The Daily Green and Thrifty

Kit Hiller, Eastern Spinebill

Today we have a green and thrifty post with a difference. I didn't really have much to report but then I thought about the boring green and thrifty stuff I do every single day, as do most of us here. So here is a boring report of the daily green and thrifty. I say boring - it certainly isn't exciting, but I love my daily round of pottering between this and that. Sometimes it gets a bit tedious but when it all adds up it is a good life indeed.

Cooking from scratch - every day. Porridge with stewed fruit, soup and home made bread, dinners featuring beans and rice. Snacks - fruit, dried fruit.. ok and chocolate. This week I went back to work in my one remaining garden. I pruned a lot of roses but also picked apples from the apple orchard. I know - an apple orchard, dreamy. I came home with granny smiths and an unknown crisp apple that looks like a Cox's orange but isn't, because a Cox's orange is a very early apple. I have been snacking on apples and drying them in the dehydrator. And Posy went hunting through the cupboard and found a tin of cherries so she made black forest cake. It has been good. I also made an apple and blackberry cake to take out to lunch. The apples were from Rosy's tree and the blackberries I picked in summer from my friend Tanya's hedgerow and popped into the freezer. Blackberries freeze beautifully - don't do anything to them, just pop them in a container and straight into the freezer, then back out months later and into the cake batter.

Hanging the washing out to dry - I don't have a dryer. It is winter here but I hang the washing on clothes airers on the back verandah. It generally takes a couple of days to dry. Before the verandah was built I dried the washing indoors which was quicker but we did tend to trip over the clothes airers a bit. I hang out sheets and towels on the outdoor line and sometimes they take several days to dry in the winter, but that's ok, I just ignore them and they get on with getting dry, then wet in the rain (I mean rinsed in pure cloud juice) then dry again. I do eventually bring them in between showers.

The winter bed - I don't have heated bedrooms but in winter I make my bed very cosy. I change to the winter wool quilt and put the thinner summer quilt under the mattress cover to provide extra warmth underneath me. Then the flannelette sheets, then a cotton blanket, then the quilt, a thick bedspread and a single bed quilt that I unroll on cold nights. Bedtime is like snuggling down into a cosy nest with just my cold nose poking out while the rest of me warms up under my many layers.

Wood that keeps us warm - I heat the house with wood in our wood stove. You know the saying that wood warms you twice, once when you chop it and once when you burn it? Well, this wood warms me numerous times. Once when Paul and I go out into the forest and chop it, again as we haul it up the hill in wheelbarrows and load it into the car or trailer, then again as we unload it from car or trailer and stack it in the woodshed at home, and then once more as most of the wood is a bit too large for my fire so I split it before I stack it in the log basket in the porch. I love the morning ritual of laying the fire with bark and twigs and kindling, watching the first flames lick up as I brush the stove and fireplace with the hearth brush. Then I make a cup of tea and sit in the armchair which I park in front of the fire in winter, and from its depths I sip my tea and admire the crackling flames. There is a great satisfaction in getting a good fire going with minimum fuss and bother.

Wearing layers - inside and outside lots of layers is the key to always staying comfortable. Winter days see me wearing long johns and jeans, a singlet top, long sleeved top, t-shirt, thin sweater and warm cardigan that is so big and floppy it goes over everything. To go outside I take off the cardigan and add a snug jumper, scarf, coat and gloves. For feet - inside is ugg-style slippers and outside is Blundstone boots. I find that the layers work well as you can strip them off or add them as you enter warmer or cooler environments. I am absolutely not a fan of hot indoor spaces in the winter though. I see no point in heating a house so hot that you can walk around in a t-shirt in winter. Why? It's nice snugging up in long sleeves and woolly socks in winter. Oh, yes, more layers. Thin socks, then thick work socks. Lovely, lovely, snuggly.

Entertainment - I sat in the morning sun at Paul's house yesterday and drank my tea and watched New Holland honey eaters swinging upside down in the grevillea and fairy wrens hopping in and out of the bird feeder and I couldn't imagine a nicer way to spend a morning (right after that I went and cut wood in the bush for an hour. It's the contrast of hard work and sitting in the sun that gives the latter an extra fillip of pleasure). Here at home I look out into the garden from my dining room table. Over the last few weeks a family of eastern spinebill honey eaters has taken up residence in the japonica hanging over the fence from next door. Eastern spinebills are tiny little honey eater birds with a curved beak like an upholstery needle, a creamy chest and little brown bib under the chin. They tweet with enormous fire alarm volume for such a tiny little bird. Entertainment means different things to different people but I am content to have mine bird-flavoured this week.

Now it's your turn - share your daily green and thrifty with us all:)

Oh, and here is a contribution from reader Madeleine - thank you for sending me this lovely story of A Simple Life. Paul and I watched it while we waited for dinner to cook the other night, glass of wine in hand. Then we watched it again:)


Anonymous said…
What a good reminder that frugal/green living is about the accumulation of small/large every day habits. Yes, sometimes boring but oh, so necessary. I do the same: cook at home, line dry, turn off the water heater. I eliminated cable TV several years ago, and boy! what a difference it has made for my overall well being, and the well being of my budget.
I would like to clarify from my comment on your previous post, my frugality has allowed me to live on a small interest income and remain retired.I could live more extravagantly but it would require going out to work. No, thank you. I don't need things, I need peace. Like you, I know that things break down, and money will need to be spend. To avoid panic I make do as much as possible. Most recently, I spend money on protectors for my storm gutters. I will be 60 in January, and am trying to make my home more friendly to my age (climbing up on the roof every month was becoming a testament of courage!)
As always Jo, thank you for the life line. It means more than you know.
Jo said…
Patricia, it means a lot to me to have you all writing back when I send words out into the world:) It is the everyday small habits that make a difference everywhere in life. Cooking a meal and mending a sock and reading a library book are the daily habits that add up to peace and peace of mind. Like you, I am thinking of gutter protectors. One side of my house gets all the leaves of autumn dropped into it. I am glad you won't have to be courageous and climb up on your roof now. Although it is fun occasionally, just to see the view:)
Anonymous said…
As you say, Jo, all of these things add up to a good life. Like you we keep warm with a wood fire and lots of cosy layers on the bed. I often use a hot water bottle if it's not quite cold enough to light a fire, or if I'll be out most of the day. It's lovely on your knees with a tartan rug. Our meals sound almost identical! Most meals contain something from the garden, even breakfast.
This morning I picked a perfect little turnip and carrot and put them in miso soup including the tops - delicious!
Dishes are washed up in an enamel basin inside the big butler sink to save water, or just washed straight in the sink if lots of big pots and pans are involved.
Some hand washing happens every week, it might be tea cloths and woolly socks and these days also includes woolly knickers (don't judge me they are actually very cool, not to mention cosy and comfortable!). These items then dry near the fire on wooden clothes airers, along with towels, flannalette wee wipes etc...
A while back my wife brought me lovely flowers on a Friday: re-homed from the office where she works! She was very proud to be frugal and also preventing waste at the same time.
Entertainment is often reading a book, walking the dogs or tea in the garden. And weekends usually find us on Buy,swap,sell looking for second hand materials for the garden and house (last weekend turned up about 30 very robust wooden garden stakes for the incredible price of $10. We enjoyed a lovely country drive to pick them up from the seller.
As I write a currant tea cake is baking, a gentle fire is going and all is well in my little corner of the world.

I love to hear what everyone does in their home!

Jo said…
Madeleine, your thrifty winter life sounds delightful. Now, I must know more about the woolly knickers. Do you knit them or sew them or buy them? If the latter, please provide a link. I am mending a cashmere shawl for a friend. It is so amazingly soft. I think it would make marvellous knickers..
simplelife said…
Yes yes yes. These are the posts I love most.
I too do live a very similar life to you, and totally agree about getting many warms from our wood before it even gets in the fire.
I think lockdown reinforced all the simple pleasures for me, as I didn't have that niggly little feeling inside me, saying it's privileged to be this content, it's not ok to not be social, the peace I felt without that voice was amazing.
I love the birds that live around me, they bring me so much joy.
That YouTube link was so lovely, I've saved it to watch again. Also Kit Hiller lives near me, I walk past her house everyday on my daily walk
She is a lovely woman, and her art is just beautiful.

Cheers Kate
Evi said…
Your day sounds a lot like mine - cooking from scratch (who came up with that saying anyway??) porridge, muesli, green juices. Using fruit that we've bottled, relishes that we cooked. The washing dries by the fire overnight now its cold otherwise outside it goes. Lots of covers on our bed and if I have really cold feet I use a hot water bottle ;o)
Our life is a little topsy turvy right now but we've always heated our homes with wood fires and will do so when we move into the bus permanently. I must admit I really dislike wearing layers, although I do, but I much prefer to live in a warm climate and feel freer and livelier in the summer months.
We've never had a tv but of course these days we have a computer and thats almost the same brain numbing stuff. The difference is we can watch shows when we want rather than when they are aired. Oh, and the biggest difference is we can find like minded peeps through blogs!!! ;o) I love that!!!
Evi said…
....and I just watched The Simple Life as I ate my porridge - oh it's so beautiful! I really loved it and will be watching again later with Stuy.
Jo said…
Madeleine sent me the link for the woolly knickers, from an Australian company who sells a 'hand-picked selection of sustainable and organic merino clothes, ethically produced and made to last.' These are very expensive undies (Madeleine said she waited until they had a big sale!) but this is what ethical fashion costs and is also why our grannies had far less clothes than we do..
I have to say I love everything on this site, which is why I closed it quickly and came back over here to thrifty land. However, if you have money, this seems an excellent place to get rid of it:) Oh, the plant dyed leggings.. I do absolutely want to experiment with botanical dyes.
Anyway, link:

Jo said…
Kate, I hear you on that voice. I love Kit Hiller's prints. I have two framed cards of her birds, the eastern spinebill and the New Holland honey eater. They are completely delicious:)

Evi, I can hear your feet itching to get to warmer climates! I am very excited to see your bus house one day on your blog.. because yes, blog friends are wonderful, not the least because you get to peek into so many lives:) btw I added yours and a heap of other blogs to my side bar if anyone wants more inspiration for the good life.
And I really recommend the channel which made The Simple Life film. Green Renaissance have many other beautiful little films to enliven your breakfast porridge.

simplelife said…
Just back to say, oh dear I've been wooed by that YouTube channel.
There are some delightful films in there.
Cheers Kate
Jo said…
Kate, I know, right? The people they find to tell their stories. It's exquisite and they should be more widely known.
steph said…
it's the rhythm of the day that is important....and yours is very very inspiring! Thanks for sharing.
Anonymous said…
The extremely cold weather last night reminded me of another green and thrifty part of my day in Winter. Emptying and rinsing the chamber pot in the morning! The bathroom is as far as it can get from the fire and it can get down to minus 13 which makes going to the bathroom in the night almost a health hazard. The chamber pot sits in an old commode and when people ask what it is I say, oh, that's the ensuite!

I am delighted to see people have been enjoying the film link. I have been looking with longing at Kit Hiller's art work - sigh....

Anonymous said…
I think the restrictions of the last few weeks have seen many of us fall into the comforting routines of what some would undoubtedly consider a boring life, but I think it has shown how resilient and resourceful we are, and what joy there is in living simply. We've done all the things we always do - cooking and baking from scratch, eating what's in the garden, drying the washing outside, engaging in hobbies that don't require the purchase of expensive equipment, making and mending stuff where possible.

You're so right about simple pleasures, like watching the birds. We feed the local tui population, with sugar water feeders fixed to the deck railings, and are constantly delighted by their puffed-up bossiness and amazing and varied song.

I have to admit, I miss the wood fire. I really enjoyed the splitting and stacking of the wood, and the daily interaction with the fire. These days we have a gas fire, which my husband loves for its push-button efficiency, but it has no soul!

Linda in NZ

Linda in NZ
Jo said…
steph, was going to say that i don't think I have a rhythm, but perhaps I do. I alternate between writing and pottering about the house all day and it is very good.

Madeleine, what a great ensuite! So economical! I must admit I have pondered the chamber pot as fresh diluted urine is such a great fruit tree fertiliser..
And thank you for introducing us to the Green Renaissance channel and Wonderpants!

Linda, thank you, I will now think of myself as resilient and resourceful rather than boring:)
Justine said…
Hello guys. It's Justine here, from Green Renaissance - we're the team who made the Simple Life film :)

Firstly, to Jo, I wanted to say thanks for such a beautiful blog post. We also live off grid - so the description of your various routines resonated deeply with me - from stacking the stove and hanging the washing, to creating a snug home during the colder months. It isn't always easy and take time and effort, but the rewards of a slower, more considered day, are definately worth it.

Madeleine and Caz from Australia pointed us to your blog, saying that you'd shared a link to our film. Thank you to each of you for taking the time watch some of our stories. They really are our labour of love - we spend our spare time to film and edit these short films. Why do we do it? Simply because we believe in the power of using our skill and passion as film makers to share some positivity and inspiration out into the world. Our little way of helping.

So THANK YOU for all the positive feedback and words of support. We hope that you keep tuned in. We've got so much more to share, so we'll keep the inspiration flowing.

Sending you all much love from a chilly South Africa.
Justine. x
Jo said…
Justine, well, what a wonderful surprise and a gift to find that you have visited us here. As you have already seen we are rather smitten with your films. In the week or so since Madeleine sent me the link to The Simple Life I have watched, well, let's say quite a lot of them!
The diversity of the stories you tell and the respect and the heart that goes into each little film is very special. I find them very calming, very honest, intimate and grounded in the earth. It is good to be reminded that it is so worthwhile to make that kind of connection, because everyone has a story inside.
So thank you for bringing us the stories that often stay hidden away inside of people and thank you so much for visiting us here:)
Stay warm as we make our way towards the longest night in our beloved southern hemisphere xx
Anonymous said…
I don't think the post is boring, or that your daily things are boring. My day would be more boring - racing off in the morning to work, dealing with people's whinges and whines and complaints about things that really don't matter but point to their greater unhappiness with their lives and need to prove they are important and right. Then going home and trying to fit in a walk, or time to water the garden.

Love the video - how great is it that the producer has commented here! The video led me to one about a couple with a baby in NZ who live in 20 square meters - working for rent and mainly working on the land for food. He largely gave work as a GP. Did you watch that video? Lucinda
Justine said…
Thanks for the reply Jo, and the VERY kind and supportive words about our little film project :) It's taking time to grow our online community, but slowly does it. And we're just loving the adventure and connections that have opened up. Makes every bit of work well worth it.

You've got a new 'regular' to your blog posts. While you've been watching our films, I've been catching up on some of the previous posts, and loving each of them. Thanks for all the beautiful sharing. And I'll be checking in regularly for the updates. So please keep your stories coming.

And yes - soon the sun will turn back again, and our days will get a little bit longer again. But I don't mind the longer nights - good excuse to pull out the candles.

Sending love.
Justine x
Jo said…
Lucinda, oh yes, I love that video too, the one from Happen Films? I subscribe to them too:) It is a mystery to me how I get anything done with all the great videos on youtube..

Justine, I am sure your online community will grow as your stories are so beautiful and just what we all need in difficult times. It's so good to have you join us - as you can see, the community here is wonderful and the reason I keep writing. And candles, yes, so many candles. the kiddo has been recycling all our old candles this week so we have lots of candles, and also a yule log ready for the solstice..

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