HealthyKids Happymama

Crafting a healthy, happy family life... one step at a time

Can you eat at a food court and create no waste?

On New Years eve I was ‘practising’ the Zero Waste lifestyle while out and about with one of the kids  when we stopped for lunch at a food court. The question I posed to myself is – How do I make a choice here and create the least amount of waste possible?

It wasn’t really all that easy.

If I had a container I could have had Sushi and a certain retailer at which I don’t partake (starts with an Mmm) has mostly recyclable packaging. But neither were an option.

At the particular food court I was in I noticed the Sumo Salad were advertising a new ‘Deli-style’ container for their pre made salads. So my decision was made. Now I did happen to have my reusable water bottle and a metal  fork with me, but even so I still took the pre packaged plastic knife and fork that the retailer offered me. A minute or two later when I remembered that I didn’t need it, i walked back to the serving counter and gave it back to them.

Sitting down to eat, I realised that the cardboard packaging noted that it was 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable – I thought awesome! When I was done I just put the lid back onto it and popped it into my bag and took it home to put into the compost bin. I was a bit concerned about the inside of the package having a shiny lining but according to the Sumo Salad website – it is a material derived from Corn – Here is some more info.

The only down side was the plastic lid that the packaging came with. I don’ t really think that this was compostable and even if it were it would take so long to break down.  Next time I will just say No to the lid – as I was eating in I didn’t really need it.  I think that in my little bag with green bags in it I will keep a couple of paper bags to put packaging like this into if I am bringing it home to compost.

I am calling this a win because I am likely to make this choice again if I am out and about and need to eat.

Do you have any thoughts about how to make the best low waste decisions in a food court?

Leave a  comment or share with me on Instagram – I would love to hear about it #lifewithless17.

Week 1/52 – Life with Less Review

I figure the best way to approach reviewing our progress is to have a set of questions that I will answer each week – to assess our progress.

What happened this week?

The first week of 2017 has been an out of the ordinary week as both adults of the household were at home for the majority of the week on annual leave. I don’t know about you but I find being at home more often than not means that you find things that need fixing or replacing – and this means purchasing in most cases.

One of the things that really suffered this past year was our vegetable garden – most years I have a lovely productive kitchen garden but a lack of time and conflicting priorities meant that the veggie patch was  let go a little this year.  This week I have been doing what needed to be done in the garden – a massive tidy up. Weeding. Picking up of things that have been strewn about the yard. Digging in compost.

I have purchased some veggie seedlings and mulch to bide us over until the winter – hopefully with some love and good weather they will get going and we will have a mini harvest before the frost.

I also de-plastic-ified my spice cupboard. I purchased small glass jars and moved all of my spices and herbs into them – finding many double ups and old unwanted herbs in the process.  Slowly slowly in the kitchen – one drawer and cupboard at a time.

How do I feel this week?

I have spent time this week observing – observing the things that are coming into the house and thinking about them as consumer goods. How much waste are they creating? Is there an alternative that would make this waste free?

I have thought about this challenge and continued my reading. What does it mean to me and what am I trying to achieve. I read an excerpt from a book by David Suzuki called Green Guide and his 12 principles for Sustainability  – and I resonated very much with his thinking. The point of this challenge for us is to reduce un-necessary and excessive consumption – to learn how to become better at the Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot process. Not to be pefect straight off the bat but to improve what we are doing throughout the year so that we are moving forward.

What have we bought this week? (non-food items)

A case of wine from Naked Wines – we don’t drink very often but to have wine to hand means that you always have a hostess gift. It also means less trips to the store. The wine came completely packaged in cardboard – so no packaging that was not recyclable.  ($70 – It was also a bargain)

Glass jars for Herbs and Spices ($40)

Two plants, Rocks and Potting mix to make a terrarium with a glass fish bowl that was not being used. I have enough left over to make a couple  more terrariums which I will make for gifts later in the year. with glass candle holders we no longer use. ($26)

Plants and Mulch from Bunnings – Consumable but did come in plastic packaging ($65)

Achievements for this week

  • I had my reusable drink bottle and shopping bag with me everywhere I went – so no plastic bottles or bags came home this week.
  • I took a big bag of plastic bags I have been collecting (Plastic packets, bread bags, old shopping bags etc) to the REDcycle bin at Coles. I will do this each week until we get to the point of having no plastic bags to recycle (Progress NOT Perfection !!)
  • I wrote the numbers that can be recycled on a magnet on our fridge – and I have made an effort to ensure that all plastics that can be recycled go into the recycling bin.

Items I have noted that I will need to find a solution to remove the packaging from our life:

  • Dry Crackers – I had a go at making some from a recipe on a blog and they were really great on the first day but soft and soggy by day two
  • Strawberries – always come packaged – even at markets
  • Baking paper – I can use a silicone mat for tray baking but I use baking paper to line my cake tins too.


My kids are sweet enough: please don’t feed them sugar

What’s that?

Can they have a lolly pop? A sugar-loaded milk drink? A Slushie in summer? A Candy Cane at Christmas?

No – actually I am not OK with that….unless I am right there with you and can make an informed decision about the sugar-loaded product,  based on what else they have consumed today – or are likely to consume for the rest of today.

Why am I so strict about how much sugar my kids have?

Because I have to take them home with me and watch them go through the sugar high that will inevitably be followed by the blood sugar low, the grumpy child who can’t deal with their emotions during this sugar low, and the low mood child who has a sugar hangover the next day.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the “Sugar Police” – there is no quitting sugar at my place – but the sugar we do consume is measured and moderated (not measured as in a measuring spoon – but you know what I mean).

We have smoothies at home – they have a banana and milk in them – sometimes berries too. We have honey on our cereal sometimes. We have home made cakes and cookies. We eat real pieces of fruit. Hey sometimes we even have icy poles – store bought not home made. When we have pancakes on a Sunday morning we have Maple syrup and Lemon and Sugar (Not together – that is against the rules!)


What we don’t have is the following –  quite long  – list:

  • Lollies,
  • Soft Drinks,
  • Fruit Juice,
  • Fruit Roll Up’s,
  • Sweet Biscuits/Cookies that aren’t home made,
  • Ice Cream daily,
  • Store bought custard,
  • Yoghurt squishies,
  • Sugar coated cereal

After a recent sleepover, Mr 7 came home and told me what they had done that morning.  They had been to a trampoline park in the morning and in the time between breakfast and coming home just after lunch he had consumed – a shop bough packaged muffin, a frozen slushie, chicken nuggets, fries and  fanta and I am sure there was something else on that list as well. What followed that afternoon was a downward spiral of a child who had wild emotions, poor impulse control, low mood and a horrible attitude. The next day – a child that was sunken eyed and depressive.

My kids wouldn’t normally consume that much refined sugar in a day let alone a three hour window.

Why is it so OK for other people to load our children up with refined sugar? It seems as though every opportunity we have in our society for a gathering or celebration, out come the sweet treats – at Christmas kids go to school brandishing candy canes, they are given plastic baubles filled with chocolates, bags of lollies at the work Christmas do.

Sugar is not a harmless product in our diet and the here is much evidence to show that the sugar addiction we have as a society is putting our futures at risk  – this article in the Guardian says it so much more eloquently than I can.

I know that you think ‘ Oh one little treat won’t hurt’ but your little treat, combined with the six others he is offered today – all add up to harm in a small body when it is faced with overload of a non-nutrient that it doesn’t really need to survive.

They don’t need soft drink, or lollies, or chocolates – water and a piece of fruit will do just fine. Equipping our kids with a lower satiety for sugar will serve them well in the world we live in today – sure when they are teenagers they will probably go on a sugar binge or two – just like they will go on an alcohol binge or two – but they will be able to experience how it makes them feel afterwards – and help them to find their limits and control their own sugar intake as adults.

So when I say “thanks but no thanks”,  or tell them they can save it for dessert – please don’t be offended or put out – I am just helping my child to make the best choice when they aren’t able to themselves.

Can a craftaholic really declutter?

I have spent time over the past few days really examining just what is possible in the way of reducing clutter and waste – oh and I have been de-cluttering my home.  I am not ready to go the whole Konmari declutter – I have a craft habit and these things require a certain degree of clutter. In time I might get there but not just yet – I don’t think that I am really a minimalist but more someone who likes things to have a home.  I like to think that my craft supplies  are now more organised clutter – where everything has a home.

Craft clutter is manageable

A few years ago I helped my sister in law clean out her husbands home for sale (long story – his home from a previous marriage where his ex-wife died in a gliding accident).  During this process we uncovered a lot of her craft supplies – mostly fabric and yarn – but it was a mess and had been there for about 15 years just sitting in plastic bags. Some of it was well beyond salvage but it was just so heartbreaking to me to have to throw away all this perfectly useful yarn and fabric. I did manage to salvage some thankfully.

When we were done I came home and thought – what would happen if something happened to me – what would happen to all my craft supplies. I would want them to be passed along to  someone who would love and use these things just as much as I did. So I commenced organising my craft supplies.

It is now a couple of years on and I have to say that it is a work in progress but I have come a long way. From having things stored in a mish mash of boxes which were quite randomly assigned to a much cleaner and simpler to use organisation system using mostly Ikea SAMLA boxes.

The great thing about these boxes is that they come in a variety of sizes  and can easily be labelled with a label maker.

So now I have the majority of all the little things stored in these boxes – along with other things such as christmas paper supplies.

For smaller things like embroidery cotton and other really small things I use a box like this.

All of my yarn is stored in a set of Ikea Kallax 2 x 4 cube shelves with boxes that fit right in.

On the whole this storage system isn’t the most beautiful – but I can easily put my hand to just about anything very quickly. My craft room also serves as a guest bedroom so everything is usually stored away in the cupboards most of the time.  Having everything have a home of its own allows me to get on with whatever craft I’m doing at the moment – without clutter getting in my way.

What do you use to keep the craft room clutter at bay?

Leave a comment below or share your thoughts with me on Instagram – using the hashtag #lifewithless17















Going down the sustainability rabbit hole

In preparation for doing  this year long challenge I have been poking around the internet this week just to have a look at what people are doing around reducing clutter and waste in their lives.

The Zero Waste movement seems to be the biggest player and there are hundreds of you tube videos out there about what people are doing.

One of the things I am conscious of is staying in alignment with my goal of bringing less ‘stuff’ into our home. By “stuff” I mean physical things that are unecessary. In doing this I see us moving towards the creation of less waste – and I am able to acknowledge that it will be a work in progress to move towards zero waste. I can comfortably say right now that I don’t think that we will ever get to the levels of Bea Johnson Zero Waste – but by making small changes we can certainly move towards reduced waste.

It could certainly be very overwhelming – not to mention wasteful – to just start throwing things out because they are plastic – especially when they are useful items that are frequently reused. Take my liquid dishwashing soap for example.

This bottle has been refilled so many times I don’t even know how old it is. We buy dishwashing liquid in bulk in our Costco shop (although I will be investigating making my own later this year) – usually the large container lasts us about 6 months  – decanting into this bottle each time.

I have contemplated shifting it onto a glass canister with a pump but I am pretty sure that other members of the family will not be happy with that. So I will keep using my reused plastic container as long as I can.

I stumbled across a great video series by an Aussie girl living in the US (Kate Patrick) who is a passionate advocate for waste reduction. It is called Detrashed Zero Waste Living and I love the way she puts things. She has written a book which gives a stepwise  guide to simple things you can do to reduce your waste footprint called  Detrash Your Life,  which I think is a really great guide.  Many things are things we already do – like bringing your own water bottle – but there are other tips in there as well which will hopefully allow us to extend our impact.

I would like to think that by the end of this year we have substantially reduced our consumption of items which contribute to waste production and then perhaps next year we can work towards reducing our consumption even more by reducing our use of all things plastic for example.

January Detrash Challenge

Our challenge for January will be to start to reduce our usage of single-use plastics by bringing our reusable water bottles with us and remembering to bring our re-usable  grocery bags when we go shopping.

Exploring the thoughts and feelings of less

I am looking forward to undertaking this year long challenge, however I am also apprehensive.

It will be quite the challenge – especially for me as the main purchaser. Often I am the one who is guilty of succumbing to the needs of the children while out and about. I also have quite the large yarn stash and am well known for impulse purchasing on the whim of whatever enabling podcast I happen to have been listening to that week. But the bottom line is, I am pretty sure that we do have everything we could possibly need in our lives already. I am also pretty sure that there are many things we could learn to live without – and that much of our purchasing is out of habit rather than need.

The challenge will come in finding something that I would normally replace because it is looking tatty and forcing myself to wait until it is thoroughly worn out or broken before replacing it. I have been ‘practising’ this week while out shopping and have caught myself having to think through a few different scenarios.

I am looking forward to exploring the thoughts, feelings and realisations I have while travelling this road – and I hope that our experience can be of benefit to others out there who might be struggling to help their children be thankful for the life we have in the ‘buy it now’ world we live in.

Let the 2017 Life with Less Challenge begin.

Our Life with Less Guidelines

Sheep in Paddock

I have spent some time this week thinking about just how we will go about this challenge in a practical way.  Below are the guidelines  we will follow throughout the Life with Less challenge:

  • Day to day essentials such as food, household items and essential toiletries are acceptable purchases – however throughout the year we will explore ways to make our purchasing more sustainable through mini challenges.
  • Toiletries should only be purchased when they need replacing. Clothing should only be purchased where essential and second hand where possible. Craft supplies may be purchased where they are required to complete a project. Major spending such as car servicing and planned purchases are allowed.
  • No ‘Non-essentials” are to be purchased. This includes books, magazines, toys, candles, artwork, knickknacks, stationary, non-essential craft supplies
  • Adults and children are allowed to save up to purchase an approved item. They must present a case for their need of this item at a family meeting. They must be able to demonstrate why they need to purchase this as a new item.
  • Gifts are allowed to be accepted where the gift is an experience – such as a trip to the zoo, the movies, a show etc. Gifts for others will be made from existing materials where possible.
  • We will write about the things that we do buy throughout the year here in a weekly Live with Less summary.
As we move through the challenge I will share our progress, triumphs and frustrations in a weekly blog and I will collate links to these in the Life with Less page – available by clicking in the pages links in the top bar above. If you would like to follow along on Instagram – check out the hashtag #lifewithless17.

Life with Less – a Challenge for 2017

As I reflect on the year that 2016 has been I realise that I have been drawn time and time again to readings about consumerism. The consumerist nature of the world we live in has bothered me for some time. I have read countless books and blogs, learning about how others have gone about reducing their footprint on the planet. Many people make a commitment to ‘no spend‘, ‘buy nothing new‘ or ‘going zero waste‘ and I take inspiration from all of these amazing people (and hoards of others) who have gone before me. However, as a family with small children, all of these specific commitments felt like a little too much. We needed something that was a challenge but that we felt that we could actually manage to stick to for a full 12 months. Hence the Life with Less Challenge was born.

The Life with Less challenge is about helping us to see that we can go without all of the mindless purchasing that we do – the toy cars, the Lego, the birthday presents bought ‘just so it feels like they have a little something extra’; the lipstick, the magazine or the new dress – ‘because it was on sale’. Essentially all those things that we buy simply because we have the luxury of disposable income and a why not attitude. Over the past few years our house has slowly filled with stuff – so much stuff that it makes it hard to appreciate the stuff we have. I am drowning in stuff. Along with the stuff comes the packaging (Oh so much packaging!) and the clutter and the tidying – all eating away at our life because we have to spend time managing the stuff.

The kids don’t appreciate the nice things that they have; brand new toys are treated with disdain and when they are inevitably broken, I am told with a shrug of the shoulders ‘I don’t care’. They tell me they don’t like the food in their lunchboxes (which is varied day to day to keep it interesting). Well I am a bit sick of us not caring and taking for granted the possessions and food that we are so blessed to have.

I am sick of spending most of my time off each year decluttering all of the things that have built up over the previous six months. I want less to come into our house in the first place so that I can spend my holidays enjoying my time with the kids. I really hope the learning to Live with Less is going to help to change that.

Tomorrow I will post about the guidelines I have set for our challenge. I will share our progress, triumphs and frustrations in a weekly blog and I will collate links to these in the Live with Less page – available by clicking in the pages links above. If you would like to follow along on instagram – check out the hashtag #lifewithless17

Wonderwolle Podcast Episode 4: Stitch Markers are my BFF

Thanks so much for popping by to visit my blog. Please email or contact me on Ravelry if I have forgotten to mention anything that I talked about on the podcast – I will try my best to put all the links in!

Wonderwolle Projects

On the needles right now I have the following projects:

Quaker Ridge Shawlette by Susan B. Anderson in Manos Del Uruguay Fino in the Amethyst Earring colourway (70% Merino, 30% Silk)

Rainbowesque – For the Love of Rainbows by Mina Phillip (Test knit) in Knit Picks Stroll fingering in the Sprinkle Heather colourway and Knit Picks Chroma fingering in the Sugar Cookie Colourway.


Socks for your Hands – Own recipe, knit in Drops Fabel, colourway Blue Lagoon.

Scrappy Crochet Blanket – Using up scraps of colourful vaiegated DK and Worsted weight yarns

Finished projects I shared included:

Sunrays Shawl by Mina Phillip knit in TooMuc Valley Yarns Sparkle Sock base



Cascade Heritage Sock in Dark Plum

Crazy Zauberball in Indian Rose

Original Zauberball in Cafe Flair

Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock in Neve

Malabrigo Sock in Azules

Wondering Wolle?

In this episode I ponder about Summer Knitting and my plans for making up some shawls and possibly a sweater in cotton/bamboo/linen blends. I am obsessing over the Beachercomber (L) and Mesa Shawls (R)


As well as trying to decide between the On the Beach Sweater (L) and the After the Rain sweater (R)


I am also dying to knit up another lace shawl which I have a lovely skein of Skein Top Drawer sock set aside for. I am trying to decide between the Rosewater shawl (L) and the Marbelous Shawl (R)

shawls 2


Podcasts I mentioned this week:

Andresue Knits

Christina’s Knitting Catchup

The Knitting Expat


Knit-A-Long News

We have a knit-a-long happening in the Ravelry group all about the turn of the season – I would love for you to join in!

Do you have any questions for me? Suggestions of what you would like to see?  You can find me on the following social media platforms:

Ravelry: AndeeJ

Wonderwolle Ravelry Group:

Instagram: HealthykidsHappymama

You Tube:


Craft yourself Happy!


WonderWolle Episode 3


Thanks so much for popping by to visit my blog. Please email or contact me on Ravelry if I have forgotten to mention anything that I talked about on the podcast – I will try my best to put all the links in!

Wonderwolle Projects

On the needles right now I have the following projects:

Quaker Ridge Shawlette by Susan B. Anderson in Manos Del Uruguay Fino in the Amethyst Earring colourway (70% Merino, 30% Silk)

Ray of Spring Shawl using the Sunrays shawl pattern by Mina Phillip in Toomuc Valley Yarns sparkle sock in Watermelon Tango colourway

Socks for your Hands – Own recipe, knit in Drops Fabel, colourway Blue Lagoon.

Sock Yarn Blanket – sadly neglected!


Finished projects I shared included:

None this week!


Knit Picks – Felici in Gummy Bear, Stroll Fingering in Everglade Heather, Dove Heather and Sprinkle Heather, Gloss Fingering in Velveteen and Love and Leche anywhere Balm in lavender and mint.

Love Knitting – Drops Fabel in Blue Lagoon, Drops Baby Alpaca silk in colour 8108(light grey), Drops Lace in colour 4400 (Purple)

Spin me a Yarn

I purchased a second hand Ashford Traditional single drive for $150 Australian dollars and have had some fun learning how to use it this week. I have a few bags of roving from Glenora weaving; some Corridale and some Merino – to practice with.

I also have a special braid of Polwarth/silk from Fiberartemis on Etsy.

Wondering Wolle?

In this episode I ponder the importance of making mistakes in knitting and learning to live with mistakes in some cases and the value of patience and persistence in others.

My question for you this week is all about the knitting skills and techniques – What technique are you most keen to try next?

We have a knit-a-long happening in the Ravelry group all about the turn of the season – I would love for you to join in!

Do you have any questions for me? Suggestions of what you would like to see?          You can find me on the following social media platforms:

Ravelry: AndeeJ

Wonderwolle Ravelry Group:

Instagram: HealthykidsHappymama

You Tube:


Craft yourself Happy!


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