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Its been ages since I last blogged.

While I have been way busier as I’ve got a 20hr a week job with the Salvation Army, I think the real reason for my tardiness with blogging is that I’ve got no clear thoughts to expunge. It seems everything about our lives at the moment is in transition.

However my garden is starting to look blooming amazing so now we’ve finally recharged the camera’s batteries I can show the world the developments.

So photos to follow.

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Jo and I have been trying to make the move into vegetarinism of late. Or at least give part-time vegetarinism a go.

Reasons:

– to save money by not buying expensive meat.

– to reduce our complicity to cruel and inhuman farming practices. Much of the meat we eat has pretty much been tortured to death, pumped full of drugs or harassed most of its life.

– to lose weight ( that’s for me, not jo).

– to live a bit more simply. Who said every meal needs, a meat, a vege and a carb. There are plenty of filling and creative ways to make dinner without sticking to this formula. And I find that I usually end up eating to much when I make something from each of these food groups, thus the pot belly.

And so we’ve been trying out some creative meals of late.

Here are some recipes of my personal favs that we’ve recently partaken in.

Jo made this mean falafel burger meal. real filling, and the crispy burnt bits of the falafel are even tastier than the crispy burnt bits on a sausage or meat patty.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5605/falafel-burgers

Cousous salad. This literally takes 10mins from start to finish to make, and I made too much by mistake because it’s hard to believe such a small amount of coucous will fill us for dinner. But it really does, and so I had plenty for lunches.

http://www.foodinaminute.co.nz/Recipes/Couscous-Salad

Potato and bean curry

I made this in England, and it was bland-city. So I’ve tried it since and doubled up on the spices and it was rocking!

The recipe is my own -so I can’t paste a link. But just think beef curry, without the beef and two-times the spice. Oh and the potatoes and beans.

Something New: Tena koe. That’s the formal greeting we learnt at my Te Ara Reo course. Most of learning is done by singing or chanting. And there are lots of games, running around and free coffee – making it the ideal night class as it’d probably fall asleep if it wasn’t so interactive.

Something Old: My neck is also aching and I can barely lift my arms. That’s from my first rugby training. I haven’t played proper rugby since high school. Whether my body can stand up two intense sessions of beatings a week, followed by an even more intense match will be another matter – but the experimenting continues. It’s just an under-85kg team, and so I’m only 10kgs lighter than most of the guys. But it’s the fitness which is killing me already. I’m probably one of the fitter guys on a team run, but being able to hit rucks, make tackles and get back into a defensive line – is where I’m really struggling. It’s like an all-around fitness that I’ve never needed for any other sport, except maybe surfing. Getting through at least half of season of games before an injury would be my goal. I love watching rugby and talking about it and loved coaching it last year, so to actually play for a team which is highly motivated, well-coached as this one seems to be is just so cool and hopefully I can achieve a life-long ambition to smash someone in a Eroni Clarke-style tackle.

Something Borrowed: Last weekend we had dinner with friends and did a book and clothes swap. Managed to get a mean Al Green CD and a book I’ve been coveting for many a year. Totally loving the whole book swap thing, as I probably spend $50 to $100 a year at bookshops, but as it turns out my friends have pretty similar tastes as me, so swapping books is a way cheaper way to freshen up the shelves.

Something blue: Jo would like to get rid of a vase – similar to this one. Any takers?

E noho ra.

Here are some recent observations about the differences between full time and part time work.
1. Less money
2. No one is in the park when I go for run at 2pm.
3. If you don’t have washing machine, you can’t just go buy new one. And you’re pretty stoked when a friend offers you a free one.
4. I’m drinking less beer and eating less pizza from Sal’s.
5. I have more time for reflection, but also Good Morning television too.
6. I still don’t have more time for cleaning the house?
7. I have more conversations with neighbours.
8. I don’t have after work drinks on a Friday.
9. I get to read more.

My friend Mark raised a good question about whether living simply means not buying a house.

This is a tough issue to make a call on, as there are lots of good reasons to own a house and lots of reasons against it too. And everyone has their own context with which to decide in.

For us right now we have decided owning property isn’t a priority.

We prioritised an overseas trip, which we took over January and February. The reason was that we felt the experiences we could have travelling was more valuable than committing to a mortgage.

But what about your retirement you might ask? The government won’t be paying pensions out forever, so how will you support yourself?

That’s a pertinent question and my answer is simply that life is in session and we have to be present, as the alternative could be straining for a future that may never eventuate.

When I was a reporter for a community newspaper I interviewed countless couples who had the same story, of working hard all their adult lives and reaching their 60s only to be struck down with a terminal disease or to have their investments ruined by a variety of things out of their control.

So by living in the present we hopefully will have less regrets in the future.

The second reason is that a mortgage requires a commitment to an area, a job, and a lifestyle for at least 15 to 20 years.

Choosing the area is the easy part, but deciding on a career for such a long period of time is not something I’m prepared to do at this stage. One of my thoughts since moving to Mangere is that I’d like the place I’m living in to choose what I should do, rather than I choose what I think it needs me to do. And if that means trying out some different things, to see where I can fit and what needs there are that I can fill then so be it.

Thirdly, there is a lot of anectdotal evidence out there ( which is obviously not enough to form a thesis on but still somewhat relevant) that being tied into a hefty mortgage is detrimental; to a healthy marriage, to recreation and to being able to contribute to community projects as the priority is in paying off this monumental debt. But I’d like to add we have also seen many couples who are able to organise their mortgage in such a way that isn’t so taxing.

Fourthly, I’d like to think there are other ways to save for retirement, eg the stock market and in your own skills. So another part of the plan is to be skilled in a variety of areas. Instead of locking myself into one career path, I think using my 20s and 30s to gain experience in a number of areas will mean I’m useful in a variety of ways which should prolong my employ-ability in an age where medical science is able to prolong our work lives. I guess I also don’t intend to hang up my work clothes at 60 and play golf for the rest of my days, as I’d like to think I can still contribute to society into my 70s and possibly longer.

So while i’m aiming to be present in the now, I also plan to be just as present in whatever endeavour I take up in the future, and if the need arises to buy a house then we will do it, but not as a necessity to ensure our retirement is comfortable but to serve our needs at that time if that is the requirement.

Welcome to Good Skimpin’.

This year I’m making a bit of a lifestyle change and to document this new direction I’ve decided to launch back into the blogosphere.

The aim is to live more simply.

I will be reducing from full-time work down to part-time and my wife is going to be a student.

We’re hoping to have more time to volunteer in the community, build deeper relationships and forge out a way of living which is more connected to the environment and those around us.

It may all end in tears, leaving my wife and I on the bread line or it may throw up some new ideas about how to do life in a way which is light on the planet, the pocket and ourselves.

And maybe some of the ideas that I throw may also be helpful to others on their own journeys.

So how did I arrive at this point?

Is it just a bourgeoisie luxury or a way to re-define my uselessness?

Last year I changed jobs halfway through the year, from one which had a traditional 9-5 Mon-Fri working week to one which required some weekend shifts but also allowed me to have days off during the week.

With my more flexible working week I was able to coach a couple of local sports teams and do a paper at university. These were both very enjoyable experiences and so this year I have decided to create a bit more space in my week to try some out some other things in our area and still have time to hang out with my wife and friends.

The second factor on my mind is I’m also keen to try debunk the idea that I need to work a 40 hour week to get ahead in this life.

I think having more time in my life will leave space for reading books,  learn a new language, develop more meaningful relationships and have the spare time and energy to live  in a more planet conscious way.

To whoever may come upon these humble ramblings, I hope you feel free to comment, argue, and challenge me further.

Cin-cin.