Beware the perils of caffeine withdrawal

I may have discovered the culprit for yesterday’s horrible relapse…..caffeine withdrawal. For some reason I thought I’d go off coffee cold turkey to help get over this illness. Turns out, that was probably a bad idea. By last night I was nauseous, light-headed, deeply fatigued and my head was pounding with a killer headache. It probably also explains my irritability yesterday.

My coffee intake has been gradually increasing over the last month to the point I was drinking three or four cups of strong coffee most days. Yes I know coffee in that quantity is not good for me, but I guess that’s how most bad habits start; They just creep up on you slowly until they get a bit out of control.

So after a bit of research this morning I discover I am among the estimated 80 to 90 percent of North American adults and children who consume caffeine products every day. Apparently about half that number will experience headaches and other symptoms from caffeine withdrawal syndrome. According to experts, withdrawal symptoms can start from 12 to 20 hours after your last cup of coffee and peak about two days later and can last about as long as a week. Ick! I’m not putting up with that for a week!

I’ve decided to forgo the cold-turkey approach to caffeine withdrawal. I am now going to sensibly wean myself off coffee over the next couple of weeks. Apparently it’s best to reduce caffeine consumption by a half to a whole cup per day.

It makes sense for me to reduce my dependency on coffee. After all, I’m trying to reduce my dependency on cheap oil and fiat money so I had better add caffeine to that list. Anyone else managed to kick the habit? Did you suffer these types of withdrawal symptoms?

Photo by : pfv

Wishing I had some Cayenne Pepper right now

I have a shocking headache and I wish I had some cayenne pepper on hand.

I swore off pharmaceuticals last year for a variety of reasons. I wanted to reduce the amount of toxins I was putting into my body and therefore making their way into the water supply. I didn’t want to support the pharmaceutical industry either, because I think drugs have become far too pervasive in our society. For these reasons, I now try to find a natural alternative when before I would have popped some type of pill. Today I have politely declined all offers of headache tablets and I’ll wait till I get home to make myself a cup of Cayenne Tea.

“In 35 years of practice, and working with the people and teaching, I have never on house calls lost one heart attack patient and the reason is, whenever I go in–if they are still breathing–I pour down them a cup of cayenne tea (a teaspoon of cayenne in a cup of hot water, and within minutes they are up and around).” ~Dr. Christopher

Cayenne pepper tea is our elixir of choice when it comes to pain relief. Whether we have a sore throat or a pounding headache, Cayenne pepper does the trick.

For centuries Cayenne pepper has been used medicinally to treat pain, inflammation, headaches, the circulatory system, digestive tract disorders, sore throat, and to boost immunity. It has been referred to as the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom by many herbalists.

Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne brings relief by depleting Substance P, a neurotransmitter that helps transmit pain impulses. Cayenne works in seconds and gets the blood moving faster than any herb known. The fact that it is such a great blood circulation stimulant makes it beneficial for many ailments.

How lucky we are to have six Cayenne pepper bushes in our garden. They supply more than enough peppers for all our cooking (cayenne goes in most meals in our house) and medicinal needs. Soon we will grind up our hundreds of dried peppers into flakes and give them away to friends.


My Cayenne Tea recipe

  • 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ginger
  • 3 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Lemon if desired
  • 1 cup hot water

Photo by: Chiots Run

World-Changing Wednesdays


Photo by: Norma Desmond

Since I started this blog I’ve really been focusing on what we’ve been doing to live a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. I have mentioned Voluntary Simplicity and given some broad reasons about why we are changing our life, but today I really want to jump right in and outline some of the big issues I see impacting us in the not too distant future.

In short, I think the world as we know it is coming to an end. I’m not talking the Apocalypse, but I am talking about the way of life enjoyed by the majority of people in the Western World. We simply can not keep living the way we do without coming up against some very finite limits. Each week, I’m going to start addressing one topic which sometimes keeps me awake at night. Because it’s a catchy phrase I’m going to call this series ‘World-Changing Wednesday’s, however I don’t want people to think I’m a complete doomer. I am in fact a very optimistic person, I just choose to see the world as it is and adapt to reality rather than living in fantasy land. I hope you tune in on Wednesday’s to learn a little more about some of the most important issues which will affect us during our lifetime. To quote Dr Chris Martenson, “I believe the next twenty years will be completely unlike the last twenty”.

There are quite a few issues I’m going to discuss and instead of jumping around all over the place, I intend to approach my discussion in three specific areas:


Firstly, at a high level I’m going to talk about how money comes into existence and outline the fundamentals of the major Western economies. I promise not to make it boring, but having a good understanding of the basis for our way of life is critical to understanding some of the other problems we are starting to see such as recession, increased debt, failure to save, housing bubbles, disappearing retirement benefits, unemployment etc etc. I’m also going to touch on the increasing wealth gap and demographic issues and how this will affect our lives in the years to come.

Economy#1: How Money is Created

Economy#2: Is a housing bubble looming in Australia?

Economy#3: How the Credit Crisis Happened

Economy#4: The Debt Trap (Our Economic System is not Sustainable)


Energy is the source of all economic activity in our current civilisation. Cheap energy is absolutely fundamental to our current way of living. Continued growth based on ever increasing levels of cheap energy is not possible and when growth can no longer occur, the whole system will be forever changed. I’m going to spend some time discussing Peak Oil and then look as some of the ramifications of reduced energy on our way of living.

Energy#1: What is Peak Oil?

Energy#2: The Economy and Oil (The Long Decline)


I know climate change gets all the headlines these days but there are so many more environmental issues that need to be discussed. I’ll talk about exponential population growth and how that relates to resource depletion, including food, water and clean air. I also want to touch on pollutions and toxins and how they might affect us and those we love.

Environment#1: The Issue of Human Population Growth

Environment#2: Resource Limitations ~ Water

Environment#3: Resource Limitations ~ Food

All three of these broader issues (The Three E’s) are closely related and stresses in one area will begin to impact the other two. Over the next few months, I hope to show that there is a Perfect Storm brewing. There are a massive set of challenges converging within a short window of time. Any one of these events will be difficult to deal with, but we are starting to see that they will all start impacting us within  the short space of a couple of decades. Given that no real discussion or planning is yet happening at the national and global levels, these will be interesting times indeed. We are going to be living through one of the defining times of human history and it’s going to be one heck of a ride.

Please tune in next Wednesday for the first in the series, and if you have any recommendations for other topics I should discuss, please leave me a comment.



Brendan and I watch a lot of documentaries, but last night we watched what I consider to be the best documentary I’ve ever seen. Home takes viewers on a ride around an Earth put in dire peril by its most adaptable life form, humanity.

The shot-from-above cinematography is simply stunning. French photographer Yann Arthus-Betrand has managed to turn the most dismally wasted landscapes into abstractions of color and form. One of the disturbing discoveries of “Home” is that there is beauty to be found even in environmental devastation, if you film it from far enough away. As a photographer I found the entire movie one of the most visually beautiful productions I’ve ever seen. The cinematography is second to none.

Anyone who appreciates beautiful and stirring music will also love the soundtrack. It’s extremely emotive. The script is exceptionally well written and powerful. It is narrated by Glenn Close.


A review from

Hopping quickly over the first four billion of the Earth’s Arcadian human-free early years, we arrive at the latter 200,000. Humans hunt and gather, discover agriculture, build cities, burn fossil fuels for energy, fill dismally dusty feedlots with corn-fattened beef cattle, over-consume resources, shatter the food chain with pesticides. They waste their minds on television, isolate themselves in suburbia, create sterile monuments to modernity, overfish the oceans, desertify the plains, deplete fresh water supplies, promote a wrongheaded “western model of development,” use up most of the oil, and refuse to own up to any of it.

And that’s just the first hour.

By the time we arrive at film’s end, where the narration exhorts us that “it’s too late to be a pessimist,” we’ve also depleted the soil, chopped down tropical forests for palm oil plantations, triggered the Sixth Great Extinction of animals and plants in the Earth’s history, hoarded wealth, built crowded megacities, left most of the swelling human population of six billion plus in poverty and environmental injustice, and tipped the climate’s delicate balance toward runaway global warming.

Throughout the movie I had goosebumps and by the end I had tears in my eyes. Not just from the message but from the beautiful way it is portrayed. This movie is simply a masterpiece. Please set aside a quiet hour or two to watch it. You will not regret it.

Going Grey Gracefully…and some Greenwashing


Photo by: The Rhumb Line

14246393At 17 I noticed my first strands of grey hair. At first it was just a few and they were easily disguised by my bleach blonde streaks. Throughout my twenties, a distinctive patch started to emerge and I started to fancy I was going to look as distinguished as Maxwell Sheffield from The Nanny. Unfortunately, the remainder of my hair is mousey brown, and let’s face it, I’m no TV star. So I continued to dye my hair…sometimes blonde, sometimes brunette.

More recently, I started caring more about the kinds of chemicals that I was putting on my head, so I considered growing my natural hair out for a while. I even discussed it with a few female friends and acquaintances and they strongly urged me not to go there. Overwhelmingly, they had stories of young woman who had let their hair go naturally grey and it didn’t work out so well. In all cases, said young woman was almost instantly treated poorly, as if she had aged overnight. Why is it in our society that men are allowed to age gracefully but the popular media considers women largely past our prime by the time we hit 35?  It’s frustrating!

NaturtintI let my hair go without colour for a few months, but it started looking limp, lifeless and dull. I started to feel the same way just looking at it. Back to hair colouring it was, but I wanted to use the most natural product I could find to avoid those nasty chemicals. In the interests of expediency I made a visit to the local (mostly) organic store and picked up a box of Nutratint Dark Golden Blonde with Grey Coverage. It said it was made with organic ingredients, and of course we all believe packaging don’t we?

Alas it wasn’t such good news when I checked Natratint on the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Despite being packaged as a good alternative to other chemical hair colours, Natratint scored a 7/10 (high hazard). That’s a big red light. eeeeccckkkk! I got greenwashed!

After further investigation I found this on the Natratint website:

WARNING – The Naturtint Permanent colours do contain the minimum amount of ppd (p-PHENYLENEDIAMINE) necessary to make them work well and cover grey permanently. However, this is a chemical that some people with sensitive skin may react to, even though there is a lot less of it in the Naturtint ones compared to many other ranges.

OK, so they have less of the bad stuff than others, but at 7/10 on the hazard scale I won’t be using this product again. Back to the drawing board.