All About Ants

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We had mushroom risotto for dinner but this post is not about a recipe.  As I was beginning to prepare the meal, I went to the pantry for arborio rice and stock powder and discovered…………..ants!  They seemed to be everywhere on one particular shelf and I quickly traced the source to a sticky patch near the jar of honey.  Thankfully, there were no ants in the honey.

Cleaning out and re-arranging the pantry was on my mental ‘to do’ list but it was hastened by the events of this evening.  While the risotto was simmering I set to work.  Since the pantry is relatively modern with melamine shelves, I just needed a cloth and plenty of hot water.  In order to speed up the drying process I used a hair dryer.

Naturally, a bit of rearranging was required and I completed the 2 affected shelves plus the floor of the pantry.

Here is the result – 2 shelves done.  I still need to tidy and sort the 2 undershelf drawers.  The top one contains herbs and spices and the lower one is various seasonings and other small containers.

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On the floor is a paper bag for storing potatoes, a box of the excess of homemade tomato sauce, marmalade, jam, chutney and worcestershire sauce, the attachments for the food processor (stored on the shelf above) and a large stockpot.

The are 2 higher shelves which the ants had not invaded so I have saved them for tomorrow as well.

Here is a before photo.

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Coincidentally, as I sat down to write this post I decided to check my blog reader and there was a post from my dear friend, Julia, on the other side of the world.  Her post was more appropriately titled, Spring Cleaning the Cupboards and contains some great information about ‘Best Before’ dates.

As we are choosing to curtail our social interactions during the COVID-19 outbreak there will be plenty more posts on jobs I catch up on around the house.

 

 

An Anniversary and A Virus

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It is now 8 days since my last post and in the intervening time I have passed a significant milestone – the 9th anniversary of this blog.  My very first post was 12th March 2011.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge.  GMan and I have both retired.  We have lost both of our elderly pets.  Our eldest granddaughter who was a 3 year old at daycare is now at high school.  There have been birthdays, holidays, deaths and an assortment of celebrations.  Skills have been acquired, friendships made, issues addressed, gardens planted and recipes made.

However, nothing I have written about is anywhere near as important as the current global pandemic of COVID-19 virus.  Very few countries have been left unscathed.  In fact, Australia has seen a doubling of reported cases in just 2 days – from 150 to 300.

It seems that the best chance we have of ‘flattening the curve’ is social distancing.  In order to do this large gatherings of greater than 500 are banned.  For example, there will not be spectators at football matches.

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Working from home is being encouraged.  Since GMan and I do not have work commitments, we have chosen to limit our social interactions.  This will not only protect us but assist in reducing community transmission.  The more people that restrict their movements the greater the chance that the increase in cases can be slowed.  The primary reason for this strategy is to ensure that our health system can cope with the influx of cases.

If you are going to stay home as much as possible, you need to consider not only your physical needs but also your mental health.  Food and other essential consumable items are important but you need to give consideration as to how you will spend your time.  Naturally, it will depend on your individual circumstances.  We are very lucky to have small acreage so outdoor activity is definitely still an option.  I will be sewing, gardening and cooking.  The focus will be on cooking from scratch and making do with what I have.  Check out this link on the blog.

I am grateful for my relaxing retreat right here at home.

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Whatever is going on and however we deal with it, don’t forget those around you.  Everyone has different needs and priorities.  Just within my smallish extended family, there are people who are elderly, sole traders, single parents, students, homeowners, renters and residents of retirement villages.  Each person is impacted differently.

These are unprecedented times.  This post was written almost 9 years ago.  While this is a very different scenario with the presence of a new virus in our midst, the message remains the same.  Take care of yourself.  Look out for others.  Above all, be kind and considerate.

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Finding Balance

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It is a little over 6 months since I finished work and I am now beginning to look at how I manage my time at home.

While I was working it was the time available which dictated what I achieved at home.  However, now that has all changed as my time is my own.

The first 6 months were taken up with the final preparations for our overseas trip followed by 9 weeks overseas then it was less than 2 months until Christmas and a road trip and family Christmas.

My activities can be roughly divided into the following categories (in alphabetical order, not priority):

Cooking – meal preparation – sometimes in bulk
Exercise – aquarobics, gym and walking
Gardening – growing vegetables, flowers and shrubs
Household maintenance/renovations – usually in conjunction with GMan
Online/Computer – blog, Facebook, emails
Relaxing – reading, music, television
Routine housework – making bed, washing, ironing, sweeping, vacuuming
Sewing – clothes, mending, patchwork and Boomerang bags
Socialising – book club, film society, theatre, friends, family, Air BnB guests
Shopping – groceries and miscellaneous
Travel – local, interstate and overseas

By their very nature, housework and cooking tend to occur everyday.  Formal exercise is twice a week but I am trying to include either some walking or gardening every other day.

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I try to find time for some gardening, relaxing and computer work each day.

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Sewing and socialising usually happen several days a week.

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Shopping is as little as possible but groceries are mostly once a week.

Some activities cross over such as aquarobics and socialising.  I also try to combine activities and errands to limit the number of trips I make into our local town (8km away).

From time to time a particular activity may demand a substantial block of time to the exclusion of almost everything else but I generally try to keep a mix of activities each day or so.

 

 

 

That Was 2019

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I am writing this on the final evening of 2019 in a motel room in Rutherglen, a small town on the Victorian side of the Murray River which forms the border between Victoria and New South Wales.

Rutherglen is not where I expected to be tonight.  We were supposed to be in Bermagui on the south coast of New South Wales, however, it is right in the midst of the horrific bushfires raging in the south-eastern corner of Australia.

This photo is from Mallacoota on the coast near the Victoria/NSW border at about 10am this morning.

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I have gone back and re-read the 34 blog posts I wrote in 2019.  That is only about 1 post every 10 days on average.  At the end of 2018 I mentioned that I was going to have all of my photos sorted in 2019.  That did not happen.  The content of my 2019 posts is interesting.  They generally focus on my interests – gardening, cooking, sewing, op shopping and trying to be self-reliant and minimise our carbon footprint.  However, the posts from the latter part of the year tend to reflect the increasing concern over the climate crisis and my personal connection to it.  These included having a bushfire evacuation plan as well as growing food in extreme heat and saving our precious rainwater.

One event which I did not post about was the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) which has held in Madrid earlier this month.  Angus Taylor, the Federal Energy Minister, represented Australia, however, his prime effort was to block any real progress on global climate action.  As a result, Australia was singled out as being one of a handful of countries who set out to thwart the process.

I am reticent to use the word ‘unprecendented’ but that is the best description of the massive bushfire emergency which has been menacing almost every state and territory of Australia over the past 2 months.

Climate change did not cause the bushfires.

Climate change is contributing to the conditions which have allowed bushfires of the scale we are now witnessing to occur.

If the last day of 2019 is any indication then 2020 is not going to be a happy new year for many Australians.  My fervent wish is that my fellow citizens are all safe.

Many of us have worked diligently for years to make lifestyle changes to reduce our personal carbon footprint but our governments will not take action.  The Murdoch media and fossil fuel industries constantly facilitate climate denialism.  This cannot continue.  My New Year’s resolution is that I will take whatever action I can.

I make no apology for this post nor the fact that there will be more blog posts which focus directly on the climate crisis in 2020.  These will be balanced with important positive actions.  We must all do this together.

And one final comment.  Please read this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

 

Missing Me?

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If you are wondering about the absence of posts recently, then wonder no longer.  I am on holidays and am blogging over here at Somewhere, Anywhere.

We said goodbye to the family and headed to the Northern hemisphere about 10 days ago.

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Pop in and come and join the adventure through Scotland, Spain and Portugal as well as train trips through other parts of the UK as well as France.

Newly Retired

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Blog posts have been few and far between over the last 6 months as I navigated the countdown to retirement.  I had previously managed to successfully combine the running of a household with full-time work but once I could see the end in sight I tended to put several things on the back burner so that I could focus on tying up as many loose ends as possible in my job as well as training my successor.

So, my last day in the office was Thursday 4th July, otherwise known as Independence Day.

I searched for a suitable retirement image but nothing sums it up better than this photo.  We now have the time to explore our own backyard as well as further afield and simply enjoy being surrounded by scenery like the amazing Glasshouse Mountains.

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The past 3 weeks have been an absolute revelation.  You do not have to be constantly busy.  It is OK to take your time.  What does not get done today will be done tomorrow.  It has been a huge relief to feel the pressure fall away.

The first week of retirement coincided with school holidays so we had our granddaughters visiting for a few days and managed some outings and activities with them.

Since then I have caught up on sleep – no more 5am starts, exercised – walking each day and socialised – lunch with school friends, morning tea with cousins and several more lunches planned as well as a gallery visit.

Catching up on appointments is much easier without having to juggle them around work.  Dentist, optometrist, financial planner, tax agent and so on.

On the home front, meals are prepared, rooms cleaned and washing done with the minimum of fuss.  I am doing some sewing, too.

Meanwhile, we are putting the finishing touches to the plans for our next overseas trip.  We leave in a little over 3 weeks and have a couple more train trips to book.

That is only a brief overview but suffice to say that I am not bored.

I plan to share more details of the day to day activities now that life is running at a much more reasonable pace.

Thank you for sticking with me during the very lean blogging periods.

 

A Month Later

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It is just over a month since my last blog post on 19th March.  The following 2 weeks were somewhat frenetic with work and also getting ready to head off on holidays to Mauritius on 1st April.  If you missed that bit of detail you can catch up with the travel news and photos on my other blog, Somewhere, Anywhere.

We arrived home yesterday morning after a 36 hour stopover in Singapore.  It was also my birthday.  Unlike my milestone birthday last year, this year was fairly low-key.  We had dinner with my sister, brother-in-law, brother and mother last night. It was lovely to catch up with them and to have someone else make dinner for me.

The weather has cooled down somewhat in the few weeks we have been away.  However, heavy showers of rain are making it a challenge to do the inevitable pile of washing that we brought home.

Cooler weather also meant that I can consider meals other than the inevitable salads.  Today we did some shopping to restock some necessities – fruit and vegetables as well as milk, cheese and Vegemite.  I spent $30 at the greengrocer, including a cauliflower for $4.  This is the upper limit of what I will pay for a cauliflower but it is still good value.  With the addition of stock powder, an onion, salt, pepper and smoky paprika I made a pot of hearty cauliflower soup.  That $4 cauliflower made 4 generous dinner serves plus 4 smaller serves suitable for lunches.  8 meals for about $4.50 seems like pretty good value to me!

Cauliflower Soup

1 full cauliflower (medium)
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons stock powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoky paprika

Lightly fry the onion in a large saucepan/stockpot.  Remove the outside leaves and separate the florets from the stalk.  Finely slice the leaves and stalk and add to the pot.  Continue to fry for about 5 minutes.  Add the roughly chopped cauliflower florets, seasonings and enough water to just cover the vegetables.  Cover and simmer for at least an hour and add extra water if required.  Blend until smooth and serve.

Tonight we had a big bowl of soup and some buckwheat pancakes on the side.

The remaining soup has been portioned up and is ready to go in the freezer.

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And the rain is pouring down – again!!