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?

Isolationism or Self-Reliance

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I have seen the following text and similar being shared in various posts on Facebook over a number of weeks.

Two can play that game China
Threaten our economy
All products from China will be left on the shelf !
Who’s With Me

However, there never seems to be any commentary from the person sharing the post as to how they actually propose to achieve this goal of not buying products that are made in China.

I believe that wherever possible we should be buying food produced in Australia.  Fresh and unprocessed food are generally the best nutritional option.  Additionally, packaged food may be produced in Australia but presented in packaging from China or elsewhere.  It is highly unlikely that you would be able identify where the packaging was sourced.

Food is not the only thing that most of us buy.  There are clothes, shoes, homewares and hardware supplies.  When was the last time that you checked where your purchase was manufactured?  Does it matter?

In my opinion, it is more important to be a conscious consumer generally rather than targeting goods from one particular country.  Buy only what you need (not want), understand what is ‘enough’, care for and repair what you have and source pre-loved items where possible as ways of stepping away from over-consumption.

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Over-consumption means that we are drowning in ‘stuff’ that is cheaply mass-produced in countries such as, but not exclusively, China.  Become a conscious consumer and you will immediately significantly reduce the products you are buying from China.

Your thoughts?

Gifts From the Garden

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When you have a productive garden, there is frequently more available than you can reasonably use.  So, we are often giving away produce to family and friends.

It is not all a one-way street and we are grateful for goodies which are gifted to us in return.

My sister and brother-in-law recently gave us a large pumpkin and some chillies.  The pumpkin was put to good use and you can read about it in this earlier post.  I used the chillies to make a bottle of sweet chilli sauce.

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A few days ago we visited my brother at his newly-purchased inner suburban unit.  I hardly expected that we would come away with fresh produce when he had been there for barely 3 weeks.  However, I was surprised to find myself returning home with a container of macadamia nuts which we had collected from the back lawn of the unit block.  This bounty is falling from a tree overhanging from a neighbouring garden.

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Also, some friends gave us a quantity of rosemary.  We have planted some cuttings so that we can add this to our own garden and I stripped the leaves off the remainder and dried it in the dehydrator.  Once it was dried, I ground it and then mixed the ground rosemary with Himalayan salt and I now have a jar of rosemary salt which will be be perfect for seasoning.  I am looking forward to trying it on some oven-baked potato chips.

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I was watching Gardening Australia last night and saw a segment about making your own Lemon and Rosemary Hand Scrub.  I am going to get some more rosemary from my friend and try that one out.  The recipe and details will be a future blog post.

 

 

Rethinking in Retirement

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No, I am not rethinking the fact that I have retired.  I am very happy with that decision.

I am talking about rethinking previous habits and two examples spring to mind.

When I was working in the city it suited me to have my cut at a salon close to my workplace.  Once I finished work I did go there a few more times by incorporating my haircut with another reason for a trip to the city.  I always intended to review this practice and change to having my haircut in our local town.  My hand was forced by the impact of the coronavirus as a trip to the city is simply out of the question at the moment.

I am fortunate to have an acquaintance here who is a hairdresser and is happy to visit and do haircuts in the client’s home.  So, yesterday was the day.  It was actually 14 weeks since my last haircut so I was looking rather shaggy.  I am very pleased with the result.  Thanks, Anni.

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Similarly, we had always had our car serviced regularly in the city as it suited GMan to drop it off and collect it when going to work.  That is no longer the case and today we took it to the local service centre in our town.  The ute had been serviced locally for a number of years and there was no good reason not to take the car there, too.

I am sure there are other habits and routines that we will change in retirement.

Winter Beds

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Although we live in a temperate sub-tropical zone, there are still distinct seasonal variations and we respond accordingly.

Two nights ago we experienced our first cold (for us) night when the temperature dropped to 6C (43F).

The prospect of this temperature was enough to convince me that the very lightweight summer doona would not be sufficient.  I retrieved the feather doona from the wardrobe in the spare room.  For me, it is not only about the physical warmth of the feather doona but the colours I use which reflect the cooler weather.

During the summer the bed is made up using light blue and white bed linen and I love the fresh, cool effect that this brings.

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Although the fabric is no heavier, the darker coloured linen makes the room feel cosier as the weather cools.  I changed the bed yesterday and substituted the winter bedding.

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My bed was not the only one that noticed the effects of the cold night.

The cucumbers were planted late in the summer but we had been fortunate to have a great harvest.  However, overnight the vine went from being lush and green to looking quite shrivelled in parts.  It does not like the cold nor the accompanying strong westerly winds.

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With the prospect of several subsequent cold nights, I decided to remove all of the mature cucumbers and clear out the vine.

The haul was surprisingly large.

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The vine and trellis are now removed so it is time to clear the weeds and prepare the bed for a cool season crop.

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What heralds the change of seasons at your place?

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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