01 February 2018

Happiness Homemade 1st Feb

January is over! School has gone back (I noticed the increase in traffic this week). Our summer holiday season is over, and life is getting back to the regular routines.

This week I made plum jam from some lovely plums Hannah was given by a client. I sent some to Wayne's father and put some in the pantry. Jam is so easy to make, Hannah has been helping with the jam making since she could hold a knife to chop the fruit, but did you know that it's not covered in Home Ec at school until Year 12? No wonder most people think the only way to get jam is to buy it or that it's far too hard to make jam at home!

This is my recipe for plum jam - very simple and basic.

I also made Six Minute Lemon Butter using lemons given to us, so the only cost was the butter and the eggs (bought at Pellegrino's for $2.50/dozen). With the price of butter I'm thinking lemon butter will become a real treat, rather than the standard spread we've been used to having in the fridge. Even with free lemons and cheap(er) eggs, the cost of the butter makes it more expensive than our usual spreads. I usually include a jar of lemon butter in the Christmas hampers, I may need to rethink that this year.

Last week when I went to pick Hannah up from work, I noticed a lovely, big, picnic basket in the window of the op shop next door. Just as I noticed the basket, the lovely older man who works there came out and locked the door. I took it as a sign I wasn't meant to have that basket, that I didn't really need it and probably wouldn't want it tomorrow (my wonky version of the $100/24 Hour Rule).  So you can imagine how excited I was when I dropped her off last Friday and it was still in the window! I took it as a sign that perhaps I was supposed to have this picnic basket (another wonky version of mine based on the $100/24 Hour Rule). Off she went to see the price, if was $8, and she asked if I wanted it - does the moon come out at night? YES!
It's a beautiful basket, lined in red gingham and in perfect condition. And it's just the right size to store my knitting and crochet projects on the go in, to keep them and the loungeroom tidy. I just love it, I'm a bit of a basket fan, and there are baskets of all shapes, sizes and uses all over the house. This one fits in the corner perfectly, solves a storage problem, looks good and makes me smile.

The hot weather knocked me flat. I think it was a combination of the extreme heat and the extremely high humidity - I was as limp as a day old lettuce leaf. It took everything I could muster just to get the basics done (thank goodness for routines), let alone work on anything else.

One thing I did get done was laundering our bedding, including the quilt, mattress topper, pillow protectors and blankets. It was so hot, perfect for drying bedding. There's nothing quite as cosy as the smell of fresh bedding as you slide between the sheets and get comfy.

When we were shopping for a new washing machine I made sure the one we chose was big enough to take blankets and doonas - dry cleaning costs a fortune and I don't like the residual smell from the chemicals used. I use my regular Cheapskates Washing Powder, and add lavender oil to the final rinse, then line dry in the sunshine and everything is soft and fluffy and smells wonderful.

So, heat and limpness aside, here's what helped make our home a happy one this week:
  • Watered and fed the garden early, before it was too hot. Pulled weeds as I saw them (they're much easier to control this way).
  • Planted some petunias for colour. They make me smile when I see them in pots and bordering the veggie beds and under the fruit trees.
  • Picked more apples from the tree, stewed and froze for winter. Sent some to Sydney.
  • Made some cards and sent them to Sydney to the nursing home.
  • Used cards from my stash for birthdays.
  • Washed all our bedding on the hot days - it's fresh and ready for autumn now.
  • Made plum jam and lemon butter. 
  • Only bought the few things on the shopping list.
  • Cooked all our meals from scratch, using ingredients on hand.
  • Prepared a huge coleslaw, potato salad and pasta salad for the hot days.
  • Kept the windows and blinds closed and fans on during the heat of the day, and opened the house wide overnight so it could cool down. We haven't used the air con at all this summer - the fans and keeping the house shut tight has kept the inside temp between 9 -11 degrees cooler than outside.
  • Downloaded free ebooks for my Kindle.
How did you find homemade happiness this week?

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  1. Hello Cath and sounds like you had a beautiful week and the picnic basket looks divine and very useful. I am also on the lookout for one of the older style ones to take on picnics when my husband and I go out on day trips.

    This week was mostly about the garden and amending our garden beds with a few household things thrown in.

    - We picked up a large jumbo bale of hay for $55 for the gardens and asked upon seeing lots of loose hay on the shed floor whether we could fill the rest of the trailer with that so they threw in the 2 scoops of the loose Lucerne hay for free on the shed floor. With the free hay we managed to mulch all of our front yard vegetable, herb and berry gardens, another 10 x 5 vegetable garden and a 4.5mt patch of another vegetable garden too.
    - While in the front yard I also pulled weeds as I saw them from in and around the gardens and trimmed the sweet potato vines growing onto the front lawn and footpath. It looks so much neater now.
    - We picked just over a kilo of tomatoes a little early and they are ripening in a bowl as they kept splitting due to the heat and 2 kg of beetroot which we had for juices.
    - Thinned and transplanted carrot seedlings into a newly amended garden bed and made 2.5 x 7mt rows of carrot seedlings and did the same with beetroot seedlings growing too close making a 5 mt row of them too, I wasn't going to throw any out :). We then mulched the whole bed thickly with hay from the bale we purchased mixed with composted grass clippings from our lawns.
    - Used saved grey water from our showers and washing machine to water the lawns as we are on permanent water restrictions here.
    - Made all meals and bread from scratch from items we had on hand.
    - Deep cleaned our bathroom and toilet using a 50% dilution citrus vinegar and a bit of dishwashing liquid using flannelette rags and the shower recess and vanity mirror glass with diluted mixture of 50% methylated spirits and water with flannelette rags.
    - Purchased some vacuum seal coat and garment bags on special at Aldi saving over $200 compared to other local stores to better sort out our dressing room to make more room for our second pantry to increase our household stocks.
    - Put together our 2 in 1 offset wood smoker BBQ we purchased on eBay for $50 new. This will be another layer of cooking off grid or using less electricity as we have access to so much free hardwood firewood from a friend's local property. We can't wait to try it out next week.

    Have a great week ahead :).


    1. Wow, that was a busy week, especially in the garden in this heat! You will love the smoker, we have one and it is used regularly. I smoke chickens, corned beef to make pastrami mostly, and then towards the end of each year I do legs of pork to make ham for Wayne (I don't eat it, so it's a treat for him).

      We rearranged our sheds yesterday to make a more efficient storage system, and hopefully increase space for the stockpile too, must be the time of year for it. I firmly believe that a good stockpile of basic household needs is more important than ever. Do you find the carrots grow nicely after being transplanted? I try not to move root veggies once they're planted so as not to disturb the growing.

  2. Cath you can thin out both carrot and beetroot seedlings and transplant without a problem but you do have to wait until the carrot tops are around your pinky nail size as well as the beetroot. They transplant well but you have to make sure you give them plenty of water for about a week after transplanting them.

    We use a small row as a nursery for the carrot seedlings and then transplant and space them once their big enough.

    Agree it must be space organising time to make things run more efficiently.


    1. Thanks, good to know. I'm waiting for the ground to cool a little so I can get the parsnips in. The ground is still a little warm for them here yet. I love roasted or mashed parsnip and flatly refuse to buy them, they are so expensive, but so easy to grow. I spent some time this morning plotting and planning for autumn and winter gardens, before it became too hot. We'll be away for six weeks, so I need to plan and plant so we have enough until we leave, then nothing until we get home so they don't go to waste - talk about organising! At least we'll have plenty of veggies to enjoy.


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