Soup for Supper

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Today I have made leek and potato soup. It is winter here in Australia and although we live in a relatively mild climate there is something appealing about a pot of homemade soup on a damp, grey day.

There are plenty of recipes on the internet for leek and potato soup but this is my version.

LEEK & POTATO SOUP

Ingredients

1 medium/large leek
3 medium/large potatoes
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon dried celery leaves
1 teaspoon rosemary salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1.5 litres water

Method

Wash and thinly slice the leek. Heat oil in a large pot and saute the leek. Stir constantly to avoid it browning. When the leek is soft, add 1 litre of water and the stock powder and other seasonings. Simmer gently.

Meanwhile, peel and dice the potato. Microwave until tender. Reserve about 1/3 of the potato cubes and add the rest to the soup and continue simmering for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. I use a handheld blender for this. Roughly mash the remaining potato and stir into the soup. Add more water to create desired consistency. Check and adjust seasoning as required.

NOTES:

Be extremely careful when blending hot soup.

You may choose more, less or different seasoning to what I have used.

I make the rosemary salt by stripping the leaves from the stems, dehydrating them and then grinding to a powder which I mix 50/50 with a good quality salt.

Soup simmering.

The end result.

From the Stash

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Sometimes I get so involved in projects, I actually overlook posting about what I am doing. So, this is a bit of a catch up on my recent sewing endeavours.

The first was a valance to cover the ensemble base of our bed. We originally had a bedspread which covered both the mattress and base but that has not been the case for a number of years. I did buy an elasticised cover for the base several years ago, however, it was only moderately successful in my opinion. After lengthy consideration I finally decided to try making my own version. I used a piece of light-coloured upholstery fabric from my stash to cover the ensemble base and then joined some strong black cotton fabric for the fitted side panels.

This is a glimpse of the side of the bed once it is made. The black fabric-covered base is barely noticeable so I regard my mission as a success.

The next project was completed in less than a week once I set my mind to it. I have a patchwork knee rug which I made a few years ago for my mother. We have had some particularly cold evenings and GMan was rather envious as I snuggled under it while watching television. I set to work to make another one.

The first step was to select the fabric. As I sort through fabric I regularly identify small pieces which are suitable for patchwork. I cut them into 5 inch squares and sort by colour. So it was a simple process to grab the number I needed from the bag of blue fabrics.

In progress.

The squares were all salvaged scraps. The wadding was from an old polyester doona which I disassembled and reused. The plain edging was an old pillowcase and the backing came from a worn-out doona cover.

The final step was to add the binding. I cut and made my own bias binding from yet another piece of salvaged fabric.

Both of these items have been created entirely from fabric which was destined for landfill. We have so many resources already in circulation and it makes sense to utilise what we have.

One Coat

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You could be forgiven for thinking that this post is about a coat to keep me warm. After all, it is the middle of a significant cold spell in our southern hemisphere winter.

However, it is actually about what I have been doing for the past day and a half – painting the front of the house around the garage doors. I have completed one coat so far and will hopefully get the second coat of paint on this section tomorrow.

It is a significant improvement on the previous salmon colour.

There is still more to do around the corner on the back wall.

Honouring the Handiwork

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I am regularly given pieces of fabric, garments and bed linen to use for upcycling into Boomerang bags and other projects. In recent months I have acquired a large quantity of these items from a local thrift shop. These are pieces that are deemed to be unsuitable for sale for a variety of reasons. The process of diverting them to our group assists in saving these pieces from going to landfill.

We have discovered that simply washing some articles makes them usable again. Thrift shops are not laundry services so it is important that anything you choose to donate is clean.

Some stained and torn articles yield sections of good fabric which we are able to use.

However, there is one group of items we receive that can be a challenge. These are the partly completed craft projects. I have received pieces of embroidery, patchwork pieces and even fabric painting at times. I feel an emotional responsibility to utilise these pieces if at all possible. They represent effort and skill from an unknown maker and deserve to be honoured.

Here are a couple of examples I have recently completed.

A piece of calico with fabric painted flowers has become the front of this bag. It is complemented by plain blue handles and back of the bag.

A contrasting inside pocket completes the bag.

Several small strips of patchwork provided me with another challenge. I joined them in an acceptable pattern before making the rest of the bag in a matching navy fabric from a doona cover. The contrasting handles are a similar fabric to the patchwork and were lurking in my stash from another donation.

I am so glad that I have been able to give these pieces of handiwork an outcome which is so much better than landfill.

An Apron

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This afternoon I made an apron. It was in response to an enquiry to our Boomerang Bags group from someone who wanted to know if we made aprons.

Our group has been considering diversifying a little so this was a perfect opportunity to test my skills.

In keeping with the Boomerang Bag ethos of saving textiles from landfill, it is made entirely from salvaged fabric. The red is a discarded cushion cover which I had unpicked. I used the wrong side of the fabric as the right side was quite faded. The striped fabric is from a discarded apron – I used the original ties for the waistband and ties. Finally, the dog fabric was a scrap leftover from a bag I made – the original piece was given to me. The dog fabric is a pocket which is divided into 5 sections.

I can definitely see an opportunity to make some more for our upcoming market stall next month.

A Box of Bananas

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Yesterday we did some shopping at the supermarket and greengrocer.

As always, I scanned the shops for any particular bargains.

There were bananas for $1/kg so I prepared to fill a large bag. The owner asked if I wanted a whole box.

Yes, please!

We have sliced banana on our cereal each morning and it does not matter whether it is fresh or frozen.

So, I peeled some and froze them on trays. Once they are frozen I will bag them up for future use. Banana cake, smoothies and banana ice-cream are other possible uses.

There are still plenty in the box so I will freeze them over coming days.

This is another example of being open and aware to bargains that may come your way.

The box full was $13 which worked out at slightly less than 9c/banana.

A Refresh

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I have not forgotten you even though it has been nearly 4 weeks since my last post.

After a very wet autumn our weather suddenly turned dry and cold as winter officially began here at the beginning of June. It somehow made our planned holiday very appealing. We had 9 days in north Queensland where the daytime temperatures ranged from about 26C up to 32C. It was a great opportunity to thaw out. I am still adding to the posts on my holiday blog but you can pop over here to read all about it.

We came back with renewed enthusiasm to tackle some jobs around the house. It is really a bit like spring-cleaning in winter. GMan has scrubbed all of the skirting boards, architraves and doors in the lounge/dining area and the office/library.

A bit of decluttering and rearranging of furniture ensued. One thing certainly leads to another.

Bookshelf from the lounge to the office.

Sideboard from the front lobby to the lounge.

A ‘new’ glass fronted cabinet for the lobby. I picked this bargain up on Marketplace.

Scrubbing was not enough for the front lobby so it received a fresh coat of paint.

There is more painting and rearranging in progress. More photos to come.

A Winter Bed

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We have a small dog. She is a Tenterfield terrier – very similar to a miniature fox terrier.

At slightly under 2 years old she is still a puppy in many ways. Chewing holes in her blanket is a favourite pastime. She had 2 blankets cut from a very large old polar fleece blanket but today I decided that I needed to rethink her bedding.

So, I made this cover from a piece of upholstery fabric which was lurking in my stash and placed the 2 blankets inside it.

The new bed appears to have gained a stamp of approval. We will see how long it lasts before being chewed.

Safely Salvaged

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I seem to have been gripped by a level of inertia which has been difficult to shake. I suppose you could call it writer’s block. I have plenty of material for blog posts but have simply not had the will or focus to actually write and publish them. Part of the problem has been the heavy focus on our upcoming federal government elections on Saturday. The other has been the weather. The rain was relentless for several days and even when it was not raining the humidity was 100%. Today was a little better but a return of the heavy rain is forecast for the next 3 days with a high likelihood of greater than 100mm (4 inches) over the weekend.

Anyway, enough of excuses and back to the title.

Today I want to address textile waste – garments, household linens and unused fabric.

As with anything, the best actions we can take to minimise waste are:

  1. Buy only what we actually need.
  2. Buy secondhand where possible.
  3. Take care of what we have to increase its longevity.
  4. Repair or upcycle if applicable.
  5. Ensure it is disposed of or recycled responsibly at the end of its useful life.

Most of us at some time have donated to or shopped at op shops but do you have any idea of what happens with the donations before they make it into the shop for sale?

Donations are received, sorted, priced and made available for sale. Many op shops are overwhelmed by donations and sadly, a portion of what is donated ends up as landfill. Donated items may be unsuitable, dangerous, damaged, soiled or otherwise unacceptable.

I routinely receive donated textiles which are otherwise destined for landfill and our local Boomerang Bags group are often able to use some of the fabric for making reusable bags.

However, sometimes I am surprised by some of what I receive. Remember, op shops do not provide a laundry service so it is make sure that your donations are in a state which is saleable. It is even a good idea to fold garments so that the volunteers can easily identify them as clean and cared-for clothing.

Today I soaked and laundered these three dresses which were in the last bundle saved from landfill. I can only only surmise that at least 2 of them had been deemed unacceptable due to the fact that they had not been laundered prior to donation.

They are all natural fibres (cotton and linen) and in good condition.

I have now sold 2 of them and the funds received have been donated to our local Waste Action group.

We should all do everything we can to ensure that we minimise what ends up in landfill.

Eggplant Everywhere

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For the past few years I have grown eggplant pretty successfully with minimal effort. In our climate it grows without supplementary watering, is generally resistant to pests and vagaries of the weather and, most importantly, the fruit mature gradually and I don’t end up with a massive glut of produce.

It is definitely a crop worth growing as they are generally $6.95/kg at our greengrocer.

I think eggplant are quite underrated. Here are some of my favourite dishes that I have made recently.

Roasted eggplant slices on a vegetarian pizza.

Ready to pop in the oven to roast.

The finished pizza.

Eggplant and Bean Curry

Sauteed eggplant and some leftover spicy chicken with a bit of tamari and served with cauliflower in cheese sauce. There is no photo of this one.

Eggplant often does not look particularly spectacular but I think it is definitely worth trying.