Enough.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, etc etc. It's been way too long (understatement of 2017), here we are.

How do I know that it's this time of year again? The new trampoline in my front yard, the gushing tones of joy that my children are still using to describe Christmas, and, oh yes. The bullshit advertising that begins again.

It never really goes away, in fact our entire commerce industry is geared around convincing us we don't have enough, convincing us we aren't enough and convincing us that we need more.

I call bullshit. (Sorry Mum, twice in one post, already.)

I was lucky enough to take some time off work over the Christmas break, at which point the laryngitis I contracted before Christmas never really went away and also brought some sinus problems home to party. The point is I've spending a lot of time parenting from the couch, having a lot of days brought to us by Netflix and spending far more time scrolling on the freakin' interwebs.

Get Your Best Bikini Body. 21 Days to a New You. Be in Shape For Summer. Want to get rid of blackheads easily? YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS.

This style of advertising (shouting?) isn't even only geared at our wellbeing. There's also things like 'Teach your kid to read in two weeks with our special program! Get Ready For Back To School Today!'

I feel like a grumpy old lady when I begin grumbling about how all the pretty young things in their twenties are actually buying into this bullshit (there we go again Mum, sorry)... then I remember that when I was in my twenties I bought into it all. Frequently. Not fast fashion though because I always believed there were no clothes that suited by 5'10, suitably hourglass frame aside from jeans and shirts, but the rest of it - I was there hook, line and sinker.

I get so angry when I see this blatant form of encouragement of self loathing, perhaps in part because I did spent the greater part of my life being completely immersed in it, and conversely, my own dissatisfaction with my own body, and perhaps because I know now that it means NOTHING. Your life doesn't change when you use a new conditioner. Your life doesn't change when you use a straightening hairbrush, nor when you use a mouthpiece that whitens your teeth. A 21 day bootcamp might help you feel great (and tired) for 21 days, but what happens after that? There might be a minority who continue on the journey, but I am willing to bet money that the 99% go back to craving the Next Big Thing.

There are no easy, permanent life changes. All change can hurt a little but, but the long term gain can be so worthwhile. If you want it to be.

However...

No advertising is allowed to tell you that your life needs changing.
That your teeth aren't white enough.
That your hair is frizzy and needs straightening.
That you need a detox after Christmas. (No, you don't. You are uniquely equipped with the perfect detox system. Liver and kidneys. BAM.)
That a herbal pill will help you lose weight.
That you need to lose weight.
That buying your kid a reading program is going to help them be a better person.

No one is allowed to tell you that you aren't enough.

You are enough.

Switch off any social media account that tells you you're not. Unsubscribe. Unfollow pages on Facebook that tell you that you need to Buy This Thing. You don't. Why? Because nothing you can buy is going to make you into something you're not. You're you. And that's ace.

As my own private backlash, this year I've begun taking pictures of myself with the girls and posting them. Just like a polaroid picture. No fifty selfies before I find the right one - not that I ever did that anyway because ain't nobody got phone memory nor time for dat... but a picture. Here's what we look like. Look! Sometimes I have two chins! Look! I have a normal body that hangs over my jeans sometimes because I had two kids. We all look weird sometimes. And by weird I mean we look like people who haven't practiced their poses and done their makeup. So I suppose we look normal and they look weird? BUT WHAT IS NORMAL ANYWAY? Oh my god, the tangents. But frankly...

We are enough.

Australian Outdoor Living

Summer is coming, which for us Tasmanians means that we can bust out a short sleeved T-shirt underneath our jumpers. With a chance of perhaps taking a jumper off!

But seriously, summer is a glorious time down south. The sun shines, the rain eases up, the mad winds of spring are behind us. There's festivals galore and it's time to explore the parks and gardens of where you live.

For us, it means spending time outside on our enormous deck. We put up the shade sail, throw down a picnic rug and live on the deck, retreating inside for more drinks or to briefly escape the heat.

Australian Outdoor Living have created an eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Living in Tasmania, to help Tassie residents make the most of their home State. The eBook covers outdoor activities and amazing spots to explore, as well as outdoor and garden ideas to help you make the most of your outdoor spaces at home!

I was recently asked by Australian Outdoor Living to tell you about what outdoor spaces mean to me. You can pop over to their website and download their free e-guide to Tasmania.

It's a great guide filled with information about Tasmania, and I am featured alongside fellow Tasmanian Veronica Foale. (she makes the most delicious looking soaps, you should definitely check her out!).

It might be a bit cliche to say you have to 'stop and smell the roses', but, taking the time to breathe in fresh air and relax in the outdoors is incredibly important to our health and well being. Whether you're heading on a country walk, or simply enjoying a cup of tea on the patio, there's little better than taking time to enjoy being outside and just letting everything slow down once in a while.

So go on, (gwaaaan!) and check it out.

Where's your favourite spot outside in summer?

This post was sponsored by Australian Outdoor Living.

 

My Sugar Free Minimal Waste or... My Life.

mylife

I've been meaning to write this post for a few days, but I couldn't think of a fetching title that didn't sound preposterous.

My Sugar Free Minimal Waste Life

I mean, I want to punch me in the face.

But... it's true. Just not in a smug internet kind of way. You won't find me wearing a flowing tunic with Birkinstocks and a beatific smile.

Let's call it:

My Eating Real Food Life. Or, more simply: My Life.

Wait. Shouldn't that be normal?

Less clickbait and sexy, but also less likely to get me eyerolled and rickrolled Foo Fighters-style in the street.

We stopped eating refined sugars four weeks ago, and truly, I've never felt better. My head is clear. My skin is better, I sleep much more soundly and shopping is WAY easier. The first few weeks were absolutely not easier, but I cut myself a break and reintroduced dates into my life and things were a lot better. The girls are coping pretty well too, Millie had a week of asking for toast with honey, or bread and jam every waking moment, but she's moved past that now. Pip couldn't really care less.

Re the minimal waste... well that's a work in progress. We have an elderly septic tank that copes perfectly 99% of the time. The 1% is truly something. Two weeks ago I was out in the rain in my gumboots and work clothes, crowbar-ing the lids off septic access points, washing 'septic scum' off the workshop floor, and poking the innards of my septic tank with a crowbar to see if it was full or simply the victim of a toddler toilet paper incident. It turns out it's a much larger problem than those two involving an overflow pipe connecting to another pipe connecting to another pipe that does not drain into the drainage pit on the road. No one knows where it goes. Then the roof leaked and we kind of forgot about the septic pipe to nowhere.

Since then I have been washing my dishes in a small tub in my kitchen sink and tipping that water out in the paddock or the garden. That works fine for me and I don't worry about kitchen things going down the pipes.

It was also at this time that I listened to The Lively Show episode with Bea Johnson and it got me to thinking about our waste. When we moved to our house in 2009 our municipality had no recycling collection. Once a month we'd load our bins into the car and drive them to the nearest recycling depot. Then we got kerbside recycling pickup and it became easier to put things in the recycling bin and forget about it. We only have a small-ish general waste bin and it's usually full by pick up day.

So, how could I make a change at my end? I already frequent a bulk food shop in my town, the sugar free life meant that we pretty much don't buy pre-prepared packaged food but even sugar free things come in packages. Pasta, cereals, milk - the list goes on.

 I gathered all my jars together and went for an expedition to the bulk food shop. After a few mishaps we got the jars weighed and goods paid for. It was so much easier to bring my containers home and put them in the cupboard. There's a larger bulk food shop in the city that I'll investigate to see if I can get things like coffee and cereals too. They have a website but no product list, which is infuriating for a country dweller like myself who has to travel with two small people.

Before...

Before...

We still use disposable nappies for P's one sleep per day and overnight. That's not too many and I lessen my guilt by remembering how many years I cloth nappied for. Right? I ran out of paper towels and I just didn't buy any more. I have a container of old rags (facewashers, cut up microfibre cloths) that we use as paper towels. Clean up a spill, wash. Dry some spinach, wash. Wipe the bench, wash. Cover up a pineapple in the fridge, wash. It's been effortless so far.

After... 

After... 

I'm stuck at shampoo and conditioner. I'm intending to purchase Dr Bronner's liquid castile soap (sensitive skin, liquid soap is cleaner for showers and septic systems) for handwashing, dishwashing, hair shampooing, body washing and basic spray and wipe cleaner. After years of having a differently scented awesome product for every occasion, I've infuriated Mr S by declaring 'Soap is soap is soap.' He muttered 'I've been SAYING THAT FOR YEARS.' But conditioner? Everything I've googled is either vinegar or eggs or BOTH. Yikes. Ideas?

Toilet paper we will still purchase. I don't wear makeup so that's not a concern (#makeupfreeselfie EVERY DAAAY), and I'll not be investing in a Diva Cup anytime soon.

I'm googling compostable toothbrushes (YESSSSS I GOT SOME AT EUMARRAH!), but you will need to pry my electric toothbrush from my cold, dead hand. Toothpaste? I'm not terribly keen on bicarb soda mixed with peppermint oil. Again, ideas?**

**I made a mix of 50:50 Bicarb/Coconut Oil with a dash of peppermint oil. There's a chance I might have almost cried whilst brushing my teeth with it, followed by rocking back and forth in the corner. I have purchased another tube of toothpaste and gone back to the drawing board.

Terracycle have some awesome programs that we'll be playing along with, namely the bathroom waste one. I'm hoping Mr S will be able to get on board with the plastic gloves one for his workplace. I'm impressed that there's a Nespresso one too, as Nespresso pods account for a massive amount of coffee related waste.

You may call me bag lady. 

You may call me bag lady. 

I've been saving the bags that our bread comes in to take to the local bakery and ask them kindly to put my bread in. My butcher is happy to put meat in whatever I bring to put it in. There's a greengrocer nearby but my local supermarket doesn't have plastic bags so you need to bring your own carry bags regardless.

When I empty my SealPods of their coffee I dry the coffee grounds on baking paper in the oven until they're toasty and dry. Then I use them as a face scrub/wash. It depends on how firm you rub your face with it! BAKING PAPER? It's the staple of my kitchen... I reuse it as much as possible. Do I need to invest in some more SilPats?

It's an interesting journey to think about, and I when I pause I have a highlight reel of my childhood. I realise that my mother with her awesome perm was the original earth saving hipster. She took her shampoo bottles back to the hairdresser for refilling, we didn't have prepackaged snacks for school (I desperately wanted chips like the other kids. BBQ Shapes were a treat!) and was composting well before it was cool. Rock on, Mothership.

It's now Friday as I'm typing this and our general waste bin was picked up this morning. I was very proud of the Smyth household, we produced ONE bag of general rubbish + nappies for the entire week. I'm pretty sure that's a record for us. We didn't recycle any more than normal, nor burn any more paper in our fire. We just consumed less. High five!

It's a work in progress. This week we are trialling using no garbage bag in our bin under the idea that if it's wet, we can compost it. If it's not compostable we can put it in a paper bag and then put it in our bin, or straight in the outside bin. So far, not so bad. I'm keen to see how the next few weeks roll out - I'll keep you posted.

Letters from long ago

beasmile

It's no secret that I'm a bit of sentimentalist. I used to be a hoarder, but I'm working on that. I have a box of cards from friends and family and a scrapbook my sister gave me for my birthday.

Today I was thinking about a card I found last week. When I worked at a bookshop with a super talented writer she and I shared a mutual love of great music. Her Dad is also a huge musicophile, and I would receive these parcels every few weeks of his current favourite CDs. I can't actually remember if I returned the favour, but given that I was in the throes of infertility woes and treatment I suspect I didn't. I did however give my friend my latest EP to pass on to her Dad as thanks for his kind packages that kept me somewhat sane.

I received this card in the post after he'd listened to my CD.

As I re-read it I was once again touched by his kindness. I'm pretty I've met Steve once, maybe twice. Yet the kindness with which he took the time to write me a card, put it in an envelope and post it still floors me.

It makes me tear up a little and miss my own Dad tremendously when I read the tenderness conveyed as he mentions driving down to see his special lady - his daughter, Kate. That special bond between a father and daughter is what every mother wants for her family, I'm sure.

I kept this letter because it made me feel happy to read someone saying nice things about my music, and taking the time to go out of their way to share their thoughts. It also made me feel like I borrowed Steve as my Dad for the five minutes it took me to read his card, as I'd like to imagine they're the things my own Dad would have said to me.

The lesson? Take the time and write a nice letter to someone. Call your supermarket and tell them about the great service you had, not just the crap service. Smile at strangers. Be a smile in someone's day. Five years later, they might just remember it and write a highly embarrassing blog post about it.

 

It's Okay To Fall Down

itsok

Years and years ago (golly) I wrote a song titled 'Let It All Out'. It goes a little like this...

weekofsaturdays

It's from my 2009 EP 'A Week Of Saturdays'. Alas, the Kitchenhands are no more and I am pretty much retired from professional gigging.

I wrote 'Let It All Out' when on some level I realised that it was okay to fall down, drop all your marbles, slowly gather them up again and continue on your merry way. In 2008 (when I wrote this song), my father had passed away the previous year, I was in a job I hated, we had to move house suddenly after my father died, and my depression and anxiety was really beating me down. Music was a solace, and writing this song was such a great help.

I'd always been concerned with finding 'The Real Me' - the big thing that I wanted to do and what would make me have an awesome career and which was the Right Way To Go? Susan Jeffers had a great diagram in one of her books about finding the 'right path'. I can't find it online anywhere, but it was essentially a straight line with a gigantic amount of squiggles drawn through it. In other words, the 'right path' is never a straight one. Incidentally, I'm the real me and I still haven't quite worked out what I want to be.

The path is never straight and true. There's always quirks and roadblocks and it's up to you as to how you deal with them. Find your path. Navigate the twists and turns that will take you to your destination. It's okay. If you fall down, enjoy the view, find your cards, get up and keep going. Enjoy the ride.

'Dark days cannot take me
I won't let this one make me
It's all over to me
I let it all out
I let it fall down
I fold my hand and I'm out of the game
Then I pack it all up
I put it all away
Here I am I can face another day.'

Written by Amy Kendall, arr Amy Kendall and Andrew Smyth

If depression and anxiety are concerning you and you'd like to talk to someone please call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or visit beyondblue.org.au

I Quit Sugar*

*Lies. I have quit seeing chocolate as a food group. However 'I Quit Eating Lots of Processed Sugar and Stopped Adding It To Things' is quite wordy and far less emotive.

My name is Amy and it's been forty hours since I last ate anything with added sugar.

On the weekend, Mr S and I sat down and watched That Sugar Film.

I snarfed down a mini Cherry Ripe before we started watching. Someone on Instagram warned me that I'd probably feel very differently about chocolate afterwards.

At the beginning of the year I started the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet program. It is a fantastic 'diet' that shouldn't actually be called a diet, it should be just the way we are taught to eat. I decided to give up putting sugar in my coffee (I've never had sugar in my black tea) and to stop snacking on chocolate, which was a post pregnancy and breastfeeding hangover. I was remarkably cranky for about three days and then it was okay. As it stands now if I have a sweetened coffee it tastes like artificial sweetener to me and I cannot drink it.

Chocolate however... we've always been mates.

For those who haven't watched it yet, That Sugar Film is a documentary by Damon Gameau. He's horrified and curious about sugar and wants to experiment by only eating 'healthy' low fat foods for forty days. He is supervised by some hilariously named characters - 'Check Upz' is his mild mannered GP and my favourite. The results are, well, horrifying. Seeing the culture that surrounds sugar in our daily lives and it's role throughout history is one to open anyone's eyes. Hopefully. By the end of watching That Sugar Film I was fairly shocked at the amount of hidden sugars in most packaged foods. What was also a bit eye opening was a few of the foods that are pictured are foods I have in my fridge. Fruit yoghurt, I'm looking at you. Easiyo, I'm coming back to the fold.

I did a bit more poking around online and found this review by Catherine Saxelby that discusses how the foods that Damon Gameau eats in the film aren't necessarily indicative of a healthy diet. I argue that whilst he's eating WAY more packaged foods than the Smyth household does, they are foods that I can imagine a busy family purchasing and eating daily.

Gameau has a nifty little blog post that explains about ceasing to eat added sugars, not naturally occurring sugars. This is a really useful infographic to keep handy to educate yourself about the 'hidden' sugars lurking under a different name.

Sidenote to my sister: Yes, I now realise that rice syrup is just another name for sugar. You were correct.

I talked about the film with my friends, Mr S and I talked more about it and together we decided to see if it would make a difference to our kids and to a lesser extent, ourselves. Now, we haven't thrown anything away. I'm pretty sure Mr S still has a bottle of Vanilla Coke in the fridge (purchased pre film) and I've got about three blocks of chocolate stashed around the kitchen.

The Challenge

I wanted to see if I could happily stop adding sugar to my life in non naturally packaged forms.

It's now been almost two full days and I am cranky, I have a headache and I want to hide in bed with my book. Instead I have been:

  • eating the peaches I canned in a super light syrup in January (BEST IDEA EVER, PAST SELF)
  • snacking on peanuts mixed with sultanas (I know dried fruit is also a sugar, but it's a naturally occurring sugar. I'm watching my sultana quantity.)
  • sulking in front of the heater with my book
  • drinking too much coffee
  • going for an epic walk with a screaming four year old and a happy two year in the raincoat-ed double pram whilst it snowed on the hills around us and rained on me and
  • generally trying to feel smug about having gone two days without added sugar, but actually just feeling a bit shit.

The thing is, I've done this before and I know it doesn't last forever. I can't wait.

So far Millie is still asking for honey toast every morning but she understands about how sugar can affect our bodies and she's okay with peanut butter instead. Actually, that's a Instagram-worthy lie. She is not okay with peanut butter instead, but now understands that if she wants toast, it's peanut butter or Vegemite, or no toast.

The Plan

No major plans here, just more careful meal planning with even less packaged sauces/foods. I'll replace things with lower ingredient options (eg natural peanut butter from the health food shop) when they run out. I'll bake with applesauce or sugarless or just lower amounts of sugar where possible.

Have you watched That Sugar Film? What do you think? Tell me everything.

 

The Day I Got Rid Of My iPhone

obviously Not my iphone. it's a handy dandy stock photo.

obviously Not my iphone. it's a handy dandy stock photo.

It was a fairly extraordinary day really. Mr S and I were off on a short hike whilst our girls had a play with their BFF, Lemonthyme (not her real name, unfortunately!). Mr S and I hiked through ice and snow on our local beautiful mountain, Mount Wellington/kunyani in Hobart.

We returned to pick up the girls and as we were leaving I couldn't find my phone. Mildly panicked I began a search and I found it. Under a bag. That was housing a leaky drink bottle. Oh my stars.

But, it was fine. Turned on again, I made a call, I was called, I sucked some water out of it, I lovingly dried it off. I half heartedly accepted a bag of rice for the drive home thinking that I wouldn't need it. A few blocks in, Siri started trying to call people, including my deceased father. (Not that I wouldn't have been happy to speak to him... then I'd be converted to Siri forever!) I tried to turn it off, but the home button wasn't working, then Lady P (aged 2) lost her dummy, it was dark in the car, I dropped the phone somewhere in the car, DMM (aged 4) wanted a drink, it was dark in the car and I could hear my phone saying 'Sure, CALLING ANNA S NOW'.

The car was pulled over by Mr S. Phone was located and switched off. Peace was restored to the back seat. I was without a lifeline. I tried to turn it on the following morning (I know, I know) and still nothing.

After a tense day I began to realise how lovely it was being uncontactable. I enjoyed the mental peace and quiet so much. I enjoyed actually speaking to people (namely, my family). I pulled out my old iPhone for the wifi based apps, and even then I found it remarkably easy to turn it off. The following day I found out a basic rule of adulthood.

If you can't afford to replace it, insure it.

Guess what? I HAD INSURED IT. Confetti. Sparklers.

Except... I didn't think I wanted another super expensive tiny fragile computer in my pocket phone again. If not, then what?

I went to town the next day sans communication. It felt remarkably weird and a bit gross, in a self indulgent twenty first century way. However, I survived with flying colours. We didn't die on the road, I didn't need to call someone in an emergency and NO ONE CALLED ME.

I had a beautiful morning with DMM involving swimming, coffee dates, conversation, skipping through the city centre and cuddles. Perfectly lovely. My phone number was switched back to my old iPhone at the same time.

Later that day I mentioned to Mr S that my number was working again.

'I guessed that.' he said 'You've been staring at it all afternoon.'

Ugh. I was so defensive because I realised he was probably right.

That evening I talked it through with myself (Mr S unfortunately has to listen to these talking-it-through conversations, just makes comforting sounds until I stop talking, bless him) and realised that I don't want another distracting life-toy.

Insurance claim is being sorted, whereupon I have decided I'll purchase an iPod touch for my business/blog/faffing about needs and a super basic cheap bombproof/replaceable smartphone.

Right now I feel free. Just like we did ten years ago. Oh, the irony.

Fast forward a week or so, the insurance claim has gone through with a few hitches, but it went through. My insurer was confused as to why I wouldn't want another iPhone, and they were initially unwilling to give me the cash that was owed to me. After a few more explanations and some hoop jumping (I suspect I even held my tongue at a particular angle) they agreed to deposit the balance of my insurance into my bank account. As is my legal right.

I began the period of time I refer to as The Research, where I spent my spare time being thoroughly confused about the ins and outs of Android phones vs Windows phones vs iPhones. So many choices! I realised that this very reason was why I loved iPhones. NO CHOICE.

Another rule of adulthood:

Sometimes no choice is the best choice of all.

This week I went for a drive, deliberately went to shop with little choice, found there were still too many choices, but made a simple quick choice. I'm now the proud owner of a Sony Xperia 4g phone. It wins no design awards, the camera isn't as nice as my iPhone 5s, but then I remember that it's also $600 cheaper. So all things considered, that's fine by me.

I don't really know how to use it that well, and an exasperated Mr S said to me last night 'Why do you keep saying that? Just read the manual.' 'It didn't come with one! And, I kind of like not knowing how to use it.' 'Well PLEASE stop talking about it then.'

Touche, Mr S. Touche. I realised that I keep talking about it because it's such a novelty to have no idea how to use a different phone. Lunacy, isn't it? I've since made a list of things I want to know how to do with it and looked them up. Just like a big person.

So there you have it. My journey to a life of a phone on Airplane mode is in full swing. If you need me, you can ring me on my landline. I know. I still have one of those.

Do you smartphone? Join the conversation at my Facebook page.

Sometimes you've just got to turn it upside down.

upside down

Yesterday I sat in a chair at my BFF's house and she said 'Listen, I want to bounce some ideas off you. I need to get to the end of the day and feel like I've achieved something, not just sat around all day.' I pointed out to Louise that having a four month old baby AND a two year old pretty much disqualifies you from feeling like you haven't achieved anything. Is everyone clothed? Fed? Alive? Brilliant. When you have two small kids, I'm a firm believer that that is a Job Done.

We pulled up the Mighty Pinterest and began to look at day planner templates she liked. We talked about the pros and cons of all of them, and in the end I said this: 'These are beautiful. I love templates like this. But do you think that finding the perfect template and the right pen will take longer than just writing on a piece of paper stuck to the fridge?'

We laughed together. Because we both know that I'm SO guilty of finding the right meal planner, correct blue pen, the right time of day to write a list that I can wind up not getting anything done. Mr S says 'JUST WRITE IT DOWN IN YOUR NOTEBOOK.' He's so wise, that one.

Louise decided she'd try and write three things to complete that day, derived from her Bullet Journal list.

This morning at about 7.30am she sent me a text. It was a picture of her journal that said her three important things and the comment 'Top 3 Must-dos for today. I've decided to tick them off before adding more. I'll let you know how I'm going at lunchtime. My obliger self is seeking accountability 😉' (Sidebar: Oh Gretchen, we love you so.)

As of lunchtime, she'd completed two of these three. See? Lists are magical.

My Top Thing

I decided that my top Thing to work on this week is my morning mood. I am a grumpy grumpleston before I've had breakfast, shower and coffee. Unfortunately for those lovely people I live with, there's toddlers to take to the toilet, breakfast for said toddlers to organise and this morning was a conversation with small toddler about not turning on the tap in the bathroom because big toddler was having a shower. When I grumped a 'Good Morning' to Mr S in the kitchen he said to me 'Uhuh. You have to be happier than that.'

This was a bit of a shock to me - I hadn't really thought that my morning mood was a) particularly bad or b) affecting anyone else. Huh.

So I turned it around. I realised that I want to greet my mornings with joy, not a grumble at a lack of sleep or thinking about a long day ahead. I had breakfast BEFORE a shower and coffee. I sat with my beautiful folks and we ate our breakfast together. I had a shower and did my morning chores. THEN I sat down with a coffee by the fire and chatted with the toddlers and checked Instagram. We put music on, I did some more chores. It doesn't really matter what I did, but that I did it differently to normal, and just like magic, different results.

Changing it up and slowing it down also makes me realise the things I'm grateful for. It was an instantaneous effect - as if doing things differently made me see everything more clearly.

Obligers and Questioners

My favourite author, Gretchen Rubin, discusses personality types in her latest book 'Better than Before'. You can also take a handy personality test over at her website. 

I am a Questioner. Louise is an Obliger. I'm pretty sure Mr S is an Upholder, but with severe Questioner tendencies. I wasn't sure if I was a Questioner or not, so I researched it and took the quiz. (HA! Classic Questioner.)

Gretchen says:

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves

She believes that just like any personality trait, your Habit Type can influence the ease and way in which you can form new habits. So, because I decided that changing my morning routine would make my family's morning easier I'm pretty confident I can stick to it. Louise employed me to be her outside accountability partner, because if she's decided that someone will ask how she's travelling with a project, she'll feel obliged to have followed through with what she said she would.

As I've written before, I loved every aspect of 'Better than Before'. Instead of other typical books in the social psychology/self help genre which talk about your limitations, 'Better than Before' kind of gently tells you 'It's ok to be who you are.' and discusses different ways to help YOU reach your goals. Awesome, huh?

Do you want to be involved and accountable with us?

Leave a comment here with how you'll turn it upside down and try something different and we can all encourage each other!

Full boring disclosure: Some links included in this post lead to Kindle versions of books I recommend. These are affiliate links, which means if you purchase via the links supplied here I get a teeny tiny kickback. I will never recommend products I don't already love and have tried myself. That would suck and I promise you, this blog is all about the non-suckiness of the world.

 

Coffee's dirty little secret.

I guess coffee has a FEW dirty little secrets. Fair trade issues, the unforgivable description of "expresso" at several coffee shops, the false advertisement of "coffee" when they really just mean instant coffee with a

Haros-steamed

milk substance floated on top, and more recently coffee pods.

Nespresso

have the market on coffee pods, courtesy of spunky George, with his silvery-fox hair and dreamy eyes.

But it's a dirty, dirty thing.

You see, those pods that assist your pod machine to pour out the most glorious smelling coffee, are NOT easily recyclable, reusable or compostable. Sure, Nespresso offer a recycling service. All you need to do is peel the foil off your pod, dispose of the coffee grounds inside, wash the pods and take them to your nearest garden centre that supports Nespresso recycling.

No biggie, it's only 40km away.

How did I wind up in this world of coffee pods? My beautiful BEAUTIFUL Nemox Cafe Fenice machine exited this world in a somewhat lacklustre blaze of glory. A few weeks ago we had a storm and my house circuit shorted. I looked around outside, called my power company and wanted a fix time. They asked if I could check my circuit board... and sure enough it was tripped. We narrowed it down to my kitchen.

Uh oh.

I called my electrician bro-in-law who suggested taking Nemox to a different room and checking again. Sure enough, it shorted out the house twice more. Upon investigation, poor Nemox wasn't financially viable to fix. Enter my limited funds and an almost-brand-new Nespresso machine on a buy/swap/sell site.

Back to the dirty coffee...

I've been testing a multitude of coffee pods in order to find a solution that would work for me. Mr S and I roughly costed out pods vs ground coffee to find out if it were more worthwhile for the outlay of buying a pod machine than a ground coffee machine. It is. Buuuut whilst Nespresso pods taste delicious, I cannot come at the waste.

Big Red in action. 

My lovely lovely neighbours threw a few Nespresso pods way to try when I first purchased my machine. LORDY ME. THE TASTE. SO GOOD.

THE WASTE, MADGE. THE WASTE.

My BFF gave me some of her pods to try too, the Piazza D'oro L'Or brand that you can buy at the supermarket. Not as much of a fan, and also the waste factor.

I did a bit more research and found

Tripod Coffee

. I asked, and they kindly sent me a discount code to try some of their pods. Whilst delicious, Mr S and I traditionally like our coffee strong and it has taken a few weeks of trial and error to come to a simple solution... less milk. These pods are household recycling bin-able, once you peel the foil off, dispose of the coffee and rinse them out. Not as time consuming as you might imagine, but still slightly tedious.

I've currently using

EcoCaffe's Ethical Coffee Company

pods, and I made a phone call to ascertain some of the finer points about their pods. They are fully biodegradable in a compost heap/landfill in 180 days and this seems evident to me by the way the coffee pods come out of the machine, slightly soggy and ready for composting. Again, it's been trial and error to make a coffee taste the way I like it, but we've gotten there with Ethical pods. Less milk. I have found that the pods aren't as strong as I would usually make my ground espresso coffees, but I do also presume that over time we've started having our coffee stronger and stronger.

We have toddlers, people.

I ponied up this week and have a larger selection of Ethical Coffee Company pods coming to try. Including shipping, 50 pods is coming to around 84 cents per pod. It's roughly the same as Nespresso pods and Tripod Coffee pods. It's slightly more than around 60 cents for supermarket L'Or pods. It's also perhaps slightly more expensive than ground coffee, but for the taste and environmental factor I'm willing to go the distance.

The one thing I haven't tried yet is the refillable pods.

Crema Joe

popped up in my Instagram feed after I followed Tripod Coffee. Crema Joe have refillable stainless steel pods. I'm keen to try, but I'm also baulking at the cost - $50 for two pods with the stickers required to make them work. It's a double edged sword - if they work, that's an awesome price for a potential lifetime of pod supplies. If they are rubbish - that's a lot of money to waste for some pretty stainless steel thimbles. However they have competitions weekly to win, so I will throw my hat in the ring and cross my fingers.

Pssst!

Crema Joe!

You are quite hard to find on Google. A check for 'Stainless steel refillable pods' did not yield your page at all. I had to search through my Instagram to find your page name.

Things that are worth mentioning:

  • Tripod Coffee is roasted and packed in Australia.
  • Ethical Coffee Company is roasted and packed in France, I think. I don't have a packaging box right now, and I can't easily find the info online. I will update this once I hear back from EcoCaffe.

Usually I'd pick Australian roasted and packed over anything else, however the fact that the Ethical Coffee Company pods are biodegradable makes me for now, choose to use the Ethical Coffee Company pods.

I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about coffee pods and coffee in general, but given the time of the day and my predisposition to insomnia... I'll have a decaf, thanks.

Do you pod? Which pods do you use? What do you recommend? TELL ME EVERYTHING.