Life Skills

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The topic of tonight’s post is relatively minor and almost insignificant.  On many occasions I would not have even considered it as a potential blog post.

However, it has recently occurred to me that a lot of what I do and take entirely for granted are activities or skills that would be completely unknown to many people.  Therefore, this year I am going to make a concerted effort to post about some of the little things that fall under the broad category of life skills.

I made a sampler of different sewing stitches when I was 8 years old.  It was a laborious task undertaken in school sewing lessons in Year 3.  The sampler is framed and hangs in my sewing room these days.  There are 6 different stitches, one of which is blanket stitch.

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I don’t think I have ever used blanket stitch in over 50 years since that sampler was completed.

Nevertheless, when I noticed the stitching at the end of a blanket coming unravelled  today, I immediately knew that I would mend it using blanket stitch.  It was a bit like riding a bike – you never forget.

The blanket is one of a pair that we have owned for 40 years so I guess it is not too bad that it needed some running repairs.  I simply threaded a large needle with the unravelled thread and restitched the edge with blanket stitch exactly as I had done on the sampler.

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The left hand side of the photo is the existing machined ‘blanket stitch’ and the right hand end is my repairs.

This Time Next Week………..

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…………..Christmas Day will be just about over.

This single day may be fun, joyous, tedious or whatever you choose to make it.  You may have shopped, cooked, decorated and planned for weeks or even months.  Was it worth it?

My approach to Christmas has become more low-key as the years go by.

In the meantime, life goes on and there is still washing and ironing to do as well as meals to prepare.  Tonight’s dinner is an example of my ‘speed cooking’ on weeknights after a full day at work.

I made Broccoli with Tuna Sauce which is one of my own adaptations of a recipe I saw in a magazine about 30 years ago.  There are no real quantities – just what seems reasonable.

Fry some diced onion, capsicum and a bit of Tabasco sauce.  Add a can of crushed tomatoes and 1/2 large can of tuna (shredded).  Simmer and reduce the liquid a little. Lightly steam a head of broccoli broken into florets.  Drain any excess liquid from the broccoli then pour the tuna sauce over it.  Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs and crisp under the griller.  I use a mixture of almond meal and flaxseed meal for a gluten-free option.

This meal took 20 minutes from starting the preparation until I served it.

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Collective Action

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Much of what I write about here falls under the broad categories of cooking, gardening and sewing and of course, the all-encompassing category of self-reliance.

The little things that I do every day contribute to my overall philosophy which is summed up in the byline of the blog – ‘A Simple, Sustainable Life’.

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It is important that we should never underestimate the value of the little things that we can all do each and every day.  However, sometimes we need to look beyond our own backyards and get involved on a larger scale.

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8 days ago on 30th November several major Australian cities and regional centres saw significant numbers of school students, young people and adult supporters marching for their future – a future generated by renewable energy, not coal.  I marched in support of these intelligent and articulate youngsters.

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I am somewhere towards the rear of this photo which was taken today.  There were many, more more out of view of the camera.

Thousands of people marched again today and will continue to do so until our state and Federal governments take serious action on climate change.  The most pressing issue is to have the proposed Carmichael mine by Adani in the Gallilee Basin stopped.

There will be more events in the coming weeks.

All of the research shows that a clear majority of Australians support this action so please consider being involved.  Stand up and be counted and let the politicians hear our collective voice.

Meanwhile, I have made another batch of strawberry jam.  That is 8kg of strawberries made into jam.

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Upcycled Dress

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Last week my younger granddaughter was wearing a dress that was just about too short for her so I offered to alter it by adding a frill to the bottom of the dress.

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I foolishly thought that it would a relatively simple matter to buy a small piece of plain green poly cotton fabric to match.  I went to Spotlight and none of the dozens of plain green fabrics were even close to the colour I needed.  So, I ended up choosing a piece of Christmas fabric to do something a bit different.

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I set to work with this piece which cost me $5.  I added a deep contrasting frill and then used the remainder to make some bias binding to trim the existing frill at the top.  I also changed the shoulder straps.

Here is the result.

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The Christmas fabric means that the dress will have limited opportunities to be worn, however, it is still better than the original which really too short.

Izzy is excited at the prospect of a ‘new’ dress to wear for her Christmas concert on Friday.  It will probably also be worn a few more times in the next couple of weeks.

More Shopping

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I do not regard shopping as a pastime and generally do as little as possible.  I also endeavour to combine as many tasks as possible when we go out in order to reduce time, petrol, money and energy.

Since we live in a semi-rural area, it is a bit of an expedition if I do need to go to a major shopping centre.  So, when we went to stock up the pantry on Saturday, I decided to see if I could buy the Christmas gifts for our granddaughters.  I often take them to a show of some sort but this year it was a practical gift as suggested by our daughter.  New beach towels were on the shopping list.  I decided to check out Spotlight and was in luck.  I found these lovely, large towels by Canningvale.

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I decided to wrap them up and then it is all done.  A few years ago I made some reusable Christmas gift bags and I managed to find 2 that would fit the towels.

Adorned with some ribbon that has been reused many times and gift tags made from old Christmas cards and it was all done with next to no waste.

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I have a couple more gifts to buy and some home-made goodies to make and that is my Christmas gift-giving sorted.

 

Warts and All

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I am sure we have all been guilty of only showing the good/perfect/happy stuff online.  In fact, I do not believe we should feel guilty because none of us share everything about ourselves  – either online or in real life.

However, I do try to keep things as real as possible in what I discuss here on the blog and today is no exception.

I have microwave oven which sits in a purpose-built cavity below the bench in my kitchen.

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For a number of years I have had a piece of non-slip mat under the microwave which which works reasonably well.  I remove and clean this mat but over time it has become stained with mould and even soaking it in bleach and scrubbing does not restore it.  This is not a long-term solution as I try not to use bleach.

After some particularly wet weather a couple of weeks ago it was looking awful and I decided that I had to change my strategy.  I decided to make a towelling mat from an old bathmat.

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I cut the bathmat in half.  The next step was to find some fabric suitable to bind the edges.

Bias strips cut and ready to join.

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A roll of home-made bias binding – just like a bought one!  All you need is a ruler and iron.

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The finished product.  No cost and not a lot of time.

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Back to the microwave and the cavity.  Once I removed the microwave it really does look disgusting.  Time to get rid of the mat.

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I cleaned the space and once it was properly dry I added the new towelling mat.

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After cleaning the microwave inside and out, I replaced it in the alcove.

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I have enough bias binding to bind the other half of the bathmat so I will be able to alternate them and wash each week.

Use it Up, Wear it Out……

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……Make Do or Do Without.

So, the saying goes.

It is relatively easy to ‘use it up’ but ‘wear it out’ does not seem to occur very often.

However, today I have an example which caught me completely off-guard.

I have a  black short-sleeve cashmere/merino top.  I have had it for several years and wear it regularly with different skirts and trousers.  It even gets worn with shorts.

After carefully handwashing the top I was placing on the hanger to dry when I noticed a hole just below the underarm.  It was not moth-eaten but simply worn out!  On closer examination I discovered that the other side was in an almost identical state.

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A closer look.

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I am not sure whether there is any purpose for which I can use the remainder of the garment.  Padding of some sort?  Otherwise it will be binned.

Will I replace this?  Probably not. It was mostly worn to work and I only have another 7 months of work and I am also looking at having less black clothes in my wardrobe.