Happy International Women’s Day

International Women's Day

Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. I was lucky enough to attend a breakfast hosted by UN Women and hear some fantastic speeches. One particular standout was that of Nasima Rahmani, an Afghani lawyer who currently works as the manager of the Women’s Rights program with ActionAid Afghanistan. She described the plight of women in her home country, women who have been raped and then cast out of their families as a result of this. Rather than recount her whole story, I would encourage you to read or listen to her interview with Damien Carrick on the Law Report where she repeats much of the same story. It made me realise once again how lucky we are to be living in a country where women do have the right to claim control over their own bodies, and they do have the right to seek justice when those basic rights are violated.

Happy International Women’s Day.

P.S. – If you are inspired to become involved in any social justice work in the area of women’s rights, UN Women is a good place to start.


Cyclone Yasi

Amazing satellite image of Cyclone Yasi, which is currently destroying Northern QLD.

Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology


On minimalism and simplification

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” – Socrates

Recently I’ve become enamored with the idea of simplifying my life and the concept of minimalism. Whilst I’m not about to turf all of my belongings and live off six items of clothing and a toothbrush, there are definite changes I have been striving to make.

Clutter – I’m currently de-cluttering the apartment and striving to keep it as clutter-free as possible. Clutter is stressful and I want my home to be serene, inviting and peaceful. It’s my refuge from the crazy world of teaching and I need to feel calm and relaxed when I’m home.

Clothing – I don’t own a heap of clothing but I own enough, and I’m endeavouring to ensure that I have enough to meet my needs, and that everything I buy suits my style and purpose and works with other items in my wardrobe. It’s also much easier to dress when there is less choice.

Cleaning – I’m in the process of minimising my cleaning products to a couple of choice ingredients (namely vinegar and bicarb) and ensuring that I stay on top of it by doing small amounts each day as part of my routine.

Cooking – A recent vegetarian-turned-conscientious-omnivore, I tend to stick to whole ingredients anyway. I get a fruit and veg box delivered and any extras I need are obtained from local farms, I buy pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous, chickpeas, lentils, cannellini beans etc, meat is ordered through ethical farms and picked up at the farmers’ markets and eggs are from a local lady who keeps chickens running around her backyard. I also buy good quality local cheeses from the deli and bread is artisanal sourdough also from the markets. I tend to cook reasonably simple dishes that allow the flavour of the fresh produce to shine through. Tomatoes are in season? A simple pasta tossed with tomatoes that have been simmering on the stove with olive oil, garlic, onion and a dash of white wine, topped with shaved parmesan and a side of rocket dressed in olive oil and lemon juice – it doesn’t get much better than that!

Resources for work – I’m a humanities teacher. We hoard resources “just in case we can use them in the classroom someday”. Every newspaper article, advertisement, Sunday paper liftout is a potential lesson. I’m chucking almost everything, digitising important resources and going as paperless as possible.

Books – I’m a humanities teacher. We love books. I love books. But I also have access to several great libraries and also read a lot of classics on my iPhone anyway. So. I’m keeping important ones (beautiful hardcovers, favourites that I keep going back to to read over and over, my ancient history resources and books that I continually teach to my English classes) and I’m thinking about getting a Kindle later this year so that any future books I get will digital.

Fitness – I run. It doesn’t get much more minimal than that. I just need my runners and my phone (for safety reasons) and I’m off. I don’t listen to music, I like letting my mind wander and clear itself. I also like to be aware of my surroundings. I like the wake up calls of the birds, the scuttling of the blue tongue lizards into the bush and the rustle of the gum trees. I also try to make sure I do core strength work regularly after doing two terms of Pilates last year. I have a swiss ball for this purpose and that’s all. I also have boxing gloves because I box with my brother once a week. This is not very minimalist, but I cherish the time with my brother and so they suit my lifestyle.

Enjoying moments not stuff – I turn 30 this year. So does my husband. Instead of gifts we are going on a hiking holiday. It will be adventurous and fun and we will remember it forever. I can’t wait.

For more minimalism and simplification inspiration, see these blogs:

http://mnmlist.com/

http://www.missminimalist.com/

http://simplicitybysunny.wordpress.com/


Plum streusel cake

What to do when it’s dull and raining and you have a big bag of locally grown plums picked up for a dollar last week? Why, make German Plum Streusel Cake, of course! I’m not much of a baker (more a cook, I don’t have a big sweet tooth) so I was reasonably pleased with how this turned out. Next time, though, I’ll turn the oven down slightly to avoid the bottom layer getting too dry.

Enjoying a piece now with a cup of tea. Guten appetit!


Jay-Z

I love that Jay-Z went to Canterbury Boys High. His visit tells these boys that they are important and worth the attention of someone whom they idolise, and the impact of this will be immense.


Mirror

The other day I had the pleasure of going to the Museum of Sydney to see the exhibition for Jeannie Baker’s new book, Mirror. For those unfamiliar with Jeannie Baker, she is an Australian artist who creates the most beautiful picture books using collage. Each page of her books is an individual miniature collage that is photographed to create the final page. Her art is exquisite and seeing the collages in real life made me realise the minute detailing that goes into each page.

Mirror is essentially two stories, intended to be read in parallel. One story follows a day in the life of a boy in Sydney, the other, a day in the life of a boy in a village in Morocco. Despite the vast differences in their environment and upbringing, there are many similarities between the boys and aspects of their lives.

Here are some pictures I took from the exhibition (don’t worry – we were allowed to take photographs!) and if you are in Sydney – it’s really worth a visit! The collages are simply stunning.

Spices at the Moroccan markets - the spices are real spices!

Sydney siders will recognise the Anzac bridge and cityscape in the background

Sydney skyline - I apologise for the blurriness!


Read a banned book!

Looking for something to read next week? Celebrate our freedom to read by choosing a book from the banned books list.


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