Packing Up

2 Comments

It is a little over 2 months since I first mentioned that we had listed our home for sale. After almost 3 months on the market (including the Christmas and New Year period), we are close to finalising the sale.

Although we will have professional removalists who will pack all of the breakable items, there is no good reason why I cannot pack up things like linen, clothes, sewing fabrics and books. However, packing up an entire house in a few days is not my idea of fun, even if our possessions are relatively minimal.

So, I have begun to pack some non-essential and rarely used items. I have sourced various boxes as well as some plastic crates.

At the moment the packed boxes are stacked in the wardrobe in the spare bedroom.

I also used suitcases to pack some of our out-of-season clothes. This made sense since the suitcases need to be relocated so they might as well be filled with clothes.

I intend to do something towards packing each day or two so that I can spread it over a few weeks and it is not too onerous.

In the next couple of days I will be emptying all of the good crockery, glasses and serving platters out of the sideboard. This has been sold and will be picked up at the end of the week.

A Special Buy

Leave a comment

I don’t know whether anyone has noticed but my blog commitment for 2023 is to publish a post every 2nd day which I have successfully done so far. I am also aiming to publish them at 2pm local time, however, I am a couple of hours late today as I had nothing prepared and scheduled and we have been on a shopping expedition.

There was the usual groceries plus fruit and vegetables but we also purchased a coffee machine. This was not an impulse buy as GMan has been discussing the pros and cons since at least a couple of years before he retired which was 4 years ago.

After experiencing the results first-hand recently and then consulting with my brother who is a bit of an expert in the matters of coffee machines, he finally made a decision. So, today was the day.

I am not a coffee drinker but can appreciate the importance of good coffee to those who drink it. GMan is definitely one of those people. He feels that he may have used up credits of several Christmas and birthday gifts and I wouldn’t disagree.

We do not buy gifts for each other, however, we do agree that it is nice to be able to choose to invest in some special treats such as the coffee machine which we expect will last us for many years.

Searching for a Unicorn

Leave a comment

Unicorn = perfect bra.

Last week I finally bit the bullet and went bra shopping. I suspect I am not alone to say that this is one of my least favourite tasks and was well overdue. I think is mainly due to my inability to find something that is perfect for me.

My main problem is that I have relatively narrow and sloping shoulders and it is difficult (or impossible) to find a bra that the straps do not tend to slide off my shoulders.

I successfully bought 2 new bras and have decided that is all I need at the moment as I can wash one each night. I always handwash my bras to ensure the maximum life from them.

The new bras are good but not perfect and I am still debating future options. I could buy more of the same and put up with second-best. I could keep looking in more shops with more unhelpful retail assistants. I could try buying online, however, I feel like this could be fraught with danger if I do not know exactly what I want. Or, I could try making my own bras.

I have successfully made bras in the past and do have a pattern. The reason for my success was the fact that i could alter the pattern slightly so that the attachment point of the straps at the back was closer to the midline than on most commercial styles. This meant that the straps never slid off my shoulders.

I am very tempted to give bra-making another go. You do need some specialist materials such as the straps, clips and elastic but these are available for purchase through various sources.

Before I discarded the old bras I disassembled them and retrieved various bits that may be useful in future bra-making endeavours. The elastic may be used for other projects.

This lot went straight in the bin.

**EXCITING NEWS**

I have just launched a Facebook group which is aligned to this blog.

If you are reading this and have not yet joined the group please pop over to https://www.facebook.com/groups/2482607615213480 and introduce yourself.

The content and discussion is in the early stages.

More Tomatoes

Leave a comment

Our garden is completely overrun with self-sown cherry tomatoes. Even after making a large batch of tomato sauce (read about it here) there are still literally hundreds of fruit ripening every day.

I now have several bags of whole tomatoes in the freezer. I simply wash and destalk the tomatoes then bag them up for the freezer. These provide a great alternative to tinned tomatoes for adding to casseroles and other dishes.

Another method that can be used is to puree the tomatoes in a blender (after washing and destalking them). This creates quite a watery mixture so I simmer it until reduced by at least half. You can also finish the process in the oven which seems to add some richness to the flavour, however, this is not an essential step. This is my version of tomato paste.

I spread the mixture into ice-cube trays to freeze.

Once they are frozen the cubes can be bagged up. This is 1.75kg of cubes which came from about 5kg of cherry tomatoes.

It is an easy matter to toss a cube or two when cooking for some intense tomato flavour without adding a lot of liquid.

I also use the tomato puree to make the tomato base for my homemade pizzas. I cook it to reduce even further and add some dark jam (Davidson Plum is my preferred jam but any plum or berry jam will do) and Tabasco sauce. This creates a rich, spicy sauce which we love on pizzas.

NOTE: I will write a separate post in the future with an exact recipe for the pizza sauce as I do not have the final quantities yet.

No Spend January?

4 Comments

Over a number of years I have heard of many people choosing to do ‘no-spend’ days, weeks, months or even a year. It seems that there are as many different ‘rules’ as there are people undertaking this idea but the general premise is to not buy excess food and try to use what you have on hand but most importantly to eschew discretionary spending.

I have never consciously tried to not spend for a specified period of time but since we are halfway through January I thought it might be timely to review what I have spent this month. It is a relatively easy process as we track everything we spend.

We track our regular, fixed expenses on one spreadsheet. This allows us to see what subscriptions, insurances etc are due each month and we make sure there is money set aside for those.

The other spreadsheet is a month by month record of our variable spending. Some of this is discretionary such as eating out, books or clothing purchases but others are what I regard as essential. This category includes things like groceries and fuel.

This January certainly does not look like ‘no spend’ as our expenditure for the first 16 days of the month has been a little over $2000. So, let’s examine where the money has gone.

  1. Our fixed expenses for all of January are $627.
  2. We had planned and budgeted for an interstate holiday for 2.5 weeks which concluded when we arrived home on 6th January. Costs for the January portion of the holiday were $503.
  3. In the 10 days since we arrived home we have spent $912.
  • $195 – Groceries
  • $148 – Fuel
  • $285 – Pet expenses
  • $100 – Health expenses
  • $134 – Home maintenance expenses
  • $50 – Entertainment expenses

Yes, the entertainment expenses are definitely discretionary and if I was strictly following a ‘no-spend’ regime that would have been foregone. Other than that and the holiday spending at the beginning of the month, everything else was necessary.

On balance, I think that our method of accurately tracking and recording our spending works well for us. I don’t feel any real need to try to artificially reduce our spending by pushing spending from one month into the following month.

Do you do ‘no-spend’ months? What are your ‘rules’? Do you feel that it makes a difference to your overall spending?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.

Four Failures

Leave a comment

Things come in threes according to the old adage but I think I can top that.

Since we began to seriously consider listing our property for sale, it seemed like everything decided to fall apart. During the second half of 2022 we replaced the solar hot water system, the pump for our water tanks, the inverter for our solar panels and the back stairs.

Ongoing maintenance is something that needs to be accounted for in terms of time, energy and most significantly, money. These four items cost us in excess of $13,000. Being a homeowner is not a cheap adventure and thankfully we had the funds to cover these unexpected expenses.

Whilst it will not necessarily be a large amount, there will always be unexpected expenses that crop up from time to time. How you manage this will depend largely on your own circumstances but it is definitely not something that can be ignored.

You may also choose what is an absolute necessity and what can be delayed. For us, the pump for the water tanks was essential as no pump = no water. The back stairs could have been a lower priority as we do have stairs at the other end of the house. The hot water and the inverter could have been delayed because we have a hybrid solar system and could have resorted to the grid connection. However, this would have come at a substantial cost, particularly when utility prices are rising exponentially.

Most of the work does not warrant a photo but here are the new back stairs – freshly painted by GMan.

Selling and Sewing

6 Comments

One of the challenges of having our home for sale and regularly open for inspection is that I cannot leave my sewing room as it is when I am in the middle of a project.

Before we went on holidays I cut out a blouse. I had pinned the darts in place and then had to pack everything away as there were going to be an inspection while we were away.

When I retrieved the project it took me a while to work out where I was up to. Then it was full steam ahead and I finished the blouse. The fabric and buttons were all sourced from my stash.

Here is the work in progress.

The finished blouse.

A close-up showing the wooden buttons and a glimpse of the self-patterned fabric.

While making the blouse, I realised that I needed an appropriate outfit that I would be comfortable wearing to a funeral. I did not want or need the outfit to be black. So, once again I dived into the stash of fabric I had on hand a found a piece of linen/cotton that had been given to me. It is not a colour I would generally wear but I rather liked it so decided that I could make a skirt to go with the blouse.

Unlike some of the more complex details on the shirt such as the one piece collar and the split turnback on the sleeves, the skirt is a very simple pull-on skirt with an elasticised waist.

I was happy with how the entire finished outfit looked.

The sewing room is now looking pristine once again as we have another open inspection tomorrow.

Replenishing Supplies

3 Comments

We arrived home from holidays last Friday afternoon and in next to no time we were back into building up our food supplies.

Our kitchen overlooks the vegetable garden and I could a sea of red cherry tomatoes rambling everywhere. This, coupled with the fact that we had almost entirely depleted our stock of tomato sauce (ketchup) meant that this was a high priority on my ‘to do’ list.

The recipe for the sauce is here.

I made another batch of gluten free pizza bases. I make 6 at a time and freeze them ready for an easy meal.

Recipe for the pizza bases is here.

GMan got in on the act and restocked his homemade sourdough bread.

Finally, I picked a bucketful of Davidson plums from our tree (indigenous tropical fruit) and made what I regard as the best jam in the world.

I have included links to the recipes for the tomato sauce and pizza bases.

I will do full posts about the jam and sourdough in the not too distant future.

Also, don’t forget to check the recipe index on the blog. The link to the page is ‘Recipes – Food’ at the top of the blog.

Functional or Fad?

2 Comments

It is now about 2 months since I capitulated and bought an airfryer.

I had not really investigated what an airfryer was or how they worked but when I heard them being mentioned in a couple of Facebook groups I dismissed them as another unnecessary kitchen gadget. My first real-life experience of them was when we were invited to dinner a couple of months ago. The potatoes cooked in the airfryer were absolutely divine.

GMan came home and started researching various options. Coincidentally, Aldi had them in their special buys the following week so we decided to bite the bullet and see whether all of the hype was worth it. For us it has certainly proven to be $70 well-spent.

Apart from the rather obvious benefit of being able to replicate at least some deep-fried food with minimal oil there are also considerable energy savings from using the airfryer rather than a conventional oven. Food cooks more quickly and it does not heat the entire kitchen.

The airfryer is also quick and easy to clean.

My first attempt was chips which were an absolute winner. Since then I have cooked salmon, arancini balls, marinated chicken pieces, garlic and eggplant slices as well as nachos.

For the nachos, I lined the cooking tray with baking paper and assembled the nachos as per my ‘recipe’ here. 8 minutes at 190C in the airfryer and dinner was ready.

I served these with a side salad of coleslaw.