Rebuilding social connectedness Decrapify style

The past few months have highlighted some strange trends in social connectedness. While the issue of “social distancing” with it’s funky elbow bump and curtsy have become Madonna’s Vogue, it has struck me that through times of pandemic we need each other more than ever. The media has been irresponsibly bombarding us with stories of us being selfish as we scramble and hoard the last dunny roll and packet of fettucine. People are connected creatures and if you are anything like me you need to get out, get moving and have a good old chin wag with mates!

Living with connection to the people around you, the home in which you live, the environment in which you exist physically has long been seen as the way to live a good life. For sure, it’s been a challenge of late with people going through the stress of job loss, businesses closing and some just mentally unable to justify the confusion and lack of direction provided by those supposedly in the know. So how else to get connected in a seemingly disconnected world? What strategies can we all use to ensure our well being, our kinship to others and our connectedness to community?

One strategy we have used is to cut ourselves some slack. For my crew, this means that if we are tired mentally or physically then we take the day off and simply rest at home. Whether that means read a book, have a snooze on the couch or play a computer game or two, the concept of rest means that there is nothing particularly pressing to do or to do something you don’t normally have time for. I enjoyed snoozing on the couch, sitting in front of a bonfire in my backyard looking at the stars, walking in the bush near my home. We as a family have taken the chance to get out fishing, go apple picking, watch funny cooking skits and classic movies in our PJ’s. The best feeling was knowing  that while having a rest was and is good for our family’s soul it isn’t something measurable by the invisible hand of the market. There is no financial value watching your teenagers rib each other trying to climb an apple tree!

Another strategy has been to make a conscious effort to catch up with people. Whether that was online due to border restrictions, by phone or by routinely catching up with someone dear, my goal has been to engage with people as often as I could. We are social characters, we have evolved from primal beings by sharing in herds our thoughts, our time, our support of one another. Maybe you feel it (love) in your fingers, you feel in your toes. Love is all around me…….bet as you hum the tune you just want your couch, a bowl of popcorn, and a little Hugh and Andie to see the afternoon through!

My third strategy has been to connect to local producers, farmers, and shop owners. By exercising a sheer necessity in needing to buy food, shopping locally has allowed me to meet some truly magic people. Being served by a person rather than a computer you find out what is going on in your backyard and you are often met with a smile . Cooking a great meal, sharing with friends and family and having a yarn over celery is really back. Watching someone dribble rubbish having drunk a little too much wine at dinner really is just as much fun as I remember it being! The gym is now back and it time to get Savage with my peeps in a pile of sweat and a few choice swear words as we burpee our quarantine kilos away.

Social media is anything but social. Whilst it’s been useful to get the Decrapify message out there, my personal page has had little “shared” posts this year. Hopefully by appreciating more herd time we can limit our need for social media and the low self-esteem it often perpetuates. If people want to know how you are they will call and find out! Share the ways you hope to herd with your peeps, and as Yoda says, until next time pass on what you have learned.

Decrapify Tip #1 – recycle your vegGies

Here at Decrapify Me we are gardeners! As a keen gardener it has been a challenge of late to get winter seedlings from my local hardware for vegetables that my family loves to eat. Seeds too have been in short supply. After a little research I found you can ‘resprout’ your veggies from waste that would normally be chucked in the bin. Using a little ingenuity, five minutes of time and stuff I had around the house, I have avoided hardware lines, unnecessary cost and am doing the planet a favour by reducing waste. You can do it too and best of all the kids can get in and do it with with you. So here goes.


Today we are recycling celery and spring onions.

Step 1 – get your tools ready

You have all this at home 🏠

Step 2 – chop it good

Chop the celery and spring onions you purchased an inch or two from the base (see title photo). Place the spring onions in a small recycled glass jar, the celery base in an old bake dish. Cover both their roots with water, but don’t drown them or they will rot.

Step 3 – Let nature take its course

Place your bake dish and glass bottle in a sunny spot and let nature take its course. Don’t let it dry out. Within hours I noticed growth on the spring onions and within a week growth on the celery.

Step 4 – plant them out

When there is enough growth, plant them out in the garden. It’s that simple. Celery and spring onions can take up to six months to grow so be patient. But go you for trying something new, reducing your waste, and saving a few bucks too.

Like, share, comment below or email me at bianca@decrapifyme.com.au for any assistance. Until next time, I’m just a simple woman trying to make my way in the universe.

 

Decrapify your life & change your world

Having created this blog in a pre-pandemic era, I have had time to research encouraging stories of kindness happening in my community. Whether it’s helping a friend or neighbour with groceries, calling a lost friend to say hello or helping a self-isolating boomer for free, it strikes me that in a world of incessant negative media streaming that we have a large heart and are willing to do acts of kindness for goods sake.

Which raises a question? Out of a crisis what do we want our future lives to look like? Most families are in a flux – losing jobs, kids out of school, outsourcing basic life tasks with no time to sit, rest and play. This crisis has led some of us to have more time to spend with the kids and chance to appreciate laughter and a crappy game of Yahtzee! Maybe we have reacquainted with old friends, improvised cooked ‘Duck ala Banana’ as we decide to Mark Manson our lives and not give a f^%+ to face the supermarket for the third time this week. Some of us have been reminded what is it to be married – ‘oh yeah you, I remember you! That’s right I love you already!’

The big question is what or who are we on this treadmill for? Is it to keep up with the Jones’? For some of us it is all about the status of who we are trying to impress. Imagine living in a world where you didn’t have to impress anyone, be judged or feel inadequate? Imagine a world where you don’t have to compete against your friend, neighbour, colleague or sibling to be supreme? When we are members of the community as opposed to a economic cog in a economic rationalist world our worth is measured by experience and interaction rather than the stuff we shove into cupboards.

Another question to be posed – how many of us wander around stores buying stuff we don’t need on a credit card? Is it time to learn a hobby, play an instrument or take the dog for a walk? Imagine living within our means (saving some of that stimulus package) by stopping our greedy individualist and competitive ways.

One thing for certain, I have had the time to reflect on what makes me special in this world. By listening to author Hugh McKay and trying to perfect the art of belonging I hope that by advocating for others to have a simpler more grateful life, universal education and healthcare, sharing useful information (knowledge is power) or taking the time to say hello to a random stranger, my main purpose is to be connected to grateful people and experiences that make me happy.

As owner of Decrapify Me, I have decided to change direction with this blog. Originally designed to be a fee for service platform, I have been inspired by plenty of good news stories to pay it forward and share my learnings for free. I expect I will make mistakes, not every seed with germinate, some of you will find better ways to do things and not every meal will be worthy of Masterchef!

Let’s keep the discussion going by emailing me at bianca@decrapifyme.com.au. Until till next time may some rest and recuperation be with you.

Chook BE good – four meals from one happy hen

The definition of “waste not, want not” has to be one of my favourite expressions. My darling grandfather (aptly named Bunny) inspired me as a child taking me to local butchers to pick up end of day specials. He did not spend on himself and his ability to make a dollar stretch is the stuff of legend at family dinners, but this was a man who died with no debt, ate well and took joy in the simple pleasures like spending time with family.

Keeping that spirit, and having read Matthew Evans “On Eating Meat” I decided last week to challenge our family to eat our free range chook ensuring there was no waste and that we got the best value out of our $15. Matthew Evan’s book educated me to realise that whether we are meat eaters or vegans (or somewhere between) that we will all by eating food impact the planet. How well we treat the earth, our soil and animals is going to secure our future on this tiny planet and being honest about this only but helps in that journey.

So back to Chook be Good. Pop would be proud. We got a first night was Bali Bambu Curry with with beans and tapioca, second chicken and egg fried rice, third night was chicken stock which became pumpkin/sweet potato soup and I snuck in a quick chicken cheese toastie. Finally, the frame was blended up into a moosh and added to rice and vegetables for our big doggo Jessie. No four different meals into the shopping trolley, no packaging, fresh yum food at home and all pretty quick to do. The lads were in a food coma. This is our new challenge for the year…..less in trolley/basket means more bucks for having fun!

If you have stories on how to stretch your food budget email me at bianca@decrapifyme.com.au or comment below. Until next time “I’m just a simple woman trying to make my way in the universe”.

10 REASONS TO DECRAPIFY NOW

We all know that retail therapy often makes us feel good, but afterwards feel lousy for the time, energy and money we spent on that thing we have already have but just needed another one of! I accept I am not perfect and it has taken much time to iron out my consumption cravings, but here are my top 10 tips from amazing friends and family who has entered the world of less is more. Happy reading and until next time “you can’t stop the change, any more than you can stop the sun from setting”.

Tip One – You can clear your mind

Research shows people living in a world of ciaos and stuff are more overwhelmed, stressed and limit their brains ability to process information.  Less mental work equals a calmer life.

Tip Two You’ll find stuff you never knew you had!

Cleaning up often results in finding stuff you never knew you had and stuff you have bought over and over (paintbrushes, batteries anyone?).  Maybe you have a practical use for the item, or you could on-sell the item and keep the cash for something else you could really use.

Tip Three – You will save time and money

How often can we not find something we need,  go out and buy it tocome back and find it again (ugh multiple Bunnings trips).  The organising of stuff will reduce the time and money you spend chasing the same items over and over again.  According to research we spend a year of our lives looking for stuff!

Tip Four – You’ll probably lose weight!

Yes it’s true. Stressed people have higher levels of cortisol in their bodies and generally feel more tired. More energy, less time cleaning and tiding equals more time to make a healthy meal, get some exercise and be Maccalmer you.

 Tip Five – You can connect more to your friends.

Decluttering with your friends is a lot of fun and they have a stricter view of your stuff that you do!  Research also shows that people invite people more often to their homes when their homes are spaces they want to spend time in.  Best of all they can help you celebrate the new you as you embark on your declutter journey.

 Tip Six – You’ll enjoy being at home more.

A clean, organised home is one we all want to hang in.  Less money spent on going out, eating out and less pressure as we are comfortable in our homes and the skin we are in. Yay to my bestie who now loves her bedroom and spending time reading there!

Tip Seven – You can reduce housework.

An organised home usually results in 20-40% less cleaning on the average week.  Imagine what you could do with that time – read a book, spend time with a friend, watch a movie.  Maybe even have a nap on the couch! Snnnnoooooorrreeee.

 Tip Eight – You can save money on food.

Having an organised pantry or fridge means you don’t have to buy or stockpile food to watch it go off.  Reducing consumption equals less waste, less packaging, less time shopping and less impact to the environment. Annual your food shopping…..is it $15600 ($300 per week) or $13000 ($250 per week) and a trip to Bali?

Tip NIne – You’ll find money!

Literally!  You will probably find an unexpired gift voucher or two, a money box or cold hard cash laying around.  It also leads to finding valuable items no longer giving you joy that could be sold. Win win win.

Tip Ten – You can spend less time at work or get your dream job!

We buy stuff with hours of our lives.  Beyond the basics of life every item is bought with the time we spend at work.  Not buying or consuming stuff leads to less hours at work, maybe retraining for your dream job (like me!), paying less tax and best of all less stress.

Time Rich or Time Poor – One Mum’s guide to getting back on track

Time is money.  Money takes time to make.  Wealth is the ability to have enough money and the time to enjoy it.  We underestimate what we can do in an hour, yet overestimate what gets done in a month.  A long time ago in a galaxy far far away (woops Star Wars reference) dad went to work during the week, mums organised the home and sorted the kids and ran them to t-ball/basketball/school.  After a long day Dad came home, congratulated the kids on their 3 pointer and plonked on the couch with his pipe, slippers and ABC News. The simple things of watching a movie, playing board games, snoozing on Saturday and having a nice meal together seems retro now, but it’s that detachment to basic living that has made life overwhelming.  Mums like me were conned into a “have it all mentality” working full time to pay huge mortgages and for stuff we don’t need, whilst paying for services that were once paid by the tax dollar.  By being contactable 24/7 by one device or another we are more stressed, pressured than ever and are feeling like we aren’t doing a good enough job.  Boy my head is spinning!

So where did this journey begin for us?  After 5 years as a social worker, I was compassion fatigued.  While sorting out others problems for a living is commendable, it often meant our family’s needs weren’t being looked after.  The forest may have trees but our backyard had been clear felled!  We were eating more fast food than ever, had outsourced cleaning, lawns, childcare and were working to pay it all!  Worse still the mental anguish at leaving a well-paying job was driving me nuts! Something had to change!

So I did the unthinkable – I resigned!  Deciding my family rather than my community needed me more at the time my partner was greatly supportive. We knew we would manage financially but by day three I was going stir crazy….I was so preconditioned to the busyness that I didn’t know how to stop!  So I did what I enjoy but didn’t do for lack of time….cook.  Opened up the pantry and gasped at crap in there… packets and packets of processed basic foods that were expired (Oooo Cheds, Ooo wine) and loads of packaging that made me feel terrible for mother earth. I resolved to cook out of the pantry for a month.  Use up the items that mums of yesteryear would have made do with.  Learn to do stock from scratch.  It felt good.  Simplify the space, organise everything, cook beautiful meals for the family.  Homecooked breakfast, lunch and dinner and six months later we have eaten out 6 times total, not six times a week!  Our pantry is full of whole food and we are healthier than ever.  It made me think there are probably mums like me out there and maybe by sharing my experience you may want to embark on this journey with me.  I am grateful for working a few days a week and blogging away and it’s made me realise it is OK to slow down, take in life around you and enjoy what you have and not what you don’t. Email me at bianca@decrapifyme.com.au or leave a comment below.  Until next time, do or do not, there is no try.

Food is Thy Medicine

We have often heard that food is thy medicine, but add two full time jobs, children, after school sports and all I can hear is myself saying yes that is one large family value pack from Macca’s! I should state that I have always loved cooking. From my childhood days of using the mortar and pestle to crush up nanna’s garlic and ginger to spending the odd Saturday afternoon cooking Moroccan for friends coming over, I have always had a connection to food. Nevertheless losing that connection for being too busy made me feel like I was losing me, my health and worse not really providing for my children the way I was provided for.

Upon chucking the soulless job , reducing to a p/t less stress position, I made a conscious effort to clean up my act and my pantry. It made me realise that by being a little organised my little family could eat better, we could save money on take out and food could return to be a centrepiece of our family day. A space where we could chat to each other, watch tv “what are we going to watch” scrolling through Netflix or just be silent enjoying the taste of the real food. It’s my favourite time of the day. To do this everything in my pantry needed a place, an order and me to know exactly how much I have without endless runs to the supermarket. Actually, I have stopped shopping at supermarkets. I now shop fortnightly and head to my local grocer, fruit and vegetable shop or eco warehouse for cleaning/hygiene refills. Each six months I call my local farmer for ethical, grassfed, organic meat that I freeze myself. No packaging, less time and less cost.

I discovered that scrambled eggs on toast takes less time to make than to drive to Subway, foods freeze great for later reheating, and that bottling, picking and freezing home grown produce (yes I have time for this) means that there is an easy meal less than 10 minutes away. Disorganisation has opened up a world of Dinner Twist, Hello Fresh and prepacked foods that are a billion dollar industry. All services trying to feed you, but that don’t leave anyone feeling nourished.

Decrapify me is all about giving us mums and dads the power back. Let’s get organised together and see how we can reconnect with our food, our homes and our lives. Decrapify me offer consultation support to get your pantry and food mojo back – one off organising, sorting and empowerment sessions aimed to get you eating healthier and feeling more whole. I recently saw the quote “we buy stuff with hours of our lives”. Imagine if that by reconnecting to your food you saved a few dollars towards that holiday you deserve, could maybe work a few less hours and spend more time with family and friends or just feel a little less stressed at the end of your day. Check out the web, but until next time, your focus determines your reality.