Ugly Duckling

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A quick Google search will yield numerous results for the term ‘ugly fruit and vegetables’.  I do not know where or how the description originated but it simply refers to that produce which does not meet the consumer’s expectation of perfection.  There is a new wave of consumers who have realised that imperfect shape or non-conforming size do not render produce useless and destined for the waste bin.

While not specifically designated as ‘ugly fruit’ our local fruit and vegetable stall does have less than perfect items available from time to time.  You need to be prepared to chop, puree, freeze or preserve the entire quantity as soon as possible as it generally has a limited shelf life.  You can turn ‘ugly ducklings’ into ‘beautiful swans’.

Although I always write a shopping list for my shopping, including fruit and vegetables, I am always on the lookout for anything extra that I can use.

About a month ago I found a box of ripe yellow peaches that were most definitely seconds.  I decided that I could not go wrong when I noticed they were priced at $5 for the box.  I discovered that there were 6kg of peaches and I only needed to discard 2 peaches and removes spots from a couple of others.  Some were pureed and frozen to go on my cereal in the future and others being dehydrated while more were set aside in the refrigerator to be used fresh during the following days.  My favourite was the 5 jars of peach and chilli chutney made from this recipe.

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Yesterday we needed to replenish our supplies after our holidays and I spied another box for $5 at the fruit and vegetable stall.  This time it was pineapples.  12 small pineapples for $5 was a bargain not to be passed up.  Once again, despite not looking great from the outside, there was only a small portion that I needed to discard.

I did not make anything particularly fancy but I have plenty of pineapple frozen and ready to use.  Some is pureed for use on my cereal and the remainder is small slices packed into containers.  It is quite easy to remove as much or as little as is required for a particular recipe.

This is the haul (after I had eaten a couple of pieces).

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Do you look for seconds or bargains when buying fruit and vegetables?  What have you found and how did you process it?

 

Love a List

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We arrived home a little over 2 days ago after being away for almost 3 weeks.  There was the inevitable washing and ironing as well as grocery shopping but there seemed to be a million and one other things whirling around in my head that required my attention.

So, the first step was to write a list.

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I started writing this on Wednesday evening and have worked through many of the items but there are plenty left to do.  Some may not even get done but that is OK.  I know that some people advocate against “endless ‘TO DO’ lists” but I find that the clarity that a list provides far outweighs any perceived pressure.

I don’t have fancy journals or bulletin boards – just a simple unused notebook is sufficient.  I add things to it as I think of them and there is no specific time-frame so it is more of a memory prompt than anything else.

My list is a mix some regular tasks – washing, ironing, handwashing, digital tasks – send email to ………, update Outlook calendar, clear out inbox, food preparation – cut up pineapple, make Tabasco sauce and completely miscellaneous jobs such as writing up notes for a presentation of our Scotland holiday photos.

List-making minimises the stress of feeling like I am juggling too many balls, provides a reminder of what needs to be done and provides a sense of focus and accomplishment as I tick things off the list.

What about you? Lists?  Yes or no?

 

Pretty and Practical

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There are many ways you can add a touch of prettiness to your home without sacrificing practicality and still keep it relatively clutter-free.

These images are not from my own home but an Air BnB home where we stayed recently.

Jugs were the order of the day.

Facewashers on the vanity.

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Toilet brush holder.

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Holding the airfreshener on the windowsill.

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There was another in the kitchen beside the sink with the dishwahing liquid bottle in it.

The interesting thing is that they did not disguise the practical items but certainly added a little ‘something’ to the decor

The host also made curtains professionally and this was evident in the window treatments in the house.  There was an Austrian blind over the large window above the bathtub and it was adorned with a magnificent tassel on either side.

Here is a close-up.

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While I am not likely to implement any of these ideas into my own home, it is lovely to see other interiors.

 

 

 

Secondhand Stuff

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One way to significantly reduce our carbon footprint is to source pre-loved items in preference to buying new.

There are a number of ways of achieving this.  Thrift stores, garage sales and online groups as well as hand-me-downs and cast-offs from friends and family.

I think it is important not to simply use this as a way of acquiring excess possessions that will not be used.  However, if you are willing to watch and wait and be prepared to take advantage of what comes your way, there are plenty of bargains out there.

Here are some of my finds from the last week.

I was walking past the recycle boutique in our local town when I spied this dress hanging outside the shop.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered it was my size.

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After a relatively minor alteration it is ready to wear to a Christmas lunch tomorrow and probably on Christmas Day as well.

On Saturday morning I ventured to a clearing sale at a property not far from where we live.  I knew that there would be a wide selection and went with an open mind.

This was what I ended up with.  Total cost was $50.

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The 2 larger Pyrex dishes are for my daughter.

The doona set was for king-size bed but I modified it for our queen-size bed.  You can see the pattern better as it is on the line after being washed.

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The offcuts have not been wasted as I will be able to cut squares for the patchwork quilt which is a work in progress but will one day grace our bed.

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The bed linen is the perfect colour for our room.

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Gardening in Extreme Heat

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My apologies to those of you who live in the northern hemisphere.  Here in Australia summer has just begun (officially) after having sweltered through the driest and second-hottest spring on record.  Daily temperatures in excess of 30C, and sometimes 35C, have been the new normal here for several weeks.  Hot, dry and windy days have increased the fire risk to ‘severe’ on many days.  We live at about 400m above sea level and within 30km of the coast so our conditions are nothing like those facing the drought-stricken farmers further west.

Growing food in our current weather is a challenge but one I am prepared to try.  Summer means salads and salads mean lettuce.  So, I am growing lettuce.  I have some in one of the main garden beds which was grown from seed as well as some in styrofoam boxes that were purchased seedlings.

I water the plants thoroughly twice a day – early in the morning and again late in the afternoon.  I cover them during the day and so far this seems to be an effective strategy.

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We picked the first leaves today and are looking forward to plenty more salads based on lettuce grown without chemicals within 10 metres of our back door and completely devoid of packaging.

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Making a Difference

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Australia has just recorded the driest spring on record – EVER!  Additionally, it was the second-hottest spring on record and fell just 0.04C short of the record.

We live in what is generally regarded as a high-rainfall, temperate sub-tropical area, however, that description seems but a distant memory.  As the hot, dry weather continues we are constantly looking for ways to save our precious water.

Our water supply is entirely rainwater which we collect in the 2 large tanks with a combined capacity of close to 100,000 litres.  In the 14 years we have lived here we have barely scratched the surface of that capacity, however, the current drought has made us consider what measures we can take to preserve every precious drop. If we were to run out, our only option is to buy water.  Even purchased water has to come from somewhere and there does not seem to be an endless supply.

In an effort to be as self-reliant as possible we are trying to grow more of our own food which necessitates watering crops in the dry weather whereas during a ‘normal’ season they manage quite well on the natural rainfall except as very small seedlings.

We retrieved a square plastic washing-up dish from our camping equipment and it now lives in the kitchen sink to catch any excess water from washing hands, rinsing dishes etc and that is then tipped onto various ornamental shrubs to help keep them alive.

The other thing we did was to buy 10 metres of hose to attach to the washing machine outlet.  Before I do a load of washing I unroll the hose out of the laundry and across the verandah so that it empties the washing water onto the hibiscus bushes at the front of the house.  The only problem is what to do with 10 metres of hose when it is not in use.

Today, we located a bracket that we had and GMan kindly attached it to the wall above the sink and now the hose coils neatly in place when not in use.

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What changes have you made to save water or other resources?

Patterns and Pants

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Dressmaking can be a challenge when trying to get a perfect fit.  One of the best methods I know is to disassemble a garment which you love and fits well and then use the pieces to make a customised pattern.  I did this several years ago with a sleeveless, collared shirt and have made numerous shirts from the pattern.  Here are a couple of examples.

This time it was the turn of my white cropped pants which I have had for about 9 years.  They are starting to get a bit thin in places.

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I generally use non iron-on interfacing for tracing the pattern. It is reasonably sturdy and stands up to repeated uses. However, on Sunday I discovered that I did not have any left so I had to think laterally.  I had a scramble through my stash and found several large pieces which had been part of a donation to Boomerang Bags but were not suitable.  The fabric is medium-weight, cream synthetic with no stretch so I decided to use it for the pattern pieces which worked perfectly.  It was easy to add markings and instructions, too.

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This is the fabric that I had earmarked for my first attempt with the pattern.  About 3 metres of a medium-weight cotton drill that I had bought last year for $4 at the local Salvos thrift shop.

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I am very pleased with the result.

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The only variation I made from the original was not to add belt loops.  I never wear a belt with these pants and the absence of the loops makes for a smoother silhouette.

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I call them my ladybird pants and you certainly won’t lose me in a crowd when wearing these.

I have a black, fitted t-shirt which I will be able to wear with them and I plan to make a black linen shirt using the pattern I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Now that I am happy with the construction and fit of these pants, I am working on a pair of lightweight dark navy linen ones.  They will be full-length rather than cropped.

I have several sewing projects underway or planned and I will show you more in future blog posts.