5 HEALTHY COOKWARE MATERIALS



An Ohio woman has just successfully sued DuPont, the manufacturer of Teflon non-stick coatings, for $1.6M.

Back when DuPont were using a chemical called PFOA (or C8) to manufacture Teflon, they dumped toxic sludge containing the chemical into a huge landfill site they owned. The chemical leached into the surrounding environment and contaminated the Ohio woman's drinking water supply. Hers and those of six other surrounding districts.

One study into DuPont's practices estimated that by 2003, DuPont had dispersed almost 2.5 million pounds of PFOA from its Washington Works plant into the mid-Ohio River Valley area.

It goes further.

For more than 50 years, DuPont concealed the cancer-causing properties of PFOA.

So anyway, I prefer not to place my trust in DuPont and Teflon. This of course means that Teflon-coated cookware is out.

Which begs the question, which cookware should be allowed in?

The good news is that nowadays there are many toxin-free options. Here's five:


Enamel/Ceramic

Quality brands like Le Creuset and Emile Henry are the way to go. Avoid the cheaper alternatives as there's no guarantee the enamel coating used on these is lead-free.


Clay

Fired terracotta clay makes for exceptional and completely toxin-free cookware. Brands like La Chamba, Bram and The Spanish Table are all excellent. Bonus is, they are often made by traditional artisans so you're not only helping to keep an ancient tradition alive but traditional communities in employment.


Glass

No toxins, no leaching, tempered glass is a terrific option for baking and roasting. I like to hunt for glass cookware in op-shops, otherwise Pyrex is great. Or the above lovely designer pot.


Green/Eco non-stick

There are quite a few brands available, including GreenPan and Neoflam. Their non-stick coatings are made with natural minerals and are toxin-free.

Do you have a favourite cookware type? Share the love below...

STAY COLOURFUL

Just the other night I was strolling along the beach with a good friend of mine when she told me something that I liked very much. She told me that a  French stranger she met up in Byron Bay recently said to her "stay colourful".



When I was in the depths of my depression last year, colour is what I'd lost. Well, what I had actually lost was hope, but how did this loss of hope translate? My landscape had gone from full colour to black and white. In the midst of my depression, my life as a landscape (the one in my head, you see) looked dull and grey, as far into the horizon as I could see. This, in turn, led to a further loss of hope and a further depression.

I thought of all this when I got home that night, and it led me to conclude that "stay colourful" is a very profound thing to say. It's a very good thing to remember. When you're feeling sad, do your best to stay colourful. Dress in colour. Eat colourful foods. Notice the colours in your external landscape so that your inner one doesn't fade into greyscale.


HOW TO: MINIMALIST HOME

If you happen to be renovating your home or looking to buy a new one or you're simply stuck in a perpetual phase of re-'joojing' your current interior (like me), consider how good minimalist design concepts can help you create spaces that are good for your brain, mostly by ensuring a clutter-free environment (which in turn allows for a clutter-free mind). I've carefully curated a collection of superb examples of the aforementioned concepts here. Enjoy.

STRIVE FOR FEW QUALITY PRODUCTS INSTEAD OF MANY CHEAP ONES






 KEEP YOUR FLOORS CLEAR

Book piles on the floor aren't so much decorative as they are obtrusive. Clear the floor, clear your mind.








INSTALL CLEVER STORAGE BUT NOT TOO MUCH

Too much storage encourages the collection of things you don't really need.



LEAVE SOME SPACES EMPTY

We think we have to fill every space with furniture. We don't. Space is precious, celebrate it by leaving areas of your interior empty.






Photography by Jasmine Garnsworthy

KEEP YOUR BENCHES CLEAR

One or two decorative items will do. Keep wallets, letters and bills in designated drawers.


Photography by Rupert Singleton


DECORATE WITH PLANTS

They clean the air and just seeing them in your space increases your serotonin levels. Here's a good guide to keeping indoor plants alive.


Photography by Birgitta wolfgang Drejer for bobedre





USE MIRRORS TO CREATE A FEELING OF SPACE




my zero waste survival kit

Contrary to what you might think, zero waste living has been fun. It's been making me feel awfully good. Reducing your trash is good for your soul as well as the planet, it seems.

How do I go about my daily business without accumulation trash? Truth is, some days I don't. Some days I fail miserably and the contents of my failure get placed in my trash jar for all to see:

This is two month's worth of trash. In my defence, the jar may look full but it's all squashable stuff: netting used to hold a pork shoulder together, from farmers' market; synthetic thread from clothes, receipts I didn't get time to refuse, ear bud, fruit stickers, chocolate bar wrappers from moments of weakness.

All other days (which to be fair to myself, are most days) I fly through with no trash accumulated whatsoever. Here's first a poorly illustration of my utensils and below it a list for those who prefer words:

Dental care

I use a homemade paste or toothy tabs from Lush. My toothbrush is made from bamboo and natural bristles and is compostable.

Deodorant

I use a homemade paste or an alum crystal. The homemade paste I concocted with things I had in the pantry. I wore it during a recent trip to Cairns and I swear I didn't smell, not a smidgen! It's amazing stuff. See recipe down below.

Kitchen

I use wooden bristle brushes and cloth napkins instead of disposable sponges and wipes. I make my own bench spray and I use Ecostore dish liquid in their new sugarcane packaging.

Plastic wrap, Deli items

I use beeswax wraps. My favourite are Gingham & Wax, made in the Blue Mountains, NSW.

Takeaway coffee

I use an old jam jar. Best 'reusable cup' I've ever had.

Takeaway sandwiches, snacks

I give the sales person as cloth napkin to use instead of their disposable wrapping.

Produce, grocery shopping

Use cloth bags and old plastic mesh bags (the kind that oranges often come in) which I've saved over the years.

Butcher

I take my own containers. The butcher weighs them first to zero the scales, then adds my desired contents.

Soap

I buy unpackaged olive oil soap from my local farmers' market and BYO my own container to fill up on their liquid castile soap.

Recipe for homemade deodorant


Equal quantities coconut oil, cacao butter and bicarb soda (I used 3 tbsp of each)
10 - 20 drops essential oil (I used lemon and wild orange)

Slowly melt all ingredients except for essential oil in an enamel pot. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add essential oils. Stir well and pour into glass container. Allow to set in the fridge, stirring occasionally to avoid ingredients splitting or settling into different levels.

I keep the paste on my bathroom bench. It stays pretty solid unless you're in a tropical climate.

Got any questions, comments, tips or advice? Sharing is caring:

why go zero waste


As I introduced last post, I've gone zero waste. It means I do my very best to avoid unnecessary packaging - catch up on that here.

Why have I gone 'zero waste'? Well it's pretty simple:

1. Because modern lifestyles produce an extreme amount of waste 
and this waste is polluting our environment and negatively impacting on the lives of everything on it - birds, fish... even us.

2. Because recycling isn't the answer.
There's a particular issue with plastics recycling. PET plastics in particular - the kind of plastic that water, milk and juice bottles are made of - can't actually be re-cycled, rather it is down-cycled. By that I mean that it's never recycled into a product of equal quality. That plastic soft drink bottle can never be another drink bottle again. 

Instead, much of the PET bottles we place in our kerbside recycling bins are sent overseas (mostly China and Vietnam) for processing into flakes that are then used to manufacture items such as wood-like plastic decking, park benches and other such 'recycled plastic' products.

You don't think that's a problem?

The next layer of the story is this: the processing of our old plastic bottle waste into flakes for re-use occurs, as I mentioned above, mostly in China and Vietnam. Here, much of the processing is undertaken by impoverished communities as a way of bringing in income. 

Sadly, the process requires the use of toxic chemicals and a lack of safety protocols means that workers are exposed. Often, entire families are involved in the processing, meaning children can regularly be exposed to these toxins too.


You can hear the full story on this issue via this RN radio segment.

3. Because I've allowed myself to feel deeply enough (please watch):

MIDWAY a Message from the Gyre : a short film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.


I PROMISE, next post will be uplifting! I'll talk you through a starter kit for transitioning into zero waste living and it'll make you feel REEEEAAAAAL GOOOOOD!

xx

I'VE GONE ZERO WASTE



My motivation for going ZERO waste is pretty simple.

It's in the above quote from Bill Neidjie, a well-known Kakadu elder who had a lot to do with the listing of Kakadu National Park as a world-heritage site.

It's no more or less complicated than that.

Yes, ZERO waste.

Well, when I say zero, I mean zero + 1 because I'm not perfect. See note #3. regarding trash jar.

A few points to note:

  1. I define waste as anything I can't compost, recycle or reuse. In short, anything I would send to landfill.
  2. Over the past couple of months I've made a concerted effort to create no waste.
  3. Despite my best efforts, I sometimes do end up with waste. I've been storing this waste in an old jar - my trash jar.
  4. Living waste-free hasn't been as hard as it sounds.

Over the next few posts I'm going to share all my learnings, tips and tricks for successfully living a zero waste lifestyle. It's my mission to show you that it's not hard, you can do it and it's actually really enjoyable.

Firstly though, I've outlined three steps that make commencing the journey towards zero waste easier:

  1. Observe your life for a few weeks.
    Notice when and what you throw away. Notice what disposable products you have at home - in the pantry, in the fridge, in the bathroom, laundry etc. Jot these down on a scrap of paper that you stick to the fridge door. My list included things like:
     - the little stickers that come on fruit
    - dental floss
    - the plastic string that attaches a price tag to an item such as clothing
    - receipts...
  2. Understand the reasons why you want to cut out waste. 
    Is it because you care about the environment? Is it because you want to reduce exposure to toxins? Maybe it's because you want to live a healthier or a simpler life. Maybe you just want to challenge yourself. You want to feel cleaner. You just wanna break free from clutter and crap.
  3. Understand it's a constant work in progress.
    Nobody is perfect. You discover new waste traps all the time, such is life. You learn and you grow from it. Some days you'll find it easy, other days you won't. Some days you'll succeed, other days you'll fail. You just gotta take it on the chin and keep going (and pat yourself on the back for at least doing your best and attempting something most people don't).

Next time I'll walk you through some products and ideas to stock up on that will act as your zero waste living kit. 

And I'll show you a photo of my trash jar thus far.

Toodles.

Any questions or comments or thoughts to share so far? Fire away!



People who are seeking asylum

"When a door is closed, people open a window. If a window is closed, people will dig a tunnel. If there is a basic need of survival, a basic need of protection, people will move whatever obstacles are put in their way. 

Those obstacles will only make their journeys more dramatic."

António Guterres, High Commissioner for Refugees




A little boy, his mother and sibling washed up on the shore.

A fence.

I don't know why this is happening. But I do know that asylum seekers are people.

Like you and me. Like your mother, father, brother, child.

They are people. You and me.

Yet unlike us, they happened into a world of war, discrimination, poverty, injustice, unrest. Unlike us, home isn't an option.

Our government has focused on 'stopping the boats'. We send people seeking asylum to detention centres in impoverished countries. Australia receives just 1% of all the new asylum seeker claims submitted around the world in a year. We continue to lag when it comes to extending the number of asylum seekers we embrace.

What does this mean? So far it has meant deflecting the issue elsewhere. It has meant the further victimisation of vulnerable people.

What lapse in humanity is this?

What bloody mark on the fabric of the human soul.

(zero waste) life hack: the best waste free band aid

Even if you've never wondered how you'd bandage up a bleeding cut without using a wasteful band aid (because most band aids contain plastic), wonder now....

Want me to tell you? Okay.

You use lamb's ears.

These kind of lamb's ears:



They're the soft fuzzy silvery leaves you see growing on the kerb side.

Lamb's ears have been used for centuries as wound dressings, even by soldiers on battlefields. 

The adorable ears/leaves absorb blood whilst helping it to clot more rapidly and have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making them the perfect dressing for open cuts.

If that's not enough to make you giddy, the leaves can be made into a tea for fevers, sore throats, diarrhoea and liver tonic and a cold infusion can be used as an eye wash for mild eye irritations. You can eat the little fuzzies in salads or gently steamed. AND they can help relieve insect stings - simply bruise a leaf and rub on the bite.

Golly, what a trouper.

What's wrong with regular band aids?

They're made of plastic. Even the ones that aren't made of plastic use a synthetic plastic adhesive. Plastic, as we all know, is disastrous for our environment. This is because it doesn't bio-degrade, instead breaking down into tiny pieces that stick around forever and over time contaminate soil, waterways and wildlife... often making their way into our food chain.

To use as a band aid

Pop a leaf on the wound and secure with paper tape or string. Compost when you're done.

To grow

I purchased a lamb's ear seedling from my local nursery or you can grow them quite easily from seed. The plant likes a sunny well-drained spot, preferably underneath another flowering shrub. It produces pretty purple flowers to boot.

You're welcome.


FODMAP friendly rice flour pancakes oh yeah

These babies are fluffy, delicious, possibly even good for you and of course, FODMAP and gluten free. If you missed why I'm avoiding FODMAPs, wondering what the fark FODMAPs are and why I keep shouting them at you, please read my previous post on the topic here.

The tricks to perfecting these pancakes are:

  • Stir until only just combined - don't overdo it or they'll come out tough and rubbery.
  • Add lots of spice. I like cinnamon. You could also try cardamom. I find brown rice flour on its own a little strong to taste, so the spices add a nice aroma.
  • Use over-ripe bananas and don't mash them too well. Banana lumps are good. You could replace with berries.
  • You can replace the dairy milk with nut milk if you wish.

Brown rice flour & banana pancakes




Wilfred trying to get the pancakes into his doggy gob.


makes approximately 10 or so small pancakes

1 & 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder (I use gluten free)
2 free range or organic eggs, beaten
3/4 milk (I use lactose free)
2 overripe bananas, roughly mashed
coconut oil or butter, for frying

Mix all dry ingredients together and set aside.

Mix all wet ingredients together.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients until just combined.

Heat oil or butter in a small pan. The mixture will be quite thick, so drop in spoonfuls of it and spread it out a little with the back of the spoon to form small pancakes. I used one soup-spoonful of mixture per pancake. Fry until golden on both sides.

Serve warm with more banana, jam, maple syrup or whatever tickles your fancy.

P.S awful photo to the left but I included it just to demonstrate the height these pancakes can achieve (in two ways, get it??) (Wilfred's in there again)

An odyssey to soothe you

Hello. I have something cool for you today. Keep scrolling.


Sit back, turn up the sound and watch this video (watch it full screen if you can):




Feel relaxed? Yeah, I do.

The video is part of a series of works by young Russian-born graphic designer Rus Khasanov. He came up with the concept while making dinner one night, as he watched the mesmerising interaction between the oil and soy sauce in his pan. 

I love how some people's brain works.

Anyway, check out his other videos and a special thanks to Yen magazine for first sharing this and introducing Khasanov's work to me.

Comments or tip-offs on other cool videos to watch? Fire away:

6 ways to avoid aluminium foil, baking paper and plastic wrap

Aluminium foil, baking paper and plastic wrap are for tossers. 

Now now, don't yell at me in retort. I'm not calling you a tosser. I'd never do that. 

via here
I mean, al foil, baking paper and plastic wrap are products that you use once then toss in the bin off to landfill. It's a senseless waste of resources when you consider all the metal, water, tree pulp and chemicals gone into their manufacturing. Not to mention they don't bio-degrade. In fact, every single bit of plastic every produced still exists today.

You can recycle al foil by bunching it into a ball, but it's still a waste of resources for such a one-off use. You can't recycle baking paper or plastic wrap.

I mentioned briefly in a previous post that I'm gearing up to live completely waste-free. That's zero waste. That means I won't be able to use disposable items, unless it's vital and it can be recycled. 

That means, al foil, baking paper and plastic wrap will no longer be an option.

So I've done my research and compiled these tricks to avoid using these products altogether. Thought you might like to consider giving them a go too?

1. Use a glass jar, glass tupperware container with lid or a plate to cover food 

In fact, instead of plastic wrap my mum's always used the plate-over-the-plate technique. There are also a plethora of alternative products available for purchase, if you do a quick interweb search. These linen covers by Ambatalia are pretty snazzy (you could DIY something similar if you prefer). I don't see why you couldn't use shower caps as an alternative:

photo via remodelista

2. Wrap cut fruit and vegetables, sandwiches and bread etc with reusable wrap sheets

There are several on the market. Abeego, a US brand, make wrap sheets out of hemp and cotton infused with beeswax. Biome sell an Australian made version of the same type of sheet (I've just bought this myself). There's also a brand called BeesWrap, in the US. All these sheets are washable and reusable and can last for over a year. When they've finally run their course, they can be composted. They're also very versatile.


3. You don't actually need to cover food in al foil to roast or bake it

Not even potatoes. If you're baking sweet potatoes, just ensure you poke a few holes in them and place another dish or tray underneath to catch any drips. If you're roasting meat, just ensure you baste it frequently and turn if necessary. Use bicarb soda to make scrubbing off the bits that stick to the bottom of the roasting tray a lot easier.

4. Grease with oil then dust with flour when baking cakes or cookies

Instead of lining with baking paper, grease your baking tin or tray with butter or coconut oil, then dust lightly with a little flour. Prevents sticking and makes cake removal a breeze.

via here

5. Use banana leaves or paperbark instead

If you really want to wrap and roast, you can wrap fish, meat or veggies with banana leaves or paperbark instead of al foil, then safely dispose of the wrapping in the compost bin. You can find banana leaves at most Asian grocers and paper bark on paperbark trees around the hood (just ensure you strip the bark from the upper half of the tree so there's no chance it's covered in dog pee). Here's what a paperbark tree looks like.

photo by David Loftus

6. Blind bake using a reusable silicone baking sheet

There are a few available, including this one or the one below by Silpat.

via here


Any tips, questions or comments? Fire away!

DIGESTION ISSUES? COULD BE FODMAPS

non-bloated tummy freedom could be right around the corner...

Do you have irritable bowel (IBS) symptoms? Bloating, cramping and a delightfully random mix of constipation and diarrhoea after eating? You can never quite isolate everything that triggers you. Gluten-free diets haven't sufficed. Lactose free hasn't completely done the trick. It's a Mystery.

It could be FODMAPS.

FODMAPS are a bunch of carbohydrates, an acronym for:

Fermentable
Oligosaccharides
Disaccharides
Monosaccharides
Polyols.

Wooh. 

This graphic I found online spells it out quite nicely:


image by experimentpublishingco.


Foods high in FODMAPS that trigger symptoms include:

  • apples, pears, mangos, plums, apricots
  • onion, garlic, leeks, peas, snowpeas, cauliflower, cabbage, mushrooms
  • milk, icecream, yoghurt, soft cheeses such as ricotta
  • beans, legumes, chickpeas
  • almonds, hazelnuts, wheat, rye, barley, oats, artificial sweeteners, honey.

Yes, basically most things.

I've had IBS since I was 12 years old. Nothing I did helped. So recently, after over 20 years of living with it, I took myself to a gastroenterologist who promptly diagnosed FODMAP intolerance and put me on a strict low FODMAP diet (total exclusion of the above mentioned foods and more!).

It's been fun.

I say that with sour sarcasm.

But unfortunately or fortunately (however you wish to look at it) the damn diet has worked.

Miracles.

I am completely IBS-symptom free. And I never thought I'd live to say that.

So, moral of the story is that if you've been experiencing IBS symptoms and haven't found a satisfactory treatment, ask your doctor about FODMAPS and try a low FODMAP diet. Monash University have a fantastic smartphone app to guide you.

And since this stuff applies to lots of people and not just those who are intolerant, I'll be sharing FODMAP friendly recipes here on The Society Co. Sign up to stay updated.

Comments? Questions? Fire away below!

This one's for women only: menstrual cup 101

Ladies, I have entered the menstrual cup fray.

I did say women only didn't I.

It really isn't as bad as you might think. I'll go so far as saying that it is, in fact, liberating. You see, if all goes to plan I will never have to purchase pads or tampons again, I will never leak, never risk TSD or ever be uncomfortable again. Ever. Sounds good yes?

this is a cute baby lamb. Because, well, what other picture was I supposed to use?

what is it?

A menstrual cup is a little squidgy cup thing made of medical grade silicon or natural rubber that is inserted much like a tampon, except instead of absorbing fluid, it collects it.

whyyyy?

Unlike a tampon or a pad for that matter, it has some pretty fantastic benefits:

  • It's reusable and can last for years. You save money and stop wasting materials.
  • It can hold up to 12-hours worth of fluid, meaning you have to change it much much less than a pad or tampon and you can wear it overnight safely.
  • It doesn't leak, if inserted correctly. A suction seal does all the work.
  • It's safer. Because it doesn't absorb, you have zero risk of toxic shock syndrome.
  • You can't feel it, at all.
  • It can be worn sleeping, swimming, running, yoga, you name it. No worries.

My original motivation to try one of these cuppies was to avoid the waste associated with throwing away 10,000 used tampons and pads over a lifetime. I will soon be going completely 'zero waste', so using disposable products simply won't be an option for me (more on these adventures in a later post).

Now that I'm actually using one? I'm a complete convert but for lifestyle reasons as well as environmental ones. Not having to change products every few hours is a blessing. Free-dom! Knowing it's safer and better for me is a load off. Knowing I'll never have to buy sanitary products again is freakin' wonderful. 

which type of cup should I buy?

I chose the Juju Cup. It's made in Australia, has won a couple of awards and has excellent feedback on the interweb. Other popular brands include DivaCup, Lunette and Mooncup (I like their video) and The Keeper Cup (a natural rubber cup). There are many brands, some made from silicon and others from natural rubber. Search for 'menstrual cup' online and read through the various brands' websites. I dare say most are much of a muchness, to be honest.

how does it work?

Don't be too concerned about that. You'll find more than enough info on use on each brand's website. Here's the instructions on Juju's site. There are even instructional videos on youtube. The key thing to know is that it does take a little getting used to, but once you have the hang of it, it is a no-brainer.

Got any questions or tips, please comment below. Don't be shy ;)

Nom nom: Sad vegetable ratatouille

There's a new eBook in town and if you wanna eat well, save money and live sustainably, you might wanna check it out.

Leftover Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Risotto Arancini Balls
recipe from The Clever Cook, photo by Maria Hannaford

So I may have had a hand in it too.

Produced by Sustainable Table, The Clever Cook features over 60 wholesome recipes, tips and a sample week-long meal plan to help you eat well, reduce food waste and save some moola.

In short, it spells out how to cook wholesome meals and then reinvent leftovers into brand new delicious meals for the week ahead. It also shows you how to use odd parts of fruit and veg that you'd normally throw away (like kale stems, cauliflowers leaves etc) and provides ideas for what to do with produce that's looking a little less than jolly. Like sad vegetables.

Hence my Sad Vegetable Ratatouille was born. Here's the recipe as featured in The Clever Cook, which you can grab for only $12.50 via my affiliate link here. Enjoy.

photo by Maria Hannaford

Sad Vegetable Ratatouille

This classic French dish is undoubtedly the best thing to do with sad-looking vegies... you know the ones you forgot at the bottom of the crisper and now look too droopy to eat? The ingredients listed are what you’d classically include in a ratatouille but feel free to use whatever you have. The secret is the cooking time – the longer you let it simmer, the better. Cook for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 4 if you want perfection. Serve with rice, couscous or crusty bread.

serves 4

olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 red capsicum, seeded and diced
2 green capsicum, seeded and diced
1 large eggplant, diced
2 medium zucchini, diced
3 large mushrooms, cut into chunks
2 strips lemon rind
400g chopped peeled tomatoes*
salt and pepper to taste
bunch of basil, stems finely chopped and leaves set aside

Step 1.
Heat olive oil in a large pot over low heat. Sauté the onion for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

Step 2.
Add all the other ingredients including the basil stems (but not the leaves just yet), cover with a lid and simmer on low for as long as you can – at least 2 hours but 4 hours is ideal. Every so often, check to ensure there is enough liquid, adding a little water or stock if it’s too dry.

Step 3.
When done, roughly tear up the basil leaves and stir through.

* You can leave the skins on if you don't mind the odd skin in the sauce, as often they don't break down. If you prefer to remove the skins, here's how: to peel tomatoes, simply make a cross incision at the top of each with a knife, pop in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to poach for a few minutes then drain the water. When cool enough to handle, peel the skins. They should slip right
off.

how to create a home that's good for your brain

Physical clutter does some pretty shifty things to your brain, according to research by neuroscientists at Princeton University who showed that clutter increases stress hormones and decreases performance. UCLA research has also shown that clutter overloads your senses and impairs your ability to think creatively. So consider these tips on minimalising your home not just styling tips but ways to improve your headspace.

It should either be of great use or of great beauty

my mantlepiece is a carefully curated display of things that have meaning to me... like the bunny, a memento from my trip to Queenstown, and the photo of The White Tower in Thessaloniki, my mum's home town

If you haven't used something in six months, you never will. Edit and re-edit your belongings like a curator with a tight budget until you possess only utility and/or beauty.

Storage is the crack of the 21st century consumer

via here

Whatever possessions don't fall into either of the two categories above should be donated or sold. Storing them will only end in the need to reorganise later, again and again.

Consolidate & Multi-task

photo by wolfgang stahr

Do you really need 20 kitchen towels and 5 mixing spoons? I drink water from wine glasses and use a recycled wooden crate as a side table and foot stool.

Clear the floors

photo by emily beetleshack

Besides essential furniture, your floors should be completely clear. Cluttered floors are like clogged bowels.

Clear the benchtops

see more of this house here

Only keep the bare essentials, those used daily, on top. This creates a serene landscape. Cluttered benchtops are akin to indigestion.

Re-prioritise your time

by it's beautiful here

Once the decluttering process is complete and you've ceased cleaning stuff you don't like and buying things you don't need, leisure time will reappear. Use it wisely. Rediscover hobbies, hang out with friends and family more. Go see the world around you.

Craftsmen: Anna-Wili Highfield crafts moments of connection

photo by Louie Douvis

The people who inspire me the most are those who forge their own path in life.


They carve a lifestyle out of their passion. They are masters of their own art. They live and breathe a life that is true to their core. They make a difference; they contribute something beautiful and meaningful to our world.


These are the sort of humans I admire and who I'll be interviewing for my new series on The Society Co. 


I'll be chatting with them (makers, bakers, artists and more) to find out what drives them and what we might be able to learn from their passion, resilience and courage (I'm guessing these are the qualities they'll all have in common and what's allowed them to do what they're doing... we'll soon see). 


I'm calling the series Craftsmen. And I'm kicking it off with renowned Australian artist Anna-Wili Highfield.


Anna-Wili was born in Sydney in 1980. The daughter of a Puppeteer, she studied Fine Art at the National Art School in Sydney, then worked as a Scenic Artist for Opera Australia. In 2008, she began making paper animal sculptures in her spare time. It wasn't long before her work was being commissioned by clients all over the world. Today, her sculptures are held in private collections and Hermes store windows and have featured in publications ranging from Vogue to the New York Times.


photo by Anna-Wili Highfield

There's a reason why Anna-Wili's work has resonated so deeply with so many. Like all Good Things, her sculptures are more than the sum of their parts of paper and wire. Each sculpture is a manifestation of our relationship with nature, a medium through which we can connect with our animal counterparts.


"I want my creatures to engage the viewer in a moment of connection with nature. For people to sense a spirit we can relate to even though we are different species. I want my animals to look at the viewer. I think the eye contact forces us to engage. It's nature staring back at us."

Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Come face to face with Anna-Wili's animals and you come face to face with what you truly are - a being that is no more or less important than any other being; a being that, just like every other life on this planet, is simply trying to survive.

There is an exquisite beauty in Highfield's ability to have this effect on us.

It's almost a service to humanity.

Yet when I ask Anna-Wili what drives her to create, I'm struck by the charming simplicity of her motive.



"It makes me feel good. I think we all get a thrill out of creating things. It's good for the soul. Some people cook, some garden. I make sculptures."



On how Anna-Wili manages self-doubt:


"I'm critical of my work but I don't doubt my ability. If I'm having trouble with a piece I often rip it apart to build on the ruins, this re-energises a work so there's never a failed piece. You have to be brave to tear apart hours of work, but it's always rewarding." 


Sound life advice, too.




Images of kangaroos and owl above by Petrina Tinslay. Image of wrens by silversalt photography. Image of Anna-Wili above via marie claire.