Volunteering

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What do you think of when the discussion turns to volunteering?  Meals of Wheels?  The committee of a local organisation?  Assisting communities in Africa or Timor?  Assisting injured wildlife?  Planting trees?

These are all worthwhile and valid forms of volunteering but there are many others.  There are almost as many forms of volunteering as there are people in the world.  Sometimes we do it while it barely registers.

Yesterday I visited the small retirement village where my mother lives.  I gave a slideshow presentation of some of the photos from our trip to Scotland last year.  Mum had asked me if I would consider doing this as she felt that several of the residents would enjoy seeing them.

The presentation was advertised in the village newsletter, I assembled about 30 photos which I felt best reflected our travels and made some notes with specific details about the various places.

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The armchair travellers assembled and we were set to traverse the ‘Islands and Highlands of Scotland’.

I was delighted with the level of engagement by the audience and thoroughly enjoyed retelling some of the anecdotes of our travels.  However, I was completely unprepared for the overwhelmingly positive feedback and thanks which I received.  I was thanked profusely for donating my time.  I had not even thought of it like that – I was simply having fun sharing my passion for some of the places we had visited.  There may well be more travel slideshows of other destinations in the future.

Today was a completely different story.  A small but committed group of us gathered to print more pockets for the Boomerang bags which are made by our local group.  Boomerang bags utilise salvaged and secondhand fabrics to create reusable carry bags.  These are sold for a very modest $5.00 and we were pleased to be able to make a substantial donation to the local Neighbourhood Centre at the end of last year.  The centre supports disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our community.  The Boomerang Bag project saves fabric from landfill, limits single use plastics and supports our community and I am glad to be a part of it.

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A reminder that you are never to young to be involved in volunteering and making a contribution.

I would love to hear about your volunteering contributions.

 

Finding Balance

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It is a little over 6 months since I finished work and I am now beginning to look at how I manage my time at home.

While I was working it was the time available which dictated what I achieved at home.  However, now that has all changed as my time is my own.

The first 6 months were taken up with the final preparations for our overseas trip followed by 9 weeks overseas then it was less than 2 months until Christmas and a road trip and family Christmas.

My activities can be roughly divided into the following categories (in alphabetical order, not priority):

Cooking – meal preparation – sometimes in bulk
Exercise – aquarobics, gym and walking
Gardening – growing vegetables, flowers and shrubs
Household maintenance/renovations – usually in conjunction with GMan
Online/Computer – blog, Facebook, emails
Relaxing – reading, music, television
Routine housework – making bed, washing, ironing, sweeping, vacuuming
Sewing – clothes, mending, patchwork and Boomerang bags
Socialising – book club, film society, theatre, friends, family, Air BnB guests
Shopping – groceries and miscellaneous
Travel – local, interstate and overseas

By their very nature, housework and cooking tend to occur everyday.  Formal exercise is twice a week but I am trying to include either some walking or gardening every other day.

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I try to find time for some gardening, relaxing and computer work each day.

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Sewing and socialising usually happen several days a week.

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Shopping is as little as possible but groceries are mostly once a week.

Some activities cross over such as aquarobics and socialising.  I also try to combine activities and errands to limit the number of trips I make into our local town (8km away).

From time to time a particular activity may demand a substantial block of time to the exclusion of almost everything else but I generally try to keep a mix of activities each day or so.

 

 

 

Ugly Duckling

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A quick Google search will yield numerous results for the term ‘ugly fruit and vegetables’.  I do not know where or how the description originated but it simply refers to that produce which does not meet the consumer’s expectation of perfection.  There is a new wave of consumers who have realised that imperfect shape or non-conforming size do not render produce useless and destined for the waste bin.

While not specifically designated as ‘ugly fruit’ our local fruit and vegetable stall does have less than perfect items available from time to time.  You need to be prepared to chop, puree, freeze or preserve the entire quantity as soon as possible as it generally has a limited shelf life.  You can turn ‘ugly ducklings’ into ‘beautiful swans’.

Although I always write a shopping list for my shopping, including fruit and vegetables, I am always on the lookout for anything extra that I can use.

About a month ago I found a box of ripe yellow peaches that were most definitely seconds.  I decided that I could not go wrong when I noticed they were priced at $5 for the box.  I discovered that there were 6kg of peaches and I only needed to discard 2 peaches and removes spots from a couple of others.  Some were pureed and frozen to go on my cereal in the future and others being dehydrated while more were set aside in the refrigerator to be used fresh during the following days.  My favourite was the 5 jars of peach and chilli chutney made from this recipe.

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Yesterday we needed to replenish our supplies after our holidays and I spied another box for $5 at the fruit and vegetable stall.  This time it was pineapples.  12 small pineapples for $5 was a bargain not to be passed up.  Once again, despite not looking great from the outside, there was only a small portion that I needed to discard.

I did not make anything particularly fancy but I have plenty of pineapple frozen and ready to use.  Some is pureed for use on my cereal and the remainder is small slices packed into containers.  It is quite easy to remove as much or as little as is required for a particular recipe.

This is the haul (after I had eaten a couple of pieces).

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Do you look for seconds or bargains when buying fruit and vegetables?  What have you found and how did you process it?

 

Love a List

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We arrived home a little over 2 days ago after being away for almost 3 weeks.  There was the inevitable washing and ironing as well as grocery shopping but there seemed to be a million and one other things whirling around in my head that required my attention.

So, the first step was to write a list.

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I started writing this on Wednesday evening and have worked through many of the items but there are plenty left to do.  Some may not even get done but that is OK.  I know that some people advocate against “endless ‘TO DO’ lists” but I find that the clarity that a list provides far outweighs any perceived pressure.

I don’t have fancy journals or bulletin boards – just a simple unused notebook is sufficient.  I add things to it as I think of them and there is no specific time-frame so it is more of a memory prompt than anything else.

My list is a mix some regular tasks – washing, ironing, handwashing, digital tasks – send email to ………, update Outlook calendar, clear out inbox, food preparation – cut up pineapple, make Tabasco sauce and completely miscellaneous jobs such as writing up notes for a presentation of our Scotland holiday photos.

List-making minimises the stress of feeling like I am juggling too many balls, provides a reminder of what needs to be done and provides a sense of focus and accomplishment as I tick things off the list.

What about you? Lists?  Yes or no?

 

That Was 2019

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I am writing this on the final evening of 2019 in a motel room in Rutherglen, a small town on the Victorian side of the Murray River which forms the border between Victoria and New South Wales.

Rutherglen is not where I expected to be tonight.  We were supposed to be in Bermagui on the south coast of New South Wales, however, it is right in the midst of the horrific bushfires raging in the south-eastern corner of Australia.

This photo is from Mallacoota on the coast near the Victoria/NSW border at about 10am this morning.

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I have gone back and re-read the 34 blog posts I wrote in 2019.  That is only about 1 post every 10 days on average.  At the end of 2018 I mentioned that I was going to have all of my photos sorted in 2019.  That did not happen.  The content of my 2019 posts is interesting.  They generally focus on my interests – gardening, cooking, sewing, op shopping and trying to be self-reliant and minimise our carbon footprint.  However, the posts from the latter part of the year tend to reflect the increasing concern over the climate crisis and my personal connection to it.  These included having a bushfire evacuation plan as well as growing food in extreme heat and saving our precious rainwater.

One event which I did not post about was the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) which has held in Madrid earlier this month.  Angus Taylor, the Federal Energy Minister, represented Australia, however, his prime effort was to block any real progress on global climate action.  As a result, Australia was singled out as being one of a handful of countries who set out to thwart the process.

I am reticent to use the word ‘unprecendented’ but that is the best description of the massive bushfire emergency which has been menacing almost every state and territory of Australia over the past 2 months.

Climate change did not cause the bushfires.

Climate change is contributing to the conditions which have allowed bushfires of the scale we are now witnessing to occur.

If the last day of 2019 is any indication then 2020 is not going to be a happy new year for many Australians.  My fervent wish is that my fellow citizens are all safe.

Many of us have worked diligently for years to make lifestyle changes to reduce our personal carbon footprint but our governments will not take action.  The Murdoch media and fossil fuel industries constantly facilitate climate denialism.  This cannot continue.  My New Year’s resolution is that I will take whatever action I can.

I make no apology for this post nor the fact that there will be more blog posts which focus directly on the climate crisis in 2020.  These will be balanced with important positive actions.  We must all do this together.

And one final comment.  Please read this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

 

Secondhand Stuff

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One way to significantly reduce our carbon footprint is to source pre-loved items in preference to buying new.

There are a number of ways of achieving this.  Thrift stores, garage sales and online groups as well as hand-me-downs and cast-offs from friends and family.

I think it is important not to simply use this as a way of acquiring excess possessions that will not be used.  However, if you are willing to watch and wait and be prepared to take advantage of what comes your way, there are plenty of bargains out there.

Here are some of my finds from the last week.

I was walking past the recycle boutique in our local town when I spied this dress hanging outside the shop.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered it was my size.

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After a relatively minor alteration it is ready to wear to a Christmas lunch tomorrow and probably on Christmas Day as well.

On Saturday morning I ventured to a clearing sale at a property not far from where we live.  I knew that there would be a wide selection and went with an open mind.

This was what I ended up with.  Total cost was $50.

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The 2 larger Pyrex dishes are for my daughter.

The doona set was for king-size bed but I modified it for our queen-size bed.  You can see the pattern better as it is on the line after being washed.

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The offcuts have not been wasted as I will be able to cut squares for the patchwork quilt which is a work in progress but will one day grace our bed.

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The bed linen is the perfect colour for our room.

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Not Quite the Deckchairs

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‘Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic’ is a phrase which is often used to describe a futile action in the face of impending catastrophe. 

Far from being a futile exercise, I have been rearranging furniture recently.  As we continue to gradually reduce our possessions we have less need for storage.  Bookshelves/display units are a perfect example.

A few years ago we had 2 of these shelves filled with books.  One was sold a couple of years ago and the other is going to a new home today.

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When we seriously downsized the number of books we had a couple of years ago, this shelving unit became useful storage for sewing fabrics and projects.

The sewing is now housed in this large IKEA cube unit which was previously a display unit/bookshelf in the lounge room.

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Here is a closer look at the sewing table which is ‘new’ to me.

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This white laminate desk came from my daughter as it does not fit in her new accommodation.  I was very happy to have it to replace the folding trestle table which I have used as a sewing table for many years.  This one is more compact and suits the decor of the room but, most importantly, it is solid and does not shudder when I am using the sewing machine at fast speeds.

Additionally, there were 2 smaller IKEA cube units in the lounge room originally which have since been moved around.  One of them spent some time in the sewing room and the other as a stand for the television before we gave one to our daughter and the other became the bookshelf in the library.

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The other smaller cube unit has recently come back from our daughter as she no longer needs it.  So, back to the lounge room it went.

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The other significant piece of furniture in the lounge room is the television stand.  This was made by my father about 60 years ago from then-salvaged silky oak.  I had it restored and modified slightly a couple of years ago and it now has pride in the lounge room.

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I am pleased that nothing has been wasted and many pieces have been able to be repurposed by thinking laterally whilst reducing our overall possessions.