Ugly Duckling

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A quick Google search will yield numerous results for the term ‘ugly fruit and vegetables’.  I do not know where or how the description originated but it simply refers to that produce which does not meet the consumer’s expectation of perfection.  There is a new wave of consumers who have realised that imperfect shape or non-conforming size do not render produce useless and destined for the waste bin.

While not specifically designated as ‘ugly fruit’ our local fruit and vegetable stall does have less than perfect items available from time to time.  You need to be prepared to chop, puree, freeze or preserve the entire quantity as soon as possible as it generally has a limited shelf life.  You can turn ‘ugly ducklings’ into ‘beautiful swans’.

Although I always write a shopping list for my shopping, including fruit and vegetables, I am always on the lookout for anything extra that I can use.

About a month ago I found a box of ripe yellow peaches that were most definitely seconds.  I decided that I could not go wrong when I noticed they were priced at $5 for the box.  I discovered that there were 6kg of peaches and I only needed to discard 2 peaches and removes spots from a couple of others.  Some were pureed and frozen to go on my cereal in the future and others being dehydrated while more were set aside in the refrigerator to be used fresh during the following days.  My favourite was the 5 jars of peach and chilli chutney made from this recipe.

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Yesterday we needed to replenish our supplies after our holidays and I spied another box for $5 at the fruit and vegetable stall.  This time it was pineapples.  12 small pineapples for $5 was a bargain not to be passed up.  Once again, despite not looking great from the outside, there was only a small portion that I needed to discard.

I did not make anything particularly fancy but I have plenty of pineapple frozen and ready to use.  Some is pureed for use on my cereal and the remainder is small slices packed into containers.  It is quite easy to remove as much or as little as is required for a particular recipe.

This is the haul (after I had eaten a couple of pieces).

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Do you look for seconds or bargains when buying fruit and vegetables?  What have you found and how did you process it?

 

Love a List

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We arrived home a little over 2 days ago after being away for almost 3 weeks.  There was the inevitable washing and ironing as well as grocery shopping but there seemed to be a million and one other things whirling around in my head that required my attention.

So, the first step was to write a list.

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I started writing this on Wednesday evening and have worked through many of the items but there are plenty left to do.  Some may not even get done but that is OK.  I know that some people advocate against “endless ‘TO DO’ lists” but I find that the clarity that a list provides far outweighs any perceived pressure.

I don’t have fancy journals or bulletin boards – just a simple unused notebook is sufficient.  I add things to it as I think of them and there is no specific time-frame so it is more of a memory prompt than anything else.

My list is a mix some regular tasks – washing, ironing, handwashing, digital tasks – send email to ………, update Outlook calendar, clear out inbox, food preparation – cut up pineapple, make Tabasco sauce and completely miscellaneous jobs such as writing up notes for a presentation of our Scotland holiday photos.

List-making minimises the stress of feeling like I am juggling too many balls, provides a reminder of what needs to be done and provides a sense of focus and accomplishment as I tick things off the list.

What about you? Lists?  Yes or no?

 

Pretty and Practical

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There are many ways you can add a touch of prettiness to your home without sacrificing practicality and still keep it relatively clutter-free.

These images are not from my own home but an Air BnB home where we stayed recently.

Jugs were the order of the day.

Facewashers on the vanity.

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Toilet brush holder.

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Holding the airfreshener on the windowsill.

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There was another in the kitchen beside the sink with the dishwahing liquid bottle in it.

The interesting thing is that they did not disguise the practical items but certainly added a little ‘something’ to the decor

The host also made curtains professionally and this was evident in the window treatments in the house.  There was an Austrian blind over the large window above the bathtub and it was adorned with a magnificent tassel on either side.

Here is a close-up.

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While I am not likely to implement any of these ideas into my own home, it is lovely to see other interiors.

 

 

 

Decision Time

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This is my first post for 2020 but it does not seem right to be wishing you a ‘Happy New Year’.  The bushfire disaster in south-eastern Australia is worse than ever, with more confirmed deaths and property losses.

If anyone asked me where I have been in the 5 days since my last blog post, the best answer would be “in limbo”.  We made our way to stay with extended family in Canberra.  After record-breaking heat (44C) yesterday, the capital is now covered with a blanket of thick smoke.  Several locations, including Old Parliament House, the National Gallery and Questacon are closed and people are being advised to stay indoors.  Unfortunately, the smoke seeps into everything but our problems are minimal compared to the areas which are directly impacted.

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As you can see from the map below, Canberra is semi-surrounded by fires.  The yellow markers are active fires, red is emergency and the blue ones are contained.  In some cases a single marker indicates a fire which has burnt an area in excess of 150,000 hectares (about 370,000 acres).

Fire Map

Some of our extended family are in areas closer to the fires so we are constantly trying to keep track of the progress of the fires.

We plan to leave Canberra tomorrow morning and drive home over a couple of days.  The western part of New South Wales is not in the high danger area and where we live is south-east Queensland is well away from the current fires.

However, we are still at the beginning of summer and these fires may be just the beginning of a catastrophic fire season as most of the entire country is drought-affected and tinder dry.

Please stay safe wherever you are.

 

That Was 2019

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I am writing this on the final evening of 2019 in a motel room in Rutherglen, a small town on the Victorian side of the Murray River which forms the border between Victoria and New South Wales.

Rutherglen is not where I expected to be tonight.  We were supposed to be in Bermagui on the south coast of New South Wales, however, it is right in the midst of the horrific bushfires raging in the south-eastern corner of Australia.

This photo is from Mallacoota on the coast near the Victoria/NSW border at about 10am this morning.

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I have gone back and re-read the 34 blog posts I wrote in 2019.  That is only about 1 post every 10 days on average.  At the end of 2018 I mentioned that I was going to have all of my photos sorted in 2019.  That did not happen.  The content of my 2019 posts is interesting.  They generally focus on my interests – gardening, cooking, sewing, op shopping and trying to be self-reliant and minimise our carbon footprint.  However, the posts from the latter part of the year tend to reflect the increasing concern over the climate crisis and my personal connection to it.  These included having a bushfire evacuation plan as well as growing food in extreme heat and saving our precious rainwater.

One event which I did not post about was the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) which has held in Madrid earlier this month.  Angus Taylor, the Federal Energy Minister, represented Australia, however, his prime effort was to block any real progress on global climate action.  As a result, Australia was singled out as being one of a handful of countries who set out to thwart the process.

I am reticent to use the word ‘unprecendented’ but that is the best description of the massive bushfire emergency which has been menacing almost every state and territory of Australia over the past 2 months.

Climate change did not cause the bushfires.

Climate change is contributing to the conditions which have allowed bushfires of the scale we are now witnessing to occur.

If the last day of 2019 is any indication then 2020 is not going to be a happy new year for many Australians.  My fervent wish is that my fellow citizens are all safe.

Many of us have worked diligently for years to make lifestyle changes to reduce our personal carbon footprint but our governments will not take action.  The Murdoch media and fossil fuel industries constantly facilitate climate denialism.  This cannot continue.  My New Year’s resolution is that I will take whatever action I can.

I make no apology for this post nor the fact that there will be more blog posts which focus directly on the climate crisis in 2020.  These will be balanced with important positive actions.  We must all do this together.

And one final comment.  Please read this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

 

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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Gardening in Extreme Heat

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My apologies to those of you who live in the northern hemisphere.  Here in Australia summer has just begun (officially) after having sweltered through the driest and second-hottest spring on record.  Daily temperatures in excess of 30C, and sometimes 35C, have been the new normal here for several weeks.  Hot, dry and windy days have increased the fire risk to ‘severe’ on many days.  We live at about 400m above sea level and within 30km of the coast so our conditions are nothing like those facing the drought-stricken farmers further west.

Growing food in our current weather is a challenge but one I am prepared to try.  Summer means salads and salads mean lettuce.  So, I am growing lettuce.  I have some in one of the main garden beds which was grown from seed as well as some in styrofoam boxes that were purchased seedlings.

I water the plants thoroughly twice a day – early in the morning and again late in the afternoon.  I cover them during the day and so far this seems to be an effective strategy.

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We picked the first leaves today and are looking forward to plenty more salads based on lettuce grown without chemicals within 10 metres of our back door and completely devoid of packaging.

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