Custom Made

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Sometimes we make things to satisfy a creative urge, save money or simply because we cannot buy the desired item.  My most recent sewing definitely falls into the latter category.

Today I made a table runner for the top of the chest of drawers which which GMan uses.  I wrote this post a couple of years ago when we had it restored.  The top of it had been bare and I had not really thought about adding any linen to it.  Lacy doilies would definitely not have been welcome.

I recently found a piece of blue fabric when I was digging around at the op shop for fabric suitable for the Boomerang bags that I make.  I realised that it would be perfect to make a table runner.

Some test stitching to find something suitable to embellish the edges.

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The finished article.

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Pressed and in place.

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The new runner provides a finished look to the chest of drawers, blends nicely with the colour in the bedroom and is not in any way frilly or lacy.  I think it works perfectly.

I think I would have gone crazy if I had set out to find this ready-made.  It needed to be a specific length and colour which I think would have made that quest close to impossible.  However, with a relatively basic sewing machine I was able to create exactly what I needed.

A New Year

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The year may be new but many things stay the same.  I went back to work on 2nd January so time is tight but I am determined to make time for regular blog posts.  Unfortunately, I have been a bit preoccupied these past few days.  This has been due to the financial collapse of Bestjet and its impact.  You can read about it all here.

Anyway, we have dealt with that to the best of our ability at the moment and life goes on.  I am doing all of the things that I did in 2018 and continue to do in 2019.  Washing and ironing as well as preparing meals and trying to spend more time on sewing and gardening.

The garden is quite remarkable as we continue to harvest food with very little care or effort on our part.

Here is my haul from this afternoon.

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The lettuce, beans and tomatoes are all from self-sown plants.  We had lettuce and tomatoes in the salad with bean tacos for dinner tonight.  Since I found the beans, I think I will have beef and bean stir-fry tomorrow.

One of my goals for this year is to eat or drink some home-grown produce every day, preferably at every meal.  I am doing pretty well so far.

Tomorrow I will show you what I have been sewing.

Life Skills

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The topic of tonight’s post is relatively minor and almost insignificant.  On many occasions I would not have even considered it as a potential blog post.

However, it has recently occurred to me that a lot of what I do and take entirely for granted are activities or skills that would be completely unknown to many people.  Therefore, this year I am going to make a concerted effort to post about some of the little things that fall under the broad category of life skills.

I made a sampler of different sewing stitches when I was 8 years old.  It was a laborious task undertaken in school sewing lessons in Year 3.  The sampler is framed and hangs in my sewing room these days.  There are 6 different stitches, one of which is blanket stitch.

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I don’t think I have ever used blanket stitch in over 50 years since that sampler was completed.

Nevertheless, when I noticed the stitching at the end of a blanket coming unravelled  today, I immediately knew that I would mend it using blanket stitch.  It was a bit like riding a bike – you never forget.

The blanket is one of a pair that we have owned for 40 years so I guess it is not too bad that it needed some running repairs.  I simply threaded a large needle with the unravelled thread and restitched the edge with blanket stitch exactly as I had done on the sampler.

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The left hand side of the photo is the existing machined ‘blanket stitch’ and the right hand end is my repairs.

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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Collective Action

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Much of what I write about here falls under the broad categories of cooking, gardening and sewing and of course, the all-encompassing category of self-reliance.

The little things that I do every day contribute to my overall philosophy which is summed up in the byline of the blog – ‘A Simple, Sustainable Life’.

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It is important that we should never underestimate the value of the little things that we can all do each and every day.  However, sometimes we need to look beyond our own backyards and get involved on a larger scale.

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8 days ago on 30th November several major Australian cities and regional centres saw significant numbers of school students, young people and adult supporters marching for their future – a future generated by renewable energy, not coal.  I marched in support of these intelligent and articulate youngsters.

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I am somewhere towards the rear of this photo which was taken today.  There were many, more more out of view of the camera.

Thousands of people marched again today and will continue to do so until our state and Federal governments take serious action on climate change.  The most pressing issue is to have the proposed Carmichael mine by Adani in the Gallilee Basin stopped.

There will be more events in the coming weeks.

All of the research shows that a clear majority of Australians support this action so please consider being involved.  Stand up and be counted and let the politicians hear our collective voice.

Meanwhile, I have made another batch of strawberry jam.  That is 8kg of strawberries made into jam.

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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.