Thursday, 31 July 2014

Under the weather

I'm not feeling it lately, I'm sorry. I can't explain it, I just don't feel happy at the moment. I want to do so many things but I either don't have the time or it's the wrong time of the year to do things or something else needs to be done first. I'm planning for 2015 as to me 2014 is already over (meaning planned out and time taken up by various activities). I'm looking for a new hobby but can't find anything which interests me. I don't know what it is, but I'm feeling seriously discontent. I have no reason to feel this way, I just do. Nothing seems right, everything seems to be too much. I'm just not happy.

Well, first step is to recognise my predicament. I have. And I have blamed everyone and -thing for it: my partner for not wanting the same things as I; my job for not fulfilling me; the weather for not helping me with my efforts to create a beautiful luscious garden; my family for not understanding who I am and everybody else for not caring. So does this make me feel better? No! So what to do? There's only one thing which always makes me so happy, I have the feeling my heart bursts out of my chest: taking Hera for a big long walk. Hera, my GSD x Kelpie, is 15-years old and doesn't really enjoy long walks anymore. So we took a short walk to our favourite place just opposite our house where I can see the roos, cows and mountains; a place where I can listen to the birds and think without interruption. 
I was sitting there for a long time - Hera by my side having an occasional stroll and a sniff and then returning to sit with me. While I was thinking of my life and all the things I want to do and feel like I can't do (right now), I sadly realised that there's one person standing in my way: me. My constant strive to perfection, my planning ahead to the minute, my planning in general for everything just drains me and it makes me unhappy. How did this happen? I just started my simple life and changed so many things which made me much happier, why am I feeling unhappy again? What have I missed? 
The truth is, I haven't missed anything, I just never have accepted life as it really is: constant learning, making mistakes, fixing mistakes and making more mistakes. Life isn't perfect - it's not supposed to be perfect and you cannot plan everything. People who have dealt with me before will know that I plan my holidays with an Excel Spreadsheet, they will know that I have a 'cross off days at work' list and then create a list of what to do each day for my R'n'R. And once I'm done with all the planning, I get nervous and I plan further into the future. So here I am in the middle of July 2014 having already planned all of 2015! Not kidding! I love to plan and my lists become longer and longer and less gets crossed off because I'm too busy planning.
Another big fault standing between me and happiness is perfection. Most people will say we should strive to perfection but when perfection stands in the way of actually doing things, it gets too much! My latest example: my new chicken coop. I decided to move the chooks to the cubby house as they're closer and I don't have to move manure across 3 acres anymore. I got a fence build around the cubbyhouse which is right next to the dog kennel. I have given Steve instructions to build me some gardenbeds while I'm at work, so I can plant some green manure when I come back in November and then plant some beautiful veggies in March. Can't wait! The other thing is fitting the interior of the cubby house out to make it chook friendly. I need to consider cleaning, acces for us to collect eggs and to feed and water them, roosts for the night and nesting boxes. So for at least the last 3 months - possibly longer - I've been trying to figure out how to fit the interior of the cubby house out: how hight should I make the roosts? Do they need food and water inside and outside? How can they easily go in and out by themselves without other animals getting in? Can I have nestboxes outside? How much space do they need? 
I mean honestly, how hard can it be? I looked at 100s of plans, blogs and facebook pages and have not found anything useful because I didn't take the information given and translated it to my project. I wanted something to show me exactly what I need to do with my cubby house. Why? Because I wanted it perfect. This is ridiculous! I have to work on me. So I decided to live more in the moment and less in the future. Steve and I are going on a holiday to Tasmania - and I have not planned anything. Steve organised places to visit and accomodation, I only booked the flights. We have another holiday coming up and I will do exactly the same. 
I promise myself that for the rest of this year, I will make no more plans and expect no perfection. I want to become at ease with myself again and do things when they need to be done, not when they're scheduled. I want to be happy again!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Mid-year Review

I'm back at home at last! At work I had to do mine and my team's mid-year review to see how we're tracking and if there's anything we might have neglected and have to pick up before the end of the year. I thought this is a great opportunity to have a look at our new simple life and see how we're tracking. Our life certainly has become more simple, also I still struggle with the some parts. So, let's see what we have achieved and how we can get back onto track if need be.
I've written about our budget in the last post. We finally have a budget and track our spending and also we have reduced some of our bills significantly, we identified areas where savings can be made and now I have to implement these and track those areas closer. We still do a fair bit of travelling and then love to go out. My goal is to do some more advanced planning in the future and stick to a set budget. We've got a fair bit of holidays coming up in the next few months and I will keep a close eye on our spending there.
At the beginning of the year I've started spring cleaning in zones which means each time I'm home I concentrate on a certain area for a deep clean. I've noticed that those areas now stay clean and clutter-free for longer which means my spring cleaning next year will be a breeze! I enjoy cleaning, re-organising and decluttering. And I'm good at decluttering! Half of the items at the local St Vinnies store came out of my home. If there's no use for it or it doesn't fit with the style of our home, it goes. I have been making my own cleaners for a long time, so that's nothing new to us. I probably have now taken it a step further and make my own washing powder and a few other things. I have created daily routines which makes it easier for me to follow as I have a set plan of things to do. The new cleaning routine has freed up a lot of time.
Currently I'm trying to develop a better flow for our home. It's a small house and also it's just the two of us, it sometimes felt a bit uneasy. But I have some great ideas on how to change that - the biggest change will be an extension, so Steve and I have a nice Master Bedroom and a 2nd bathroom but this is still a while away. Other things have more priority, like fencing and a new sewerage system. Also our furniture needs to be replaced. The items are Ikea items and they have moved from Germany to Australia and then another 4 times. Since this is our forever home, I'm now looking for some good quality, solid timber pieces and matching artwork. We have now installed solar panels and I'm curious to see how much money this will save us. Electricity prices are roaring in QLD, I hope to be independent of the grid in the near future. I have a kind of Moodboard Book for my house and write all ideas in it. The important thing for me is be aware that I can't have everything straight away and I have to carefully plan and budget.

This is one thing I need to improve on! I have spend a lot of time in my house in the past few months changing and improving things but I haven't spend enough time in the garden - well, at least not to work, but plenty of time to enjoy myself. I am developing a new permaculture plan for my garden, which in the next few months I hope to be implementing. I'm looking forward to this project. I'm trying to produce enough produce for my family without having to buy fruit and veggies. But since Steve is on his own for 6 months of the year, I need to find an easier system than the current one. I will blog about my plans soon.
Most of the time, I am sticking to my meal plan and keep loosing weight - slowly but steadily. I always enjoyed cooking and baking but I never had attempted making my own bread. Since I started the simple living journey I thought I have to give it a go. Now I know what I have been missing for the last 16 years - good sourdough bread! I love making break and it's something I look forward to. The only thing I haven't managed is to produce a nice fluffy white bread for Steve. I had many attempts but none of them were fluffy enough for him. If someone has a nice recipe, please share it with me.
We started stockpiling early this year and it feels great to walk out of the Supermarket with just a bag I can carry rather than a trolley and change to a $50 note! It also makes us experiment with recipes as I created a spreadsheet (sorry I can't help myself, I'm a German Engineer...) with all our pantry items and their expiry date. So I now I have to cook something with certain ingredients if they expire soon. I think our stockpile will last us a year easily. We bought most of our items at Aldi's as it's much cheaper than the local Supermarkets. Buying meat fresh from the farmbutcher has also saved us a significant amount of money. We will re-stock probably March next year.
Since I have started growing our own food, I had to start preserving as there's only that many beetroot one can eat at any one time. I always thought preserving is complicated and requires specialised equipment but have since found out that I can easily preserve with what I have in my home. So far I preserved beetroot, onions, mango (chutney), tomatoes, various herbs, capsicum, cabbage and garlic. I also have frozen pumpkin, silverbeet, snowpeas, corn and beans. It's nice to be able to bring a small gift of homemade relish when we're invited to a BBQ and I feel so homely!
Unfortunately, I lost Quentin earlier this year to a snake bite. I miss him heaps and still cry nearly every day. Hera has turned 15 years old and is still going strong! I hope she'll be with us for a few more years. I love watching her rolling in the grass - I know that she loves our place just as much as I do. Stormy, our Sun Conure loves his new girlfriend Sunny and I hope they might lay some eggs in the future. The Indian Ringnecks Bella and Fella have laid a few eggs but none of them have developed unfortunately.
Our chooks are now 1 year old and I never want to live without chooks again! They're so much fun to watch, I love them. I plan to convert the cubby house into a chook pen and get another 5-7 chicken. I don't have them free range but they have a very large area to forage. I also would like to get some Guinea Fowl. I heard they will be great to protect us from snakes, plus they look nice and I like the sound they make. I haven't got any plans for any other livestock at the moment as we're doing too much travelling but we will see what the future holds.

Planners and Routines
Well what can I say - I love planning things! I plan our holidays on a Spreadsheet (no kidding)! I have a daily, monthly and annual plan. I helps me to budget, I don't forget things and I know everything will be taken care of. I previously had plans in my head but since I have written them down, I actually stick to them which helps me to manage my time better. Working away for 6 months of the year, I really need to manage my time!
My mindset has significantly changed if i compare it to the same time last year. I no longer enjoy shopping, I have decimated my wardrobe to a bare minimum and I do things in a way women would have done them 'in the good old days'. I refuse to buy a bread maker or a pasta maker or any other fancy item which can do one thing. I do have a Thermomix which I adore as it's one machine which can chop, crush, roast, grate, heat, juice, knead, melt, mill, mince, mix, sautee, steam, whip and cook! I have to learn that I cannot have everything at once and that I cannot plan everything into the tiniest detail but sometimes just have to do it. For me, if it's not perfect, it's not right, so I have some learning to do there. I also have to be more mindful of my partner who has very different dreams and aspirations, I need to make sure neither of us looses sight of our dreams.