Thursday, October 12, 2006

Living the good life?



We´ve been busy lately...the boys are back at school which meant buying new shoes, clothing, books and stationary, finding new ideas for lunch boxes and ways to get the boys back into the swing of homework and study after our lovely, long 8 week summer break.
I am not one to waste or overspend BUT it was a real challenge this year. The school doesn´t need the boys old books to recycle(?), no - it´s not possible to use last years physics/biology/chemistry exercise book again this year (even though not even half of it has been written in) and it so frustrated me to see the difference in price when it came to buying "natural" clothing and shoes compared to made in China/India/Taiwan.
We spent one afternoon going through the boys old school books and tearing out anything of interest to make folders that we´ve put in the car so the boys have something to read and exercises to do on long trips or while we are waiting in the car. We made small notebooks from pages that hadn´t been written on, I´ll be making fabric covers for them and we can use them as gifts or as shopping lists and journals. There were still 3 paper carry bags full of paper to throw in the recycling bin after we´d finished. I bought glue, pencils, erasers and other stationary in bulk which will save us a lot of money in the long run but burnt a hole in my pocket on shopping day and we washed all the pencil cases and school bags which had them looking like new - I know people who buy a new school bag every year because the old one just isn´t "in" anymore. There are plenty of other things I´d rather do with €70 (per school bag).
As for school lunches...this is only one challenge amongst many when it comes to feeding 3 healthy and fast growing young boys/men. I don´t want them to eat rubbish, I don´t want them to eat products that come wrapped in 3 layers of plastic that have lots of numbers in the list of ingredients - but I also don´t want them to throw away their lunches because they taste horrible(even though they may be healthy) like I used to. So we have made a list of things that they like and that are nutritious and don´t cost a fortune. I bake bread, cakes, muffins and scones on the weekend and freeze them, we also buy locally grown apples and I make yoghurt twice a week - so they have a bit of choice and variety.
The main reason I started baking, making my own yoghurt, marmalade and cordials was to stop the flow of plastic going in and out of our house. It seems that you can´t buy a loaf of bread these days that doesn´t come in a plastic bag. We used to have a 60 litre bag full of plastic every week and now we don´t even fill one bag in a month. We refill our glass bottles with our own rasberry cordial every August, the only other drink we buy is apple juice which we buy from a local farmer in glass bottles that he takes back when they´re empty. We used to buy tetra packs of apple juice and orange juice - aswell as milk which we now buy from the farmer up the road for the same price as in the supermarket. We have 2 plastic 2 litre jugs which we fill up every second day, saving us and average of 14 tetra packs in a week just for milk. Our other main source of plastic was yoghurt containers - there is only one brand of yoghurt here which comes in a glass and it´s 3 times more expensive than other brands. I used to buy it when the children were smaller but now we need so much more and it´s just too expensive. I found an easy recipe for making my own yoghurt here and I make 2 batches from 2 litres of milk every week, mix it with jam, cordial or fresh/frozen berries and the kids love it. It´s a great drink too if you mix it with a bit of milk.
As for the clothing issue - it didn´t turn out too bad as my Mum bought loads of t-shirts for all 3 boys when we were in Australia and I decided a long time ago to buy only jeans for the boys which I brighten up with some jeans dye every 6 months or so to get rid of those faded knee patches. I love to buy things from here, I will just have to think ahead about sizes and buy things for the following year when they´re on sale. The same with shoes, I keep my eyes open for specials and the boys have a second pair of old shoes to wear at home for playing football and climbing trees. Winter is just around the corner and I will be sorting through the ski suits and winter sports equipment, selling the stuff which is too small on Ebay and buying larger things with that money.
I have come to realise that when I worked more hours I was earning more money BUT also spending more money to have things that I now am able to make myself, like healthy food. Having more time has definately improved the quality of life for me and my family and getting on the "use what you have" path has really changed our direction. If you´d like to read more about simplifying and making some changes look here.
green fox barking living the good life little brown dress everyday simplicity greenjewls

10 comments:

African Kelli said...

Oooh, I am all about this! Awesome post! I want to simplify my life as much as possible. Thanks for the links.

dani (pyglet) said...

Really great post! Thanks fir the info.

jorth said...

I am so happy to have read this post! You're very inspirings (doing a gleeful jig over your efforts!)

Anonymous said...

Hi Claudia,
Thanx for sharing all your simple, practical and forward thinking ideas. I look forward to hearing more!

Barb said...

Truly an inspiring post. We often hear about what we should be doing to help the environment and have healty eating habits, but you've gone one step further and explained HOW is can be done! Thank you for sharing this info with us.

Kristine said...

Wow! As crazy as it sounds, you have really given me a lot to think about. Maybe I'll do 'use what I have' Christmas presents...

megg said...

hi Claudia! I'm sorry I've been so absent. I just wanted to say how INSPIRING your post was. I am so impressed that you are doing what you can and that you are teaching your boys the same lessons. You are such a great Mom and such and inspiration!! Wow.

Colorsonmymind said...

Wow this is so inspirational-all that you put into action.

I love it and man are you making a difference in what you do todayu and how you are teaching your sons by modeling.
Tremendous.

I will check out those links now.

Laini said...

Wow, I am so impressed with all the things you make! I am pretty sickened by our plastic consumption too. One of our favorite places to shop is Trader Joe's, and it's got great unique foods, but tons of packaging. And I didn't know about jeans dye -- what a good idea for a bunch of boys.

Ash said...

Lovely post!