It’s about to become Spring here in the southern hemisphere and where I am in Sydney Australia it’s sunny and breezy today. The dawning of Spring is often associated with new things and cleaning. Here are a few ideas I’ve gathered from various sources (thank you sources, though I don’t know who you are now 😊) to start spring off with some fresh, new beginnings.
Some Spring Things.
And if it’s not Spring where you are, the first of the month, the first day of the week or the next minute after you ready this are all good times to begin a fresh start.
Natural cleaning- Start phasing out chemical cleaning products and try using natural products like vinegar, bi-carb and essential oils. Look at my post here for natural ways to clean the fridge and microwave.
Decluttering- A great way to begin decluttering if you want to start slow or have trouble getting rid of things is the compound method. On day one declutter one thing, on day two declutter two things and so on. Work your way through the month.
Vision board- Make a vision board of one of your goals or the way you want your life to be. Use an app or Pinterest or go old school with pictures and words cut out from magazines pasted onto cardboard or into a scrapbook. Visualising your goals and desires helps manifest them.
Exercise- Start doing the type of exercise that you like and keep it relaxed yet consistent. Start slow if you have to or need to, something is better than nothing. Walk, dance, exercise to dvd’s and YouTube, bushwalk, Qi gong, play with the kids, climb the stairs. Keep experimenting, keep moving daily-even gently.
Diet- Cleaning up your diet can be hard to sustain- I can’t do it and probably won’t, in fact I don’t even want to because when I’ve been on a restrictive allergy or weight loss diet I’ve been miserable and felt very excluded from life. The easier approach is to begin making some changes and substitutions- one thing or one meal at a time. Change biscuits for morning tea to fruit, do it most days. Or substitute meat for fish or chips for popcorn, do it most days. Enjoy your treats and splurges. Be grateful for fresh and healthy and abundant food.
Saving- Save money now for Christmas, a holiday, a rainy day or any other goal. Try saving all your coins instead of spending them , transfer money into your savings account the day you get paid or finding a saving system that works for you. I will have a future post on this.
Giving- Give some money, give some time, donate your clutter, give a complement, give a smile, make small talk with a stranger or an aquantance – you never know who needed a connection with a caring human to save them that day,pray for someone or the world.
Thanking- be grateful, say it ,think it, write it- in a journal or in a thank you card or text to someone. Thank people in person or write it or write to their companies head office or their boss. Give thanks for clean water, electricity, your kids, your car, your strong legs, your friends, your safety.
Affirming- Start the practice of aiming for positive thoughts, words and self talk . This can turn your day and your life around. Take as much time as you need to keep counteracting the negative with positive. Preempt the negative by saying affirmations throughout the day. Post them on your mirror, fridge and social media. Read and listen to and watch affirmations – check out Louise Hay, the affirmation queen.
Reading/learning- Read every day, you can read more than one book at time, you can mix fiction and non fiction. Watch things that teach you something. Learn a skill. Take a course. Listen to people. If someone asks you something you don’t know-find out about it. If a child asks you or is interested in something find out about it together.
Being present- Take your eyes off the screen, look at people, watch your kids, let them see that you see them and hear them, turn off the background noise, look at the scenery, watch the road, try mindfulness.
Simplifying- Simplify your life for a more relaxed life with more time for what you want to do. Check out some of my posts on simplifying things such as Life when you’re sick or tired or Mornings or Breakfast or Lunch boxes. Read this blog, other blogs and books and watch YouTube videos on simplifying. Find out what works for you. Figure out what you can let go.
Slowing down- Use your simplified life to have more down time, alone or with your family and friends. Enjoy the seasons-the weather, the seasonal or festive food, the changes in nature. Be a homebody, try Hygge for a comfortable life, drive slower, walk slower, eat and drink and talk slower, amble and wander.
Let me know about your Spring things in the comments below or on Facebook 😊🌟💛
If you’re interested in natural yet simple housecleaning check out the hints below.
To deodorise and clean stubborn food splatters from the interior of the microwave fill a microwave safe bowl or jug with water. Add a few slices of lemon or even lemon halves that have already being juiced. If you have them you can also add a couple of whole cloves. Heat this mixture on high for five minutes then allow to stand for a few minutes. The baked on splatters should then wipe of easily with a soft cloth and the microwave will also smell fresh.
Wipe down the exterior of the microwave with a soft cloth dampened with a vinegar/water solution ( 1 cup of warm water and a couple of capfuls of cheap white vinegar) . Dry and polish any streaks away with a soft dry cloth.
Keep a plate cover in the microwave to encourage people to cover their plates or containers before heating food. If they use it, it will save a lot of work.
Clean the refrigerator the day of or the day before you do your grocery shopping. Do this each week and it will be faster and easier to clean. You will also be able to write your grocery list as you go and save money and cut down on wastage by buying only what you need and not buying what you already have and by seeing what you can use up before it spoils.
Try using plastic baskets or a similar type of container to keep like items together. Find containers that are easy the see items through and that are easy to wash. Plastic baskets are found in discount stores and also in the supermarket- often the aisle where the laundry products are kept. If you are watching your budget buy one a week until you have the supply you need. Otherwise you might already have suitable containers such as food storage containers that have lost their lid, or the plastic punnets apples and other fruit are sold in. This is a great way to recycle.
Consider lining the vegetable crisper drawers with old but clean tea towels or placemats. This saves on cleaning and absorbs moisture. When they become soiled or damp, wash and dry them, wash out the drawers and then re-line them.You can also use paper towels but they’re not as durable or eco friendly.
When cleaning start at the top of the fridge, working down to the vegetable crisper then back up to the top of the door and work down from there. Do the same with freezer.
Have an ready;
an empty bin
a compost bucket
a bowl or ice cream container filled with warm water with a couple of capfuls of vinegar and a capful of vanilla added
a sponge with a soft scourer on one side
a dry cloth or tea towel
and a notebook and pen for the grocery list.
Take all items off the first shelf. Check for freshness and check use by and throw out or compost any spoiled food. Write anything you need to replace or are low on, on you grocery list. Wipe down containers of items you are keeping and sort them into baskets if you are doing so. If the baskets also need washing do this too. Wipe the shelf over and under with the damp sponge and dry it before replacing the food. Continue on with this until the shelves and inside door are finished.
Wipe down the sides of the door and door seals with the same vinegar/vanilla solution and dry well.
Add an opened container of bi-carb to the back of the top shelf- it will absorb odours.
Wipe and polish the refrigerator door handles and the door. A spray bottle filled with 1 part white vinegar and 4 parts water with work for most surfaces. Add a capful of eucalyptus, tea tree or lavender oil (or all three) to make a sweet smelling cleaning spray the naturally disinfects as well.
Never use abrasive cleaners or cloths on the outside of appliances like the fridge, microwave or dishwasher. They will cause scratches. A vinegar solution or methylated spirits on a dry cloth will make stainless steel doors shine.
When your fridge is clean and tidy look at what you have left and try to incorporate that into your next weeks meal plan.
Clean your freezer in the same way if it is frost free. If it is not you will need to find your owners manual- it should be online if you don’t have a physical copy- because there are safety precautions you MUST follow.
Do you have any tips? Share in the comments below and subscribe for more aSimple Life 🌟
Target Australia Linens and accessories.
The bed and the bedroom is probably one of the most important places for the chronic illness sufferer. Good, restful sleep is high on the list of healthcare protocols for wellbeing and for coping with day to day life, whether you are ill or not and it is of major value in treating illness.
The condition of your bed and bedroom will help add to the quality of your sleep, and even if you are not sleeping well, a comfy bed and a clutter free space is more calming.
If your bedroom needs some attention go into it right now and sit with paper and pen and make a list of what could be done.
The list might include:
Decluttering and moving out things that don’t belong.
Packing away clothes.
Creating space on your nightstand.
Organising the things you need at night or when unwell so they are at hand or easy to get to.
Sorting out books etc
Buying new pillows, adding a mattress topper to the bed.
Making any adjustments you can to reduce noise or light or other irritations.
If you are able, outfitting the bed in comfortable linens will make a difference. This can be done as you can afford it and as items go on sale. Have a running shopping list of your needs and wants in your purse or on your phone.
Make the bed every day if you can. Even if you think you are getting back in it before too long. It just feels better to look at and to get into and it saves embarrassment if someone comes by. It doesn’t have to be perfect either.You can even start pulling up the sheets and various layers while you are still laying down, then straighten them up when you get up and plump up the pillows. Or you can make one side first and then the other and skip tucking when you can’t do it.And for the ultimate in ease in bedmaking you can forgo a sheet and blankets, if it doesn’t bother you, and just have a fitted sheet on the mattress and a quilt with a washable cover, that is easily pulled up in the morning. Children can do this too, they often prefer it to the tangle sheets can make.
You may need more pillows that the average person for comfortable sleeping and as props. A cot pillow or another small pillow placed under the knee or any tender spot may help. Use as many as you need. Regular pillows can be used to support the neck and arms. Make sure the pillow slips are gentle on your skin. Large pillows can support your back and prop you up while reading etc. pillows can prop up books or a iPad etc to give arms a rest. Do some research online and try some different types of pillows out instore or at home. Possibilities such as down or memory foam might work for you. I find comfortable pillows are an individual preference.
If you need an electric blanket to relieve pain and wish to leave it on the bed during the summer months-do it. Why not use the type of bedding that makes you as comfortable as possible? Do whatever you can to make the bed as comfortable as possible.
It is not going to help your spirits to lay in bed and look at clutter, laundry that needs to be packed away and a treadmill that gathers dust. If you have piles of paperwork, books, craft projects that you can see that need attention it is going to stress you out.
Bit by bit, if you need to, take away what doesn’t bring you peace or add to your immediate wellbeing. Wherever possible move the clutter completely out of the home. Be careful what you bring back in. Use pictures of rooms you like as inspiration for creating your own serene space. Make space to add some flowers, a candle, a frame etc. Make space for your mind to be clear.
Maintain your space by keeping up with the tidying. If you are doing your own housework, keep it simple, but follow through on each job. If putting away laundry is your problem area do smaller loads and remind yourself that the two minutes it takes to put the clothes away is worth it for your serenity, and won’t really make a difference to your energy levels in a negative way.
If lights, noise, drafts, smells bother you do something if you can to rectify the issue. Block out curtains, covering lights on the tv with tape, sealing gaps in windows and around the door, and keeping ear plugs handy can all help your quality of sleep.
Sweet dreams 💤
Let me know your ideas and what’s worked for you. Share in the comments 😊🌟
Hey Audrey fans (or gift givers of Audrey fans) there’s a new book on the market to satisfy your Audrey cravings and there’s some pretty good advice in their too on how to capture some of the grace and simple elegance she was renowned for.
Here are a few of my favourite ‘simple’ themed quotes from the book.
There was absolutely nothing pretentious about her and that showed when she prepared a meal because her tastes were so simple.
She loved just being home with her family,we’d have dinner in the kitchen…she certainly respected and loved her career but her family really came first.
Audrey spent most of her time letting other people talk and letting other people move and be. And not just any people, but people she loved and respected and could learn from.
Her secret may have been in her understanding of balance and moderation and in knowing herself and listening to herself. ‘I have to be alone very often…that’s how I refuel’.
Every time you feel vulnerable, everytime you’re scared, every time you do what’s right for you despite the naysayers, and you don’t die and the world doesn’t end and you wake up the next day, you turn vulnerability into strength.
Even if your an urban dweller and you can’t imagine living anywhere else, you might remember what Audrey valued about the countryside and try to incorporate it into your daily experience. To cultivate a sense of delicacy, immerse yourself in nature, spending time away from the harsh lights and sounds of the city and its crowds.
Walking! Relaxing! Breathing.These are Audrey’s self professed “rules” of living.
Have you heard about Hygge yet? It’s a Danish word (pronounced hue-gah) apparently without translation, and describes bringing a coziness, warmth, companionable and peaceful atmosphere in your home, your social life and life in general. Well, that’s a kind of definition- it’s my humble attempt anyway. There are books and blogs and YouTube videos sprouting up trying to define Hygge but most agree it’s easier to live it than to define it.
How do you live it? Well for some it’s candles and cozy socks, wine and friends and a fireplace. For me it often is letting the sun in, feeding my sons lots of home cooked meals and desserts, reading to the youngest one in bed, and chatting on the phone about movies to my eldest, putting my pj’s on early and reading or watching a sitcom or an old movie, setting a friend up on the couch with a cup of tea and a cozy throw. I was living it, some of the time, without even knowing it. Maybe you are too.
If I think about, it I was mostly practising Hygge when I was consciously trying to be good to myself, when I was trying to create comfort and peace against hard times, but mostly my Hygge efforts would be applied to someone else rather than me. And now I think back, when I needed it most is when I let my Hygge efforts lapse, when times went from hard to very hard or even just to normal and busy.
Why is that so? Why do I say Hygge takes effort? It’s interesting because theoretically it takes little effort to light a candle, slip on a robe, run a bath or make a hot drink. I think the effort is in the thought process-that IF you set up a Hygge atmosphere or treat that you should STOP and ENJOY it. I think that’s what it is for me. I might think, ‘ugh I couldn’t be bothered making a cup of peppermint tea and setting some biscuits on a pretty plate’, but what I’m really probably thinking is ‘ if I make myself a treat or make myself feel cozy…I have to stop worrying for a while and find pleasure in the tea and biscuit, I have to commit to the Hygge without getting up to do one more thing, I have to be able to say ‘hey everyone and everything I’m off the clock for a bit, don’t disturb me because I’m very important and am treating myself’. Let me tell you, I would NEVER say that.
So I have only been truly Hygge when I have felt kind of tired and in need of comfort, but not when I’m very in need of comfort. I haven’t been practising Hygge ‘just because’ either, and that, I am willing to bet, is the true practise ideal- to be Hygge anytime, all the time, just because you like it. Wow, that might involve some self-love and self-care there! Maybe that’s why the Danish are some of the happiest people on the planet, hmm, Oprah I think I’m on to something…
So from all this Hygge-nalysis I can conclude that-
*Hygge is important to me and I feel better for it when I practise.
*Hygge involves mindfulness and don’t you know mindfulness cures EVERYTHING!
*Hygge is a natural craving of mine that I often don’t feel able to ‘indulge’ in.
*My sons and my friends like my Hygge ways and I love doing it for them.
*I want to want to Hygge just for me everyday. I want to feel deserving of it and the time it may take and the related expense (though it’s mostly minimal).
*The more I decide to mindfully Hygge the more I will Hygge and reap the rewards. The more I Hygge for myself the more my family will reap the rewards of a relaxed mum.
*I don’t need to live in Denmark to become one of the happiest people on the planet.
Do you Hygge and how? Do you let your thoughts and beliefs hold you back from regularly practising Hygge like me? Comment below with your tips and and problems and support. If you’d like to engage with me more on topics subscribe to this blog 😊
Earth Choice Naturally Naked Dishwash Concentrate is my new mulitasking minimalist dream product-I use it to wash dishes and…
I used it as a hand wash!
Yes I do and it’s perfectly fine and suitable for me because I have sensitive skin and stay away from most fragrances and I am washing up or washing my hands ALL THE TIME!
It has no fragrances or dyes (it is colour free so it is minimal and looks good with any colour scheme), is plant based and contains Aloe Vera Extract and is vegan and cruelty free and is Australian made and owned-and it’s sold at a great price at Woolworths.
Best of all there is now one one soap dispenser on each sink-aah… The one in the bathroom handles hand washing, washing makeup brushes and sometimes delicates and I’ll even use it for a quick clean up of the sink or floor. The one in the kitchen is for dishwashing, cleaning and hand washing . I buy a bottle, pour half into each recycled soap dispenser and recycle the bottle- too easy-one thing to buy, store and recycle.
I will be talking about more favourite products and would love to hear yours too in the comments 😊🌟
Look at the tips below and keep them in mind for when you are are sick, tired or in a rush. The chronically ill, tired or rushed may decide to take on these tips full-time. Though some of the following are not exactly eco-friendly, you may decide that it is better to ‘bend the rules’ than succumb to fast food and that the convenience is worth the stress reducing benefits.
Consider writing down any tips, lists and recipes on a Simple Meals Action Plan chart. Keep this somewhere easy to locate, like inside the pantry door. If you are lucky enough to have ‘helpers’ they can find and use the chart too.
Plan ahead for the times when getting a meal on the table will be a challenge by making double quantities of dishes that freeze well. Label and store the extra portion in the freezer for up to 3 months. Check out books and websites and Pinterest for recipes that deal with freezer cooking or ‘Once a Month’ or batch cooking.
Make a list of meals that can be cooked in only one or two pans, or in the crockpot. Try some new recipes for one-pot or crockpot cooking and add these to your repertoire. Aim to have all your recipes in one easy to find location.
Meals made in the oven or rice cooker require less standing and ‘slaving over a hot stove’. Search for recipes that bake rather than panfry, e.g. lamb chops can be baked on a rack in a disposable baking pan. Many rice cookers can make dishes such as paella, pilaf, risotto and more, look in the instruction booklet or on the internet for ideas.
Use disposable baking dishes,pie plates etc. Line baking trays or sheets with foil or baking paper to make cleaning easier.
Label leftovers and extras that you don’t want eaten before you have a chance to use them for a meal.
Make double amounts of browned mince or chicken or beans etc for future meals. Put the extra servings in a labelled,airtight container for up to three days.
When chopping vegetables chop enough for two nights. Store the next nights’ veggies in the fridge in an airtight container lined with a paper towel and they will stay fresh.
Boil extra potatoes. Mash half for next night or the night after and either reheat them or use in a dish such as cottage pie, fish cakes, croquettes etc.
Have a kettle of boiling water ready to deglaze and clean saucepans and frypans to eliminate the need for soaking and scrubbing.
Fill the sink with hot, soapy water and wash utensils etc. as you cook or stack them straight into the dishwasher. This will mean having an empty sink and making room in your dishwasher BEFORE you start cooking.
Try the method that chefs use called Mise en Place ( pronounced miz on plas) which means to having everything set out. Gather, prep, measure and chop before you start cooking.
Make extra at dinner time for lunch. Pack lunches while you prep for cooking or as you are cutting up veg or fruit for that meal and before you automatically put the leftovers away.
For a super easy meal look in the fridge at leftovers and see if they can be made into a meal or have a cold dinner of salad, cheese, any smallgoods or deli items you might have. Try ‘breakfast for dinner’ it’s usually quick to cook when you want a fast dinner.
Have some ready-to-cook meals like pasta and sauces available or frozen meals or frozen chicken tenders or the like in the freezer to ‘help out’.
Some specialty food shops have ready to heat meals that are quite healthy and can help you out, look especially at stores selling ethnic food, at bakeries and fruit markets for Italian,Greek and other ready to heat meals.Check out the healthier options for take away either at a fast food chain or a local cafe or resturant, even if you buy the cooked chicken or ready to heat pastizzi for example and add some rice and salad at home, for example, you can save some of your energy.
Hopefully the above tips will help you get a meal on the table with less effort and stress but don’t feel at all bad about buying take away or a bar-b-que chicken or even serving sandwiches when you need to. Guilt stemming from not serving the family a Masterchef style meal every night is just not going to help anyone. Your family would rather you be happy and calm and feeling well.
Feel free to comment and share your tips in the comment section. Don’t forget to subscribe for updates and share this blog with other mums who want a simple life!
If you or your family have a ‘go to’ breakfast like cereal or toast with an egg for example,that is great but some people have problems eating breakfast due to reasons, such as those below, that can be remedied.
* Being too rushed- planning breakfast, establishing a morning routine and simplifying can help you have the time to sit down and enjoy your breakfast-even if you have kids!
* You or your child has no appetite in the morning or has food allergies or preferences that may take time or require special ingredients- thinking outside the ‘cereal box’ will help. Typical breakfast food are NOT the only thing that need be on the menu.
* Your family wants a hot breakfast or craves variety- a little planning and pre-preparation will allow you to serve a pleasing breakfast.
* When you think about the cooking and clean up cereal or toast is just easier- True, a quick and easy breakfast is a great idea, but there are options if you are willing to plan ahead.
Any of the following ideas are worth considering if you want to simplify breakfast or enjoy a more substantial breakfast without stress or taking too much time.
* Write a list of possible meal ideas that you and your family enjoy or would like to have. Refer back to this list when preparing the grocery list. When you read the hints below, add any new ideas to this list. Check out the Internet, especially Pinterest, for appetising inspiration. Look up ‘mug cooking’ ‘breakfast bowls’ ‘overnight oats’ for example and prepare to expand your culinary horizons.
*Keep your staples on hand ALWAYS .For example,have bread in the freezer and plenty of milk and allergy free alternatives (if required). If you don’t write a shopping list START NOW or do you like going to Woolies for soy milk in your slippers?
* Set the scene the night before , maybe after the dinner clean up, by laying out placemats, crockery, cutlery etc. A child can do this – and probably should before they get anymore screen time! Think about what pots and utensils you will need and have them ready on a shelf or corner of the counter.
*If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher empty it at night so it’s ready for the breakfast run. If you’ve got dishpan hands like me fill the sink as you fill the kettle and wash as you go. Aim to clean up so you’re next meal isn’t sabotaged by crusty bowls and grungy pans.
* Prepare any ingredients you can ahead of time. When you are preparing ingredients for another meal STOP AND THINK if you can also prepare something else now for another meal. Say you are chopping veggies for dinner, spend a couple of minutes chopping some more for an omelette or similar. Store them extra in a ziplock bag or airtight container and it will be available for the next few days.
* Pre- measure dry ingredients for your own ‘make-ahead’ mixes. If your are making or planning to make muffins, scones, piklets etc measure a few extra batches of the dry ingredients and store these in labelled plastic containers or ziplock bags in the pantry. On the inside of the pantry door have a copy of each recipe with the ingredient list divided into dry and wet categories and also include the method and oven temperature. When you want to make the item the recipe is within easy reach. You will already have the dry ingredients measured and sifted and need to simply add the wet ingredients, mix and cook. Pikelets on a Tuesday should no longer be too much of a problem.
*Leftovers for breakfast-why not? Look at other cultures, breakfast is more varied that we often think. You’ll find variations such as rice dishes, cold platters of meats and fruit and veg, and hot meals that will keep you going until lunch. I’m not suggesting cold pizza out of the box but why not leftover fried rice or savoury mince or spaghetti bolognaise (growing boys love it!) Use leftover roast veggies to make a frittata or have on toast.
*Cook the breakfast ahead and heat it up as required. As my boys need it, I make extra or cook more food alongside the evening meal for lunch boxes or reheating for breakfast. I often do this all during the day to ease the dinner time workload. Some extra chicken breasts or browned mince or burger patties do not go astray when the ‘little ones’ are becoming ‘big ones’! One caveat, label or hide anything you want to serve for a specific meal because the fridge may get raided by growth spurting bandits.
*Don’t judge the minimalist. Some kids and grown ups never deviate from their ‘same ole’- let em be. Overall variety during a week of meals matters more than switching up breakfast everyday. If junior is a vegemite on toast enthusiast ensure that the variety is introduced at other mealtimes and snack times-peacefully too I might add. Don’t fret- a stressful eating environment causes more lifelong challenges than a more ‘relaxed’ attitude.
I have come to the point when I can eat the same thing day in and day out for most of the time. It’s a health and simplicity decision for me. My son is currently needing more variety and volume so I can provide that using the tips above-it’s no trouble and I know it’s getting him through the school morning /soccer game.
Share you’re tips and problems and support in the comments. Let me know what you’d like to read about. Subscribe for updates sent straight to you inbox.
🌟Simple Life Mum
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