Wednesday, November 17, 2010

By Way of Introduction...

Welcome to the first post of 'The Good Life - a year of slow living'.  This blog will be a journal of 2011 - the year we pledge to live slower, walker more lightly and savour the small joys of life.  I am a first-time blogger, so this is very much a learning curve for me.  I look forward to hearing you feedback to help me make this blog as interesting and informative as I can.
So, about us.
My husband, Grant, and I have been living in Melbourne, Australia, in a two-bed townhouse 8kms from the CBD.  My background is in Art History, moving into Arts Event Management in recent years, while Grant has been working in Climate Change and Sustainability Services for a large international firm. Needless to say, work has been keeping us busy.
Long days at work have been augmented by early morning gym sessions on one side and industry events, drinks with friends, music lessons (guitar for him, piano for me) and Yoga classes on the other.  Who needs kids when we have our own plethora of extra-curricular activities to be ferried to and from?!
The Yoga classes seemed to work for a while, then we began booking regular massages.  One day last year we finally came to the conclusion that we were burning the candle at both ends, and it wasn't making us happy.  The rushing from one thing to another, constantly thinking about the next thing on the list, the noise and speed of city life just weren't doing it for us.
In late 2009, we started looking at land to buy around the Heathcote area, contemplating building a 'country house' - a simple weekender that we could disappear to on a Friday night and return refreshed to work on Monday.  Around the same time, Grant proposed, so building plans were put aside in favour of wedding plans.
We were married in July this year, on remote Kangaroo Island (off South Australia) and honeymooned in Europe.  We planned the trip to include as little time in major cities as possible.  Toward the end of our honeymoon, staying in rural Somerset, UK (at Edington House - just magic!) we became convinced that perhaps we needed more than just a weekender - maybe we needed a total tree-change.
So, Grant has now secured work in the beautiful town of Daylesford, I will be a lady of leisure until the new year, and we have rented a sweet cottage with a large garden in Kyneton, approximately half and hour from Daylesford.

Our Year of Slow Living will begin on January 1 2011. We will be trying many new things, and promise to share with you the failures as well as the successes.
We officially move into our new place in mid-December and the first challenges will include: 1. Living without a TV, and 2. Planting (and maintaining) and vegie garden.
Please do contact me with your feedback - I would love to hear from others doing similar things, or those who are considering doing so.
In the meantime, I made my Christmas Puddings this week.  If you are planning on doing the same, you might like to try Grant's grandmother's recipe (passed on to me by Grant's mum, Pat - an excellent cook; I only hope I do the puddings justice!)

Grandma Colwill’s Christmas Pudding Recipe
Makes 1 large or 8 mini puddings

250g Raisins
250g Currants
250g Sultanas
50g Glace Cherries
2 tablespoons Sherry
250g Butter
250g White Sugar
3 small eggs
125g Plain Flour
125g Self-raising Flour
½ teaspoon Mixed Spice
1 teaspoon Bi-Carbonate of Soda
1 large cup of fresh breadcrumbs

* Combine the raisins, sultanas, currants and cherries in a bowl.  Sprinkle over the sherry, mix well, then cover and leave overnight
* Cream butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition
* In a separate bowl, sift together the plain flour, self-raising flour, mixed spice and bi-carb soda
* To the butter/sugar mixture, add the mixed fruit, flour and breadcrumbs alternately, mixing well after each addition
* Prepare your calico - bring a pot of water to the boil, add the calico and boil for 10 minutes.  Remove calico from the water, allow to cool slightly then squeeze excess water out.  Dust plain flour on a bench, place calico on flour and dust with more flour until both sides have a light coating of flour - this will waterproof your calico.  Line a large bowl with the calico and fill with the pudding mixture.  Bring the loose ends of the calico together and use cotton string to tightly seal the parcel
* Bring a large pot of water to the boil.  Immerse your pudding in the water, helping it to float by tying the ends of the cotton string to a wooden spoon placed across the top of the pot
* Boil for 3 - 3.5 hours, topping up the water as required
* Hang up to dry (I place a clothes horse in the bath and hang my puddings from that!) then store in the fridge until Christmas Day!
* On Christmas Day, boil your pudding as before, for 2-3 hours.  Cut the string and remove the calico.  Serve on a platter with your favourite accompaniments - brandy butter and custard for me, but Grant is voting for custard and vanilla ice-cream!


  1. The cottage is cute as, Pip! Am sure you'll love Kyneton, given the big foodie wrap it's been getting in recent times. Have been meaning to go one weekend and eat our way around town... a couple of articles I saved:

    Rachael M

  2. I lasted about a monthe without TV after moving to Alexandra. My vegies are growing well with the wet spring despite the shade from the pecan tree. Perhaps you should get some vegies started in pots or you may miss half the growing season with little fruit to show for the effort

  3. Hi Pip - love what you've started here and will be following your year/s of slow living! I've another project where we visit regional Vic looking at what individuals are doing about sustainability, design and local produce at the grass roots level - - hope we can connect and chat soon! Regards to Grant! X