Finding Balance

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It is a little over 6 months since I finished work and I am now beginning to look at how I manage my time at home.

While I was working it was the time available which dictated what I achieved at home.  However, now that has all changed as my time is my own.

The first 6 months were taken up with the final preparations for our overseas trip followed by 9 weeks overseas then it was less than 2 months until Christmas and a road trip and family Christmas.

My activities can be roughly divided into the following categories (in alphabetical order, not priority):

Cooking – meal preparation – sometimes in bulk
Exercise – aquarobics, gym and walking
Gardening – growing vegetables, flowers and shrubs
Household maintenance/renovations – usually in conjunction with GMan
Online/Computer – blog, Facebook, emails
Relaxing – reading, music, television
Routine housework – making bed, washing, ironing, sweeping, vacuuming
Sewing – clothes, mending, patchwork and Boomerang bags
Socialising – book club, film society, theatre, friends, family, Air BnB guests
Shopping – groceries and miscellaneous
Travel – local, interstate and overseas

By their very nature, housework and cooking tend to occur everyday.  Formal exercise is twice a week but I am trying to include either some walking or gardening every other day.

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I try to find time for some gardening, relaxing and computer work each day.

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Sewing and socialising usually happen several days a week.

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Shopping is as little as possible but groceries are mostly once a week.

Some activities cross over such as aquarobics and socialising.  I also try to combine activities and errands to limit the number of trips I make into our local town (8km away).

From time to time a particular activity may demand a substantial block of time to the exclusion of almost everything else but I generally try to keep a mix of activities each day or so.

 

 

 

Secondhand Stuff

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One way to significantly reduce our carbon footprint is to source pre-loved items in preference to buying new.

There are a number of ways of achieving this.  Thrift stores, garage sales and online groups as well as hand-me-downs and cast-offs from friends and family.

I think it is important not to simply use this as a way of acquiring excess possessions that will not be used.  However, if you are willing to watch and wait and be prepared to take advantage of what comes your way, there are plenty of bargains out there.

Here are some of my finds from the last week.

I was walking past the recycle boutique in our local town when I spied this dress hanging outside the shop.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I discovered it was my size.

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After a relatively minor alteration it is ready to wear to a Christmas lunch tomorrow and probably on Christmas Day as well.

On Saturday morning I ventured to a clearing sale at a property not far from where we live.  I knew that there would be a wide selection and went with an open mind.

This was what I ended up with.  Total cost was $50.

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The 2 larger Pyrex dishes are for my daughter.

The doona set was for king-size bed but I modified it for our queen-size bed.  You can see the pattern better as it is on the line after being washed.

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The offcuts have not been wasted as I will be able to cut squares for the patchwork quilt which is a work in progress but will one day grace our bed.

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The bed linen is the perfect colour for our room.

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A Month Later

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It is just over a month since my last blog post on 19th March.  The following 2 weeks were somewhat frenetic with work and also getting ready to head off on holidays to Mauritius on 1st April.  If you missed that bit of detail you can catch up with the travel news and photos on my other blog, Somewhere, Anywhere.

We arrived home yesterday morning after a 36 hour stopover in Singapore.  It was also my birthday.  Unlike my milestone birthday last year, this year was fairly low-key.  We had dinner with my sister, brother-in-law, brother and mother last night. It was lovely to catch up with them and to have someone else make dinner for me.

The weather has cooled down somewhat in the few weeks we have been away.  However, heavy showers of rain are making it a challenge to do the inevitable pile of washing that we brought home.

Cooler weather also meant that I can consider meals other than the inevitable salads.  Today we did some shopping to restock some necessities – fruit and vegetables as well as milk, cheese and Vegemite.  I spent $30 at the greengrocer, including a cauliflower for $4.  This is the upper limit of what I will pay for a cauliflower but it is still good value.  With the addition of stock powder, an onion, salt, pepper and smoky paprika I made a pot of hearty cauliflower soup.  That $4 cauliflower made 4 generous dinner serves plus 4 smaller serves suitable for lunches.  8 meals for about $4.50 seems like pretty good value to me!

Cauliflower Soup

1 full cauliflower (medium)
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons stock powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoky paprika

Lightly fry the onion in a large saucepan/stockpot.  Remove the outside leaves and separate the florets from the stalk.  Finely slice the leaves and stalk and add to the pot.  Continue to fry for about 5 minutes.  Add the roughly chopped cauliflower florets, seasonings and enough water to just cover the vegetables.  Cover and simmer for at least an hour and add extra water if required.  Blend until smooth and serve.

Tonight we had a big bowl of soup and some buckwheat pancakes on the side.

The remaining soup has been portioned up and is ready to go in the freezer.

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And the rain is pouring down – again!!

Wardrobe Audit – January

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At the beginning of January I turned all of the coathangers in my wardrobe around.  The idea behind this is that once an item has been worn you replace the hanger in the correct manner.  This provides an easy way to identify those items which have not been worn.

Since the past month has been recorded as the hottest ever start to the year in Australia, it is no surprise to find that jackets, cardigans, jeans and trousers were not worn in January.  Of the seasonally appropriate items, there are a couple of tops and 3 skirts which have not yet been worn.  I am sure their time will come.

The other thing I decided to do was not to buy any new clothes in January.  This was not entirely successful depending on your definition of ‘new’.  I bought 3 items that are new to me during the month.  We have a local recycle boutique which I check out from time to time.  I am fairly selective and only choose pieces that are absolutely perfect for me and I could not go past these.

Patterned cropped jeans

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Sleeveless cowl neck top

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Long sleeve white linen shirt

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Although none of them had tags attached, I am pretty sure that they are all unworn.

Finally, I moved three items out of my wardrobe.  The first was a pair of jeans I bought in 2012.  They have had a lot of wear and are getting pretty thin as well as somewhat faded and stained.  They are are now in the pile of clothes to be worn around the house and when gardening.  Similarly a sleeveless tshirt top has seen better days so met the same fate.  A pair of white shorts went in the bin as the elastane had all given way and they were not in a fit state to be used or donated.

All of this wardrobe activity takes place on a background of the knowledge that my clothes needs will evolve with my upcoming retirement in a few months along with plenty of travelling planned.

As always, I will only be making carefully considered purchases.

I will continue to monitor and report on my progress during the year.

A Matter of Priorities

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At the end of my last blog post I said I would show you more of what I had been sewing the next day.

Well, that did not happen.  Not only did I not write the post, I did not do the intended sewing.  There were other things that rated as more important and demanded my attention.  In fact, if I am honest, that is why there are often significant gaps between blog posts.  The blog has a relatively low priority in my life as the full-time job and running a household definitely come first.

Anyway, in the absence of any sewing, I want to share some of the recent additions to my wardrobe.

I am not keen on buying clothes online but towards the end of last year I bought 3 tops from Covered Perfectly.  This was on the recommendation of Susan from Susan After 60 blog.  The tops are made in the USA and with a buy 2, get the 3rd one free deal they were very reasonably priced, even with the overseas shipping.

Here are the three that I bought.

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Since it is the middle of summer here, these will not be worn in the near future.  I am looking forward to wearing them in the cooler weather and also including them in the packing for our Europe trip later in the year.

Yesterday, I had some free time between appointments in Maleny so I took the opportunity to check out the recycle boutique.  I do have a browse there from time to time and have bought a few things previously.  I was definitely in luck as I found this cute pair of cropped Sportscraft jeans which appeared to have never been worn.  They were my size and fitted like a glove.

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I also found a pretty sleeveless top with a cowl neckline.

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Here are a few styling possibilities that I have identified for my new pieces.

Cropped jeans with teal 3/4 sleeve top.

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Cropped jeans with navy tshirt.

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Cropped jeans with white collared shirt.

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The sleeveless top will be paired with white cropped pants, black trousers or even these green jeans.

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A few years ago my wardrobe consisted mostly of black, white and red items.

More recently I have included a bit more navy in lieu of some black pieces and the addition of some more blue and green is great, too.  I am still sticking to my theory that every piece in my wardrobe must be able to be worn in at least 3 different ways or combinations.

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.

 

Pantry Staples & Re-arranging

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Yesterday we made a trek of about 80km round trip to Simply Good to stock up on dry goods for the pantry.

The use of bulk bins means that I can buy items without any packaging.  I have used paper bags for a number of years that I reuse over and over again but have recently begun taking my storage jars and having the tare weight recorded before filling them directly.  This makes unpacking a breeze when I get home.

I decided that is was time to tidy the pantry and wipe the shelves before replacing all of the jars.  Here is the end result.

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One of the things that had contributed to some of the space seeming cluttered was the abundance of varieties of loose leaf tea.  I do not drink tea or coffee but GMan does, and of course we like to have it available for guests.

I have read of several people who choose to have a tea/coffee ‘station’ with all of the requirements set up together, however, I had never really considered this as a possibility until yesterday.

This open shelf and cupboard are above the oven and and immediately adjacent to the corner pantry.

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I relocated my small collection of cookbooks to the top cupboard and have made the open shelf the tea/coffee ‘station’.

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The bowl in front of the teapot contains the mesh balls which we use for single serves of tea as we do not buy teabags.  The cork mat next to the bowl is for the other plunger which was being washed when I took this photo.

This does not include the jug which lives in the appliance cupboard or the freshly ground coffee which is refrigerated.

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I am very happy with the result of this re-arranging as it frees up some space in the pantry and keeps the necessities for hot drinks together without cluttering up my bench space.