Wardrobe Audit – January

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At the beginning of January I turned all of the coathangers in my wardrobe around.  The idea behind this is that once an item has been worn you replace the hanger in the correct manner.  This provides an easy way to identify those items which have not been worn.

Since the past month has been recorded as the hottest ever start to the year in Australia, it is no surprise to find that jackets, cardigans, jeans and trousers were not worn in January.  Of the seasonally appropriate items, there are a couple of tops and 3 skirts which have not yet been worn.  I am sure their time will come.

The other thing I decided to do was not to buy any new clothes in January.  This was not entirely successful depending on your definition of ‘new’.  I bought 3 items that are new to me during the month.  We have a local recycle boutique which I check out from time to time.  I am fairly selective and only choose pieces that are absolutely perfect for me and I could not go past these.

Patterned cropped jeans

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Sleeveless cowl neck top

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Long sleeve white linen shirt

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Although none of them had tags attached, I am pretty sure that they are all unworn.

Finally, I moved three items out of my wardrobe.  The first was a pair of jeans I bought in 2012.  They have had a lot of wear and are getting pretty thin as well as somewhat faded and stained.  They are are now in the pile of clothes to be worn around the house and when gardening.  Similarly a sleeveless tshirt top has seen better days so met the same fate.  A pair of white shorts went in the bin as the elastane had all given way and they were not in a fit state to be used or donated.

All of this wardrobe activity takes place on a background of the knowledge that my clothes needs will evolve with my upcoming retirement in a few months along with plenty of travelling planned.

As always, I will only be making carefully considered purchases.

I will continue to monitor and report on my progress during the year.

The Slippery Slope

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It is 3 weeks since my last blog post.  All of the usual home stuff has been happening as well as going to the movies, lunch with friends, family visiting and a trip to Sydney so there is possibly a reason why blogging has not been a priority.

However, that is not really an excuse as these sorts of events usually provide plenty of material for posts rather than simply not posting.  I think it is simply that I am tired and the end of the year is fast approaching – it is exactly 11 weeks until Christmas Day.

Once it gets to September, it feels as though the year is almost gone and we seem to be on some sort of crazy trajectory and hurtling towards Christmas and the end of the year.  My work is such that deadlines loom, demands increase and everyone expects the impossible to be achieved.  I am very thankful that this is the last year I will experience this pressure as I will be well and truly retired by this time next year.

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Quite aside from work commitments, most of us celebrate Christmas and it is easy to get caught up in all of the commercialism and hype.  Our Christmas celebrations are fairly low-key and are usually a small family gathering for a special meal together and modest gifts for the immediate family.  As much as possible, I aim for experiences or practical gifts.

This year our 2 daughters and 2 granddaughters will join us for a week at the beach.  We will not be too far from home so it should not be a major undertaking.

My Christmas preparation so far has been to book our accommodation (several months ago) and I bought a gift a few days ago when I was in Sydney.  I happened to see it and thought it would be perfect.

There will be a couple more gifts to source and I will need to plan a menu for Christmas Day.  We do not indulge in huge amounts of festive food and I expect there will be lots of fresh fruit and simple salads consumed during the time we are at the beach.  Some casual, relaxed down-time for everyone (including the cook) is just what will be needed by the end of the year.

I may need to find a copy of this book!

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Recalibrated

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This blog post has been unfolding in my mind over the past few days as the next phase of our lives – retirement – is on the horizon but looming ever closer.

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We have been ’empty-nesters’, with no children at home for over 12 years.  This coincided with our move from Brisbane to our current home on a semi-rural block of 1.5 acres.  There has been no shortage of things to do as we have developed the garden as well as undertaken several renovations to the house.  There are other projects which we are looking forward to working on once we have more time but most of the major work has been done.  Additionally, we have gradually sorted, culled, decluttered and generally streamlined a lot of stuff so the day-to-day cleaning and maintenance is becoming simpler and easier.

To add to the busyness we have both continued to work full-time, however, this will change when we retire in the middle of next year.

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I am regularly quizzed by well-meaning people as to what I am going to when I retire and my somewhat truthful but flippant answer is ‘travel’.  Of course, travel will be only a small part of what we do.  I think my comment to GMan a few weeks ago really summed it up when I said that I was looking forward to having 7 days to do what I currently try to fit into 2 days of the weekend.

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A few things recently have led me to rethink how I manage my working hours which I am fortunate enough to have very flexible arrangements.  However, this has led to me not working in the most efficient manner at times.  Even though I will still be working full-time I have decided to structure my office and working from home times so that I will only work 4 days each week with Mondays off each week apart from once a month when I will swap it for a Tuesday so that I can continue my involvement in a community project.  Thursdays will a full day of working from home and I will be in the office on the other 3 days.  There is still a degree of flexibility if I need to swap my days around for a particular reason.

I believe that having a 3 day weekend most weeks will allow me to do things I want to do at home without feeling quite so rushed and be be organised for the remainder of the week.  I am thinking particularly of cooking and meal preparation and gardening.

With only 10 months (but who’s counting) until I retire I also need to consider how I will manage the workload whilst handing over the role to my replacement in the first half of next year.

There are certainly different seasons of our lives and what was necessary when I had young children is not relevant in my current situation.  We are all at different stages of our lives and sometimes the biggest hurdle is actually identifying what is best for you and your family now.  It will not be the same as mine but by finding what works for you will help to promote a sense of calm, peace and gratitude while minimising angst and stress.

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It is admirable to strive for goals and targets but do not wish your life away.  Be grateful for what you have today because this stage of your life will not last forever.

 

 

Home, Sweet Home

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The past few weeks have slipped by. I have been sick, on holidays and busy at work.  Not all at the same time!

Despite consuming more than my fair share of vitamin C, thanks to all of our home-grown citrus, I managed to succumb to a rotten cold nearly 3 weeks ago.  It really laid me low for the best part of a week then we headed off to Melbourne to visit our daughter.  Although it was cold we managed to rug up and get out and about and enjoy ourselves.

The break from work was most welcome but unfortunately it was all waiting for me when I went back to the office yesterday.

Meanwhile, it is lovely to be home and I am trying to catch up with the washing we brought back.  Yesterday afternoon I made a quick foray to the garden and picked some sweet potatoes which I used for dinner as well as a large bucket each of grapefruit and oranges.  These have all been juiced and will be drunk in an attempt to stave off any further colds.

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I am looking forward to the weekend and having time to prepare some meals for the week ahead as well as getting a bit done in the garden.  This will include the fairly rare activity of watering unless the rain promised for the next couple of days really does eventuate.  We live in a relatively high rainfall area so we are not drought-affected like so much of the country but it is quite dry nevertheless.  The lavender is enjoying the drier weather and is in full bloom.

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Other than that some sewing should round out my weekend quite nicely.  What are your plans?

My Shopping List

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The impending ban on regular plastic carry bags in Queensland has created a definite upswing in interest in alternatives.

There will be heavy duty plastic bags for sale, however, these are really no better as very few people seriously reuse them and the inherent problems still exist – the use of non-renewable resources to create the plastic and the waste which invariably ends up in waterways and the oceans.

Many of the so-called ‘reuseable bags’ are also derived from plastic and are far from ideal.

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You can make your own fabric bags (preferably from second-hand or salvaged fabric) or buy from groups such as your local Boomerang Bag group.  Otherwise, grab a cardboard box or two to stack your groceries.

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Beyond these obvious choices, there has been much discussion, both online and in real life, about the impact of the changes.

But what will I use to line my bin?
The fabric bag won’t fit the metal packing rack?
There is no space to pack my groceries?

And so on………

All of these questions are valid.  We need to think outside the box and perhaps change some other habits.

The first thing that springs to mind is reducing waste so that there is less or no need for bin liners.

Secondly, is about how you shop, what you buy and where you buy it.  This is what I want to discuss today.

In an online forum, I recently mentioned that I bought very little at the supermarket and could generally place it directly in my cloth bag as it was scanned through the checkout.  I place the handle over one arm and with the other hand I load the items into the bag.  I think this comment raised some interest about how I actually achieve this.

The most important tip is make the supermarket your last resort.

Eat simply, cook from scratch, grow some of your own food, support local small businesses, buy in bulk, buy online, buy at Farmer’s/Growers markets and finally, go to the supermarket.

I do not shop at either of the two major supermarkets here in Australia, Coles and Woolworths.

We live near a small town with a Woolworths and an IGA supermarket.  I buy a few things at the IGA and also go to the local butcher and our Co-op which stocks a wide range of organic products from both Australia and overseas.  Most of my supermarket shopping is done at Aldi which is about 10km away in a different direction.  The fruit and vegetable vendor that I go to is not far from Aldi.  I buy the majority of my dry goods at a family-owned shop with bulk bins.  It is about 45km away so I plan my trips and stock up about twice a year.

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By shopping at small, independent retailers you will find it much easier to use and pack your own bags as there is generally more counter space, less pressure and the seller will probably be much more supportive of your decision.  I also take my own containers/bags to have them refilled in almost all instances but that is a discussion for another day.

To give you an idea of what I buy and where I buy it, I have created the following lists of everything I buy, including food and non-food items.

I have not included fruit and vegetables from the greengrocer as this is seasonal and depends on my planned meals for the week as well as what is growing in the garden.

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Butcher

Beef mince
Diced beef
Bacon
Chicken breast fillets
Gravy beef

IGA supermarket

Vita Brits
Taco shells
Salmon
Olives
Salami
Cleaning vinegar
Soda Stream gas canisters

Co-op

Brown rice
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
Tamari
Coffee
Honey
Shampoo
Conditioner
Face wash
Moisturiser

Simply Good

Bread flour (white)
Wholemeal flour
Rye flour
Potato flour
Brown rice flour
Chickpea flour
Quinoa flour
Arrowroot
Almond meal
Flaxseed meal
Corn meal
Raw sugar
Pepitas
Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds
Almonds
Peanuts
Walnuts
Chickpeas
Kidney beans
Black beans
Haricot beans
Red lentils
Brown lentils
Sultanas
Raisins
Mixed peel
Cocoa
Coconut
Psyllium husk
Chia seeds
Quinoa
Bicarb soda
Herbs
Spices
Salt
Pepper

Aldi

Vegemite
Corn chips
Cheese
Butter
Milk
Sausages
Toothpaste
Toothbrushes
Cat food (tinned)
Cat food (dry)
Frozen peas
Mayonnaise
Dijon mustard
White vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Tuna in springwater
Flavoured tuna
Baked beans
Corn kernels
Coconut cream
Curry paste
Stock powder
Tinned tomatoes
Rice cakes
Rice crackers
Ice-cream
Skim milk powder

Online

Tea
Dog food
Eucalyptus oil

Direct from manufacturer (local)

Laundry liquid
Enzyme soaker
Dishwashing liquid
Dishwasher powder

I am sure you can see items missing from the lists, so please feel free to ask questions.  It may be that we simply do not use it or that I make it myself.  For example, I make tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, jam, peanut paste, onion flakes, pasta, pizza bases and GMan makes bread.

 

A Weekend in the Garden

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For the first time in what seems like months, we actually had a weekend where the weather was conducive to being outdoors.  Lately it has either been 35C or raining or both so gardening has not really been on the agenda.  We were delighted to see a forecast of mostly sunny days with a maximum temperature of 27C.

Yesterday, we decided to firm up our vague plans for a freestanding walkway/pergola to define the entrance to our garden.  The idea is to have it covered with a flowering creeper.  We have had a general idea of what we wanted but now have calculated the materials and so then it was off to Bunnings to buy the 6 large posts for the uprights.  These are now positioned on sawhorses under the house where GMan has begun painting them.

We have marked out the exact location of the posts as you can see in the photo below.

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We are hoping to get the construction started over the Easter break when we have a couple of extra days off.

There will be more updates once there is more progress.

The perfect weather deserted us overnight and we awoke this morning to drizzling rain and cloud drifting past the windows.  However, we did not let that stop us and we braved the overgrown and out-of-control vegetable gardens.  Everything was covered with the wild cherry tomatoes.  I had resolved to pick all the fruit which was ripe and not damaged before removing the plants.  It was a massive job but we successfully cleared the garden beds and planted a variety of seeds.  There are now beans, radishes, spinach, beetroot, lettuce, kale and cucumbers planted.

Hopefully, these freshly dug and planted beds will soon yield a range of produce.

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I don’t have a before photo but suffice to say that this is a vast improvement on how it looked this morning.

It may be a little difficult to see but there is an addition to the area.  We constructed a new compost area in front of the hen house using some panels of pool fencing and some star pickets.  This allowed us to put all of the cherry tomato plants in a single heap.  I also cut the asparagus back and added that to the pile.

The forecast warm weather with showers every day fort he next week should give the newly sown seeds the best possible start so I am feeling quite optimistic.