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.

 

A Gift of Love

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A few weeks ago I became aware that one of my former colleagues is expecting her first child.  As I had done for another colleague, I offered to make a quilt for her forthcoming addition to the family.

I dived into my stash for a selection of suitable fabrics and bought 2 small pieces to supplement what I had on hand.

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The first block completed.

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All of the patchwork done.  Now to make it into a quilt.

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The mum-to-be was delighted with the end result.

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It is special to be able to use my sewing skills to make unique gifts from materials which would otherwise be likely to end up in landfill.

Happy Blue Year!!

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The New Year’s Eve challenge that was posed in a Facebook group I follow was to post a photo of your take on ‘Bubbles, Berries and Blooms’.

So here it is to share with you all.

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Blue agapanthus from beside the driveway, a bowl of freshly picked blueberries from the garden and some soda water with a wedge of lime in one of my favourite glasses – the blue one of a set that belonged to my mother.

May 2019 be filled with beauty for you.

Sharing, Giving, Lending, Living

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The term ‘sharing economy’ is one with which many of us have become familiar over the past few years.  Probably the 2 most well-known are Air BnB (accommodation) and Uber (transport).  Both have been the subject of some negative media exposure due to their disruptive impact on well established and regulated industries – hotels and taxis.

There are many other far less formalised arrangements including community toy libraries, crop swaps, Boomerang bags, Christmas street parties and so on.

On a personal level, it can be as simple as giving some excess produce to a neighbour or borrowing a piece of equipment to complete some home maintenance.

In the spirit of sharing I want to tell you about what this mindset can look like.

Early in the year we decided to spend Christmas at the beach and found a beach house on Air BnB.  It has enough space for 6 of us – GMan and I, our 2 daughters and 2 granddaughters.  The house is a couple of blocks from the beach and while not super cheap, it is much more affordable than similar apartment accommodation.

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We have an elderly cat and dog who both need twice daily medication so we organised housesitters for a week.  This is a win-win as our home is occupied, the animals cared for and the housesitters have a week of free accommodation in a different setting – a holiday by any other name.  Unlike, Air BnB no money changes hands.

Harvey is pictured with my sister’s dog is is not much more than a pup.  It is a gorgeous photo of them both but certainly accentuates his advanced age.

2 days before we were due to leave for our beach holiday, our television chose to cease working – just stopped.  No warning, no nothing.  We only have one television so it meant that there would be no television viewing for the housesitters and we were not inclined to rush out to buy a new television a couple of days before Christmas.  Our daughter from Brisbane kindly brought her television and we set it up for the housesitters before all going to the beach.  Since our daughter was coming to the beach it was not going to be being used at her place this week.  Once we are home and have done some research on our options, we will buy a replacement.

Still on the Christmas theme, we try to keep our Christmas gifts either practical, consumable or experiences.  A few months ago, one of our daughters commented that she would like some more drinking glasses as they had recently had a few breakages.  I was happy to oblige but in the end I packaged up 6 matching glasses that I had owned for many years that were simply sitting in the sideboard and not being used.  There did not seem to be a lot of sense in going out and buying more for a gift when there were perfectly good ones at home.  Whilst not exactly an heirloom, she is happy to have these familiar glasses and I am pleased that are being used.

It is now 12 months since I first became involved in making Boomerang bags and you can read all about it here.  I have made well over 100 bags with fabric that I had in my stash, have been gifted and some bought from the local Salvos op shop.  A large quantity was given to me by my neighbour who is involved with the local Neighbourhood Centre. While some of the fabric is suitable for making a basic bag, I don’t think it is necessarily quite up to the standard required for the bags we are making for sale.  So, I have prepared enough fabric and straps to make 50 bags without the additional pocket.  These will be given back to Neighbourhood Centre for use when distributing food relief parcels to those in need.  I intend to add a note to each bag to encourage the recipient to reuse it for collecting food or another purpose.  They could also pass it on to someone else if they choose.

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I have several other plans for 2019.  These include being more efficient with our vegetable gardening so that I can share the produce with my neighbours.  Then there is our room which we offer through Air BnB.  We do not have a lot of guests as it has limited appeal, particularly as it is in a semi-rural area with no access to public transport.  On the up side – it is a quiet, get-away from it all spot located located close to some great scenery, walks and other relaxing activities.

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You could say I have left the best until last – the blog.  This has been my platform for sharing snippets of my life, including organising hints, recipes, thoughts and a thousand other things with you, my readers, over almost 8 years.

I would love to hear some examples of how you have or plan to participate in the sharing economy.  By sharing our experiences with each other we can build and enhance our networks and knowledge for the benefit of all.

Thank you for sticking with me during the leaner times on the blog and I look forward to moving onward and upward in 2019.

 

This Time Next Week………..

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…………..Christmas Day will be just about over.

This single day may be fun, joyous, tedious or whatever you choose to make it.  You may have shopped, cooked, decorated and planned for weeks or even months.  Was it worth it?

My approach to Christmas has become more low-key as the years go by.

In the meantime, life goes on and there is still washing and ironing to do as well as meals to prepare.  Tonight’s dinner is an example of my ‘speed cooking’ on weeknights after a full day at work.

I made Broccoli with Tuna Sauce which is one of my own adaptations of a recipe I saw in a magazine about 30 years ago.  There are no real quantities – just what seems reasonable.

Fry some diced onion, capsicum and a bit of Tabasco sauce.  Add a can of crushed tomatoes and 1/2 large can of tuna (shredded).  Simmer and reduce the liquid a little. Lightly steam a head of broccoli broken into florets.  Drain any excess liquid from the broccoli then pour the tuna sauce over it.  Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs and crisp under the griller.  I use a mixture of almond meal and flaxseed meal for a gluten-free option.

This meal took 20 minutes from starting the preparation until I served it.

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Upcycled Dress

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Last week my younger granddaughter was wearing a dress that was just about too short for her so I offered to alter it by adding a frill to the bottom of the dress.

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I foolishly thought that it would a relatively simple matter to buy a small piece of plain green poly cotton fabric to match.  I went to Spotlight and none of the dozens of plain green fabrics were even close to the colour I needed.  So, I ended up choosing a piece of Christmas fabric to do something a bit different.

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I set to work with this piece which cost me $5.  I added a deep contrasting frill and then used the remainder to make some bias binding to trim the existing frill at the top.  I also changed the shoulder straps.

Here is the result.

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The Christmas fabric means that the dress will have limited opportunities to be worn, however, it is still better than the original which really too short.

Izzy is excited at the prospect of a ‘new’ dress to wear for her Christmas concert on Friday.  It will probably also be worn a few more times in the next couple of weeks.

More Shopping

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I do not regard shopping as a pastime and generally do as little as possible.  I also endeavour to combine as many tasks as possible when we go out in order to reduce time, petrol, money and energy.

Since we live in a semi-rural area, it is a bit of an expedition if I do need to go to a major shopping centre.  So, when we went to stock up the pantry on Saturday, I decided to see if I could buy the Christmas gifts for our granddaughters.  I often take them to a show of some sort but this year it was a practical gift as suggested by our daughter.  New beach towels were on the shopping list.  I decided to check out Spotlight and was in luck.  I found these lovely, large towels by Canningvale.

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I decided to wrap them up and then it is all done.  A few years ago I made some reusable Christmas gift bags and I managed to find 2 that would fit the towels.

Adorned with some ribbon that has been reused many times and gift tags made from old Christmas cards and it was all done with next to no waste.

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I have a couple more gifts to buy and some home-made goodies to make and that is my Christmas gift-giving sorted.