Back to it…

You may have wondered where we’ve been.  Well, we’re back from our trip up North and have been home for a few weeks now, but Instead of forcing myself back to the computer to write, I’ve waited until I feel ready again.

This morning I made bread again for the first time since we left, and I figured it’s time.


Scottish baps straight out of the oven

Family Time

In case you are wondering where we are – we’re taking some time out and traveling the East coast of Australia (Canberra to Cairns) to visit family and friends.

We’re a few days in and, to be honest, although traveling this sort of distance with a newborn hasn’t been a painless experience, I can say it has been particularly nice just being together as a family without many of the distractions of everyday life.

Just us, the road, and the next rest stop.

Catch you all in a few weeks.


Spring is definitely here.

Wow, I really wasn’t prepared for how quickly spring would set in this year.  I mean, usually it’s a more gradual transition – with every day getting slightly warmer, and in turn providing a bit more encouragement to spend time outside getting things ready in plenty of time, and normally I’m perfectly able to keep on top of things – but not this year!

It would seem that no sooner had I turned over the page of August on our wall Calendar, we skipped a month went straight from Winter (which has been extremely mild by Canberra standards) to mid-Spring!

Needless to say, I’ve been playing catchup these past few days.  Funnily enough, the garden seems to realise that I’m running behind and has gone about picking up the slack itself – self seeding lettuces, sage plants, zucchinis, tomatoes – and so on.

So here’s a quick look at some of the exciting changes in the past few days, with new things happening everyday.   Despite feeling a little stiff from all the crouching, I can’t wait to get out there again once the sun is up!


Blueberry flowers






Almond Blossom


Green manure crop




Broad Beans

Winners – 2014 Permaculture Calendar Giveaway

Hello everyone!

I’m very pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Permaculture Calendar Giveaway are:

Tracey and Jess64

Congratulations!  I’ll contact you both by email to get your postal address and send them on their way ASAP!

For those who weren’t so lucky – it just so happens that Richard has also set up a competition on the Permaculture Principles website to win one of 5 copies of the calendar!   So head on over and put your entry in – second time lucky!

2014 Permaculture Calendar Giveaway

Exciting news guys – I’m running a giveaway!

Richard over at Permaculture Principles and I have exchanged the use of one of my images in a promotion for a few copies of the just released 2014 Permaculture Calendar and it’s my pleasure to be able to give a copy each to two readers!  Note: Australian residents only (Sorry my international friends – I still love you – I’m just frightened of the postage costs!)


All you need to do is leave me a quick message in the comments section so I’ve captured your name – nothing special or difficult, and I will send you an email if you’re one of the two randomly selected winners.

The draw will be held on the 1st September at noon and I will shortly after announce them on the blog – the first day of spring – how appropriate!

If you’re not successful, but are interested in purchasing a calendar you can do it via the below weblink to the Permaculture Principles website.  While you’re over there, spend some time clicking around – it contains a wealth of wonderful information and resources.

Good luck!

Technology and living the simple life

Technology and the simple life.  No matter how I put those words together in a sentence it just doesn’t sound right.  Obviously I employed technology to prepare this blog post, to take the photograph, to distribute it across the internet and project it onto the screen of readers everywhere.  My entire professional career to date had been working for a technology company, and being a member of Gen Y, I grew up with computers and gadgets and toys with lots of flashy lights.   I should just naturally embrace technology without question, right?  – But if I’m to properly adopt the simple life, shouldn’t I be divorcing myself of this high tech world and adopting a more low tech existence?


This is a question that has been a focus for me over the last week.  In my job I’d been provided with a laptop loaded with all the software I needed to get my job done, a mobile phone with a plan that was covered by my employer and the ability to use both for an appropriate level of personal use.   I didn’t have any choice in the matter, it was just a tool you use to get work done, in much the same way a builder uses a hammer. So now that I need to hand back my two major pieces of technology on my way out the door, do I need to replace them? Really?

This is probably a question that everyone will answer differently.  Sure, my life won’t suddenly come to an end if I don’t replace my mobile phone and computer.  But everyone has different levels of appreciation towards how such things add value to their lives.

I found some words that were inline with my own personal thoughts in the text of this paragraph, taken from the Simplicity Collective website:

It should be noted that voluntary simplicity does not, however, mean living in poverty, becoming an ascetic monk, or indiscriminately renouncing all the advantages of science and technology. It does not involve regressing to a primitive state or becoming a self-righteous puritan. And it is not some escapist fad reserved for saints, hippies, or eccentric outsiders. Rather, advocates of simplicity suggest that by examining afresh our relationships with money, material possessions, the planet, ourselves and each other, ‘the simple life’ of voluntary simplicity is about discovering the freedom and contentment that comes with knowing how much consumption is truly ‘enough.

So what did I do?  – Well, I replaced them, but I did it my way…

I bought a low-cost, unlocked phone outright, and when it comes to subscribing to a mobile provider, I’m going for pre-paid, month-to-month and low cost.  I won’t receive any unsolicited offers to renew a 24 month contract and retire a perfectly good handset for a new one.  If a cheaper pre-paid offer surfaces with another provider, I can switch without feeling trapped.  If I ever decided to opt out completely I can, without being threatened with termination fees.  If the phone is to ever become lost or damaged, I don’t need to consider pricey insurance options or be concerned with hefty replacement costs – it wasn’t too expensive in the first place.

In terms of a computer, I claimed a second hand desktop for free, a few years old, that was “broken” and came with the Operating System and MS Office on CDs.  I’m pretty good at fixing computers, so after a bit of diagnosis and a new power supply and hard drive, it’s back up and running in all it’s former glory and should do me well for a few years more.

The nature of technology is that it is so quickly outdated (as much for fashionable reasons than practical reasons) and discarded like yesterdays newspaper.  Technology also doesn’t have a good reputation for being kind to the environment in terms of manufacture and disposal.   I think the best I can do to honour the impact it causes as part of it’s overall life-cycle is look after it to drive the most out of it, repair it where I can, and ensure it is recycled at the end of it’s functional life.   

And that, is doing technology in my own simple way.

On being made redundant

Wow – how quickly things can change.

I’m left feeling a little bit silly at the moment because not 24 hours after I had been publicly singing the praises of my employer in my last post, I received a call from my manager to inform me that my position has been made redundant and they were letting me go…


I kind of expected to get this call at some stage while I was on leave – they laid off nearly all members of my team the week before I went on leave – so really, it came at no great surprise.  In my mind I had even been entertaining the idea of being served a redundancy package with a bit of enthusiasm, but when it actually happened I have to admit feeling a bit funny about it all and spent a few days in the dumps as a result.

With that said, having had a bit of time to get used to the idea and apply some logic to the situation I’m happy with how things have turned out.   I really wasn’t looking forward to returning there after my 12 months at home – I’d been quite unhappy in my job for a while now and felt as though I was wasting my life just trudging along for the sake of it.  I wasn’t in a good place.

To my (ex) employer’s credit, they agreed to pay me the remaining unused balance of the parental leave in addition to my accrued long service leave as part of the base severance package.   All-in-all, I’ll end up with substantially more than if I had have simply taken the leave and resigned of my own accord at the end of the 12 months.

So where to from here?   I’m not exactly sure.  In the short term, nothing really changes – I’m still needed here in the home to help look after our new daughter.   If I take a longer term view, then you could say that I’ve been given a fresh start.  A chance to explore other options, whether that be in the same field or something different entirely.  It’s all up to me.

Exciting times ahead!

Tracking the cost of living

Part of the deal in taking a year off work to take care of our newborn daughter, is accepting a reduced level of income.   I’m fortunate in that my employer will pay me parental leave, as I’m the nominated primary carer, and combined with long service leave, a bit of annual leave and some government benefits, I’m actually able to receive some sort of regular income (albeit reduced) for nearly the entire 12 months.

I’m very thankful to be in such a position, but I’m not taking it for granted.  Actually, I feel a heightened responsibility towards reducing costs, waste and becoming more efficient.


I thought we was doing pretty well for ourselves, but then a reader – Toby – put me onto a guy called Mr Money Mustache a few months ago.  His claim is that if you live a middle class existence your current lifestyle is “an exploding volcano of wastefulness”, and by changing your attitudes to a few things you can easily save 50%, or more of your income.    I’ve really enjoyed his no-nonsense perspective on finances and he’s inspired me to save even more.

Rhonda over at the Down to Earth blog recently wrote a series on reducing debt and gaining control of your finances.  I’ve followed through on her suggestion to track all spending via the “Track My Spend” app provided by the Australian Government.  I’ve always been pretty good at preparing a budget, but the next step of tracking actual expenses and performing a “true up” against the plan has never really happened.   It will be a month tomorrow since I started plugging in all our spending, so I’m looking forward to going over the numbers – I think the data will yield a few surprises.


Lake Walks

If someone told me they had a day in Canberra and asked me what I’d suggest for an activity, I’d highly recommend strapping on some walking shoes and heading out on the 4.7km (3 mile) bridge-to-bridge circuit of Lake Burley Griffin.
IMG_1040IMG_0583Mel and I would walk the circuit regularly, typically once a week on a Sunday, sometimes stopping for a coffee/tea along the way, but since the bub has arrived, putting some time aside to indulge in a few enjoyable pastimes has been just a bit difficult to achieve.

Since it was such a great day outside, and one of my sisters had popped over to visit, it was just the excuse we needed to all jump in the car and go for a walk.

IMG_0651IMG_0644Aside from the national institutions dotted around the foreshore, including the National Library, High Court, National Gallery and various memorials, the lake also offers the chance to spot a range of wildlife that also think it’s a nice place to call home, like this Australian Black Swan that put on a good show for the camera.

IMG_0790IMG_1009IMG_0906IMG_0732Being such a focal point in Canberra for both tourists and locals alike, you never know what you’ll come across down by the lake.  This time we were witness to a flyover by a few RAAF F/A-18 Hornets, marking the 60th anniversary to the end of fighting in the Korean War.

IMG_0976We had such a good time chatting and enjoying the sunshine.  It was just a fantastic day and I really am looking forward to the next time.  We may not have a surf beach in this inland city, but there’s plenty here for those who want to get out and experience it.

Please feel free to share one of your favorite activities offered by the town or city where you live, I’d love to hear about it!