Some New Toys

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I know that plenty of people aim for a “No Spend January”, however, that is definitely not the case here at the moment.

It seems as though we have been spending at every turn but it has hardly been frivolous.

Yesterday we picked up a new dehumidifier that we had ordered. There is no real end in sight to the recent extended spell of wet and humid weather. Mould is a constant battle where we live and I decided that I really needed an additional dehumidifier. We have had one for well over 10 years and it can definitely make a difference.

Today the new fridge arrived. This will be in addition to the main refrigerator/freezer in the kitchen and an upright freezer.

We have had this knife block and knives for many years and they have served us well. GMan sharpens the knives when required. A few weeks ago we had a mishap when he was using the point of one of the knives to separate 2 slices of frozen bread. There were no injuries sustained, however, about 1 cm of the tip of the knife broke off. Some research revealed that we could order an identical replacement knife which we collected from the Post Office today.

The old knife has been relocated to downstairs where it can be used when harvesting vegetables such as broccoli and celery.

Our other major purchase in the past month was a new laptop computer. It is to replace the old desktop computer and also means that we now have 2 portable devices. We both have volunteer commitments and meetings for which these will be useful.

All of the purchases will support our lifestyle and were carefully considered and planned.

Maintenance Mode & Mundane

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If my first few posts of 2022 were anything to go by, you would think there was always some huge activity going on here every day. I am sorry to disappoint you but that is not the case.

Yesterday included a routine doctor’s appointment, changing the sheets on our bed and a couple of loads of washing as well as cutting up some pruning I had done a few days prior so that it will break down more quickly in the compost.

This morning I decluttered some emails as well as the cane basket which sits on the kitchen bench next to the phone. It is our ‘dumping spot’ and occasionally needs a review and overhaul. The contents include a notebook, pen, pending correspondence etc.

I also shredded a small quantity of paper. We choose to handle all of our paper and cardboard at home rather than putting it in the recycle bin. The shredded paper goes in the nesting boxes for the chickens. Some lightweight cardboard is shredded for addition to the compost while the heavier cardboard becomes a weed suppressant to go under mulched areas in the garden.

The administrative maintenance – emails, shredding, notes and correspondence – done regularly means that I never need to have a huge declutter of these things.

Finally, we went shopping to top up our grocery and fruit and vegetable supplies.

Buy Nothing November – Final Analysis

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There has been a bit of a hiatus as we were on holidays for part of the time and occupied with various happenings at home.

Since my last post the only additional stuff I bought in November was 4 items of clothing from an op shop while we were on holidays. I spent the princely sum of $13 for 2 pairs of white shorts, a black top with white spots and this lightweight pair of loose trousers.

I am not sure whether they are meant to be pyjamas but I will be wearing them for comfy loungewear at home.

Bargain Buy & Brains Trust

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On Tuesday I went to the dentist which is adjacent to my latest favourite op shop. I popped in and found a pair of fitted white stretch pull-on trousers for the princely sum of $4.

Of course, they were too long and needed taking up. The next question was what is the correct or most flattering length.

I was unsure and turned to the collective brains trust of some of my online fashionista friends. After a couple of attempts I settled on this length.

Here are the trousers hemmed, pressed and ready to wear.

Upcycled Packaging

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My last couple of posts have focused on avoiding packaging when grocery shopping. While avoiding packaging and waste is ideal, we still need to consider all potential waste and whether there are other options for it.

Upcycling is one of the strategies for removing items from the waste and recycling stream.

I would not buy Pancake Shaker mix but I ended up with a container of it which had come from my mother’s pantry. I decided to use it rather than waste perfectly good food but was then left with an empty plastic container.

I decided to cut it down to make a scoop.

After marking the proposed cutting line with a felt-tip pen I then carefully cut it with a Stanley knife. These are the 2 pieces I ended up with.

The offcut will go in the recycling and the scoop will be handy for GMan when measuring our flour during his breadmaking adventures.

There are many opportunities to reuse or upcycle all sorts of packaging. Do you have any examples?

Mission Accomplished

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Yesterday I showed you the boxes of jars to be filled with dry goods.

It took me 30 minutes at Simply Good to have these weighed and fill them.

Once I was home I could just put them in the pantry.

This is what I bought today. It is not an exhaustive list of everything I buy there, just today’s purchases.

Chia seeds
Psyllium husk
Kidney beans
Red lentils
Sunflower seeds
Pepitas
Arrowroot
Potato starch
Brown rice flour
Quinoa flour
Baking powder
Cinnamon
Turmeric
Smoky paprika
Mixed herbs
Cashews
Black beans
Coconut

Zero Waste Shopping

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One of my passions is reducing packaging. My life is far from totally zero waste but I do the best I can. That is all that any of us can do. What works for me may not be an option for you.

I buy most of my dry goods – seeds, nuts, flours, spices etc from bulk bins at Simply Good. It means that I can buy as much or as little of a product as I wish without any packaging.

The shop is about 50km from home so I do not pop in every other day. In fact, I generally shop there about 3 times/year and always combine in with a trip in the same direction (usually to Brisbane).

Tomorrow is the day as I am running low on several staples and I have a dental appointment in Brisbane. So, I have made sure the containers are clean and labelled. You can use the lightweight plastic bags provided at the shop, however, I choose to take my own bags, or better still jars.

The staff are happy to pre-weigh the jars before filling them and then the weight is deducted at the checkout. For this to work accurately the jars do need to be labelled.

When I arrive home it is a simple matter of placing the jars in their correct location in the pantry and I fully restocked until next time.

Do you try to reduce packaging? Do you have any tips or tricks for minimising packaging when grocery shopping?

Secondhand Rose

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Yesterday I popped into our local Salvos op shop (thrift shop) as I needed a long sleeve shirt. We were going on a walk in a rainforest area as part of a local Landcare group today. The dress code was long pants and long sleeve top plus closed shoes. The weather forecast was for a maximum temperature of 31C so none of my long sleeve tops were really suitable. I went to see if I could get a men’s business shirt that would do the trick but I was surprised to find this collared top with pretty pintucked detailing. The sleeves are actually 3/4 but almost wrist-length on me. My size and $5.

As an added bonus I found a scarf for $3 which goes perfectly with this jumper. I am sure I will find an opportunity to wear it before too long.

I have had several good op shop finds in the last few months including barely worn cotton shorts , canvas denim sneakers as well as a couple of tops.

Buying secondhand makes good ethical sense in my opinion but I am mindful of only buying what I need, regardless of whether it is new or secondhand.

Do you source clothes or other goods secondhand? Do you have a favourite store?

A Different Dinner

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Due to Covid 19 our area has been locked down for 8 days. Those restrictions ease from this afternoon so we are very grateful. I know that this nothing compared to what many people have endured and continue to do so. I understand that grocery shopping is one of the acceptable reasons to leave your home but whether we are locked down or not, I try to minimise my exposure by shopping as infrequently as possible.

Yesterday I stocked up on some grocery items and also replenished our very meagre selection of fruit and vegetables. Now the trick is to make sure that everything is used wisely and none of the perishable goods go to waste. I bought 2 bunches of broccolini and decided that 1 of them would be used in our dinner.

After canvassing several options, I decided on a Broccolini and Caramelised Onion Tart. I found a few recipes online but none that exactly matched my idea so I pulled a few different elements together and this is what I came up with. It makes use of what I had available so you can make your own adjustments or substitutions.

Broccolini and Carmelised Onion Tart

Pastry – I was looking for something that was gluten free and tried this recipe for the pastry base. I had never thought of rubbing coconut oil rather than butter into flour when making pastry. I thought it turned out reasonably well but GMan is not a fan and feels than you can taste the coconut. You can make or buy whatever pastry suits you.

This is the pastry when I placed it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Filling

2 onions
2 teaspoons mixed herbs
2 teaspoons treacle
2 tablespoons red wine
1 bunch broccolini
Olive oil
Salt
Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic
Nutritional yeast
Sour cream
Cheddar cheese

Slice the onions, place in a pan over low heat and cook gently, stirring regularly. Add mixed herbs and treacle. Continue to cook until golden brown and soft. Add red wine to deglaze the pan. Cook for another minute and remove from heat.

Rinse broccolini and spread on baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and slivers of garlic. Roast for about 15 minutes at 150C. Set aside until required.

Ready to go in the oven.

Line a dish or tray with your chosen pastry. Lightly spread with mustard and sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Place half of the onions in the dish then the broccolini followed by the remainder of the onions.

Add some dollops of sour cream and a little grated cheese.

Bake at 180C for 20 minutes.

I served slices of the tart with freshly-made coleslaw and cherry tomatoes.

Lockdown – Imposition or Opportunity

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I have previously written about the importance of mindset. This can apply to many situations.

That drawer in the kitchen that many people refer to as the ‘junk drawer’? By calling it, even silently to myself, as the ‘useful drawer’ has helped me to ensure that it holds only useful items. It is not a place for junk and this aids in keeping it tidy and uncluttered.

I don’t ‘get rid of stuff’ either. To get rid of something implies that it is rubbish and merely describing it as ‘stuff’ does not ascribe any inherent value to the item. That is fine if it is a piece of ripped paper but if you are struggling with great-grandma’s tea set it is much more difficult. Try saying to yourself that you are letting go of a beautiful item so that it can bring joy to someone else. You will immediately feel more positive and confident about it going to a new home.

Where I live we are currently being instructed to stay at home for all but necessary outings due to community transmission of cases of Covid-19. I recognise that this is difficult for many people and we all need to be aware of our mental health and that of those around us.

Once again, a little bit of positive self-talk and mindset can go a long way. I hear many people talking about being stuck at home and locked down. I prefer to appreciate the time I have been given with very few demands on my time. It can be an opportunity to begin, continue or even finish some of those multitude of projects which do not always make the cut in our normally full and demanding days.

Although our lockdown began at 6pm yesterday, my restrictions actually started first thing on Monday morning after I had a Covid test as I had woken with a very sore throat. Fortunately, the result was negative but I do have a heavy head cold and really do not feel like doing much.

I am embracing the time and have chosen to sort and cull some of the thousands of digital photos I have on my device as well as making some more Boomerang bags and updating the budget.

Of course, I am using my skills and imagination to create meals making the most of the ingredients we have without any waste. Even though grocery shopping is an acceptable reason for leaving our home, I figure the more I stay home, the more I reduce my risk of coming in contact with Covid-19. Many people have become programmed to simply go shopping every few days. I try to maintain an acceptable level of supplies to sustain us for an extended period of time regardless of the reason.

How do you make the most of the situation in which you find yourself?