Indoor Pursuits

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We have experienced some wild weather (strong winds and heavy rain) over the past 48 hours but I have been happily ensconced indoors.

Our granddaughters have finished school for the year and are spending this week with us. I decided that it was a perfect opportunity do do some sewing for them. I had promised it some weeks ago but it is definitely easier when they are here and I am able to try garments on and fit as I go.

The first project was a pair of summer pyjamas for Miss13. I had previously begun the boxer shorts so it was a relatively simple matter of measuring and attaching the elastic. The elastic was salvaged from worn-out underwear when the elastic is as good as new. It is great to be able to re-use this resource.

I did not have a suitable pattern for the shirt so I turned to my collection of Enid Gilchrist pattern books which belonged to my mother. She used various patterns to make outfits for me and my siblings when we were young and in turn I used them for my daughters and granddaughters. Most of the patterns are for birth to 6 years, however, there is one book of outfits for girls which goes up to 12 year olds. I decided that a pattern for a blouse/shirt with numerous variations would be suitable and set about drafting a copy onto some salvaged heavy brown paper.

My piece of gifted fabric proved to be just enough for the pyjamas. Here is the shirt with mauve buttons which I found in my collection.

The recipient was happy to model them once they were finished.

I am now working on another top using the same basic pattern but with a different neckline and sleeve. I am using one of her existing tops as the template for the sleeve.

Stay tuned for more sewing projects.

Concrete – Covered and Cleaned

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Today I want to show you a couple of small but significant home maintenance jobs.

Since we live in a rural area we do not have sewerage. Instead there are 2 tanks – a septic and a greywater one. They would have been installed when the property was initially developed so they are probably close to 30 years old. Unfortunately, both of the lids had become cracked and chipped so we decided to replace them

I thought this would be a relatively simple task but after much research via Google, I was still unsure as to what they were actually called, whether they came in different sizes and whether it was possible to replace the concrete lids with fabricated steel ones.

I rang our local Council who were of minimal assistance except to say that they had to be restored to the original state – so that ruled out steel covers. Next, I tried a local plumber who said that he didn’t keep them on hand but to ring Everhard Industries. I had perused their website extensively in my research and been unable to find a reference to anything like what I wanted but I rang anyway.

Everything took an immediate turn for the better as the young lady on the phone knew exactly what I wanted and was able to give me the part number and description but said I would need to order it from a plumbing supplier as they did not sell directly to the public. She also gave me the names of several suppliers in our area. I rang one of them, ordered the covers and we were able to collect them 2 days later.

GMan replaced the old covers with new ones and here they are looking bright and shiny.

Speaking of bright and shiny, the other concrete project has been cleaning some of the back path.

Here is the section that I did yesterday.

Then I moved some of the potplants to the space under the stairs.

There is still more to be done but that may have to wait as there is rain forecast for the next week.

Bits and Pieces

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Many of my meals are really not recipes but simply creations which utilise whatever happens to need using up.

Tonight is a perfect example. This is the selection of ‘ingredients’ I decided to include.

At the back of the photo is some leftover mashed potato to which I added a small amount of tuna that I had not used when making tuna mornay. In addition to the 2 main ingredients there is some flaxseed meal which helps to bind the mixture together as well as nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. This mixture became 4 tuna patties.

The sliced vegetables at the front are small quantities of 2 different varieties of zucchini and a button squash. I sauteed these in a little olive oil. The mushrooms were cooked with the garlic cloves (chopped) along with some parsley (not shown) and finished with a spoonful of sour cream.

Served with fresh cherry tomatoes and strips of capsicum.

The cherry tomatoes, garlic and parsley are from our garden while the zucchini and button squash were gifted to us from a friend’s garden.

Growing Green

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A few weeks ago I wrote this post about our plans to develop and use the space under our house.

We have made some progress by planting out the Devil’s Ivy in the hanging baskets.

Here is a closer view of one of the pots.

We hope that it grows as rampantly as it does in the shaded area in the garden from where we collected these cuttings. They all appear to be healthy and sending out new growth already.

I can already envisage our green wall.

In other news, we cleaned most of the exterior walls of the house the other day. Naturally, this entailed moving various items from the verandah and encouraged me to rethink why some of them were in their current locations.

The BBQ and terracotta chimney were both on the western verandah near the clostheline, yet in reality, this is not the spot where they are likely to be used.

They are now both downstairs and in a much better position to be utilised.

We have had a bit of hot weather with more predicted over the coming days and out hanging chairs are definitely a winner in the cool area under the house.

Ladybird Ensemble

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Yesterday I did some sewing that was not Boomerang Bags. I had made a start on a black linen shirt a few weeks ago and finally found some time to get back to it.

This is not just any black shirt as I specifically wanted it to wear with these trousers that I had made almost exactly a year ago. You can read all about them in this post.

I half-jokingly refer to them as my ladybird pants.

Back to the shirt. When I started making it I was on a mission to find some suitable black buttons, however, my mother sourced these ladybird ones from a large stash of pre-loved, but possibly unused buttons. I could not help but use them.

The finished shirt with ladybird buttons.

Today I wore the outfit which was cool, comfortable and above all, unique.

Saturday Stall

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Even though I haven’t written a blog post for a couple of weeks it doesn’t mean that I have been slothful. Far from it. It is just that most of the day-to-day happenings have not been worthy of a blog post.

I have also been occupied in creating as many Boomerang Bags as possible for our very first market stall at the Witta Market on Saturday. This market in our district is dedicated to local makers and growers so it seemed to be the perfect fit for our bags.

We kept it very simple and used the bags as the decorations to attract potential customers.

Here is a close-up of some of the bags.

The market was a clear success with bags being sold as well as some potential volunteers identified and raising our public profile.

Next month’s market is barely a week before Christmas so will be a great opportunity for some last-minute gifts.

Downstairs Developments

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Like many homes in Queensland, our house is high-set with plenty of space ‘under the house’. Part of this area is occupied by the double garage and a workshop area which is connected to the main part of the house via an internal staircase.

When we moved here the remaining area was simply dirt. Due to the sloping site, the majority has plenty of clearance while the area under the front verandah is only suitable for hobbits. About 10 years ago we had the usable area concreted with a view to creating an alternative summer relaxation/entertaining area. The concrete floor, ground level site and southerly aspect all combine to create the coolest possible location on hot days.

The plans have been rolling around for a number of years but we are finally starting to make some real progress.

We finally hung these chairs up yesterday and I am already getting quite used to the idea of reclining here and whiling away the time.

We bought them years ago and did hang them for a while but had to remove them from their original positions when the fluorescent light were installed. Debate about what sort of fixings were required led to inertia and no action until the other day when we decided to have another look for something suitable.

These swing mountings looked perfect and seem to be doing the job admirably as the 2 bolts go right through the joist.

One of the problems of creating an entertaining area was the bracing between some of the posts could be a hazard to people. We came up with the idea of having a ‘green wall’ which would minimise any risk of people walking into the metal bracing.

There were a number of hanging baskets here so we bought 4 new ones to supplement them as well as some chain and hooks.

The pots are still empty but we have hung them to gauge the best positions and are happy with this arrangement. The next step will be to fill them with some of the potting mix we bought on Saturday and get some plants into them. I am going to use Devil’s Ivy/Pothos which we have growing in abundance in the shaded areas at the rear of our garden. It is easy to propogate and should quickly achieve the effect we hope to create.

Bagging a Bargain

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Last week I bought 13 pineapples. Why 13, you may ask? There were 13 medium sized pineapples in a box at the front of the local fruit and vegetable stall where I shop.

It pays to keep an eye out for these occasional bargain boxes as you can see from this post from January this year. This time the pineapples were in perfect condition apart from being slightly odd shapes and I did not need to discard any of the flesh. My $10 box of pineapples yielded one which we ate fresh and 12 others at 77c each.

Some were sliced and others pulped. Here is the results ready for the freezer.

Reaping the Rewards

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I was away from home for a couple of days early in the week and did not think I had anything particular to share with you at the moment.

However, when I went down to the garden this morning I discovered that the sweet peas were flowering. I had planted them about 6 months ago along part of the fence in the vegetable garden area and barely taken any notice of them since. An occasional bit of supplementary watering but they really did not seem to be doing much and all of a sudden I have flowers.

Sweet peas, along with Iceland poppies, are two of my favourite old-fashioned flowers that I remember fondly from my childhood. The scent evokes strong memories and I cut some and brought them inside where I am enjoying them. I hope you do too.

A Long Road

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Many of the projects we have worked on here have taken a considerable length of time to achieve. Sometimes it is the planning, sometimes the money or resources and others are simply a matter of time and competing priorities.

It is almost 15 years since we moved here and growing some of our own vegetables was an early goal. Although we have 1.5 acres of land, much of it is unsuitable for vegetable gardening – too steep or flood-prone so we identified an area close to the house as the spot for our future vegetable gardens. It was all grassed so the first version looked like this.

The soil is excellent and our efforts were reasonably successful, however, we had a somewhat grander plan.

Early in 2011 we built the first raised garden bed. The plan allowed for 9 beds eventually.

Still just one raised bed as we needed to source more suitable uprights.

Progress and by late in 2012 there were 3 raised garden beds. The star pickets on the left of the photo show the position of the next ones to be made.

In reality, 3 beds was probably plenty for us to manage while we were working fulltime but our agenda was long-term.

By the end of 2016 the plan was definitely coming together. We had 6 raised garden beds and woodchip mulch to create paths and suppress the weed and grass growth. The area was also fully fenced.

Late 2017 shows further development but no more garden beds.

The last 6 months or so have provided plenty of opportunity for working on projects at home and thanks to scoring some additional secondhand Colorbond we have finally finished the last of the garden beds.

There are 9 nine beds as per the original plan. We will be buying some soil for the last 3 and also to top up the soil in the others. The woodchip mulching of the paths also needs to be extended to include the areas around the new garden beds.

Then it will be time to get planting. I hope the predicted rain arrives in the next couple of weeks.

All of this has been achieved with salvaged, secondhand and excess materials.