More Modifications

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A few months ago I wrote about mending my mop.  You can read about it here.

Well, I have made another modification or addition to increase its versatility.

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We have a large expanse of timber decking which we recently had revarnished.  It can get quite dusty so I wanted to mop it.  However, I was not keen to destroy the sponge head which I use for the hard floors indoors.

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So, I set about making a removable cover.  This is a piece of old towel from my stash of rags which live in the cupboard below the laundry tub.  I actually remember this as my father’s beach towel about 50 years ago.

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Using the mop head as a template I cut a piece of towel and mitred the corners.

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I checked to see that it fitted before trimming the excess and finishing the raw edges.

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On the mop.

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I obviously needed to keep it in place so I sewed some salvaged elastic inside the edge to draw it over the mop head.

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The addition of a couple of ties to fully secure the cover in place.

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Ready to go.

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The end result.

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I was pleased to be able to create a solution using salvaged materials that I had on hand.  I addition to the old beach towel I used elastic retrieved from worn out underwear and the ties were from a long ago pair of trousers that had worn out.

The cover cannot easily be squeezed out so it is not suitable for indoor use but is perfect for washing down the verandah floor.

Times Are Changing

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It is 7 years since I wrote this post.  The essence of it was about rearranging the wardrobe in the spare room but the aspect which I want to discuss further was the fact that we had just hosted our first Air BnB guests.

We were first introduced to Air BnB by our daughter and used it on our first trip to the USA in 2012.  Since then, we have stayed in Air BnB accommodations all over the world, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Singapore, Mauritius and Canada as well as in cities and rural areas in Australia.

In the spirit of the sharing economy, in mid-2013 we decided that we would offer our spare room on Air BnB.  We have not had huge numbers of guests due to our location and somewhat limited appeal but we have enjoyed hosting guests from all over Australia as well as many international guests.

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We had never really decided if or when we would cease to host on Air BnB.  Like so many other aspects of life in 2020, our hand has been forced with the appearance of COVID19.  Since our guests are in our home and share space with us, we decided to immediately suspend our listing until at least the end of August.

The hiatus created by COVID19 provided space for us to consider the future of our Air BnB hosting and it was some degree of sadness that we made the decision not to resume hosting as travel restrictions are gradually eased.

As well as the obvious continuing risk of COVID19, there are a multitude of reasons that have combined to lead us to our decision.  These include:

  • acquiring a new dog in the future
  • desire for more short-term travel
  • want more flexibility in activities in retirement
  • being able to welcome friends and family to stay at any time
  • physical demands of changing an extra bed frequently
  • additional cleaning that is required

The experience of being an Air BnB host has been amazing but it is time to move on.

On the Wall

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It probably seems counter-intuitive to be sharing about our latest acquisition when I am often extolling the virtues of decluttering and minimalism.  However, I do not subscribe to the bare, sterile aesthetic that is sometimes associated with minimalism.

Carefully curated and intentional purchases form the basis of our home decor and today we were able to collect this newly-framed piece.

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We have been looking for an appropriate piece of artwork for the corner of the dining area for some time.  As GMan would say, “We will know it when we see it”.  Well, we found this right under our noses.  It is an enlargement of a photograph I took when we were on holidays in the south-west of Western Australia in 2005.  This and a couple of other enlargements were lurking in a bag in the cupboard and I found them when I began sorting out our collection of photos.

The next step was to have it suitably framed.  As with any professional framing job, it was a challenge to decide on a frame and surround which would complement the piece.  We made our choice and left the work to be completed.

When we collected the finished framed photo I was very happy with the result.  It looks perfect in this corner.

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And with the blinds drawn.

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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.

 

 

Planning Posts

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Thank you all for your comments and feedback to my last post.  I gave myself the day off from posting yesterday while I considered how I will manage posts and new content in the future.

Three weeks of daily posts has convinced me that it is not feasible to continue this schedule indefinitely.  While there is sometimes plenty of content to fill daily posts there is not always time to create the posts with the detail I prefer to include.

I canvassed the possibility of creating a pattern of posts each week based around cooking, gardening, organising and sewing.  However, I have discarded that idea as I really do not want to lock myself into a regimented pattern.

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So, I will generally be posting every 2 – 3 days on a variety of subjects with no strict pattern but simply based on what is happening, and hopefully, of interest to my readers.

As well as the regular blog posts there will also be content posted on Instagram.  Please follow me @ organisedcastle  Additionally, the Instagram posts are shared to the Organised Castle page on Facebook.  ‘Like’ the page on Facebook and receive notification of new blog posts.

If you find a post that resonates with you please feel free to share with others, either via a link on your blog, Facebook or other social media.

Finally, do you have a blog?  Please share in the comments if you would like me to add it to the blog roll on the right-hand side of my blog.  This is a list of some of the informative, useful and downright lovely blogs that I follow.

That is enough introspection from me.  The next blog post will be back to the garden to show you the progress on our latest project.

See you then.

Patched Pants

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Some would say that these shorts are not worth mending.  They are at least 25 years old and once upon a time they were 3/4 length travel pants.  After much wearing the knees finally gave way and I cut them off into a fairly unflattering pair of shorts.  They were only ever destined to be worn around the yard but they get a good workout fulfilling that role.  An incredibly comfortable pair of shorts that are lightweight and perfect for our hot summers.

They have been patched several times but the most recent rips almost saw the end of them.

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I decided to make an attempt on one more patch.

I selected a piece of strong cotton fabric which would generously cover the two large rips.  I then cut a matching piece of double-sided iron-on interfacing and ironed it to the wrong side of the patch.

 

Remove the paper backing and place on the wrong side of the area to be patched.  Make sure that the rips are closely aligned then press again to fuse the patch to the garment.

Use a wide zigzag stitch to stitch over the rip.  You may need to do several runs to cover it.  Finally, use a narrower zigzag stitch to finish the edges of the patch.

The outside and inside views when completed.

This is not invisible or even particularly neat so is really only suitable for clothes where looks are not important.

We spend a significant amount of time in the garden or painting and renovating so functional ‘old’ clothes are a must.  It makes sense to extend the life of them as much as possible.

My shorts with multiple patches have survived to see another summer but that is a few months away yet.  It is good to be prepared, though.

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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.

Bug-Free Brassicas

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I have occasionally managed to grow cabbages, broccoli and to a lesser extent, cauliflower but it is a constant battle to keep them bug-free.  I choose not to use pesticides, therefore, exclusion remains the best option.

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After much research, I finally bit the bullet a couple of days ago and ordered a quantity of Vege Net from eBay.  I was particularly pleased to discover that the seller was located in my home state.

The order was dispatched promptly and I received it within 2 days of placing my order.

Then it was time to wrestle with 120 sq metres of knitted polyethylene fabric.

My plan was to make a reasonably fitted cover to slip over the hoops we had positioned over the garden bed.

I cut a large rectangle which would cover the majority of the bed and 2 semicircular pieces for the ends.  Pins are useless on this type of fabric so I used some old pegs to hold the pieces in place while I stitched the seams using a regular sewing machine.

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Once this was done, it was simple matter of slipping the cover over the hoops.  Because this is a raised garden bed the extra fabric simply hangs down to completely enclose the desired area.

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View of the new seedlings safely undercover.

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I anchored one end with some rocks so that it will not blow off.

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I am considering adding some lead weights to the other edges or making a long elasticised tie to go right around the raised bed.

There is another cover to be made for a second garden bed which is not raised so I will just anchor that one with rocks all the way around.

The total amount of fabric I used to cover the 2 beds was about 24 sq metres or 20% of the total.  The remainder is back in the bag for use to cover fruit trees or other garden beds in the future.

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I spent $125 on the fabric (including postage) and believe that it has been money well-spent as it is an investment in our future food production.

I would definitely recommend this product if you are considering exclusion netting for any plants.  It is available in smaller quantities and you could also simply drape it over the area rather than making fitted covers.

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?