January Monthly Nine

billie on bed 2

What a lovely month January was. It felt like the whole neighbourhood was on holidays and even though it felt  much longer than thirty one days, I wanted it to go on and on.  The quiet streets, ABC Radio’s summer programs, long days of sunshine and gentle evenings made for a peaceful, contemplative month.  It is amazing how quickly I forget what happened from one month to the next. That is why I love joining in with Linda from Greenhaven and others with the monthly nine: I like the record it keeps but I also love to be inspired by what others have done with the month just gone and the categories that Christine came up with are great goalposts for me in bringing my hopes and intentions just a little closer to practice.

NOURISH

january nourish apricot chia

Lots of salads and less time cooking definitely contributed to the relaxed feeling that was January.
Preparing for a morning tea gave me the chance to try out some new gluten free snack recipes.  These two were my favourites: barbecue flavoured popcorn and apricot and chia balls.  With the later I substituted quinoa flakes for rolled oats to keep it gf.  Stored well both keep fresh and delicious for quite a long time (popcorn in airtight container and apricot balls in fridge).

PREPARE

january planning Collage

I used a Christmas voucher to purchase a yearly planner and some other planning stationery.  I cut up on old calendar with photos i liked to make monthly dividers. At the start of each month I have a ‘to do list’, then for each week there is a weekly layout for meal planning, with a tear off shopping list, then a weekly goal planner for each week of that month with tick boxes for tasks related to these goals for each day.  These goals are more the aspirational ‘big picture’ intentions rather than the day by day ‘need to do’ things.  Then there are the pages that have a section for each day, with a view of the week.  I use bullet journaling in this section  – though mostly it is a list of what I need to get done each day.  It is working really well for me. I am finding having all these planning tools together and in such an easy to use format means that I use them.  I love ticking things off from yesterday at the start of each day.  I’m sure this is the most organised I have ever been in my life.  I hope it contributes to  a sense of living intentionally and well.  I have also added pages in each month for the monthly nine categories.  At the start of the month I list some of the things I would like to accomplish in each of the nine areas,  and then as the month goes by I add things I might actually have done.

REDUCE

A bag of clothes were removed from the wardrobe and put into a charity collection bin. I have decided that this is a much more achievable way of culling (for me); to do it in small bites rather than in a big effort.   I know there are way too many things in my wardrobe but when ever I decide to have a big clean out I get caught up by “that might fit me again one day” or “I could make that into something else” or “I might need that if x/y/z/” or  “I love that even if I dont wear it”. And it all becomes overwhelming.  The same with books.  So the discipline of finding a bag/boxful of something I no longer need each month seems manageble – both in terms of actually finding things I can part with and in passing them on.  It is easy to take 1 bag/box  to a collection place when I am doing grocery shopping.  A regular check up like this also means that clothes that need mending or remaking are also only a few each month and can be dealt with straight away rather than going on to an evergrowing pile.  My fabric stash had better come under this scrutiny too.  For the year ahead I should have no trouble finding things to go each month.  (Easier said than done, I’m sure)

GREEN

january beeswax

My intention for this month was to make some beeswax impregnated fabric for covering/protecting food.  I ordered the beeswax and it took a while to come.  I ordered it from Rooftop Honey, a project that has bee hives on the tops of city buildings, in an attempt to increase the global population of bees.  You can read about it here if you are interested.  It is a great scheme. I also ordered some honey which was collected just streets away from where I live.  And it is totally delish.  The wax is beautiful. Hopefully, I will be able to report next month that I have actually have got around to using it.

january soda

We love fizzy water in this house but have found it goes against the grain to buy it.  All that plastic.  And if you buy it in glass it is so expensive.  I have had it in mind to buy a Soda Stream since I heard that you could buy glass bottles.  In January Soda Stream offered the glass bottles at half price and the machine that uses them at a greatly reduced price.  We bought one and now we can have ‘green’ fizzy water when ever we like.  Yah!

GROW

janaury christmas gum tree Collage

We had Christmas in our little house in the country and used a gum tree in a pot as our festive tree.   On New Year’s Day, with great ceremony we planted it out into the ‘garden’.  The last photo was taken towards the end of the month and shows lots of new growth on the little tree.  It will be a compact gum tree (2m x 2m) with lovely red flowers and ornamental gum nuts.  I will enjoy watching it grow.

january growing Collage

I am eagerly watching and waiting for peaches to ripen.  Lettuces, basil and tomatoes have been much enjoyed.  Rhubarb is looking good and ready to pick.  The citrus trees all have fruit forming on them.  Kale, spinach and chard have grown apace and will soon be ready for eating.  I need to plant more lettuce seedlings.  I notice that some lettuce has gone to seed so should make sure I save some before it all blows away to chance its luck on where the wind takes it.

CREATE

january create Collage

I made the Style Arc Lola pants out of lovely soft, cool, cotton double gauze fabric.  These are the. most. comfortable. pants. ever (that can be worn in public).  I love them.  The fabric is designed by Tomotake for Japanese company Kokka and comes from a range titled “Muddy Works” .   It has been in my stash for a couple of years because I really couldnt decide what to make out of it.  I wasnt  sure I would like pants with such a large print. But who woulda guessed it – I do!

DISCOVER

january reading kindle

I lived most of my life in South Australia. Not surprising then, I am drawn by some sort of nostalgia to all things that bring back happy memories of the place.  That must have been what attracted me to this book.  It is a journal of a woman in her 70’s establishing a garden in Adelaide.  I couldnt have predicted how much I was going to love this book. I learnt so much about gardening, plants, chickens that it wouldnt have mattered where the book was set.  I am looking forward to reading some more of Kate Llewellyn’s gardening journals.  By chance I discovered that Kate was going to be speaking at my local library in March.  I rushed home and booked a ticket when i found that out.

I have made a commitment to read (at least) 12 books by Australian writers this year, so this is the first.

january letters Collage

Inspired by Pip from Meet Me at Mike’s , I have undertaken my own 52 letters project.  Ideally, I will write one letter each week.  By hand. A couple of these will be letters to my future self, about what is important to me now, – to be opened in say, six years time. The majority will be to friends and family.  One of these dear people has already written back. Some might even be to politicians (these probably wont be by hand, but they wont be email!)

ENJOY

shady garden Collage

This month I have enjoyed our shady city garden and I have enjoyed planning our country garden.  It will definitely be more edible than ornamental, in contrast to our city garden, which I did not plant.  I have enjoyed a meal with special friends going through a really hard time.  I have enjoyed watching the second series of “The Fall” and the first series of “Rectify”   I like the pace of January and wish it could be the same for the rest of the year (but then I wouldnt notice and appreciate it, I suppose).  I hope your January was just as you would have liked it to be.

December Monthly Nine

Dec dining

What a lovely month December was!  Three weeks holiday helped to make it so and gave the opportunity to think about the monthly nine away from my city home and garden.  On the last Friday in November we collected the keys to our little house in the country and camped in it that weekend.  Then on the second weekend in December we returned, on holidays, and with plans to make the little house homely. While we had numerous trips back to Melbourne to catch up with friends and family over the Christmas period we accomplished much and loved being in our little house. So, to recap on December, I am joining in with Linda  and others here.

NOURISH

Dec mango and bberries

Almost everyday while we were on holiday we ate mango, blueberries, yoghurt, nuts and seeds for lunch.  It was delectable.  I have never been fond of mangoes, so I am surprised how much I am enjoying them this season.  Perhaps it is a particularly good year for mangoes?  Anyway, I have also used them in a few different salads and am enjoying the taste and aroma of fresh mango. Of course, you would expect that a round up of December would include Christmas fare but the truth is, I didnt eat any of the traditional Christmas foods – apart from cassata, which is a tradition from my childhood – an icecream dessert for the kids who didnt like plum pudding.  I still make it each year.   Fresh prawns were a treat enjoyed in the park with family.  Each time we returned to the city for an event, and went home, I picked lettuce leaves from my garden to take back to the country house.  Sometimes there were ripe tomatoes as well but they are really only beginning to ripen now.

PREPARE

Dec front deck

One day we plan to live in our little house in the country, so the three weeks that we were there felt like we were making inroads into a dream we have held for quite a while – that it was really going to become an eventuality.  We spent the time, in a sense, preparing for our future, both near (when it will be a weekender) and distant (when we will live in it permanently).  There has been lots of talk (and dreaming) and a little research into what we could and can do with this house.  We washed windows and scrubbed the stove, bought a fridge, added some furniture and some window dressings.  The house is not very energy efficient so that will be one of our first priorities.

REDUCEDec tramping down the weeds

Weeds, undergrowth, dead plants/grass were all removed from the yard. It took a few weeks to do and it filled up this massive bin.  There are still plants that need to be removed from the block – hawthorn bushes in particular.  The motivation for clearing away undergrowth was to remove any hiding places for snakes. We know they are around, and would hate our inquisitive little dog to get bitten.  I did some research into a solar powered vibrating thing that is supposed to keep snakes away but after watching a youtube video of a snake catcher demonstrating that it didnt work, I figured I would save my money and do the best we could to make the yard less desirable to snakes.

GREENDec handscrub

This month I made sugar scrub from white sugar, coconut oil and essential oil. Really simple.  I love the exfoliating, moisturizing effect it has and how good my skin feels after using it.  I have been expecting ants to come and enjoy it too but so far they havent.  Hopefully the essential oil deters them.  I decided to put scrub into attractive containers and give it to all our neighbours for Christmas.  I hope they will like using it.

GROWDec planting

I  propagated a number of Pelargoniums several months ago and planted these to provide a spot of colour.  Also, once an elderly woman with an amazing garden told me that she used Pelargoniums to make soil more friable and conducive for other plants.  These hardy plants send their roots down into the hard soil.  Once they were well grown they are removed and a more desirable plant is put in their place.   My challenge is to find plants that will grow without attention, or watering, since I dont live there to nurture anything.  Later this year we will plant some species that are indigenous to the area, which should grow well unattended but when I actually live in this house I want to have a lot of the garden providing food. I guess there might be some fruit trees that will grow without much attention. I am thinking a fig tree, at the very least. But perhaps even these need nurturing while they are young?  Inside the house I have a sword fern in a self watering pot and lots of succulents.

Dec succulents

CREATE

Dec sofa

This month my creating has gone mostly gone into making things for the house, though I did sew up some undies for myself – but I’m not showing you them!  I made a cover for the sofa from beautiful dotty Nani Iro    fabric. I hand stitched linen fabric into serviettes at night time while watching TV.  I made placemats and covered a stone with a crocheted doiley for a doorstop.

Dec doorstop

DISCOVER

In December I read My Year Without Matches by Claire Dunn.  I couldnt wait to go to bed each night to discover more of what this amazing woman was up to.  While there were physical challenges ( building a shelter, making fire, finding food) , it was the emotional journey Claire made that interested me most. Who are we without all the external structures that shape our lives and  frequently define us?  How do we connect with our inner wisdom in a way that it guides and sustains?  I loved reading about Claire’s crafty pursuits and how satisfying it was to tan hide to make clothes, to weave grass baskets and make clay eating utensils.  I was awed by her bravery – walking around barefoot in the dark.  One night she woke during a nightmare to find a red bellied black snake poking and prodding the mosquito net she was inside.  Since reading the book, I have found myself much more observant of the sounds that birds make.

ENHANCE

doll

I bought an IKEA doll and had a lot of fun making her a skirt, jacket, necklace and head scarf.  She came wearing a t-shirt and undies.  Here she is wrapped in cellophane, ready to be put under the Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre Christmas tree.  I didnt think to take a photo before she was wrapped up, which was a bit of a pity.  I hope some little girl is enjoying playing with her.

ENJOY

dec candles

So much was enjoyed this month.  Meals with friends and family. Morning walks. Satisfaction of tasks accomplished.  One highlight was catching up with movies I had wanted to see when they were at the cinema and are now on DVD.   The best  two were Locke and Reaching for the Moon, but I also enjoyed Calvary, All is Lost, Begin Again (fabulous soundtrack!), The grand Budapest Hotel, Still Life, A Most Wanted Man and Kill Your Darlings.  The BBC TV series The Honourable Woman was also definitely a highlight.