Monday, July 18, 2011

Decrease Useless Diversity - pantry declutter for delicious dinners

Pantry Declutter, After
Here is how you can de-clutter your pantry, and make dinnertime graceful and light. 

We all know the Permaculture principle of 'Increase useful Diversity'.
But because it wasn't written in the designers manual, we forget that we need to 'Decrease Useless Diversity' first, to give us room for all the lovely things we want in our lives.

One of these desireables is delicious dinners.
Meals we enjoy cooking, shopping for, and cleaning up after.

When we learn how to do this, we stop being powerless victims of restaurant meals, and don't have to spend all that time at work paying for them.

Imagine coming home tired from work, opening up your pantry, and this is what you see:

Pantry Declutter, Before

Discouraging, right?

You don't know what food you've got because you can't see it.

Visually, it looks as delicious as your recycling bin, and really doesn't give you any clues or incentives to the next action you must take. Apart from getting out your purse and going to Lou's Take Away.

What do you do, where do you start?
Im a very experianced declutterer, and naturally very messy. I don't reccomend things I haven't fought hard to do myself. Here is the recccommended, reality-tested plan of action:

1. Bungee Jump

Bungee Jump is my term for the thing you do in your mind, when you go against all your existing instincts and do something you think you aren't allowed to do, something that will change the orbit of your life.
In this case, its deciding to spend money on a whole pantry-worth of good-quality matching containers. I buy Decor.
It will cost about $70

It can be so hard! There are 100 reasons in your mind why your shouldn't.
You are keeping existing plastic from landfill....
You are using money for better things....
You are....

Your pantry doesn't have to resemble a supermarket, a graffiti patch or a recycling bin.

2. Reality Check

The decor containers will last you for the next twenty or thirty years. Its like getting married, bringing something quality into the family.

You will save the money within a month, or even a week, by not needing to eat out.

You will have a less stressed, cluttered and guilty mind.
I don't know your particular way of spending in response to stress - it could be Chardonnay, counsellors, shopping sprees, or divorce lawyers.
But its always more expensive than order in the strategic places.

Disorder and wildness bring riches to other places: your art studio, your veggie garden, and possibly your bed.

But not your kitchen.

Separating the Sheep from the Goats - its fun once you get started

3.  Buy exactly the right amount, right shape, right diversity

*Oblong - Round takes up too much space.

*Stackable - you don't ANYTHING unco-operative in your house, even objects.

*Diverse size, not diverse brand.
Lots of 'Small', for leftovers in the fridge. A few 'Medium', and a handful of 'Big'. Nothing bigger than one litre -  You don't want a big two liter container full of dregs clogging your pantry. If you have a large amount of, say, brown rice, simply put it into two or three containers. 

4. Put the old containers in the bin
This is the hardest part, and will bring you the most blessings.
If you keep them, or give them to the op shop, you can still pretend to be 'good' and 'sustainable'.
If you feel the pain of throwing them into the (recycling) bin, you will then be motivated to change you habits, and this next hard-to-start habit will revolutionize your life and your world. It is......

5. Start shopping at a co-op

You bring all your empty containers, fill them up with bulk organic goodies such as quinoa, dates, saffron. You do a Google search to work out how to cook them, or invite your cook friends over for a session.   
Your gourmet, slow food life has begun. 

If you get creative and efficient about how you time things, you will soon be eating organic meals for less cost than conventional meals, and no rubbish.

I make that claim because I have done it. It took a while. But conventional wisdom is often wrong. Eating organic is only more expensive if you use them as an 'add on' to a conventional food life.
If you get the whole thing right, it is cheaper.

It will take more time in the beginning, until you figure out good ways around it.  Get a WWOOFer or volunteer to do the shopping for you, in return for the elegant meals you will treat them to.

Its always just a design problem. 

Never, ever give up.

And never, ever put up with things that don't make your life beautiful. 
Unless you really like them.

By Kyneton's  Campaspe River, after the flood

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Imaginary Sydney Harbour bridge Fire - Critics, and other scary things

Of course its not the Sydney Harbour Bridge on fire, I just imagined it when I woke up.
Actually, something scary happened, and I've been waking up feeling that way for a few mornings now.

The Permaculture Fairy got Swatted.
That's me, by the way.

Some people didn't like a Garden renovation story I wrote on an internet site, and their comments were ...not kind.
Worse than that.
(I've put the link here. I don't recommend you read it though - it might spoil your day)

I should just ignore them, right?
Its only words, right?
The internet is full of snarl.
But I have lived my adult life meticulously avoiding being snarled at.

That's how I got so cute.

But even if critics are blazingly wrong, it registers as pain, for days and days.
It makes me clumsy, not being present to things, important things, like pedestrians when I drive... dangerous!
Worst of all, its contagious. Since the 'Mean People' day,  I can feel my skull narrow to a more weasel-like shape, for mentally shredding 'bad' people.

I've had to give my friends a kind of 'Cecilia Hazchem' warning these few days  :
"If I start complaining, just say 'Cecilia, you have gone all compacted', and stop me".  

As you may know, compacted soil that has been squashed or hardened with chemicals looses its fluffiness and will grow only weeds.

What can I do tomorrow to fluff myself back up? 

Morning Journal spot:  Balcony Garden, from where I view the bridge. 

For starters, prevention - Never read or respond to comments in dangerous websites. Let the productive people know where you can be found and contacted.

Maybe start a difficult, exciting project, digging or something physical.

Request from the Permaculture Fairy to you

Don't verbally punish people who are wrong.
Let them continue on being wrong, and improve your own life.

Or, if you utterly can't resist intervening, then inspire them to change, or ask if they would like coaching.
If you are prepared to invest in the issue, maybe they will too.

You never know how long the residue of your words will linger, and how many life-giving projects and people are silenced.

I know bawling out 'Evildoers' can be semi-irresistible, probably a brain chemical like heroine.
But practice.

The more punishing thoughts you think, the less bravery you will have to do interesting things with your life. Because naturally you will think the world is as unforgiving as you are being.

I will think of other tips for resisting 'pesticide communication', and put them in a blog post one day.
I use them all the time on myself, after all.

Poor humans. We can be such machines.