I’m Smitten

I don’t know about you but I have a terrible time trying to buy winter clothes of good quality that are made from natural fibres — preferably wool! — in a sustainable way. Although I don’t sew (yet) I do knit but my list of projects hasn’t included a garment for me for a while.



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Words aren’t actions (not even verbs)

In a previous life, when I was a schoolteacher, one of the marathons we were required to suffer was in-services dominated by the Newspeak of new syllabi or techniques. To relieve the tedium I would amuse myself by writing vocabulary lists that contained Education Department Newspeak.

For example from the 80s and 90s I recall Mission Statement, Pupil Focussed Learning (the kids aren’t pupils anymore, they are students), values, reaching out, benchmarks, problem solving, cohorts, discipline-based, dynamic, action plans.

By deliberately manoeuvring the meaning of words instead of the allowing language to shift naturally through use, words can become elitist when few people understand the new meaning (or should that be rebranding?) so the familiar word becomes almost a code.

This, of course, has long been the purpose of slang, it’s meant to be exclusionary, to be cool and known only to the in/hip group.

Gobbledygook, on the other hand, simulates thought by implying that action has taken place of (of which the listener was unaware) at the same time implying action is needed from the listener – or agreement at the very least.

Deliberately changed words mask a multitude of sins. No longer are jobs cut, eliminated or axed, they are downsized, transitioned, rightsized, repurposed. I object to this man-handling of language: to me vanilla is not boring people, vanilla is the extract of a rare and expensive plant.

At present if we go forward or move forward – which presumably we are doing if we are breathing –it seems we’ll reach the end of the day.

These phrases have an implied not definitive sense of movement throwing a mysterious veil over what’s actually happening, if we move forward is anything occurring or is it simply words?

Which brings me to my current concern.

Mindfulness. Connectedness. The implication of these words in their current use is that, in this Age of Distraction if you aspire to being mindful and connected, you will be.


What about concentration and paying attention? These words aren’t bandied around at all but you need to concentrate and pay attention if you are going to be – in current usage – either mindful or connected. That would mean turning off phones and devices and paying attention to what we have to do.

It’s all good I guess as long as you have a takeaway.

Simple Home Year: More frugal laundry ideas


Rhonda’s May chapter of The Simple Home has all sorts of tips for making your laundry a more pleasant to be in, to make your work in there more streamlined and effective and of course, more frugal ideas. One of the great benefits of the latter is not only do these reduce the number of items needed from the supermarket thereby saving you money, the products are greener so kinder to your family’s skin as well as the environment.

The laundry liquid alone has multiple uses. It is an ideal stain remover, you need simply cover the stain with a little of the liquid, rub it in, then wait 15 minutes before popping the item in the wash. I learned early on how effective it is, I was using a small tea-stained cup to measure the liquid, after two uses it was so sparkling clean I returned it to the kitchen cupboard!

You can create a cleaning paste from the laundry liquid too. To half a cup of the laundry liquid add half a cup of bicarb soda, mix it all to a thick paste-like consistency to use on baths, sinks, taps, benchtops and other harder to clean areas. I have had great success with it removing the grot that accumulates behind the kitchen sink which is on the southern side of the house. When you make up the paste store it in a lidded container as it will dry out over time.

An economical green rinse aid is plain old generic white vinegar. If you are worried that your wash will smell of vinegar — which it won’t — try it for one wash and, unnecessary as it is, consider dispensing a couple of drops of essential oil into your newly opened vinegar bottle to make the wash smell extra good. Lemon, lavender and rose are all lovely.

One tip on buying your vinegar: in my supermarket the “cleaning vinegar” which is exactly the same product as the no-name white vinegar is more expensive. Check the price before you choose.

It is really quite surprising how quick it is to make your own green, economical cleaners for the home. Your basic supplies will last for months, cost way less, be kinder to your skin and far better for the environment.

Simple Home Year: Frugal laundry detergent

When I go into the cleaning aisle in the supermarket my nostrils and lungs are assaulted by the smell of chemicals. Our household is not completely chemical-free nor am I asthmatic or particularly “lung sensitive” but I do find that aisle noxious — and obnoxious.

If I were to buy detergent this (below) is probably the sort of thing I’d buy. It appeals to me because it indicates that it is good for the environment as well as people, it’s toxin free and it’s Australian-made. Of course I’d check out these claims but as it’s made by Honest to Goodness I suspect they are true, I’m a fan of many of their groceries.


$12 for a kilogram of laundry powder is certainly a premium price, generic boxes sell for under $10 for four kilograms, brand name detergents of the same weight are around the $20 mark.

However why buy any of them? Homemade laundry powder can be in made up in moments, it costs a fraction of the retail version, it’s good for you and the environment, it’s toxin and sensitiser free.

Rhonda’s laundry powder recipe can be mixed up in no time, the even more frugal laundry liquid recipe can be prepared and bottled within about half an hour. The ten litres will cost you about $A2.50.


I’ve found both recipes to be very effective on clothes with all levels of soiling. I make up the liquid detergent in a saucepan on the cooktop, then pour the concentrate into a large bucket to which I add nine litres of tap water. Mum stirs the bucket of liquid every half hour or so for a couple of hours (her choice, I’d do it once or twice), we get a great gel liquid that simple needs a shake before use.

We decant the ten litres into empty two litre vinegar bottles whose contents have been used as rinse aid (more on that next week). This super economical environmentally friendly liquid also doesn’t require hauling home from the supermarket, it won’t make you sneeze and it will clean your clothes.

I hope you’ll give it a go.


Finding my tribe #Lyn at ipreferreading

With Anna inspiring me domestically and creatively, Brydie getting me baking and planting, it’s surely time to kick back with a book so that means dropping in on Lyn. I first stumbled across Lyn’s blog several years ago, it was a serendipitous discovery as Lyn is both widely read and in-depth read in so many areas.


In her blog header she quotes Logan Pearsall Smith aphorism “Some people say life is the thing, but I prefer reading” which made me laugh out loud when I first caught sight of it and isn’t it true in so many ways?

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Mind games #3: The addiction that passed me by

2016 is the thirtieth anniversary of my computer use. As I was barely 30 when I started using these things I well recall the newness and excitement of personal computers, the learning curve to use a mouse, type an email, work through the text block of the early Internet.

I’m old enough to remember the excitement of not only colour television but colour Internet with pictures and clickable links. The stuff I taught in high school Computing Studies is now ancient history even though it was a solid foundation for understanding that a computer is simply a binary device.

My senior students (hello Year 12 1988-2000) would recall algorithms which are a process or set of rules to be followed in computer and other operations. It was part of my role to teach the kids to write algorithms in pseudocode and as flowcharts, then they’d write their computer programs.

In the years little has changed except for the sophistication of algorithms and of coding. And now, of course, Facebook and other social media algorithms are written with the intention of making us addicted to their platforms.

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