Friday, December 31, 2010

Spending Less

Spending less... what does it mean to you?

To some it means spending less than they do now. To others it means spending less than they earn. Others still believe spending less applies not just to money but to the time spent acquiring that money.

To me, "spending less" is a combination of all three. I aim to reduce my current spending level so that I can maintain the level of my outgoings despite inflation. I aim to spend a lot less than I earn so that I can pay down my mortgage and have cash savings and, as I reduce my debt and other liabilities I can reduce the amount of time I have to work in a 'real job'. This frees up time and energy for projects that are more fun and more fulfilling but more importantly, should the economy take another downturn, I already have a lifestyle that thrives on less income. Spending less is the batting that adds weight to my personal patchwork economics.

Spending less is also a subversive practice. We're constantly bombarded by corporate advertising showing us how wonderful our lives will be when we have the latest 4WD vehicle or 3D television or overseas holiday or cupcake maker, or... the list goes on and on and on. To choose to spend less is to choose your financial well-being over the corporate world's financial well-being. To choose to spend less is to choose to be debt free not a slave to a bank's asset ledger.
Newspapers and magazines

Where to start?
Once again you need to know where you are before you can map out where you want to go. The simplest method and one you've no doubt already heard of, is to track your spending. Note down every single cent you spend for at least a fortnight, a month is better. It's not rocket science but it can bring about a quantum shift in your perception. Where's your money going? Which areas surprised you the most?

Some of the usual culprits are:
  • Food and drinks when you're out and about
  • Parking meters
  • Lottery tickets.
If your employer reduced the hours you work and therefore your income, which of these expenses would be immediately slashed or completely removed? Can you do that now? Are there any areas that you're willing to voluntarily slash in order to have cash in the bank or pay down debt?

Once you have the numbers in front of you, you can start to make choices. What will you choose?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 - Preparation Time

As the new year approaches it seems natural to want to set some goals and lay out a plan to achieve those goals.

My goals for the coming year fall into three main categories: health, money and personal achievement.


The saying goes, if you don't have your health then you have nothing, or something very similar. Watching my father be consumed by pancreatic cancer and the affect his illness and subsquent death had on everyone around him, health has become a very high priority for me.

Luckily, making health one of your big rocks can also be a huge money saver. Buying (or better still growing) fresh produce and preparing it simply is much cheaper than buying a pre-prepared and packaged meal. Buying cheaper cuts of meat (gravy beef, lamb necks, etc) and creating slow cooked stews and soups is also cheap, healthy, filling and most importantly, nutrient dense.

The Health plan for 2011 is to:
  • Ramp up the kitchen garden so we can increase our intake of fresh, organic vegies
  • Reduce our sugar intake
  • Remove all commercial convenience foods
  • Increase our sun exposure to optimise vitamin D
  • And make exercise an integral part of our lifestyle.

Like it or not, money or more specifically debt is the chain that keeps us shackled to a job or lifestyle that steals our spirit. I'm lucky, my only debt is my mortgage but that debt also attracts liabilities like rates, insurance and maintenance. I could avoid the debt and the liabilities by renting but I'd also be at the mercy of the market and the landlord. No thanks! My mortgage is about half the average and therefore very manageable but some of the large maintenance tasks are now due, like replacing the tin roof.

In 2011, the challenge will be to undertake some minor enhancements, some major maintenance and pay down the loan.

Specifically, the Money plan is to save money by:
  • Spending less - on everything
  • Making every litre of petrol (gas) work hard by only using the car when necessary and making sure it's a multi-purpose trip
  • Earning more where and when I can
  • Learning how to do more of the maintenance tasks myself.
Personal Achievement

We all have dreams that we'd love to see come true. In 2011, I will set aside time to work toward making one of mine come true. Finding the time to dedicate to a purely personal goal can be a challenge. Work, family, friends and life in general all make demands on the time we have.

In 2011, I will make time available by:
  • Turning off the TV - the greatest time waster ever invented!
  • Establishing routines to ensure everything (well, mostly) gets done
  • And, scheduling time specifically for working on my personal goals. 
Using patchwork economics to ensure that every little bit counts will be a guiding principle for my 2011 goals. Each tomato, capsicum and pumpkin that comes out of the kitchen garden and onto our dinner table is another patch added to the quilt. Each trip taken on foot rather than in the car, each book borrowed rather than purchased, each dollar saved rather than spent adds more patches. It is the small things done regulary that make the biggest difference.

What are your goals for the coming year and have you thought about how you will achieve them?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rising Fuel Prices

The concern with upward trending fuel prices is the flow on effect.

Living in a regional area, public transport seems to be focussed on school kids and shoppers not commuters. So, I'm faced with little choice but hopping in the car to get to work. Every extra dollar I pay for fuel is either a dollar I don't spend elsewhere or an extra TWO dollars I need to earn. With tight budgets in most households, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one thinking this way.

The flow on effect is that it impacts other non-negotiable areas of the budget, where the same equation of either redirecting dollars or earning extra can be applied. Pretty soon, all the money earned is directed to must haves only (food & shelter), consumer loans go into arrears and the household budget (and economy) springs a leak.

When fuel prices go up it creates a negative feedback loop that doesn't stop until the price goes down again, like after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008. These bumps on the graph leave behind a lot of wreckage and lots of people and businesses either wont recover or wont be recovered enough before the next bump completes.

Building resilience and self-reliance into your daily life is the most economically responsible thing you can do.

Fuel prices are the bubble in the level. Our entire economy is based on cheap fuel so when the balance tips toward higher prices - everything tips. Another GFC is not impossible and this time most of the developed world is carrying huge debt from bailing out big business. Where will the next round of bailouts come from? How will they finance them when all credit sources are exhausted?

I don't think you need to be a fatalist/doomsayer/'The end is nigh' type to see the logic in finding a way to soften the impact of another global economic meltdown. 

Along with mortgage interest rate rises, fuel price increases are a great motivator for adding another patch or two to your own patchwork economics.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Waste Not, Want Not - Banana Muffins

Like many people whose parents were born during the great depression, I was raised with the adage "waste not, want not..." as a permanent echo. This seems to be a value we've lost. How often have you cleaned out the fridge or pantry and discovered a whole basket load of food that needs to be thrown out because it's either past its 'use by date' or has at the very least, seen better days? Have you ever totalled up the cost?

In the spirit of not wasting anything if I can help it, I do my best to ensure perishable food gets used as it comes through the door rather than going into the fridge (this is easier when you have a kitchen garden) but there are always occasions when I find myself with food that either has to be used today or put in the compost tomorrow.

Bananas are a regular feature on that list. Here's a great idea for using some over-ripe bananas. These muffins are 'Texas' sized in Robert Gordon muffin wrappers.

Banana Muffins sprinkled with rapadura sugar and ready for the oven

Banana muffins straight out of the oven
The recipe for the muffins is a simple one:
1 + 1/2 of plain flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of melted butter
200 mls whole milk
1 egg
2 mashed bananas

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Mix milk, egg and melted butter together in a jug.
Using a knife, stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just mixed.
Spoon mixture in muffin pans and bake for 15-20 mins for normal size muffins or 25+ minutes for Texas sized. I usually sprinkle some rapadura sugar on top before baking for some added texture.

What food item regularly features on your throw out list? Why? And, can you find new ways to use the ingredient rather than throw it out?

Asking these questions and then acting on the answers can add another piece to your own patchwork economics. Money you don't throw out is money that can be used constructively to build a resilient financial future for yourself and your family.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Steps Toward Resilience

As promised yesterday, here are a few of the simple changes I’ve made to my environment in an effort to increase my resilience and lower my exposure to risk.

The most important goals for me are to ensure that my family has a roof over their head and food on the table. These are just a couple of the areas I am working on to achieve those goals.

Learning to Live on Less
In general, my needs are quite simple. I have a small car, a small house and I don’t drink or smoke. It might not seem like that much but smaller cars generally have much better fuel economy. Small houses are cheaper to furnish and to heat and cool. And, addictive habits like drinking and smoking can chew through vast amounts of money for absolutely no positive return. Money that might have gone to oil companies, utility companies or tobacco companies goes to my mortgage instead.

My garden isn’t a sprawling acreage but, I’m using it to reduce the impact of economic risk by lowering my expenses. Robert Kiyosaki says that your home is not an asset for the simple fact that it creates expenses not income. For the last few years, I have been working on creating an ‘income’ from my property to off-set the expenses. I have planted a wide range of fruit trees to provide a variety of fresh fruit over an extended season as well as fruit for preserving. I have a substantial kitchen garden with everything from potatoes to herbs for tea and flowers for the table. I have also planted deciduous trees where they’ll have maximum cooling effect for my house. The ‘income’ I receive is probably not income by Robert’s definition but in my view, the house is beginning to pay its way. My only regret is not thinking this way when I first planted out the garden 10 years ago!

I have more than one job. I currently work two part-time jobs as well as run my own business from home. Yes, it can be awkward at times but I know that not all my eggs are in the one basket. I feel insulated against the vagaries of the employment market.

All these changes have occurred over time. In isolation, they probably don’t have a huge impact but stitch them together and they begin to provide the fabric of a resilient life.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Patchwork Economics - Risk Assessment

Risk (n) A chance or possibility of danger, loss, injury, or other adverse consequences.
Source: The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Ninth Edition

Assessing your vulnerability to risk is a quick and simple process. Determining how to build resilience into your lifestyle so you can either reduce the risk or lessen its impact, is a little trickier.

What are the potential risks to your financial well-being? You might be surprised at the list!

Here’s a few to get you thinking:

Economic Recession/Depression/Collapse
The economic environment in which we live is completely and utterly beyond our control. We cannot change the environment but we can change the way in which we’re affected by it.

If the company you work for decides to downsize in order to show their shareholders a profit, your job could be gone. What then?

Keeping a roof over your head (literally!)
If you are lucky enough to have a home of your own, whether or not you carry a serviceable mortgage, what happens when general wear and tear over time brings about the need for a major repair job; like replacing the roof? Do you have the money to get it done? Do you even know how much it would cost?

Increasing Fuel Prices
Even the International Energy Agency admits that we’re already seeing the effects Peak Oil (where production exceeds demand) in their recently published World Energy Outlook 2010. When demand outstrips supply, prices go up. If the price of petrol (gas) doubles, how much will it cost you to get to work? What sort of impact will it have on the basics that you buy regularly, food for instance?

Increasing Energy Prices
We’re already seeing ongoing rises in electricity prices. At what point will using electricity to keep you warm or cool become a luxury you can’t afford?

These are just some of the big picture issues that we all face. I guess you could say these are the big rocks that we need to deal with first. As you begin to ponder these issues, I’m sure you’ll be able to fill in the specifics with details from your own experience and add some colour from your own lifestyle. At first they might just seem like headlines but as you place them into the context of your own life they will become personal.

Tomorrow, I’ll share with you some of the steps I’m taking to ensure financial resilience for myself and my family. I hope it will help spark some ideas for you to use.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Patchwork Economics - Creating a lifestyle that insulates against adversity

A while back I heard the term ‘patchwork economics’. It really caught my attention.

No, it’s not about making quilts economically; it’s about applying the same patchwork theory to the financial side of your life.

Traditionally, patchwork quilts were created using a variety of fabrics that were salvaged from worn out clothing, off-cuts from the construction of new clothing or recycled from packaging like flour sacks.

This is the approach I am now applying to my financial life. I’m piecing together lots of small changes to create a new financial fabric. This new fabric will insulate us against adversity in the same way a nice cosy quilt insulates against the cold.

Where do you start? You've got to know where you are before you can plan the route to where you want to be. One of the best ways of finding out where you are: assessing your risk for adversity. If you have one source of income and very high expenses, you're exposed to a huge financial risk. What would happen if you lost your job?

Spreading your financial risk is the same for earning a living as it is for investing - don't put all your eggs in one basket. So, look at ways to create new avenues of income - legally, of course! And, just as importantly, find ways to reduce your dependence on your primary source of income and that means also lowering your expenses.

Applying Patchwork Economics requires a considered approach to determining where your money comes from, where it goes, and how you can hang on to more of it while becoming less dependent on it in the first place. It means giving serious thought to what would happen to your financial well-being if the economy took a serious downturn.

It's certainly giving me lots to think about.

How secure is your financial future and can you benefit by applying Patchwork Economics theory as well?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Finding Abundance

In an uncertain economy, it's easy to become caught up in feelings of lack and helplessness but, an early morning stroll through the garden offers up an endless aray of abundance.

A productive garden offers so much more than just it's productivity. Yes, it will save you extraordinary amounts of money, and provide you with chemical, pesticide and to a certain extent 'corporate free' food. A productive garden is also a never-ending lesson in abundance.

Here are just a few glimpses of the abundance nature has sent my way.
Unknown variety of apple

Broccoli side shoot - ready to be picked

Starkrimson cherries - first crop

Unknown variety of lemon

Chilcotin raspberries


Colour - Rose 'Rhapsody in Blue'
What's your garden's potential for abundance?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Delays, Disasters and Disappointment...

It's now roughly a month since the electrician was here rewiring the lights and sundry power points; and I still don't know when to expect the builder.

Now... I need to add 'leaking roof' to the list of disasters, then 'replace hall and dining room ceilings' to the To Do List.

It seems the saying is true - houses do just sit in the garden and eat money!

In spite of the recent disappointments, I am still ploughing ahead with my plans to prepare this house and garden for a self-reliant future. Money is becoming harder to find but that just amps up the challenge to make the most of what's already here.

I know when it's all complete, the delays, disasters and disappointments will be the stuff of my survival story.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bathroom Demolition, cont...

The demolition continues but there have been a number of 'challenges' over the last couple of weeks. The builder was meant to be on site at the beginning of this month but he's currently on the sick list after suffering an injury while on the job before mine. Hope you get better soon, Joe!

Loki - making sure everything is to standard.

Then, the lights started flickering... and dance parties aren't really my thing... So, the house is currently being rewired!

No need to mention the lack of any discernable budget for a major electrical job.

The interesting upside from the experience (which isn't over yet) is gaining an understanding of the impact of electric light on the way we live our lives. There are so many evening activities that are nearly impossible (or at best you do a lousy job) when you do them by candle light - washing dishes for instance! Even knitting can be a challenge if you can't see what you're doing.

Kitchen Frugalista - Baking Powder

If you’re serious about eating well and saving money then making it yourself is the only way to go. The added benefit is that you can also avoid a lot of unnecessary ‘ingredients’ in the process. A perfect example of this is baking powder.

When you’re baking from scratch you have the option of using either self-raising flour or plain flour plus a raising agent such as baking powder.

Generally, I just buy plain flour. It saves confusion and means I don’t have to label the flour jar. I used to buy the commercially prepared baking powder but now I make my own.

The recipe is simple:

1 teaspoon Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon Rice Flour

I usually make up enough for a small jar so I use larger measures but the same ratios.

¼ cup Baking Soda
½ cup Cream of Tartar
¼ cup of rice flour

Push the mixture through a sieve to ensure there are no lumps and that the ingredients are evenly mixed.

Transfer to an air-tight container or jar.

Cheap and easy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Rural Renovation - On a Budget

After a busy week of work, home and garden a little bit of inspiration can really set you up for the coming week.

This home is in the Peak District (UK) and has been renovated on a budget. Definitely a 'Frugalista' at work! You can read more about their story here at Period Living - which also happens to be one of my favourite magazines.

I think I might need a bigger table beside my favourite chair...

It's good to see 'real' curtains slung by the French doors. These ones look solid enough to keep out either an English winter or an Australian summer without appearing heavy.

I really like the freshness of these interiors. You almost expect a 200 year old stone house to be a bit dark and drab inside. Obviously, this one was orientated in such a way to grab every ray of sunshine.

It must be very tough leaving this home to go to work...

Have a great week!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


My definition of a 'frugalista' is: someone who refuses to sacrifice style in the pursuit of low cost solutions to any problem.

My current frugalista challenge is my temporary kitchen. The builder is now scheduled and will spend a couple of days removing the old bathroom as well as the wall between the kitchen and old bathroom.

I've already started the demolition process - this is the first of the frugal solutions. I can wreck stuff just as well as the next person and doing it myself is saving me LOTS of money.

I figure that for every hour I have to pay the builder to work, I have to work at least THREE hours to pay for it. Not only does the builder earn more per hour than I do, I have to pay him with AFTER TAX dollars.

As you can see, the maths is pretty simple and the choice is clear.

Bathroom demolition in progress...
My next set of frugalista challenges involves making the kitchen workable during the period (possibly extended!) that it's 'temporary'. IKEA will probably feature largely for those things that need to be purchased but on the whole, the plan is to repurpose items I already own. Plus, if I have to purchase something, it needs to be appropriate for the final product kitchen so I'm only spending money once.

These are a couple of the pieces I'm considering for the makeshift kitchen...

IKEA Udden Single Bowl Sink with Legs
I like the open space under this unit. It would be perfect for the dishwasher and you can get a shelving unit that sits under the sink.
IKEA - Stenstorp Kitchen Island
But, I'll have to wait until the space has been cleared before I get too carried away!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Morning Tea - A Simple Luxury

There's not too much in life that beats taking the time to enjoy a good cup of coffee and home-made cake!
Robert Gordon paper baking cups add a little finesse to simple cup cakes
The cakes were made using a basic butter cake mix:

125 gm butter
125 gm caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
190 gm self-raising flour
85 ml milk

Set oven at 180 degrees celcius.
Prepare cake pan or paper baking cups.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Gradually add eggs, beating well.
Stir in flour and milk alternatively. Stir gently but thoroughly.
Bake until sides shrink slightly from the sides of the pan and a skewer comes out clean and dry. Cake 35 - 40 minutes. Cup cakes 15 - 20 minutes. Please Note: these times are approximate.
Cool on a rack before icing (optional).

Add 2 tablespoons of cocoa, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract and an extra 40 mls of milk for chocolate flavoured cup cakes. Yummmmm!

Make sure you take some time today to enjoy a simple luxury, too.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Time and Money...

It’s one of modern life’s little jokes. You either have money or you have time, rarely, it seems do you have both at the same time. So, invariably when I’ve had the cash flow to undertake new projects I haven’t had the time to implement them. I don’t need to tell you how frustrating that is, I’m sure you’ve had your own experience of it.

This is where the ‘big rocks’ come in to the picture. If you’re not aware of what your big rocks are you can waste a lot of time and money on pebbles and sand.

How do you figure out what’s important to you? Sometimes you need to decide what is NOT important to you and work backwards – you’re bound to notice a few trends appearing. For example, I don’t particularly care about the latest fashions. Having 17 pairs of shoes in the latest colour, heel shape or size doesn’t appeal to me. I would much rather purchase a pair of shoes that I can wear every day, are comfortable and will last a long time. So, I can construe from this that I value function over fashion. The next step is to see if I can apply the ‘function over fashion’ principle to other areas of my life, for instance; clothes, furniture, plants, bed linen. I’m sure you’ll see a pattern emerging. If you’re like me and are a function over fashion person, you’ll probably have all white bed linen and dinner sets and, basic black will play a large role in your wardrobe.
Knowing this means I’m not tempted to buy a fashion item because I know I won’t value it and it will be clutter within a week. That knowledge alone constantly pays extra off my mortgage.

Which are you, fashion or function? If you’re a fashion person, that knowledge can still save you money. Knowing that you’re likely to buy several pairs of shoes each season means that you can choose to spend less on each pair because you know you’ll only wear it for a short time, that way your overall spend for the season will be much less.

Knowing what your big rocks are enables you to discriminate where you spend your time, too. Are you wasting your time on pebbles and sand? Do you spend two or 3 hours per evening watching television? What else could you spend that time on? If eating healthy meals and snacks made from scratch is important to you, then just one evening per week with the television off could be spent baking or preparing snacks or lunches for the week. Ultimately, using the time this way, saves you both time and money.

Thinking about the way I spend my time and money enables me to see where I am losing or wasting both. My aim is always to accomplish as much as I can each day that contributes to my goals – being mindful of both time and money is a large part of that.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

First Major Renovation - New Bathroom

My Victorian cottage is typical of most houses of that era; the ‘wet areas’ were added at a later time in an addition invariably known as a ‘lean to’. The ‘lean to’ on my cottage is approximately 7 metres by 3 metres and contains the kitchen, bathroom, laundry and loo. That’s a lot of functionality in a small area.

'Lean to' - view from kitchen
Ultimately, the plan is to remove the bathroom and laundry, expand the kitchen and turn the laundry/loo area into a rear entrance/mudroom.

The first step in this plan is creating a new bathroom from the third bedroom. Once stage one is complete, the old bathroom can be removed ready for the expansion of the kitchen.
Bathroom stripped bare
Unfortunately, we had to remove the Baltic pine lining boards. I would have loved to be able to reuse them but most couldn’t be removed without damage. But... I’m sure I’ll find a new use for them one day.
Starting to come together
As you can see, I used a timber dado to tie the bathroom back to the rest of the cottage which has panelled walls throughout. All the woodwork in the bathroom is painted with several coats of enamel to keep it waterproof. I don’t mind saying that it was a VERY smelly job. Enamel paint really gets up your nose! The painting is not quite finished but has been put to the side until summer so that every door and window can be open for ventilation.

Here’s the (mostly) finished bathroom...

The new bathroom
So, stage one is essentially complete. Stage two is about to begin; demolition of the old bathroom. Now, where's that sledge hammer...?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Big Rocks First

Deciding to start a journey is one thing, knowing where to start is something else again and can sometimes be a greater challenge than the journey itself.
Most people are aware of the story about the professor and the jar of rocks. The story goes something like this: a professor produces a large jar and a tray of rocks. He then fills the jar with the rocks and asks his students if they believe the jar to be full. Yes, they say. Then the professor produces a tray of pebbles which he adds to the jar, gives the jar a shake so the pebbles fit in the spaces between the rocks and asks the class again, is the jar full? Some of them catch on and say, no. The professor then pours sand into the jar which fills in the remaining empty spaces. The lesson most people draw from this story is that you can always fit more into your life. The lesson I take from this story is that if you don’t deal with big rocks first... they’ll never fit.

In starting my journey to an abundant life I needed to choose my ‘big rocks’. Most of us putter through our lives not giving a great deal of thought to why we do what we do and whether or not it’s really important to us. I was no different until I travelled with my daughter and my parents to Britain in 2003. I returned from that trip changed in a way I’d never anticipated. It might have been about timing or it might have been the renewed connection to my ancestors or it might have just been the sleep deprivation on the flight home but, my view of what my life could be changed irrevocably. I wanted something different to what was being sold on prime time television. I wanted something that was possibly even subversive. I wanted a simple life filled with those things that were important to me... and only me. Because, it is my life and as far as I know I have only one.

Over the next few years I took some risks, experimenting with different jobs and businesses in an effort to discern what it was that I wanted to do with my life and, just as importantly, how I was going to make it pay. I’m a lot closer to that determination than I was at the start of my journey but I’m not there yet. What I have been able to discover though, is what my ‘big rocks’ are. Here’s a selection.

  • Cooking from scratch so that we can avoid unnecessary additives like colours, flavours, preservatives, etc.
  • Avoiding genetically modified ingredients like corn, cotton seed oil, canola oil.
  • Growing as much of our own fresh produce as possible which cuts carbon emissions, pesticide use and excessive use of water.
  • Renovating my cottage so that it supports my lifestyle rather than my lifestyle supporting my house.
  • Redesigning the garden to increase productivity.
  • Harvest as many natural resources as possible, like water, sun and wind.
  • Live the three ‘R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

  • Reduce the number of hours of corporate employment.
  • Produce multiple income streams through patchwork economics.
  • Invest in my passions so that they become my work.
  • Work from home.

  • Using conscious consumption to reduce discretionary spending.
  • Buying staples in bulk and stockpiling other items when available at a reduced price.
  • Arranging my finances to benefit me and not the bank.
  • Using all of the above to increase my surplus cash so I can renovate my cottage, pay off my mortgage and be completely debt free.
Putting these big rocks in the jar every day enables me to focus on my goals. Staying focussed has enabled me to get the first of my renovation goals underway – the new bathroom (stay tuned for before and after photos).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Step 1 - Start

Welcome to the Marley Hill Cottage blog.

Marley Hill Cottage is a journey and a destination. It's a home where living simply, designing interiors and exteriors, gardening, self reliance and cooking are the foundations of an abundant life.

Located in regional Victoria we're lucky enough to enjoy open spaces, beautiful beaches and civilisation when we need it.

This little cottage has gone through some changes during it's lifetime (c 1880) and it's seen quite a few since it became our home about 10 years ago. There's been a constant evolution in progress both inside and out. The gardens have been changed substantially since we moved in and are currently undergoing what I hope will be the final big change.
We'll see...

The inside is still undergoing it's metamorphosis. As we peel back the layers of modernisation the honesty of the original building is shining through. Nothing's straight. Nothing's square. Nothing's flimsy... and I love all it's quirks!

It's cosy, it's welcoming and it's home.

I hope you'll enjoy the ongoing journey... the research, the inspiration and the fun of bringing this cottage back to it's original glory.