A Month Later

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It is just over a month since my last blog post on 19th March.  The following 2 weeks were somewhat frenetic with work and also getting ready to head off on holidays to Mauritius on 1st April.  If you missed that bit of detail you can catch up with the travel news and photos on my other blog, Somewhere, Anywhere.

We arrived home yesterday morning after a 36 hour stopover in Singapore.  It was also my birthday.  Unlike my milestone birthday last year, this year was fairly low-key.  We had dinner with my sister, brother-in-law, brother and mother last night. It was lovely to catch up with them and to have someone else make dinner for me.

The weather has cooled down somewhat in the few weeks we have been away.  However, heavy showers of rain are making it a challenge to do the inevitable pile of washing that we brought home.

Cooler weather also meant that I can consider meals other than the inevitable salads.  Today we did some shopping to restock some necessities – fruit and vegetables as well as milk, cheese and Vegemite.  I spent $30 at the greengrocer, including a cauliflower for $4.  This is the upper limit of what I will pay for a cauliflower but it is still good value.  With the addition of stock powder, an onion, salt, pepper and smoky paprika I made a pot of hearty cauliflower soup.  That $4 cauliflower made 4 generous dinner serves plus 4 smaller serves suitable for lunches.  8 meals for about $4.50 seems like pretty good value to me!

Cauliflower Soup

1 full cauliflower (medium)
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons stock powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoky paprika

Lightly fry the onion in a large saucepan/stockpot.  Remove the outside leaves and separate the florets from the stalk.  Finely slice the leaves and stalk and add to the pot.  Continue to fry for about 5 minutes.  Add the roughly chopped cauliflower florets, seasonings and enough water to just cover the vegetables.  Cover and simmer for at least an hour and add extra water if required.  Blend until smooth and serve.

Tonight we had a big bowl of soup and some buckwheat pancakes on the side.

The remaining soup has been portioned up and is ready to go in the freezer.

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And the rain is pouring down – again!!

Wardrobe Audit – January

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At the beginning of January I turned all of the coathangers in my wardrobe around.  The idea behind this is that once an item has been worn you replace the hanger in the correct manner.  This provides an easy way to identify those items which have not been worn.

Since the past month has been recorded as the hottest ever start to the year in Australia, it is no surprise to find that jackets, cardigans, jeans and trousers were not worn in January.  Of the seasonally appropriate items, there are a couple of tops and 3 skirts which have not yet been worn.  I am sure their time will come.

The other thing I decided to do was not to buy any new clothes in January.  This was not entirely successful depending on your definition of ‘new’.  I bought 3 items that are new to me during the month.  We have a local recycle boutique which I check out from time to time.  I am fairly selective and only choose pieces that are absolutely perfect for me and I could not go past these.

Patterned cropped jeans

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Sleeveless cowl neck top

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Long sleeve white linen shirt

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Although none of them had tags attached, I am pretty sure that they are all unworn.

Finally, I moved three items out of my wardrobe.  The first was a pair of jeans I bought in 2012.  They have had a lot of wear and are getting pretty thin as well as somewhat faded and stained.  They are are now in the pile of clothes to be worn around the house and when gardening.  Similarly a sleeveless tshirt top has seen better days so met the same fate.  A pair of white shorts went in the bin as the elastane had all given way and they were not in a fit state to be used or donated.

All of this wardrobe activity takes place on a background of the knowledge that my clothes needs will evolve with my upcoming retirement in a few months along with plenty of travelling planned.

As always, I will only be making carefully considered purchases.

I will continue to monitor and report on my progress during the year.

A Matter of Priorities

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At the end of my last blog post I said I would show you more of what I had been sewing the next day.

Well, that did not happen.  Not only did I not write the post, I did not do the intended sewing.  There were other things that rated as more important and demanded my attention.  In fact, if I am honest, that is why there are often significant gaps between blog posts.  The blog has a relatively low priority in my life as the full-time job and running a household definitely come first.

Anyway, in the absence of any sewing, I want to share some of the recent additions to my wardrobe.

I am not keen on buying clothes online but towards the end of last year I bought 3 tops from Covered Perfectly.  This was on the recommendation of Susan from Susan After 60 blog.  The tops are made in the USA and with a buy 2, get the 3rd one free deal they were very reasonably priced, even with the overseas shipping.

Here are the three that I bought.

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Since it is the middle of summer here, these will not be worn in the near future.  I am looking forward to wearing them in the cooler weather and also including them in the packing for our Europe trip later in the year.

Yesterday, I had some free time between appointments in Maleny so I took the opportunity to check out the recycle boutique.  I do have a browse there from time to time and have bought a few things previously.  I was definitely in luck as I found this cute pair of cropped Sportscraft jeans which appeared to have never been worn.  They were my size and fitted like a glove.

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I also found a pretty sleeveless top with a cowl neckline.

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Here are a few styling possibilities that I have identified for my new pieces.

Cropped jeans with teal 3/4 sleeve top.

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Cropped jeans with navy tshirt.

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Cropped jeans with white collared shirt.

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The sleeveless top will be paired with white cropped pants, black trousers or even these green jeans.

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A few years ago my wardrobe consisted mostly of black, white and red items.

More recently I have included a bit more navy in lieu of some black pieces and the addition of some more blue and green is great, too.  I am still sticking to my theory that every piece in my wardrobe must be able to be worn in at least 3 different ways or combinations.

Plastic Free July

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Well, it is a week into to Plastic Free July and I decided that rather trying to to buy any plastic for the whole month, I would simply shop and live as I do on a regular basis and try to capture a true picture of my plastic consumption.

Having our own vegetable garden and fruit trees certainly helps.

Orange juice ready to freeze.

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Grapefruit marmalade.

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Yesterday I took a Weck jar when I went to buy feta cheese at the deli counter of the local IGA.  This was a definite win, but only after reminding the attendant to weigh the jar before filling it.  A reminder that this is not yet the norm and you need to be ever vigilant to ensure that your plastic-free attempts are not hijacked by well-meaning staff.

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Fruit and vegetable shopping is relatively easy to achieve plastic-free, particularly if you choose local, seasonal produce as much as possible.

Here is what I bought today.

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The supermarket is a very different story.  The items I bought today represent the majority of what I buy at the supermarket.  By its very nature, everything is packaged.  The cans are recyclable as is some of the plastic but, as we know, recycling should be the last resort.

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There was also a bottle of vinegar which did not make it into the first photo.

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We make at least some of our food from scratch which helps to eliminate some plastic packaging.  These include bread, pizza bases, tomato sauce and peanut paste.

These pizza bases are partly pre-cooked and ready to be frozen.  The plastic wrap is old cereal packets which have been washed and re-used many times.

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I am far from perfect when it comes to Plastic Free July (or any other time for that matter) but by making and growing some of our own food, having virtually no takeaway and not shopping for recreation we are fairly successful at limiting our single-use plastic consumption.

Are you participating in Plastic Free July?  How is it going?

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Remember, there are no failures – just increased awareness.  And that is a good thing.

 

 

A Spending Spree

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Sometimes I go for ages without buying anything apart from the essentials but then I seem to have a bit of a spree.

In the last week I have bought a clock and a dress.  The clock was to replace the one in the kitchen which had given up the ghost.  I spent a couple of hours trawling online and eventually found one that I liked.  It arrived in the mail today and I was very excited to hang it up.

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The dress was an impulse buy (sort of).  I was at the DFO with GMan and my mother on Saturday afternoon and I wandered into Jacqui E and this dress caught my eye.  It was originally priced at $170 but marked down to $50 and the final price I paid was $37.46!!

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It is an almost perfect fit – I need to shorten it a little and while the bodice fit is good, I could make it better by lifting the shoulders a little and taking a small amount of width out of the upper back.  It is heavy cotton, lined and looks like cutwork.  I have studied the construction and the alteration to the shoulders should be easy.  I will have to give the back a bit more thought.

I have a pretty cobalt blue cardigan to wear with it and now I just need a pair of navy shoes.  Coincidentally, I have already been searching for the shoes.

 

My Shopping List

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The impending ban on regular plastic carry bags in Queensland has created a definite upswing in interest in alternatives.

There will be heavy duty plastic bags for sale, however, these are really no better as very few people seriously reuse them and the inherent problems still exist – the use of non-renewable resources to create the plastic and the waste which invariably ends up in waterways and the oceans.

Many of the so-called ‘reuseable bags’ are also derived from plastic and are far from ideal.

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You can make your own fabric bags (preferably from second-hand or salvaged fabric) or buy from groups such as your local Boomerang Bag group.  Otherwise, grab a cardboard box or two to stack your groceries.

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Beyond these obvious choices, there has been much discussion, both online and in real life, about the impact of the changes.

But what will I use to line my bin?
The fabric bag won’t fit the metal packing rack?
There is no space to pack my groceries?

And so on………

All of these questions are valid.  We need to think outside the box and perhaps change some other habits.

The first thing that springs to mind is reducing waste so that there is less or no need for bin liners.

Secondly, is about how you shop, what you buy and where you buy it.  This is what I want to discuss today.

In an online forum, I recently mentioned that I bought very little at the supermarket and could generally place it directly in my cloth bag as it was scanned through the checkout.  I place the handle over one arm and with the other hand I load the items into the bag.  I think this comment raised some interest about how I actually achieve this.

The most important tip is make the supermarket your last resort.

Eat simply, cook from scratch, grow some of your own food, support local small businesses, buy in bulk, buy online, buy at Farmer’s/Growers markets and finally, go to the supermarket.

I do not shop at either of the two major supermarkets here in Australia, Coles and Woolworths.

We live near a small town with a Woolworths and an IGA supermarket.  I buy a few things at the IGA and also go to the local butcher and our Co-op which stocks a wide range of organic products from both Australia and overseas.  Most of my supermarket shopping is done at Aldi which is about 10km away in a different direction.  The fruit and vegetable vendor that I go to is not far from Aldi.  I buy the majority of my dry goods at a family-owned shop with bulk bins.  It is about 45km away so I plan my trips and stock up about twice a year.

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By shopping at small, independent retailers you will find it much easier to use and pack your own bags as there is generally more counter space, less pressure and the seller will probably be much more supportive of your decision.  I also take my own containers/bags to have them refilled in almost all instances but that is a discussion for another day.

To give you an idea of what I buy and where I buy it, I have created the following lists of everything I buy, including food and non-food items.

I have not included fruit and vegetables from the greengrocer as this is seasonal and depends on my planned meals for the week as well as what is growing in the garden.

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Butcher

Beef mince
Diced beef
Bacon
Chicken breast fillets
Gravy beef

IGA supermarket

Vita Brits
Taco shells
Salmon
Olives
Salami
Cleaning vinegar
Soda Stream gas canisters

Co-op

Brown rice
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
Tamari
Coffee
Honey
Shampoo
Conditioner
Face wash
Moisturiser

Simply Good

Bread flour (white)
Wholemeal flour
Rye flour
Potato flour
Brown rice flour
Chickpea flour
Quinoa flour
Arrowroot
Almond meal
Flaxseed meal
Corn meal
Raw sugar
Pepitas
Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds
Almonds
Peanuts
Walnuts
Chickpeas
Kidney beans
Black beans
Haricot beans
Red lentils
Brown lentils
Sultanas
Raisins
Mixed peel
Cocoa
Coconut
Psyllium husk
Chia seeds
Quinoa
Bicarb soda
Herbs
Spices
Salt
Pepper

Aldi

Vegemite
Corn chips
Cheese
Butter
Milk
Sausages
Toothpaste
Toothbrushes
Cat food (tinned)
Cat food (dry)
Frozen peas
Mayonnaise
Dijon mustard
White vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Tuna in springwater
Flavoured tuna
Baked beans
Corn kernels
Coconut cream
Curry paste
Stock powder
Tinned tomatoes
Rice cakes
Rice crackers
Ice-cream
Skim milk powder

Online

Tea
Dog food
Eucalyptus oil

Direct from manufacturer (local)

Laundry liquid
Enzyme soaker
Dishwashing liquid
Dishwasher powder

I am sure you can see items missing from the lists, so please feel free to ask questions.  It may be that we simply do not use it or that I make it myself.  For example, I make tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, jam, peanut paste, onion flakes, pasta, pizza bases and GMan makes bread.

 

A Smart Purchase

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I do not often write about my shopping but I feel that the iron I bought about a month ago is worthy of a blog post.  We are all familiar with the concept of ‘smart phones’ and some of their capabilities – turning airconditioning on and off, scanning the contents of a refrigerator to create a shopping, scanning tourist information when travelling and so on.  Of, course all of this is dependent on the other appliances/sites being embedded with the relevant technology.  However, all of that pales into insignificance beside my ‘intelligent’ iron.

Ironing not something that most people get excited about and many do not iron at all but that is simply not in my DNA.  I iron and I want a good iron that functions well and produces the result I want with minimum effort.  My previous iron was not performing so it was time to look for a replacement.  As always, I head to the electrical store and scan the rows of similar looking irons which range in price from $19 ever-upwards to about $160. Then there are all sorts of space-age looking steam stations which run into hundreds of dollars.

This Philips iron does not look extraordinary but the feature which sold it to me is the fact that it does not have a heat setting.  It senses the fabric and heats accordingly.  I hesitated because it sounded too good to be true and we all know where that usually ends up but I decided to bite the bullet and try it.  $149 later and I was the owner of a brand-new, intelligent iron.

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I delayed writing any sort of review until I had given it a reasonable test.  Thanks to the type of clothes we wear (mostly cotton and linen) as well as the sewing I do, my iron is used almost every day.  I have been using it for a month and am delighted to report that despite my reservations it really does work on all types of fabric.  This is what the soleplate looks like after a month of use – absolutely pristine.  The results are also excellent.

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Just in case I have convinced you and you are about to rush out and buy one, this is the packaging.

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