A quest or two

Today in my work break I scoured the shelves out the back in the “Expired” pile of food. I put the veggies (and such goooood veggies) in my Bolsa bags and went on my merry rejoicing and singing loud Hosannas.

At the register I was told by the girl putting the groceries through had these bags. At my locker, the assistant manager told me that she also had these bags. Another co-worker asked me where I can buy these bags. It turns out that people are so interested in saving on packaging and plastic but they just need someone to start the conversation! I love this – but I hate it at the same time. If you’re interested in something, start the conversation yourself, most especially when it is bringing good into the world!

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Now I’m home and I’ve been preparing dinner for a couple of hours: homemade pasta, salmon, roasted veggies, creamy sauce. I know that I have a whole heap of spare time right now, so that is why I’m throwing myself into this whole Zero Waste thing: later, when I’m working more or maybe even back to study, I won’t have the time and I might lose some of my drive.

I really don’t want anyone to think that what I am doing is impossible. I do other things with my time and I recently went to a Zero Waste talk by the founding mother of the entire concept (when it comes to a Zero Waste personal life), Bea Johnson. She works full time but can contain her yearly waste in one jar. It’s amazing. I love it. I want to be like that. But right now I know it is going to take a while: to get rid of plastic bottles of shampoo alone it will take a few more months. But I’m not giving up or slackening (very much… sometimes I fall or stumble, but if I fail a little and improve, it’s more impressive, right?)

So, that’s just my little story on a few random things. Let me know about your own Zero Waste stories and happenings! I love to hear about it so much!

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Bees’ knees

Made a mess, but made something pretty too.

I did a project!

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On my way to reducing my waste to as little as possible, I have made some beeswax wraps! Unfortunately I can’t give you a great method to do this, as I have not had the best results, but I do have some pretty great advice:

  • Use baking paper. I was so close to not using any, but thank goodness I did: without it, I would have had a massive mess. As it is, the mess was only mediumish. More particulalry, use more than enough – it can be re-used, and saves a lot of time afterwards in cleaning wax off oven trays.
  • Use a pretty material. For one thing, it’s pretty. For another, it will interest other people to think of doing the same or purchasing some ready-made ones.
  • Cut some different shapes, and don’t worry about the whole inches and measuring thing – leftover food doesn’t come in uniform sizes, so food wraps don’t need to either!
  • I used a knife to cut chunks of the besswax from my hefty blocks, which was good because I didn’t damage my awesome Microplane grater, but nearly caused a significant injury way too close to my tummy-button. Be careful if you do this.
  • This website falls into my own hobby categorisation: fun, pretty, eco-friendly, cost-efficient – How To Make Your Own Reusable Food Wrap

I hope that that helps anyone out there who wants to have a go! And please, send me your advice too!

About one year ago today

A blog about personal growth using time to compare self? It’s been done. BUT it has never been done by me. I’m not saying that that means it will be fantastic, but it will be fantastic for me.

About one year ago today I was preparing to go to Italy by the end of the month. I felt like I knew what was going on, having gone to Malaysia for four months the previous year. The flight got delayed, I missed my first day of class, but I was not worried. I met some interesting people, ate some good food, whiled away a while in the hotel we got put up at, and got on the next plane.

Now, I feel like I want to travel, but I also feel as though it would be a far greater challenge. Somewhere along the way I’ve lost some of that fire and pizazz, the soul always looking for adventure. I want to find it again though. I’m not content.

One year ago I was talking to a boy I met online – maybe even a couple of boys. A couple of days ago I was asked by a particular one to move in with him. To clarify, he is the only one I’m talking to like that, and I mostly talk to him in real life, when he lights up my day. I wonder if my relationship with him has been me dependent on him, because I love him to bits. The change from being stubborn and proud is probably good, but I miss the old me who would go and tackle random activities without having to ask or check that I’m not interfering in any plans. It’s not that he would ever make me feel guilty, I am just very accomplished at doing that to myself.

One year ago I had recently discovered kombucha, and the making thereof. I would make it in the kitchen at residence and then keep it in my room. As one boy said, I would “make moldy drinks in my room”. I now have a bit more of a repertoire in fermeted foods and drinks, and it has led me to find out a lot more about the plastic-free movement which has inspired me to do what I can to help the environment, maybe even make a career out of it.

One year and a few weeks ago I was moving from residence at university to move in with a friend. A friend who is quite different to me, but we rub along. This morning, while walking back to our place from my boyfriend’s (soon to be our!) place, I remembered that a year ago I reckoned I could handle whatever she threw at me – figuratively speaking! And yes I can. Sure, sometimes I get a bit weighed down, but I can handle so many things.  have passion, people who love me, very few friends but the ones I have are real, my beautiful dog who I will visit tomorrow, and an unconquerable spirit.

Just writing this makes me think of how I was: freer, caring, generous, adventurous. One of my sisters loves hearing my stories, saying that interesting things always seem to happen to me. That may be true, but, to some extent, I make them happen. And I will make them happen again.

Plastic free aesthetic

I have recently made the pledge to go plastic free. Is my apartment suddenly pristine, with cute little jars with labels stacked neatly in the cupboards? Nope.

Will I ever get my apartment completely plastic free? Nope.

Have I stopped bringing things home that have single-use plastic packaging? Nope.

Look, it’s pretty hard. Milk is my stumbling block right now. I feel like I am making excuses, like “I need to use it up before I throw it out”, and “Surely this little bit won’t matter…”, and “I can’t help it f I get plastic gifts for my birthday!” The key, I think (although I am really new to this lifestyle change) is to remember “Everything in moderation. Except plastic. I hate plastic.”

So, the rules I have set up are:

  • Treat it like an adventure. Since this is my pledge, I get to do as I want with it. Instead of ringing up every supermarket in the area, I’ve decided to take trips to each one in quest of milk in glass bottles, or paper cartons. This way, I get to know my area a little better, find some interesting products hopefully, and have something to do with my non-working days that gets me outside!
  • Do use up the stuff you have. To me, going plastic free goes hand in hand with using less, buying less, making do with less, and, ultimately, throwing out less. If I use up the moisturisers, tooth brushes, shampoos, conditioners, etc. that I already have, I can repurpose them. Those bottles and things will be re-used as bottles for homemade shampoos, and what-have-you, and even toothbrushes can be reused as tiny little scrubbers, or even garden signs.
  • I have a timeline: 2019 sounds like the perfect time to be completely single-use plastic free.
  • I can not force other people to adopt the lifestyle change for me. For instance, I can’t make my housemate clean out the bin because I don’t want to use bin liners any more. Two options are: keep using the bin liners, or, I take responsibility for the bins. Yep, it’s not all pretty jars and fun hand-drawn labels in an artsy fine liner with cute pictures (I suck at drawing, and most fine liners have plastic in them anyway, so…. I guess I’ll have to suffice with plain, hand-written labels in pencil)
  • I’m doing a good deed here. If I have a few setbacks, like every time I want a milky chai at home so I buy another bottle, I feel guilty. But I need to remember that I have made progress already, and that this project is doing good. I support businesses with the same inspiring mindset, and lessen my waste as I go. I am also learning a lot about the environment and interesting alternatives, as well as how a little change makes a big difference.

I hope we can all remember this when we do anything – big or small – to improve our world. Sure, the plastic-free aesthetic is awesome and pretty and sleek and how I want my apartment to look…. off track. I may want those things, but knowing that I am helping the environment a tiny bit makes the real difference, and is the real motivation.

A Return to the Familiar

Familiar. Adjective. From the mid-14th century. Denoting intimacy, friendly footing. From he Old-French famelier. Of or pertaining to one’s family.

Right now, that is what I crave.

On the outskirts of Paris, in a hostel that has a push-button shower and smells all over of cigarette smoke, I long for home. I am positively pining for it. But it’s not just the hotel and it’s think blankets, or the rainy weather that make me want home and all of its little familiar things around me. I just really love home.

Little Women is one of my absolute favourite books, and I quite enjoy the two film adaptations I have seen. The 1994 version sees Amy, lately back from Paris, showing her artwork. Sadly she says that she meant to paint some famous landmark but that she could not get Orchard House out of her head. I feel like that’s me.

(As the youngest member of a family endowed with four daughters, and having been spoiled a bit, yet having an independent streak and a wish for artistic talent, I feel like I identify with Amy quite a bit)

Away from home in a country and city I have been excited to visit, a feeling tugs at me, urging me to go home. Recently I felt unnecessarily panicky at the thought that something bad had happened at home, and I was racing to find out what it was. Turns out, it was nothing, but I had such a strong feeling, a real need to be home.

At the last airport, when flying from Florence to Paris, all that I wanted to do was to turn the nose of the plane in the opposite direction and command its pilot to fly every passenger to Melbourne, home. I was almost in tears at the thought of yet another change, and the continual sight-seeing. Sight-seeing is so interesting, educational, and beautiful. It’s also cruel, environmentally harmful, and artificial. When I go to look at some famous landmark, I may enjoy it, but all I do is look. I need to interact with something to really appreciate it.

One of my favourite activities in Rome was when my friend dropped her sunglasses into a crypt. Sure, I got my clothes dirty and skinned my shin trying to get them out, but I actually did something. I remarked to a friend that I felt like an archaeologist, and his reply was skeptical to say the least. I stick to it though.

When I was on a four-month exchange in Asia, despite the cultural differences, it being my first time overseas alone, the amount of time I travelled, I got to put down roots which made me feel like a person. I had university classes, a routine, I made a good circle of friends, and I got to know my way around, I even got a personal Uber driver (oh how I miss those days and discounted trips to the airport).

So, I guess that I am looking forward to actually being a part of society again. Functioning in the fabric of life, and not the tourist sector. Knowing that the cafe I have my lunch at is going to be worth it, having a car if I need it and not needing google maps every time I go out the front door. I look forward to having my family around me, and not needing to worry I will offend them if I use ‘tu’ instead of ‘vous’, or even vice versa.

I am excited for home and the love and familiarity.

Side note

“The noun meaning “demon, evil spirit that answers one’s call” is from 1580s (familiar spirit is attested from 1560s); earlier as a noun it meant “a familiar friend” (late 14c.). The Latin plural, used as a noun, meant “the slaves,” also “a friend, intimate acquaintance, companion.”” This is another etymological explanation of the word ‘familiar’. Always happy to share the fun facts!

My list

If you don’t know from previous posts, I have an obsession with my hair.

First, I need to update you on my last haircut – it is a rollercoaster if ever I knew one. After a lot of discussion, which escalated to arguments, with myself, I got a cheap haircut on campus. And not just a haircut: a fringe!

Or bangs. For me it was more of an explosion, I was so excited.

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The hairdresser cut a very thin fringe that poked up every which-way, and highlighted my grey hairs, which stuck up above the rest somehow. So, when I got home I did a bit of research, then took my scissors and hacked maliciously at it. It was fun, rather terrifying, and, strangely enough, I am happy with the result.

I am still engaged in growing my hair out and I have challenged myself to grow it faster than my friend is growing hers. She doesn’t know this, but it will give me great satisfaction to achieve it. Being overseas and therefore without my stash of hair products (including kitchen products), my hair-growing habits have turned to researching how to grow hair long and strong (which, I know, doesn’t actually do anything except make me eager to do those methods suggested).

But, it is time to make my own list. I’ve done enough research, enough repetitive reading, to make my own list with my own needs. Hopefully, this gives a few clues to others too!

  1. Don’t use avocado. As a student (or normal human being), it’s hard to afford this kind of thing. There is rosemary and lavender in the garden outside, and I always have a bottle of eucalyptus oil on hand. I suggest using things close at hand, doing a bit of research on them, finding out if they will actually work (rather than harm), and use it to your advantage.
  2. Take time. Obviously hair doesn’t grow overnight. Well, you know what I mean. Little things, like brushing your hair slowly, and not scrubbing it to dry, are so useful and should be part of your routine – not only for long hair, but for strong and healthy hair.
  3. This is similar to the first but I find that I’m kind of running out of things already! So much for all the research. This tip is: while buying hair products is fun, look into homemade alternatives. Usually cheaper, and always healthier, and pretty fun to concoct, homemade alternatives are better than bought. I keep them in jars in my room, and feel good about the fact that it’s more environmentally friendly than buying packaged goods.

Honestly I think that they are all the tips that I have. They aren’t much, but I think that it is important not to get sucked into the big consumerist ideas. True, a lot of my hair products are bought but I will not be restocking them. I have a homemade dry shampoo (with coco and cinnamon, it smells delicious), and a hair mask of olive and eucalyptus oils. I use the rosemary and for a steam, and I use other herbs for facial steams.

So, enough talk about my hair! I hope that this is helpful to someone! Remember: don’t buy into all the fancy packaging, all the lovely smells (you can make your own though!), and have fun doing some experiments of your own!

Hypocritical much?

The title is an attack on myself. This post, when compared to my last one, is very hypoctrical. You know that Greek guy, Hypocrites? (pronounced Hip-oh-kret-ees) Well, I’m his mother.

The word hypocrisies? It should be hypocrisis. Not that there’s a hippo crisis. There could be, but my own dilemma has turned my thoughts to myself in a selfish, artificial way.

The source of this dilemma, this conundrum? My hair.

I reeeeeally want a haircut. I would like to get a haircut. I’d love a haircut – I need a haircut!

Soon I will be going to Italy and I have heard a few times recently that, upon meeting me, people tend to thing I’m a goody-two shoes who sits home and knits. “Really boring”, one girl said. “A good girl”, a work colleague said. “Kind of quiet”, from another.

While I honestly do sit home and knit sometimes, and I’m more of an introvert than an extrovert, and I hate getting into trouble, I want to be someone who looks exciting and fun because, heck, I am fun.

But – I am scared. I don’t want to be passed over because I look boring. First impressions are big in this society – seeing someone’s face on a display picture on Facebook can define one person’s impression of another. I don’t want to look boring, I want something happening on my face, something that makes me stick in people’s mind.

I want a different look and my hair is something that can do that.

Even though it is superficial. Even though it *gasp* costs money. Even though it’s all of that – it’s just a haircut.

Buuuuut…. I want one.