A Refresh

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I have not forgotten you even though it has been nearly 4 weeks since my last post.

After a very wet autumn our weather suddenly turned dry and cold as winter officially began here at the beginning of June. It somehow made our planned holiday very appealing. We had 9 days in north Queensland where the daytime temperatures ranged from about 26C up to 32C. It was a great opportunity to thaw out. I am still adding to the posts on my holiday blog but you can pop over here to read all about it.

We came back with renewed enthusiasm to tackle some jobs around the house. It is really a bit like spring-cleaning in winter. GMan has scrubbed all of the skirting boards, architraves and doors in the lounge/dining area and the office/library.

A bit of decluttering and rearranging of furniture ensued. One thing certainly leads to another.

Bookshelf from the lounge to the office.

Sideboard from the front lobby to the lounge.

A ‘new’ glass fronted cabinet for the lobby. I picked this bargain up on Marketplace.

Scrubbing was not enough for the front lobby so it received a fresh coat of paint.

There is more painting and rearranging in progress. More photos to come.

Breakfast Bar

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Almost every day I eat cereal for breakfast. It is always the same. 3 spoonsful of home-made gluten-free muesli and one spoonful each of chia seeds and psyllium husk. This is topped with sliced banana and orange juice.

Yesterday I realised that it was a lot of double-handling to remove the containers from the pantry, place them on the bench, spoon out what I needed and return them to the pantry. Could there be a better way?

It is quite a while since I tidied the pantry and the shelves definitely need wiping down.

Tonight I tackled just these two sections.

I swapped the various jars of flours to the higher shelf and relocated the cereal ingredients to the one at waist height. I also altered a couple of the containers. This now leaves enough room to have a workspace in front of the containers where I can access the cereal directly. The bowl and spoon are indicative of how it will be used.

It is a small change but one that I think will make the process of preparing breakfast simpler and easier.

Staying on Track

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I know that there are many and varied opinions of ‘to do’ lists. I have used them in differing guises and with varying degrees of success over the years.

Now that I am retired there is really not a great deal pressure to get things done. My lists are simply a memory aid more than anything else. I jot down things I think of in the notes section on my phone and while I do not follow it exactly, I do refer to my notes each morning. There always seem to be plenty of things that get rolled over to the next day (or week).

One of the things I had been meaning to do for some time was to make another pair of sock protectors for GMan. Last night I cut out 2 pieces of fabric.

This morning I joined the seam, hemmed the bottom edges and turned a casing and added elastic. It took about 15 minutes of my time and they were done.

Another item ticked off the list.

My list is also very flexible. For example, I had intended to clean the kitchen windows today, however, we woke to high humidity, drizzling rain and low cloud which meant that we could barely see the backyard. It does not seem like the ideal conditions for cleaning windows so I am off to work on tidying my sewing room instead.

How do you plan your day?

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Storage Solutions

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In the eleven years that I have been writing this blog I have intermittently made attempts to organise my photos. Little by little I make some progress. I recently uploaded the entire collection to the cloud but this post is not strictly about the photos.

While I was sorting through them I found random photos I have taken of different storage solutions that work for me. Here is a selection.

Rolls of wrapping paper in a repurposed shoebox.

In the cupboard in the spare room. Various bags sorted into categories for reuse. A beautiful old tin which is full of buttons (also sorted and bagged). A plastic tub of all our CDs. They have all been ripped and saved on the computer but we can’t quite bring ourselves to get rid of them.

Folded teatowels in a repurposed timber box which lives in the linen cupboard.

The plastics drawer with containers stacked in piles. This needs maintaining regularly.

The cupboard in the office is constantly evolving.

Storage is not an alternative to decluttering but it does help to be able to maintain a level of organisation. However, I do not advocate rushing out to buy specific matching containers. As these photos show it is possible to utilise various containers that you probably already have available.

Ongoing Maintenance

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Even though most areas of my home are decluttered, I find that regular maintenance is both useful and necessary.

These shelves in my laundry cupboard had got a bit out of hand recently so it was time to pull everything out.

I wiped the shelves down, sorted out the contents and removed a few things before replacing the remainder. It is also a good reminder to check what is actually stashed away at the back.

There were a couple of old calico carry bags that were stained irreparably so they will go in the compost and a bottle of bleach which GMan uses for cleaning/sterilising home brew bottles will be relocated to the cupboards downstairs with the rest of the home brew equipment.

Sewing Successes

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While I was laid low with Covid I spent a couple of weeks gradually working on sorting, tidying and generally organising my workroom and sewing supplies. It is much easier to sew when you some clear priorities in mind.

The last week has seen some real action and progress in terms of completed garments.

Making clothes for tweens and teens is fraught with danger but luckily my two granddaughters are still happy with what I can produce. Of course, they have plenty of input into the fabric and style choices and have to be involved in the sizing and fitting.

This first outfit would definitely not be Miss 12’s usual choice of style or colour, however, I created it for Valentine’s Day free dress day at school in a couple of weeks. The shirt is made from an ‘indoor teepee’ she had as a young child and the skirt was refashioned from an op shop find which had been lurking in my stash for several years. Everything has been salvaged, even the shirt buttons and elastic for the skirt.

This was a maxidress from opshop discards which was destined for landfill. It had a couple of small stains plus a piece had been randomly chopped off it. The pretty rayon fabric was too good to throw out and when I showed it to Miss 14 she asked for a long skirt. Length was a slight challenge with the fabric available but she was very happy with the end result. I did have to buy new buttons for this one.

A piece of fabric given to me for Boomerang bags was not entirely suitable for that purpose but the colour and pattern caught the eye of Miss 12 so I made this shirt in an identical style to the one in the first photo. I was pleased to have buttons which matched it perfectly.

Finally, the sewing was not all about my granddaughters nor salvaged fabric. I made this pretty top for myself from a piece of lightweight cotton which I bought in Singapore in 2015. Although I loved the fabric I had been a little unsure of how best to use it but I am definitely really happy with the result.

It has been a productive week with several more garments in the planning stages.

Stocking the Pantry

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Fresh produce from the garden is wonderful but there are times when you definitely can’t eat it all at harvest time.

This basket of cucumbers was a case in point.

The recipe from a friend has clearly been passed down from an earlier generation.

I tweaked it slightly and will modify it a little more in the future.

Cucumber Pickles

3.2kg cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup salt
Iceblocks
5 cups sugar
5 cups vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried celery leaves

Layer the cucumbers and onions. Sprinkle with salt and cover with iceblocks. Allow to stand for 3 hours then drain and rinse thoroughly twice.

Place cucumber, onion, sugar, vinegar and spices in a large pot and bring to the boil. Do not boil the mixture. Turn the heat off and fill sterilised jars. Make sure that they seal before storing.

NOTE: I increased the turmeric and altered the celery salt from the original recipe to match what I had available. Additionally, in future I would reduce the sugar and vinegar to 4 cups of each as there was more liquid than I needed.

In deference to our industrious ancestors, it only seemed right and proper to use these two mixing bowls that belonged to my grandmother and would be around 100 years old. I use them on a regular basis in my kitchen.

The end result is ready to be stored in the pantry for eating throughout the year.

A Completed Corner

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We have several projects on the go and some just seem to evolve over time.

Today we put the finishing touches to what I like to think of as a mini-mudroom. It is certainly a useful addition in weather like today – we have had 35mm of rain so far.

This corner is in the workshop which opens to the backyard as well as being the transit route from the garage to the main part of the house via an internal staircase. The grey door is visible in the photo.

GMan painted this section of the workshop recently before we installed the hanging rack. It is a shoe rack which my mother had used behind her bedroom door for shoe storage. I brought it home last year with only a vague notion of how I might use it. This has proved to be the perfect purpose and location.

The timber storage box doubles as a seat. I found this on a local secondhand site last year.

This is a great example of how you can improve the functionality of small spaces with minimal funds and a little bit of creative thinking.

Lying Low

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The past 5 days or so have been interesting to say the least. Despite doing our level best to stay away from people, GMan and I have both been quite unwell. I think it is likely that we have contracted Covid-19, however, we have yet to receive the results of our tests taken on Friday morning.

Today is the first day that I have felt well enough not to spend more than half of the day in bed. In fact, I even managed to do a few things. I did not push myself so sitting and cutting fabric seemed like a reasonable compromise.

I am slowly but surely working on sorting out the fabric stash in my workroom and little by little I am deciding whether a piece is really something I need to keep and how I might use it. Any pieces that I have earmarked for patchwork (5 inch squares) are cut and sorted according to colour for future projects. This is what I have been doing today.

A few more piles to put away.

This is some of what I need to sort out. There is some overall logic to the placement but it could be much better.

In the meantime, I like to focus on the successes. This cube is mostly patchwork. Blocks in progress on the left and squares sorted by colour in the basket.

Small steps do make a difference.

Hidden and Forgotten

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My recent clean-out of the linen cupboard resulted in a few things that did not make the cut to go back in. There were various reasons for this and one item was simply because it had been pushed to the back of the cupboard and forgotten.

It is a 100% handwoven cotton rug. I inherited this when it came with a free chair I picked up from Gumtree some years ago. The rug was quite grubby but it washed up well, albeit with what looks like a couple of small rust stains. Anyway, it has been lurking in the cupboard with no particular purpose.

I realised it would make a great picnic rug and we could keep it in the car with the picnic set. It just needed a bag.

I have several cotton drawstring bags which sets of sheets came in and I decided that sewing 2 of them together would make a perfect carry bag for my newly-purposed picnic rug.

Ready to go in the car.