The Wonderland Postage-Stamp Case

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While I was researching content for my letter-writing and mail-art course, I discovered that Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, was also a bit of a mail fan.

In 1889 he invented "The Wonderland Postage-Stamp Case," a little case with 12 separate pockets in which people could keep stamps of different denominations.

A really simple time-saver I recommend people do is to buy stamps ahead of time, and just keep them at home. First of all, this means you can go to the post office when it is quiet, and avoid all those lines. Also, it means you can be spontaneous, to write and send a letter when you think of it, before the moment passes. Yesterday we had some guests to our place at lunch. So last night after dinner, I quickly wrote thank-you cards to all of them and, because I had my stamps with me at home, the letters are ready to go into the post box this morning with no extra effort from me. 

It seems Mr Carroll had the same idea. He said he invented the stamp case because he was "constantly wanting Stamps of other/ values, for foreign Letters, Parcel Post, &c.,/ and finding it very bothersome to get at the/ kind I wanted in a hurry."

The beautiful little outer-envelope comes with an engraving of Alice holding the Queen's crying baby (not found in the books) but, when you slide the case out, she is now holding the pig. The back of the envelope has an engraving of the Cheshire Cat but when you slide out the case, it begins to disappear. 

"If that doesn’t surprise you, why, I suppose you wouldn’t be surprised if your own Mother-in-law suddenly turned into a Gyroscope!" Carroll says. 

The stamp case was sold with a little booklet called "Eight or Nine Wise Words about Letter Writing." Carroll gets very worked up about the date, insisting that people include the full date at the top of their letters, rather than just the day and month, and (heaven forbid!) never simply write "Wednesday." Apparently only ladies do this (!!), and, "That way madness lies."

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I wasn't ready

Scout turned five last month, and I didn't see the milestone until I almost tripped over it. Rubbing my emotional stubbed toe, I tried to take it all in. She is not a toddler any more. Five is, well, five is a kid. She laughs, she dances, she tells jokes, she writes her name on pieces of paper and leaves them all over the house. She turns on lights and opens doors without asking for help. She listens to reason (most days.) 

I didn't notice the growing-up coming until two weeks before her birthday, when she announced one morning that she was ready to have her ears pierced. "Okay," I said, "let's do it. We'll go tomorrow." She spent the next 24 hours literally vibrating with excitement. "I can't believe this is really happening!" she whispered to me at bed-time. "It is actually happening!"

The next morning - after an agonisingly long time spent deciding on which surgical-steel earrings would be used for the piercing (she eventually chose gold studs with pink stones) - we sat together in a tiny clinical room, ready to go. I was more nervous than Scout was, my nerves somewhat exacerbated by the eccentric pharmacist who was doing the piercing. He insisted on following a checklist of warnings and health-risks, reiterating worst-case scenarios in graphic detail, and even interviewed my still-four year old daughter about pre-existing piercings and tattoos, then double-checked: "Have you been drinking alcohol today?" (I only just resisted the urge to ask him, "Have you?!") 

Afterwards, over celebratory hot drinks at the local deli, I felt a kind of grief. Scout just looked so grown-up with those earrings shining from her still-red lobes. But it wasn't only about her appearance, it was also about what the earrings now symbolised. My little girl had voluntarily agreed to have holes put in her ears. And let's not sugar-coat it, they hurt, going in. I had warned her that they would hurt but she choose to go ahead anyway. After the first ear was pierced there were some tears, but she still chose to continue. She straightened her back and squeezed my hand just a little tighter, ready to go. 

It was her decision to endure the bad thing to get to the good thing that had me swallowing sobs along with my coffee. There was only one way to describe what was going on with that kind of thinking: maturity. 

Twice a week I pack a lunch-box and Scout goes off to kinder. The packing of that lunch box is one of the highlights of her week, and many an ernest discussion is had over its contents (including one time when I ruined an entire 500-gram block of tasty cheese by carving out three long tubes with an apple-corer, so that she could have "cheese fingers" like the pre-pacakged ones her friends had). 

She speaks with a little lisp, slightly more pronounced right now because yesterday, just after breakfast, she lost her first tooth. There it was: a tiny, tangible, undeniable symbol of the relentless forward-rush of time. She held it in her hand and stared at it with a mixture of surprise, wonder, fear and pride washing over her face like a silent movie. 

Next year, Scout will go to school, and I will be packing her lunch-box five days a week. The following year I'll be packing a lunch-box for Ralph five days a week too.

And what then? I am not ready.

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What's in my new snail-mail e-course? (And why did I create it?)

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Did you know I'd launched a snail-mail e-course? I'm so excited (and a bit nervous) about this course. It launches in August and as of right now there are only eight spaces left. Eeep!

So, what's in this new e-course? The answers to your most pressing questions about how to write a lovely letter, that's what. I get asked a lot of questions about snail-mail and, over time, I started to notice the same questions coming up over and over again. So I decided to create a simple course that would answer those questions and share more tips, tricks, techniques and resources, so that anyone who wanted to could make someone's day by sending them a letter.

The course is called "The Most Beautiful Letter You Have Ever Written," and my goal is to help you write and decorate your most beautiful letter, ever. (No pressure!)
 
And every letter you write after that. 

After six years of making and sending mail-art all over the world (and later selling my illustrations), 15 years of working as a professional writer, and three years of waking up at 5am to research and write a book all about snail-mail, I’m ready to share everything I’ve learned about this subject in this course.

A beautiful letter takes five things. The first thing is your genuine desire to reach out to someone, to show them you care by writing them a personal letter. That has to come from you, but I can help you with the rest. 
 
1. People who write beautiful letters often have a gift for storytelling and expressing warmth in their writing

2. They include decorative elements that make the envelope a thing of joy to behold

3. They dedicate their own time to creating something by hand, and

4. They often find themselves forging a wonderful, like-minded community of people who are longing to receive their letters, and who itch to write beautiful letters in return
 
I will help you master all four of these skills. Even if you believe you can’t write, or frequently run out of ideas. Even if you think you’re not a creative person (hint: you are!). Even if you lead a hectic, time-poor life, and ‘crafts’ just aren’t on the agenda no matter how much you’d like them to be. And even if nobody you know would be likely to write back. 

To find out more about this course, or to book your place in the August class, pop on over to the Your Beautiful Letter overview page today. I hope to see you there! 

 

ps. Last night I had a lovely on-air chat with radio hosts Sam Bloore and Jax van Buuren from the Total Recall show in New Zealand. They were exploring the theme of the "lost art" of letter writing, inspired by the rapid rise and fall of the Pony Express in 1860-61. At the time, a 12-day time-frame to deliver a letter from New York to San Francisco was considered revolutionary, and required a small army of horses and riders to race through day and night. Then after less than two years, the invention of the telegram made them obsolete.

From this, Sam and Jax moved on to the idea of writing letters nowadays, and interviewed me about what we might have lost, and what we might still have to gain from keeping this practise alive. If you'd like to hear that interview online, you can listen in here.  


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Meals in the Mail - an update

* UPDATE 16 JULY 2017: please note that the official date to send recipes for this project has ended. However, you are still welcome to take part. There are no guarantees that your recipe will make it into the book but the sooner you send it, the more likely it will happen. I will be too busy delivering my Your Beautiful Letter course to start the book at least until the end of August, so any letters that arrive before then will still be part of the project. * 


One month ago, I came up with a little idea to collect some recipes via the mail, and make them into a zine or mini-book. I thought maybe I'd get 10 or 20 recipes, and it would be something cute to post as gifts in future letters I'd send. 

What I received was so much more. So far, the stacks of mail you see in these pictures contain 50 recipes, and more arrive every day. Many of them are illustrated recipes, or lovingly decorated in some way, and most of the envelopes likewise have been beautifully and carefully made. There are recipes from all over the world: some new, some traditional, but all of them are connected to stories. Stories of new love, family celebrations, cooking lessons, and adventures in travel. 

I've decided that these recipes deserve so much more than simply to be photocopied and stapled together. I want to showcase the creativity and vibrant beauty of the mail, the recipes, and the stories that go with them. So I will turn them into a 'real' book, in colour, that will celebrate not only the food, but the letters as well. 

I'm sticking to the original plan of sending the book to everyone who participates, so I thought I'd let you know there's still time to join in if you want to be part of this lovely project. The original date to have your mail postmarked was 1 July, but I've decided to extend it for another two weeks, until 15 July, to see if we can collect a few more recipes in the mail. Imagine what a wonderful book it would be if we could get up to 100 recipes and letters!

If you have friends or family members who you think would enjoy this project, please feel free to invite them to take part. The more recipes and letters from as many corners of the world that we receive will help to make it such a beautiful legacy of food, friendship and tradition, don't you think? 

To join in, simply send a favourite recipe of yours to me in the mail, as well as a few lines about what makes it special to you, at: 

Naomi Bulger
"Meals in the Mail"
PO Box 469
Carlton North
Vic 3054
Australia

Don't forget to include your return address so I can send you a copy of the book! 

Yours sincerely, 
Naomi x

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Teaching children a second language

Do you / did you teach your children a second language? Did you learn another language when you were little? How did you do it? I'd love your tips and advice! 

When my father was growing up, French was the only language spoken inside the home. Then he'd go to school in Australia and speak only English all day with his friends and teachers. The result was that he grew up fully bilingual (albeit with apparently the most appalling Australian accent to his French you could ever imagine). 

Sadly, my father didn't do the same thing at home when I was growing up. By the time I was 11 and about to travel by myself to New Caledonia to visit relatives, the sum total of my French was to be able to say "Oui," "Non," count to ten, and to say the word for toilet (taught to me as "cabinet," which I learned when I got over there was hopelessly out-of-date. When I asked for the "cabinet," everybody just shrugged). 

Now, I'm trying to do for my children what I wish my parents had done from me, and introduce a second language into their lives before it starts to feel like "learning." It's important to me that they learn their family's language. Even though we live in Australia, most of my dad's side of the family are still in French-speaking countries, and that's a big part of my children's heritage. 

The trouble is, of course, my aforementioned dearth of French-language skills. I've improved since my "cabinet" days, and can count past 10, but it's not ideal. French people understand me when I speak, but they also laugh. Attempting the whole "speak French to them at home all the time" thing with my kids would probably be doing them a great disservice. 

We are planning an extended trip to France next year (I'll share more about that soon), so I've decided to get more strategic about this whole 'language acquisition' agenda I have for my family. A lovely French girl called Cecce visits us once a week to help teach the children. Throughout the week, we also listen to French songs, choose French language on our favourite DVDs if it's available, watch French kids' shows on YouTube (my guys are addicted to a cartoon called PJ Mask), and we have a big French vocabulary book (that is unfortunately spurned by my kids). 

Where possible, I incorporate French words into our day-to-day lives. I encourage them to say hello, goodbye and thank-you in French instead of English (we sound like such tossers when out and about doing this, but I persist, blushing like crazy, because I am determined that we'll be ready for France next year). We count stairs / birthdays / dried apricots in French, and we identify the names of things and colours of things in French as we walk down the street. 

I've tried to find some more narrative-style books in French, without much luck. A while back somebody recommended a little French magazine called Pomme d'Api for small children, but getting hold of it in Australia was fabulously expensive. Like, remortgage-your-house-level expensive. 

And then last month, out of the blue, the publishers of Pomme d'Api, Bayard Milan, contacted me to let me know that a number of their children's book and magazine titles are now available in Australia, in the English language. They offered to send my children some of the magazines to try, to which I breathlessly replied, "Will the French-language titles be available in Australia too?" The answer is yes, so AT LAST we have some stories, games and activities to help my children learn French (and we get to keep our house). 

For example, the little French stories in Histories pour les petits are great to read to the children, because the language is simple enough for me to understand and therefore explain if I need to, but mostly they can follow along by looking at the pictures, and listening for words they already know. My children love activities in magazines, like mazes, spot-the-difference, and find-hidden-objects, so they enjoyed the magazine Toupie, pitched at children three-to-six years old. In English, we particularly loved one of the magazines called Story Box, which was filled with fictional stories as well as fun science explanations such as "why we breathe" and animal information. 

We will keep on reading but in the meantime, I'd love to know your tips. What are some fun ways to teach language to children (if you're not super-fluent in that language yourself)? 

This post was not sponsored, however, these magazines were sent as a gift to my children. If you like the look of them, they are now available in Australia in English, Spanish, German and French. To order, visit www.bayard-presse.com.au, and use the code E20 for a discount. 

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Thousand Postcard Project - by the lake

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"Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains."
- Diane Ackerman (poet)

While we were on holidays in Tasmania last month, I sent off another big batch of vintage postcards for my year-long Thousand Postcard Project

I deliberately avoid choosing the postcards as I work through this project, and never try to match them to the recipient. That's because part of the fun of this project is the surprise for both of us: what will the next postcard depict? So after a long and slightly dreary (although funny) stint of roundabouts, freeways, dams, mines and nondescript mid-century motels, it was quite refreshing to come across this little collection of lakeside scenes. 

And maybe it was because I was on holidays but, as I wrote the postcards, I started thinking back to other lakeside holidays we'd had when I was a child. We used to drive to a country town on the NSW central coast, where we would rent a holiday house right near the mouth of the river.

Once, while we were enjoying a picnic in the park, our dog Moss went missing. He was only a puppy, and we were as distraught as you could possibly imagine two small children being when their puppy disappears. We searched everywhere and eventually found him, still in the park. He had followed his nose to a family with a barbecue on the go, and simply presented himself to them. He sat, he shook hands with the air, he begged, he rolled over. They were so impressed they gave him a sausage, so he did it again. By the time we ran up to Moss and threw our little arms around his neck almost sobbing with relief, he'd consumed two sausages and two steaks. 

Even today, if I walk past someone wearing coconut-scented sunscreen, the scent carries me instantly back to our lazy summers at the holiday house. To long morning walks over hot sand, past the river and down to the golden shore where waves crashed relentlessly and strands of my long hair stung my eyes like tiny whips in the wind, and I didn't care, and stayed all day. 

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One hundred years of silence

For most of her life, Mr B's grandmother lived in a mud-brick cottage that a previous family-member had built 160 years before. It was set behind the more recent family home in which Mr B grew up and, for the children, Nan's house was a second home, a happy place that seemed stuck in the previous century, where a never-ending supply of old-fashioned cakes and Sunday roasts issued from the wood-burning stove in her tiny kitchen. 

After Nan passed away, they found among her things a broken old Edison phonograph that had once belonged to Mr B's Grandad, and a big collection of cylinder records in beautiful old cardboard canisters. Mr B never knew his Grandad, who had died several decades earlier, and we don't think Nan or Grandad had ever played the phonograph. It was missing several important pieces. Instead, we think the phonograph had most likely belonged to his father in turn, and was just one of those things that never got thrown out. 

For a hundred years those old cylinders, whose only purpose was to make music, lay silent and forgotten in a cardboard box in the family home. Unplayed records are a lonely thought, don't you think? Like old postcards never sent. I picture the records resting all through the decades, guarding their music and waiting, still waiting, for another chance to sing. So we sent Grandad's old phonograph off to be repaired. 

And on Sunday afternoon, for the first time in a century, they made music.

Each cylinder contained only one track and, as far as we could tell, most of them were hymns. The very first one we managed to play was an old hymn called "Shall We Meet Beyond the River," which had been released as the Edison Gold Record we were playing in 1906.

I'll be honest, it's not Mozart, but to us it didn't matter. Mr B eased the record into place, wound the crank on the side of the phonograph, and slowly but with growing strength a crackly, slightly-distorted old tune broke one hundred years of silence and proudly entered the day.

To us, the music felt as though it hovered in the air like a time-traveller. A visitor from yesteryear: not ghostly, but as real and present as you or me. Layering one age upon another as if to prove, in a simple hymn, Einstein's theory of time relativity. 

And then the crank ran out of puff, the long-dead singer and his orchestra slowed and deepened and distorted further, and eventually the old record slid back into silence once more.


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An announcement

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Hello! Are you there? 

I have a couple of announcements to make today, the first of which is that I have a brand new website! The web address is the same - www.naomiloves.com - but what you'll find inside it is quite changed. I really hope you like it. I feel like it better represents who I am and what I love. 

The only problem is that I may well have lost all of my readers along the way. 

You see, this new website wasn't supposed to go live for another two weeks, during which time I was supposed to be able to figure out how to update things so that anyone who subscribed to this blog, or followed it via an RSS feed-reader, would still be able to read it without making any changes. Or, if I failed to sort that out, I'd at least be able to advise people of the new system before the changes were made.

But these things don't always go to plan and I didn't get to make the updates I had hoped for, or let anyone know what was going on. The site went live yesterday, ready or not, so here we all are. And I am writing to you today, dear friends, while wondering if you are out there at all. 

In case you ARE still reading (thank you!), let me tell you a few little things I love about this new website: 

* To go with my lovely new website I have a lovely new logo, which you can see at the top of this email. I drew the pictures but I have to thank Brenner Lowe from Boots Paper for coming up with the concept and doing all the fancy design work. I love it so much! I think she summed me up pretty well with the combination of plants, tea and letters

* If you click on the "Mail hub" link in the website menu, you'll find a collection of all the different snail-mail projects and resources I have going on right now, which makes it a really-fun area to be if you like that sort of thing! 

* Finally, I'm super excited and nervous to announce a new e-course on letter-writing and mail-art that I have created, full of tips, tutorials and a great big stack of new resources. I get asked a lot of questions about making mail, so I designed the course to answer all of the most common questions. I'll share more about that soon - it launches in August

I really hope you like my new website and, if you ARE still reading, I'd love to hear from you! It's no fun writing into the abyss...

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6 snail-mail games to play with children (and why)

mail-art-darcy This picture is of the first 'mail-art' I ever made. It was for a little boy who was super into civil war stuff.

(Actually it wasn't mail-art in the strictest sense, because it didn't end up travelling through the postal service. The boy's mother was staying with us, so I wrapped up a parcel for her son, painted his address on and glued some vintage stamps to the right-hand corner so it would look realistic, but then gave the parcel to the mother, who snuck it into the family letterbox when she flew home.) 

But the point of that little piece of subterfuge was this: children love getting letters. It's so rare these days,  that sometimes people contact me to tell me that they are in their 20s and my letter was the first they had ever received. Often, parents write to tell me that the letter I had sent them made their children so excited, and curious, and inspired them to send letters of their own. After all, you and I already know the joy of going to the letter-box and discovering something personal, and friendly, with your name on the front. For children, the novelty factor triples that joy and excitement. 

If for this pleasure alone, teaching your children about the postal system and having someone write to them is a wonderful thing to share with them. But there are numerous other benefits. Teaching children about the post office reinforces all kinds of other important skills: 

* Counting (weighing parcels and buying stamps)  * Reading (the fabulous letters that come)  * Writing (storytelling in their own letters)  * Handwriting (developing their visual, cognitive and fine-motor skills) * Art (enclosing drawings or making mail-art) * Geography (looking at maps to see where their letters will travel) * Learning about other cultures (from international pen-pals)

A few years ago, Mr B and I gave a bunch of envelopes to Emily and her cousin, asking them to address them for us. The girls were about 11 years old at the time, and we had 50 envelopes to address, so we offered them some pocket money for the task. They gleefully did the job and then ran off to the shops to spend the pocket money, only for Mr B and me to discover that the envelopes were no use to us, we had to throw them out and redo them all.

The girls had written the addresses in tiny handwriting in one long line at the top of each envelope, and then stuck the stamp right in the middle. It wasn't their fault; we realised they had never been taught the proper way to address a letter or affix a stamp. Instead, they'd simply done the logical thing when it came to writing anything: they'd started at the top.

I don't know if many schools are teaching children about mail any more, so maybe it's up to us to take that on. This is not just a fun craft activity from a lost era: even in 2017, mail is still very relevant. Just ask Amazon or Ebay! 

And finally, I would say that sometimes, ‘slow-living’ is about teaching your children a different kind of play. Getting back to basics, helping to create an imaginary world without the need for apps, buttons, sound-effects, motors, or the digital experience.

As blogger Jennifer Cooper says on the PBS Parents website

"But for me, there’s an even more important skill kids learn [from snail-mail], patience. Raising kids in the digital age means they don’t have to wait for much anymore. Almost everything is just a click away. And that’s great for some things, but for others it’s a problem. 

Writing letters with pencil and paper slows kids down. It makes what they read and write even more special. It also helps them write more thoughtfully about things that are important to them."

Here are some post-related games you can play with your children:

1. Cut out pieces of cardboard roughly the shape of postcards and invite your children to write (or scribble) messages on them: to other family members, to friends, to pets, even to toys. Once they have ‘posted’ the postcards, take them out and deliver them to family, friends... and toys.

2. Make stamps by using simple, white, sticker-labels sold at news agencies or office supply stores. Cut the ‘stamps’ to size if you need to, and invite your children to draw pictures on them or colour them in. Perhaps you could find some envelopes – or cut out postcards as above – to put the stamps to use.

3. Introduce them to the fun of stamp collecting. Keep any interesting stamps you receive in the mail, and keep an eye out for new series at your post office. Have them take a close look at the pictures, and talk about the people, events or scenes they depict. They might even enjoy their own album to house their collection.

4. Sorting the mail. Collect any junk mail you’ve received, and invite your children to sort the ‘mail.’ Perhaps by colour, by theme, or size? I think my children would especially enjoy this game if I made them postie hats to wear!

5. Set up stations all over your home or garden, to represent houses. You could use shoe-boxes, or even lunch boxes. Your child is the postie, so give them letters to deliver to each house. Perhaps you could number the houses, so your child has to find the matching envelopes in order to deliver the right letter. If they don’t know numbers yet, maybe match simple drawings instead, like flowers or cars.

6. At the real post office, get the children involved. Invite them to guess how much the parcel weighs and choose which stamp to buy. Let them stick on stamps and airmail labels themselves. Ask for your letter back when you’re done at the counter, so the children can post it themselves outside.

I'm sure there are plenty of other fun activities that teach kids about the postal system. I'd love to know them if you have any ideas, suggestions or advice! 

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Living slow - just one thing (beeswax wraps)

roman-kraft-64603 I have been on a mission to slow my life down during recent years. It's going... well... I am trying. 

For me, ‘slow living’ is about taking the time to really think about what I am doing. To mean it, to put my heart into it. Cooking a meal from scratch. Turning off the TV at meal times. Writing a letter instead of banging out a text.

One thing I quickly discovered when I started on my mission of slow-living was that it was intertwined with mindfulness. They can't be separated. The very act of deliberately slowing down and putting thought and love into something is in itself mindfulness.

And with mindfulness comes, often unbidden (and sometimes unwelcome), my conscience. 

For example, I can't slow down and cook something properly for my family, taking the time to do it right and appreciate every element - the food, the cook, the company, setting the table, eating together - without thinking about where it all comes from, and the impact it has.

Here's how my brain works:

If I'm taking the time to stir and simmer a beautiful pasta sauce, I'm going to try to find a great recipe that uses the best ingredients. Thinking about what "the best" means turns my mind to organic, and then I try to reduce food miles by buying local, which starts me thinking about the livelihoods of farming families. And then my mind goes to the impact of producing this fresh, beautiful food: is it packed in plastic? Am I then using more plastic shopping bags to carry it home? And what will I do with the waste when I'm done? 

So a simple pasta sauce that once I might have bought in a jar from the supermarket turns into a trip to the farmers' market; brings the nutrients of local, organic food to my family; ensures the absence of excessive salt, sugar or harmful chemicals; is a reminder to carry my own shopping bags; forces me to explore avenues for food storage that don't involve cling-wrap and plastic; and kick-starts adventures in inner-city composting. 

But it's just a pasta sauce. This is exhausting! 

This is not an easy journey, and I certainly wouldn't say that "slow living" necessarily leads to "simple living" (although I'd like it to). But I will say that "slow living" leads, at least for me, to "sustainable living," and that is something I am proud to model for my children. 

There is so much that I want to do and want to change, but it's not always accessible or affordable or something that the rest of my family wants to do. Slow is not something that I want to drag my family into unwillingly; it has to work for all of us.

So I have decided to be kind to myself (and my family), and do just one thing at a time. I try it, I play around until I get it right, I make sure it suits the family, and eventually it just becomes part of our daily lives. Then I move on to another one thing.

Alongside broader "lessening footprint" type goals, one of my first objectives is to reduce the amount of waste we produce as a family. We generate a LOT of waste. A criminal, embarrassing amount of waste. So one milestone that I've set for myself is to reduce our weekly garbage output to just one bin-full. I can hear you laughing, because it seems crazy that this is even a challenge at all, but we send extra bags of rubbish out every week. It's shameful. 

Anyway... I thought maybe I'd share one thing I do with you each month, so we can be in this journey together as we go along. Maybe you're already doing what I'm trying, and can share some tips to make it work. Maybe you've never heard of this one thing, and it inspires you. Maybe you do just one other thing that you'd like to recommend that I try. 

So for this month, the "just one thing" I want to share is beeswax food wraps, which I now use as an alternative to cling-wrap and plastic sandwich bags. I bought these "honey bee wraps" a couple of months ago and I confess to being skeptical at first, but nowadays I am utterly sold. I have about six on the go. 

They're made out of cotton and coated in beeswax, jojoba oil, coconut oil and tree resin. You use them just the way you would use cling-wrap - to cover bowls, wrap around cut vegetables and over cheeses, to wrap sandwiches in lunch-boxes - and the jojoba and beeswax have antibacterial properties that keep food fresh for longer. The only thing you don't use them for is meat, because they only wash in cold water. The beeswax wraps are reusable again and again, so they quickly become affordable, but I also found this tutorial for making them at home, which I might try one day. It looks kind of fun. 

So now there is no more nasty plastic* in my 'fridge, and there's that much less plastic waste in our bin every Thursday night. 

What do you think of this one thing I'm doing? Have you used beeswax wraps? How did you find them? Or do you have another alternative? 

Image credit: Roman Kraft (licensed for unlimited use in Creative Commons)

 

* I realise cling-wrap doesn't take up a whole lot of space in the garbage bin, but we are taking one step at a time, yes? Also, according to this article in Choice, cling-wrap contains plasticisers such as DEHA or phthalates that can leach into food, and research is casting doubt on the safety of these chemicals:

"BPA and some phthalates are endocrine disruptors, meaning they can mimic the body's natural hormones and thereby cause a raft of health problems. Infants and the very young are most vulnerable to exposure because of their lower body weight and because their growth and development are strongly influenced by hormones; the effects on health can be lifelong." Even at low levels, growing scientific evidence suggests that "phthalates and BPA may be causing problems such as infertility, obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease and diabetes."

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