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.

A Fresh Approach

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Tidying up the linen cupboard has been on my mental ‘to do’ list for a few weeks so the first day of a new year seemed like a good time to tackle it.

While it may not look too bad in the scheme of things, I was not happy with how things were grouped. I have assimilated several pieces that belonged to my mother as well. The various boxes and baskets were my first step in the process which was done a couple of months ago and that had certainly made a difference.

I pulled everything out, critically assessed each piece and repositioned a couple of shelves to make better use of the space.

I am rehoming a couple of items but most of it did go back. I tried to keep bedroom, bathroom and kitchen items grouped together as much as possible.

Top shelf: gym towels and beach towels

2nd shelf: Bathroom – towels, handtowels, facewashers and bathmats

3rd shelf: Bedroom – sheets and pillowcases

4th shelf: Kitchen – teatowels, handtowels, aprons and serviettes

5th shelf: Doona covers and tablecloths

The tub at the bottom now contains extra towels and facewashers that are not currently in use as well as an assortment of doilies, tablemats and odds and ends that I am not quite ready to let go of yet.

I have used some of Marie Kondo’s methods re standing items up. I find it works for me in some instances.

Changing Needs

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A chance conversation about 10 days ago led me to realise that it was probably time to reassess the single bed and trundle bed in my sewing room. We bought these on Gumtree in 2011 when our granddaughters were aged 4 and 2. You can read about how I used them in this post.

I decided that a sofa bed would be a better option as the girls are not here as often as when they were smaller. Also, the bed is too low to sit on comfortably when I am working in this room.

Ready to go to a new home.

So, I advertised the beds and they have now gone to a new home. We also sourced a ‘good as new’ sofa bed from Marketplace which now has pride of place in the sewing room.

I have chosen to place it closer to the corner in order to maximise the space near the doorway. It will be a simple matter to pull the sofa along when it needs to be used as a bed.

This is a good solution as I will use it as a sofa far more often than it is ever likely to be used as a bed. We have a queen size air mattress if the girls decide they do not want to share the sofa bed.

It pays to regularly consider your needs and the best choice of furniture for the purpose. There is ample opportunity to source good secondhand pieces as well as a market for anything you no longer need.

Buy Nothing November – An Update

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It is nearly 2 weeks since I first posted about Buy Nothing November. You can read the first instalment here.

Since then we have bought 2 more physical items which have come into our home. The first is a rat trap which fairly self-explanatory and does not need a photo.

The second item is a timber storage box. I had been perusing secondhand sites for a few weeks as I was looking for a seat for my mini-mudroom. That is probably too grand a description as it is actually a corner of the workshop near the entrance to the house via the internal staircase. Anyway, I turned my attention from benches to storage boxes and found this timber box in a neighbouring town for $50. The storage space which a box affords is an added bonus to the original purpose of providing seating.

I will provide a final update at the end of the month.

The Great Reshuffle – Part 1

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As a result of the new storage cupboard being completed we have begun re-arranging some things.

We emptied the contents of an old two-door pantry which was at the end of the garage. It was predominantly camping gear, however, all of it did not fit so some had been on top of the cupboard. We made a critical assessment of everything and removed a few items that were no longer required then transferred everything to the new storage cupboard.

There is much more space so we can easily locate things. Additionally, there is space for the camp fridge which had previously been elsewhere and a pet carry crate which are both on the floor of the cupboard.

There is a plastic laundry basket which holds the towels for use in the adjacent bathroom as it is quite remote from the linen cupboard upstairs.

The old pantry has a new home in the open space under the house where it will be put to good use. More about that another day.

At Last

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I think it is about 3 years since we first contacted our builder with a view to having our downstairs bathroom renovated as well as some additional cabinets and cupboards in the garage and adjacent workshop.

He was busy (as usual) and we were not in a mad rush but somewhere in between Covid19 threw an additional spanner in the works. The work was finally begun about 3 months ago and the finishing touches completed the job today.

Here is the result.

A very small bathroom off the garage with shower, hand basin and toilet.

A large floor-to-ceiling storage cupboard in an unused alcove next to the bathroom.

A utility bench with sink and cupboards in the workshop. This will primarily be for GMan to use when setting up his home brew but will also be useful when entertaining downstairs.

We are delighted to have this work finished. I have been hanging out to move various items to the new cupboards which will allow better organisation in several other existing cupboards.

There will be several future posts as we do some re-organising.

Something Small

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The work on the downstairs bathroom renovation is progressing. The only thing left is the small mirrored cabinet to go above the handbasin. It is essentially a functional bathroom now so today I took some towels to the downstairs storage for use in that bathroom.

However, I noticed that the handtowel is simply hung on a hook rather than through a ring as we have in the main bathroom.

So I decided to add a loop for hanging the handtowels. I used a small piece of salvaged cotton tape to create a loop.

Here is the towel hanging on its new hook.

There will be a full reveal of the bathroom when it is completely finished.