going slow in the fast lane

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Life is quietly busy in the EllaDee-G.O. household, and follows a sleep-work-eat sequence 6 days a week. While the G.O. works I spend Saturdays covering off Domestic Goddess Duties. At the moment the G.O. has plantar fasciitis aka very sore feet, so Sundays have mostly been a day of rest.

We don’t live a DINK* typical city lifestyle according to one of my country living friends… we don’t take near enough advantage of the shopping, eating and nightlife opportunities.

That could be why sometimes it feels like life is moving slowly and the lifestyle the G.O. & I are chasing is not getting any closer, like one of those weird dreams where the object you’re reaching for doesn’t move further away but is not any closer either.

We’re looking forward to a lifestyle where we have less money, more space and more time. And to get a little practice in and pave the way we set ourselves 3 main goals in the interim.

1. Spend our earnings wisely.

2. Consume efficiently and responsibly.

3. Make the most of the life we’re living now.

How are we going?

Thanks to a suggestion from Meeka, I made a couple of simple changes to the timing of appliance use and checked with our energy providers that we are on the best plans. We don’t use the air-conditioner much but the cooktop and oven a lot. The dishwasher & washing machine go on daily – a tiny kitchen, sink and balcony clothes rack make their daily use a necessity. We manage without a clothes dryer thanks to a relatively spacious undercover balcony. The tweaking made a dollar difference to our energy bills but more importantly I feel empowered.

I’ve noticed a marked difference in our groceries from a few years ago. Less comes in the door but more local-free range-organic-biodynamic-eco-earth choice**. We compromise with a balance of individual preferences, old standbys & favourites. Some of my innovations are not so popular with the G.O. but he’s acclimatized to the recycled toilet paper, paper towel and tissues. We shop as much as possible from farmers markets and have become informed, deliberate consumers. I calculate what we need and rarely throw any thing out. The produce in our crisper is eaten each week. If we run out I buy more. Leftovers are taken for work lunches or go into the freezer.

There is not much difference to our grocery spend but we’re opting for solution vis–à–vis Celi from thekitchensgarden  “… either we choose to be a part of the problem or a part of the solution”. And with Clouds view on “Genetic engineering. It’s a bit like nuclear power, pesticides, feeding cows on sheeps brains. You either think it’s a great idea, don’t care either way because it doesn’t affect you, or you think it is an extremely bad idea.” Yup… extremely bad idea.

The G.O. took food ingenuity to a new level when making a Sunday afternoon movie snack. With his go-to container of Jatz, he emerged from the fridge with remnants of previous meals: Manchego cheese, thin sliced roast beef, bread & butter cucumber pickles, butter and winter strawberries.

Jatz with Manchego cheese, thin sliced roast beef, bread & butter cucumber pickles, butter and winter strawberries...
Jatz with Manchego cheese, thin sliced roast beef, bread & butter cucumber pickles, butter and winter strawberries…

The G.O. also included but didn’t consume, a standby packet of salt & vinegar chips (crisps). He assures me he’s not pregnant, and if he was we’d be rich.

**If you’re interested, currently I’m reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver,  and I’d also highly recommend In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan.

*DINK: Double Income No Kids

38 thoughts on “going slow in the fast lane

    davidprosser said:
    August 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    You’re obviously both living a well thought out lifestyle at the moment. I hope the little tweaks you’ve made and any future changes lead to you getting the change of lifestyle and pace you so badly want. Here’s hoping it’s getting much closer, much sooner than you’d thought.
    xxx Huge Huge xxx


      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2013 at 10:00 am

      Thank you. We’re working on it 🙂 It’s a bonus to be able to share my thoughts and workshop it in the blogging community.


    Vicky said:
    August 15, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    I’m glad you added the DINK definition, I was totally puzzled.

    I do believe we all fit into one if two groups, regardless of wealth.
    1. The ones who thrive on an immaculate appearance, always well groomed with smart clothes, and a love of shopping, clubbing and eating out. Usually choosing the city to live.
    2. The ones who are happy in their own skin, wearing comfortable clothes and prefer a BBQ in the garden to the high life, and are happy living far away from the hussle and bustle.

    We’ve all probably dabbled in one lifestyle or the other, but deep down in our soul, we all know which is our true self.
    You are definitely a group two type stuck in a group one environment.
    Hopefully it won’t be long before you’re permanently living your group two lifestyle at TA instead of the city.


      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2013 at 10:06 am

      Thank you. Aussies love to shorten or nickname things and I wasn’t sure if DINK was a local term, so I erred on the side of caution. Oh yes, 2 is us, although half a lifetime ago I couldn’t wait to leave the country, I never quite adopted all the city ways. We are getting there, and in the good company of bloggers the lifestyle picture is getting clearer 🙂


    Ardysez said:
    August 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    In Defense of Food is a favourite of mine, also The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Pollan. We are retired and after living carefully and not having all the latest gimcracks all our lives, we have retired to a comfortable and fairly conservative life except for our travels. That was our plan. We compost, conserve water, buy less but better quality in just about everything, but especially food. As much as possible in Alice Springs I buy organic and wholesome healthy food that I cook. We seldom eat out except when traveling. It is more satisfying to live this way, more thoughtful, more peaceful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and actions.


      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2013 at 10:17 am

      The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and M.P.’s other books are on my to read list. There is so much to learn. Sadly, my food view of the world got stuck for a few decades. I love the word ‘gimcracks’ – it sums up their lack of value so well 🙂 It’s through fellow bloggers that our lifestyle aspirations are crystalizing, and we’re realising it’s possible. We are still lucky that all our Australian grown food is local on relative terms and there are lots of viable solutions, no matter where you live.


    dadirri7 said:
    August 15, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    loved this post even more than usual because just finished reading Barbara Kinsolver’s Flight Behaviour … if you have not yet read it you might find it at the library … inspiring!! if you can live like this it gives us all hope for the future … the world might look to be stuffed but some of us are doing all we can in our daily choices 🙂 GO’s food looks awesome!


      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2013 at 10:22 am

      Flight Behaviour was the previous book I read 🙂 I’m working my way through all Barbara Kingsolver’s books. She’s amazing. Most of all, I’m giving myself hope, I think 🙂 It’s reassuring to share views with bloggers from all walks and see the small & big contributions we all are making 🙂


        dadirri7 said:
        August 16, 2013 at 10:51 am

        we need to give ourselves hope, sometimes it can be a bit heavy 😦


    acflory said:
    August 15, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    I was nodding all through this post. 🙂 Since money has become tight I’ve made much the same changes as you re food. I still buy good quality, make from scratch food but now I plan meals instead of buying a whole range of things, half of which go off before they’re cooked. I’m also using the freezer to store leftovers for those days I’d rather eat razor blades than cook, and asking myself one simple question – do I really need XX? Most of the time I really don’t. And it is empowering. 🙂


      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2013 at 10:28 am

      Winter has been fantastic for our budget. I’m not one for much weeknight cooking so a big cook up on Sunday arvo, and a few additions, keeps us, who are quite happy to eat the same food 4 even 5 nights running, fed, and sometimes lunches for the G.O. 🙂 There’s been a lot of “do I need?” asked in our house and even when the answer is yes, we take our time, research and often save money… sometimes yes even turns into no.


        acflory said:
        August 17, 2013 at 9:17 am

        It’s amazing how much you can save when you flick that switch in your brain from ‘spend spend spend’ to ‘save save save’. 🙂


    cecilia said:
    August 15, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Both these books are on our bedside tables too, plus we LIVE it like you do! Everyone can do something to take control and what stood out for me in your page today is that making small yet high value changes EMPOWERS you.. another brilliant grass roots take on Power to the People! The world as a collective may have some problems but we cannot fail with people like you and GO. Have fun.. spring is coming for you soon! Do you put pots of lettuce on your balcony? Almost time to sow. me too i am sowing our autumn lettuce today! Lots of love.. c


      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2013 at 6:18 am

      You and so many other blogging buddies have made me feel I’m on the right track by living it in various ways, constantly learning, sharing and making small changes. It is how we will win in the end. I’ve tried growing food on the balcony but it’s not successful – too much rail ballast, so it’s off to the farmers markets for me 🙂


    philosophermouseofthehedge said:
    August 16, 2013 at 12:14 am

    All the dressing up and going out in the big city is fun – for a bit- then ready to walk away? Is it a phase humans go through?
    More and more are choosing to relax, enjoy natural living, appreciate what entertainment is available free, and live mindfully – even if it’s just making small changes. It doesn’t mean having to live like backwoods recluses.
    Sounds like you guys are well on your way. Little things do make a difference. Electric dryers are used for clothes? We use natural gas – but timing still makes a difference in the bills. (We always had clothes lines growing up – sun drying does make things smell nice.)
    Laughed at that food choice – never would have thought of strawberries and pickles! But it looks so good.
    Know what you mean about that dream still seeming so far away – hang in there – you’ll make it!


      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2013 at 6:12 am

      Thank you 🙂 Exactly. True lifestyle isn’t something one buys. Small changes are all we’ve ever done, and we still go out from time to time, and enjoy it. I think though if you feel you’re missing out, as my friend does, it looks different. I wouldn’t mind her lifestyle.
      Yes, domestic tumble dryers in Australia tend to plug into a power socket. The apartment has a fancy hybrid washer-dryer that sort of steams the clothes dry apparently… we don’t bother. Sun dried clothes are best 🙂
      I thought the G.O.’s food combo was just plain weird…


    Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said:
    August 16, 2013 at 6:44 am

    I think that living life well – which for me means contentedly – is all about the minutiae. When everything else is a frantic soul-sucking vortex, being able to influence the little things – your choice of produce, managing your electricity bills, finding downtime – is indeed incredibly empowering! Sounds like things are traveling well for you both, which is just wonderful. xx


      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2013 at 10:33 am

      Thank you 🙂 The wonderful thing that happened since I started blogging was that I found real people who are living the way we aspire to, in different ways but all living well, and sharing that minutiae which when it’s all added up has a huge influence on the big picture, and the impact we can have on it collectively 🙂


    ChgoJohn said:
    August 16, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Sounds to me like you both are doing just fine, EllaDee, and are an example for many. You’ve a goal in mind and it isn’t going to just happen on its own. The things you’re doing today will only ensure that the goal is reached. In the meantime, you’re living consciously, aware of your “footprint” and trying to decrease its size. It’s a wonderful benefit knowing that the latter is helping you reach the former. 🙂


      EllaDee responded:
      August 16, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      Thank you. Life is good for us:) And if we can make a difference to a farmer or producer, that makes me happy as well. I love having a chat to them as I wander through the markets.


    mybrightlife said:
    August 17, 2013 at 3:30 am

    A fine balance.


      EllaDee responded:
      August 17, 2013 at 9:02 am

      Thank you. We try. Degrees of success 🙂


    Richard Guest said:
    August 17, 2013 at 6:17 am

    Great post, EllaDee. (Poor G.O.’s feet – I looked it up). It’s great to take control isn’t it? Just the thought that you are shifting the balance in the right direction. If we all did it…


      EllaDee responded:
      August 17, 2013 at 9:11 am

      Thank you. Yes, poor G.O., and apparently common on his worksite, lots of uneven ground to cover on foot. The best thing that happened to us is the local Eveleigh farmers markets, so we don’t have to drive to shop at a FM… which sort of defeated some of the purpose for me, and parking around them is always hell.


    metan said:
    August 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    We don’t all have to go off the grid and forgo every comfort to do our bit do we? The more we do to reduce our impact on the planet the better, but if we look at it as a huge life change it seems impossible to know where to begin and we will never start. Doing lots of little things certainly spurs us on to do more, before we know it we really have changed the way we live and it didn’t hurt a bit. 😀

    I shop for fresh food every day and have found that works for us. We try not to let anything go to waste, we eat more fruit and veg than anything and are doing our best to grow more rather than buy everything. If everyone tried to do their little bit things would be much better with the world. At least there is an awareness of it these days and so many people are trying to change their behaviours.

    I like your Number 3 ‘Make the most of the life we’re living now’. If only more people saw the happiness around them rather than looking for better ‘stuff’. 🙂


      EllaDee responded:
      August 19, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      I was quite frustrated and daunted for a while when I was thinking the small changes we’d made didn’t amount to much, but then I looked at the changes overall and realised what we’d accomplished without going off grid, which I couldn’t do, even if I was inclined. And practically, the G.O.’s not one for sudden, big changes… I wasn’t joking about the TP! And had I, 8 years ago foretold him how much less meat he’d be eating, he may just have up and left… We just do what we can living in the city, which does afford us some benefits, and know that when we move to TA we’ll adapt again.
      I would love to buy fresh food every day but I have only so much time, and the weekly farmers markets offer us the best food options. That said, I don’t get there every week, and sometimes I contribute to the Woolies shareholder profits. Amazingly, where we live in the city at least, proper food and grocery shopping, even just for 2 is a logistical balance of available time, location, opportunity, quality/preferences, parking, public transport, carrying capacity… I always say if I had to shop and cook for extras, eg kids, I’m not sure I would cope in the exisitng environment.
      Seeing the happiness around me is the only thing that keeps me sane!


        metan said:
        August 20, 2013 at 8:31 pm

        The Man is the same, but sneak in one small change at a time and they never even notice! We are eating far less meat than we were years ago too, when he comments I just do a nice roast and he forgets all about it. 😉
        I am guilty of supporting Woolies too, out of sheer laziness I guess! I have to walk right past it to go to my local bakery, and the drive to the local fresh fruit and veg is just too far when I am in a hurry. Hmmmm, maybe tomorrow I will go out of my way to stock up just to make a stand. 😀

        I always look to our bins to see if we are being wasteful too, if I can forget to put it out for collection and it doesn’t matter because four of us haven’t created that much waste I am happy. We try not to buy things in unnecessary packaging so our recycling bin rarely goes out. So many in the street are packed to overflowing every week and it drives me crazy. 😦


    Pete Denton said:
    August 19, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    They’re good aspirations and I think we could all do with a similar re-evaluation on how we live from time to time. Sometimes you get caught up in repeating the patterns of last week even if they weren’t good. I need to make a list!


      EllaDee responded:
      August 20, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Thank you. Yes, patterns are hard to break because we like to keep every thing simple and the same… changing things seems to take up time! My list-making isn’t that practical but how we’re going with life and plans is often a topic of wine o’clock conversation, and keeps us on track 🙂


    Kourtney Heintz said:
    August 21, 2013 at 12:34 am

    LOL. Thank goodness he’s just creative and not pregnant–you’d lose your DINK status. 😉 I am huge leftover fan. It’s a great way to stretch food dollars. 🙂


      EllaDee responded:
      August 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      We wouldn’t lose just our DINK status… I’d lose my mind as well. Leftovers are also a great way to stretch available time, no shopping or preparation required 🙂


    Leanne Cole said:
    August 22, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I think I need to take a leaf out of your book, we go through way to much money and have so little to show for it.


      EllaDee responded:
      August 23, 2013 at 11:16 am

      Isn’t it just so annoying when every time you look there’s no money left in your purse and you cannot for the life of you think what it’s been spent on…


    George Collingwood said:
    August 25, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Wasting money is a big sin in my book and I hate seeing it. In the old days we used to mend everything, never threw a single thing out. I barely know anyone who fixes their own stuff these days. Things have changed.


      EllaDee responded:
      August 26, 2013 at 6:04 am

      I still have a sewing box, and mend but with the quality of clothing now sometimes it’s a wasted effort. Just yesterday I had the superglue out to mend my sneakers 🙂 I love finding good stuff people have thrown out, and around here there’s a great culture of on-footpath recycling.


    […] I wrote we shop as much as possible from farmers markets. A couple of weeks later I had cause to question that bold statement. Did we? As much as possible? […]


    The Wanderlust Gene said:
    October 11, 2013 at 10:37 am

    All these things I’m questioning now I’m back in Oz – life’s different, different food, different ways of preparing it, on top of which, buying and cooking for one seems to be a major stumbling block for me right now – I can’t believe how much I’m wasting, especially as I’ve only a bar fridge till my ‘stuff’ arrives. I think I need to give a lot more thought to ‘managing’ my life, making a bit of time to plan a bit more so I can make informed rather than inspired purchases!


      EllaDee responded:
      October 11, 2013 at 11:05 am

      I think it helps that I eat the same breakfasts / lunches and snacks during the working week – easier to use everything up.
      Once you have a freezer to tuck away a few leftovers you won’t throw as much out.
      I was a very uninspired cook living on my own and known to eat stir fry beef and veges 5 or 6 nights… I was a lot thinner as well 😉
      Hopefully you will find a farmers market or good greengrocer nearby – local, rather than supermarket cold stored produce generally keeps so much better, and is kinder to inspired purchases of which I’m guilty as well – I bought about 3 kgs of kipfler potatoes when we were away last week and am now wondering what the hell to do with them all…


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