One Week

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It is now one week into 2015 and this morning I woke up to the shocking news of a targeted terrorist attack in Paris.  Like many others around the world, I was both sad and angry to hear this news.  However, I was heartened to see the defiance of ordinary citizens in major centres all over Europe.  They took to the streets in their thousands to show their support for freedom of expression.

2015-01-08 01Like them, I have a life to live and am not going to be sucked into the cycle of reporting on this and no doubt future ‘bad news’ stories.

I looked back at this blog post from New Year’s Eve when I wrote, “Meanwhile, I tried to keep my focus on blogging but there were times when I just felt too overwhelmed by events in the world around me to write about simplifying our life.”

One my my resolutions, if you wish to call it that, was that while I would keep abreast of news events here in Australia and also globally, I would not let the news define me.

I tend to deal in reality and don’t lay much store by clairvoyants, horoscopes, tarot cards or any of the other multitude of ways to “see” the future.  I did laugh though, when I read a horoscope (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) in our free Mx newspaper at the train station yesterday.  Normally, this paper would be well in the recycling but I brought it home to finish the special holiday edition of the Sudoku puzzle.  This is what my Aries prediction for 2015 was:

“Random events will continue to occur around you.  There’s no order to the universe.  Life is meaningless.  Stop trying to find meaning where there is no meaning.  You cannot control the uncontrollable, so stop imagining there are arbitrary rules for dividing up and understanding existence by indulging in horoscopes.”

I liked the phrase, “you cannot control the uncontrollable”.  There is definitely some value in that.

Meanwhile, today I will do some paid work as well as ironing, preparing dinner and perhaps some more sewing.

A Little Bit Every Day

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My method of keeping things organised to to do a little bit every day, or in my case every evening.  At the risk of sounding like a cracked record, I work full-time hours and long days because of the distance that we commute but that is our choice.

Last night I did the bit of ironing that was waiting to be done, one load of washing and hung it out then put the next load in the machine.  It was not a full load so when we arrived home this evening I pulled the top sheet off the bed and that made up the load.  It is all washed now and in the basket.

It has been cool and damp here all day so the load that is on the line is not properly dry even though it is under the verandah.  The next load of washing will be hung indoors overnight.

This is a portable rotary clothesline which I find invaluable in the wet weather.

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This hanging rack is usually used to hang shirts waiting to be ironed as well as ones that I have done but tonight I will hang the freshly-washed shirts on here to dry.

Hanging rackI will put the dehumidifier on in the closed room overnight, the clothes will be pretty well dry in the morning.  This eliminates the smell that clothes develop if they are damp for too long.

2012-11-18 03Once the washing is hung out I will finish stripping our bed and remake it with fresh linen.  Then it will be time to crawl into bed.

I am working from home tomorrow and will make it a short day so that I can catch up on a few more jobs here.

By spending a bit of time each evening on household jobs, I can choose what I do on the weekends.

Winning

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While there is always something that can be found to do, it is a great feeling to know that the everyday tasks are all done.

Yesterday I did 4 loads of washing which included the bed linen and towels for both The Duke and I plus our most recent Air BnB guests who departed yesterday morning.  The washing and ironing are all done, I have a meal ready for dinner tomorrow night, the bathroom is clean and beds freshly made.  The dishes are done and lunches partly made for tomorrow.

So, there is nothing left to do apart from settle into bed with a new magazine that my mother passed on to me recently.

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The housework will return soon enough but for now I am going to indulge myself.

 

Mini Moments

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My focus has been on the real world rather than blogging over the past week.

We have had a long weekend here and a house-guest which was lovely.

Much of the time was spent chatting and being social so not too much housework was done.  However it is interesting to look around and see that there was not too much that needed doing.  I think that the trick is to do a little bit frequently.

It only takes a moment to get a few small jobs done.  As you know, we do not arrive home from work until after 7pm.  Last night I made salad while The Duke cooked the salmon on the BBQ. After dinner I hung out a load of washing that I had done before I went to work and brought in the dry clothes from the line and folded them.  I also cleaned the vanity and mirror in the bathroom and re-made the guest bed.

Vanity

This morning I unloaded the dishwasher and tonight will bring in the washing plus finish the ironing.  There are only about 5 items as I did most of it on the weekend.

Hanging rack

I simply do not have the time or inclination to spend huge chunks of time on housework so this method works best for me.  It also means that my weekends are kept reasonably clear for spending time in the garden or more time-consuming jobs like preparing several meals.

The Rhythm of Life

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…….or just a Never-Ending Story?

The jobs that seem to fall together under that all-encompassing title of “Housework’.  Do you embrace them as a steady part of your routine and rejoice in the satisfaction of a job well done?  Or do you constantly rail against the monotony of having to do the same task over and over again?

During the past few weekends we have made substantial progress with what The Duke refers to as our bucket list. It is not a bucket list in the generally accepted sense but more like a ‘to do list’.  We have bought and planted the shrubs outside the boundary fence, prepared the fence posts (cut to length, cleaned and painted), created and planted the rockery and started on building more raised garden beds.

However, the last couple of days have been a bit different.  The combination of a very busy week at work and drizzling rain yesterday meant that I did very little outdoor work.  In fact, I could say I did nothing much until I actually list what I did do.

Washing
Ironing
Prepared meals
Menu planned
Shopping
Picked beans, tomatoes, corn and mangoes
Sorted contents of freezer
Prepared and stored mango (pureed, frozen, dehydrated)
Prepared and froze corn
Swept floors
Dusted sideboard and bookcase
Refilled pantry containers from storage buckets

There were probably a dozen other little tasks that have not even made it onto the list.

The Duke also washed several loads of dishes and emptied the compost numerous times while I was making a mess in the kitchen.

Most of these tasks will need to be repeated the next day, week or month but that does not bother me particularly.  I am constantly looking at ways to simplify my life and one of the reasons to reduce the amount of time and effort that is expended on routine tasks such as many of those that I have listed.  A good example is shopping.  This my shopping consisted of buying cheese and vinegar at Aldi (the vinegar was for the chutney), a small quantity of fruit and vegetables at the local fruit stall and The Duke bought some bacon at the butcher when he went in to town on another errand.  The flow on effect was that putting everything away took about 2 minutes so that is a huge saving as well.

So, what do you think of repetitive homemaking tasks?

 

Keeping It Simple

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It is a challenge to just keep my head above water during the week as we are commuting/working  for long periods each day.  It is very easy to just flop in a chair and do nothing, and some nights I do just that.  However, I find that if I do a little bit each day it is less onerous when the weekend comes around.

Here are some of the things I try to do to keep it simple:

Plan meals – on a good week I have the whole week planned out but otherwise I at least know what we will be eating for dinner the following night.

Pantry

Plan what I will wear – as above.  It saves wasting time on thinking in the morning.

Lunches planned and at least partly prepared.

Rinse/wipe the basin and vanity to keep it looking clean.

Washing/folding/ironing – make sure it is up to date.  This morning I hung out the sheets, tonight I took them off the line and they are now folded and put away.  I also handwashed some jumpers and hung them out.

Ironing basket

What do you do to keep the wheels running smoothly?

What a Weekend!

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Our weekends are usually full of activity at home because we are at work all week.  This one was no exception and I have to admit that it is great to get to Sunday evening and feel a real sense of achievement.

Of course there are all of the basics to be done so I had 2 loads of washing done and hung out on Friday evening.  The weather has been fine and dry for the past few days so the washing almost dried overnight.  This meant that I could do the ironing on Saturday morning.

Our first job was to split and stack some more firewood.

Woodpile

We will probably not use the fire much more this winter so there is now plenty of wood split and ready for next year.

Pile reduced

There was a huge pile of logs that needed splitting and they are almost all gone now.  Just lots of smaller pieces to be sorted and stacked into boxes.  It was great to get this done as we will be keeping the woodshed but dismantling the adjacent chicken house before long.  That is because we a building a new run for the chickens.

The new chicken run has been a considerable time in the planning and preparation but now you can actually see some progress.  We have dug the holes and set the 4 corner posts in concrete.  There are another 4 intermediate ones done, too.

Posts for the chicken run

There are still 6 more holes and posts to do so we are hoping that the fine weather continues so that we can do them next weekend.

The garden is looking really good at the moment as you can see.

Lemon tree

The lemon tree is groaning with the crop.

Vegie garden

Vegetables are growing well.  We need to have bok choy with a few meals this week before it completely overwhelms everything else.

AzaleaThe azalea is looking particularly pretty.

In between the outdoor work, I managed to do the shopping at the local Co-op, fruit and vegetable stall and Aldi as well as host some guests through AirBnB last night.

Here is a final shot looking down from the verandah of the area which will be the chicken run.  There will need to be some re-arranging of some of the plants that fall within the area, although I think the mango tree will probably stay.  This was taken late in the afternoon but you can see the peach tree on the left of the photo which is already starting to blossom.  In another couple of weeks it will be in full flower.

Garden

All in all, it has been a fun and productive weekend.  How was yours?

Teamwork

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What is teamwork?  Is it working together on the same project?  Doing different parts of the same task?  Performing separate but complimentary jobs?

Or is it all of the above?

Is there a clear division of labour  in your home?

I often hear people despairing because one or other partner does or does not do a particular chore to the ‘required’ standard.  Sometimes it is that they simply do not do a particular activity at all.

Although The Duke and I are both capable of doing pretty well any jobs, there are a couple of exceptions.  I have never mowed the lawn and am not about to start.  The Duke can iron but he does not offer to do the ironing.  I dislike loading the dishwasher and don’t usually make bread in the breadmaker.

Washing and drying dishes, preparing meals, shopping and gardening are probably the best examples of when we actually work side by side to achieve an outcome.

What about making plans, setting goals and handling finances?  Are these joint decisions or does one partner tend to take responsibility?

I have posed numerous questions here and would love to hear your thoughts.

My Day

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Most of what I post is about a particular project or activity but tonight I thought I would share my Saturday with you.  Our weekends are precious and we try to make the most of the time.

I work full-time and have a lengthy commute, so during the week it is usually all I can manage to prepare and eat dinner and make our packed lunches.  Sometimes I do the ironing but that is about the limit.

The Duke and I are the only ones at home and many things have been simplified and streamlined.

I woke at 5.30am so I quickly hopped up and put a load of washing on.  I am trying to be more diligent about using power before sunrise and after sunset.  This means we maximise the benefit of the solar panels by exporting to the grid at 50c/kWh and using it (at night) for 28c/kWh.

Once the washing was on I crawled back into bed and read my book for an hour.  Then it was time to be up and going.

Breakfast eaten, dishes done and washing hung out.  The Duke put a loaf of bread on to bake in the breadmaker.  The bed stripped and remade.  A second load of washing sorted and ready to wash this evening.  Handwashing done.

Floors swept, vanity and mirror cleaned.  While I am doing these jobs, The Duke is sorting out finances and adjusting the budget.

That is enough housework for the day so it is time to head outdoors on this gorgeous autumn day to work on some of our projects.  It is not quite 9am.

2012-08-05 01At least one of the chickens has been doing a fine imitation of Houdini recently so we need to make some repairs to the chicken run to make sure they are contained.  We use some tent pegs to anchor some of the wire to the ground so hopefully that problem is sorted.

In January The Duke and my brother-in-law replaced a large portion of our front boundary fence.  We also put new wire along the front of the house below the verandah.  This was not finished off and tensioned and it has been a source of much debate as to exactly how we would do it.  A few weeks ago, The Duke painted some timber which he attached to the metal posts at each end so that we could secure the wire.  Today we tensioned the wire and attached it to the posts.

2013-05-04 02Time for a break and lunch.

We also needed to find a solution to securing from the end of the wire to the wall of the workshop and had decided that we would construct a concrete block wall and then top it with a piece of timber lattice.

The Duke painted the lattice last weekend.  We had also poured the first part of the concrete footing for the block wall.

Today we laid the first few blocks.  It is quite a challenge working in a confined space so we will be very glad when it is done.  We are certainly not giving up our day jobs but I am very happy with what we have achieved so far.  Once the wall is built to level at the left-hand end in the photo, we will place the lattice on top of the wall and secure it at both ends.

Block wallEven though almost everything we have constructed recently has come from second-hand or salvaged materials I am mindful that I do to not want it looking like Steptoe & Son.

I have been working on the design and plans for our vegetable garden fencing and a new chicken run adjacent to the garden.  This afternoon we marked out the position of the corner posts and discussed the location of the hen house.  We also checked how many posts we already have and it looks as though we will only have to buy a few more.  These are mostly the longer ones which we need for the higher fencing around the chicken run.

2013-05-04 04Once the sun had set I put on the load of washing I sorted this morning.  Then it was time for a shower, prepare dinner and watch Gardening Australia (my inspiration).  I checked the solar inverter – the panels generated 19kWh today.  That is pretty good when it is only a little over 6 weeks until the shortest day of the year.

Dinner was eaten, washing hung out and the final load put in the machine.

The last load of washing is finished and once I finish this post I will hang it out.  I use the clothesline under the verandah so it is safe and easy to access at night.

It has been a full and productive day.  I am happily exhausted and will enjoy a good night’s sleep.

I hope you had a good day and I am looking forward to doing it all again tomorrow.

Weekend Work

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We have had a busy and productive weekend but it was not without some recreation as well.

Yesterday was the one bright spot, according to the weather forecast, in an otherwise wet  couple of weeks.  We set off early and headed to the markets at Yandina, which is about 40 minutes north of us.  Our main goal was to buy some seedlings for our vegie garden.  There is a great stall there and this was our first stop.  We bought cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, beetroot, bok choy and lettuce seedlings.

24-02-13 01The main focus of this particular market seems to be plants and The Duke always checks out the fruit trees and yesterday we bought another mandarin tree.  I cannot remember the variety but it was not one had heard of, although the stallholder said she finds it is one of the sweetest varieties.  We are happy to give it a try.

Once we were back home our next project was to hang the gates to complete the new fencing.  I also did 2 loads of washing.  After lunch the Duke mowed the lawn.  I was very thankful that the weather stayed fine and windy so the washing was all dry and I got the ironing up to date.

It was easy to stay focused on what I needed to achieve as we had decided to go to the movies last night to see Quartet.  It was the first screening by the Maleny Film Society back in the revamped Community Centre.  We also had dinner there before the movie and had a fun night out.  The meals are catered by Pomodoras on Obi, a local restaurant and function venue which also has on-site accommodation.

Today the weather has not been quite as pleasant, and we had some rain this morning, but it has not deteriorated as predicted yet.  I have made some progress with several sewing projects.  Three pairs of trousers for The Duke have been  shortened as well as a new skirt I bought in Melbourne.

2013-02-24 02I have put a new lining in a skirt and am working on the waistband.

2013-02-24 03Here is the lining attached to the skirt.

2013-02-24 04And the right side with the waistband partly attached.

2013-02-24 05The reason I relined this skirt is because the original lining was straight and very narrow and I had split the side seam on it.  I find this disappointing and annoying when I pay for a good skirt and find that they have skimped by making a lining that does not match the shape of the skirt.  I am confident that my alterations will work well and I am looking forward to getting plenty of use out of the skirt.  I also did some sorting of my fabric and have some ideas for several pieces so there is plenty to keep me going for a while.

Finally, this afternoon we topped up the soil in the raised garden bed and planted the seedlings.  There are no photos as it was getting late and the light was not good.  I hope to post some later in the week.  It is now raining lightly so the seedlings will be enjoying that.

I am still waiting to hear from SarahN to claim the giveaway.  Once I send it I will share what it was with you all.