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.
I retired from full-time, paid employment in July 2019 so it is now 15 months since I was last in the office. My finishing date was pretty much decided at least 2 years prior to my retirement. I did not really contemplate gradually reducing my hours or other strategies to ease into retirement. This bemused many people who continually quizzed me as to what I was going to do when I retired. I did not really have a clear answer which made them even more convinced that I would return.
The last 15 months has been somewhat of a rollercoaster. 6 weeks after my final day in the office, we headed overseas for a much-anticipated 9 week holiday. It was an amazing adventure which we thoroughly enjoyed. Towards the end of the trip GMan and I independently came to the same conclusion – that we would have a break in 2020 and not go overseas. What a fortuitous decision that proved to be. We had previously considered travelling to Scandinavia this year.
Upon our return from overseas towards the end of October we had barely 2 months at home before setting off on a road trip to Victoria. We spent Christmas with family and then planned to visit areas in eastern Victoria and south-eastern NSW but the worst bushfires in living memory crushed that plan. We did manage to visit more family in Canberra and experienced the impact of the smoke first-hand. Not a pleasant experience.
Home again in early January and we imagined that 2020 would be a time to settle into a steady routine. Enter COVID19 and the world seemed to be completely upturned. We were very grateful for the space we had – house and large garden, a well-stocked pantry as well as a garden which supplied at least some of our food requirements, not having paid work to try to do from home or children to homeschool. We were unable to see or visit family and friends for several weeks but this was barely a minor inconvenience compared to what some people have had to endure.
In fact, COVID19 gave us the opportunity to focus on projects around our home. A quick scroll through previous blog posts provides a bit insight. Compost bays, a cold frame, more raised garden beds and finishing the pergola are some of the outdoor improvements. Meanwhile, I prepared meals made predominately from our homegrown produce as well as sewing and mending. Furniture restoration completed.
As restrictions were lifted we resumed some of our activities and interests outside the home. Which brings me to the essence of this blog post.
It is easy to become immersed in a particular interest or activity to exclusion of most others. Therefore, my goal is to identify broad categories and try to include a mix of activities/interests. It is probably not feasible to try to do this each day but I think that it is possible within the timeframe of a week.
After some thought, I have come up with a list of general categories which cover most of the things I do. Yours may be a little different.
Administration Appointments Community engagement Craft and creating Family Friends Garden/outdoor maintenance Garden/outdoor projects Health and fitness Homemaking – regular/frequent tasks Homemaking – seasonal/occasional tasks Planning Relaxation Socialising and entertaining Travel
Of course, some of these definitely overlap and some activities may even cover 3 categories. The list is in alphabetical order so that no-one can question my priorities. I do not envisage making specific lists but it certainly helps to keep things in perspective.
Finally, to those people who were convinced that I would not have enough to do in retirement – you were definitely wrong. My days are occupied, interesting and most of all, fulfilling.
I was looking back at the date of my last post which was a little over a week ago. Since then my focus has been firmly on my family. Even though GMan and I are the only ones living here, we are fortunate to have plenty of contact with family. Sometimes it seems to come all at once as has been the case in the past week.
Last Monday I went to Brisbane. I took my mother to a specialist medical appointment then we treated ourselves to lunch at Fuzzy Duck Cafe. I would recommend it. This was en route to visit my aunt who is in an aged care facility. Visiting has not been possible during COVID19 restrictions so it was good to be able to see her.
I stayed in Brisbane overnight and after another appointment the next day I picked GMan up from a dental appointment and we headed home.
It has been school holidays for the last 2 weeks and our daughter and granddaughters arrived on Wednesday evening. The girls stayed until Saturday afternoon while their mother went to work for the remainder of the week and picked them up again on Saturday.
During their stay we prepared meals, sorted through my fabric stash, went to the gym, shopped for shoes, went to the beach and park and checked out the garden.
Miss O making french dressing and learning the principle of adjusting the seasoning to taste.
Cutting broccoli for the soup.
A successful shopping trip to buy new sandals for Izzy.
More cooking – pizza bases ready for toppings.
The beginning of a dress for Miss O from a piece selected from the stash.
Some of the regular housework goes by the wayside when there are visitors and this time was no exception.
The refrigerator looked somewhat chaotic. There were several leftovers that I could incorporate into meals the following day.
I had invited my sister and brother-in-law for lunch on Sunday but had no specific menu planned for the meal. We did a small amount of grocery shopping late on Saturday afternoon.
Our lunch was predominately a selection of small plates and salads which worked perfectly as we sat outside in the very pleasant spring weather.
Photographing the spread was overlooked until I brought the salads out.
Homemade hummus, guacamole and sourdough bread, rice crackers, vegie sticks and brie for starters then kale salad, rice salad, cucumber and onion salad ad tomato wedges to serve with mini meatballs, vegie kofta balls and spiced cauliflower bites. Fresh fruit salad made the perfect finish to the meal.
While it sometimes works out that a particular period of time is mostly taken up by a single facet such as family events, I am trying to create more balance in the spread of activities in my week. More about that tomorrow.
As I mentioned in a post last year, I have tried to remove ‘busy’ from both my vocabulary and mindset as much as possible.
I have spent the last 3 days occupied in one of my favourite activities – sewing. It has not been just any sewing but specifically dressmaking clothes for myself.
The first project was a dress which was modelled on an oft-used shirt pattern.
I bought the fabric which is a cotton drill from a local thrift shop for $5. I have yet to source suitable buttons and finish the hem.
Another dress. A simple, lightweight shift which will be perfect for hot summer days at home or the beach. The fabric for this one was leftover from a previous project. Of course, both of the dresses have pockets.
A navy linen shirt made using the same pattern as the first dress. This is an extremely versatile pattern which I have used numerous times. The contrasting binding on the neckline and armholes is not visible when the garment is being worn but I think it adds a somewhat whimsical touch. Making my own bias binding allows me to indulge ideas like this. Once again, buttons and hemming are required to complete the shirt.
I have another linen shirt cut out which is black.
This has barely put a dent in my stash of fabric and I am looking forward to making more items to add to my wardrobe.
It is almost 2 years since I last bought any brand-new clothes apart from underwear. In that time I have bought less than 10 pieces from thrift shops and recycle boutiques and made a few items. Some of the clothes that I wore to work are still suitable for some occasions, however, I find that I am gradually changing the mix of clothes in my wardrobe to reflect my retirement lifestyle.
The current television series, ‘Fight for Planet A’, has opened some vigorous debate in some forums. Some people believe that promoting the use of renewable sources of energy is reckless as this is simply perpetuating the problem that is the ‘growth economy’. Unless we actually participate in degrowth the planet is doomed.
I am not totally of this mind, however, I do believe that much of our future depends on a serious change of mindset and questioning what stuff we actually need.
A really good place to start is to think twice about replacing broken or damaged items. I want to give you an example which confronted me this morning.
We have a laundry hamper in our bedroom and one of the handles snapped when I picked it up to take it to the laundry this morning.
I decided to mend the handle and found some strong navy fabric in my collection. It happened to match nicely, however, I would have used any colour or pattern if required.
I applied a small strip of double-sided interfacing to the wrong side.
The job was a bit tricky with the handle still attached to the hamper. I basted the 2 ends of the handle together and then pressed the interfacing to the handles.
The remainder of the fabric was folded over and around the existing handle. Here it is pinned and ready to stitch.
I stitched all around the patched handle and reinforced the ends and this is the result.
My repair effort is far from perfect but it is functional. I even managed to put a twist in the handle, despite my best efforts not to. However, this does not detract from the usefulness of the handle.
There is no right or wrong way to approach a repair so this is simply an example of what can be done.
The repaired hamper will hopefully last for many more years.
This is degrowth in action. Do not buy things that you do not need. Think laterally and repair or reuse what you already have. If you are not able to do you own repairs, check out your local repair cafe or ask a friend, neighbour or relative. We all have skills and we need to support each other in whatever ways we can.
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.
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.
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.
Using the mop head as a template I cut a piece of towel and mitred the corners.
I checked to see that it fitted before trimming the excess and finishing the raw edges.
On the mop.
I obviously needed to keep it in place so I sewed some salvaged elastic inside the edge to draw it over the mop head.
The addition of a couple of ties to fully secure the cover in place.
Ready to go.
The end result.
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.
I bought this top a few years ago and have only worn it a handful of times. In fact, I did not even wear it last winter. When I rearranged my wardrobe recently I decided to make sure that every piece earned its place.
I put the top on briefly the other day and realised why I don’t choose to wear it. I do not like the feel of high, fitted necklines and this was simply not comfortable.
I had nothing to lose so I set about modifying the neckline. I cut just below the ribbed band. The pins mark the quarter points of the new neckline.
New ribbing pinned in place.
The finished article with a new, more comfortable neckline. It will look better once the seam is pressed. I am looking forward to getting plenty of wear out of the top in the coming months.
Approximately 15minutes of my time was all that was needed to turn this into a garment that I will be happy to wear.
Some would say that these shorts are not worth mending. They are at least 25 years old and once upon a time they were 3/4 length travel pants. After much wearing the knees finally gave way and I cut them off into a fairly unflattering pair of shorts. They were only ever destined to be worn around the yard but they get a good workout fulfilling that role. An incredibly comfortable pair of shorts that are lightweight and perfect for our hot summers.
They have been patched several times but the most recent rips almost saw the end of them.
I decided to make an attempt on one more patch.
I selected a piece of strong cotton fabric which would generously cover the two large rips. I then cut a matching piece of double-sided iron-on interfacing and ironed it to the wrong side of the patch.
Remove the paper backing and place on the wrong side of the area to be patched. Make sure that the rips are closely aligned then press again to fuse the patch to the garment.
Use a wide zigzag stitch to stitch over the rip. You may need to do several runs to cover it. Finally, use a narrower zigzag stitch to finish the edges of the patch.
The outside and inside views when completed.
This is not invisible or even particularly neat so is really only suitable for clothes where looks are not important.
We spend a significant amount of time in the garden or painting and renovating so functional ‘old’ clothes are a must. It makes sense to extend the life of them as much as possible.
My shorts with multiple patches have survived to see another summer but that is a few months away yet. It is good to be prepared, though.
What does doing the washing mean to you? Grabbing an armful of used clothes and tossing them into the washing machine and then transferring them to the dryer? Or do you have a careful sorting and separating process?
I sort my washing into light and dark fabrics, check the pockets for errant coins, tissues or slips of paper and then turn the articles so that they are the right side out. They are then washed and hung on the clothesline under the verandah. When the clothes are dry I sort them into the items that need to be ironed and those that can be folded and put away immediately.
All of this process allows plenty of opportunity to examine items for any damage or wear and tear which requires repair. The old adage, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is very true.
This week I found a small hole and run in the front of one of GMan’s merino thermal tops.
My darning skills are somewhat limited but I do have a rudimentary understanding of what is required. Since this is an undergarment, a perfect result is not essential. I found some similar coloured tapestry wool and split it to extract a single strand to use.
The end result is functional if not particularly pretty.
Regardless of the type of garment, it is worth checking clothes regularly to ensure that they are maintained which will prolong the life of the garment. Things to look for include loose buttons, hems coming down, breakage of side seams near pockets or armholes.
I have occasionally managed to grow cabbages, broccoli and to a lesser extent, cauliflower but it is a constant battle to keep them bug-free. I choose not to use pesticides, therefore, exclusion remains the best option.
After much research, I finally bit the bullet a couple of days ago and ordered a quantity of Vege Net from eBay. I was particularly pleased to discover that the seller was located in my home state.
The order was dispatched promptly and I received it within 2 days of placing my order.
Then it was time to wrestle with 120 sq metres of knitted polyethylene fabric.
My plan was to make a reasonably fitted cover to slip over the hoops we had positioned over the garden bed.
I cut a large rectangle which would cover the majority of the bed and 2 semicircular pieces for the ends. Pins are useless on this type of fabric so I used some old pegs to hold the pieces in place while I stitched the seams using a regular sewing machine.
Once this was done, it was simple matter of slipping the cover over the hoops. Because this is a raised garden bed the extra fabric simply hangs down to completely enclose the desired area.
View of the new seedlings safely undercover.
I anchored one end with some rocks so that it will not blow off.
I am considering adding some lead weights to the other edges or making a long elasticised tie to go right around the raised bed.
There is another cover to be made for a second garden bed which is not raised so I will just anchor that one with rocks all the way around.
The total amount of fabric I used to cover the 2 beds was about 24 sq metres or 20% of the total. The remainder is back in the bag for use to cover fruit trees or other garden beds in the future.
I spent $125 on the fabric (including postage) and believe that it has been money well-spent as it is an investment in our future food production.
I would definitely recommend this product if you are considering exclusion netting for any plants. It is available in smaller quantities and you could also simply drape it over the area rather than making fitted covers.