Julia Schafer


My Mary Poppins Handbag

Many people wonder why I carry such a large handbag, surely such a large handbag just invites carrying more stuff. The larger the handbag the more you are tempted to carry in it right?

The reason I carry such a large handbag is because in the words of the Boy Scouts of Australia motto, I like to always be prepared! So what do I have in this handbag? The trappings to fight my way out of the zombie apocalypse? Enough rations for three people for three days in the event aliens shut off the power? Perhaps a life raft in case of looming tsunami? No I am prepared for an event much worse than all of these three things combined… I am prepared in the event that I should ever be faced with the need to use single use disposable plastics!

Clean up Australia Day each year hundreds nay thousands of Aussies don their rubber gloves and armed with elongated tongs and hessian bags they scour the roadsides and creek beds, beaches and football fields of the country picking up nasty rubbish that hasn’t quite made it free throw style into the nearest bin. Can you guess what the number one item these valiant volunteers pick up? Packaging! To put it plainly, in the 2017 CUAD audit 58%of all rubbish collected related to food and beverage packaging and the plastic bags that shoppers bring them home in.

Several years ago I decided that I was disgusted in the amount of waste my family was creating. Multiple trips out to the garbage bin laden with bags containing all manner of mainly food and beverage packaging was weighing heavily on my mind, so I sort out ways to help my family reduce their waste and of course it had to start with me.

So what is in the Mary Poppins esk handbag that helps me to minimise my waste?

Number one, which is used on an almost daily basis in my keep cup. Those cardboard coffee cups that are so frequently used and hastily discarded account for 1 billion pieces of rubbish each year that ends up in landfill. The cups contain a thin layer of plastic which as it degrades creates smaller pieces of plastic that choke our waterways and end up in the stomachs of fish. Removing the need to use these cups is as simple as purchasing a keep cup and carrying it around in your car or handbag. Many cafes now are giving discounts to patrons who bring their own cup! Win win! I also advocate actually sitting down in your favourite coffee shop and absorbing the ambience, slowing down and spending some quality caffeine time sipping from a china mug, but of theres no time for that then the keep cup is the next best thing.

Number two, is my water bottle. Beverage containers were the number two source of rubbish collected on CUAD 2017. Hydration in our warm climate is essential, so it makes sense to carry water around with you in a handy water bottle. They come in plastic BPA free, stainless steel and glass. My preference is steel as it keeps cooler longer, is virtually impervious to damage when it rolls around in the back foot well of the car and doesn’t absorb odours as the plastic ones tend to. Thank fully now they are becoming a bit of a fashion accessory with gorgeously decorated stainless steel bottles available at most department and health food stores.

Pop this DIY cutlery wrap in your handbag to help you avoid using single use disposable cutlery when you eat take out.

Number three, is my cutlery wrap and it actually contains my number four as well. The cutlery wrap is my go to if I am buying lunch on the run. This stops me from having to use disposable cutlery, disposable serviettes and disposable straws. My go to snack on the run is sushi, so I also carry stainless steel chop sticks just in case. I ask for a china plate rather than those plastic clam shell containers, pour my sauce from a bottle rather than accept the little plastic fishes full of soya sauce and I’m good to sit down for a meal guilt and waste free!

Straws suck! Plastic straws actually made the top ten of items picked up on beach cleanups. In Bondi, a diver picked up almost 300 straws in 20 minutes, then she went back into the water and picked up another 300 in the same area! They are used for about 15 minutes and then discarded, take water and oil to manufacture and are a non essential item. What happened to just drinking out of a cup or glass? To tell you the truth this little stainless steel straw that I carry around doesn’t actually get out very often because quite honestly I cant seem to see a need for it anyway.

Number five is my handy dandy bread bag. Cleverly created by myself and hand screen printed, this little beauty allows me to buy up to two cafe sized loaves of fresh bread sans plastic wrapper. No hard plastic bread bag clip required. The average family consumes 146 loaves of bread per year, multiplied out by the number of families in Australia and that is a monumental number of plastic bags, bag clips and metal ties that are heading to landfill. I cant tell you the number of bakery attendants that I have impressed and enlightened by using my bread bag. I wonder if I could get a contract to make them for Bakers Delight? I also have a smaller version for produce which is rarely used as I just tend to deposit my fruit and vegies into the shopping trolley packaging free, but is handy for loose beans, spinach and mushrooms.

So the Mary Poppins carpet bag serves its purpose by holding all these items that help me to be a waste free diner, shopper and sipper. Sure the extra weight leaves dent marks in my shoulders, but better the weight of the handbag rather than the weight of the world, the environment and its plastic choking destruction, I say.



How my bum saves the Planet!

Hands up those of you that buy the toilet paper for the family?  Don’t be surprised if it’s mainly the women reading this that say “Yeah, that’s me”.  Recently the Sydney Morning Herald stated that women makes 75% of the everyday purchasing decision for the family.  And I’m thinking 75% people reading this post agree with that statistic and 75% people reading this wish that some other lazy SOB would pick up some damn toilet paper on their way home from work before the family has to resort to the box of tissues, paper towel, phone book or even leaves!

Our toilet paper, can anyone tell me what its made out of?  99% of our toilet paper is made out of paper (duh), which is made from trees!  So I want you to think about toilet tissue in terms of trees, yes trees.  9 million trees are flushed down the toilet every year and 8 millions tonnes of plastic enter our landfill just to make toilet paper!

Let’s put it this way…Imagine you are walking in the forest, say your local state forest, enjoying nature listening to the breeze in the trees, the crickets rubbing their little legs together and all of a sudden you hear a distant flush, and all around you in 1 minute 17 full grown trees disappear from all around you!  Seventeen life giving, carbon absorbing, oxygen producing trees gone! Forever, well not forever but to regrow those trees takes on average 30 years.  Just to produce toilet paper.

Now imagine, at the end of a hard days work you are soaking in a full tub of lovely warm bath water, maybe with a glass of wine and a good book (ebook) and that same distant flush happens and suddenly your bath empties!  You see it takes 140 litres of water to make one toilet roll, that’s enough to fill a large bathtub.

Most of the toilet rolls that you buy in the conventional fashion from the supermarket are covered in plastic, even the eco friendly ones using recycled paper are wrapped in non biodegradable plastic, and why?  If they were wrapped in paper we would save all that plastic entering our landfill, the outer covering could be used to write on, wrap veggie scraps and ultimately composted.

The roll in the centre of the toilet paper is the subject of hundreds of Pinterest Boards on the internet and yet how many of these biodegradable, compostable, useful handy crafty things and squashed into the garbage bin every week. Average toilet paper consumption across the globe stands at 100 rolls per person per year, so an average family of four uses 400 rolls that you could use to sprout seedlings in, create Christmas crackers from or feed to the worm farm or compost heap.

Now given my comments at the beginning of my post, I don’t want you to think I am advocating using leaves to take care of business, or to renounce the use of toilet paper altogether.  What I am encouraging you to do is finding alternatives to the supermarket toilet paper rolls.

Now I’m not going to leave you hanging, I have some answers and whilst this is a product it is not something I make any money from endorsing, but I feel the need to educate all bum wipers that they do have choices.  My toilet paper of choice comes from  Pure Planet, an online shop that produces toilet paper that is tree free, chemical free, totally biodegradable, hand wrapped in tissue paper and sent to you in a recyclable cardboard box which even has colouring in panels on the sides to keep the child in you amused.

You may picture sticks of bamboo as scratchy things you wouldn’t want anywhere near your nether region but if you have ever felt the undies, tee shirts and baby blankets that are being produced from sustainable bamboo you would recognise that bamboo has the ability to produce a soft, smooth, breathable product.

Remember the 30 year trees, well bamboo takes only 3 months to regenerate, making it super sustainable.  This toilet paper is made from 100% bamboo and sugar cane mulch.

There are other alternatives if you google them you’ll find another company which has colourful paper wrapped toilet tissue called Who Gives a Crap.  They divert some of their profits from their recycled toilet paper to provide sanitation in underdeveloped countries which is fabulous.  But I’ve been the test dummy for you all and have tried both and for the reasons I have stated and a degree of comfort I have chosen Pure Planet as my tissue of choice.

You see we are all just so busy, head down bum up busy and many times as the person most responsible for making the purchasing decisions for our families we forget to choose #consciousness rather than convenience  when it comes to our consumer choices.  I know, I live this too, I’ve also been caught short without my reusable tote, bread bags, keep cup, but when I am, I just think outside the box.

To save you doing your research I have done it for you with just this one product, but there are many other everyday products that we should be finding alternatives for, like plastic toothbrushes, party balloons, disposable plates and cutlery.  What I want to do is encourage you when you shop to #use the Planet as your lens when you make your purchasing decisions.

Yes its about your bum saving the Planet, yes its about your teeth saving the Planet, but its all about You saving the Planet by implementing incremental incy wincy changes that will be multiplied by the people you influence, the family, the check out operator, the lady at the bakery, the person standing next in the queue.

One Planet, one person, one bum at a time, we can all make a difference.




Cut the Crap – or you’ll have to move it.

For some the move to a new home can be the most traumatic time of their lives, for others, those who embrace change, it can be filled with excitement and the promise of new adventure.  Moving house for me is definitely in the latter category as it heralds an opportunity to cull all the unnecessary crap that we have accumulated, thereby reducing the amount I have to wrap, pack, transport, unpack, unwrap and store at the next place.

Over the last twelve months I have been progressively working my way through the house minimising our stuff as I go.  It all started when I went to get a garlic press out of the utensil drawer in the kitchen and could not get it open!  It was jammed stuck, with one of the useless tools wedged against the drawer above.  Eventually I pried it open and that was the catalyst for the utensil draw make over.   This segued to a kitchen cupboard clean out, ridding me of duplicates of crockery and serving dishes, trays, tins and glassware which I sent off to the thrift shop willingly.

Whilst on a roll I went through my closet and bedroom drawers with the same vigour and ruthlessness.  Piles of clothing and even a few shoes were donated to the Salvos and my resulting closet was a dream to use once again.  But alas all this cleansing was still not enough…

Sick as a dog with a massive dose of the flu, I packed our entire home in three full days of snot dripping, chest heaving, eye watering, damn hard work, while Benny packed single handedly the sheds,  outdoor and garden stuff plus the patio furniture into a 20 foot container.  As I wrapped and boxed I was ruthless, discarding mountains and mountains of stuff as I went.  I donated no less than the equivalent of ten tea chests full of everything from shoes to toys, books and magazines to utensils (in fact a box of which I had prepared earlier).

There were several runs to the dump because it is astounding how many bent, broken and irreparable things you hang on to “just in case”.  Even our son Lawson got in on the act and as he was packing his room he dedicated one box to things the neighbours kids might like.  Which of course they did!

So thinking I had done am amazing job I continued to pack, shaking my head as the boxes began to fill the corners then take over the walls of each of the rooms in our house.

The day before the house settled the removalists arrived bright and early, an hour too early to be precise and began the task of fitting our possessions into another 20ft container on the back of their truck.  Somewhere around mid morning after utilising all their combined tetris skills they closed the doors and sent for a second truck!  Oh the embarrassment!!!

Needless to say I was shocked and dismayed.  I can only put down this mass accumulation to the fact that we had a biggish house on acreage and it acted like some sort of shit magnet!  For a family of only three who plan in the future to either; A) live on a boat, or B) live in a container house, we sure do need to rid ourselves of about three quarters of what we currently own.  In fact Benny has suggested that when we move to the next destination (a temporary rental) that we should only keep those things that; serve a purpose, provide comfort and things that make us smile.  This coming from a man who has carted around for the best part of twenty years a small but heavy, analogue TV “just in case”… we will see Benny, we will see.

I’d love to know about your moving experiences.  Let me know if your love it or detest it in the comments below.




We’re on the Move! So can I take the garden???

I’ve spent the best part of seven years cultivating my crop circles and the surrounding herb and veggie garden. It is the birthplace of farewell my manicure, the resting place of many well loved chicken friends, the five o’clock chardonnay quaffing spot, and the place of many hours of toil, tilling, harvesting and joy. So for me to just walk away from this place with all the hard work done is very bitter sweet.

Take the newly planted Mulberry tree that I received as a Christmas present from my in-laws. An expensive gift as they bought a mature tree to ensure that I saw it fruit in the new year. I am torn between digging it up and leaving it behind for the next home owner to enjoy its bounty, and believe me a full grown Mulberry tree provides buckets of fruit and loads of beautiful filtered shade.

Similarly leaving THE BEST ROSEMARY BUSH EVER is going to be sad. This bush has allowed me to make skewers for kebabs, brushes for BBQ basting, bouquets for family and friends and toasty fragrant toppings for roast veggies and lamb.

And what about my third generation pineapple plant? In its first season of 2.5 years it taught me patience, in its next incarnation the process sped along to one year and now in its third yield I am wondering if the gestation period is halved again! Is it possible to get a pineapple in six months? I guess for this particular plant I’ll never know.

So now the house is on the market, what are the rules regarding what one can take and what one must leave behind?

Before photos are taken and the listing published it’s open slather. Uproot, repot, trim limbs, and take cuttings at will. The agent will even allow you to write a list of exclusions from your contract of sale which can include certain plants that you wish to take with you. To avoid confusion during open for inspection its smart to mark them with ribbon so that they stand out.  All potted plants are deemed transportable so it is widely assumed that they will leave with you but be very clear when it comes to big pots and planter boxes to stipulate if you are excluding them from the sale.

But if I may add a small word for your consideration…before you remove any plant that is happily living and growing in your garden, ask yourself two questions:
1 – will the removal of this plant take away some of the ambience of the garden that may help with the sale? If you love the garden just the way it is, chances are it will be appealing to a prospective buyer.
2 – will the plant survive the transplant anyway? Is it worth the risk?

Once it’s listed?  What then?

Once the house is listed and open homes have begun you are not legally allowed to remove plants, chop down trees or make any major alterations to the garden.

So in my case I am going to leave the mature plants in place to be enjoyed by the new occupants, remove the veggie pod from Urban Food Garden which will be great for a rental, and take cuttings and seed on my journey to the next destination.

One thing I know for sure is that I will share this blog with the new owners so they can read the stories of the origins of the crop circles, each precious plant and chicken friend planted there and each joyous moment. It may not dissuade them from pulling it all down to make an extension to the house, reorient the pool deck or create a children’s playground but it may encourage them to treat the space with love and dignity whatever the future may hold.

Happy trails!




Basil – Twelve Health Benefits Associated with Basil

I have a great pile of basil growing in my garden at present, in fact, most of the time because let’s face it basil is prolific!  I love that it self seeds and always gives me a bountiful crop.  When the wind is blowing in the right direction we can smell the basil at our dining room table as well as the rosemary, a clever placement of plants which was definitely serendipitous not planned.

Basil pesto is one of those favourite gifts I make when I have an abundance in the garden.  Great on pasta and as a spread on a gourmet sandwich stuffed with roasted vegetables, it’s a much loved condiment in our house that’s for sure.  But it wasn’t until recently that I learnt about the health benefits associated with eating basil, so I thought I would share these with you on this short video, taken in my garden, right next to (you guessed it) my crop circle full of basil.  Take a look!

For those of you who would rather read than watch, here are the top 12 Health Benefits of Basil:

  1. Contains disease fighting antioxidants which fight free radicals and fights oxidation that slows down the effects of ageing, and you gotta love that!
  2. Acts as an anti-inflammatory
  3. Fights cancer because it contains phytochemicals that can cause the death of harmful cells
  4. Contains antibacterial properties
  5. Contains antimicrobial properties that fight viruses and infections
  6. Combats stress
  7. Fights depression by stimulating the nanotransmitters that regulate the hormones responsible for happiness
  8. Promotes cardiovascular health
  9. Supports liver function and helps detoxify the body
  10. Helps alkalise the body and improve bigestion
  11. Can act as a natural aphrodisiac, apparently the aroma is believed to increase libido!
  12. Helps protect from diabetes.  Helps lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels

Well, if they aren’t enough reasons to make you get out and plant some basil, then did I mention pesto, who doesn’t love pesto!

In the mean time check out some more of my other Gardening Videos on Youtube.

Until next time,





Make Your Own DIY Cutlery Wraps

Cutlery Wraps
Pop this DIY cutlery wrap in your handbag to help you avoid using single use disposable cutlery when you eat take out.

This weekend I got my “craft on” and decided to make a couple of these pretty cutlery wraps; one for me and one for the present box.

They are so easy to make and all you need to be able to do is cut and sew straight lines on the sewing machine.

Armed with some bright coloured cotton fabrics, a ruler and pencil, some cotton tape for the tie and a sewing machine and away you go!

To make it easy for you and because I am a visual learner, I created a short video tutorial, but for those of you who prefer to read a step by step, here are the instructions:


  • Cut two rectangles of coordinating fabric 50 x 25cm and place them right sides together.
  • Cut 50cm of tape and fold it in half.  Measure up 25cm on the long side of the rectangle and pin the tape so that the bulk of it is inside the rectangle parcel but the fold peaks out just enough be caught when sewing the side seams.
  • Pin around the edges and then sew a 1cm seam around the two long sides and one of the short sides.
  • Trim corners and turn the whole thing right side out pushing out the corners with the end of your scissors so that they are pointed.
  • Iron it flat and tuck in 1cm on the open end in order for you to sew it closed.
  • Sew a half centimetre around all four sides of the rectangle.  Fold up one short side 11cm and pin.  Sew the 11cm along both sides of the same edge at the half centimetre mark to create one large pocket.
  • Mark 4 x 3cm pockets from the left side (the fifth large pocket will hold your napkin). Sew along the lines to create your pockets for cutlery etc.
  • Depending on your cotton tape you may need to fold up and sew a half centimetre hem to stop the ends from fraying.
  • Place your cutlery, drinking straw, and napkin in the pockets, roll up and go!

If you make one for yourself please give me a shout out, and be proud that you are helping to alleviate some of the load single use disposable plastics have on our environment.




How to Get the Garden of Your Dreams

This week I was so happy to have one of my tips about urban gardening  featured in a great article by Ally Feiam for on How To Get the Garden of Your Dreams.

I mentioned how encouraging pollinators to your garden is vitally important and yet so easy to do with the addition of a solitary bee home, which you can make yourself from bits of left over wood you might have lying around.

The article features other tips and tricks to have a garden that you can enjoy for years to come.

Have a look at the full article here!

As you know I have a fabulous Bee B&B in my veggie garden, which I blogged about earlier with instructions as to how to build one for yourself.

If you have a go let me know!




Whip It Good! Body butter that is…

Bathrooms are a scary place, they seem to accumulate plastic packed lotions and potions, cellophane wrapped cosmetics and tubes and tubs of tinctures and treatments.  As you have probably heard me say before… “before I knew better” as a family we collected all those little single use guest giveaways, body products, plastic combs, toothbrushes and shower caps, mending kits, shoe wipes and even sanitary bags.  Ashamed I am.  So now I am on the band wagon of mitigating our waste I have accumulated recipes instead of freebies, replacing chemical laden creams with coconut, sweet almond, and essential oil bottles, boxes of bicarb, bamboo toothbrushes and home made cotton makeup remover pads.

You are probably wondering what the benefits are of creating your own DIY Cosmetics?  Apart from the cost saving, these homemade solutions contain no harmful chemicals and can be fragranced to suit the individual, I even dare to say that MY DIY natural deodorant is the BEST one I have ever come across.

Always on the look out for a new product to make that replaces it’s plastic packaged alternative, I stumbled across this recipe for Whipped Body Butter and thought I would give it a go.  If you are having trouble finding shae butter or cocoa butter check out your local health food store or go to Australian Wholesales Oils website.


Only four ingredients go into making this rich body butter you can make right in your own kitchen.
Body butter ingredients

Ingredients – in equal quantities (I used half a cup)

  • Shae Butter
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Sweet Almond Oil
  • Coconut Oil

Melt over a double boiler.

Place in the refrigerator to harden for about 1 hour.

Beat with electric mixer, scraping down the sides as you go, until it resembles whipped cream.

Add five to 10 drops of your favourite essential oil and mix well.

Scoop into bottles and store.

Take a look at the video for instructions and explanation as to the benefits of the essential ingredients. Let me know what you think!

No Sew Tote – Up-cycle a well loved tee shirt.

I’ve got this cute little project for you.  You know how there are some tee shirts that you just can’t let go of?  Perhaps a favourite saying, a memorable concert tour, or a souvenir from a place you will never forget.  This is a cool way that you can keep the tee shirt but repurpose it to be useful rather than collecting dust bunnies in a drawer.

Follow my quick little video to make your own No Sew Tote.

Have fun!



Biodegradable Bandages


There is nothing better than finding something ordinary that you wouldn’t have even thought of as BAD for the environment but someone somewhere has come up with a solution to make that product more sustainable.

Enter the Everyday Good Co with their Biodegradable Bandages.  Yes, most bandaids are made of plastic, the sort of plastic that could be part of the 13,000 pieces of plastic litter floating on every square kilometre of the oceans surface, the sort of plastic that sits in the gut of approximately 98% of all sea birds, the sort of plastic that you have to fish out of the skimmer box after your friends kids have been enjoying your pool this Summer.  However THESE bandages are made from 15% recycled materials and break down in 2 years, decomposing in 4. The packaging is made from 100% recycled material also!

Clear, Emoji and Nude Biodegradable Bandages.  I think I’m going to regret this…

Even better still is that the Everyday Good Co devotes 50% of it’s profits on the sale of these bandages to The Hunger Project whose mission is “To end hunger and poverty by pioneering sustainable, grassroots, women-centered strategies and advocating for their widespread adoption in countries throughout the world.”

Sensitive skinned people can rejoice in these sensitive skin adhesive bandages. The glue is made just for you, and the whole range of biodegradable bandages are latex free to minimise allergens even further.

So when the neighbour’s kids stack their bikes at my front gate and come in  with their skinned knees looking for a bandaid I’m going to send them home plastered with Emoji Biodegradable Bandages from now on.

Get on their website and stock up your bathroom cabinet with this sustainable alternative.


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