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!!

Wardrobe Audit – January

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At the beginning of January I turned all of the coathangers in my wardrobe around.  The idea behind this is that once an item has been worn you replace the hanger in the correct manner.  This provides an easy way to identify those items which have not been worn.

Since the past month has been recorded as the hottest ever start to the year in Australia, it is no surprise to find that jackets, cardigans, jeans and trousers were not worn in January.  Of the seasonally appropriate items, there are a couple of tops and 3 skirts which have not yet been worn.  I am sure their time will come.

The other thing I decided to do was not to buy any new clothes in January.  This was not entirely successful depending on your definition of ‘new’.  I bought 3 items that are new to me during the month.  We have a local recycle boutique which I check out from time to time.  I am fairly selective and only choose pieces that are absolutely perfect for me and I could not go past these.

Patterned cropped jeans

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Sleeveless cowl neck top

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Long sleeve white linen shirt

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Although none of them had tags attached, I am pretty sure that they are all unworn.

Finally, I moved three items out of my wardrobe.  The first was a pair of jeans I bought in 2012.  They have had a lot of wear and are getting pretty thin as well as somewhat faded and stained.  They are are now in the pile of clothes to be worn around the house and when gardening.  Similarly a sleeveless tshirt top has seen better days so met the same fate.  A pair of white shorts went in the bin as the elastane had all given way and they were not in a fit state to be used or donated.

All of this wardrobe activity takes place on a background of the knowledge that my clothes needs will evolve with my upcoming retirement in a few months along with plenty of travelling planned.

As always, I will only be making carefully considered purchases.

I will continue to monitor and report on my progress during the year.

Far From Perfect

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2019 is nearly upon us and although I am not one for New Year’s resolutions it is a good time to start with a clean slate and perhaps set some goals.

While we were at the beach for a week I had plenty of time to give this some thought.  I have already started but my goal for 2019 is to have my photos sorted, culled, labelled and catalogued.  Any long-term readers of the blog will know that this is not the first time I have tried this but in 2019 it will happen.  I fully expect that this project may well take most of the year.

When I mentioned my goal in an online group I received a request ( a little tongue-in-cheek) about doing the same thing for other people.  While I will be well-occupied doing my own I can offer a few tips that may help you get started and assist in avoiding some of the pitfalls that have tripped me up on previous attempts.

Photographs are a way of preserving memories and we will all do it differently.  There are digital files – most common these days, prints in albums, a digital photo frame and photobooks.  They probably all have their place but whatever you do, you need to be able to locate and enjoy your photos as well as sharing them with others.

1.  Ask yourself what you are aiming to achieve.  This may determine how you approach the task.

I want to create a pictorial record of our lives which will be of interest and potentially useful (eg: family history) for future generations.  It needs to be accessible and fun to look at also.

2.  Decide on categories.

My broad categories include Holidays, Family, Blogs

3.  For digital files, create a naming convention which works for you.  It is important to remember to remember how digital files are ordered.  For example, if you number things as 1, 2, 3, 4 etc it will end up being 1, 11, 12, 13……………….19, 2, 20, 21 and so on.  To avoid this you need to know approximately how many items will potentially be in your sequence and number as 001, 002, 003 etc which will give you up to 999 in correct numerical order.

I use a numeric prefix for each photo before the description, otherwise they will be sorted alphabetically.  My London folder from my UK holiday might look like this:

01 Tower of London
02 London Bridge
03 Houses of Parliament
04 Paddington Station

4.  Specialised naming conventions may be relevant – or not.

All of my blog photos are in separate folders from the general photos and are named as follows yyyy-mm-dd 00.  The date relates to the date the post was published and the number is the first, second or third photo in the post.  This way I can locate them in the future if necessary.

5.  Decide what is really worth keeping.  Refer back to point No. 1.  Remember that the photo you took 1, 5, 10 or more years ago may simply not be of any value to you or others now or in the future.  Be prepared to be ruthless and discard those images that are duplicated, very similar to another or that you cannot remember the details.  If you can’t remember or identify a photo now it is not going change in the future.

6.  Make sure you identify people in your descriptions – memories fade as the years pass.

7.  Photographic negatives are not required if you have a print.  Discard old negatives.

I am sure there are many more things to consider but these are a few to get you started.

Once I have sorted the digital files which include hundreds of prints that I scanned a few years ago, I will then move on to the various piles of prints which are semi-categorised and stored in packets in a shoebox.  I am aiming to only have digital files which are all named and sorted.  Your goal may be a little different.

Here are some examples of what you may want to keep.

This is a perfectly pleasant scene but it does not really hold any specific memories for me and it would not be of any benefit to future generations.  As an aside, it is overlooking the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and was taken in 1982.  I only know this because of the other photos in the series and the particular trip was taken when our elder daughter was about 3 months old.

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On the other hand, the photo below is one of the first photos taken which includes all of my siblings.  This holds a special place in my heart and with the addition of the names and a year would be both a special memory as well as a valuable resource to my descendants.

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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.

 

Feeling Rich

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I can clearly remember when I was about 10 years old thinking about what I would have when I was rich.  Did I really understand the meaning of ‘rich’?  Possibly not.

My family were staying at the beach for our annual holiday and I was struggling to put on a pair of damp bathers in order to go to the beach after lunch.  You see, we might have been on holidays at the beach but certain rules of etiquette still applied.  One was that you did not come to the dining table to eat lunch dressed in your swimwear.  So, after being at the beach in the morning you were changed for lunch.  The swimwear was rinsed and hung on the line.  However, they were not completely dry by the time I wanted to go back to the beach in the afternoon – no lycra swimwear then, so it took ages to dry.  I dreamed of the day when I was rich and could have two pairs of bathers.

When I was in my late teens and working, I did have a couple of pairs of bikinis but this was a fashion statement rather than any sort of practical application of my childhood fantasy.

Swimming is not a major pastime for me so one pair of bathers is generally sufficient and the challenge of buying decent swimwear that I am happy with is usually enough to stop me even considering buying more.  However, I did buy a second pair last year when I was away at a conference and unexpectedly had an opportunity to go swimming.  I was fortunate to find what I regarded as the perfect pair of bathers – style, colour and price.

We have 2 beach holidays coming up in the next 6 months so my 2 pairs of bathers will definitely come in handy.  Perhaps I will feel rich, too.

I recently decided to buy a sarong to co-ordinate with the second pair of bathers.  Whilst I am not a huge fan of online shopping for clothes, it was a godsend in this instance.  Size is not an issue for a sarong and the internet allowed me to search literally hundreds of sarongs to find one in a colour and pattern I wanted.

The parcel arrived yesterday and I am happy with my purchase.

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This is the other sarong and bathers so I am all prepared for the beach.

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How rich am I with 2 sets of co-ordinating beachwear?

What makes you feel rich?

The Slippery Slope

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It is 3 weeks since my last blog post.  All of the usual home stuff has been happening as well as going to the movies, lunch with friends, family visiting and a trip to Sydney so there is possibly a reason why blogging has not been a priority.

However, that is not really an excuse as these sorts of events usually provide plenty of material for posts rather than simply not posting.  I think it is simply that I am tired and the end of the year is fast approaching – it is exactly 11 weeks until Christmas Day.

Once it gets to September, it feels as though the year is almost gone and we seem to be on some sort of crazy trajectory and hurtling towards Christmas and the end of the year.  My work is such that deadlines loom, demands increase and everyone expects the impossible to be achieved.  I am very thankful that this is the last year I will experience this pressure as I will be well and truly retired by this time next year.

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Quite aside from work commitments, most of us celebrate Christmas and it is easy to get caught up in all of the commercialism and hype.  Our Christmas celebrations are fairly low-key and are usually a small family gathering for a special meal together and modest gifts for the immediate family.  As much as possible, I aim for experiences or practical gifts.

This year our 2 daughters and 2 granddaughters will join us for a week at the beach.  We will not be too far from home so it should not be a major undertaking.

My Christmas preparation so far has been to book our accommodation (several months ago) and I bought a gift a few days ago when I was in Sydney.  I happened to see it and thought it would be perfect.

There will be a couple more gifts to source and I will need to plan a menu for Christmas Day.  We do not indulge in huge amounts of festive food and I expect there will be lots of fresh fruit and simple salads consumed during the time we are at the beach.  Some casual, relaxed down-time for everyone (including the cook) is just what will be needed by the end of the year.

I may need to find a copy of this book!

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Other Interests

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You could be mistaken for thinking that I have no other interests apart from what I write about here.

While gardening, cooking and sewing are both hobbies and an integral part of our simple, sustainable life they are not my only interests.

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GMan and I have many shared interests.  Films, books, photography, history, music, art, architecture and travel are equally as important to me as the more practical pursuits.  I don’t have as much time as I would like to indulge in some of these and they are often mostly confined to holiday times.

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We both enjoy the films and social interaction provided by the local film society screenings each fortnight in our country town.  Today was the AGM of the society and I have accepted the role of secretary for a second year.  Community organisations such as the film society exist due the generous contribution of members who volunteer in a variety of ways and I feel that it is important to give back to the community in this way.

Are your hobbies inextricably linked to your lifestyle or do you have hobbies or interests that are……..just because?