May and slow living

Have just seen fab posts by a fellow bloggers , Lightlycrunchy and Slow Living Essentials, I’ve decided to follow suit and document what I’ve done over the last month to live life more slowly:

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over-packaged, over-processed convenience foods and opt for ‘real’ food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here.

Apart from one shop-bought sandwich and a few drinks such as coffee bought at cafés, everything my daughter and I have consumed over the last month has been made at home. Oh, I should add that we have eaten some shop-bought bread, mayonnaise, soy sauce and such like, but the meals themselves have all been from scratch, and I have also made a fair amount of our own bread as well as cakes of various kinds.

PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season. Aim to reduce dependency on store-bought items especially those known to contain BPA and other suspect additives. Stocking up on dry goods when prices are low counts too.

We haven’t had enough garden produce to preserve any of it. However, I have been using up tomato sauce that I made last year; and during the week I tend to cook double the quantity of our evening meal, so that I can take the second portion to work the next day. Sometimes, I have enough to freeze for a rainy day. So, last week, I took some of the pots out of the freezer and therefore had a couple of pot luck moments, not knowing what had been frozen until it was defrosted.

REDUCE: Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas and project links here, allowing others to be inspired.

This month we’ve taken a big bag of toys my daughter no longer wants to a local charity shop and we have received some hand-me down clothes from a friend.

Where I live there are recycling facilities for almost everything, apart from a few types of plastic, so where I really have to, there is a way of not putting very much in landfill. However, I do prefer not to recreate the waste in the first place, so buy as much of our food as possible in paper bags (easy at our local farm, where that is the packaging on offer for vegetables), for example. Then, the paper bags can be placed in the compost heap and therefore continue to be useful to us as a family and complete the life cycle.

Donating pots and such like to school is another way of extending the life of anything which we can’t recycle, compost or give away. And then there are the clothes which cannot be given away because they are too stained or tatty, which are cut up and used as cleaning rags before they are put in the compost bin as well (unless they are of man-made fibre when regrettably they have to go in landfill).

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.

I haven’t started making our own toiletries yet, though we do buy them from smaller, more environmentally aware outlets which sell products without chemical nasties.  However, I do now mostly use bicarbonate of soda and vinegar to keep my house clean. Even as far as washing clothes goes, I have cut down on the amount of washing powder that goes into the machine by mixing it with soda crystals, which do a wonderful job of cleaning the clothes. In fact, I need to do an experiment to see if washing with just them and no powder would be as good, if not better. That would save us a lot of money as well!

GROW: plant/harvest. What’s growing this month? What’s being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or an entire fruit/vegetable garden – opt for what fits space and time constraints. Don’t have a backyard? Ask a friendly neighbour or relative for a small patch of theirs in return for some home-grown produce, they may surprise you!

I am lucky enough to have a reasonably sized garden so can grow some of my own fruit and vegetables. I also give garden produce to friends, family and neighbours, which is not just more ecologically sound than buying something plastic from the shops, but undoubtedly is more pleasurable for the recipient as well.

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here.

I made some banana bread for a friend who I visited a couple of days ago. My daughter and I also made several cakes for parties.

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Trawl libraries, second-hand shops or local book shops to find titles that fill the need. Share titles/authors of what is being read this month.

In May, I discovered a lot of interesting and informative blogs which have kept me busy for many an hour when I couldn’t get out into the garden!

ENHANCE: community: Possibilities include supporting local growers & producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group. Car pooling where possible and biking/walking instead of driving. Even start up a blog if you haven’t already – online communities count too! Or maybe just help out someone trying to cross the street! The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.

I looked after a friend’s kids so that she could take part in a half marathon and used the train on one occasion instead of the car. I buy as much of my food from the local organic farm as possible. At first (two years ago), it was strange not having the choice you would get from a supermarket (and then some!) but now buying to live seems so much more satisfying and exciting.

ENJOY: Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be remembered from the month here.

I am not a royalist so am not celebrating the Jubilee but as it is a national holiday weekend, my daughter and I are visiting granny and granddad. We try to do something every weekend with those closest to us, celebrate life with get-togethers, food and conversation. 🙂

And now I’m looking forward to a June which promises to be full of new adventures as well as continuing the old.

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About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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15 Responses to May and slow living

  1. Great post – you sound like you have all of the bases covered!

  2. mybrightlife says:

    Inspiring. Will keep trying!

  3. Cat on Tap says:

    I loved your post; it gave me many ideas I’d love to try out as we slide peacefully into summer, and it got me to thinking about what we’re already doing to live slowly. Some simple things we’ve done to live more slowly this past month:

    ENJOY: This month, an old childhood friend stayed with us at our home; this was the first time we’d spent a weekend together since our teenage years. Focusing on each other’s company, delighting in being together, brought real joy to me, to my wife, and to our home. Even though we did manage to get out and do things together, I was reminded that the real gift in friends and family is in the ‘being’.

    GREEN: We started using ‘natural’ toothpaste this month! We also biked to work a few times. The travel time between work and home was a refreshing way to decompress, and kept me away from the after-work chocolates I sometimes dip into at that time of day!

    NOURISH: My wife and I have started to prepare nearly all meals from scratch. The planning and careful preparation give us time just to ‘be’ together. Cooking most of our meals at home also allows us to get creative, to try new things, to save money, and to help save some of the world’s natural resources.

    CREATE & CELEBRATE: A young family member will celebrate a special religious rite of passage. Now, I am no artist; but I’ve decided that in the spirit of reducing and celebration, I will use paper we already have to prepare a simple, pretty, personalized card for her.

  4. Kate says:

    Very inspiring. Great to see so many people doing wonderful stuff. And an added benefit is that it does save you money without you realizing it half the time.

    • Thanks for looking at my blog, Kate! Some of the things I have done with saving money in mind but as I now need to save more money (since going part time) I am looking for more ways to save the environment at the same time. It will be interesting to see what I can write at the end of June re slow living.

  5. Christine says:

    Hi SIlverbells, how wonderful to have you joining in! Enjoy your family time this weekend. 🙂

  6. I keep seeing people write about their homemade laundry liquid. I really should give it a try.

  7. Barbara Good says:

    Great post. We love a pot luck dinner here too, never knowing what it’s going to be until it’s defrosted, though sometimes if I’ve had to defrost a few things they don’t always go so well together.

    • I did decide I was going to label everything but yet again last night I didn’t (vowed to myself that this time I would remember what I was putting in the pot!).
      Thanks for the compliment about my post, Barbara.

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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