Let’s Talk Packing

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I guess you thought from the title that I meant packing up an entire house.

No, just planning for a 4 night trip away. However, it will be to an area of distinctly inconsistent weather but it seems to be bordering on the cooler side (for summer) at the moment.

Two pairs of shoes.

A dress which can be worn with or without a cardigan.

Two pairs of trousers – emerald green linen pants and a pair of white slim-fit pants.

Two 3/4 sleeve tops.

Lightweight black pullover and cardigan.

White cotton shirt.

Short sleeve top.

Two scarves that will add both warmth and interest.

This is to cover predicted temperatures from 9C to 29C but mostly between about 15C and 22C.

It is interesting to note that the majority of the items were opshopped. The leather shoes were new last summer and one scarf and one top were bought new several years ago. The other scarf and cardigan were inherited from my mother. I made the white shirt from fabric that was given to me.

Use It Up

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Food is one of the less obvious things you need to consider when planning to move house. This is not a major issue if you are moving down the road or even across town but it is definitely a consideration when moving further afield.

We are moving to a different state and while jars of dry goods can be packed in boxes as with other household items the contents of the refrigerator and freezer are a different story.

It is still about 7 weeks until we depart but it is never too soon to consider how best to use the contents of the refrigerator and freezer. I am fairly aware of what I have available and will be working towards using this up. Of course, I will still be buying fresh fruit and vegetables.

Yesterday I made a big batch of Eggplant & Bean Curry. This vegan and gluten-free dish is definitely one of our favourites.

EGGPLANT & BEAN CURRY

Ingredients

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon Massaman curry paste
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
500ml water
1 can light coconut cream
2 large potatoes, diced into 1cm pieces and cooked until tender
600g eggplant, diced into 1cm pieces
300g green beans, prepared and cut into 2cm lengths

METHOD

Prepare the vegetables as per the ingredient list. Heat the oil, add onion wedges, curry paste and spices, toss until well combined and the onion is softened. Add the diced eggplant, combine and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the water and stock powder. Simmer until volume is reduced slightly. Add the potatoes, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add more water if required. Stir in the coconut cream and simmer to reduce slightly if required. Finally, add the beans and cook for about 5 minutes.

I serve this with a small quantity of brown rice. You do not need to add too many carbs as there is already potato in the curry.

NOTE: The quantities are based on what I had available and the desired level of spiciness. You can adjust according to your own tastes. I use this basic curry sauce for of curry dishes. It is particularly good with a dish based on cauliflower, too.

This made a total of 8 serves (4 meals) for GMan and I. We had one for dinner and the remainder was portioned up and went into the freezer. That is 3 more meals I will not have to prepare in the next 7 weeks.

Packing Priorities

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We now have a contract for the sale of our home. While the contract is still conditional for a couple more weeks, it is time to really start moving forward with preparations for our move.

I have been sourcing previously used packing boxes and today I packed up 9 boxes of books from the bookshelves in our office/library area.

With a little over 7 weeks until moving day most of my focus is going to be on preparing for the big day and blog posts will mostly reflect that over the coming weeks. I will cover various aspects of how we handle the preparation.

It is 17 years since our last move. We have spent much longer in our current home than anywhere we had lived previously. However, we have decluttered and simplified during that time and it will be interesting to see how that impacts the moving process.

When we came here both of our daughters had left the family home but only relatively recently so we still had quite a lot of possessions that related to them but that is no longer the case.

More information on our future plans will unfold over the next few weeks.

Packing Up

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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.