Here it is, my first blog post ever! (so apologies if it’s a bit long.. or short). Well here we are into our last week of Buy Nothing Month and all in all it’s been a breeze, my only concern has been that I may have to leave working for The Green Parent magazine and become a full time dish washer. This is due to the vast amounts of cooking equipment used to make all meals from scratch, which Melissa is doing an amazing job (I take no credit at all for cooking as I have only made 2 meals consisting of pasta and er.. pasta). Most of the veg from the seasonal box is being used for roast dinners, gratins and Melissa’s pièce de résistance, curry veg soup, although I feel the effects of having califlower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts in one meal may affect our relationship! So my initial worries about lack of food were totally unfounded, in fact I don’t think we’ve ever eaten so well.
The only money I confess to spending so far is 50p to inflate my car tyres (I can’t believe they charge you for air now!), and a handful of change for the fireworks donations, apart from that I have been amazed at our ingenuity to avoid parting with any cash. We did wonder how to get around parking meters in our local town of Lewes so we decided to leave the car outside the parking zone and walk into town (about a mile), so not only have we saved ourselves about 6 quid over the last couple of weeks but we’ve also got more exercise. Being in Lewes during Buy Nothing Month was quite tough though, the girls were attending art and music classes so we had about 4 hours to kill with no money, the smell from the coffee shops was a real tempation so we quickly headed on down to the library (which is starting to feel like a second home). Libraries are great places to spend time if you are trying to avoid using cash, they are quiet..mostly, there are free daily and weekend papers, free internet use and of course zillions of books, I’m also quite sure that no-one would notice if you decided to have a little snooze in the corner (I’ll bring a blanket next time).
I guess why this month has been a breeze is probably due to the fact that we are not big consumers anyway and that our life does have a certain ‘make do and mend’ attitude, well actually it’s probably more just ‘make do’ (threadbare teatowels, holey cloths and socks, ripped jeans etc). It has been great to know that we can’t spend any money for the whole month and as long as there is food on the table you can always find ways round:
• Blown lightbulbs in the utility room – use a torch or candle..or wait till daylight to do the washing and feed the cat
• Running out of vegetable stock – let the soup simmer for longer and add more seasoning and tomato puree….and add more seasoning
• Running out of toilet cleaner – scrub the toilet every day (great fun!)
I’m glad to say we didn’t run out of toilet paper. :-D
Melissa and I are already talking about how we can make it harder next year.
Well, we are on day nine of our Buy Nothing Month challenge. We have managed to get by without spending any money – well, nearly. So, the first thing that let us down was a piece of mail that needed to be sent guaranteed delivery for work. I thought that the post mistress at our local post office was unlikely to trade for a box of our home-produced eggs so I paid up, with a sense of guilt that less than seven days into the experiment I had spent some money.
Then we went to the fireworks display on Saturday and each of the children with us took a handful of coins from our spare change pot to give as a donation. So, in effect we spent money on going to the fireworks. Which were spectacular and really awesome. I know all about the environmental travesty of fireworks and yet, and yet – they are so beautiful and such a community event in the Sussex village where we live. Anyway, we had lots of friends for tea, supper and to stay the night and managed to cobble together an interesting selection of food.
Realistically, we have been eating really well. Today we had mushroom risotto for lunch, followed by jam tarts and for supper; tartlets filled with leeks and peas and a salad, which in part came from the garden. Yes, I made rather a lot of pastry today. Have found that Doves gluten free flour makes great light pastry with coconut oil instead of butter but I will run out of flour soon so the jam tarts today were a bit of a one off treat.
The girls and I have had no sugar in our diet since we started BNM and it’s been really amazing to monitor our changing taste buds and desires. Normally in the evening I get a craving for something rich and incredibly dark (chocolate, not human, though that’s nice too!) and my youngest usually has an intense desire for sweet snacks. A week in and she is happily devouring savoury foods saying it’s the best thing she ever tasted. I hope that we can make this the norm for the future. I am going to treat myself to William Dufty’s Sugar Blues next month as I am intrigued to read more about the effects of such a powerful and everyday drug.
I’ve borrowed a high vis jacket so that I can cycle to yoga tomorrow night. There are lots of ways in which this month of abstinence has been profoundly beneficial to our health and wellbeing. I’ll keep you posted…
This is day five of our month of non consumerism and we managed to get past the shops in the village without purchasing anything – running short on a few food items already so will have to get creative in the kitchen. The whole experience so far has been great though. It’s been really consolidating for us as a family. We don’t shop a lot and none of us are big fans of shopping but we do still buy things on a regular basis. Over the last few days I’ve realised how much buying things and consuming whatever we choose can be used as an emotional salve, stopping us from really addressing our feelings.
We have spent more time together as a family – this is also due in part to us finishing another edition of the magazine which goes on sale soon – and relationships seem stronger than last week. Today, the girls and I did some more work on our Guy Fawkes project. We read about the man behind the legend and noticed quite a few discrepancies between different sources. Studying history is so interesting (and sometimes frustrating) because of the differences of opinion it throws up. I’m glad that the girls get the opportunity to think about and question these ‘facts’ rather than get the preferred version fed to them in a school textbook. We found this game called Plot and the girls did some great portraits of Guy Fawkes whilst I made them some gunpowder maths worksheets.
Later on we cycled down to the village to watch the bonfire being built and once back home again, ate toast in front of the fire and read some of the latest Jacqueline Wilson book to find its way into our home via the library. She certainly doesn’t hold back with her characterisation and plotlines – it’s quite an education!
For myself, I’m reading this gorgeous book called Full Moon Feast at the moment, which along with Nourishing Traditions (my new favourite cookbook ever) has turned quite a lot of my beliefs about nutrition on their head. I’m now making four mini meals a day with a big lunch at midday. A while ago we started eating raw dairy and fish, which is a real turnaround from my raw vegan days. The girls especially seem to benefit from our altered diet and having more regular food intake – balancing out their blood sugar has help to level emotional state as well.
My challenges over the coming days are: a party at the weekend which I have to take a dish to and friends over tomorrow and Saturday to cook for. Hopefully I’ll find something that I can rustle up that looks impressive but only uses basic storecupboard ingredients and seasonal veg. We got a fennel bulb in our organic box yesterday which should be able to be put to good use in some yummy gratin type dish. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Well we are on day three of our Buy Nothing Month challenge and all is pretty sweet. Haven’t had to encounter any opportunities for consumerism yet so time will tell how we get on. Have had to do some rationing of food though as kids threaten to devour all the good stuff.
We had friends for dinner last night and it was interesting to try and feed four hungry children with limited supplies – we ended up eating a real mishmash of stuff to try and ensure everyone left the table with full bellies – think dried mango with garlic pizza, pasta with courgette bread and baby tomatoes. Yum!
I am rereading some of my favourite Voluntary Simplicity classics for inspiration and am loving the creative possibilities that this challenge opens up for us. I seem to spend more time thinking about food and actually cooking than at other times of the year. And I’m never happier than when I’m planning something, especially if that something is something good to eat. Radio or tunes on in the background, a candle lit in the window for Hestia, goddess of hearth and home, pinny on (yes, really!) and I am in my element.
There are other ways in which we get to be more creative too – we have a birthday coming up later in the week and the wedding of a neighbour and I am looking forward to making cards and presents together.
I’ll let you know how we get on…
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