class

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Straight from the garden

I love raw food. It can be some of the tastiest food I get to eat. One of my absolute favourite cafes is a raw vegetarian cafe. For some time now I’ve been dreaming of going to an A Foodly Affair raw (un)cooking class. Finally I had enough free time and a good excuse (early Christmas present) to go! A Foodly Affair is actually the lovely Hannah and it was so enjoyable to listen to someone who is really passionate about delicious raw food and general health and wellbeing, and if you weren’t already a raw food convert then seeing Hannah’s glowing skin would certainly change your mind!

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Hannah from A Foodly Affair

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The class getting involved

This particular (un)cooking class was Christmas focused. I was intrigued to see how Hannah would pull off a raw Christmas meal as there are some very particular traditional flavours associated with Christmas – but Hannah managed to put together an amazing spread of food that even the fussy eaters would be happy eating on Christmas day. I was particularly surprised by the Faux Turkey with Cranberry Sauce – a ‘stuffing’ like mixture was placed in a lettuce leaf with cranberry sauce poured on top and then it was all rolled up in the leaf – it really did have all the flavours of Christmas and I kept going back for more! It was so addictive!

Making almond milk for a 'nutty nog'

Making almond milk for a ‘nutty nog’

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Shaving some cacao butter

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Preparing some raw coffee and cardamom bites

The class certainly inspired me to get more involved in my raw (un)cooking as well as eating more organic and healthy foods. I also just bought her e-book “Love Thy Food” which I’m pretty excited about – especially the section on feeding toddlers. My toddler really listens to his body and it’s been so interesting watching his food journey. He is really into salads at the moment and recently discovered vegetable juice and smoothies and is absolutely addicted. I can’t wait to see what else I can tempt him with!

Faux turkey with cranberry sauce

Faux turkey with cranberry sauce

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Sweet potato and cranberry salad

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Pesto stuffed mushrooms

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Cheesy cucumber bites

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Maple cherry bombs

If you’re interested in going raw then I absolutely recommend a raw (un)cooking class. It’s a great way to be introduced to the entire process of buying and (un)cooking raw food as well as picking up heaps of great tips along the way. Plus you get to sit down and eat everything at the end! You can find some of Hannah’s upcoming classes listed here.

DIY Chalkboard Menu

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This was one of the easiest DIY projects I’ve ever done that I feel ridiculous for not doing it sooner. I bought a small tin of chalkboard paint years ago with the intention of making myself a kitchen menu. I’ve always liked writing down a list of all the meals planned for the week (mainly so I don’t forget about them and waste food) I also like lists – they help me think. Now that I have a toddler it’s even more important to meal plan. So for years I’ve been thinking about the perfect ‘something’ to make into a menuboard. I thought about new frames, thought about hunting down secondhand frames, thought about finding some scrap wood and painting that up – which just meant this little project has sat off to the side for too long. So the other day on an absolute whim I went down the road to the local Op Shop, saw the perfect frame (The Op Shop Gods were looking out for me that day!) and bought it for a grand total of $5. The frame had an ugly 80’s ‘painting’ in it (by painting I mean a print of a painting but then clear lacquer is messily brushed over the image to give the appearance of a real painting). I lightly sanded it, cleaned it, put masking tape around the frame edges and then gave it two coats of the blackboard paint. It honestly took about 15 minutes (not including the dry time). I think it’s turned out so well! What do you think?

 

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Why every parent should join a toy library

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Want to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars? Want to save space in your home? Want to save the environment? Want to have less stress and happy children? Want to teach your children awesome values? Joining a toy library will do all these things and more!

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I don’t want this big chunk of plastic permanently at my house, but it’s a perfect toy to borrow from the toy library!

Children get bored. It’s as simple as that. Until now I’ve cycled through what few toys Everett had so he wouldn’t get sick of them (in other words, only having a few of his toys out at a time and then replacing them every week or two with his other toys). But lately I’ve been watching him get sick of his current toys and searching for more stimulating things and then once he’s figured out what he can do with the toy (or random object) he moves on. I’ve also watched him steer towards certain toys at playgroup and I could see that it was time to upgrade some of his toys. But we didn’t want to buy a big pile of toys that he could get sick of or grow out of in only a few months, even though I already tend to buy most things secondhand (Plus I’m on a challenge to limit (or cut) my child spending, you can read about that here). We also don’t have the space to store so many toys and the idea of buying all that plastic sent my environmentally conscious mind into a spin. This is when the toy library came into our lives. Kids will generally always have a few of their own toys (whether it be presents or hand-me-downs) but a toy library is a great way to supplement your existing collection.

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What is a toy library?

A toy library, generally supported by the local council or shire, is similar to a book library – you borrow toys and return them but for a small annual fee. They usually cost between $50 to $100 per year which is extremely affordable when you think of all the toys you won’t have to purchase. They are generally aimed at pre-school children (6 months to 6 years old) but may differ between libraries. The toy range available will also vary from each library, but most have baby toys, puzzles, games, musical instruments, electronic games, CD’s and DVD’s, puppets, costumes, water and sand toys, ride on toys, bikes, imaginative play (toy kitchens, prams, doll cots etc), trucks, blocks, electronic games, big outdoor toys like slides and see-saws and much more.  There is usually no restriction on what particular toys you can borrow either – you can borrow four bikes if you wanted to which is great for young interstate visitors and the like! Each library is different but most offer extra toy hire for a minimal fee which is great for parties and mothers groups. As most libraries are not-for-profit volunteer run organisations, as a member it is likely you will be expected to go on a roster to work at the toy library – though spending a few hours with your child at a toy library where they can roam free and play with all the visiting children is by no means a hard morning’s work!

So if I haven’t convinced you already, let me tell you some specific benefits of joining a toy library.

Save money

Well I think this one is obvious right? This isn’t about being cheap (though a toy library is an especially brilliant way to entertain kids on a tight budget) it’s about unnecessary spending. You just have to browse around a toy store to see how many toys are aimed at different age levels, skills, and even specific likes (i.e. dinosaurs vs trucks). You could go broke trying to satisfy each interest or skill! My toy library membership costs $60 a year, which equates to $1.15 a week. This membership allows me to borrow four toys every three weeks. You don’t have to be a genius to understand the value in that.

This could be your loungeroom!
Ok, a tad dramatic, but I seriously wonder how big your ‘pile’ could be if you never threw away a kids toy. This image is from an interesting art installation in Tokyo using unwanted toys. You can read more about it here.

Save the environment

I don’t have the exact statistics, but it’s easy to comprehend how many toys are being saved from landfill by simply sharing them. I’ve noticed lots of large plastic toys sitting on the verge for the council garbage collection lately, toys that were likely left outside to deteriorate and fade because their children only used them intermittently. Whilst I try to buy mainly wooden toys for Everett so they last (forever?) there is sometimes no avoiding plastic toys.

I had a chat with Luana, the President of the Carlisle/Victoria Park Toy Library in Perth (my new library), and she told me that there are some plastic toys that they have had for a long time and have really lasted the distance. They also try to only buy new toys that will last and will try to fix broken toys if possible. Even when a toy is broken (for example the musical sounds of an otherwise perfectly good toy) if the toy still has educational or imaginative play qualities they will keep it. Faults and missing pieces are simply registered on the specialised toy library catalogue system (thankfully computerised!).

Each toy has its own catalogue number for the library and is written on the toy.

Each toy has its own catalogue number for the library and is written on the toy.

Teach your children awesome values

By using a toy library we can teach our children (and ourselves) some amazing lifelong values. Firstly, how to consume less which in turn may make them less influenced by the marketing tactics of toy companies. They can learn the value of sharing and less possessive ownership behaviour. They can also learn how to appreciate things that are pre-loved or secondhand. I’m a firm believer that children are overwhelmed with too many toys, so using a toy library is a great way to limit their access. Aren’t these all great qualities to impart on our children from the beginning!

There is also a real sense of community, with as many as 100 families registered at our library (with multiple children). Mums and children will get to know each other on regular visits and when they work on the roster. Isn’t it great that children will learn how to socialise and volunteer at such a young age?

Better yet, a toy library means no-one is disadvantaged by financial or social constraints. Your child can have access to appropriate toys for their age and skill level. Most toys are aimed to cultivate developmental milestones and no child should be disadvantaged when it comes to learning!

Less Stress

The best thing about a toy library is you can let your child browse around and choose whatever they want! No scary price tags or tantrums, the children are free to choose without our influences (too expensive, not value for money, beyond their age group, afraid they might get sick of it quickly etc). And by the time your children get bored with it you can swap it for something new. Blissful!

Everett checking out the baby toys

Everett checking out the baby toys

Another selection of toys in our library.

Another selection of toys in our library.

Above are some pictures from my toy library, the Carlisle Victoria Park Toy Library. Considering there are up to 100 parents who have toys out on loan, it’s amazing to consider how many toys they have when you look at this packed storage space!

I would suggest joining the library as soon as your child is six months old (so long as your library caters to babies) it’s a great way to focus on different stages of their development without breaking the bank. The membership fees would also be an awesome gift from a friend or family member for the child, as it is literally the gift that keeps on giving!

I’ve only been to the library once so far but I can already see that we’ll be regular members for years to come. I honestly can’t think of a reason why any parent wouldn’t join a toy library. Can you?

I'm so glad I don't have to permanently store this big piece of plastic!

I’m so glad I don’t have to permanently store this big piece of plastic!

If you would like to read some facinating articles on toy libraries and their benefits and social impact you should check out these articles:

  • An article relating regarding Marketing Professor, Julie Ozanne’s, study on the impact on children of parents’ support and use of toy libraries. A report on the study can be read here.
  • An article in The Age about a reliance on toys to reward children could be damaging to their development.
  • An article on why fewer toys will benefit your child

Free our kids (less spending, more fun)

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I love how I’ve ‘met’ likeminded people through blogging. There are some amazing people out there who inspire me to do better. It’s from this network that I was asked to join the ‘Free our kids‘ revolution. The gist: don’t spend a cent on your kid all year to free yourself from the misguided dependancy on unnecessary spending when it comes to kids. Is it possible? Well I have my doubts, but giving myself the challenge is really the only way to stop and think before I spend, and imagine if I did it? That I had a happy healthy kid and I haven’t had to spend a cent to achieve it? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED I say!

So you may ask how the heck I’m going to get through this, well I’m already half way there. Here’s a few examples:

  • My baby, Everett, is 9 months old. I put him on his toy mat with his toys and you know what he’d rather play with? The dog, bowls and spoons, a cupboard, or right as we speak he’s playing with my apron.
  • I often buy secondhand toys from the Op Shop or Gumtree.
  • We recently joined The Playgroup Association of WA which means for two hours a week Everett has access to a bunch of toys and play equipment which is shared amongst other groups of kids, whilst socialising with other children his age (and not to mention socialising for me!)
  • We plan on joining the local toy library soon which means for a yearly membership, you can borrow toys for a few weeks before exchanging them for other toys.
  • I recently asked my friends on Facebook whether anyone had size 0 baby boy clothes that they were getting rid of (for a price, or for free) and I already got offered boxes of clothes for nothing.
  • We visit the local libraries (we have four in close distance) for Rhyme Time, which is an initiative run by the State Library of WA where a librarian will sing nursery rhymes to children from 0 – 2 years old.

Some of these things do still involve a cost, so I’ll have to justify each item. I think, for example, Playgroup is well worth the cost for socialisation and access to shared toys. This evolved from Mothers Group but as the children get older, Mothers Group becomes too difficult to host and therefore Playgroup is the next best thing.

Look out for future posts on some of my experiences with Free our Kids. I’m going to document every cent I spend (or don’t spend) over the next year!

So fellow Mummies, do you think you could join this challenge?

 

 

 

An eco Easter

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eco easter baby bunny ears

Although Baby E won’t be old enough to understand Easter, I really wanted to start some family traditions that he could enjoy for years to come. I’m not religious, so for me Easter was always about spending time with family, a few chocolates and some new pajamas (that was our “thing” growing up).

So for Everett I wanted to give him the same sense of family and fun but with less sugar and unnecessary spending. Here are some ideas so far:

Good Friday: Good Friday we plan to enjoy a family breakfast with our close relatives, particularly enjoying homemade gluten free hot cross buns, something I haven’t yet tried but figure I have years to master. I LOVE hot cross buns but haven’t enjoyed them for years because of my gluten intolerance and laziness in the kitchen. But no more excuses as there are plenty of recipes out there and a great excuse to make the effort! Do you know of a good recipe? Please tell me!!

Easter Saturday: We will spend the day making our own healthy chocolate Easter eggs. In fact the week or so leading up to Easter can be spent on Easter related crafts. I’ve never tried it, but I’ve heard painting real egg shells can be a fun craft and what a great excuse to make quiche or even a pavlova!

I also thought this might be a great day to clean out the toy box and donate some toys (and clothes) to charity. We have a pretty strong rule on not overdoing it with toys (many of his toys are already secondhand) but I’d like to do something charitable over the Easter weekend and this would be a good place to start.

Easter Sunday: Otherwise known to kids as “Easter egg day”, I would really like to steer clear of tons of bad chocolate and foil wrap and do something different. I’ve noticed on some American blogs these little plastic eggs that can be screwed open and hold all sorts of treats – a great way to give healthy treats, coins, or whatever takes your fancy. Even better, these eggs can be placed in the garden for a good old fashioned Easter egg hunt. And even better yet, the plastic eggs can be reused every year.

blank wood eggs painted

image and eggs from http://www.blankgoods.com.au

I also found these gorgeous wooden eggs, but they are expensive compared to the plastic version. Though it would be something to consider buying only a few each year and working up to a collection.

I’m still not sure where the Easter Bunny fits into this tradition or whether we’ll go along with the farce at all! I have so many questions – Will “he” leave the plastic eggs? Does he do it all stealth like in the night like Santa? Why the heck is a bunny leaving eggs in a garden anyway? I honestly can’t remember the purpose for a chocolate giving bunny anyway, or whether I truly believed in it (unlike Santa who I truly believed was real!).

When I googled the history of the Bunny, and other Easter traditions, I found most of them were conceived as a pagan Spring tradition, with eggs and bunnies being symbolic of new life in Spring. Seeing we’re in the Southern Hemisphere it makes no sense! We’re still wilting with the relentless summer heat and, if anything, I’ve watched my garden die, not spring to life! Either way, I think we have a bit of time on our hands to decide on the Bunny situation and an Easter egg hunt is fun regardless! And seeing it’s Sunday, why not a traditional Sunday roast dinner.

Easter Monday: I haven’t decided what to do on this day but I’m thinking something along the lines of spending it out and about with friends. Go on a local adventure and make the most of the public holiday and the (typically) good weather.

What are your traditions? I’d love to hear them!