January Challenge summary: Take the stairs

In January, I set myself the healthy challenge of always taking the stairs, particularly up and down to my 3rd floor apartment.  Mid month, I checked in with an update on how I was going (here).  Today is the last day of the month, so I thought I’d do a quick summary, before introducing my new healthy challenge tomorrow, for the month of February.

Stairs of pain and gain!
Stairs of pain and gain!

All up, I went down them 75 times, and up them 70 times!  I took the lift when it was grocery day, one morning with a precarious load (brownies, an open bowl in my lunch bag AND it was my birthday :p) and up and down with the laden picnic basket.  The most time up and down the stairs were two Mondays, where I went up and down 4 times.  Oh and I went up 4 times on the birthday, the last time because of this:

Working off the birthday treat... yes mine was the larger one!
Working off the birthday treat… yes mine was the larger one!

For those who like numbers, I counted the stairs (once, so I could be out), and there are 62 stairs, which means by the end of today, I will have climbed 8990 stairs in a month!

Do I have buns of steel?  I wouldn’t say so, but they are certainly getting easier.  It’s a habit now, even as my early morning walks have worn off, I think this month’s habit can endure much longer.  It’s quicker, but it’s also healthier.

How did you go with taking the stairs, those who regularly encounter them? Moonwaves?

Q&A Birthday

A secluded beach in Southern WA
A secluded beach in Southern WA

I’m going to answer a list of questions I made up for myself, and if you’re inclined, I’d love to know your answers in a post or the comments. (I’ve added some unrelated photos for your viewing pleasure though!)

  • Most recent dream you can remember: being in France, and a ‘pop out’ toilet existing on a bus, and ending up in a totally different city on the bus from the airport to wherever.  When I got there, there were such lovely people who I met, took me to dinner after I asked where I could stay.  Weirdly, they all spoke English too?
  • Favourite places in the world: Equal between NYC and anywhere in France (though Paris is magical).
  • Favourite meal: Mac’n’cheese made from scratch by the BF.  That’s not to say I don’t like other things, but this is the go to food atm!
  • Names of imaginary friends in childhood: Daniel! He lasted far longer than my female imaginary friend whose name currently escapes me.
  • At what age did you stop sharing a room (if you shared): I think it was about 8?  When my younger brother got old enough to share with the other younger brother.
  • Folder/scruncher/hand roller (if you have to ask, move on!): informal folder.
  • Favourite place to read novels/kindle: lying in bed.  I have often longed for an arm chair though.
  • The year you ‘grew up the most’: A cross between 1995 (10 years old) when I started boarding school and 2006 (21) when I lived in France for a year
  • Pizza cheese – on top of everything, or under everything: definitely on top!
  • The first thing you’d do if you were God for a day: make it rain every night from midnight to 5am only.  Easy to plan around, and doesn’t spoil a day!
  • Would you give up your paid employment to blog: nope!  Whilst I enjoy blogging, I like my day to day life, and I’ve never really wanted to be ‘selling’ stuff, which I’m sure is how I might feel if I got too into the paid side of blogging.
  • Do you like your handwriting: Yes, yes I do.  I’ve spent time to make it neater.  However, I still type faster!
  • What’s your definition of hell? Oh wow, so many things! Starting with extreme weather conditions and being dressed inappropriately!  Probably followed by a power point presentation?
  • If you could make one law that everyone followed, what would it be? Compulsory indicating! I can’t imagine where you want to be (hold up, that IS a law… just poorly executed or enforced).
  • Worst job you could do? Work in an abattoir/butcher.  I don’t love meat, and like to buy it as readily prepared as possible.  It’s probably not surprising to regular readers, but I think I would enjoy working as a garbage truck driver, or in a tip/dump, given my zero waste aims (I assume this might be a likely answer for some)!
  • Short nails or long nails (ladies)? Short! Anyway they have to be for water polo, but it’s also it is my preference.
  • How often do you trim/file them? At least weekly I cut them!
This is part of the innovative stairs and gardens as part of the Central Park development in Sydney (ie right near my home!)
This is part of the innovative stairs and gardens as part of the Central Park development in Sydney (ie right near my home!)

I look forward to hearing any of your answers!

Waste Wednesday

Sorry all – I made the long weekend a long weekend and then some from blogging. I really need to get some photos taken, so I can share some posts with you. I spent my long weekend mostly at the kitchen table with the radio on for the Hottest 100 which is the radio station Triple J’s annual democratic music countdown. As it takes about eight hours, so I occupy myself with a jigsaw puzzle (sadly bought new from Kmart, but only $3!!). That spilled into public holiday Monday (and the countdown from 200 to 101), before I got into some fitness testing. These will be my benchmarks for the next 12 weeks of my body transformation… more on that later!

Right, as is customary, this is the photo of this week’s weigh in, at 152g.  I’m quite happy. It’s empty enough (and smell free) that I will use the same liner to get us another week.  So in four weeks, I’ll have used two plastic shopping bags for our two people’s worth of landfill waste!  It’s weird how I think this is perfectly normal, when I know full well it’s not.  Most neighbours have a 120L “small” bin, though there is one size smaller, this is the normal.

Weighing in at 152g
Weighing in at 152g

Now, just so you’re not caught unaware, tomorrow is my birthday – the last birthday before I’m “really old” according to the BF. I best not publish my age, as there’s no way to retract it (or muddle people up as the years continue!). I have pretty simple things planned for the day:

  • a take away mocha on the way into work (I’ve limited myself to one per working week)
  • the BF’s famous mac’n’cheese
  • fro yo from the best place in the city (thankfully being a Thursday, it will be open late for late night shopping)
  • brownies to treat my colleagues… though I will try not to have any, given the above planned dinner!

Beyond the actual day, I have a family dinner on Friday night (roast chicken!), and then a small dinner with some friends at Aria the following Friday (as per my 12 in 2 list!)  I’m also hoping to try out paddling boarding over the weekend, between all the dinners (perhaps to work them all off!)

What ways do you like to celebrate a birthday?  Do you have any wacky traditions?  I know some people fill toddlers’ and childrens’ bedrooms with inflated balloons, special breakfasts, or double desserts.  How about you?

My minimum standards around the house

What's not to love about a pulled up bed?
What’s not to love about a pulled up bed?

I’ll admit, this list is a little more than minimal standards, but they are the things that are often left to languish, rather than being done, even though most are quick and easy.

  1. Pulling up the bed: I just need a flat clear space, I don’t need it neatly tucked in, just tidy
  2. Washing up done: I hate dirty stuff lingering, and I don’t like plastics in the dishwasher.  It seems there’s always a small stack to get hand washed.  I’m better about putting away dry clean stuff though.
  3. Hanging up the bathmat: I hate manky, damp smelling towels, so I like to get the bath mat hung over the bath to get it a little more ventilation.
  4. Shutting the toilet lid: this wasn’t a habit, until I tested the ‘do it 21 times’ theory in school.  Now, if I see it up, I can’t help but put it down.  Just too scared something will fall in there that shouldn’t – like my jewelry!
  5. Filling up the water bottles: we still refill plastic water bottles.  One day I’ll replace them with all metal or glass. Since I drafted this, I’ve done away with the plastic!  Nonetheless, they linger all around the house rather than chilling in the fridge.  Or they are chilling in the fridge with less than a glassful in them.  SIGH!
  6. Dirty clothes in the clothes baskets: Not on floors, or ottomans (me) or sofas (him) or the floor of the laundry.  Sadly, still making this one a habit! In the loft, I enjoyed throwing things over the ledge, down the stairs, to join the washing baskets!
A bathroom ledge above the toliet
A bathroom ledge above the toilet (I should get you a new photo – I have new jewelry!)

Beyond those listed, I’m ok with scattered shoes at the doorway.  And usually I can handle papers stacked on the kitchen table, or bench, at least for a little while.  But the list above, they really need to become daily habits.

What are your minimum standards?  Are there little tasks you always overlook, even though they are a bugbear?

Waste Wednesday & the new herb garden

Why, it’s Wednesday, the day when I weigh my waste to see if I’m any closer to being a zero waste home.  Here’s how I weighed in for the fortnight:

Wednesday 22 Jan 2014 - 395g for two weeks worth of waste
Wednesday 22 Jan 2014 – 395g for two weeks worth of waste

Less last week’s weigh in:

Waste weigh in for WEd 15 Jan 2014
Waste weigh in for Wed 15 Jan 2014

Making this week’s adjusted total weigh in at 211g.  Not great, but it’s to be expected with a 50L bag from potting mix!

Aside: 

  • 67g (2.36oz) was my best and lightest weigh in, in July
  • 3,102g (6.8lbs) & 1,071g (2.36lbs) were my heaviest weigh ins whilst moving house in August.
  • 325g my average weekly weigh in, including the above outliers
  • 240g per week is my average, excluding the listed outliers
  • 41 weeks since I started tracking this at Easter 2013
  • 13.36kg has gone to landfill during this time
  • 7 weeks where the weigh in was less than 100g (3.5oz)

As the title gives away, it’s because we created a herb garden (savy readers from yesterday post would notice the $142 spent at Bunnings  – Australia’s hardware megastore).  It’s about $2 to buy a bunch of fresh cut herbs at the green grocer.  To buy the little (plastic) tubs is about $4, but I hope they last us a lot longer!

Plastic herb pots, ready and waiting
Plastic herb pots, ready and waiting

 

We also bought a big trough to plant them all in

Herb garden trough
Herb garden trough

Naturally, we bought one that matched the lemon tree’s pot we received as a gift at our housewarming

Lemon tree - suffering neglect, but since we've (well the BF's) returned some attention to it, we've seen new leaf growth!
Lemon tree – suffering neglect, but since we’ve (well the BF’s) returned some attention to it, we’ve seen new leaf growth!

And the waste-iest bit was the potting mix 🙁

Plastic encased vegetable and herb mix.
Plastic encased vegetable and herb mix.

With a yard, I’d consider a bulk drop off of soil sans plastic, but this is apartment dwelling. And I could have scoured Freecycle, but this was easy to buy, easy to transport, and (hopefully) good soil.  Shame about the plastic – and with all the toxic stuff in soil, I didn’t like my chances of washing it out, or fobbing it off to the grocery store plastic recycling stations.

Here’s the finished herb garden

All planted
All planted

I decided on thyme, parsely, sage and shallots, with a side of mint. Is mint a herb? It’s not really savoury like the others, but I know it grows well, and I love a mojito.  Hopefully everything has enough space to really thrive!  Our balcony gets the afternoon sun, so that should be enough to keep them growing without singeing them in this heat.

What herbs are in your garden (or the herb garden you wish you had)?  What couldn’t you do without?

Spending report

This is my first time posting my spending, despite me reading others regularly.  I wasn’t used to how to do this, so everything I remembered and spent is on there!

01/01/2014 ? Groceries
5 Coffee
4.95 Juice
25 Airport taxi
02/01/2014 5.13 Froyo
3.8 Train
03/01/2014 No Spend Day FRI
04/01/2014 8.6 Bread
7.98 Groceries team card
20.35 Meat team card
2 Parking
05/01/2014 24.55 Coop
06/01/2014 NO spend day MON
07/01/2014 NO spend day TUE
08/01/2014 35 Phone
09/01/2014 4 Mocha
10/01/2014 9 Lunch FRI
283.48 Elect bill  team card
11/01/2014 6.8 Coffees for 2  team money
18.5 Sports socks Sat
18 Rich socks
20.95 Candle
9.55 Coop
12/01/2014 102.05 Coles Sunday – team card
3.85 Harris Farm
5 Church giving
4.8 ???
101.4 Parking Fine
13/01/2014 1.6 Flour – woolworths Monday
100 Waterpolo card entry
14/01/2014 13.95 shampoo lush Tuesday
15/01/2014    No Spend Day Wednesday
16/01/2014 4 Mocha Thursday
17/01/2014 42.9 Scripts Friday
5 Blueberries
18/01/2014 4 Coffees Saturday
143.42 Bunning -garden
80 Dinner – Newport
19/01/2014 5 Church Sunday
0.5 Coffee at Church
6.8 Swimming
200 12WBT
20/01/2014    NO Spend day Monday

Groceries are paid for from the shared account, so they are in a different ‘pool’ of money.  I’ve also counted the 8th January as a no spend day as it was my phone bill, which is a regular monthly bill, and I don’t otherwise include all my Wednesday transfers for bills, savings and charitable giving.

The feared orange envelope source: www.mq.edu.au
The feared orange envelope
source: www.mq.edu.au

To be honest, I feel like I’m missing things.  In some ways, I’m surprised that I haven’t spent more.  There’s two big line items – a parking fine and 12WBT.  The parking fine was due to an unexpected sick day, and I left my work car in a 1hr spot.  🙁  The 12WBT is part of my health and fitness plan – from Feb, I’ll be following a 12 week program to get in shape and lose weight.

Overall, I’m surprised to have 6 no spend days!  I’m not sure it helped me spend less, and there are a few days I could have gone without coffee (or the dash to the shops for plain flour), but I’m not too worried.  What are your thoughts?

Things I achieved in 2013

NYC, always high on my list!
NYC, always high on my list!

So I didn’t touch on my 2013 goals post in any sort of summary way, so now I’m just going to quickly sum up the good memories and achievements that marked 2013:

Surfers Paradise
What a way to start a Monday? (Surfer’s Paradise, QLD, Australia)
My apartment's 'show' photos
My apartment’s ‘show’ photos
Bridge Run
Bridge Run
Sunrise in Melbourne
Sunrise in Melbourne
Light in our eyes for the neon run
Light in our eyes for the neon run
This family of four stopped to look at the Halloween costumes at the restaurant we were leaving, and so I asked to take their photo! They were more than happy to be in my tourist snap!
Vietnam’s family transport
Beautifully set tables
Beautifully set tables at Diner en Blanc
Pool under Sydney Harbour Bridge
Real life – North Sydney pool
Busselton jetty
Busselton Jetty, Western Australia

It’s hard for me to pick a favourite memory or achievement from my year.  For my regular readers, was there a favourite memory of your year (or mine)?

Waste Wednesday – a normal week

Welcome to Wednesday’s weigh in…  Every week, I try to be zero waste, as per my council (City of Sydney’s) catch phrase.  Despite the garbo telling me it’s all a marketing ploy, I choose to track my landfill rubbish, and look at ways I could improve,

Here’s this week’s picture:

Waste weigh in for WEd 15 Jan 2014
Waste weigh in for WEd 15 Jan 2014

184 grams is pretty good.  It certainly helps when there’s no broken plates in there, like last week.

My shopping had a small contribution, all the little plastic hangers from the socks, and the stickers from the toes, ended up in landfill.  I’m wondering, would Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home find alternatives with no waste, and pay more?  Or would she politely give the cashier back the non recyclable rubbish these generated?  What do you think?

So how am I going with this weigh in business?  Well how about a nerdy little graph for you?

My weigh in's since moving in August
My weigh in’s since moving in August

Not too shabby for a two person household, though I don’t really have a benchmark to compare to.  Here’s my cumulative total since I started at Easter 2013.

Tracking my cumulative total of landfill
Tracking my cumulative total of landfill

Hopefully I can make a year under 15kg. And then next year, I can try and beat it.

For those who are wondering, most non recyclable waste I generate at work, I take home to add to the weigh in. I don’t take home wet tea bags though, that’s just a bit much! I also keep, wash and rinse most single use coffee cups that we end up with out and about. I don’t bring home food soiled packaging, such as if we were to have fish and chips, or a burger out. Sadly, I’m not yet ‘crazy enough’ as some would say, to insist on using my packaging for ‘fast’ foods. Where possible, I aim for little or no plastic with my food, but I don’t always achieve it.

So would Bea Johnson, or you, return the sock’s hangers and stickers to the discount store cashier?  Or would you find somewhere else to buy your socks, and foot the possibly increased cost?

Take the Stairs Challenge Update

Those who read regularly know I’ve set a different health challenge for each month of 2014.  January’s challenge is to take the stairs at home for every trip up and down the three floors.  I wrote about my plan in this post.

source: www.easy-ways-to-loseweight.com
source: www.easy-ways-to-loseweight.com

Today is about half way through January, so I thought I would check in with my progress report:

1/1/14: 3 down, 3 up
2/1/14: did not track (at least 1 up, 1 down)
3/1/14: 3 down, 2 up (had a heavy picnic basket into house)
4/1/14: 1 down, 2 up (picnic basket out of house)
5/1/14: 2 down, 2 up
6/1/14: 3 down, 2 up (groceries)
7/1/14: 2 down, 1 up (not sure why)
8/1/14: 3 down, 3 up
9/1/14: 2 down, 2 up
10/1/14: 1 down, 1 up
11/1/14: 3 down, 3 up
12/1/14: 2 down, 1 up (groceries)
13/1/14: 4 down, 4 up

Overall, it’s become a habit.  With the heat we’ve been having, I’ve certainly eyed off the lift a little, but I knew I’d be reporting back to you. I’ve limited it to when I have groceries or that pesky picnic basket for my brother’s anniversary picnic (I had to store it overnight, then pick him up from The Ashes Cricket and take him to the Botanical Gardens).

They aren’t any easier, and I still lose my breath a little on the upwards climb, but I often beat the BF in the lift 🙂  I find it weird that I haven’t counted the number of steps yet – I start counting, but never as I start, only halfway through?!  Stay tuned, I’ll update you at the end of the month.

In related news, I weighed myself this morning, and I think I might be down a kilogram on last week. I have rickety old dial scales, so I can’t be sure, but I need a win so I’m calling it!

As to the other challenges?  I’m still walking about 4-5 times a week, for about 30 minutes each time.  I’m trying to add more jogging in. I’m drinking at leats 2L of water most week days, but weekends are a struggle. I’ve also started on planks and push ups, as I received push up handles from the BF.  Every second day, he helps me improve my plank form and how long I can do it, in addition to working to getting more and more push ups done.

Any others out there taking the stairs? How are you health goals or new years resolutions keeping?

Spy on my shopping

On Saturday, like most weekends, I went with the BF in the car to the gym.  He has a membership, so he works out, and I walk to the co-op if needed, and then walk home.  Usually, I walk with exercising in mind.  This weekend, I had a few shopping errands or missions to attend to, and I thought I’d share them with you.

First, the co-0p has some new stock, and I couldn’t be happier:

Sesame seeds refilled, and compostable cotton buds and toothbrush
Sesame seeds refilled, and compostable cotton buds and toothbrush

Then, I thought I might buy myself a beeswax candle with Christmas money.  As you remember, they were on my wish list, so I went to a store that might sell what I was looking for.  It took a while to find them in the store, but once I did, I found the one candle that wasn’t marked down, and (of course) asked if it could be reduced, seeing it was dusty.  All the other candles in the range were marked down too.  For asking, I got 30% off, so I was pretty chuffed with that, as I would have bought the candle no matter what!

Australian, beeswax, and 30% off thanks for asking
Australian, beeswax, and 30% off thanks for asking

Next up, I headed to the Chinese discount store. I always feel a little uncomfortable about shopping in these discount retailers. I feel like everything is so cheap, but at what cost.  But then, I also think that $2 for a pair of sports sock is about the right price – is it?  Truly?

The black socks in Target were $3 per pair – made from bamboo.  The BF likes how super soft they are.

The sports socks are all for me, and I love pairs I can easily match (so they wear and wash equally).  The black socks are for the BF seeing I have enough to last til I retire in m 45 pairs.
The sports socks are all for me, and I love pairs I can easily match (so they wear and wash equally). The black socks are for the BF seeing I have enough to last til I retire in m 45 pairs.

Whilst collecting as many various coloured socks, I noticed something I’d been thinking I’d look out for. Some of my bras straps *always* fall off (no matter how tight). Rather than tossing the bras out, I thought getting a contraption to make them racer back style, might fix the issue. I also have a few tops that reveal the straight over straps, so this would also solve that issue. Enter, the bra contraption:

From the discount store, $2.50 for 6; From Target, $9 for 3.
From the discount store, $2.50 for 6; From Target, $9 for 3.

There were 6 above contraptions for $2 in the discount store – but they came in a plastic package, so I opted for the all cardboard option for the 50c more.

Nothing earth shatteringly stylish, but all these wants and needs will solve some long standing frustrations.  I’ll now have enough socks for my daily walks between loads of washing.  And my annoying bras will return to being fully functional.  The BF’s threadbare socks can find a new home, and more soft bamboo socks take their place.  And now I have a lovely, natural beeswax candle.  Supposedly, they deionise the air?!

What was the last ‘little thing’ you bought that helped reach your goals, like generating less waste or walking every day?  What was the last ‘little thing’ that brought more life to something you own?