Search: label/hippy stuff

Spring Cleaning The TinyTrainHouse

by Lori Dwyer on September 28, 2012 · 12 comments

I am one of those truly odd people who take great pleasure in cleaning my house.

It’s right up there with doing laundry in terms of smug satisfaction– while there is no smug satisfaction that competes with bringing in a load of freshly washed, sun dried cloth nappies (diapers, whatever); the cat–in–a–bird–cage–glow that accompanies freshly mopped floors come a very close second place.

It’s Spring Cleaning time in the TinyTrainHouse.

Either by means of brilliant management or the intervention of the gods, I’ve managed to have a spring clean every year since I moved out of home at the age of eighteen. (The years that I remember, anyway– few in my early twenties that remain somewhat hazy.) Back in the BC (Before Children), I had heaps of time, so I cleaned as I wished or as living with flat mates determined. And, being a natural hoarder with minimalist ideologies, I have always taken great pleasure in sorting, culling and storing piles of possessions (which is certainly useful when you have two little kids who own every plastic moulded plaything ever produced).

Being pregnant was awesome for cleaning. Forget nesting in the last few weeks of pregnancy– I had the cleaning bug from about 12 weeks in, and it took a good four months after I gave birth for it to wear off. I remember my husband once telling me that I was going to “mop the damn enamel of the tiles if I attacked them again”, and that was probably not an entirely unfair thing to say. I think, at that point, thirty weeks pregnant and with way too much spare time, I was mopping the kitchen floor of the Purple House on a twice–daily basis.

There was no way I could keep that up. Hello, post natal depression and a massive case of useless anxiety. Pregnant the second time around, I actually relished that fervent, all consuming nesting instinct. ‘Sparkle sparkle’, said the glass doors and the floors and the car and the bathroom and the dog and whatever else would sit still for long enough to be drenched in white vinegar and scrubbed to within an inch of it’s existence.

About this time last year, we moved here, to the TinyTrainTown, from another small town that goes by the name of Paradise. Living in Paradise for six months made the spring clean and un–clutter almost disappointingly easy– anything that I hadn’t used, looked at or thought about in six months was more than likely not useless and could be scrapped, recycled or redistributed. (For those of you who have hoarder tendencies without the ruthlessness minimalism requires, pay careful attention to this next sentence– of everything I got rid of when I moved, I can honestly say I cannot think of one material thing I have genuinely missed or wished I still owned. Really.)

And the year before that… well. Life, into boxes, same as last year. But without nearly as much direction or purpose.

This year, with the weather beginning to warm and the heaven scent garden slowly blooming, it feels as though it’s time to clean. To open windows wide and let warm dry air blow through the house, taking dust and mold and mildew and winter and worries and stress away with it. To shuffle through and pick at boxes of toys and books, to delve into bathroom cupboards and builtin wardrobes and rid the house of the accumulated junk of twelve months worth of day to day in’s and out’s, fifty two weeks worth of life piling up on top of itself.

And it’s just mundane life piling up that leaves the most junk behind. There’s a filing cabinet full of papers to be culled, a storage cupboard stocked with Christmas presents, hoarded over winter like chestnuts, that need of be sorted and eventually wrapped. There’s a hot water main valve that requires relieving, a cat that needs to vaccinated, insurances to be renewed, spiders and other creepy crawlies to be poisoned, a sadly neglected vegetable garden that is just itching to be turned and planted, to stretch tiny seedlings towards the spring sunshine.

I only have myself to blame for so much of that boring doldrum falling right now, all at the same time of year. But, in truth, I don’t mind it at all. It feels like a life reboot, a clearing of the slate. Getting things in order before our birthdays and Christmas– the party season for our small family, all the festivities falling at once– begin and the New Year rolls out again with the best of intentions, before the days trip all over one another and life piles up again.

A thorough clean is a spiritual necessity in order to vacuum up the existential cobwebs and complement the Spring life–refresh.

Force me to choose the task I prefer from all the possible cleaning activities available (laundering of cloth nappies not included), there’d be very little hesitation before I answered ’vacuuming’. There’s something morbidly and perversely fascinating about sucking up particles of dust, dirt and the ever–present Cheerios through an appliance that has more horsepower than my first car. (What is it with small children and Cheerios in every conceivable nook and cranny of the house? Like carrots in vomit; they are omni–present, independent of last consumption).

So I vacuum during a Spring Clean. A lot. I vacuum lounge chairs and picture frames, bookcases and the books within them. I vacuum shelves and drawers and smoke detectors. I even move things, big heavy things like lounges and tables, and vacuum underneath them. I strip sheets and flip mattresses– and vacuum them as well, of course– wash linens and pillows and hang them out in the warm sunshine to dry. If you are of the uninitiated and have never vacuumed a mattress and stared in horrified wonder at the pile of white–grey skin cells formed into the finest powder that results… You should. Likewise if you’ve never machine–washed and line–dried your pillows back to their original fluffy whiteness. The only real drawback being that other people’s inevitably unwashed bedding is going to really start grossing you out.

Being the big suburban hippy I am, I swore off bleaches and chemicals that smelt almost–but–not–quite–like–apples–or fields–of–flowers when I was pregnant for the first time, struck with a sudden awareness that bordered on paranoia at the way bathroom cleaners seemed to literally burn and singe the tiny fine hairs at the back of my nostrils. These days I stick to bi carb soda and
white vinegar, eucalypt and lavender and tea tree for cleansing, deodorizing and most other household purification purposes.

I mop psuedo–wood floors with boiling water and essential oils to make them shine. I scrub my bathroom, removing a ring made up of hundreds of days of the washed off dirt and play of two small children. I wash windows and wipe down a dozen or so random surfaces from sink to shelf to dollhouse.

And I wash. And wash, and wash, and wash. A week’s worth of washing to two days of hard cleaning… I’m guessing that’s why spring cleaning is done in spring.

After all that’s finally been done, after the hidden places of the house are tended to and tided, vacuumed and scrubbed; the actual satisfying part begins. You return things to their respective places, tweaking and reconsidering their arrangement as you go. You stock cupboards with clean linen, fresh from sunshine that feels to be blooming along with the garden’s flowers, a heat too big for itself that spills it’s excess into the deepest layers of your skin.

Light incense. Burn sage. Run an ionizer– ironically, plugged straight into the power source itself– to smooth out the constant electric buzz of your life.

And relax… relish. Feel your soul–self come into some essence of alignment, as if it’s had it own spring clean, subconsciously shuffling away junk no longer needed in sync with the cleaning out of a house.

It’s wholly satisfying and self–congratulatory and feels like dark secrets and baggage that was just beginning to rot… cleared. Everyone needs a fresh start, occasionally. Spring blows in a new one every year.

It’s like life’s Get Out Of Jail Free Card. The Universe’s way of saying all bets are off, table clear… get yourself set and prepared to start all over again.

*And before anyone mentions the FlyLady… we’ve covered her before.

post signature


Some Kind Of Tiny, Sacred Space For Me.

by Lori Dwyer on August 20, 2012 · 21 comments

When I was a teenager, my bedroom was a holy place, an sanctuary. It was the only place that was mine. I could decorate it as I saw fit (within the reasonable confines of budget, imagination and parental discretion, naturally). I made the rules. I chose the music that played, the posters on the walls. It was the space where I nursed my adolescent heartache. It was the only place I had an element of control. It was where I built my sense of sense, the place where I could push boundaries and experiment with what I liked, as far as form and function went. As an insecure teenage girl, my bedroom was where I learnt who I was.

At eighteen I moved to a house of my own and I remember, for a while, being alarmed at having such a large space to fill with myself and so little of what I was sure of to fill it with. The clutter of flatmates and life and text books and juggling balls helped. A husband, dog and two kids put an end to the problem that was filling vacant spaces. Gradually, you grow a accustomed to a gradual spreading of both their things and yours, the important and the mundane, throughout the entire house.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve found your bedroom has molded to the bland purpose it’s technically intended for… it’s the room where your bed is. The place where you keep your clothes. Just another functional space in your house.

I’ve been mulling over this one lately as I attempt to create some boundaries between myself and my kids. It’s a strategy I’m using against my own sense of burn out, something I’m trialling in an attempt to temper my own irritation at them.

For the first time since my son was born, I’m taking back my space. My bedroom is becoming my own again. I need a second sanctuary for when it’s wet or cold or windy or dark and I can’t float around my fairy garden.

In first world reality, a few hours at IKEA and a chunk out of my savings account could have had this problem KO’ed in a weekend. But flat packs and cheap mass–produced plastics seem to be an anti thesis to the ‘returning to self’ initiative I’m undertaking. I decide to take a slightly more old fashioned, sustainable approach to interior design and decoration.

The first step is sourcing some replacement furniture for the desk and dressing table I’ve had for the last twelve years. Both are still in quite good condition, and they are at least fifty years old. They go under the house, into storage until I can strip and repaint them for my son’s room.

The new furniture is sourced from the same place I’ve been getting a lot of my forty eight legs from, ever since I first left home– the continually revolving pool of family decor. It’s a collection of furniture bought new or hand made by my mum’s side of the family at some point in the last hundred years. Since purchase or production, this mismatched house and half full of tables, chairs, bed frames, blanket boxes, dressing tables, lounge chairs and wardrobes have been passed, free of charge, from parents to children, grandparents to grandchildren, siblings to their kin. When not in use, various pieces of it are stored in garages and sheds, ready to be dusted down and sanded if necessary, and shipped off to whoever was in need. It’s a way of continuing that sustainability we’re always banging on about in a way that’s practical and useful.

Maori marriage painting.

In addition to new(ish) furniture, I’ve done a bit of a shuffle of the pictures and paintings on my walls. Some of my favorite things hang in my room. I have a marriage painting done for Tony and I by a Maori friend of ours. He had it sent home to be blessed by the leader of his tribe before it was given to us. The spiral in the centre is man– the black– and wife– the brown– and the four designs in the corners are the four winds of the earth. It’s painted with the intention that the winds work to push the man and woman closer together, to make the spiral tighter, rather than blow them apart.

I’ve also got some 1930′s French pseudo–porn I picked up at an opshop, felt Lori, and a bookcase with my apothecary supplies and odds and ends– jewelry from friends, crockery from Shed Five, sentimental presents and my prized vintage style Monopoly wooden boxed set.

Spot the French pseudo-porn.

I decide to add a photo of Tony and the kids– there aren’t many of them, and I’m still choosing which one I prefer– and one of the shots I had done just recently– I’m just slightly excited about them, and there is a blog post coming very soon. I source funky, chunky wooden frames from the op shop and find new places to hang them. I also pick up a soft light lamp and a colorful sarong to replace the faded waffle blanket covering the old arm chair I use to lay my clothes out on.

When I first moved into my flat, my house mate and I were obsessive about moving the furniture in tiny lounge room. It was a bit like playing Tetris, trying to shuffle a dining and lounge room’s furnishings into a space not much bigger than the bedroom I have now. Despite the difficulty of the task– and the fact that we often failed miserably and shoved everything back into its original position at sundown after a day of fruitless rearrangements– it never failed to leave both of us feeling refreshed. Walking out first thing in the morning to a new view is good for the brain, even if it’s just the fact that your lounge is against a different wall.

With this in mind, I push the furniture in my room around, change the perspective just a little. I dust and wipe down everything, clean the mirrors and give the floor a better vacuum than its had since I moved in. I go throw my drawers and my wardrobe, putting clothes I no
longer wear either into the rag bag or in a garbage bag to go to the local Vinnies.

Attempting to recreate that website look in real life…
Close. Not exact, but close. Win.

And then I attack my sleep space… my bed. The same bed I shared with my husband– we’d bought it only twelve months before he passed away and the mattress is so comfortable, there was no way I was replacing it. And besides, while it was emotionally painful to sleep on those first few months; as of now it feels as though all the good vibes, all the nights we held each other and those other nights where there were four of us packed in, all the whispered conversations in fertile darkness… this mattress holds all of those memories, all of those blessings, and more.

I turn and flip the mattress and vacuum it ruthlessly. I wash my pillows, dry them in the sunshine and fluff them out, adding a few drops of lavender oil to the rinse; then do the same with my thick, warm woolen doona cover.

Living with grandmother for a few years when I was a teenager was a lesson in economics learnt fifty years at the height of the Depression, when money was scant and families both sensible and resourceful. She valued things of quality that she budgeted to be able to purchase– and, like so many woman of her generation, linen was considered an essential that was worth investing in. After all, you used it for life and spent two thirds of every day laying on or between it. If there was anything worth the extra expenditure, it was that. As we know, I love all that old–fashioned nanna stuff, and my inner hippy laps it up. It seems only logical that if I’m going to reuse old made-to-last furniture, I should at the very least invest in some linen that will be comfortable, look good, feel a little like every-day pampering and last a lifetime; rather than continuing the false thriftiness I’ve had going on for a few years now and buying ten dollar on special sheet sets from Big W that become threadbare and pilly after two washes, have shot elastic at the corners and are all too easy to put your feet through, especially if you don’t cut your toenails often enough. All those cheap and nasty sheets, added up… had I just bought myself something cotton and high thread count back in the day, it would certainly have paid off.

I had all this on my mind a month or so ago when I got an email from an Aussie online company called I Love Linen. I Love Linen is run by Lauren and her mum. The are passionate about making quality, lasting linen accessible to everyone the way it was thirty years ago. There’s something nostalgic about I Love Linen, and that’s an oddity for an online store unless you are all of twelve years old. It’s not so much the site itself. It’s having Lauren personally answering emails and actually being interested in your response when she asks ‘How are you?’. It’s that ILL are more interested in people than profits.

It’s the simple fact that the packages come wrapped in brown paper and string (because these are a few of my favorite things).

Having some insight into my desperate love of sleep, Lauren at I Love Linen sent me one of their 1000 thread count doona covers and, after I said pretty please, a bed runner to set off the whole look (I know– I’ve never had one either. And I even remember to put it back on every morning).

So, jellybeans. If I’m inspired, I like others to come along with me… it’s more fun that way. Let’s play a game of re–magination. I’d love to see the key pieces you either have used, or would use, to recreate your bedroom into a space that is just yours again– a home for your soul. Tell me about the furniture, the colour, the decos and wall art. And pick yourself out some luxurious, good quality sheets that will last a lifetime and actually make you look forward to going to bed for reasons other than just passing out from exhaustion.

Either leave me the details of what you’d love in a comment on this post; or leave me a link to where you’ve blogged, InstaGrammed, Tweeted, FBed or Flickred your ideas. Bonus points for collages (if you are among the PicMonkey uninitiated, their collage tool is way awesome) and creativity. And, of course, make sure you include what sheets you’d pamper yourself with

Because that’s what we’re winning here– I’ve got three $50 gift vouchers from I Love Linen to give away. I’ve also got two sets of Ambrosia teapots and teacups with some strawberry tea with which to sit back, relax and enjoy your sacred space.

post signature


Dating in your early twenties is a completely different thing to dating in your early thirties.

Either that or dating in 2012 is totally different to dating in 2006

Or, quite possibly, both. And add to the mix the fact I’m coming into this dating game from an entirely different place to most people. And that the Internet is kind of weird to begin with.

Whatever. We already know that Internet dating is a very strange place. A few moths back, tired of having my vulnerabilities trampled upon, my heart broken and my belief in any kind of romance sadly disillusioned, I shifted my focus from the romantic–looking–for–my–soul–mate–to–go–walking–along–the–beach–with kind of websites to the more quissentially tacky ‘dating’ sites, complete with annoying flash ads, half naked couples on the home page and a veritable plethora of strange, lonely people all ‘Not Looking For A Relationship’ scanning the message boards and Online Now columns to find innocents like me to startle.

The communications that turn up in my inbox have shifted along with my change in sites. While they once consisted of a mix of normal type human male messages (’Hi how are you?’) and missives so strange, creepy or badly spelt they were laughable; they now entail a mix of normal male type messages (’Hi how are you?’) to offers and suggestions that either make me blush so fiercely I can’t check my email in public or actually require me having to Google terms to find out what they mean. (‘Bukkake‘. Don’t do it, you will regret it.)

I’m certainly not a prude and I really thought I was pretty damn knowledgable when it came to sex and that more adult side of life. Evidently I was very wrong. I’m fairly sure that some of the acts being suggested here aren’t even legal in many parts of the world. The total lack of desire I feel toward reading 50 Shades of Grey stems mainly from the idea that, compared to my inbox, it might just be boring.

I look like Mary freaking Poppins. Far too sweet to be tied up. Or handcuffed.

I’m not sure why, but it didn’t strike me as surprising that most of the men responsible for sending these kinds of communiqués are affluent, hard working, well groomed professionals. I’m actually not sure what they’d do if this pierced, tattooed hippy chick who doesn’t drink champagne turned up on their doorstep… and my self esteem is definitely not in the place to be knocked around by trying to find out.

In addition to the Eastern Suburbs office workers who are into kinky sex, there’s another more disturbing trend I’m noticing in the online dating world. I’m not sure if it’s actually as prevalent as it seems or if it’s just the fact that I seem to be inherently attractive to that alpha–male type…

But the number of police officers who have a real thing for bondage is positively scary. To be honest, it seems to extend further than just coppers. It also includes security guards, army personnel and, in one particularly unsettling encounter, a seemingly geeky statistician… who just happened to work for an international ammunition company and had some kind of fantasy involving a petite woman in a dog collar. (And let’s not forget the potentially psychopathic abattoir foreman).

And in case you’re wondering– which I know you are– the generalized stereotype I’m referring to here are into doing the dominating, not being dominated.

I’m sure if I wasn’t so exhausted I could come up with some correlation between men and penii and guns and domination, and probably throw some phallic insecurity in there as well. I’m also sure that if this fact was more publicly known, there would be far fewer arrests– who wants to be locked in the back of a paddy van with someone who gets off on tying people up and whipping them?

Again, whatever. Given my aversion to rope, it’s probably not going to be my thing. But I can reassure you that the NSW judicial system is in respectable, ethical hands.

Out of all those coppers, not one has offered to use his handcuffs on me.


I’m sure he’s going to entirely love being tacked onto the end of this particular post. Heh.

Some of you will remember my mate Bear, who let me ride pillion for this year’s NSW Black Dog Ride.

This time around the Bear is doing the National Black Dog Ride– it’s a bigger, longer trip, all the way to Australia’s Red Centre- the Northern Territory. (While I seethe with vivid green jealousy and cursing my lack of available childcare…)

The sponsorship page for the Bear’s National Black Dog Ride is here. Any support you can throw his way is very much appreciated.

post signature