Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thrifting and Compulsive Acquisition

A blog that I read regularly - Ivy Nest - gave a link to this article on craft consumerism on Friday night.

It fitted in nicely with some musings I have had recently on my own op-shopping experience, aka thrifting.  Actually, as a side note, when did it get a name change?  In Australia it was called op-shopping in my youth - which is actually, at 27, not in that distant a past. Perhaps it is further evidence of globalisation.  

Thrifting seems to have undergone a major facelift in recent years.  I don't know if it is the power of the internet which makes it appear very popular or if, in the face of the financial crises, it has actually grown in popularity.  One thing is clear, though, shopping for goods secondhand is very 'now'.

Ok, so this is actually one of my more useful finds, some small modern cloth nappies - we own a one-size-fits-all model and they don't actually fit a small baby.
But, I wonder if this nascent trend is very meaningful.  Surely when criticism is leveled at people for shopping as recreation it is just as valid if they shop for new goods or old.  To me, it seems that the issue at stake is the motivation behind the shopping - the need to compulsively acquire. After all, a secondhand piece of tat is still tat if you don't actually need it or really want it - it is just a more affordable piece of tat than something bought new; and its 'consumption' (good economist word there) has theoretically less of an environmental impact.  

There are certain blogs out there where people show and tell each week of their op-shop or yard sale finds.  Fine, this is a fun thing to do and certainly provides encouragement that the elusive item you are after can be found if you have sufficient persistence and luck.  However, I grow uneasy when I see the same person week after week posts their finds which seem - at least on the surface of it - to be purchases for the sake of it.  I mean, I like quirky retro kitchenware as much as the next person, but how many coffee cups and plates can one household reasonably use?

Honestly, haven't I actually heard of a library?
In recent weeks, I have found a compulsion on my own behalf to frequent op-shops in our area.  After some luck finding some lovely clothes for Ginger and a pyrex storage bowl, I felt like I was on a roll.  Rather than just popping into an op shop for a poke after completing other jobs in town, Ginger and I took a couple of mornings op-shopping.  We fitted as many in as I could before Ginger had a meltdown and we had to go home.  And, I bought items that were not in the greatest condition and were certainly not needed.  In fact, one pyrex bowl ended up in the bin upon my return home because it had a crack in it I hadn't seen at the shop.

Now, please don't think I am in anyway casting aspersions on people who op-shop regularly - the nature of the beast means you do have to visit frequently if you are going to find goods you need.  But rather, my own uneasiness comes from the fact that we don't actually need anything at the moment - well, a new coffee plunger would be useful to DH after the last one was Gingered - and these excursions were about the experience and, for me, the siren call of the 'what if'. 

I think I knew deep down that op-shopping was becoming a less healthy practice for me when I began to stress about the number of children's books we I had acquired recently, and had a re-read of my blog and realised that just about every second post was about something I had found op-shopping.  But, it was not until we were discussing budgets and DH made the point that all my 'little' op-shop spends - $3 here, $5 there actually added to something quite substantial, that it really hit home. 

DH and I have come to the conclusion that I need a little op-shopping budget.  After all, I do enjoy the thrill of the hunt and we have acquired some useful and beautiful possessions this way.  But, I am going to keep a list of items I am on the look out for.  For instance, at the moment that would be  - a coffee plunger, a table lamp, wicker baskets, the Brambley Hedge "Spring" book, pyrex food storage containers, and glass storage jars.  Anything else, I seriously need to weigh up the need versus want angle; and perhaps throw in a bit of William Morris -"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful".

P.S.:  I hope I haven't offended anyone in this post.  It really isn't meant to, it is just where my thoughts are at at the moment and it is about my own journey with simplified and grateful living.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Our Weekend

I hope you all had a lovely weekend.  Ginger and I were DH-less as he has yet another exercise.

Saturday was dark and rainy but, Sunday was oh so beautiful and sunny.  

Spring had arrived a couple of days early.

We ate blueberry and banana bread.

We revisited my childhood searching through a jar of my Nanna's buttons for the perfect one for a project.

We spent time outside in the sunshine and got our tights very dirty!

Because, we discovered falling down a hill is actually quite fun; and worth repeating.

Some work was done on a new quilt.
After a coffee and playdate a friend passed on some magazines.  I enjoyed spending Ginger's nap perusing them.

More time outside; I was sewing ends in, while Ginger honed her bower bird instinct.

A simple fresh pasta meal to end the day, prepared with considerable help from my little offsider.
And, honestly the best news to cap it all off.  The festival that I was really upset about missing because DH was away and Brisbane is too far to drive there and back with Ginger by myself in one day was postponed because of Saturday's weather.  I was, oh, so happy.  I feel God's hand in it because I was devastated when DH was unexpectedly asked to go field over this weekend - the festival had been on our calender for 12 months.  

God really does care for us in all things great and small, doesn't he?  As the children's song goes "take it to the Lord in prayer"; his response is always perfect, just not always expected.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hear it on Sunday: the New Guinea Martyrs

The memorial for the New Guinea Martyrs falls this week.  Our church has had approval for a new church building - we turned the sod last week.  As the youngest member of the church, Ginger was given a trowel to dig some of the soil!  The church building will have a chapel dedicated to the New Guinea Martyrs; one of whom came from our parish.  Our sermon today focused on the bravery of these souls.

When World War II threatened Papua and New Guinea there was a clear threat to the safety of European missionaries there. There was talk of leaving. As the Japanese drew closer in 1942, Bishop Phillip Strong wrote to his clergy: "We must endeavour to carry on our work. God expects this of us. The church at home, which sent us out, will surely expect it of us. The universal church expects it of us. The people whom we serve expect it of us. We could never hold up our faces again if, for our own safety, we all forsook Him and fled, when the shadows of the Passion began to gather around Him in His spiritual and mystical body, the Church in Papua." 

All but one, who had a young child with her and chose to return to Australia for the safety of her child, stayed.  In all, over 300 church workers lost their lives at the hands of the Japanese in New Guinea.  They are all remembered as the New Guinea Martyrs.  Officially the breakdown is 200 Catholics, 24 Methodists, 15 Lutherans, 13 Anglicans and about 40 assorted others.  Being an Anglican church, our focus is on the thirteen Anglicans who were in that number.  

My great-uncle, who was a Catholic priest, spent time as a missionary in New Guinea just after the war.  He later left the priesthood as he chose to marry.  When he returned to his mission some years later he was fondly referred to by the islanders as "Father Was".  He has very fond memories of his time spent there.  The connection he felt with the members of his mission, I am sure was felt by the missionaries there during WWII.  They could not forsake their community in the face of danger.

I think this is a part of Australian history which has been overlooked; particularly given how much attention is given to the military campaign on the Kokoda trail.  Indeed, our rector commented today that the name of the thirteenth Anglican martyr is unknown.  In my view, it is time the sacrifice of these people is given the attention it deserves.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Vegan Eating: 10 days in

These are just some of the meals we have enjoyed over the last ten days of Heather's Vegan Challenge.

Some observations:
  • I am really missing tea. I drink my tea white so in the absence of milk I have no desire to drink it.  On the plus side I have discovered fresh mint tea.  I have always drunk peppermint tea - the dried teabag variety - but a fresh pot is an altogether different offering.
  • Sweet potato cooked in coconut oil is our new go to for baked vegetables.
  • Organisation is key.  I really have to plan my menu a couple of days out and remember to allow time to soak and then cook my legumes.  I have been using my slow cooker for the cooking part.
  • Healthy sweet treats can be really, really good.
  • Heather's curried chickpeas are hidden gold for a quick healthy snack.  Ginger loves them too.
  • Breakfast is probably my biggest challenge to leave out dairy.  I have a confession - I am having proper old-fashioned porridge:)  I went a week without but I just really couldn't take almond milk.
  • Neither my husband nor myself have been hungry while eating this way.  Admittedly, he hasn't exactly stuck to the rules as closely as I; but I think this is a real positive.  While we don't have plans to eat vegan long term - I think the whole food aspect of this exercise has been very valuable.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bedtime Rhythm

I have been wanting to post on Ginger's bedtime rhythm ever since Nicole put up her post and asked for submissions.  It has taken days to get round to it.  DH is doing study by distance and he is always on the computer in the evening:)

I guess our bedtime rhythm starts with an early dinner.  I try to have dinner on the table by about 5pm.  This works at the moment because DH is usually home by 4:45.  Next year he will have a longer commute so we might have to revisit this.

After dinner we do kitchen clean-up and Ginger helps to clear the table by putting the placemats away.  

Then, every second night, it is bath time.  This takes about half an hour because Ginger loves her bath!  After her bath or straight after dinner, depending on the night, she has playtime in the loungeroom.  Generally there is a lot of story reading during this time.

At about 6:30 we get her into her sleepsack and clean her teeth.  Then she has her evening feed (or nurse for my North American readers) in our bedroom.  That takes her about 10-15 minutes.  

I then transfer her into her cot and we have a bedtime story.  This tends to be a longer picture book; one she wouldn't have the attention span for during the day.

Trapped - hence the longer attention span!

Then I say a prayer for her (hopefully as her speech develops she will be able to say this for herself).  It is the prayer I said as a little girl; fortunately it is solidly in my memory as the plaque I learnt it off has been lost in the mists of time. (I just found this version for a boy ).

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
Let angels guard me through the night
And keep me safe 'til morning light.

Help me to know thy love for me
So I a loving child may be
With generous thoughts and happy face
And pleasant words in every place.

Help me to always say what's true
Be willing in each task I do
Please help me to be good each day
And lead me in thy holy way.

I pray whatever wrongs I've done
You will forgive them every one
Be near me when I wake again
And bless all those I love.

Then I tuck Ginger in - tight- and she gets kisses, and Dolly usually gets presented for them too.

Then I sing our good night song - it is to the tune of Good Night Ladies. If you don't know it and would like the tune leave me a message in the comments and I can take a copy of the sheet music.  Obviously I substitute 'Ginger' for her real name:)

Good night Ginger
Good night Ginger
It's time to go to sleep.

Sleep well Ginger
Sleep well Ginger
I'm going to leave you now.

Then I say 'good night' and leave her to self settle.  She is usually asleep by 7pm.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

As usual on a Thursday, joining Like Mother, Like Daughter.


What I love about a visit to the op shop is you never know what you will find.  I picked up this bookshelf for a couple of dollars yesterday.  It is sitting on our fridge now with our favourite cookbooks on it. 


Even better is that the removal of aforementioned cookbooks from the main bookcases freed up room for me to move books from the bottom shelf of the small bookcase and so devote the whole bookcase to the storage of Ginger's toys.  Finally, there are no toys on the floor.  Everything has a spot.  Bliss in my book.

This "Let's Play" book is Ginger's absolute favourite read at the moment.  No sooner do you get to the end than she wants you to start at the beginning again.  If you ask her to pick a book for you to read she always chooses this one.


We are currently doing Heather's 30 Day Vegan program.  So, my shopping basket looked a little different this week and DH came back laden from the farmer's markets.  I came out from feeding Ginger after Church on Sunday to find a fruit and vegetable display on the kitchen bench.  DH just 'knew' I would want to take a photo for my blog!

Even funnier, after my dentist visit today I was sent home with Tooth Moose Plus to "remineralise my teeth".  That small red caution on the box says "Recaldent is derived from milk casien".  So much for the vegan lifestyle!


I was trying to get photos of Ginger last night so I could participate in Nicole's post on Bedtime Rhythm.  She was not feeling in the least cooperative.  She screamed through being changed (actually I was changing her, DH was photographer) and through her teeth cleaning!  Poor bub, she has a cold and two teeth cutting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Steiner School Open Day

I was all excited to post yesterday but then events intervened - like the three hour power outage, Ginger only taking a 30 minute nap and a trip to the dentist  - after which I had to come home and seek long-distance comfort from my Mum, as DH was not answering his phone. I am such a chicken when it comes to going to the dentist and now I have to go back for dental work on Thursday - nothing major but I had a very bad experience with a dentist as a seven year old and have, consequently, been scarred for life with regard to having any work done:)

Sending Ginger to a Steiner School (or Waldorf as it is known in the States) has been something I (as opposed to we!) have been mulling over for a few years; i.e. before Ginger even arrived on the scene.  I had been really looking forward to going to the Samford Valley Festivalley in a couple of weeks time.  In fact it has been on the calender for over a year.  But, service needs have intervened and DH is now going to be out field when it is on.  And, a 5 hour return trip with Ginger solo does not appeal to me.  So, instead, DH, Ginger and I went to the school open day on the weekend. 

I was so impressed with the school and it has confirmed everything I thought was wonderful about Steiner education.  It is not airy-fairy at all - the standard of the work was amazing.  DH was impressed too and has finally agreed it is a goer at least for primary school.  I was so excited about him being for it - as I have been enthusiastic for a while.  And, while not being dismissive of it, he has not exactly been enamored with the idea. 

Now to just make sure we are in a posting location with a school available!  While steiner and montesorri schools have been able to opt out of the national curriculum (the quality of which I think is questionable anyway - as do my parents both with 30+ years teaching experience) - they are setting up their own national curriculums so Ginger will be no worse off in a steiner school than a conventional school with regards to our regular moves.  Steiner schools do start kids a year later - ie - for Class 1 or Year 1 (here in Australia) they would be turning 7 rather than 6; though as my Mum said (with 35 years of conventional year 1 teaching behind her) a later start would solve half the remedial reading problems (particularly for boys).
Oh, and an apology in advance for the quality of these photos - I only had our point and shoot with me.

Ginger loved the early-childhood classrooms and had a melt down when we had to leave.  She was busy playing with Bertha (her doll - which she carried the whole 3 hours we were there) and the baskets. 

As you can probably tell from the volume of photos I was so inspired by the early childhood space and want to implement the ideas - and more particularly the simplicity in our own home.  I have put DH to work sourcing a circular saw from one of his work colleagues so we can make Ginger some tree-stump blocks!  

The next photos are of a mixture of lower primary classrooms.

Love, love, love the wicker baskets - they are one thing I keep my eye open for at op shops.

I had the Sunday School song - Joshua fought the battle of Jericho... stuck in my head after seeing this.

Isn't that peg idea great!

The school goes right through to year 12, but we got talking to the high school teachers and I forgot to take photos.  Did manage to snap one in the class 5 room (I think - I can't be sure anymore).

I have so much food for thought after our weekend visit.  The school just felt right to us. It might sound odd, but the parent group felt like they fitted us too - and, to be honest, I haven't really yet found my 'people' since Ginger has been born so the potential of finding a group of people I fit with was exciting.   DH even said he would consider Steiner for high school - a concession I never thought I would hear:)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

Is it really Thursday again?  Where has the week gone?

Joining in with Like Mother, Like Daughter.


I love the way the late afternoon sun hits our table.


Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh kookaburra, laugh kookaburra
Gay* your life must be.

We had a visit from old man kookaburra on the weekend.  He was just outside our kitchen window.  He nests in the tree beyond our back fence but has never come this close before.

*In light of political correctness gone mad, this is now taught to school children as 'happy your life must be'.


We bought Ginger a trike in the Target toy sale last week.  She is firmly disinterested in the trike itself, having screamed the whole time we took her for a walk with it.  The box, on the other hand, is a hit.


This is what the buying of a ALDI shopper looks like.  

That is, one who is about to lose access to ALDI for at least 2 years.  There are no ALDIs in Darwin.

What can I say? At $1 each the children's toothbrushes were a great buy.

DH says we will have to have more children to use them up.  I contend that the way Ginger chews her toothbrush we will be through them in no time.

Ginger and I got there early Thursday morning when their special buys start.  The queue snaked right round the building.  I had a private chuckle to myself - only in Australia, NZ, America or the UK would shoppers form a queue rather than just gathering en masse around the door.

I commented to the woman behind me that I hadn't expected this sort of demand for toothbrushes.  Turns out there wasn't that sort of demand - Ginger and I were the only ones seeking out the toothbrushes; everyone else was there for the spring garden buys and bathroom accessories.