Ms Betterhome


Birthday reflections

I’m celebrating with a work-at-home day (actually this is a very good celebration, and we will have veggie shepherd’s pie & bubbly later)

I thought I’d revisit the post on my priorities for the year, & see how things are tracking:

Home & relationships I said: I want to devote energy to MrB and our home & garden. That means having fun together, but also staying mindful of the household jobs that really niggle at him. The house is a bit dusty (and furry, thanks to our wonder pup), but in general, we’re on top of all the practicalities, and having a lovely time together. The various aspects of the sex/love constellation are all very sparkly, and I’m very happy (though not complacent, I hope).

Work I said: This year I want to thrive, not just survive!…That means preventing overwhelm by staying positive & forward looking, and focusing on eating well, and getting enough sleep & exercise. I wouldn’t say I’m overwhelmed – but I’m not super positive, either. My area is under-resourced, and I’m looking seriously into ways to make a lateral (or radical) move out of my current position. That said, I’m feeling strong, and well placed to move when I need to.

Exercise I’m still doing 30 mins of walking most days, taking the dog for a stroll, plus 3 x 20-40 minutes of yoga and pilates a week. I bought a couple of Exhale Core Fusion boxed sets, and have been loving their ‘Energy Flow’ DVD. My swimming dropped away in the wake of my last spate of work travel, I’ll get back into it next week. I also need to re-start my habit of getting up early to do 15-30 mins yoga or arm work in the mornings.

Food I’m still eating really well, but think I’ll do another 6 weeks of  myfitnesspal tracking from the 21st of May. My clothes are fitting well, and I’m feeling good, but I’d like to keep my good habits up.

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What I’m up to…

Well, I’m not doing the Independence Days Challenge this year. Work has already gotten crazy, and I’m trying to really take care of myself, so it’s first things first!

My personal priorities right now are:

Home & relationships I have a lot of travel this year, and I want to devote energy to MrB and our home & garden. That means having fun together, but also staying mindful of the household jobs that really niggle at him. I like Gala Darling’s take on keeping thing’s fresh.

Work This year I want to thrive, not just survive! This means planning ahead to manage my projects well, and making sure I delegate when I can. I currently have 4 staff, 2 who are pretty autonomous, another 2 who really only work on my projects… So I have to stay in a good place to supervise them properly and delegate (not dump) tasks appropriately. Plus I need to be in a good place to encourage and mentor them, so they can develop according to their own interests. That means preventing overwhelm by staying positive & forward looking, and focusing on eating well, and getting enough sleep & exercise.

Exercise I do 30 mins of walking most days, taking the dog for a stroll. I’ve added 3 x 20-40 minutes swimming or gym cardio per week, plus an additional 1-2 hours a week of yoga and pilates (using Gaim DVDs) , and at least a 1/2 an hour of dancing. I’ll be going to a day club to dance this afternoon. When I do it at home, I tend to do Gabrielle Roth’s Wave DVDs. I have her 3 DVD set – the Power Wave is my favourite. I’ve also started doing some arm work with light hand weights. I’m starting with 1.5 kilos, as my upper body strength is pretty ordinary.

Food I used the myfitnesspal app to keep a food & exercise diary for 6 weeks. I’ve stopped now, as I think I’ve learned appropriate portion sizes pretty well now… I’ll start again if I feel like I’m backsliding. I’m generally eating vegan with attention to getting some protein in all meals; minimising my intake of oil & processed foods (but getting plenty of plant fats in whole nuts & seeds); minimising flour products; and avoiding anything with added sugars, and limiting fruit to the equivalent of two small pieces a day.

According to the scales I didn’t lose kilos in the first 6 weeks, but my body has changed shape dramatically, and I’m fitting pants I haven’t worn for a while, so things are definately happening. I feel a lot stronger, and it’s much easier to climb stairs & hills.

Having said I’m not doing Independence Days, the truth is, we are still gardening, harvesting, cooking at home and buying in bulk. This week I did a big stockup on organic, fair trade coffee, bulk rice (from Honest to Goodness), and tinned tomatoes & beans (from Aldi).



Independence Days 2012 week 1
February 11, 2012, 9:27 am
Filed under: independence days, learning

I had a killer week at work, so did the bare minimum. But in keeping with this challenge, I’m  counting my wins.

Plant something: no planting this week, but I’m doing some weeding & feeding.

Harvest something: green beans, purple king beans, cherry tomatoes, figs, lettuce, thyme, rosemary, basil

Preserve something: saved the overripe figs by making a fig sauce.

Waste not: froze the rest of the bread to avoid mould in the humidity. Usual composting & recycling.

Want not: no stockpiling or prep this week

Eat the food: used up frozen green vegetables that were getting old in a soup.

Build community food system: nothing really in this category.

Skill up: nothing here either… I eased into this challenge:)



Independence Days 2012
February 3, 2012, 2:51 am
Filed under: independence days, learning

Sharon Astyk is relaunching her Independence Days challenge, in a slightly amended form.

I like this challenge, because it’s all about acknowledging what you HAVE done, not beating yourself up over the things you skipped. The categories are:

Plant something

Harvest something

Preserve something

Waste not (ie using things up, deciding to cook from the pantry and freezer rather taking a run to the shops, composting and/or feeding scraps to animals)

Want not (building up stockpiles of food and other essentials ie soap)

Eat the food (trying new recipes, rotating your stockpile)

Build community food systems

And a new one: Skill up My big one in this category this year will be learning to drive.

I have participated in this challenge a couple of times, and while I tend to manage most items about once a week (except for the daily necessities of eating and composting), I have had trouble with ‘building community food systems’. So my (self-assigned) homework for next week will be working out what these categories mean to me.



Green tomato delights
June 6, 2011, 6:41 am
Filed under: food, gardening, independence days, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I’ve never really dealt with a large quantity of green tomatoes before, but my January planted Amish Paste tomatoes were showing definite signs of wilt. The cooler weather means they’re taking a long time to ripen (despite being up against a warm fence all day), and the flavour is pretty bland when they do.

Consequently, I decided to pull them out, & plant broad beans instead. The three plants yielded over 3 kilos of green tomatoes.

This prompted a fast google for green tomato recipes, and a big chopping session. I made a lovely pot of green tomato soup, tweaking the recipe I found on the gardening site in the hyperlink.

I also made some super intensely flavoured green tomato chutney, which I tweaked from a recipe on the same site. I may have gone a little overboard with the cracked coriander seed & the scoop of molasses I added to bump up the flavour of the white sugar I used instead of brown… but it was a very tasty experiment.



Food storage and ‘stockpiling’ – the basics

Sharon Astyk has a great post on her blog, with links to lots of her great, introductory posts on food storage, plus a lovely introductory post by Kathy Harrison.

I can wholehearted recommend their books on the subject, too: Independence Days (Astyk), and Just in Case (Harrison). I recently bought a secondhand copy of Apocalypse Chow, by Jon and Robin Robertson, which specifically caters to vegans, and seems more suited to shorter term food storage planning. I prefer that older version to their revised edition, re-badged as Vegan Unplugged. The newer book seems to me to be even more US specific, and not as useful for Australians (ie focuses heavily on a particular US brand of dried food). That said, the Vegan Unplugged website (link above) is well worth a look!



Harvest season
February 27, 2011, 12:27 am
Filed under: gardening, home & hearth, independence days, learning | Tags: ,

We’ve had a weird summer, but my garden produced a bit in the end. The Lebanese eggplants are still going crazy – I counted 10 on one plant.

And the beds themselves are wild & woolly. I’m letting the basil flower to attract the bees to the pumpkins & zucchini…I’d like to get a few more fruit before the weather cools down. I do cut it down when I’m ready to cook with it, but like the lettuce, I’m hoping it will self-seed for next year.

I’ll start planting winter veggies next week, after the new moon – I have some gaps around in the beds, though, as you can see by this shot, I’ve interplanted pretty solidly: