01 March 2021

Gathering the Fragments 28/02/2021

It is Monday morning here, I've just finished my Monday routine.  https://www.debtfreecashedupandlaughing.com.au/2011/05/housekeeping-on-monday.html

Last week we ate all our meals at home, using ingredients we already had or freezer meals, and just lately I've been even more conscious of making sure to use everything up. The poor worms in the worm farm aren't getting the variety they used to!

I added worm compost to some garden soil and a little leftover potting mix to make seed raising trays. Yes, it's time to start the winter veggies. Garden soil on it's own is too heavy for seeds, and I think that potting mix alone just doesn't have the nutrients to start strong, healthy seedlings, so I MOOed some. It is lovely - nice and fine, and a lovely rich colour. In went some cabbage and cauliflower seeds, they'll be ready just as we get back from our holiday later in the year. I also planted some parsnip seeds into buckets of this same mix. I always try to plant root veggies direct; root veggies don't like being transplanted so if you want to grow carrots or turnips or parsnips or other root veggies, try sowing direct and see how much better they grow. I'm the only one that likes roasted parsnip, but I put it in soup and stew and casserole mix so I put three rows of 12 in. If they all come up that will be more than enough for the next year for us.

Yesterday was the most glorious day for the last day of summer. It was warm and sunny, about 34C by mid afternoon.

I slept in until 9:04am! That's almost 10 hours straight, something I haven't done for so long. That meant I woke up feeling full of beans, so three loads of laundry (to get ahead on sheets and towels as this week is meant to be wet). Then we worked on tidying the back garden - pruning back tomatoes, pulling out things that weren't producing, feeding the fruit trees (I feed our fruit trees every week with worm tea and once a month with powdered feed). I swiped the cobwebs and swept the verandah while Wayne did the lawn edges and chopped up everything to go into the compost. Then I washed the outside windows with the broom and he squirted them with the pressure washer thingy - they are so shiny now.

Next was the decking and paving - I swept and he power washed. Those old pavers only look 20 years old now instead of 40! We dragged the furniture off the verandah and Wayne power washed it while I vacuumed then washed the cushions (waterproof but boy they get dusty).

While the vacuum was out I vacuumed the timber decking (my neighbours just smile now, they used to think I was a complete nut) then because the steam mop was already out I used it to steam mop them. They came up a treat.

Made sandwiches for lunch (late - it was about 2pm) and sat down for a few minutes.

Then the rest of the afternoon was odd jobs - putting things away, putting two boxes of Fowlers Vacola jars I was given through the dishwasher and then packing them away ready to use, marinating chicken for tea, in between planning a backyard makeover with Wayne and holding the tape measure and the ladder.

By the time we'd cleaned up after dinner I was zonked. But it was one of those absolutely lovely days where the work was constant, but the end result makes you smile.

Now I'm researching prices on the materials to do the backyard, and ringing to get quotes on some of the bigger jobs like moving gas and electricity (the rest we can do ourselves).

Were you able to gather any fragments this past week?

21 February 2021

Gathering the Fragments 21/02/2021

Well another week has passed, and those tomatoes are still green! I'm waiting, but not patiently anymore. I want to make sauce and pasta sauce; I want to dry some and turn the skins into powder for winter.

The capsicums and egg plant are slowly, slowly growing. I picked a couple of capsicum last week and chopped them up and put them into the freezer.

We had mostly salads this week, the weather was just hot. Towards the end of the week the salads were a little odd but that's OK, they were colourful and cold and we ate them. Nothing was composted from the fridge this week, everything was used up.

I made a batch of enchiladas, and the boys ate some for dinner and the rest became freezer meals. Nothing makes me happier than knowing dinner just needs to be thawed, heated and dished up when I'm busy.

I've been saving soap slivers and on Thursday they were whizzed up to a powder and put in a jar to make a batch of Cheapskates Washing Powder when it's needed. I say on the instruction sheet you can use any soap, and you can. Normally a box of plain laundry soap is grated to make the washing powder, but when there are enough soap slivers then they get used too.

Easter is only five weeks away, so I started on the Easter cards and some boxes this week. And yes, I was gathering the fragments to make them!

When I open a new box of tea, I save the white cardboard dividers. This week the bundle that was saved, and some that were cut from off-cuts of cardstock, were used to make bookmarks for the Reading Recovery program at a friend's school. They are quick to make, so when there are a few minutes to spare, it's easy to sit down, stamp a picture and quickly colour it in. This week they were stamped with frogs, bunnies or cars - just what I had at hand.

It's time to pull the zucchini out. The four plants have given more than enough for us to enjoy for the rest of the year, and they keep on producing. Some has been made into zucchini pickles, the rest has been sliced or shredded and dehydrated.

I am thinking of the winter garden. What do I need? A plan so I know what seeds to start. Compost. To check the frost tunnel thingys (they had a proper name when we bought them about 15 years ago but I've long forgotten it) and make sure they are whole and in good condition. Trays. Paper pots. Seed raising mix (I usually MOO it). And time.  Paper pots won't be a problem, there is always scrap paper to be used up, and when that runs out, those toilet roll inners I've been saving will be put to use.

And I need to check our emergency supplies. I've been watching the disaster unfold throughout the USA the last week or so. So many people are struggling, suffering cold, going without water and power. While I don't expect our winter to be quite as cold, it doesn't hurt to think ahead and do some checking.

While it's still warm is a good time to get out the spare blankets and wash them, and dry them in the sunshine. Ditto sleeping bags. Ours have been in storage for a couple of years so getting them and the jelly beans washed and dried will be my job the next bright, sunny day we have. Making sure the candles are where they should be. Making sure the gas lighters are filled, ready to use.  Sending Wayne and the boys out to get a load or two or three of firewood before winter. Making sure the door and window seals are intact to keep warm in and cold out.

It's also a good time to clean out the pantry, check the fridge and freezer and make a note of any larder gaps that need to be filled. Since March 2019 I've been restocking the pantry as we use things, so that it is always fully stocked. It's not my favourite way to shop, I really like once-a-year shopping, but right now I feel the need to keep the pantry full so that's what I'm doing.

The baby blanket is slowly growing. Only a couple of rounds done on it this week, I was busy with other things. Hopefully the cooler evenings this week will encourage me to pick it up and do some each night.

Wow, looking back it was a busy week!

How was your week? What fragments were you able to gather?

14 February 2021

Gathering the Fragments 14/2/2021

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

We started another five days of hard lockdown at midnight on Thursday night. That means we can't travel more than 5km from our homes, can only shop once a day, and then only for essential food and medicines, are back to working from home (I was just starting to get the house back into order from the last work at home fiasco), can only leave the house for two hours a day and must wear masks indoors and outdoors when away from home.

Botheration! It ruined our plans, but we've been able to make other plans to use the time.

Some of the fragments gathered last week came from the garden. My garden isn't doing so well this summer. There has been a lot of rain (a good thing) but not enough direct sunlight or heat (personally that suits me, but the tomatoes are hating it). So I've picked a few beans every day. Picked a zucchini or two each day, and plucked basil leaves every morning.

No tomatoes, no eggplant and no capsicums - the three things I'm waiting on to make sauce and focaccia filling for the year. I have the jars. I have the lids. The pressure canner and stockpot are ready and waiting. Now I just need the produce. We have sun and heat predicted for this week so I'm praying it will be enough to get this produce ripe enough to use.

Other fragments used up were three almost stale wraps to make a small lasagne, just enough for our dinner, with two serves of leftover lasagne for lunches. Hannah took one serve with some salad for her lunch, I shared the other serve with Thomas for our lunch with some salad.

I grated up some bars of soap we don't especially like to use in washing powder. That filled the soap container and cleared a spot on the bathroom shelf.

Wayne repurposed the side of an awning into a tropical roof for our camper. Now it will help to keep the heat off, and also the sap and leaves and bird droppings that can stain. Cost: zero, he used materials he had. Saved: around $1,500 to buy what he made.

It's no spending month so I've been making cards using what is on hand. I challenged myself to see how many different cards I could get from one sheet of DSP. I think I did well, cards, a bookmark and some embellishments, and no scraps!

I used about two tablespoons of sour cream left in the container to make honey mustard chicken for dinner instead of using cream. I couldn't tell the difference and it meant not having to buy cream.

I've been saving the tea bags and letting them dry. They go into an old glass jar and I drizzle used cooking oil over them, just enough to moisten them. They'll be used for firelighters in winter. Firelighters aren't expensive to buy but they smell awful, so I'd rather use dry tea bags.

What fragments were you able to gather and put to use this week?

07 February 2021

Gathering the Fragments 7/02/2021

Not so many fragments gathered this week, but still plenty accomplished.

I'm praying for sunshine and some hot days to ripen the tomatoes and encourage the egg plant and capsicum to grow. We're getting plenty of rain, but the days are cool and cloudy, with the odd moderately warm day thrown in each week. My garden needs sunshine and heat!

February is a no spend month for Cheapskates Club, and so for me. It' s not exactly fair to expect Cheapskaters to no spend if I don't.  Not spending was easy this week, only a few salad veggies, milk and wraps were bought.

Hannah and I did do a mini op-shop crawl, but I didn't see anything I needed or wanted badly enough to break no spending month rules. Hannah picked up a Soda Stream for $5 and two genuine Moccona jars for $4 so she was happy.

We ate from the fridge and freezer this week, with leftovers being used up for lunches every couple of days. It keeps the fridge clean, and there's no waste. Any peelings have been going to the compost bin, and when we start eating more red meat I'll get the Bokashi bucket going again to be able to compost everything.

I've worked a little on the crocheted baby blanket, it is slowly growing.

Some cards have been made for the nursing home.

There was a small pile of mending that needed doing so on Thursday when my fingers weren't quite so clumsy I sewed on some buttons and hemmed a couple of pairs of shorts for Wayne.

Tuesday night was the first live show for the year, and it was lovely to be back and chatting with old friends. The break was much needed and thoroughly enjoyed, but I'm looking forward to the shows this year too.

What fragments were you able to gather this week?

31 January 2021

Cathering the Fragments 31/1/2021

Well this couldn't be a better named post - I have spent this morning doing just that - gathering the fragments, or what I could retrieve - from my laptop that I dropped yesterday afternoon. 

Drat these unreliable fingers!

I had a whole list of things to share; I'd been adding to the post all week in an effort to stay up-to-date with posting. It's all on the now-not-working laptop. I'm hoping a phone call in the morning will cheer me up and it can be repaired.  Seriously, three in 10 months is beyond ridiculous!

Anyway, here's what I remember of what happened last week:

lots of zucchini picked, grated, dried

two dish scrubbies crocheted from some scrubby yarn I found in the cupboard

finished off the dishcloth with enough yarn to make a scrubby. That's one whole ball of cotton yarn put to use from the craft pantry (thank you to Rosanne for that name, it sounds so much nicer than "the stash").

one blue dishcloth knitted using up some Bendigo cotton I had.

All our meals except for Friday night were cooked at home, using ingredients on hand. Friday was our 32nd wedding anniversary (and it was a dreadful day - keep reading!) so I ordered pizza for dinner. And it was delicious, with leftovers for Saturday's lunch.

Friday was a very wet day here. It poured rain almost non-stop for most of the day. I was sitting having a cuppa about 10am and I could hear a noise. Looked both sides of where I was sitting, nothing. Couldn't see anything in front. Turned around and we had an indoor water feature on the loungeroom wall. Water was pouring from under the cornice, down the wall onto the carpet. Yikes! 

This wasn't a little drip - it was a sheet of water running down the wall. OK - first thing - call a plumber. Wayne was on the other side of the city, plumber was closer. 

Second thing - take the photos off the wall, and move the furniture. 

Third thing - drag out towels - lots and lots of towels - to mop up the water. 

By this time the plumber was here and he climbed up on his ladder and fixed the problem immediately. Looks like the electrician didn't put three tiles ; back properly in December when he ran the lines from the kitchen.

So, while the plumber was still here, I called the electrician, explained what happened and he was just around the corner so arrived in under 10 minutes. 

In the meantime, the plumber had mentioned how fortunate that the water hadn't got into the meter box, and as he said this he opened said meter box door and everything fell out! He jumped back, yelled at me to move away - there were wires and meters and mushy chipboard just hanging there. 

Oh my goodness. I thought I was going to lose the plot. I raced inside to turn off as many appliances as I could; I couldn't believe we still had power in the house.

Plumber and electrician were wonderful, managed to get everything safe. Sometime this week the power will need to be turned off at the pole and the meter box completely rewired with a new meter and switches. When this happens will depend on the electricity provider. 

All I can say is I am so grateful the electrician acknowledged his tradesman made a mistake and is willing to fix it. And that even though there was a lot of water inside, the timber panelling that I don't really like was a blessing because it is oiled and the water just ran down it, it didn't soak in or there would be a bigger job to do. Oh and that the raked ceiling stopped water from pooling in the roof and then collapsing. 

The saying it never rains but it pours sure was apt on Friday.

If I can get the photos I took off my phone I'll add them later - just don't hold your breath, I'm a little nervous about doing anything right now.

24 January 2021

Gathering the Fragments 24/01/2021

A beautiful week. That's how I want to remember last week.

The world is still upside down in turmoil, but our home has been happy and busy; we are all just going about our days just doing what needs doing. We are blessed to be able to do that.

This month we have five family birthdays! Good thing the card and present boxes are kept full.

The nursing home has asked for more cards. I have some done, and will work on more during the week and send a small parcel off. We're hoping to be able to visit in March, so I'll be able to take more then.

I saw on the news on Friday night a farmer feeding his apricot crop to sheep because he couldn't get pickers. I was almost in tears - I would have gladly gone and picked enough for us and paid him for them; I wish local councils and state governments would allow this so at least the fruit isn't wasted (not that feeding the sheep is a waste, but I get really upset when it is dumped in landfill or ploughed back into the ground). I love apricots and they have such a short season and are so expensive, even tinned, that I rarely buy them.

Most of our fruit trees are dwarf varieties in pots,  and they need to be well watered in the heat. Wayne set up a drip watering line for them (and me) so I don't need to worry or remember to run out and make sure they're not too dry. He put it through the whole veggie garden, all the beds, as well as all the pots. It has made a huge difference in time for me, and I know they are getting the right amount of water to stay healthy. At this time of year I feed the garden and pots weekly with either worm tea, compost tea or Seasol and they thrive. It will be interesting to see what, if any, difference it makes to the water bill.

The zucchini are producing prolifically. I've picked a handful every day this week, grated them and put them into the dehydrator. Right now it's all in a jar, when it's full I'll vacuum seal it. Then the grated zucchini will be ready to use in winter.

The tomatoes are slow to ripen, but I'm ready to make pasta sauce and bottle as many as I can. There will be more than enough for us to eat and preserve a good supply for later in the year.

The next flush of apples is almost ready on our tree, I'm watching carefully and taking note of where the flocks of birds are so I can beat them to the apples.

A friend gave me a huge bag of rhubarb, so it was all stewed. I had an epiphany when my hand was sore from chopping - try the slicer on the food processor - the whole lot was done in under a minute! Wish I'd thought of it years ago.

Downtime this week I sorted my box of yarn. I won't need to by cotton or wool for a while. Some things may be striped or odd colours, but I'm determined to use it all up before buying anything new.

Over the last two weeks my hands have been busy in downtime trimming face washers, crocheting scrunchies in school colours, trimming a hanging  kitchen towel and a tea towel and knitting some dish cloths, all made using what I had.

My chore for today is to cover the garden with shade, I use old op shop sheets, make up big salads and boil lots of eggs.  make up a bottle of iced coffee syrup and a couple of cordial and fill the ice cube trays; the heat is forecast to hit tomorrow and last until Tuesday. 40C in the city is about 45C here so cold food only.

03 January 2021

Keeping Fingers Busy

Keeping my fingers busy keeps me sane. Truly it does. Just sitting is horrible to me. The only time I just sit is when I am reading; any other time I may have a movie on or be talking to someone but my fingers are working on something.

Right now I'm busy crocheting. Since the 28th December I've been working on tea towels and hanging tea towels because they're portable projects. Of course I took my crochet away with me, lots of time in the car to work a tea towel or two and of course plenty of time around the camp fire to create.

Our camper needed some new tea towels, pot holders and hanging hand towels, so that's what I've been working on.
The tea towels I used were from my stash, bought on sale a while ago. The cotton I used to crochet the tops was a bargain, again from the stash, and bought from Arthur Dayley's, a discount store here in Melbourne, for $2.48 a ball. The middle of the pot holders is old bathmats (properly washed and dried in the sun - the best laundry sanitiser ever) that we no longer use.

It's relaxing to sit and crochet (or knit or cross-stitch or make cards or whatever) and listen to a pod cast or just put some music on in the background, or perhaps even a movie, but so many women, especially full-time homemakers, feel that they are slacking off when they do this.

They're not, you're not, I'm not. Keeping fingers busy is relaxing, but while I'm crocheting a tea towel or embroidering a set of hankies or knitting a rug or making cards I am also working on making something useful and pretty for our home, something that would otherwise have been bought, often at a much higher cost than what I can make it for.
This is a part of my homemaking duties. Don't go getting all uppity when I say that, it's just a term, we share the homemaking duties and responsibilities in our house; what you do in yours in up to you.

Summer is the perfect time to do these things. It's hot. It's sticky. And working outdoors is unpleasant. So work indoors. Keep your fingers busy adding to your present box or creating things you can sell (Wendy at My Abundant Life has a Facebook group for selling handmade crafts, Cottage Crafts for Sale  and I will be adding some of my items to the group very soon) to boost the family coffers, or make your home more comfortable. Just don't feel guilty when you sit to keep your fingers busy.

What I'm saying is don't think that you are wasting time when you sew a dress for your little girl or crochet trim on face washers for the bathroom (makes them last years longer) or whip up a pot holder from an old pillowcase. 
You're not. 
You are adding comfort and value to your home; you are working as a homemaker. You are not slacking off and if anyone dares to say so, gently and calmly point out what you are doing to improve your home and help your budget, that you are not being slack or lazy, but are working - gently and calmly, for the benefit of your family and home.

01 January 2021

Welcome 2021!

Welcome 2021.

If ever a year was wanted and welcomed, it is 2021. 

2020 is done and dusted. Packed away. Relegated to the history books. And there it can stay. It is a year I never want to repeat - thank goodness we can't go back in time.

So 2021 is here.  I plan on changing 2021 to be a great year for my family and our household.

A new year always makes me smile; it's a happy thing to look forward to. We can't change the past, but we can change our future; and this year that's exactly what I'm going to do - look forward and change our future.

I'm going to look forward to building the stockpile.

I'm going to look forward to learning more canning techniques so we can have more shelf stable food in the pantry.

I'm going to look forward to the Autumn, Winter and Spring gardens, planning what seeds to start and when to start them. 

I'm going to look forward to more crafting and creating.

I'm going to look forward to each day, whatever it may bring, knowing that I have the skills or can learn the skills to get through.

I'm going to look forward to keeping our home happy and calm, and my family cared for. 

I'm going to look forward to a new year, with new opportunities every day, to take advantage of those opportunities and waste nothing. 

Happy New Year everyone, may 2021 be blessed for us all.