With the Australia Day holiday last Monday I had only two days at work this week, but they were very busy. As well as all the phone calls and people coming in, we're getting ready to move to a new premises, I'm teaching myself MYOB (one of my new tasks is that of bookkeeper), and there was a new volunteer to train on her first day. She has a lot of great skills so I think she's going to be a great asset to the Centre.
Driving down the mountain late yesterday afternoon to return home, I started planning what I would do in the next few days. There is no doubt about it, when you live a simple life there is always something that must be done, as well as all those tasks that might to others seem like work, but are really a joy to me.
I know there are many women who have a few days off and decide to get through the housework as quickly as possible so they can enjoy the rest of the time doing what they love. I am not one of those women, I used to be, but I've changed. Now the various tasks of running a house are what I thrive on, they are done slowly throughout the day and broken up with breaks and what others might consider hobbies, but I see as work for my home. These things include sewing and knitting because although they give me pleasure in the doing of them, I knit and sew for the practical reason of necessity.
When I got home yesterday Hanno told me he'd been cleaning out the cupboards in one of the kid's rooms and found three bags of fabric. Yippee! Two were full of fabric I vaguely remember using about 25 years ago and although it is very old, still looks good. There is plain, neutral linen and small patterns, similar to what I like now. My taste in many things hasn't changed over the years, which is strangely comforting to me. The third bag was full of ribbons, velcro, trims, cording, curtain edging and rings. Seeing the three bags made me realise that although I think I'm new to this style of living, and although I was a big spender in days gone by, there is a mishmash of things - like vegetable gardening, keeping chooks and sewing- that I have done for decades. They might not have been there all the time, but they have dotted my life trying to point me to the place I am right now. I'm a slow learner sometimes but I finally got the message.
So today I am back to the familiar rhythm of the unremarkable. These days are what make up my life now and although they might be considered a bit ho-hum and tedious to many of my contemporaries, it's the part of my life that brings me back to earth, that reaffirms my spirit and allows me to experience a kind of ever present contentment with the soft routine of each day.
Never underestimate the mundane.
Tasks today include: bake bread and an orange cake, strip the bed and wash the sheets, look through my recipes and find two new evening meals to expand my repertoire, continue the garden plan, I'll sort through the fabric bags discovered yesterday and add the fabric to my stash, sew the top of the kitchen curtains, decide on an Autumn knitting project - I have a good amount of pinky-mauve merino wool, and do a general tidy up. It's been raining on and off over night and I hope that continues so I can hear the rain on the rooftop a I work. Looks like a lovely day coming up.
I want to thank everyone for yesterday's great suggestions for portable fast food. I'll be using a number of the ideals presented. I am thankful for all the comments everyday and I think they add a lot to the growing archive of practical knowledge being accumulated here.
I have another request. I'd like to compile a list of potential post subjects. What would you like me to write about? I'm quite happy to consider your suggestions because, although I usually have a topic in mind, or I just write about my day, like above, I sometimes come to the computer with barely the skeleton of an idea. Sometimes I feel I'm repeating myself too, so all comments along this line are most welcome.
I hope you're having a good week. Thanks for visiting me. : - )
31 January 2008
With the Australia Day holiday last Monday I had only two days at work this week, but they were very busy. As well as all the phone calls and people coming in, we're getting ready to move to a new premises, I'm teaching myself MYOB (one of my new tasks is that of bookkeeper), and there was a new volunteer to train on her first day. She has a lot of great skills so I think she's going to be a great asset to the Centre.
30 January 2008
Anyhow, the result was I made a very quick pumpernickel cheese sandwich, grabbed some grapes and peaches and off I went. It was a delicious snack box. I grazed on the grapes in the late morning and ate the sandwich and peaches when our little group all went outside at 12.30 to watch the rain falling.
It made me think about other fast lunches I could make. I have no doubt, with the increased time I'm spending at my volunteer job, that I will have the need to make similar lunches in the near future. Yesterday's lunch took two minutes to get into a lunch box, I think I could also do a one minute lunch. If I cut the sandwich out and took just fruit and cashews, that would be the fastest food I could think of. I'd be quite satisfied with that and as long as I had a bottle of water, or tea in winter, I'd be happy.
I just know there are readers here who would make a wonderful fast lunch that could be taken to work or school, so I'm hoping you'll share your ideas with me. I'm not one to prepare anything the night before and generally our leftovers are eaten at home, but I'm happy to read all the ideas that present themselves here. I might even be convinced to try new ways, so please let me know your ideas about fast portable food.
And here is a little article about lunches from the Melbourne Age. "The older generation are very wary," he says. LOL, that's me alright. ; )
Please check out Darlene's post about recycling here. It fits in well with yesterday's post and is very interesting.
29 January 2008
"I would LOVE if you would do a post on rags. And a pattern for the adorable rag bag you made. What are rags (please don't laugh)? What do you use them for? How many do you need? Are they the same as kitchen towels (I use these as fabric "paper" towels)? Thanks for your blog. I am learning so much."
My definition of a rag is a piece of fabric that has been recycled to be used for cleaning or other household duties. I use rags for all my general house cleaning - both moist and dry, for polishing, wiping up spills and sometimes for draining fried foods. Please note: the rags used for cleaning and food prep are two different types and never cross over to do another tasks. I don't fry a lot of food - it will be the odd fried egg or potato pancakes. I use hemmed new 100% cotton instead of paper towels to drain these foods. They are used once, then washed. If there is a lot of fried food, as in the case of potato pancakes, I use three or four clean cloths drain the food. I stopped buying paper towels and napkins a while ago.
I believe the best kind of cleaning cloth is an old towel. When a towel has finished service as a towel, I cut it up into 25cm (10 inch) squares to use as rags. I am a postmodern woman and I like what I use to look like what it is. To me, a rag is a rag and should look like one. We've become used to neat edges and perfection in our store bought cleaning cloths. I usually don't worry about the edges of the terry cloths as they don't fray a lot when I cut them out with pinking shears. But if you're worried about fraying, or if you want to use the rags as dusting cloths, you could run a zigzag stitch around the border to keep the edges contained. You'll need to run the zigzag stitch around all your linen and cotton cloths to stop the fraying. You don't want to be picking up little pieces of cotton from your cloths as you dust. Generally the zigzag stitch is fine on the edges. I am aware though that there are some homemakers who like everything to be neat and tidy, so if you want neat edges, feel free to hem or edge your rags. There are no rules here, you just do what suits you.
Kitchen rags and general cleaning rags are washed, dried on the line and stored in my rag bag which hangs in the laundry. If one of my dogs is sick and has a little vomit (sorry) inside, I use a rag to wipe up and throw that rag out. That's the beauty of having a lot of rags, you can afford to throw out the odd one, and still have plenty for cleaning.
Cleaning cloths for the bathroom and toilet are never added to the rag bag; they are stored under the sink in the bathroom. I usually colour code my cleaning rags so I know not to use a bathroom cloth in the kitchen. I'm slowly knitting a number of black cloths for the bathroom and toilet. I only have two done so far, but when I have about six of them, I'll only use black cloths for bathroom and toilet cleaning.
I made a larger version of this bag. The measurements of the larger bag are in the photo below. You'll probably need a flap on the front instead of just an opening as the rags will make the bag gape open. Use your clothes hanger as a guide when cutting out the shape at the top. The rest is just straight sides.
28 January 2008
I love spending time alone. I am, by nature, a solitary person so when circumstances present a chance for some time alone, I grab it with both hands. I'm not sure exactly why I love it so because I generally do exactly what I would be doing when my family is here. I still rise and sleep at the same time, I don't do anything especially out of the ordinary and yet there is a relaxed feeling of freedom to do whatever I would like to do. Strange that, as I know I can do whatever I want to do when Hanno is here too. I suppose it's knowing that I have only myself to take care of, there are no cups of tea to be made for someone else and no meals to prepare unless I get hungry.
So what did I get up to yesterday? I worked in my bush house, cleaning it up and getting ready for our main vegetable planting of the year in March. Hanno build a bush house for me shortly after we moved here 10 years ago. It's a simple construction of shade cloth and timber that gives just the right protection from sun, rain and wind. At this time every year, I ready it to hold the seeds I will plant. From late February onwards there will be trays of seedlings in there protected from the elements until they grow large and strong enough to be planted out into the main garden.
Now is the time I start planning the vegetable year for us. I talk to Hanno about what we'll grow, go through my box of seeds and work out what is there and what we need to trade for or buy, and then write it all down. I generally draw up a plan of our planting so we both know what our original plan was because often when we start planting, it changes for various reasons.
I also grow orchids and maiden hair ferns in the bush house. It provides ideal conditions for their growth and when they're looking good, I sometimes bring them into the house or onto the front verandah so we can see them during the day.
Today I'll be organising myself for work tomorrow and writing a few things for work. It's a public holiday in Australia today and usually I would be working on a Monday. But I look forward to a slow and relaxed day that will prepare me for the week ahead. To my fellow Australians, enjoy your long weekend and to everyone else, I hope the week ahead is a good one for you.
27 January 2008
I love my boys calling me when something is wrong. It doesn't happen often, but the first thing they do if things aren't quite right, is call me. They like to talk to their mum to get reassurance that all is well and to know we'll be there for them when they need us. I feel honoured to have that trust and I am ever thankful for what has been with them and what is still to come. I can't begin to tell you how grateful I felt that Kerry survived that accident. It could so easily have been different. Just a couple of weeks ago, four boys died in a car accident near there. It is another reminder to me that life is such a brief and fleeting thing, we need to really live it, appreciate the passing of each day and know we have used every hour it gives to its full and true extent.
It looks like I need to get my scissors out and cut some of those loose threads I've just seen now in the photo below. ; - )
25 January 2008
I have to tell you I love mending. It is one of those cherished homemaker duties that really connects me to this life we are living. It is a firm reminder that Hanno and I don't want to live in a throw-away world, that we care for what we own and we reduce, reuse, repair, recycle, renovate and revive. We are renegades and rebels, we don't throw much out. We want to resuscitate the planet, we are into renewal, we want to make reparation. Okay, enough of the "re" words. LOL
I am ashamed to tell you that back in my free-spending years I would throw away a perfectly good shirt or pants rather than repair them. That included throwing away clothes that just needed a button sewn on. : - ( I wish I could take back all those wasteful times but the best I can do now is to make sure I remain a good steward. Whatever needs to be repaired here now, is, and not wasted in the ever growing piles of "landfill" rubbish dumps.
24 January 2008
Hanno and I made the choice to live on a very meagre budget. We have no debt, an emergency fund, we have money invested and we have shares, but we choose to live frugally. Our total budget for the month is $1370, of which $765 is left in the bank to cover bills and $605 is withdrawn in cash to spend on our needs. The $765 covers car, house and private health insurance, phone, internet, electricity, house and land rates, car registration and maintenance etc.
- Groceries $290
- Fuel $120
- Health $50 (includes vitamins, doctor, pharmacy)
- General $145 (includes garden supplies, dog and chook food, clothing, pocket money)
The only amounts that are always spent are fuel and pocket money, everything else we usually underspend on. We get $80 a month ($40 each) pocket money. That may be spent on anything we desire, or saved for a double whammy the next month.
The one thing that allows us to be so frugal, apart from our attitude to spending, is our stockpile. Stockpiling allows us to live well on food we usually buy on special and if we are running short on money, we can stop spending on food altogether and live off the stockpile. I was please to see others say they do this in the previous comments.
Let me say here loud and clear: being thrifty is not about being cheap, miserly or being poor. It's more about recognising our own needs and not exceeding them. Now for me, my needs might be that I require to eat healthy food, buy local fresh dairy products, a new car every few years, broadband internet and enough wool and cotton to knit. Your needs, on top of what you need to stay alive, might be organic food, pay TV, a motor bike and good clothes. Or maybe you're more into travel, so a trip overseas every three years, dance class for your daughter, soccer club for your son, 5 magazine subscriptions and 6 books a year. It could be anything within your means. The choice is yours, and you make that choice after you've done up your own budget to find out what money you have left over after you've paid EVERY bill you know you'll receive during the month.
Everyone makes their own choice because we all have difference circumstances, desires and needs. But when you make your choices, you stick with them and you don't add other choices on top. That is when you get yourself into hot water. Unless you're a millionaire, you have to recognise the fact that your money is limited. You have to live within your limits.
This is where personal responsibility comes in. You are aware of the choices you make and accept the consequences of them. I'm sure a lot of us would like to go through life like we did as teenagers - buying whatever we wanted, doing whatever pleased us. If something goes wrong, someone fixes it. There comes a point though that we make a transition to a more mature point, where we think carefully about what we are able to do and what we can't do. We examine our income, write up budget and make our decisions on what we can do within the means we have available to us.
I know there are some of you who will be saying: I deserve a treat every so often. Or, I want to enjoy my life! Maybe you do deserve a treat, but I think you also deserve to live a good and decent life, unburdened by debt. How much of life do you enjoy when you have too much debt? Doesn't the burden of paying off debt dampen a lot of life's joy?
A number of you have allowed me to take you by the hand with advice about other things. I wonder if I can do it with money and budgeting. Do you trust me enough to believe me when I tell you that a budget will help you organise your money? Will you follow my lead on how to manage money? I wonder. This is a tricky one.
I would like to pass on to you three things that will help you:
- Stop spending.
- Make a budget and stick to it.
But you have to supply the personal responsibility and you have to find the joy of life and not just the pleasure of spending. I know it's much easier for me to write these words than for anyone to act on them. I know it can be done though, because I have done it myself. I used to be a spender and now I'm not, my attitude to spending is completely different now.
I also know I'm at a different stage of life to a lot of you, but that is what I mean about making your own choices. YOU decide what your choices are and as long as those choices are within your means, and you stick to your choices and not keep adding others, then I'm sure you can manage your money well
Tough times are predicted in coming months so some good decisions now may change your life. Are you game enough for this? Can you organise your money instead of it organising you? I wonder who can do it. I'm happy to offer my help if you need help. If you get stuck on your plan or your budget, email me and we'll see what we can sort out together. Good luck everyone.
Niki at rural writings is also writing about money at the moment. Check out her post here.
23 January 2008
So it never surprises me to find that every January I have to reorganise my money and spend a period of time tracking what I spend. I've written about this before here, but just to recap, I generally withdraw an amount of money in cash that we use for petrol, food, doctor's bills, chook food etc. This money is put into plastic bags marked for their purpose and as I go through the month, I take cash from the bags as I need it. It really is a great way to organise our money and I always know how much we have for the various things we need to buy.
However, although this system works for us every other month of the year, in January I lose focus and usually have to borrow from one bag to pay for other things. Why am I doing this? Who knows. We usually have money - anything from $20 to $100 - left over at the end of every month, but not in January.
I need to steady this ship. I've put a small notebook in my bag and every time I spend money, I will record it. In a week or two, I'll see what I've been wasting money on and I'll be able to work out ways of stopping it. It won't be anything major, it will be little things like a sandwich when I haven't had time to pack lunch for work, or going over my postal budget - things like that.
You might think I have it together here, and generally I'm quite controlled about what I buy, but I'm not perfect and I do need to refocus occasionally and get back on track. I wonder if others have this same problem. Tell me what happens when you go over your budget. How do you recover from that before it becomes a disaster? There is no shame in this for any of us, we all do what we do. But we can help ourselves, and others, by discussing this subject honestly and sharing how we stay on track with our spending.
Remember, it's not too late to join the challenge if you missed it first time around. The details are here.
My three gifts are:
- stop accepting plastic shopping bags
- stop buying water in plastic bottles
- provide a suitable container for the smokers where I work and dispose of the cigarette butts correctly
I've taken water from home every time I've gone out and have kept my shopping tote pouch in my basket, so no plastic shopping bags are coming home with me. The cigarette butts have been emptied into the bin but as we're about to move to a new location at work, I'll make sure I set up a similar arrangement in the new building.
What have you done so far?
(I will be back soon with another post.)
22 January 2008
21 January 2008
There is only one blog I visit every day but I have several I visit when I have the time. My time on the computer is limited and I want to get the best value for the time I have available. When I read a blog I want to be changed by it. I want to be moved. I want it to make me think. I also want to experience the generosity of the blog - through the telling of the story, the showing of the projects and the sharing of the creativity that makes it all possible.
In my experience, bloggers are a generous bunch. There are so many who freely share and invite readers to use their ideas and patterns. There is an element of worldwide sisterhood in many of the blogs that I find charming and I have no doubt that if these women got together for real coffee rather than the cyber kind, the respect and joy would overflow for all to see.
And speaking of generosity, I am fortunate to extend the generosity of one of the readers here to everyone. A couple of weeks ago Dot sent me a book she thought I might be interested in reading. She asked that after I read it to give it to someone who reads my blog. The book is called Choosing Eden by Adrienne Langman. It's a first hand account of a middle aged couple who give up their life in the city, and all the frills that go with middle class city living, to move to the country to establish a self-sufficient farm that will support and nurture them. It's a good read.
Thank you Dot. : - ) You can check out Dot's own blog here.
20 January 2008
I suppose readers in cooler climates are planning their spring and summer gardens now. Isn't it a lovely thing to do? Everything is possible in the planning stage and if you're anything like me you want to try new fruits and vegetables as well as having the comfort of growing your old favourites. I hope we all have healthy gardens and abundance harvests this year, along with the pleasure of gardening. I feel it's a privilege to have a garden - not just the space for one but to be able to work away in the yard, tweaking this and that, cutting back, building up, mulching, making comfrey tea for the lettuces and spinach, banging in stakes and tying plants to a steady and firm support. There are many things to find pleasure in the vegetable garden but I guess my favourite time is when those tiny seeds emerge as a new green promise. That signals for me the real start of the garden and all the joys that will spring from it.
19 January 2008
I hope you enjoy your weekend and have time to take care of yourself. To all those new to the blog, hello and welcome. I hope you find what you're looking for here. To all those readers who pop in most days, thank you for your lovely comments and encouragements along the way. I appreciate you taking the time to connect and I thank you for reading.
18 January 2008
Many of you know we've been feeding Rosie and Alice on homemade dog food all their lives. They're now 12 and 10 years old and are very fit dogs, still capable of running around like mad things. The recipe for my homemade dog food is here. We feed them twice a day. Once with biscuits in the morning and once in the afternoon with the homemade dog food. I have been buying the Omega 3 enriched dog biscuits over the years while I've experimented with biscuit recipes but I stepped this up a notch about a month ago when the price of dog biscuits increased by $5, making the normally $20 large bag from the produce store, $25. Hmmmm, it was time for real action.
Homemade dog biscuits/treats
2 cups water mixed with 2 tablespoons Vegemite OR two cups beef or chicken stock. This can be homemade or from stock powder.
1 cup bread or plain/all-purpose flour
2 cups wholemeal or rye flour
1 cup rolled oats or instant oats
½ cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon yeast
If you want to add Omega 3, add 2 teaspoons of flax seed oil or emu oil to the mix.
Please note: The amount of liquid you add will depend entirely on your flour, oats and how much humidity is in the air. Start with 2 cups, but you might need to add another cup - in small portions until the dough feels right.
You can make this in your bread machine or by hand. If using the bread machine, use the dough setting and add the ingredients in the order listed above. Feel the dough after it's been mixed to make sure it feels smooth and not too dry.
If making by hand, put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Remove the mixture from the bowl and knead for five minutes or until the dough is tender and smooth. It makes a lovely dough.
Place on a greased or paper lined baking sheet and allow to rise slightly for about 30 minutes. Bake in a slow oven at 170º C (325 º F) one hour. When all are baked, turn off oven and leave them in the oven overnight to cool. Then store in a container or the freezer.
I hope your dogs like this as much as Rosie and Alice do. If you decide to make up the recipe, I'd like to know if your dogs enjoyed them. : - )
17 January 2008
Place two cups of raw peanuts and salt (to taste) in a food processor. If the nuts are too dry, add a small amount of peanut or olive oil. Blend until smooth and store in the fridge.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped large onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 x 400g cans cannellini or navy beans, rinsed and drained. OR - if you use dried beans, soak overnight and drain.
2 x 400g cans tomatoes OR 800 grams (one and 3/4 lbs) of fresh very ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard
¼ cup molasses or golden syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil and drop in onion and garlic. Cook on low heat until tender.
Add beans, tomatoes, molasses, worcestershire sauce, mustard and sugar. Add salt and pepper and stir until well combined. Bring to the boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently for about one hour, stirring frequently. This will taste better the following day, so make it one day ahead.
Condensed Milk - this is the sweetened milk
Place 1 cup powdered milk, 1/3 cup boiling water, 2/3 cup white sugar and 3 tablespoons butter in a blender and process until the sugar dissolves. This will make the equivalent of one can of sweetened condensed milk.
Evaporated Milk - unsweetened
1 ½ cups warm water
1 cup powdered milk
2 tablespoons butter
Mix milk powder and warm water together. Add the butter. Heat the mixture in a small pan. When thoroughly combined, beat with hand beater, cool and store in the fridge.
Two tablespoons and cream of tartar to one tablespoon of bicarb will give you three tablespoons of baking powder. Don’t make too much at one time as the reactions between the two elements cause the powder to go stale in a few weeks. Just make up what you need at the time.
1¼ cups plain or all purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 large teaspoon baking powder - see recipe above
¼ cup melted butter
Mix the above ingredients (except milk) together. Add enough milk to make the mix the consistency of heavy cream. Put the mix in the fridge for 1 hour (this will relax the gluten in the flour and make soft and fluffy pancakes). Pour the mix thinly over the base of a non-stick pan and cook until golden brown. Flip and cook other side.
Milk Kisses - a quick sweet biscuit/cookie
Add one tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to each cup of milk. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. OR a cup of yoghurt added to a cup of milk and allow to stand 30 minutes.
graphic from allposters.com
16 January 2008
I have two wedding rings. One I received the day I married Hanno and another he gave me on our 25th wedding anniversary. I will give one ring to both my sons when I die.
I woke Hanno up at 2am this morning to tell him there was noise coming from the chicken coop. He mumbled all the way outside, got dressed, got the torch and found nothing. I now think I was dreaming. Shhhhh, don't tell.
I'm becoming more of a hermit. I'm now doing voluntary work three days a week and I see and speak with a lot of people there, but when I'm home I don't go out and I rarely invite anyone over.
I really REALLY like blue grass music. I don't have any CDs but I sometimes search for it online.
When I was young I went to an all girls convent school. My grade 6 teacher was Sister Clothilde, who I secretly called "clotty". When she died of a stroke, I thought I'd killed her by calling her that.
I would like to grow enough raspberries to make 6 jars of jam every year. We have no raspberries growing at the moment.
When I worked as a nurse in outback Australia, we used to fly in a little plane to treat the people living on remote islands. One day as we approached an island, it was surrounded by what looked like heavy seaweed. When we talked to the people there we discovered it was a huge mass of tiger sharks.
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15 January 2008
We don’t throw out any wet garbage. There is a hierarchy of contenders for our kitchen scraps. At the top of our pecking order are the chooks. They get the choice scraps because they turn it into food. They get most table scraps, old milk, crushed egg shells, old bits of cake, old fruit or vegetables. They also get the outside leaves from lettuce, tomatoes with spots on them, cabbage and the celery tops. Any old bread is divided up between the chooks, the dogs and the fish – they all love home-baked bread. The worms get fruit and vegetables peelings, tea leaves, crushed egg shells, anything that had been too long in the fridge and eggs we find in the back yard that are not in a nest. The worms also get ripped up envelopes and old letters, cleaning cloths that have seen out their days.
I try to buy my dried foods like beans, flours, nuts etc in bulk. That gives me the option of taking my own containers and bags. Generally I use old flour bags – they’re strong and can be washed and reused many times. If I buy bulk bread flour, I sometimes get a 12.5 kilo bag and the worms take care of the bag and string closure for me.
Worms, chooks and compost don’t cope well with too many citrus peelings or onion skins, so I have a closed compost bin for them. It’s open on the bottom, closed at the top, so even though they take a long time to break down, they’re unseen and eventually do return themselves to the earth. Every so often I throw a handful of lime on them to hasten their decomposition.
At home we recycle glass jars for preserving, soft drink bottles (they’re as rare as hen’s teeth), newspapers – both the bought ones and the free ones. We put tin cans, beer and wine bottles and large pieces of cardboard in the municipal recycling bin that is collected every two weeks along with the regular garbage. We also have the option of have a green waste bin but we recycle all that at home.
I would love to be able to tell you that we have given up using cling wrap but I still have a roll in the draw. I do however, use it sparingly and only when I can’t find another method. I often cover food (like cheese) in the fridge with a clean moist cloth and cover other food with an upturned bowl.
I don’t wrap my lunch for work anymore and it’s worked very well over the past six months I’ve been taking small containers inside a larger one. If I fit all the boxes together, nothing moves and the food stays together. Here is an old photo of my lunch box. We often share food at work so it’s great to have the various containers to pass around.
I hope you’ll all share your reusing and recycling ideas in the comments box so we can all benefit from the collective experience we have here, which I have to say I’ve been very impressed with and appreciate very much.
13 January 2008
Australians use 4 billion plastic bags each year; in China 3 billion bags are used per day; in the United States 380 billion disposable plastic bags are used each year and only 1 percent are recycled.
It got me thinking about other commonly used items that we might be able to give up that would be a great help to the planet. In the midst of this there was an interesting segment on morning TV on the five most damaging personal waste items. They are, and this is a cut and paste from this link:
- Polystyrene foam: Take away cups of coffee are made from expanded polystyrene foam, a product that does not break down over time. Polystyrene cups simply create landfill that releases toxic chemicals into the air. Alternative: Bring your own mug or take away cup to your favourite cafe.
- Cooking oil: Cooking oil is often disposed of in ways that hurt the environment. Simply pouring oil down the sink not only damages the plumbing, but it also means the oil ends up in waterways. In the same way that oceans can't deal with oil spills from large tankers, small waterways can't deal with oil that is put down the sink. Alternative: Store used oil in a sealable container or jar and ask your council how to dispose of it correctly.
- AA batteries: The batteries that power your remotes control contain around one percent mercury and when this leaks it can cause environmental damage. Batteries use less energy than they cost the environment to produce. Alternative: Rechargeable batteries.
- Disposable nappies: Nappies are convenient but they can create landfill that takes years and years to break down. It's estimated that the average baby creates around 700 kilograms of solid waste in nappies alone. Alternative: Cloth nappies.
- Cigarette butts: Smoking is more than a health hazard, the 32 billion cigarette butts thrown away in Australia each year damage the environment. It can take years for each butt to break down as each cigarette contains poisonous chemical compounds. Alternative: Quit smoking or make sure any cigarette butt is disposed of properly.
I decided to challenge myself to give up or modify three environmentally damaging things I do. I think it’s a really good way to remind myself that I can’t afford to sit back and think I am doing enough.
It is not enough.
It's the small things that I could easily change, with just a bit of thought and action, that will make a difference. It occurred to me that it would be a good challenge for everyone here. If we all got involved, and if you wrote about the challenge on your blog or talked with your friends about it, maybe there would be a ripple effect that would really make a difference in our own communities.
So my challenge to you is to choose three items or actions that you currently have in your life that you’ll modify or give up completely. It doesn't have to be on the list here, it can be anything that you do that you know is harmful and are prepared to change. We can do something important here. If we all do this, tell our friends and neighbours what we are doing and why, and ask that they join, we could make an impact in our local areas.
I think it’s important to continue working towards reducing consumption of just about everything we use, but this will be extra. It will be our three gifts to the world. I want everyone to join me in doing something positive for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. It looks like they will pay the price for what we are doing now.
This is what I will do:
I will never accept a plastic bag again. I have a number of cloth bags for grocery shopping and I always take my basket when I go out, but I do sometimes still come home with a plastic shopping bag around the milk or fruit.
I have to arrange my basket so I can put cold things in it. I generally have a diary, papers and notebooks in my basket that I don’t want to put cold and wet items on. I have a little cloth bag in a pouch that I’m going to keep in my basket so that if I do pick up milk or fruit and vegies when I’m out, I’ll put my paper stuff in the cloth sack and fill up my basket with produce. I’ll have to train myself to check I have the bag pouch every time I pick up my basket. I tend to come home and empty my bag and not put it back where it should be. That will stop from this minute.
PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES
I will never buy water in a plastic bottle again. I resolved to give this up about six months ago and did well for a while but then I bought water when I was out somewhere without my water bottle from home. I have a perfectly serviceable Thermos flask that is unbreakable, I’ll use that for hot and cold drinks. If I am caught out without the Thermos, I’ll have to stay thirsty until I get home. That will soon teach me to always take the Thermos. ; - )
I don’t smoke but I work with people who do. When I go to work tomorrow I will put out containers for cigarette butts and make sure I put them in the rubbish bin each week.
So that’s it for me; three gifts for my local world. Will you do this with me and make a positive change? I’ve made two badges you can save to use in your blog when you write about your gifts. You can then put the badge in the side bar of your blog to show that you’re part of the challenge. Let see how far we can spread this, let’s see how many people we can motivate to give three gifts. If you have no blog, print the badge out and stick it on the fridge, and tell your family and friends about the challenge. Seeing the badge will remind us of our commitment and that we can be part of a global solution instead of continuing on regardless.
Small steps, my friends, small steps.
12 January 2008
Lorraine and Sharon
1. Donna-USA and Amy USA
2. Christine and Jennie
3. Mary Strickland and Sandra
4. Renee and Jean Maples
5. Karen G and Maria in NC
6. Robbie and Sharon
7. Jacket and Liz allen
8. Mama K and Christie Rivera
9. Sharon and Rebecca
10. Ann and Lorraine
11. Maggie and Aimee
12. Kate and Leanne
13. Cynthia and Lisabob
14. Lightening and Cate
15. Billie and Ingeborg
16. Margaret and Lilymarlene
17. Judy and Liane Bastien
18. Ann UK and Sarah (her e mail is sfouilla at nmsu dot edu)
19. Leah and Denise
20. Sandratee and Pura
This is from Xandra the creator of The Daily Dose Award.:
The swap partners list will be posted later this morning.
11 January 2008
It was a rainy day here yesterday so I hung washing under the cover of the back verandah. It took all day to dry, whereas if it's on the clothes line it's generally dry in a couple of hours. It's always a joy to see cotton sheets and aprons blowing gently in the breeze. I swept and washed the floors, baked bread, checked the vinegar, wrote some letters and sorted the vegetable seeds. It was a morning spent at a gentle pace with the sound of the rain falling on the roof. Bliss.
After a dinner of leftovers and fruit, I tidied up my sewing room, talked to Hanno for a while then retired to bed with Dot's book. Rain was still falling on the roof so another easygoing day at home ended perfectly - reading and falling quietly into sleep.
10 January 2008
Sharon and Loraine (chookasmum) will be organising the swap and assigning partners on Saturday. You can still join today and tomorrow.
I found a few more links to inspire some wonderful creations - here, here and here. Your tea cosy can be sewn, knitted, felted, patchwork, embroiderd, red work, crocheted, or whatever you want to make it. It needs to fit an average sized tea pot - 6/8 cups, or whatever you work out with your partner.
If you've never been in a swap before, take the plunge and have some fun. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
Store your knives so the blade doesn't hit or rub against anything. I use a magnetic strip, but you could also use a knife block or a non-slip tray in a drawer that keeps knives apart.
Don't let your knives soak in the sink or sit on a wet sink. Wash and dry them as soon as you can.
Don't use the knife edge to scrape food from your chopping board. It will damage and dull the edge. If you want to use the knife, turn it over and use the other side of the blade.
Use wood or poly cutting boards as marble, glass or ceramic boards will dull the knife edge.
If you have wooden handled knives, apply some oil to the handle every so often. Make sure you don't allow these knives to soak in the sink or remain wet for long periods.
Whatever knives you work with, you will ensure their life and their usability if you look after them and keep them sharp.
9 January 2008
When I lived in Europe I noticed it was commonplace for houses to have cellars. These were used to store potatoes, onions, garlic, jams, chutneys, sauces, beer, wine, seeds, flour and other perishables. If you have a cellar, make the most of it. It will provide an ideal place, with a consistent temperature, to store all manner of goods. In Australia, cellars are almost unknown and many houses do not have a large amount of cupboard space. The understanding being that goods will not be stored in the home, but bought continually from the shop.
If you don’t have a lot of storage space in your home you might have to look for unusual places to store goods. Under the bed is the obvious one and here is an article here about making an under bed storage unit. Look around your home and see if there are other places you could use - maybe under the stairs or under a table. I have a friend who made a fitted cover for her dining room table, which she rarely uses, and under it she stores toilet paper, tissues and rice.
While there are some exceptions like cheese and wine, most food will not improve in quality or flavour when stored for a period of time. You should store food when it still looks, feels and smells good. Most fresh food will be eaten straight away or stored in the fridge. If it's not eaten fresh the best form of storage over the long term are glass containers. Glass allows you to see what’s inside, it seals well, doesn’t taint the food and it’s a durable product, lasting many years. I have several sizes of glass containers with rubber seals. The seals have to be replaced every few years but overall they are a very reliable container.
Plastic containers are also often used for kitchen food storage. In my experience, plastic doesn’t seal as well as glass and you may sometimes get insect contamination using plastic. Plastic may also take on the smell of the food being stored, which may effect what you can store in it from then on. If you’re using plastic containers make sure you always seal them properly, ensuring a neat seal around the entire perimeter of the lid.
Food in Australia must be marked with one of three date codes: “best before” date, “use by” date and “baked on” date.
When food is stamped with a best before date, it means that the food, if still in the intact package, is at its premium on or before the date marked. If the date has passed, the food may still be edible, but may not be at its best. Sometimes you will see best before food that has passed its date reduced for sale in the shop.
This indicates the end of the acceptable storage life of the food. All food that should be eaten within a certain period of time for health and safety reasons, will be marked with a use-by date. It is illegal to sell food after the date marked as “use –by”.
This is used on bread that has a shelf life of less than seven days.
When buying food that will be stored for a while, always make sure the can or package is not damaged. When adding new items to your stockpile, always add to the back and take from the front. You need to rotate your stock so nothing spoils.
I put all the dry food I buy, like rice, flour, pasta, lentils, dried chick peas and beans, in the freezer when they are brought from the store. All my dried goods are stored in the freezer until I need to use them, then they are placed in a glass jar and put in the pantry.
I learnt the hard way that food needs to be stored correctly. A pantry moth invasion made me give a lot of grains and legumes to the chooks. Never again. All you need to do is to work out what you have to store over a long period and find the right storage method for it. We're all different and your solutions may be different to mine but if you ensure your food and dry goods survive for long periods, you'll save money and reduce the amount you waste.
I didn't have the time yesterday to take new photos so I've just done that now. The photo below shows the large jars I use. The two on the left and right are canning jars with rubber ring seals that are replaced every year or so. The jar in the middle was given to me by my son. I have several of these and they were originally used to hold olives. They easily hold a kilo (2lb 2oz) of sugar, flour, beans etc.
The bucket below is similar to what Niki is talking about in the comments. This is a 5 kilo recycled plastic bucket I use to store my bread flour. You can buy these, but I got mine free from the local baker who buys icing in them. They have a good seal and are great for storing large amounts of dry food.
If you find some of these food quality plastic buckets that have been used to store food, wash them out with soapy water, fill with water and add two cups of white vinegar. Allow it to stand for a day, then wash out again and rinse. That should get rid of any residual smells in the plastic.