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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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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One Simple Change

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A few days after Christmas we ordered a new lounge suite.  This had been on the agenda for quite some time and we finally found the time to search out what we wanted on the internet and then went to see (and sit in) it in real life.The delivery time was expected to be 10 – 12 weeks but we asked if we could make a bit longer so that it would be delivered after our holidays in April.

One of the reasons we were looking at an extended delivery time was because we knew that there were a few other jobs that we wanted to do before we had a new lounge suite in the living room.

The main priority was to have the vinyl flooring in the lounge, dining room, kitchen, hallway and study re-surfaced.  This had not been done since the flooring was first laid about 10 years ago and was well overdue.  The main problem is that since it comprises such a major area of the house it is a challenge to move all of the furniture out of the way.  This seemed like the perfect time.

So now there is furniture and contents of shelves and cupboards stacked almost anywhere I can find a space.

The guest bedroom

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The front entry

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The floors are not the only area in need of some maintenance.  The kitchen ceiling was in poor condition and was GMan’s list of jobs.  He had already noted that since the living areas of the house are open plan that he would repaint all of the ceilings.

Of course, you paint the ceiling before refinishing the floors.

The kitchen and front entry were done a couple of weeks ago.  You can read about it here.  The lounge and dining room are currently being painted.

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Our bedroom has been completely emptied and GMan repainted the walls today.  The photo is before the painting.  Tomorrow the carpet will be replaced with vinyl flooring which will be much easier to keep clean, especially since we live on acreage in a semi-rural area.

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The bed frame has been dismantled and is in the study.

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We are sleeping on the mattress on the floor in my sewing room for a couple of nights.

Once the bedroom flooring is done and that room can be reassembled things will improve a bit.  The next step will be to arrange for the resealing of the other flooring.

Moving furniture is almost as much of an impetus to declutter as moving house.  We will not necessarily be putting everything back where it came from as we have realised that times have changed and some things that were essentials 10 years ago do not necessarily have a place here anymore.  There is no rush so we will carefully consider everything as we reassemble various rooms.

There will be ‘after’ photos in due course.

Pantry Staples & Re-arranging

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Yesterday we made a trek of about 80km round trip to Simply Good to stock up on dry goods for the pantry.

The use of bulk bins means that I can buy items without any packaging.  I have used paper bags for a number of years that I reuse over and over again but have recently begun taking my storage jars and having the tare weight recorded before filling them directly.  This makes unpacking a breeze when I get home.

I decided that is was time to tidy the pantry and wipe the shelves before replacing all of the jars.  Here is the end result.

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One of the things that had contributed to some of the space seeming cluttered was the abundance of varieties of loose leaf tea.  I do not drink tea or coffee but GMan does, and of course we like to have it available for guests.

I have read of several people who choose to have a tea/coffee ‘station’ with all of the requirements set up together, however, I had never really considered this as a possibility until yesterday.

This open shelf and cupboard are above the oven and and immediately adjacent to the corner pantry.

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I relocated my small collection of cookbooks to the top cupboard and have made the open shelf the tea/coffee ‘station’.

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The bowl in front of the teapot contains the mesh balls which we use for single serves of tea as we do not buy teabags.  The cork mat next to the bowl is for the other plunger which was being washed when I took this photo.

This does not include the jug which lives in the appliance cupboard or the freshly ground coffee which is refrigerated.

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I am very happy with the result of this re-arranging as it frees up some space in the pantry and keeps the necessities for hot drinks together without cluttering up my bench space.

Warts and All

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I am sure we have all been guilty of only showing the good/perfect/happy stuff online.  In fact, I do not believe we should feel guilty because none of us share everything about ourselves  – either online or in real life.

However, I do try to keep things as real as possible in what I discuss here on the blog and today is no exception.

I have microwave oven which sits in a purpose-built cavity below the bench in my kitchen.

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For a number of years I have had a piece of non-slip mat under the microwave which which works reasonably well.  I remove and clean this mat but over time it has become stained with mould and even soaking it in bleach and scrubbing does not restore it.  This is not a long-term solution as I try not to use bleach.

After some particularly wet weather a couple of weeks ago it was looking awful and I decided that I had to change my strategy.  I decided to make a towelling mat from an old bathmat.

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I cut the bathmat in half.  The next step was to find some fabric suitable to bind the edges.

Bias strips cut and ready to join.

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A roll of home-made bias binding – just like a bought one!  All you need is a ruler and iron.

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The finished product.  No cost and not a lot of time.

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Back to the microwave and the cavity.  Once I removed the microwave it really does look disgusting.  Time to get rid of the mat.

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I cleaned the space and once it was properly dry I added the new towelling mat.

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After cleaning the microwave inside and out, I replaced it in the alcove.

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I have enough bias binding to bind the other half of the bathmat so I will be able to alternate them and wash each week.