What We Have

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Every day there are multiple instances where we simply use what we have and think nothing of it.  Tonight I want to share a few examples of how we use what is available and minimise buying new items.

About 10 years ago I scored a small rainwater tank on Freecycle.  It had some rust spots and was no longer suitable for collecting rainwater but I had other plans.  GMan cut it into 3 sections which we have used variously for small, raised garden beds and compost heaps.  You can see them in some of the photos in this early blog post from 2011.

Over the years they have continued to rust and deteriorate a bit more and when GMan moved one recently, he declared that it was at the end of its useful life.  However, on reflection, we decided that if we cut the worst of the rusted edge off it would be a bit shallower and would make a perfect herb garden.

The next trick was to find the best location for it.  Ideally, it would be relatively close to the house for easy picking.  After some discussion, we decided to remove the chilli bush in the corner of the vegetable garden area and place it there.  We have two other very prolific chilli bushes so removing this one was not a problem.  I removed all of the ripe chillies and added them to the bag of chillies in the freezer.

With the bush removed, it was time to position the cut-down tank.

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The next job will be to fill it with soil and select what to plant in it.

Barely 2 months ago we had a Himalayan ash tree beside our driveway lopped.  As you will see from the hyperlink, it is regarded as environmental weed where we live in southeast Queensland.  The main tree and its multiple suckers had covered quite a large area and we immediately planted a selection of native shrubs and small trees in its place.  One of these is a lovely grevillea which has grown very quickly but the 3 main branches were drooping badly.  So, we decided that the best course of action was to create an enclosure with stakes that would help to support it until it develops enough strength of its own.

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The straps connecting the stakes are some old webbing from the seat of an old armchair that GMan recently dismantled.  I stapled them to the stakes using an upholstery staple gun that has been lurking in my craft cupboard for many years.

Here is another garden project that made the most of what we had.

I needed a table for potting and planting seeds so we created this one a couple of months ago and it has proved to be very successful.

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We used an old bed frame and the slats which had previously been removed were replaced with some wire which we attached to the frame using fencing staples.  A couple of timer crossbars allowed the attachment of a pair of metal legs.  These had been salvaged from a table that my father had made many years ago.  The wire top allows for easy watering and drainage while the location on the southern side of the house gets plenty of light and some sun while still being reasonably sheltered.

The final photo is not something we had but something we were given.

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GMan planted these 5 new pineapple tops along the fenceline of the vegie garden.  Thanks, Sandra and Glenn.  We are looking forward to watching them mature and hopefully produce some delicious fruit.  It will entail being patient as pineapples take about 18 months to grow.

 

Two Becomes One

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As promised, this post is about making do and mending what you already have.

4 years ago GMan and I capitulated and both bought an iPhone.  I refused to pay $75 for an Apple branded case but felt that a case would definitely be a wise idea to protect our expensive investments.  We managed to pick up ones for about $20 each which are both a bit the worse for wear now.

A few weeks ago GMan ended up buying a new phone (not an iPhone) as his had clearly reached the end of its useful life.  I decided to purloin the old case so that I could use the good bits of both cases to re-create a decent case for my phone which seems to be going along without any problems.

This is what I started with.

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The pink case is mine and the plastic phone cover had broken and become detached from the case.  The black case belonged to GMan’s phone and although the clip had broken off the case, the plastic cover was still in good condition.

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So I removed the phone cover and re-glued into my case.

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The edging had also lifted from my case so I redid it with some duct tape.

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The end result is not particularly pretty and I have my doubts of the wisdom of the duct tape.  However, I have gained an insight into how simple it would be to make a new case from scratch and re-use the black phone cover.

Meanwhile, my next assignment is to make a pouch for GMan’s new phone.  I hope to get that done next weekend.

 

My First Attempt

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It is never too late to learn something new so today I have started some patchwork.  I am hoping to make a quilt.  It is not entirely true that I have never done patchwork before but it has been generally on a small scale and my own ‘design’.

Following some basic tips that I gleaned from Frugal Queen and this Youtube video, I set about making my first disappearing 9 patch square.

I did not buy any fabric because I believe that patchwork should be the ultimate in making do with what you have, not an excuse to rush out and buy all of the latest mix’n’match patchwork fabrics.  I am using leftovers and offcuts from many of my own sewing projects as well as some that my mother gave me recently.  Some of the pieces in the bundle are over 40 years old.

Here are some of the first squares I cut out.  I was starting to arrange them for the block.

Squares cut out

I chose to use mostly blue in my first project as that is the colour that I have most in the available fabric.  It is also the colour of our bedroom so the quilt will look perfect on our bed if it reaches completion.

The first nine squares sewn together.

First squares sewn

The disappearing 9 patch depends on then cutting the block into 4 squares, rearranging them and then sewing them together.  This is the result.

Disappearing 9 patch
So far today I have made 4 of these blocks and I am really happy with how they are turning out.

4 blocks made
I think I am hooked but there are other things I need to do today as well.  I will be back tomorrow with more adventures.  In the meantime, let me know if you quilt or sew.  Is it for fun or frugality?

 

Clean & Green

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In an online discussion group of which I am a member, the challenge this week was to make some changes in your routine to make your life a little greener.  It was noted that actions that are good for the environment can also be beneficial to your purse.

When I stopped and thought about this, I realised that most of how I choose to live is a result of making the best choice I can in the prevailing circumstances.  Some of these things are what I have always done and others are changes I have made but it is so long ago that I do not even consider them as particularly green.

Here are some of our household patterns.

Use locally-made, environmentally-friendly washing liquid, laundry soaker, dishwashing liquid and dishwasher powder from Kin Kin Naturals.

Make my own wool wash and cream cleanser.

Finished product

Use bicarb and vinegar to clean most surfaces.

Hang clothes outdoors to dry or in front of the fire.  Use clothes dryer rarely.

Washing

Run our home on tank water, grid-connected solar power and solar hot water service.

Grow some of our own fruit and vegetables.  This week I have picked lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, pak choy, lemons, oranges, mandarins. grapefruit and avocadoes.

Compost all our scraps or feed them to the chickens.

Keep chickens for our own supply of eggs.

Catch public transport to work.

Complete multiple errands when making a trip in the car.

Re-use as many resources as possible.

Re-washed plastic bags

Avoid processed foods.

Make choices when shopping to avoid packaging – buy bulk/loose goods.

Use my own bags/containers when shopping.

Meat in containers

Heating from a slow-combustion heater fuelled by wood collected from our property.

Fireplace

Give away items no longer needed via Freecycle or op shop.

Buy only what we need.

Repair things that we already own.

Stitching new lining
This is not a complete list but is an indication of what we do every day to lighten our footprint on the planet.

What choices have you made that could be viewed as ‘green’?

 

Dinner – Keeping it Cool

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As I mentioned in my previous post we sweltered through some very hot weather yesterday.  I find find that producing an appetising, nutritious meal with the minimum of effort can be a bit of a challenge.

Since it was so hot yesterday, I had the added difficulty of not wanting to traipse to the shops to buy our weekly fruit and vegetables.  So, I decided that I would make do with what I had.

The end result was a 3 course meal.

Dinner
Chilled tomato and parsley soup
Rice paper rolls with dipping sauce
Pineapple and mint crush

Dessert
None of these came from recipes in the true sense of the word but were creations out of my head with the ingredients I had available.  However, I will add them to the recipe file soon.

Making Ends Meet – Eat What You Have

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In response to my challenge a few days ago, Sarah posted this list:

As far as what’s on hand that’s fresh in the fridge/freezer
– stale brown bread (homemade, not sliced)
– bowl of baby spinach
– grated cheese
– one mushy pear
– some shallots
– ginger
– 2 carrots
– 1 zuchini
– 1/2 red cabbage
– 1/2 butternut pumpkin
– 1 onion (maybe)
– miso soup paste (would love to use this up)

In addition she added this link to her post about the contents of her pantry which is very well stocked.

Sarah also added that she always had access to eggs and milk.

Whenever you are trying to use what food you have on hand, it is important to look at the perishable items first.  These will go rotten or become unusable soonest so it is important to use them.

The first meal that comes to mind is Cheese Souffle.  This is a recipe that my mother would make, probably when ingredients were a bit thin on the ground but I really loved it and do make it from time to time.  Here is the recipe.

CHEESE SOUFFLE

2 eggs
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
½ cup milk
1 onion – finely chopped
1 cup grated cheese
Pepper

Soak breadcrumbs in milk.  Separate eggs.  Beat egg yolks.  Add all other ingredients.  Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into mixture.  Pour into greased  ovenproof dish and bake for about 40 minutes at 180 degrees.

I would shred some of the cabbage and grate a carrot.  Toss together with ‘French Dressing’ made from oil and lime juice whisked together.

Since the oven will be on to cook the souffle I would make sure a least one other item is cooked as well to get maximum value for money.

You could make Pear & Ginger muffins for snacks.  Using the gluten-free flour and other baking ingredients from the pantry make a basic muffin mix and add grated ginger and the mushy pear.  HINT:  Remove the seeds but you can roughly chop the pear up including the skin.  You could also add a few sultanas or chopped nuts for interest.

The night before you make the Cheese Souffle you could soak some lentils and then cook them ready to use.

Make a lentil and vegetable lasagne using the prepared lentils, sliced zucchini and the remaining carrot grated.  Cook the lentils, carrot and canned tomatoes with preferred herbs/spices.  Make bechamel sauce using milk, butter and flour.  Layer these with lasagne sheets and slices of zucchini and grated cheese.  Top with grated cheese and bake in the oven.  This can be refrigerated and reheated for a meal the next night.  You can also divide it into portions and freeze.

The remaining lentils could be mixed with some cooked pumpkin, finely shredded cabbage and chickpea flour to make vegie burgers.  These could be served with sweet chilli sauce on a bed of wilted spinach.

I am not familiar with miso soup paste but from my research I would make miso soup and perhaps add some udon noodles for added substance.

Tuna mornay is another meal that comes to mind.  Flour, milk, butter, grated cheese and the tin of tuna form the basis of this meal which is served with rice.  I generally add frozen peas and corn kernels to the mixture.

Since Sarah does not keep meat on hand or have a great deal of fresh fruit or vegetables at the moment there is a limit to what can be created without compromising her nutritional status.  Contrary to popular opinion, fruit and and vegetables are not outrageously expensive.  Remember, to only buy what you need and buy what is in season where possible.  Make a plan using as many ingredients that you have and only buy exactly the quantities that you need to create the meal.

Remember to use the basic ingredients in the pantry to extend the meat and vegetables.  I have done this with the lasagne and also mornay mixture.  Other options could be crepes or pies where you could stretch the filling to feed extra mouths.

Another option for the stale bread would be to slice it and make bread cases for pie or mornay filling.

Would you you have done something different with the listed ingredients?

A Bit Less Fabric

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Last night I made a start on the teddy bear quilt.  I have cut out 24 blocks of fabric.

It is all spread out on the kitchen bench as I had to work out the combination of colours.  Although there are 24 blocks, it is not 8 of each.  I actually have 9 patterned, 8 navy and 7 calico.  This evolved because of the amount of each fabric that I had.  It really is a matter of making do with what you have.

Quilt squares
I chose to make it very simply from large blocks of fabric because otherwise the look of the teddy bears would be lost if each piece just had a bit of a leg or an ear.

The first 8 blocks are sewn together.

Assembling the quilt

I plan to have the remaining blocks sewn together tonight.

Fabric Update:  This project has completely used the navy and teddy bear fabric so they are now gone from the stash.  I still have some pieces of calico left but it is actually a slightly different weight and colour to the piece that I used for the quilt.