It is less than 2 months since I wrote this post in which I committed to completing some unfinished projects in 2021. The first was a patchwork quilt for our queen-size bed.
I am pleased to report that the entire project is finished. I did not do the quilting as I have neither the skill nor the equipment to quilt such a large piece. My primary aim was to make a piece of patchwork which used all of the blue-toned fabrics and to declutter some of the bits of fabric that I had be hanging onto for far too long. All have been salvaged from one source or another, with many of them being scraps of homemade garments from various family members. What wonderful memories!
After completing the patchwork, I purchased a piece of suitable backing fabric and placed my handiwork and faith in Tanya who had been recommended to me. I was not disappointed. Tanya quilted the piece using a fairly simple design as I had requested.
Once the quilting was done, the final touch was to bind the edges. I cut bias strips from the remainder of the backing fabric. The handstitching of the binding was a bit tedious but it is now finished and I am thrilled with the final result.
Here are a selection of views of the quilt which is now an integral part of our bed linen.
I hope you have enjoyed following the story of the quilt as much as I have enjoyed creating it.
There has been a significant hiatus in blog posts and I do apologise. Real life events have been first and foremost as my mother is quite ill. Please keep her in your thoughts. My blog presence may be a bit hit and miss but I will certainly be here when I have something of interest to share.
The 2 weeks since my last blog post have slipped by quickly. Our 2 granddaughters came to visit for a week and then we spent a week at the beach with them and our daughter. Christmas was a fairly low-key affair as we, like many others, simply needed to relax at the end of what has been a challenging year.
Anyway, this post is about looking forward. I know that COVID19 will not disappear at the stroke of midnight on 31st December. Much of what we have endured in 2020 will remain with us as we enter 2021.
Six years ago, at the end of 2014 I decided to record all of our spending for the year. Since then, I have continued to do it each year and have refined the methods I use in the process. I use an Excel spreadsheet, however, you could use a notebook if you prefer.
When I was setting up the spreadsheets for 2021 I noticed that I now have 6 years of records of our spending. During that time we have both retired from full-time work and had major home renovations done as well as travelling overseas on 5 different occasions. There won’t be anymore of that in the foreseeable future, though.
It is interesting to see how some categories of spending have altered dramatically in the wake of our retirement. The most significant is the category ‘Transport’. During the first 4 years of recording our spending, we were both working fulltime and our total transport costs were about $6000 per annum. We had a long rail commute from our home to offices in the city. In 2020 our transport costs were less than $300. Not everyone will have the same costs but if you are considering retirement it is wise to take changes in circumstances and spending into account.
Grocery spending was interesting for a different reason. In 2015 my average weekly spending for 2 adults was $93.88. Unsurprisingly, by 2020 this had increased. However, the margin was very modest with the weekly average being $97.11. In five years my grocery bill for 2 adults increased by a mere $3.23 per week on average. We eat good quality but relatively simple meals with an increasing number of vegetarian meals and are working on growing more of our own food. Minimising food waste is also important from both an environmental and financial perspective.
Clothing was another category where there was a substantial change in our spending during the six years of recording data. Our total spending on this category in 2020 was less than 30% of what we had spent in both 2015 and 2016. Since our retirements were planned, we made a conscious decision to limit our expenditure on work attire over the final couple of years. Additionally, I now have time to source some excellent pre-loved items.
For anyone who is interested I have provided a sample of what my spreadsheet looks like. I use a new sheet in the workbook for each month.
These are the categories that I use. The final column ‘Description’ is for extra details – as much or as little as you want.
(public transport, taxis and Uber)
(food, toiletries and cleaning products at home and on holidays)
(buying and repairs for clothes, shoes, jewellery and fabric for dressmaking)
(fuel, tyres, servicing and repairs including when travelling in our car)
(all equipment, repairs and renovations to house and garden including chicken feed)
(vet bills, toys, medications, equipment and dog food)
(dental, medical, allied health and chemist expenses)
(meals, shows, movies and events attended jointly)
(beer, wine, spirits and home brew supplies)
(any subscriptions not listed in fixed expenses)
(Christmas, birthdays, cards and postage, memorial donations)
(flights, accommodation, tours and entrance fees)
(gym fees, individual socialising, hobbies and books)
(gym fees, individual socialising, cosmetics, hobbies and books)
I have only addressed our variable spending in this post but I also have a spreadsheet set up for our fixed expenses each month. This helps us to easily see what bills are coming up and predict when we are going to need extra funds. Some months are less than $200 in fixed expenses, whereas, there are other months which are much more than that. This is because we choose to pay some of our bills on an annual basis.
Do you have a plan for keeping track of your finances for the new year?
I am happy to answer any questions you may have regarding tracking your spending.
Even though I haven’t written a blog post for a couple of weeks it doesn’t mean that I have been slothful. Far from it. It is just that most of the day-to-day happenings have not been worthy of a blog post.
I have also been occupied in creating as many Boomerang Bags as possible for our very first market stall at the Witta Market on Saturday. This market in our district is dedicated to local makers and growers so it seemed to be the perfect fit for our bags.
We kept it very simple and used the bags as the decorations to attract potential customers.
Here is a close-up of some of the bags.
The market was a clear success with bags being sold as well as some potential volunteers identified and raising our public profile.
Next month’s market is barely a week before Christmas so will be a great opportunity for some last-minute gifts.
I was away from home for a couple of days early in the week and did not think I had anything particular to share with you at the moment.
However, when I went down to the garden this morning I discovered that the sweet peas were flowering. I had planted them about 6 months ago along part of the fence in the vegetable garden area and barely taken any notice of them since. An occasional bit of supplementary watering but they really did not seem to be doing much and all of a sudden I have flowers.
Sweet peas, along with Iceland poppies, are two of my favourite old-fashioned flowers that I remember fondly from my childhood. The scent evokes strong memories and I cut some and brought them inside where I am enjoying them. I hope you do too.
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.
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.
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.
Two shelves in place.
The contents rearranged and easy to locate.
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.
Last night I took a different path and used the eggplant as the bases. 2 separate events led me to try this option. In fact, this blog post could easily have been titled, ‘A Tale of 2 Julias’. In 2014 we were privileged to meet a fellow blogger, Julia Davis-Coombs from Creative Economy in the Kitchen. Julia lives on the other side of the world so it was a delight to meet her when we were on our travels. Our shared lunch included mini pizzas made with slices of a very large zucchini as the base. Although I have not re-created this dish, it is a meal I have not forgotten. The second Julia was a recent online encounter with Julia B. in a group when I was canvassing ideas for a vegetarian meal and I mentioned that one of the vegetables I had on hand was eggplant. While I did not use her suggestion that night, it seemed ideal when I came to make dinner last night.
1 large eggplant
Pizza toppings as desired
Cut the eggplant into slices about 1 – 1.5cm in thickness. Place on a baking tray, lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for 10 minutes at 160C.
Remove eggplant from the oven and add toppings. I used homemade tomato pizza sauce and mixed herbs then chopped mushroom and capsicum (bell pepper) and finally, sliced olives and cheddar cheese.
Return pizzas to the oven for about 5 – 7 minutes.
This was a light and tasty alternative to a traditional pizza and perfect for lunch.
NOTE: You do need a knife and fork when eating these.
It is a week since my last post. I have not been overly busy but my activities have simply not been particularly relevant to share on the blog. The rhythm of the days have continued with housework done and meals prepared as well as family members visiting for a few days.
We have had some cold days so outdoor activities have not been particularly enticing.
I have been using the some of the time indoors to catch up on some ‘life administration’ tasks. Today I needed a particular piece of paperwork for an application I was doing but I was unable to locate it easily. This drove me to go through every piece of paper in the filing cabinet and adjacent folders. It took me several hours and I found the document I was seeking. In the meantime, it was the perfect opportunity to review the contents of the filing cabinet.
With the help of GMan, I discarded a significant pile of papers which are no longer relevant or required.
Things have been quiet around here for a couple of days because despite the limitations due to COVID19 we managed to get away for a couple of days.It was great to see some different scenery and catch up with a couple of friends along the way.
If you would like to know more about our short break and see some photos, please pop over to my travel blog, Somewhere, Anywhere. The blog covers our planning and travels, mostly overseas, for the past 8 years. This is the link to our latest jaunt.
Well, I had a couple of days off from blogging as we have been out and about. Yesterday WordPress decided it did not want to play the game when I tried to write this post. However, all seems to be well again and I am back in business.
Over the last couple of days we have purchased some materials and equipment for the next DIY project.
For a number of years we have talked about creating a defined entertaining area under our high-set house. When we first moved here over 14 years ago, this area was simply sloping dirt which was of absolutely no use and merely contributed to the dirt and dust which made its way into the house. So, we had the area concreted , albeit on a couple of levels. Since then it has really been a storage area for materials collected for future projects as well as overflow from the workshop area. We had decided that the best approach was to screen off an area for casual entertaining using battens and the remainder could still be used for storage. After literally years of discussion and refinements of the design we are ready to begin.
Initially, we planned to use salvaged hardwood for the rails but realised that we could not source enough timber of consistent dimensions that was straight and true so we opted for new timber from Bunnings in this instance. After carefully measuring and calculating our requirements we bought the necessary lengths whilst ensuring the minimum amount of waste.
The other major requirement for this project which GMan had identified was a saw which would make a quick and accurate cut. There were 21 rails to be cut plus approximately 170 (yet to be purchased) battens. He decided on this mitre saw and stand.
The rails were cut to length in no time and are now ready to be painted. We also need to sand and paint the rusted steel posts before attaching the rails.
This is clearly not a job which will be done in a week but we are confident that our planning and preparation will ensure the success of the end result.
I am looking forward to being able to use the entertainment area during the summer as our summers are becoming increasingly hotter and this area is definitely the coolest place in the house.
Thank you all for your comments and feedback to my last post. I gave myself the day off from posting yesterday while I considered how I will manage posts and new content in the future.
Three weeks of daily posts has convinced me that it is not feasible to continue this schedule indefinitely. While there is sometimes plenty of content to fill daily posts there is not always time to create the posts with the detail I prefer to include.
I canvassed the possibility of creating a pattern of posts each week based around cooking, gardening, organising and sewing. However, I have discarded that idea as I really do not want to lock myself into a regimented pattern.
So, I will generally be posting every 2 – 3 days on a variety of subjects with no strict pattern but simply based on what is happening, and hopefully, of interest to my readers.
As well as the regular blog posts there will also be content posted on Instagram. Please follow me @ organisedcastle Additionally, the Instagram posts are shared to the Organised Castle page on Facebook. ‘Like’ the page on Facebook and receive notification of new blog posts.
If you find a post that resonates with you please feel free to share with others, either via a link on your blog, Facebook or other social media.
Finally, do you have a blog? Please share in the comments if you would like me to add it to the blog roll on the right-hand side of my blog. This is a list of some of the informative, useful and downright lovely blogs that I follow.
That is enough introspection from me. The next blog post will be back to the garden to show you the progress on our latest project.