Chairs, Clothes and Other Bits

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We have recently replaced the protective felt feet on the legs of our kitchen chairs.  There are four high chairs which fit around our large return bench/meals area.

This project was undertaken two chairs at a time so for several weeks there have only been two chairs in the kitchen at any given time.  I realised how much less cluttered the area felt with only two chairs.  Since there is only GMan and I here most of the time, there is really no necessity to have four chairs.

The next question was, where could we store the other two chairs so that they would stay clean and be easily accessible when we had additional guests?  We found that the wardrobe in the guest room would be perfect but the space was currently occupied.  My off-season (summer) clothes were hanging on the rail and the floor was filled with about 100 magazines which are some of my retirement reading material as well as 5 large photo albums.

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I set about working out how I could re-arrange things.

The clothes were moved to the empty hanging space in the third bedroom which is used primarily as my sewing room.

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The photo albums provided the impetus to continue working on sorting and culling my photos – both digital and hard copy.  You can read more about that in my post from yesterday.  They will live in the library/study until they are no longer required.

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The magazines have been relocated to the drawers of the dressing table in the guest room.  I intend to make a start on reading them and expect that once I have finished reading them I will pass them on to someone else who may be interested in them.

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The chairs are now in the wardrobe but easy to retrieve when we need them.

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I am pleased with the final result and as an added bonus I have been spurred into doing some more work on the photos as well as making a start on reading my large collection of Australian Geographic magazines.

Rainy Day Activity

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It has been a cool, showery day so outdoor activities were not really possible so I returned to my photo project.  I started this about 2 months ago and you can read the details here.  After the initial burst, I have continued to make progress by doing a bit almost every evening.

Yesterday, I located the albums which had all been scanned.  They were carefully stored in the bottom of a wardrobe in the guest room.  It was an incidental find as I was not specifically looking for them.

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Today I have cross-checked that all the photos have been scanned and filed in correctly dated folders.

It seems like an enormous waste but the hard copies of the photos and albums will eventually all be discarded.  However, I need to retrieve all of the dates and details to include in the description of the digital copies before I consider doing that.

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The albums cannot be reused as there are details written in them.  Therefore, I will be removing the plastic photo sleeves which can be recycled as ‘soft plastic’ and then the lightweight cardboard pages will be able to be recycled separately.

As you can imagine, it has been something of a nostalgia trip as I sort through over 40 years of photographs documenting various aspects of our lives but predominately celebrations and holidays.  It is a stark reminder of how valuable photographs were when images were recorded on film then sent away to be developed and the anxious wait for their return.  We thought twice about taking dozens of images which were relatively expensive to develop.  Our attitude to photos has certainly changed with the advent of digital cameras and cameras built into mobile phones.

Minimalism, Decluttering and Zero Waste

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While each of these concepts or activities are all different and stand alone, they can be inter-related.

Here are some definitions/explanations of the three terms.

Minimalism – is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.  This comes from ‘The Minimalists’.  You can read the full article here.

Decluttering – to remove things you do not need from a place, in order to make it more pleasant and more useful.  From the Cambridge Dictionary.

Zero Waste – is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean.  From Wikipaedia.

Minimalism and decluttering are very personal and subjective topics and I am not here to tell you that you must only own a certain number of a particular item or what you should or should not remove from your life or home.

There is no good reason for the order in which I listed these topics but I feel as though decluttering should come first.  I think it would be almost impossible to consider minimalism without  first removing the clutter.

Identifying and removing clutter is the first step to clearing both physical and mental spaces.  However, beware of anyone who tells you that they they decluttered their entire home on the weekend.  It is best done as a considered and incremental process otherwise the results are likely to be the same as a ‘crash diet’.  You may lose your way and end up in a worse position than when you started.

Below are are couple of photos of my bathroom.  It did not always look like this.  I do not expect that is how yours should look.  It is simply an example.

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It is close to 20 years since I began to question the variety of lotions and potions I seemed to have but I did not throw any away.  I gradually used things up and did not replace them.  Routines have been simplified and we no longer use shampoo or conditioner.  I mostly wash my hair with plain water and occasionally use a small amount of body wash.  This was not a conscious decision but a by-product of questioning what we really need.  I am not alone as you can see here.

The reason that I mentioned not using shampoo or conditioner is that is a perfect example of how minimalism, decluttering and zero waste can be tied together.  My shower shelf and bathroom cabinet are not cluttered and our bathroom needs are minimal.  There are no shampoo bottles ending up in landfill or at best, possibly being recycled.  Additionally, trying to avoid harsh chemicals and toxins ceases to be an issue.

You do not need to subscribe to any particular philosophy but living an authentic life which works for you is important.

Your thoughts?

 

Easily Pleased

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Those of you who know me well or have been following this blog for an extended period of time will be aware that shopping is not a great love of mine.  For the most part, I have pretty well everything I need.  However, my plastic spatula which I have owned for at least 20 years met an untimely end courtesy of the blades of the blender.  I realised that I definitely needed one so checked online and found that Big W had Pyrex brand large and small silicone spatulas on special so when we were out and about on Tuesday I attempted to get one of each size.  The small ones were sold out so I will look again another day as GMan is keen for a small one to use when making sourdough.

In the meantime, here is the new addition to my collection of kitchen utensils.

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Coincidentally, I had planned to clean out the utensil jars and drawer.  Each time I do this there is usually something which I decide is no longer required but I have culled my collection of utensils to a point that everything is worthy of its place in the kitchen.

Like all decluttering/streamlining projects, there is no ‘one size fits all’ as we all have different needs in the kitchen.

I have 2 utensil jars.  These hold the majority of frequently used utensils.

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Here they are laid out on the bench.

The hand beater lives in the side of the regular cutlery drawer.

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The contents of the utensil drawer.  These are generally too small or too sharp to stand in a utensil jar.  Some, such as the vegetable peeler and measuring spoons are used every day while most would be used at least once a month and a few less frequently.

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I have an expanding bamboo divider which helps to keep them in some sort of order.  Once I had wiped the drawer and the divider, I replaced all of the items.

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There is one item missing from these photos.  The pie slice which GMan is revarnishing the wooden handle.

I have not shown the sharp knives which I keep separately in a knife block.

I have multiples of a few things – measuring spoons, tongs, wooden spoons and pastry brushes but these are all used.

What are your essential kitchen utensils?  Have you reviewed or reduced what you have recently?

A Day Out

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We have not long arrived home from a rather extensive day out.  An early start saw us gone just after 7am as we had quite a bit to do in Brisbane and it was just over an hour of driving to reach our first destination.

The prime reason for the trip was to take the frame for the mirror from this dressing table to a glass merchant so that we can have a new one cut.  They no longer do resilvering as the precision equipment available today means that a replica can be produced more easily and at less cost.

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After dropping off a couple of items to a friend and my brother, and picking up our saw that we had lent, we made our way to visit my mother.  Or more specifically, to pick her up.  We then headed to Shorncliffe, a bayside suburb, where we braved the breezy day and had a picnic lunch of fish and chips from The Shelley Inn.  It was lovely that my cousin was also able to join us.

A final stop a little further along the shore to see the historic Shorncliffe Pier which was rebuilt and restored about 5 years ago.  Here are a few views.

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We rounded off the day with a few shopping chores with my mother.

A little pre-planning ensured that today was both enjoyable and an efficient use of our time and fuel.

 

 

Money For Jam

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We have all heard of the phrase, ‘money for jam’, this post is about jam for very little money.  Making your own jam is probably one of the best ways to save money.  Commercially prepared jams often contain very little in the way of fruit and ‘premium’ brands are ridiculously expensive.

In the blog post from yesterday I shared how I had sliced and soaked the homegrown grapefruit.

After being soaked for about 15 hours I was ready to make the marmalade.

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Like most jam recipes this one is very simple.  The original from Annabel Langbein is here.  I chose not to use the whiskey.

You will need equal quantities of fruit and sugar and an equivalent volume of water.

For example, I used:

1.2kg of grapefruit Scrubbed, quartered and thinly sliced
1.2 litres water
1.2kg sugar

Cut the unpeeled grapefruit into quarters, then slice finely by hand or using the slicing attachment of a food processor. Place in a wide, non-corrosive preserving pan and cover with 2 litres of water. Cover and leave to soak overnight.

The next day, place the pot over a high heat, bring to the boil and boil for 40 minutes. Lower the heat and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then return to the boil and boil for an hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent the grapefruit from catching on the bottom – you want it to almost catch, but not burn. If you feel it starting to catch, remove it from the heat for a couple of minutes, giving it a gentle stir to stop it burning on the bottom, then continue boiling.

After 55 minutes do a ‘set test’ to check if your marmalade is ready. Chill a saucer in the fridge for a few minutes, then drop a teaspoonful of marmalade onto it. The marmalade is ready when it forms a skin that wrinkles when you hold the plate on an angle. At this point add the whiskey and boil for couple of minutes more to burn off the alcohol.

Pour straight into sterilised jars and seal with sterilised lids. If properly sealed Grapefruit Marmalade will last indefinitely.

To prepare your jars for preserving: For this recipe you will need a selection of jars that will hold just over 4 litres of marmalade. This is a great way of recycling, as the jars and their metal lids can be used over and over again. Wash the jars as usual, then remove the lids and place the lids and jars in the sink. Cover them well with boiling water then drain off the water. Pre-heat the oven to 100°C then pop the jars and lids in for 15 minutes to sterilise. Once removed from the oven, put the lids on the jars immediately so they remain sterile until you are ready to fill them.

The end result of 1.2kg of homegrown fruit, 1.2kg of sugar and about 1.5 hours of my time and we have about 2.5kg of jam added to our stock cupboard.

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More Than Washing

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Winter Wardrobe

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Some of you may be familiar with Project 333 by Courtney Carver.  While I briefly flirted with the idea some years ago, it was never really my intention to try to manage on a specified number of items for 3 months.  You can read one of my early posts on the subject here.

It is now the latter part of May and we are fast approaching the official start of winter.  Although our climate is fairly mild we do still need winter clothes which are more than summer frocks or shorts and singlet tops.  The maximum temperatures this week are between 14 and 18C (55 – 65F) where I live.

I finished full-time work at the beginning of July last year.  Although my workplace accepted a business casual dress code, my clothing requirements have certainly changed in the past year.

The change of season is as good a time as any to review the contents of your wardrobe.  This is mine before I started today.

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Not everything is hung up so here are views of the 2 drawers in my dresser which contain outerwear.  My underwear, pyjamas, swimwear and scarves are in 2 smaller drawers.

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I removed everything from the wardrobe that I do not envisage wearing in the next 3 months (end of August) and have hung it in the wardrobe in the spare room.

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A couple of items that were previously folded have now been hung in the wardrobe and the contents of the drawers re-arranged.

This drawer is what I may wear in winter.

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All of the summer shorts and tops have been consigned to the bottom drawer.

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Then it was time to tackle the shoes.  These are the summer ones I have put aside.

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The end result looks like this.

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Due to washing and wearing requirements there are a few pieces missing from this photo.  2 pairs of blue jeans, a rugby top, 3/4 sleeve tshirt, long sleeved jumper and my black ankle boots.

The total inventory is:

Jeans/trousers x 5
Trackpants/travel pants x 3
3/4 sleeve tshirts x 3
Long sleeve tshirt x 1
Short sleeve shirt x 1
3/4 sleeve shirts x 5
Rugby tops x 3
Cardigans x 3
Jumpers x 3
Dress x 1
Vest x 1
Polar fleece jacket x 1
Waterproof jacket x 1
Trenchcoat x 1
Long boots x 1
Ankle boots x 2
Dress shoes x 2
Casual shoes x 2
Walking shoes x 2

In addition, I have scarves, beret, hat, gloves and a couple of thermal tops.

Is it enough?  Or too much?  I am sure there will be some items that don’t make the cut at the end of the season and there is a good chance that there will be some additions.  My aim is that any new pieces will be sourced secondhand or made from fabric I already have on hand.

Pandemic and Packaging

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As Plastic-Free July looms on the horizon, perhaps it is time consider one of the little-discussed ‘victims’ of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

For well over 20 years I have worked on reducing the packaging that comes into our home.  I take my own containers to buy dry goods (flour, nuts etc) from bulk bins.  I have been able to take my own bottles to the local Co-op to get them refilled with apple cider vinegar, tamari and olive oil.  The local IGA supermarket and butcher accepted my own containers for meat, fish and deli items including sun-dried tomatoes, olives and feta cheese.

However, everything changed as COVID-19 arrived.  I can still buy dry goods in my own jars as long as they are scrupulously clean and have no remnants of previous contents.  We eat very little meat so I have not been to the butcher since the pandemic began.  Neither the Co-op or IGA are accepting containers to refill at the moment.  Will this change back when things settle down?  Will it become the new normal and the years of action on single-use packaging be unravelled by one virus?  Only time will tell.

These changes have forced me to reconsider my shopping habits.  The item which has been impacted most significantly is olive oil.  I used to take a litre bottle to the Co-op for it to be refilled but now I am obliged to buy a new 750ml glass bottle for $2.95 each time I wish to buy the local, organic olive oil.

This bottle will simply be refilled from the drum of olive oil as required now.  No more bottles.

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We use a significant amount of olive oil so my interest was piqued when I saw a sponsored post on Facebook from Nuggety Creek Olives.  After a bit of reading I discovered that I could buy a 20 litre drum of olive oil for $180.00 delivered to my door.  The extra virgin olive oil is produced from olives grown without chemicals and I believe the farm is currently being audited for organic certification.

The Nuggety Creek olive oil arrived safely and is now stored in a cool, dry cupboard.  I even made a drip catcher from an old dip container and a piece of wire salvaged from the shed.

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20 litres may sound like a lot of oil but I will be sharing it with at least 3 friends.  Thinking outside the box has allowed me to continue to minimise the packaging that we generate.

Bottles filled and ready for distribution to friends.

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I have not bought any of the other items I mentioned as yet but my next project is to look into a bulk source of olives.  While I understand that all foodstuffs must come in some sort of packaging or container, unless you produce it yourself, I am keen to buy in larger quantities, and therefore, minimise the impact.

Have you considered changing your shopping habits since the pandemic began?  Would community bulk-buying be an option for at least some products?

Photos – Another Milestone

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There have been no blog posts for a few days but I have been beavering away in the background.

In my earlier post I mentioned that I was not ready to attack the large box of photos.  That resolve did not last for long and I decided that I needed to work on those as well as the digital files.  So, I began scanning.  This did not turn out to be as onerous as I had originally imagined.  The reason for this was that many of the hard copies in the box had, in fact, actually already been scanned.  Nevertheless, it meant that I needed to cross-check every photograph to ensure that it had been scanned and do those that had not previously been scanned.

Therefore, I am excited to report that all of my photos are now scanned and saved on the computer.  I still have a long way to go before I can declare that this project is finished.  The next stage is to work on culling any duplicates or poor quality images.  Once I have a curated collection for a particular folder they will then be numbered and named according the convention I have deemed suitable to ensure that the preferred sequence is maintained.

The last couple of weeks have been a bit testing as the various piles of photos took over the desk, the end of the kitchen bench and even some of the floor of the study.

One of the real highlights of this project has been the re-discovery of forgotten or rarely seen images.

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