More Modifications

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A few months ago I wrote about mending my mop.  You can read about it here.

Well, I have made another modification or addition to increase its versatility.

2020-07-08 01

We have a large expanse of timber decking which we recently had revarnished.  It can get quite dusty so I wanted to mop it.  However, I was not keen to destroy the sponge head which I use for the hard floors indoors.

2020-07-08 02

So, I set about making a removable cover.  This is a piece of old towel from my stash of rags which live in the cupboard below the laundry tub.  I actually remember this as my father’s beach towel about 50 years ago.

2020-07-08 03

Using the mop head as a template I cut a piece of towel and mitred the corners.

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I checked to see that it fitted before trimming the excess and finishing the raw edges.

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On the mop.

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I obviously needed to keep it in place so I sewed some salvaged elastic inside the edge to draw it over the mop head.

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The addition of a couple of ties to fully secure the cover in place.

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Ready to go.

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The end result.

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I was pleased to be able to create a solution using salvaged materials that I had on hand.  I addition to the old beach towel I used elastic retrieved from worn out underwear and the ties were from a long ago pair of trousers that had worn out.

The cover cannot easily be squeezed out so it is not suitable for indoor use but is perfect for washing down the verandah floor.

An Opportunist

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We were out and about this morning looking for some timber for our next outdoor project.  It was an area we do not usually frequent and I spied a flat-top truck parked by the side of the road.  It was piled with unpackaged fruit and vegetables so I quickly asked GMan to pull over so that I could see what was on offer.

I had bought fruit and vegetables 2 days ago which would probably last us at least 10 days but I was not about to pass up an opportunity.  There were zucchini, tomatoes, capsicums and lemons and everything was $2/kg.  It had been picked yesterday from a farm in an area about 3 hours drive to the north of where we live.  The tomatoes were not sufficiently ripe for me to consider them and we most definitely do not need lemons as we have 2 trees of our own.

Most of the capsicums were green but I selected a couple which were semi-coloured as well as several zucchini.

2020-06-20 01

This haul cost me $4.70.

While this was somewhat of an impulse buy, it was not without some consideration as to how I would use the produce.  The capsicums are quite large so I am going to cut one in half lengthwise and stuff them for dinner tonight and serve with a side of coleslaw.

I have cooked some quinoa to use as the basis for the stuffing.

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The remaining capsicum will probably be used in a roasted vegetable salad along with some of the zucchini as well as eggplant and mushrooms that I bought on Thursday.

I intend to make another zucchini quiche which will use up a couple more of the zucchini.

It is great to be able to directly support farmers as well as snapping up a bargain.

Most importantly, nothing will go to waste.

 

 

New Creation

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Our dinner last night was a previously untested creation.  GMan hailed it as a real success.  While there are recipes for Eggplant and Mushroom Stroganoff online, mine is a variation on the beef version I used to make a number of years ago.

Eggplant and Mushroom Stroganoff

1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 red capsicum, diced
1 medium eggplant, cubed
12 mushrooms, sliced
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
2 teaspoons beef stock powder
60ml Worcestershire sauce
125g ricotta cheese
500ml water
2 teaspoons arrowroot

Spread the cubed eggplant on a roasting pan, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Roast at 160C for about 15 minutes or until tender.

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Saute  onion and garlic in a frying pan.  Add capsicum, mushrooms and eggplant.  Add pepper, smoky paprika, beef stock powder, Worcestershire sauce and water.  Simmer gently for 10 minutes.  Add ricotta cheese stirring gently to combine.  Thicken with arrowroot blended with a little water.  Cook for a further 2 minutes.

Serve over pasta of your choice.

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NOTES:

I added some finely shredded bok choy which I lightly sauteed before stirring into the stroganoff immediately before serving.

The ricotta cheese was used because it was what I had on hand.  You could substitute cream or evaporated milk to create the creamy sauce.

I used gluten free penne pasta.  Rice would be a suitable alternative to pasta.

This made 2 generous servings.

 

Chairs, Clothes and Other Bits

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We have recently replaced the protective felt feet on the legs of our kitchen chairs.  There are four high chairs which fit around our large return bench/meals area.

This project was undertaken two chairs at a time so for several weeks there have only been two chairs in the kitchen at any given time.  I realised how much less cluttered the area felt with only two chairs.  Since there is only GMan and I here most of the time, there is really no necessity to have four chairs.

The next question was, where could we store the other two chairs so that they would stay clean and be easily accessible when we had additional guests?  We found that the wardrobe in the guest room would be perfect but the space was currently occupied.  My off-season (summer) clothes were hanging on the rail and the floor was filled with about 100 magazines which are some of my retirement reading material as well as 5 large photo albums.

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I set about working out how I could re-arrange things.

The clothes were moved to the empty hanging space in the third bedroom which is used primarily as my sewing room.

2020-06-17 02

The photo albums provided the impetus to continue working on sorting and culling my photos – both digital and hard copy.  You can read more about that in my post from yesterday.  They will live in the library/study until they are no longer required.

2020-06-16 01

The magazines have been relocated to the drawers of the dressing table in the guest room.  I intend to make a start on reading them and expect that once I have finished reading them I will pass them on to someone else who may be interested in them.

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The chairs are now in the wardrobe but easy to retrieve when we need them.

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I am pleased with the final result and as an added bonus I have been spurred into doing some more work on the photos as well as making a start on reading my large collection of Australian Geographic magazines.

Minimalism, Decluttering and Zero Waste

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While each of these concepts or activities are all different and stand alone, they can be inter-related.

Here are some definitions/explanations of the three terms.

Minimalism – is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.  This comes from ‘The Minimalists’.  You can read the full article here.

Decluttering – to remove things you do not need from a place, in order to make it more pleasant and more useful.  From the Cambridge Dictionary.

Zero Waste – is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean.  From Wikipaedia.

Minimalism and decluttering are very personal and subjective topics and I am not here to tell you that you must only own a certain number of a particular item or what you should or should not remove from your life or home.

There is no good reason for the order in which I listed these topics but I feel as though decluttering should come first.  I think it would be almost impossible to consider minimalism without  first removing the clutter.

Identifying and removing clutter is the first step to clearing both physical and mental spaces.  However, beware of anyone who tells you that they they decluttered their entire home on the weekend.  It is best done as a considered and incremental process otherwise the results are likely to be the same as a ‘crash diet’.  You may lose your way and end up in a worse position than when you started.

Below are are couple of photos of my bathroom.  It did not always look like this.  I do not expect that is how yours should look.  It is simply an example.

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It is close to 20 years since I began to question the variety of lotions and potions I seemed to have but I did not throw any away.  I gradually used things up and did not replace them.  Routines have been simplified and we no longer use shampoo or conditioner.  I mostly wash my hair with plain water and occasionally use a small amount of body wash.  This was not a conscious decision but a by-product of questioning what we really need.  I am not alone as you can see here.

The reason that I mentioned not using shampoo or conditioner is that is a perfect example of how minimalism, decluttering and zero waste can be tied together.  My shower shelf and bathroom cabinet are not cluttered and our bathroom needs are minimal.  There are no shampoo bottles ending up in landfill or at best, possibly being recycled.  Additionally, trying to avoid harsh chemicals and toxins ceases to be an issue.

You do not need to subscribe to any particular philosophy but living an authentic life which works for you is important.

Your thoughts?

 

What Lies Within

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Today I cleaned the vanity unit in our bathroom.  It is generally a quick wipe over the mirror with home-made window cleaner then the sink and surrounds with a cream cleanser – also home-made.  The recipe for the window cleaner is simply 400ml water, 100ml vinegar and a few drops of dishwashing liquid mixed in a spray bottle.  The recipe for the cream cleanser is here.

2020-04-11 01

Nowhere are my minimalist tendencies more evident than in the bathroom.  All that is on the bench is a toothbrush holder (repurposed vase with a hole drilled in the bottom) and a soap dish with a small cake of hand soap.  Keeping the bench clear makes it easy to clean.

However, today I cleaned the cupboards and all of the drawers so the first task was to remove everything.  This is the contents of my vanity unit laid bare.

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I started with the cupboard as that was relatively easy.  The large box on the right hand side contains all medications and first aid supplies.  I had cleaned and sorted this a few weeks ago, including removing any expired medications which I returned to the chemist for disposal.

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Then it was on to the drawers.  The top two have 4 clear plastic containers which I use to divide and contain the contents.  I bought them about 10 years ago from Howard’s Storage World.  After washing and drying the containers, I reviewed and replaced the contents.  GMan uses one drawer and I have the other.

This is mine.

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There are no photos of the other drawers but the third one has a bag of essentials, including prescription medications and the relevant paperwork.  This is specifically to grab and add to our evacuation kit if the need should ever arise.  In order for the medication not to expire, I constantly use and replace these medications on a weekly basis.

The bottom drawer has an assortment of extra stock such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, and shower caps as well as my hairdryer.

I threw out a few things but this was predominately a cleaning exercise.  I found various sample-sized items as well as some almost empty bottles that simply need to be used up.  I put everything in the container below and will leave it out on the bench to remind us to use them.

2020-04-11 05

Projects and Phone Calls

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A few days ago I posted on my Facebook page that I had cleaned a window.  Yes, one window but it was the large window above the kitchen sink.  One of my Facebook friends (thanks, Helen) commented that she had chosen to undertake some ‘Projects’ during the current self-isolation regime that many of us are currently undertaking.  She noted that projects have no time-frame and do not include regular day-to-day housework.

Yesterday was a very productive day here with a couple of projects completed as well as washing, ironing and some general housework.

I removed everything from the cupboard under the sink and wiped it out with a damp cloth.  I did not declutter anything as that had been done long ago and everything that remains is functional and used.

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Replaced and ready to go.

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Next was the cutlery drawer.  One of the great mysteries of life is how grubby a cutlery drawer can become when the only thing that goes in there is clean cutlery.

Emptied out.

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The plastic divider was washed and dried before replacing it.

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Completed – until next time.

2020-04-06 05

Today was a completely different story.  There were no projects tackled but I did make and receive numerous phone calls.  Some were planning, others were social calls to extended family and yet another was finalising the rescheduling of a trip to Uluru which we had been unable to undertake due to the current restrictions.  I did manage to fit in a bit of sewing, too.

While I do have a basic daily routine and some projects (large and small) in mind, my achievements vary enormously from day to day.

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.

2020-03-20 01

2020-03-20 02

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.

2020-03-20 03

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.

 

 

Mending a Mop

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I have a squeezy mop with a foam head which I have owned for a number of years.  I use it relatively infrequently as sometimes I find that getting down on my hands and knees and washing the floor is the best option.  Nevertheless, the foam head really needed replacing but of course the matching size did not appear to be available.  This would have entailed buying an entire new mop which I find objectionable – both for the unnecessary cost and waste.

So, I bought a jumbo sponge for the princely sum of $1.90 and set about replacing the sponge.  The first step was to remove the plastic backing pieces from the existing head.  These are used to attach it to the mop.  I scraped most of the glue off it.

2020-02-25 01

The new sponge was quite thick so I sliced it in half to have enough for 2 replacement sponge heads.  Then I used the old sponge as template to trim the sponge to the correct size.

This is the glue which I chose to use to attach the plastic backing plates to the new sponge.  I have not used it before but it was easy to handle and worked well.

2020-02-25 02

I marked the position of the the backing plate, applied the glue and gently clamped it for a couple of hours.

2020-02-25 03

After 24 hours I checked the position for the second backing plate and repeated the procedure.

Once the glue was thoroughly set I replaced it on the mop and put it to use.

2020-02-25 04

The new mop head is working successfully.

Gluten Free Veggie Rolls

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Regular sausage rolls are quite obviously not vegetarian.  Nor are they gluten free.  So, here is an alternative.

GLUTEN FREE SHORTCRUST PASTRY

Ingredients

1 & 1/2 cups gluten free self-raising flour
90g butter
1/3 cup cold water

Method

Place flour in a bowl.  Finely shred the butter and rub into the flour until crumbly.  Add cold water and stir in with a knife blade to make a firm dough.  Knead on a lightly floured surface and roll out as thinly as possible.  Use as desired for quiche, savoury pie, sausage rolls etc.

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VEG FILLING

1 cup red lentils (soaked for 3-4 hours)
1 onion diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
300g sweet potato
2 tablespoons hummus
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried powdered tomato
2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper

GLAZE

1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

Cook the sweet potato and mash roughly.  Saute the onion and garlic.  Drain the lentils and combine all of the ingredients thoroughly.

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Whisk the egg and milk together for the glaze.

Roll out the pastry on a flexible surface which will assist in rolling the pastry.  A baking sheet works well.  Spread mixture on pastry.  Create a roll and use a little of the glaze to seal the join of the pastry.  Cut into suitable sizes.  Glaze with egg mixture and bake for approximately 20 minutes at 190C.

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NOTES

I use this mix of gluten free flour and add 2 teaspoons baking powder for each cup of flour used.

The filling ingredients can be varied depending on personal tastes and what you have on hand.  For example the hummus was in the fridge and needed to be used up.  The main thing is that you are looking for a mixture which will stick together and is adequately seasoned to your liking.

These can be part of a main meal as well as a substantial snack.

I served them with quinoa tabouli and some homemade tomato sauce for dinner.

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The remainder have been packed up for the freezer.

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