Not Busy

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As I mentioned in a post last year, I have tried to remove ‘busy’ from both my vocabulary and mindset as much as possible.

I have spent the last 3 days occupied in one of my favourite activities – sewing. It has not been just any sewing but specifically dressmaking clothes for myself.

The first project was a dress which was modelled on an oft-used shirt pattern.

I bought the fabric which is a cotton drill from a local thrift shop for $5. I have yet to source suitable buttons and finish the hem.

Another dress. A simple, lightweight shift which will be perfect for hot summer days at home or the beach. The fabric for this one was leftover from a previous project. Of course, both of the dresses have pockets.

A navy linen shirt made using the same pattern as the first dress. This is an extremely versatile pattern which I have used numerous times. The contrasting binding on the neckline and armholes is not visible when the garment is being worn but I think it adds a somewhat whimsical touch. Making my own bias binding allows me to indulge ideas like this. Once again, buttons and hemming are required to complete the shirt.

I have another linen shirt cut out which is black.

This has barely put a dent in my stash of fabric and I am looking forward to making more items to add to my wardrobe.

It is almost 2 years since I last bought any brand-new clothes apart from underwear. In that time I have bought less than 10 pieces from thrift shops and recycle boutiques and made a few items. Some of the clothes that I wore to work are still suitable for some occasions, however, I find that I am gradually changing the mix of clothes in my wardrobe to reflect my retirement lifestyle.

Where Did I Go?

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If you were paying careful attention to my last blog post (27th August) you would have noticed that I mentioned that we were about to go away on holidays.

Well, we certainly did and were away for just over 3 weeks before returning home on Sunday. It was a road trip though our home state of Queensland which you can read about on my other blog, Somewhere, Anywhere if you are interested.

There will be plenty of new content coming up soon but meanwhile, here are a couple of images that greeted us upon our return.

We had housesitters staying in our home so that the chickens and gardens would be maintained. Quite aside from the housesitters, the growing conditions must have been simply perfect. This is the haul I picked from the garden on Sunday afternoon.

In December last year we had some Himalayan Ash trees removed. These are classified as an environmental weed in south east Queensland – please refer to the link for details. Naturally, we were keen to revegetate the area as quickly as possibly and have planted a mixed selection of native shrubs and small trees.

It is barely 9 months since these were planted but this callistemon is already putting on a spectacular spring show.

Use It All

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I have spent the day in the kitchen today. When you grow produce it is important to ensure that it is used and does not go to waste. There is a degree of urgency as we are heading away on holidays in a couple of days. I made broccoli soup, juiced oranges and limes and dealt with a bunch of celery which I picked a couple of days ago.

Some of the celery had been used on a platter with hummus and guacamole but the majority of the bunch was still intact and all of the leaves. We love celery soup and when I make it I use all of the stalks and leaves. However, I have enough celery soup in the freezer at the moment.

I separated the stalks and chopped them ready for snacks and salads, but what to do with the leaves? I decided to experiment. Firstly, I washed them then removed the excess moisture in the salad spinner.

Then it was into the dehydrator.

Because the leaves are quite light it only took about 3 hours to dry them. Then I simply crumbled them into flakes and shook them through the colander to remove the larger stalks.

This is the result.

Did you know that celery is the prime ingredient in vegetable stock powder? I will use them for seasoning in soups, casseroles and a selection of other dishes.

I am pleased to have been able to use all of the bunch of celery without wasting any of it.

Some Salads

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I am currently sifting through some old blog notes and recipes that have not previously seen the light of day.

I will post them here as I think they are worth remembering for the coming months as the weather heats up.

CHICKEN SALAD (Serves 2)

1 chicken breast fillet (steamed and shredded)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (chopped)
2 tablespoons walnuts (chopped)

Combine the ingredients and dress with mayonnaise.  Chill.

Serve with other salad as desired.

CUCUMBER & ONION SALAD

Lebanese cucumber (thinly sliced)
Onion (thinly sliced and separated into rings)
Good quality salt (I use Himalayan pink)

Layer the cucumber and onion rings in a shallow dish, adding a fine sprinkle of salt to each layer.  Chill and allow to stand for about an hour before serving.

I do not have a photo of this very simple, yet tasty, salad.

PEAR SALAD (Serves 2)

1/2 pear, cored and sliced thinly
Small stick of celery, sliced thinly on the diagonal
6 walnuts, chopped
Parmesan cheese, shaved
30ml lemon juice           }
5ml balsamic vinegar   } – Dressing
5ml olive oil                     }

Arrange the pear, celery and walnuts on the plate.  Combine dressing ingredients and drizzle over salad.  Top with shreds of parmesan cheese.

Here it is served with grilled salmon and coleslaw.

It is useful to have a selection of simple, appetising dishes for when the weather is hot and inspiration for meal preparation is often lacking.

Mending to Save the Planet

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The current television series, ‘Fight for Planet A’, has opened some vigorous debate in some forums.  Some people believe that promoting the use of renewable sources of energy is reckless as this is simply perpetuating the problem that is the ‘growth economy’. Unless we actually participate in degrowth the planet is doomed.

I am not totally of this mind, however, I do believe that much of our future depends on a serious change of mindset and questioning what stuff we actually need.

A really good place to start is to think twice about replacing broken or damaged items. I want to give you an example which confronted me this morning.

We have a laundry hamper in our bedroom and one of the handles snapped when I picked it up to take it to the laundry this morning.

I decided to mend the handle and found some strong navy fabric in my collection. It happened to match nicely, however, I would have used any colour or pattern if required.

I applied a small strip of double-sided interfacing to the wrong side.

The job was a bit tricky with the handle still attached to the hamper. I basted the 2 ends of the handle together and then pressed the interfacing to the handles.

The remainder of the fabric was folded over and around the existing handle. Here it is pinned and ready to stitch.

I stitched all around the patched handle and reinforced the ends and this is the result.

My repair effort is far from perfect but it is functional. I even managed to put a twist in the handle, despite my best efforts not to. However, this does not detract from the usefulness of the handle.

There is no right or wrong way to approach a repair so this is simply an example of what can be done.

The repaired hamper will hopefully last for many more years.

This is degrowth in action. Do not buy things that you do not need. Think laterally and repair or reuse what you already have. If you are not able to do you own repairs, check out your local repair cafe or ask a friend, neighbour or relative. We all have skills and we need to support each other in whatever ways we can.

A New Measuring Device

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We used to have a rain gauge but we removed the last one when the verandah railings were replaced. Like most rigid plastic items which are exposed to the weather, it had become brittle with time and a couple of pieces were cracked/broken so we decided that we needed to replace it.

This did not happen immediately and time went by. Fast forward about 4 years and a couple of things have changed. The local Council have done some remedial work to the verge adjacent to our driveway where the water used to pool. This had been our unofficial rain gauge for some time but now that the water seems to run off properly the ‘rain gauge’ is no longer much use.

GMan received some money for his recent birthday along with a suggestion that he put it towards buying a new rain gauge. This was just the impetus we needed.

After considerable research he made a decision about which one to buy. One of the considerations that needed to take into account is that we can receive in excess of 250mm rainfall in 24 hours so the rain gauge needs to have substantial capacity. However, he discovered a digital rain gauge which does not need to be manually emptied but the amount of water passing through it is measured using the sensor.

The gauge with sensor is mounted on the pergola (top right-hand corner).

The information is recorded on the screen which sits conveniently on the kitchen bench.

As an added bonus, it also records indoor and outdoor temperature as well as the indoor humidity.

He is very pleased with the new rain gauge and all we need to do now is to wait for it to rain. The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a high chance of La Nina (significant rain event) occurring in 2020 so we will wait in anticipation. At least we are ready.

Rearranging

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As I continue to gradually declutter items which are no longer required, it often becomes evident that alternative locations make sense for other things.

It is quite a while since I had taken anything to the op shop but I had a bag in the cupboard which I had been adding to as I found things.  Additionally, there were a couple of electronic devices which I also needed to pass along.

We are going away on holidays soon and have housesitters coming to stay and they will use the guest room.  I knew that I would have to move the large collection of magazines which I had recently relocated from the floor of the wardrobe in the guest room to the drawers of the dressing table.  I had done this so that we could store a couple of chairs in the wardrobe.

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You can read the full post here.

With the op shop stuff successfully delivered I had a spare shelf in the cupboard in my sewing room.  It was the perfect size for the magazines.  In all honesty, it is going to be easier to access them rather than having them lying in drawers.

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The dressing table drawers are now empty and able to be used by the housesitters and any other future guests.

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While I was in the guest room I noticed that the doors (vinyl finish) were somewhat discoloured and on closer inspection had some mould stains.  Unfortunately, mould is a constant enemy in our climate.

I cleaned the doors using the lightly abrasive home-made cream cleanser and they look much better.  I think it is the first time I have really scrubbed them in more than 10 years since they were first installed.  They are now looking as good as new.

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Brilliant Broccoli

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It is wonderful to be able to successfully grow at least some of your own food but it is equally important to ensure that it is used and does not go to waste.

This is a 900g head of broccoli I picked recently.  It was as big as a dinner plate.

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I decided to turn it into a main meal with tuna and tomatoes.

Other ingredients.

Break the broccoli into florets and lightly cook.

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Saute the diced onion and capsicum.

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Add Tabasco to taste, flaked tuna and crushed tomatoes.  I blended one can of tomatoes to make the sauce smoother and thicker.  Simmer until reduced and thickened.

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Pour sauce over the broccoli.  Top with a mixture of flaxseed meal, grated cheese and seasoning.

Place under the grill until browned.

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This quantity made 6 generous serves.  I served it with a small portion of rice.

 

One Small Cupboard

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I started thinking about how to begin this post and went trawling through the archives of the blog.  What an eye-opener!

This photo is from a blog post in January 2015.  It is one half of the the cupboard in the office/study – the other half is my linen cupboard.  You can read the whole post here if you are interested.

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These are before and after photos from a follow-up blog post in June 2015.  We had down-sized from the 4 drawer filing cabinet to a 2 drawer one.  This also meant that we were able to create an extra shelf using an offcut of melamine shelving.

Fast forward 5 years and after gradually reducing the contents of the filing cabinet, we were able to get rid of it completely and relocate the last few remaining files to the filing drawer of the desk which had remained unused up to that point.

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We decided to add another shelf but also removed the previous extra shelf as the cut edges had never been painted.  There is plenty of space.

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Two shelves in place.

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The contents rearranged and easy to locate.

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The plastic crate on the floor of the cupboard is going to be our evacuation/emergency box.  There will be a few things stored in it but the primary thing is a checklist of what to add (eg: medications) and what to do in specific situations.  The contents and list may have slight seasonal variations and will be reviewed at regular intervals.  My camera is sitting on top of the box.

It is interesting to see the evolution of the organisation of various spaces in our home.  We have lived in this house for almost 15 years which is considerably longer than we have ever resided anywhere else.  There has not been the impetus of an impending house move but we have actually decluttered quite a bit by doing it slowly and consistently.  The blog is quite an amazing record of what we have achieved in the last 9.5 years.

Clearing the Inbox

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Over the past few days I have been clearing out the Inboxes of our 2 email accounts.  This is what it looks like now.

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The total emails I have in ‘All Mail’ is 207.

This is not the first time I have done this and I am sure it won’t be the last, however, I do intend to try to keep on top of the email correspondence on a regular basis.

You can read this post from 2015.  There were only about 1500 emails before I started this time.

My goal is maintain the ‘All Mail’ at less than 250 but this will fluctuate somewhat depending on what I need to hold for future reference.

Clutter can weigh you down and prevent you from living your best life.  Digital clutter is no different.