Wardrobe Refresh

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It is now over 2 years since I finished full-time work. I worked in a corporate office but not in a customer-facing role so my wardrobe could mostly be described as business casual.

My collection of clothing has gradually evolved to meet my changed lifestyle. Almost all of my purchases have been secondhand.

I generally have kept all of my clothes available in my wardrobe for the entire year but had begun to wonder whether this was really the best option.

Today I removed everything from my wardrobe, tried it on and decided on a course of action. Most of the summer wear went back in the wardrobe. I ended up with 3 other piles.

One pile was things to be donated. There were 4 items – a skirt and top that I made about 6 years ago and I have simply lost interest in them, a pair of trousers that were not quite right and a dress that had been given to me but I decided did not really meet my needs.

The second pile was my winter jackets, coats and trousers which are now in a plastic box on the top shelf.

The third pile was 5 dresses and 2 jackets which are simply too tight. I have put them away in a separate box. I will review these in a few months and decide on their fate.

There is a shirt, dress and pair of trousers missing from this photo as they are in the wash. This is my summer wardrobe along with a couple of pairs of shorts and a few tops which are folded up the drawers.

I think I have enough. Time will tell.

Pandemic Picnic

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Today we had a picnic. The occasion was meeting up with several of my Year 8 cohort from high school. 2021 marks 50 years since we began high school. 10 of us shared fun, laughter and crazy memories.

This event started me thinking that picnics seem to have become our default method of socialising. Even though our area has been mostly spared from Covid 19 cases, more and more of us appear to be enjoying the great outdoors for social occasions.

One of my cousins contacted me yesterday and suggested a get together with several of my extended family – a possible picnic! Most definitely count me in.

A picnic naturally means food. Do you have any favourite picnic fare? Picnics come in as many guises as participants. It is not all stereotypical rattan picnic hampers with red and white checked cloths.

Your set-up can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. In fact, one of the guests today brought a wedge of cheese, a baguette, knife and wooden chopping board in a backpack. This was happily shared with others in the group.

I would love to hear your thoughts on picnics and other socialising. Has the pandemic changed your outlook?

Patchwork Tutorial

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Tonight I want to show you a step-by-step guide to making a block of ‘Disappearing 9 Patch’ patchwork.

This quilt top is made up of 42 of these blocks.

As the name implies, the first step is to collect 9 different squares of fabric. I choose to use 5 inch x 5 inch squares but you can select whatever size square you wish.

Nine squares laid out in the preferred arrangement.

Sew the squares together to create 3 rows. Press the seams as you go.

Sew the rows together. Make sure that the seams line up.

You will now have a block of nine squares sewn together.

Fold the block in half, press and then cut.

Repeat the process to create four equal quarters.

Rearrange the quarters to create a pleasing visual balance.

Sew the pieces together. Remember to ensure that the seams line up in the centre of the block. Press.

Make as many blocks as you need for your project.

I generally use a plain coloured block for the centre block.

This is the first of 12 blocks needed to make a throw for the foot of the guest bed. It may be a slow process as I do not have a great deal of fabrics of suitable colours.

At The Beach

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A couple of days ago we went out for lunch with our daughter who was visiting for a week.

We very bravely decided to take our young dog who is almost 8 months old. The express purpose was to take her to the beach for the first time.

I kept her on the lead and she was a bit unsure of what to make of the waves but generally had a good time.

I am sure there will be plenty more beach adventures next summer.

A New Sink

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In this post from a month ago I mentioned that we had made a start on constructing a frame for an old kitchen sink in order to make an outdoor sink.

This was what we had done then. Simply cut some timber to length and positioned it to gauge how it would fit.

Things progressed well and this is the result.

This is not quite the final resting place and we have yet to arrange some rudimentary plumbing – hose from the nearby tank as well as a drain hose connected to the outlet. The drain hose will probably just run out onto the nearest patch of lawn.

I am pleased with the result of our most recent upcycling project which will be positioned adjacent to our vegetable garden. It will be useful for cleaning up after gardening as well as washing freshly picked produce. I can also visualise the draining boards being used as a potting bench.

Different Decluttering

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Our small acreage provides us with plenty of opportunities to build and create in our garden. For the first 13 years that we lived here we were constrained by available time as we were both working full-time. However, that did not diminish our enthusiasm, ideas and the ability to collect materials.

Here are some of the projects we have completed in the past couple of years.

I have written previously about our plans to create an entertaining area under the house so part of the long-term strategy has been to sort and tidy a lot of the materials that are stored there.

During the past few days we have had a bit of a blitz to identify what can realistically be used, what is just rubbish and what we can pass onto other people.

These are some of the last pieces of salvaged Colorbond sheeting which were gratefully collected yesterday after I listed it to giveaway on a local Facebook group.

One of the things we definitely plan to use is the old kitchen sink. When we had the kitchen renovated almost 12 years ago we salvaged it with a view to building an outdoor sink close to the vegetable garden. This would help to eliminate the amount of dirt and unwashed produce that was brought into the kitchen.

Yesterday GMan removed the original taps and plumbing. We cut some timber to length to make the framing and stand. Here are the first pieces in position.

GMan will paint all of the timber before the frame is assembled so it will be a little while before it is completed. More on that another day.

Meanwhile, we recently acquired some more material but it was not stored anywhere. We used an offcut of vinyl flooring to cover the concrete is one corner of the workshop to make a small home gym area.

We are pleased with the ongoing progress.

Ready for a New Year

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The 2 weeks since my last blog post have slipped by quickly. Our 2 granddaughters came to visit for a week and then we spent a week at the beach with them and our daughter. Christmas was a fairly low-key affair as we, like many others, simply needed to relax at the end of what has been a challenging year.

Anyway, this post is about looking forward. I know that COVID19 will not disappear at the stroke of midnight on 31st December. Much of what we have endured in 2020 will remain with us as we enter 2021.

Six years ago, at the end of 2014 I decided to record all of our spending for the year. Since then, I have continued to do it each year and have refined the methods I use in the process. I use an Excel spreadsheet, however, you could use a notebook if you prefer.

When I was setting up the spreadsheets for 2021 I noticed that I now have 6 years of records of our spending. During that time we have both retired from full-time work and had major home renovations done as well as travelling overseas on 5 different occasions. There won’t be anymore of that in the foreseeable future, though.

It is interesting to see how some categories of spending have altered dramatically in the wake of our retirement. The most significant is the category ‘Transport’. During the first 4 years of recording our spending, we were both working fulltime and our total transport costs were about $6000 per annum. We had a long rail commute from our home to offices in the city. In 2020 our transport costs were less than $300. Not everyone will have the same costs but if you are considering retirement it is wise to take changes in circumstances and spending into account.

Grocery spending was interesting for a different reason. In 2015 my average weekly spending for 2 adults was $93.88. Unsurprisingly, by 2020 this had increased. However, the margin was very modest with the weekly average being $97.11. In five years my grocery bill for 2 adults increased by a mere $3.23 per week on average. We eat good quality but relatively simple meals with an increasing number of vegetarian meals and are working on growing more of our own food. Minimising food waste is also important from both an environmental and financial perspective.

Clothing was another category where there was a substantial change in our spending during the six years of recording data. Our total spending on this category in 2020 was less than 30% of what we had spent in both 2015 and 2016. Since our retirements were planned, we made a conscious decision to limit our expenditure on work attire over the final couple of years. Additionally, I now have time to source some excellent pre-loved items.

For anyone who is interested I have provided a sample of what my spreadsheet looks like. I use a new sheet in the workbook for each month.

Date Amount CategoryDescription
1/01/2021$24.76GroceriesAldi
$10.00SelfGym fees
2/01/2021NIL

These are the categories that I use. The final column ‘Description’ is for extra details – as much or as little as you want.

Transport(public transport, taxis and Uber)
Groceries(food, toiletries and cleaning products at home and on holidays)
Clothing(buying and repairs for clothes, shoes, jewellery and fabric for dressmaking)
Haircuts 
Cars(fuel, tyres, servicing and repairs including when travelling in our car)
House/Garden (all equipment, repairs and renovations to house and garden including chicken feed)
Pets(vet bills, toys, medications, equipment and dog food)
Health(dental, medical, allied health and chemist expenses)
Entertainment(meals, shows, movies and events attended jointly)
Alcohol (beer, wine, spirits and home brew supplies)
Subscriptions(any subscriptions not listed in fixed expenses)
Gifts(Christmas, birthdays, cards and postage, memorial donations)
Holidays (flights, accommodation, tours and entrance fees)
Husband(gym fees, individual socialising, hobbies and books)
Self(gym fees, individual socialising, cosmetics, hobbies and books)

I have only addressed our variable spending in this post but I also have a spreadsheet set up for our fixed expenses each month. This helps us to easily see what bills are coming up and predict when we are going to need extra funds. Some months are less than $200 in fixed expenses, whereas, there are other months which are much more than that. This is because we choose to pay some of our bills on an annual basis.

Do you have a plan for keeping track of your finances for the new year?

I am happy to answer any questions you may have regarding tracking your spending.

Concrete – Covered and Cleaned

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Today I want to show you a couple of small but significant home maintenance jobs.

Since we live in a rural area we do not have sewerage. Instead there are 2 tanks – a septic and a greywater one. They would have been installed when the property was initially developed so they are probably close to 30 years old. Unfortunately, both of the lids had become cracked and chipped so we decided to replace them

I thought this would be a relatively simple task but after much research via Google, I was still unsure as to what they were actually called, whether they came in different sizes and whether it was possible to replace the concrete lids with fabricated steel ones.

I rang our local Council who were of minimal assistance except to say that they had to be restored to the original state – so that ruled out steel covers. Next, I tried a local plumber who said that he didn’t keep them on hand but to ring Everhard Industries. I had perused their website extensively in my research and been unable to find a reference to anything like what I wanted but I rang anyway.

Everything took an immediate turn for the better as the young lady on the phone knew exactly what I wanted and was able to give me the part number and description but said I would need to order it from a plumbing supplier as they did not sell directly to the public. She also gave me the names of several suppliers in our area. I rang one of them, ordered the covers and we were able to collect them 2 days later.

GMan replaced the old covers with new ones and here they are looking bright and shiny.

Speaking of bright and shiny, the other concrete project has been cleaning some of the back path.

Here is the section that I did yesterday.

Then I moved some of the potplants to the space under the stairs.

There is still more to be done but that may have to wait as there is rain forecast for the next week.

Growing Green

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A few weeks ago I wrote this post about our plans to develop and use the space under our house.

We have made some progress by planting out the Devil’s Ivy in the hanging baskets.

Here is a closer view of one of the pots.

We hope that it grows as rampantly as it does in the shaded area in the garden from where we collected these cuttings. They all appear to be healthy and sending out new growth already.

I can already envisage our green wall.

In other news, we cleaned most of the exterior walls of the house the other day. Naturally, this entailed moving various items from the verandah and encouraged me to rethink why some of them were in their current locations.

The BBQ and terracotta chimney were both on the western verandah near the clostheline, yet in reality, this is not the spot where they are likely to be used.

They are now both downstairs and in a much better position to be utilised.

We have had a bit of hot weather with more predicted over the coming days and out hanging chairs are definitely a winner in the cool area under the house.