Sharing, Giving, Lending, Living

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The term ‘sharing economy’ is one with which many of us have become familiar over the past few years.  Probably the 2 most well-known are Air BnB (accommodation) and Uber (transport).  Both have been the subject of some negative media exposure due to their disruptive impact on well established and regulated industries – hotels and taxis.

There are many other far less formalised arrangements including community toy libraries, crop swaps, Boomerang bags, Christmas street parties and so on.

On a personal level, it can be as simple as giving some excess produce to a neighbour or borrowing a piece of equipment to complete some home maintenance.

In the spirit of sharing I want to tell you about what this mindset can look like.

Early in the year we decided to spend Christmas at the beach and found a beach house on Air BnB.  It has enough space for 6 of us – GMan and I, our 2 daughters and 2 granddaughters.  The house is a couple of blocks from the beach and while not super cheap, it is much more affordable than similar apartment accommodation.

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We have an elderly cat and dog who both need twice daily medication so we organised housesitters for a week.  This is a win-win as our home is occupied, the animals cared for and the housesitters have a week of free accommodation in a different setting – a holiday by any other name.  Unlike, Air BnB no money changes hands.

Harvey is pictured with my sister’s dog is is not much more than a pup.  It is a gorgeous photo of them both but certainly accentuates his advanced age.

2 days before we were due to leave for our beach holiday, our television chose to cease working – just stopped.  No warning, no nothing.  We only have one television so it meant that there would be no television viewing for the housesitters and we were not inclined to rush out to buy a new television a couple of days before Christmas.  Our daughter from Brisbane kindly brought her television and we set it up for the housesitters before all going to the beach.  Since our daughter was coming to the beach it was not going to be being used at her place this week.  Once we are home and have done some research on our options, we will buy a replacement.

Still on the Christmas theme, we try to keep our Christmas gifts either practical, consumable or experiences.  A few months ago, one of our daughters commented that she would like some more drinking glasses as they had recently had a few breakages.  I was happy to oblige but in the end I packaged up 6 matching glasses that I had owned for many years that were simply sitting in the sideboard and not being used.  There did not seem to be a lot of sense in going out and buying more for a gift when there were perfectly good ones at home.  Whilst not exactly an heirloom, she is happy to have these familiar glasses and I am pleased that are being used.

It is now 12 months since I first became involved in making Boomerang bags and you can read all about it here.  I have made well over 100 bags with fabric that I had in my stash, have been gifted and some bought from the local Salvos op shop.  A large quantity was given to me by my neighbour who is involved with the local Neighbourhood Centre. While some of the fabric is suitable for making a basic bag, I don’t think it is necessarily quite up to the standard required for the bags we are making for sale.  So, I have prepared enough fabric and straps to make 50 bags without the additional pocket.  These will be given back to Neighbourhood Centre for use when distributing food relief parcels to those in need.  I intend to add a note to each bag to encourage the recipient to reuse it for collecting food or another purpose.  They could also pass it on to someone else if they choose.

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I have several other plans for 2019.  These include being more efficient with our vegetable gardening so that I can share the produce with my neighbours.  Then there is our room which we offer through Air BnB.  We do not have a lot of guests as it has limited appeal, particularly as it is in a semi-rural area with no access to public transport.  On the up side – it is a quiet, get-away from it all spot located located close to some great scenery, walks and other relaxing activities.

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You could say I have left the best until last – the blog.  This has been my platform for sharing snippets of my life, including organising hints, recipes, thoughts and a thousand other things with you, my readers, over almost 8 years.

I would love to hear some examples of how you have or plan to participate in the sharing economy.  By sharing our experiences with each other we can build and enhance our networks and knowledge for the benefit of all.

Thank you for sticking with me during the leaner times on the blog and I look forward to moving onward and upward in 2019.

 

The Slippery Slope

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It is 3 weeks since my last blog post.  All of the usual home stuff has been happening as well as going to the movies, lunch with friends, family visiting and a trip to Sydney so there is possibly a reason why blogging has not been a priority.

However, that is not really an excuse as these sorts of events usually provide plenty of material for posts rather than simply not posting.  I think it is simply that I am tired and the end of the year is fast approaching – it is exactly 11 weeks until Christmas Day.

Once it gets to September, it feels as though the year is almost gone and we seem to be on some sort of crazy trajectory and hurtling towards Christmas and the end of the year.  My work is such that deadlines loom, demands increase and everyone expects the impossible to be achieved.  I am very thankful that this is the last year I will experience this pressure as I will be well and truly retired by this time next year.

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Quite aside from work commitments, most of us celebrate Christmas and it is easy to get caught up in all of the commercialism and hype.  Our Christmas celebrations are fairly low-key and are usually a small family gathering for a special meal together and modest gifts for the immediate family.  As much as possible, I aim for experiences or practical gifts.

This year our 2 daughters and 2 granddaughters will join us for a week at the beach.  We will not be too far from home so it should not be a major undertaking.

My Christmas preparation so far has been to book our accommodation (several months ago) and I bought a gift a few days ago when I was in Sydney.  I happened to see it and thought it would be perfect.

There will be a couple more gifts to source and I will need to plan a menu for Christmas Day.  We do not indulge in huge amounts of festive food and I expect there will be lots of fresh fruit and simple salads consumed during the time we are at the beach.  Some casual, relaxed down-time for everyone (including the cook) is just what will be needed by the end of the year.

I may need to find a copy of this book!

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Christmas 2017 – A Review

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Christmas is over for another year.  I did not write about Christmas preparations because there really were not any preparations.  We arrived back at the beginning of December from our 4 week trip to the UK.  I had organised a week at the beach earlier in the year and bought experience gifts for our daughters and granddaughters.

I planned the menu, gathered up the food and utensils as well as some beach attire and headed off last weekend.

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We had a delightful week of relaxation and casual living.  The biggest decision I had to make was whether to do some more of the jigsaw or play another game of ‘Upwords’.

My daughter and I went to church on Christmas Eve.

The menu for Christmas Day was chosen to fit with hot weather at the beach and there were next to no leftovers.

Proscuitto wrapped asparagus and haloumi
Cold curried chicken
Rice
Parsley and cranberry crusted salmon
Mango and avocado salad
Beetroot and feta salad
Green bean salad with slivered almonds
Meringue roulade with berries and pistachio nuts

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A couple of days after Christmas I finally wrote a Christmas letter and emailed it to my close friends.

So, that was it – no tree, no decorations, no mad rushing around choosing gifts for the sake of it, no looking for a hundred ways to serve ham in January.  I know that this is simply not feasible for many people but every second year our Christmas is an adults only affair so we can approach the day quite differently.

I feel as though I drifted through the second half of 2017 in a haze of inertia following the death of A (our daughter’s partner) in May so relaxing with all of my immediate family was just the antidote we all needed.

I don’t have any major resolutions or grand plans for next year, however, I look forward to 2018 with the optimism that seems to greet every new year.

I hope your Christmas was what you had hoped and all the best for the New Year.

My next blog post will be looking forward to 2018 which conveniently begins on a Monday.  I  like the idea of a nice, neat start to the week and year.  Anyone else feel like this?

A Christmas Review

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The internet issues were even worse yesterday so the promised post did not eventuate.

I think that I will remember Christmas 2016 as the one that seemed to revolve almost entirely around food.  We had numerous members of family around at different times over the Christmas and New Year period so feeding everyone seemed like a constant merry-go-round.  However, I must say that it is one that I enjoy.

As always, the Christmas Day menu was a mixture of some tried and true favourites along with some more recent additions to my repertoire.  I was catering for 9 adults and 3 children with a few restrictions due to allergies and intolerances.  The menu was gluten-free, nut free and no seafood or kiwifruit.

Here is what we ate:

ENTREE

Pineapple and ginger cocktails
Grilled asparagus and proscuitto-wrapped haloumi

MAIN COURSE

Cold chicken curry and rice
Cold roast beef with quinoa stuffing

SALADS

Quinoa tabouli
Mango and avocado salad
Potato salad
Tomato and pomegranate salad
Grated carrot, grated cheese

DESSERT

Ice-cream Christmas pudding
Meringue roulade with raspberries

SWEET TREATS

Chocolate brownies
White Christmas

Everything turned out well.  We had plenty of food but we did not over-indulge to an excessive extent.  The highlights for me were the quinoa stuffing for the beef as well as the desserts.  I had a general idea of how I wanted to make the stuffing so just made it up as I went along until I had the right flavour and texture.  My daughter the roulade as she had last year.  It is relatively simply but oh so luscious!  I Christmas pudding was a reprise of a similar one I made about 30 years ago.  This time I soaked the fruit (in orange juice as it is not cooked) before stirring it through the softened ice-cream along with some mixed spice.  I also added 23 sixpences which added an element of fun for the kids – big and little!

Unfortunately, I was busy preparing, cooking and eating food so completely forgot to take any photos.  You will just have to imagine how good it all looked and tasted.

 

A Clean Slate

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It is well over a week since my last post and quite a bit has happened since then.  I did not anticipate being away from my blog for quite such an extended period of time.  However, the combination of a busy final week at work before the Christmas break as well as organising and hosting a couple of family events on Christmas Day and again 48 hours later meant that the blog was firmly on the back burner in the final days of 2016.  The internet has not been entirely helpful either which made the prospect of shooting off a quick blog post seem all too difficult.

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But here we are, on the first day of the new year.  A clean slate which is completely unsullied and just waiting for us to make our mark.  I have plenty of plans but there will be more about that in some upcoming posts.

I have not been idle during my absence from the blog and I have have even remembered to take some photos of some of my projects and I will share them with you, too.

Tomorrow I will review a few things from Christmas – the successes and those which did not quite go according to plan.

I hope you had a warm and loving Christmas with those who are near and dear to you.  May 2017 bring you kindness, joy and peace.

Cleaned for Christmas

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It is now one week until Christmas. This year we are hosting Christmas lunch for my family.  They will be arriving from near and far on Thursday evening and Friday.  Some will be staying with us and others in accommodation just a few kms away.

This weekend I have written numerous lists and managed to cross off a few things and I feel relatively organised.  The menu is planned, necessary ingredients bought apart from fruit and vegetables which I will do on Friday, gifts bought and wrapped and the outside of the house cleaned.

We usually try to wash down the Colorbond wall of the house twice per year.  It is now looking clean, fresh and ready for guests.

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The hardest part is the back wall which is quite high and requires the use of the mobile scaffold.

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The table which GMan painted recently is in position and Ready for Christmas lunch.

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I have also cleaned most of the windows in the living room and am hoping to get a few others done as well this week.

How are your Christmas plans coming along?

Gift Giving

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I have probably been reading far too much on various groups on social media but I am feeling really fed up with what Christmas gift giving seems to have become.

Just to give some context to this post, I am 58 and grew up in what some would regard as a simpler time.  I am one of 4 siblings.

As far as I can remember, we each received a gift from our parents and one from Santa.  We would buy, individually or jointly a small gift for each of our siblings as well as our parents.  Our pocket money, sometimes supplemented by Mum, was used for these purchases.  There were modest gifts from our grandparents and some aunts and uncles but these were often for the family (a tin of biscuits or perhaps, a lottery ticket).  There was no buying for sundry work colleagues, friends, neighbours, teachers or classmates.

I am amazed by the number of people who are busily trying to give gifts to dozens of people who barely rate as acquaintances.  For a variety of reasons (eg: budget, environmental or anti-consumerist) many are choosing to give gifts which they have made.  This may seem a noble idea but is it really very smart?

Consider a teacher with 25 children in the class.  How many boxes of chocolates, handmade candles, sleighs made from candy canes, homemade fudge and so on can one person realistically use?  Whatever happened to a writing a thoughtful, heartfelt note as acknowledgement of a job well done?

The final straw, as far as I am concerned, came from a forum in which someone posed the question, “Talking about homemade Christmas gifts (specifically food items). Is it standard for people to just throw them in the garbage?”  There were in excess of 150 responses which ranged from “I never eat anything that I have not prepared myself” to “How wasteful – of course I would eat it” and everything in between.

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It seems that the reality is at odds with the fancy photos in recipe books, websites and Pinterest.

My contribution to the discussion was, “I am very disappointed that this happens. It serves to remind me that no presents is actually the best idea”.  Of course, I am not talking about immediate family or a select number of friends to whom you are very close.

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This brings me back to the point of this post.  Why is everyone madly rushing around buying (or making) gifts for people we barely know? Are we simply trying to keep up with (or outdo) everyone else?

Half of these gifts are unnecessary, unwanted ‘stuff’ which may end up in the garbage, landfill or op shop before January is over.  How would you feel if you knew the fate of your gifts?  Would it change you pattern of behaviour?

What are your thoughts and experiences?