Chairs, Clothes and Other Bits

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We have recently replaced the protective felt feet on the legs of our kitchen chairs.  There are four high chairs which fit around our large return bench/meals area.

This project was undertaken two chairs at a time so for several weeks there have only been two chairs in the kitchen at any given time.  I realised how much less cluttered the area felt with only two chairs.  Since there is only GMan and I here most of the time, there is really no necessity to have four chairs.

The next question was, where could we store the other two chairs so that they would stay clean and be easily accessible when we had additional guests?  We found that the wardrobe in the guest room would be perfect but the space was currently occupied.  My off-season (summer) clothes were hanging on the rail and the floor was filled with about 100 magazines which are some of my retirement reading material as well as 5 large photo albums.

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I set about working out how I could re-arrange things.

The clothes were moved to the empty hanging space in the third bedroom which is used primarily as my sewing room.

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The photo albums provided the impetus to continue working on sorting and culling my photos – both digital and hard copy.  You can read more about that in my post from yesterday.  They will live in the library/study until they are no longer required.

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The magazines have been relocated to the drawers of the dressing table in the guest room.  I intend to make a start on reading them and expect that once I have finished reading them I will pass them on to someone else who may be interested in them.

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The chairs are now in the wardrobe but easy to retrieve when we need them.

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I am pleased with the final result and as an added bonus I have been spurred into doing some more work on the photos as well as making a start on reading my large collection of Australian Geographic magazines.

Rainy Day Activity

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It has been a cool, showery day so outdoor activities were not really possible so I returned to my photo project.  I started this about 2 months ago and you can read the details here.  After the initial burst, I have continued to make progress by doing a bit almost every evening.

Yesterday, I located the albums which had all been scanned.  They were carefully stored in the bottom of a wardrobe in the guest room.  It was an incidental find as I was not specifically looking for them.

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Today I have cross-checked that all the photos have been scanned and filed in correctly dated folders.

It seems like an enormous waste but the hard copies of the photos and albums will eventually all be discarded.  However, I need to retrieve all of the dates and details to include in the description of the digital copies before I consider doing that.

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The albums cannot be reused as there are details written in them.  Therefore, I will be removing the plastic photo sleeves which can be recycled as ‘soft plastic’ and then the lightweight cardboard pages will be able to be recycled separately.

As you can imagine, it has been something of a nostalgia trip as I sort through over 40 years of photographs documenting various aspects of our lives but predominately celebrations and holidays.  It is a stark reminder of how valuable photographs were when images were recorded on film then sent away to be developed and the anxious wait for their return.  We thought twice about taking dozens of images which were relatively expensive to develop.  Our attitude to photos has certainly changed with the advent of digital cameras and cameras built into mobile phones.

Minimalism, Decluttering and Zero Waste

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While each of these concepts or activities are all different and stand alone, they can be inter-related.

Here are some definitions/explanations of the three terms.

Minimalism – is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.  This comes from ‘The Minimalists’.  You can read the full article here.

Decluttering – to remove things you do not need from a place, in order to make it more pleasant and more useful.  From the Cambridge Dictionary.

Zero Waste – is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean.  From Wikipaedia.

Minimalism and decluttering are very personal and subjective topics and I am not here to tell you that you must only own a certain number of a particular item or what you should or should not remove from your life or home.

There is no good reason for the order in which I listed these topics but I feel as though decluttering should come first.  I think it would be almost impossible to consider minimalism without  first removing the clutter.

Identifying and removing clutter is the first step to clearing both physical and mental spaces.  However, beware of anyone who tells you that they they decluttered their entire home on the weekend.  It is best done as a considered and incremental process otherwise the results are likely to be the same as a ‘crash diet’.  You may lose your way and end up in a worse position than when you started.

Below are are couple of photos of my bathroom.  It did not always look like this.  I do not expect that is how yours should look.  It is simply an example.

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It is close to 20 years since I began to question the variety of lotions and potions I seemed to have but I did not throw any away.  I gradually used things up and did not replace them.  Routines have been simplified and we no longer use shampoo or conditioner.  I mostly wash my hair with plain water and occasionally use a small amount of body wash.  This was not a conscious decision but a by-product of questioning what we really need.  I am not alone as you can see here.

The reason that I mentioned not using shampoo or conditioner is that is a perfect example of how minimalism, decluttering and zero waste can be tied together.  My shower shelf and bathroom cabinet are not cluttered and our bathroom needs are minimal.  There are no shampoo bottles ending up in landfill or at best, possibly being recycled.  Additionally, trying to avoid harsh chemicals and toxins ceases to be an issue.

You do not need to subscribe to any particular philosophy but living an authentic life which works for you is important.

Your thoughts?

 

Lemon Curd – My Way

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It is early winter where we live and that means we have citrus fruit in abundance.  The fruit on the Meyer lemon were ripe and we picked them all as this particular variety does not seem to hold well on the tree.

We gave away heaps as well as freezing some juice and using it generously in drinks and recipes.  GMan asked if I would make some lemon curd, also known as lemon butter.

Apart from wanting to use up some of the lemons, I was keen to find a reasonably ‘healthy’ version of this sweet treat.  So, I turned to the ever-useful Google.

This is an indication of the usual lemon butter offerings.

  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 125g butter

After a bit more research I found a recipe which seemed to align with my goals.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Juice of 2 large lemons
  • 4 tablespoons lemon zest

I was keen to try it but moderately sceptical as the proportions are vastly different.

The full recipe is here.  My slightly amended version is below.

First I collected the utensils I needed.  You can read more about my kitchen utensils here.

Low Fat Lemon Curd

Ingredients

2 large lemons, juiced
Lemon zest from 2 large lemons
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs

Grate the zest from the lemons and set aside.

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Juice the lemons.

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Place the strained juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat on low and stir until sugar has dissolved.

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Lightly beat the eggs in a medium bowl.

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Remove lemon syrup from heat and pour slowly into beaten eggs while stirring the mixture with a whisk. Continue to whisk by hand for one minute.

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Return mixture to saucepan; add lemon zest, and heat on low until it thickens―about two minutes.

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Allow to cool then refrigerate.
NOTE:
My concerns were realised as the mixture did not thicken as much as I would have liked.  So, I resorted to my back-up plan.
2 teaspoons arrowroot blended with a little water.
Gently reheat the lemon curd until it reaches boiling point the stir. Add the arrowroot mixture slowly and continue stirring constantly.  Cook for one minute.  Cool and refrigerate .
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This version of lemon curd does not have the smooth richness that additional eggs and butter creates but I am very happy with the result.  It is definitely worth trying if you are looking for a healthier version of the traditional lemon curd recipe.

Almost Finished

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We are on a mission to try to finish several projects around the place.  Hot on the heels of the completed cold frame, we finished replacing the handles on our latest restoration project.

It is now over 6 years since I wrote about the silky oak dressing table/drawers that we restored.  You can read about it here.  This piece has now been relocated to the guest room.

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The latest restored piece is slightly larger and now has pride of place in my bedroom.  It is also silky oak and a very similar style to the other one.  The mirror for this one is larger and rectangular rather than oval.

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The final step is the new mirror which we hope to pick up this week.

I do not think we are likely to be restoring any other large pieces of furniture in the foreseeable future but there are plenty of other jobs.  We are now working on finishing the top of the pergola/walkway.  This has become rather necessary as the mandevilla creeper has now almost reached the top of the wire on the sides of the pergola.

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This was just after we had planted them in September 2018.

 

Cold Frame Completed

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Following on from this post.  We retrieved our jigsaw on Tuesday and were able to cut the polycarbonate sheeting for the final step of the cold frame.

Once the pieces of polycarbonate sheeting were cut to size, it was relatively easy to screw them to the timber frame.  The only thing left to do was to fill the post holes and level the ground.

Finished and ready for use.  You may be able to see the tray of basil seedlings near the left-hand end of the structure.

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Another view of the cold frame as part of the wider vegetable garden layout.

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Since our winters are really quite mild, this is really only necessary for overnight protection.  I will need to make sure I open it up everyday or otherwise the basil will be cooked by the end of the week.

 

Easily Pleased

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Those of you who know me well or have been following this blog for an extended period of time will be aware that shopping is not a great love of mine.  For the most part, I have pretty well everything I need.  However, my plastic spatula which I have owned for at least 20 years met an untimely end courtesy of the blades of the blender.  I realised that I definitely needed one so checked online and found that Big W had Pyrex brand large and small silicone spatulas on special so when we were out and about on Tuesday I attempted to get one of each size.  The small ones were sold out so I will look again another day as GMan is keen for a small one to use when making sourdough.

In the meantime, here is the new addition to my collection of kitchen utensils.

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Coincidentally, I had planned to clean out the utensil jars and drawer.  Each time I do this there is usually something which I decide is no longer required but I have culled my collection of utensils to a point that everything is worthy of its place in the kitchen.

Like all decluttering/streamlining projects, there is no ‘one size fits all’ as we all have different needs in the kitchen.

I have 2 utensil jars.  These hold the majority of frequently used utensils.

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Here they are laid out on the bench.

The hand beater lives in the side of the regular cutlery drawer.

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The contents of the utensil drawer.  These are generally too small or too sharp to stand in a utensil jar.  Some, such as the vegetable peeler and measuring spoons are used every day while most would be used at least once a month and a few less frequently.

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I have an expanding bamboo divider which helps to keep them in some sort of order.  Once I had wiped the drawer and the divider, I replaced all of the items.

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There is one item missing from these photos.  The pie slice which GMan is revarnishing the wooden handle.

I have not shown the sharp knives which I keep separately in a knife block.

I have multiples of a few things – measuring spoons, tongs, wooden spoons and pastry brushes but these are all used.

What are your essential kitchen utensils?  Have you reviewed or reduced what you have recently?

A Day Out

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We have not long arrived home from a rather extensive day out.  An early start saw us gone just after 7am as we had quite a bit to do in Brisbane and it was just over an hour of driving to reach our first destination.

The prime reason for the trip was to take the frame for the mirror from this dressing table to a glass merchant so that we can have a new one cut.  They no longer do resilvering as the precision equipment available today means that a replica can be produced more easily and at less cost.

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After dropping off a couple of items to a friend and my brother, and picking up our saw that we had lent, we made our way to visit my mother.  Or more specifically, to pick her up.  We then headed to Shorncliffe, a bayside suburb, where we braved the breezy day and had a picnic lunch of fish and chips from The Shelley Inn.  It was lovely that my cousin was also able to join us.

A final stop a little further along the shore to see the historic Shorncliffe Pier which was rebuilt and restored about 5 years ago.  Here are a few views.

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We rounded off the day with a few shopping chores with my mother.

A little pre-planning ensured that today was both enjoyable and an efficient use of our time and fuel.

 

 

What We Grow

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One of the by-products of growing your own food is a need for increased creativity when it comes to meals.  What we eat is at least somewhat dependent on what is available in the garden.

Bok choy, a type of chinese cabbage, is a quick-growing vegetable.  Commercial crops are harvested while they are relatively young and generally sold in bunches of three.  We ate some of our current crop while they were small, however, the few remaining plants are now quite mature and strongly flavoured.

New ways to use up the mature bok choy leaves and stems.

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Freshly picked leaves shredded and sauteed with cherry tomatoes, snow peas and mushrooms for breakfast.

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Tonight I made a vegetarian lasagne with layers of lightly roasted eggplant slices, bok choy mixed with ricotta and finally, crushed tomatoes.

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It was topped with a mixture of parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese and flaxseed meal.

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Served with beans and carrots.

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VEGETARIAN LASAGNE

1 large eggplant, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
Handful of large bok choy leaves and stems, sliced and shredded
180g ricotta cheese
Can of crushed tomatoes
Olive oil
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
Salt and pepper

TOPPING

1 tablespoon grated parmesan
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

Place slices of eggplant on roasting tray.  Brush with a little olive oil and bake at 160C for about 10 minutes – until soft.

Saute diced onion and bok choy stems until soft, add shredded leaves and stir until wilted.  Add vegetable mixture to ricotta and combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add mixed herbs to crushed tomatoes.  Place a layer of eggplant slices in dish followed by the ricotta mixture then tomatoes.  Repeat until all ingredients are used.  Combine ingredients for topping and sprinkle over the lasagne.  Bake until heated through and browned on top.

This is not a definitive recipe but simply what I made today.  The quantities quoted would serve 3 adults.

A New Neckline

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I bought this top a few years ago and have only worn it a handful of times.  In fact, I did not even wear it last winter.  When I rearranged my wardrobe recently I decided to make sure that every piece earned its place.

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I put the top on briefly the other day and realised why I don’t choose to wear it.  I do not like the feel of high, fitted necklines and this was simply not comfortable.

I had nothing to lose so I set about modifying the neckline.  I cut just below the ribbed band.  The pins mark the quarter points of the new neckline.

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New ribbing pinned in place.

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The finished article with a new, more comfortable neckline.  It will look better once the seam is pressed.  I am looking forward to getting plenty of wear out of the top in the coming months.

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Approximately 15minutes of my time was all that was needed to turn this into a garment that I will be happy to wear.