Stockpot Workout

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I have a large stainless steel stockpot that lives in the back corner of the pantry on the floor. It usually gets dragged out a few times a year.

Yesterday was one of those days as I decided to make a large batch of pumpkin and celery soup. This may sound like an odd combination but I find the sharpness of homegrown celery that has been growing for several months provides a nice balance to the sweetness of our pumpkins.

I ended up with 18 serves of soup – 2 for dinner and the rest to go in the freezer.

Today I continued with my bulk food preparation by making jam with the 3kg of Davidson plums which I had picked over the past few weeks and stored in the freezer. I ended up with 3.95kg of jam. Davidson plums are a relatively rare Australian native fruit which grows on a rainforest tree in a fairly narrow distribution in northern NSW and south-east Queensland. Therefore, the jam commands a premium price. I compared 3 different brands online and found that the average price per kilo is about $81 which makes my haul worth over $320!!

I also boiled up the seeds and then strained them to make cordial. A splash in a glass of soda water makes a refreshing drink.

Finally, I raided the freezer again for some cherry tomatoes and made a batch of tomato sauce (ketchup). While nowhere near as valuable as the jam, the sauce is a whole other level beyond the commercially produced tomato sauce. The recipe is here.

While the oven was on to sterilise the jars I decided that I might as well make a batch of cheese scones. Recipe is here.

I think it is time to put the stockpot away for a couple more months.

Creating With Scraps

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One of my longer term projects is to use up the many and varied fabric pieces I have acquired from multiple sources.

When I was tidying up a few weeks ago I found various pieces of denim offcuts. Once I collected them all together I realised that there was a significant pile. Many were pieces that had been cut off when shortening new jeans. Others were salvaged from garments that were no longer wearable.

Using an existing apron for a template I made a pattern then a patchwork denim apron for myself. The neck strap, binding and ties were all salvaged or remnants.

After posting this photo on my Facebook page I was approached by a friend who asked if I was selling them. Well, not exactly, but I did agree to make her one. This time I even included pockets. These were salvaged from a pair of GMan’s old gardening jeans that had been patched so many times that he had recently declared that they were only fit for the rubbish. That was the case for most of them but the back pockets were still in good condition.

I used flat felled seams to replicate the seams normally seen on jeans. This also meant that there are no raw edges on the reverse of the apron.

My pile of denim offcuts is now much reduced, although I do still have enough for the occasional mending task.

Changing Needs

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A chance conversation about 10 days ago led me to realise that it was probably time to reassess the single bed and trundle bed in my sewing room. We bought these on Gumtree in 2011 when our granddaughters were aged 4 and 2. You can read about how I used them in this post.

I decided that a sofa bed would be a better option as the girls are not here as often as when they were smaller. Also, the bed is too low to sit on comfortably when I am working in this room.

Ready to go to a new home.

So, I advertised the beds and they have now gone to a new home. We also sourced a ‘good as new’ sofa bed from Marketplace which now has pride of place in the sewing room.

I have chosen to place it closer to the corner in order to maximise the space near the doorway. It will be a simple matter to pull the sofa along when it needs to be used as a bed.

This is a good solution as I will use it as a sofa far more often than it is ever likely to be used as a bed. We have a queen size air mattress if the girls decide they do not want to share the sofa bed.

It pays to regularly consider your needs and the best choice of furniture for the purpose. There is ample opportunity to source good secondhand pieces as well as a market for anything you no longer need.

A Bouquet of Basil

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GMan was weeding the vegie garden today and discovered that the basil had grown too large and had collapsed under its own weight.

So, I was the lucky recipient of a large bunch of basil.

I removed all of the leaves, washed and spun them dry. Then it was time to make basil pesto.

I did not use pine nuts but instead I used a combination of almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pepitas. There is no recipe as such but I used garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. In addition to the standard ingredients I also added some nutritional yeast and a tablespoon of lemon juice.

This was the yield. It is not the most exciting photo so I added the jar of home-grown flowers which I was gifted yesterday.

There is no photo but we had pesto with our homemade gnocchi, tomato sauce and olives. YUM!

Buy Nothing November – An Update

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It is nearly 2 weeks since I first posted about Buy Nothing November. You can read the first instalment here.

Since then we have bought 2 more physical items which have come into our home. The first is a rat trap which fairly self-explanatory and does not need a photo.

The second item is a timber storage box. I had been perusing secondhand sites for a few weeks as I was looking for a seat for my mini-mudroom. That is probably too grand a description as it is actually a corner of the workshop near the entrance to the house via the internal staircase. Anyway, I turned my attention from benches to storage boxes and found this timber box in a neighbouring town for $50. The storage space which a box affords is an added bonus to the original purpose of providing seating.

I will provide a final update at the end of the month.

Monday Mending

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I have a pair of jeans that were bought in 2012 and are becoming rather thin. This is particularly evident at the inner thighs and the tiny hole is becoming larger.

Although they are no longer my good jeans I still wear them regularly so decided to try my hand at patching them. I have patched jeans previously but usually with no consideration to the aesthetic as they were only for wearing in the garden. This time I was aiming for a better looking result.

This is what I had to work with.

2 patches cut from some denim offcuts.

Double-sided interfacing ironed onto the wrong side of the fabric patches.

Patches ironed onto the inside of the jeans.

Two rows of stitching around each patch to secure them.

I then turned the jeans to the outside and using a tight, wide zigzag stitch I stitched over the hole and the worst of the thin areas to reinforce them.

The view on the inside.

All finished.

Once they are washed these will be ready to wear again. After 9 years of consistent wear the jeans are getting a bit thin all over but I think I have extended the life for a bit. One or two years, perhaps? I don’t know but I do know that it was worth 20 minutes of my time and a small quantity of materials I had on hand to make these jeans wearable again.

Something Small

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The work on the downstairs bathroom renovation is progressing. The only thing left is the small mirrored cabinet to go above the handbasin. It is essentially a functional bathroom now so today I took some towels to the downstairs storage for use in that bathroom.

However, I noticed that the handtowel is simply hung on a hook rather than through a ring as we have in the main bathroom.

So I decided to add a loop for hanging the handtowels. I used a small piece of salvaged cotton tape to create a loop.

Here is the towel hanging on its new hook.

There will be a full reveal of the bathroom when it is completely finished.

Buy Nothing November

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As per the title, it is Buy Nothing November. Have you heard of it? It is the pushback against the mega-retailing phenomenon known as Black Friday.

Black Friday (the day following Thanksgiving in the United States) sales started to become popularised as a day for retail sales in the 1980s. This insidious spread of rampant consumerism has now spread its tentacles to the UK and Australia as well as other places of which I am unware. Of course, online retailing has jumped on the bandwagon in a huge way, too.

I found out about Buy Nothing November via The Story of Stuff on Facebook. Their actual post is copied below.

The Story of Stuff Project 

Welcome to #BuyNothingNovember! For years, the Story of Stuff Project has been actively promoting Buy Nothing Day, the alternative to Black Friday. But the holiday season, in general, has an outsized impact on the planet, so this year we’re expanding the call-to-action for the entire month of November. Throughout this month, we will be sharing facts and figures about the link between consumerism and climate change, and the ecological crisis at large. Refusing to buy new, nonessential goods is a direct-action protest against the corporate conglomerates who are destroying our home. Apple, Amazon, Coca-Cola — these companies are only allowed to be so large because we give them permission, with our dollar. It’s time we show them who is really in charge here. #BuyNothingNew

We generally keep our buying of stuff to a minimum and are certainly not enticed by the crazy Black Friday sales. I had no prior knowledge of this particular month and we track all of our spending so it is going to be quite easy to see what stuff we actually buy during November.

One third of the month is almost gone so it is probably time to review what stuff we have bought.

I am not including groceries and fuel which are both consumables nor ‘experiences’ such as gym fees, dining out and entrance to entertainment venues.

We have purchased and brought 3 things into our home. They are:

A pump for a 20 litre drum of chemical. It took a bit of research to find where we could source one but we succeeded.

A new lockable door handle for the freshly painted door between the garage and the workshop area.

A small bundle of fabric from the thrift shop. I have already used most of the orange fabric and the remainder will be used up as I continue making Boomerang bags.

I am pretty pleased when I consider how little ‘stuff’ we buy.

Harvest Time

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I feel as though I am repeating myself when I write about dealing with the masses of cherry tomatoes we are picking. I guess that is to be expected since it happens every year and I have been writing this blog for over 10 years. Some things never change. 🙂

GMan and I picked a couple of buckets of cherry tomatoes the other day. Then it was a matter of rinsing them, removing the stalks and sorting them.

The ripest ones went in the blender then I simmered until the liquid was much reduced.

The final step was to pour into icecube trays and freeze. This is a simple version of tomato concentrate.

Others were bagged up and frozen whole. These are great for throwing in a casserole or making tomato sauce (ketchup) in the off-season.

Some that needed another day of ripening were spread on various trays. Here is one.

The next few weeks will see these activities repeated time and again as we make the most of the seasonal abundance.

A Pile of Gold

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Well, it is not strictly gold but we had this pile of compost delivered today. This rich, organic material is like gold for our vegetable garden beds.

GMan and I moved it all to the various garden beds this afternoon. We also pulled up plenty of weeds which are thriving with the recent rain. At least the ground is soft which makes them easier to pull out.

Most of my posts, like this one, are about things that happen here that are a little bit out of the ordinary. However, tomorrow I am going talk about some of the everyday jobs. The ones we do day in and day out. They get very little recognition but they definitely need to be done.