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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Making the Most of Everything

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At the end of my last post I mentioned that I would share some details of the food preparation that I do.

In the past few weeks I have been fortunate to score some great bargains on fresh produce. A food bargain is only a bargain if you actually use the food. This can be a particular challenge with fresh produce but with a bit of know-how and some time you can make the most of bargains that may come your way.

Today I want to show you how I used and stored large quantities of cheap bananas, pineapples and tomatoes.

I bought a 10kg box of perfect, ripe Roma tomatoes for $10. $1/kg was too good to pass up. I could have bottled them straightaway but they were so firm, red and perfect that we decided to enjoy them fresh for as long as possible. I spread them out on a couple of racks so that would be able to easily identify any blemishes or potential rotten ones. Fresh tomato salsa was served with at least one and often two meals every day. Here is a selection of our meals.

L to R: Chicken tacos, Mexican quinoa and Baked potatoes with refried beans

This strategy worked well for just over 3 weeks which is testament to the perfect quality of the produce. In fact, I have no idea why they were being sold for $1/kg.

The remaining tomatoes were diced and packed into jars to go in the freezer. These will be added to casseroles and other dishes instead on buying canned tomatoes.

Next were the bananas. These were also $1/kg and I bought 12.5kg in a box. The bananas ranged from partly green to overripe but the majority were ripe and flavoursome although the skins were showing blemishes. We eat sliced banana on our cereal every day so about a dozen of the least ripe ones were added to fruit bowl to be eaten over the next week.

Two very ripe ones became banana cake and the remainder were peeled, cut in half and frozen on trays. They can be sliced and added to cereal with no further preparation.

You can see the less ripe bananas in the fruit bowls in the background as well as trays ready for the freezer and two bananas in the bowl which were about to be turned into banana cake.

Finally, the pineapples. I spotted this box of 5 pineapples for $4 and knew exactly how I could use them.

Dried pineapple is a delicious treat so it was a simple matter of peeling, coring and slicing the pineapple and then into the dehydrator. We like it semi-dried (a bit chewy but not crunchy). I store it in a container in the refrigerator.

L to R: Fresh pineapple ready to dehydrate, dried pineapple, ready to store in the refrigerator.

I would love to hear your stories of bargains or gluts and how you make sure they do not go to waste.

Bagging a Bargain

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Most of us are trying to make the most of our grocery budget as food prices seem to be increasing on an almost daily basis. Extreme weather events driven by the impacts of climate change along with global conflicts are combining to disrupt supply chains.

This is the background upon which shoppers are doing their utmost to spend their food budget wisely.

There are not many, if any, items which can regularly be purchased for $1/kg. So, when I spotted Roma tomatoes for $1/kg at our local greengrocer, I took advantage of the bargain. Although the tomatoes were loose on a display stand, I discovered that I could purchase an entire 10kg box for $10. This was too good to pass up.

Here is my haul.

Of course, a bargain is only a bargain if there is no wastage. I have spread the tomatoes out on the kitchen bench and there are no soft spots or blemishes – all absolutely perfect.

Tonight we will have slices of fresh tomato on our pizza. Tomorrow I will make salsa to have with our bean tacos and I am sure they will feature in other meals over the next week. Other than that, I may dehydrate some, make pasta sauce and bottle or freeze them whole.

Making the most of seasonal and often cheaper produce makes good sense as we try to stretch our budget a little further.

After the Flood

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Some of you may have been wondering whether I had floated away. We certainly had a lot of rain but not as much as others in south-east Queensland or in the continuing flood emergency in NSW. My heart goes out to all of those people who have lost homes, businesses, their livelihoods and in some cases, lives. The toll has been tragic and more is yet to be revealed.

We have been interstate for the past week and returned home to the detritus now that the water has receded. Thankfully, this is only our backyard and it will recover. We have very little planted in these areas as we know that it is a natural watercourse and it becomes inundated whenever there is really torrential rain. However, this event was somewhat out of the ordinary and the water remained for several days until it eventually drained away.

Imagine if this thick layer of mud and silt was through your house. I cannot begin to imagine how thousands of residents are facing the massive heartbreak and clean-up.

We have lost the majority of the garden mulch from beside the driveway – most of it is combined with the mud in the photos. A couple of small trees did not survive the onslaught of the water. The mud and mulch will eventually becoming top dressing and the grass will regrow.

Many others are not so fortunate and will need massive assistance to recover and rebuild their lives.

Climate change will continue to make these disasters more extreme and more frequent. We must act decisively and immediately if we are to have any hope of limiting the damage and not condemning our children and grandchildren to an unbearable future.

Too Wet

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I have been working on a few small projects over the past few days but did not have a full story or photos to share.

All of that has come to a grinding halt as we retreat indoors as the predicted wet weather has struck. There was light rain during most of the day yesterday but it really began in earnest about 6pm. In the next 12 hours we recorded 176mm (7 inches) of rain.

This is what our backyard looked like when I awoke this morning. We have had intense and/or prolonged rain in the past which has resulted in a view like this but is has not happened for several years.

These are a series of photos of the lowest section of our back yard. The water is over a metre deep in some parts. The cause is two-fold. The driveway of the property next to us acts like a dam which causes the water to back up. We live on a mountain and the water from the steeper land above us finds its way to this area which would have been a natural watercourse in times past.

While the bottom of the garden floods, there is no risk of any inundation of the main part of the garden or the house due to the slope of the land.

This might look and sound quite dramatic, it is not a major problem as we have chosen to leave these areas of our garden as open grass so it suffers no real ill-effects as the water usually drains relatively quickly through the porous, volcanic soil.

It is not actually raining at present, however, the forecast is for continuing heavy rain for the next 48 hours.

We will not be venturing out as we have everything we need here and there is bound to be some localised flooding as well as potential landslips and and fallen trees.

Are you sufficiently prepared to manage if you need to stay at home for a number of days or longer? Please share your tips and ideas.

Community Connections

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Most of what I write about in this blog pertains to house and home. However, there is much more to my life. Extended family gatherings, cultural events, exercise, enjoying the natural environment and of course, travel are some of the various activities I enjoy. Travel has been somewhat curtailed in the past couple of years but we have still managed numerous shorter trips closer to home rather than major overseas travel.

The other thing that I am both passionate about and find satisfying is involvement in community groups and activities.

This week has seen plenty of action on that front. I am directly involved in 3 groups. The first and smallest is a local residents group for our semi-rural area. There is minimal action in this group but as the secretary I did attend a committee meeting this week and have minutes to finish and distribute.

The other two groups are separate but closely aligned in purpose.

The first is Boomerang Bags. This is a global grassroots project which was started on the Gold Coast in my home state of Queensland, Australia. It seeks to tackle single use plastic pollution by creating reusable alternatives from salvaged and discarded fabric. I have been involved for a little over 4 years, the last 2 co-ordinating our small group. One of my earlier posts gives a bit more information.

My other foray into community action is a fairly recently-formed waste action group which goes by the acronym of WAM. Late last year we co-ordinated several community events during National Recycling Week. There are many and varied ideas for directions the group might take but the overarching theme is about reducing consumption and waste, both of which are very important to me. I regularly address these themes on a personal level in my blog posts. Watch for more about we are doing as a community to encourage everyone to make a difference.

Recovering

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As I mentioned in my last post, GMan and I have been unwell. Yes, we did have Covid and despite being a relatively mild dose, it was not much fun.

It is only in the past couple of days that I have managed to do much other than potter around in the sewing room and throw together an evening meal.

This morning I cleaned the window above our bed and the associated insect screen. It is quite a treat to see it looking so clean. I am embarrassed to say that I could have just about written my name in the dirt on the screen.

One thing I have realised since being sick is that I am really going to have to rethink how I tackle tasks around the house. The days of cleaning half the windows in the house in a single day are probably behind me. A much better idea is going to be to do a little bit more often. I might even clean another window tomorrow.

I hope I am back on track to have a new post for you every day or so.

That Was 2021

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In preparation for writing this post I did some reading. Not just any reading but reading 10 years worth of my New Year blog posts. The last posts in December and first ones in January each year.

The overwhelming theme is that despite some challenging times, I, along with many others, approach a new year with a degree of optimism. The turning from 2021 to 2022 is no different.

2021 for me was undoubtedly defined by the illness and subsequent death of my mother in the first half of the year. This was played out against a background of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

However, there was much for which I am grateful. A loving and supportive family, good health, a safe and secure environment, valued friends and a meaningful life.

I wish you a safe, fulfilling and peaceful 2022.

This Week

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Today is 28th December and we are in that strange final week of the year – the week between Christmas and New Year. It can seem like no-man’s land and even has some rather creative names, including Twixtmas, Witching Week and Chrimbo Limbo.

Depending on your personal preferences and circumstances, the lead-up to Christmas may have been lived at a frenetic pace. Even those of us who have made a conscious decision to aim for a more low-key Christmas may find that most of our activity in the past month has been geared towards those few days centred on Christmas Day.

Therefore, it is hardly surprising that post-Christmas can be a bit of an anti-climax. When you combine this with the fact that many people have some sort of holiday break and another celebration a few days away it is no wonder that we are are feeling a bit topsy-turvy.

Additionally, the New Year is the moment when we tend to choose to rule a line under the past year and really look forward to the year ahead with gusto.

So, this Chrimbo Limbo (my personal favourite) what are you doing?

I am choosing to use the time to reflect, re-arrange, plan and prepare for the year ahead. I do not know what 2022 will bring but I do know that I want to use my time wisely and live my best life without dwelling on the past or wishing my life away.

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.