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.

Wardrobe Audit – Another Month

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I am a bit slow on reviewing my wardrobe this month but here goes.

2019 is now 10 weeks old and I have worn all of my summer clothes apart from one sleeveless top.  I like it and it is an identical style to two others so there is no good reason for not wearing it.  Anyway, we still have plenty of hot weather ahead so it will definitely get an airing.

There have been some milder days so I have even worn some of my jeans, 3/4 sleeve shirts, boleros and a cardigan.

The following photos show what remains on the backward-facing hangers.

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The sleeveless top is at the extreme right hand end.  The remainder are mostly jackets, long-sleeve and 3/4 sleeve tops and shirts as well as a trenchcoat.  The exception are two dresses – an emerald green lace frock and a black sheath.  These are rarely worn but serve a purpose and deserve their place in my wardrobe.

There are some 3/4 sleeve tops and cardigans folded in the drawers which have not been worn either.

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The lower hanging rail is almost devoid of clothes as I have now worn all six of my skirts, three pairs of cropped trousers and three pairs of jeans.  All that remains are my green jeans, good black dress trousers and two pairs of fitted trousers (black and charcoal) that I only really wear with my knee-high boots so they are definitely winter attire.

The exercise of turning the hangers has been a useful one for me.  I am confident that everything I own will be worn during the course of the year, with the exception of the two special occasion dresses.  I am happy that I generally have enough, but not too many. clothes.

I bought three items in January from the local recycle boutique but nothing since.  I am sewing a couple of new sleeveless shirts so they will probably be added during the next month.

Have you tried turning your hangers backwards in order to see what you actually wear?

Far From Perfect

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2019 is nearly upon us and although I am not one for New Year’s resolutions it is a good time to start with a clean slate and perhaps set some goals.

While we were at the beach for a week I had plenty of time to give this some thought.  I have already started but my goal for 2019 is to have my photos sorted, culled, labelled and catalogued.  Any long-term readers of the blog will know that this is not the first time I have tried this but in 2019 it will happen.  I fully expect that this project may well take most of the year.

When I mentioned my goal in an online group I received a request ( a little tongue-in-cheek) about doing the same thing for other people.  While I will be well-occupied doing my own I can offer a few tips that may help you get started and assist in avoiding some of the pitfalls that have tripped me up on previous attempts.

Photographs are a way of preserving memories and we will all do it differently.  There are digital files – most common these days, prints in albums, a digital photo frame and photobooks.  They probably all have their place but whatever you do, you need to be able to locate and enjoy your photos as well as sharing them with others.

1.  Ask yourself what you are aiming to achieve.  This may determine how you approach the task.

I want to create a pictorial record of our lives which will be of interest and potentially useful (eg: family history) for future generations.  It needs to be accessible and fun to look at also.

2.  Decide on categories.

My broad categories include Holidays, Family, Blogs

3.  For digital files, create a naming convention which works for you.  It is important to remember to remember how digital files are ordered.  For example, if you number things as 1, 2, 3, 4 etc it will end up being 1, 11, 12, 13……………….19, 2, 20, 21 and so on.  To avoid this you need to know approximately how many items will potentially be in your sequence and number as 001, 002, 003 etc which will give you up to 999 in correct numerical order.

I use a numeric prefix for each photo before the description, otherwise they will be sorted alphabetically.  My London folder from my UK holiday might look like this:

01 Tower of London
02 London Bridge
03 Houses of Parliament
04 Paddington Station

4.  Specialised naming conventions may be relevant – or not.

All of my blog photos are in separate folders from the general photos and are named as follows yyyy-mm-dd 00.  The date relates to the date the post was published and the number is the first, second or third photo in the post.  This way I can locate them in the future if necessary.

5.  Decide what is really worth keeping.  Refer back to point No. 1.  Remember that the photo you took 1, 5, 10 or more years ago may simply not be of any value to you or others now or in the future.  Be prepared to be ruthless and discard those images that are duplicated, very similar to another or that you cannot remember the details.  If you can’t remember or identify a photo now it is not going change in the future.

6.  Make sure you identify people in your descriptions – memories fade as the years pass.

7.  Photographic negatives are not required if you have a print.  Discard old negatives.

I am sure there are many more things to consider but these are a few to get you started.

Once I have sorted the digital files which include hundreds of prints that I scanned a few years ago, I will then move on to the various piles of prints which are semi-categorised and stored in packets in a shoebox.  I am aiming to only have digital files which are all named and sorted.  Your goal may be a little different.

Here are some examples of what you may want to keep.

This is a perfectly pleasant scene but it does not really hold any specific memories for me and it would not be of any benefit to future generations.  As an aside, it is overlooking the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and was taken in 1982.  I only know this because of the other photos in the series and the particular trip was taken when our elder daughter was about 3 months old.

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On the other hand, the photo below is one of the first photos taken which includes all of my siblings.  This holds a special place in my heart and with the addition of the names and a year would be both a special memory as well as a valuable resource to my descendants.

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Sharing, Giving, Lending, Living

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The term ‘sharing economy’ is one with which many of us have become familiar over the past few years.  Probably the 2 most well-known are Air BnB (accommodation) and Uber (transport).  Both have been the subject of some negative media exposure due to their disruptive impact on well established and regulated industries – hotels and taxis.

There are many other far less formalised arrangements including community toy libraries, crop swaps, Boomerang bags, Christmas street parties and so on.

On a personal level, it can be as simple as giving some excess produce to a neighbour or borrowing a piece of equipment to complete some home maintenance.

In the spirit of sharing I want to tell you about what this mindset can look like.

Early in the year we decided to spend Christmas at the beach and found a beach house on Air BnB.  It has enough space for 6 of us – GMan and I, our 2 daughters and 2 granddaughters.  The house is a couple of blocks from the beach and while not super cheap, it is much more affordable than similar apartment accommodation.

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We have an elderly cat and dog who both need twice daily medication so we organised housesitters for a week.  This is a win-win as our home is occupied, the animals cared for and the housesitters have a week of free accommodation in a different setting – a holiday by any other name.  Unlike, Air BnB no money changes hands.

Harvey is pictured with my sister’s dog is is not much more than a pup.  It is a gorgeous photo of them both but certainly accentuates his advanced age.

2 days before we were due to leave for our beach holiday, our television chose to cease working – just stopped.  No warning, no nothing.  We only have one television so it meant that there would be no television viewing for the housesitters and we were not inclined to rush out to buy a new television a couple of days before Christmas.  Our daughter from Brisbane kindly brought her television and we set it up for the housesitters before all going to the beach.  Since our daughter was coming to the beach it was not going to be being used at her place this week.  Once we are home and have done some research on our options, we will buy a replacement.

Still on the Christmas theme, we try to keep our Christmas gifts either practical, consumable or experiences.  A few months ago, one of our daughters commented that she would like some more drinking glasses as they had recently had a few breakages.  I was happy to oblige but in the end I packaged up 6 matching glasses that I had owned for many years that were simply sitting in the sideboard and not being used.  There did not seem to be a lot of sense in going out and buying more for a gift when there were perfectly good ones at home.  Whilst not exactly an heirloom, she is happy to have these familiar glasses and I am pleased that are being used.

It is now 12 months since I first became involved in making Boomerang bags and you can read all about it here.  I have made well over 100 bags with fabric that I had in my stash, have been gifted and some bought from the local Salvos op shop.  A large quantity was given to me by my neighbour who is involved with the local Neighbourhood Centre. While some of the fabric is suitable for making a basic bag, I don’t think it is necessarily quite up to the standard required for the bags we are making for sale.  So, I have prepared enough fabric and straps to make 50 bags without the additional pocket.  These will be given back to Neighbourhood Centre for use when distributing food relief parcels to those in need.  I intend to add a note to each bag to encourage the recipient to reuse it for collecting food or another purpose.  They could also pass it on to someone else if they choose.

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I have several other plans for 2019.  These include being more efficient with our vegetable gardening so that I can share the produce with my neighbours.  Then there is our room which we offer through Air BnB.  We do not have a lot of guests as it has limited appeal, particularly as it is in a semi-rural area with no access to public transport.  On the up side – it is a quiet, get-away from it all spot located located close to some great scenery, walks and other relaxing activities.

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You could say I have left the best until last – the blog.  This has been my platform for sharing snippets of my life, including organising hints, recipes, thoughts and a thousand other things with you, my readers, over almost 8 years.

I would love to hear some examples of how you have or plan to participate in the sharing economy.  By sharing our experiences with each other we can build and enhance our networks and knowledge for the benefit of all.

Thank you for sticking with me during the leaner times on the blog and I look forward to moving onward and upward in 2019.

 

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.

Storage Solution – Evolution

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When you read about storage solutions it often involves parting with money at a large department store in a shopping mall.  However, this does not have to be the case.  A healthy dose of ingenuity and lateral thinking will often provide the answer.

I have a mobile hanging rack which I often use for hanging freshly-ironed clothes or to finish off drying clothes.  3 years ago I wrote a blog post about how I used and stored the rack.Here is a previous photo of it.

This proved not to be an ideal solution as it could be tricky to store and remove the various pieces.  However, I persevered and made the best of it.

However, a few weeks ago I managed to rip the bag when extracting the pieces.

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This led me to reconsider my storage method and I realised that I had removed a couple of item which had previously been stored on the floor of the wardrobe and I had some spare space.

A quick dig around in the workshop downstairs yielded results.

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This container was a heavy-duty drum with  tap which we once used for water storage.  GMan had removed the tap and cut the top off sometime ago and it was being used for storing some bits and pieces which I re-homed to another container.  I cleaned this one and it now fits neatly on the floor of the wardrobe and the components of the hanging rack are much more accessible.