Bits and Pieces

chives

My mum divided her chives up and sent me home with a nice clump.

These will be lovely stirred through mashed potato.

choc chip biscuits

Choc chip biscuits making the house smell yummy for when my kids get home from school. I used this recipe.

eggshells

Egg shells sprinkled around my seedlings to keep those pesky snails away.

It’s the gardening equivalent of broken glass on the top of a brick wall to keep intruders out.

oranges

Oranges were on special this week, which is great as I’m trying to keep everyone’s Vitamin C intake up.orange bag

And I used the bag from the oranges as a scourer for the porridge pot.

Works a treat.

peg

Finally we have sunshine, so I’ve been washing anything that’s not tied down.

sewing basket

I need to sew these pretty flowers on to my daughters ballet costume.

Lucky I have a huge selection of cotton!

teapot flower

A few holes drilled into the bottom of  an old teapot have saved it from becoming landfill. Carmella, who writes the blog Assortment, has been talking about making do with what you have. Her words are always inspiring.

Have a lovely weekend. xx

The homeliest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them.

margaret olley

Have you ever read Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’? I read this wonderful book out loud to my children last year. Every evening, we would sit on one of their beds, snuggled together, one of them brushing my hair (so nice!), as we laughed and cried over the tales of the March sisters. They talk about the characters now as if they are old friends. When we had finished the final chapter, we celebrated by watching the 1949 movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Margaret O’Brien. I wanted to wait until we had finished reading so that they could form their own images in their minds of what the characters looked like.

One of my favourite parts is when Meg and Mr Brooke marry and move in to their “tiny house, with a little garden behind and a lawn about as big as a pocket handkerchief in the front”. I love the descriptions of this small, simple home that is filled with love. Meg’s family and friends all help with the cleaning, arranging, decorating and furnishing of the home, each taking on tasks that they are particularly skilled in. Everyone seems so invested in making this little home as cosy and as beautiful as possible for the young newlyweds, and when Meg’s mother asks “Does it seem like home, and do you feel as if you should be happy here?”, Meg replies “Yes, Mother, perfectly satisfied, thanks to you all, and so happy that I can’t talk about it,” with a look that was far better than words’.

I think we can put this into practice in our own homes. For example, making the bed is quite a dull task. I can either pull the covers up and be done with it. Or, I can think about the person who will be sleeping in this bed, about how much I love them, and how I want them to have a good nights sleep. Then I will make sure that the sheets are smooth, that the pillows are plumped up, that the cushions are arranged in a way that looks inviting and cosy. The person who sleeps in this bed will feel cared for, cherished and loved.

Here is an excerpt from the book:-

“There were no marble-topped tables, long mirrors, or lace curtains in the little parlor, but simple furniture, plenty of books, a fine picture or two, a stand of flowers in the bay window, and, scattered all about, the pretty gifts which came from friendly hands and were the fairer for the loving messages they brought.

I don’t think the Parian Psyche Laurie gave lost any of its beauty because John put up the bracket it stood upon, that any upholsterer could have draped the plain muslin curtains more gracefully than Amy’s artistic hand, or that any store-room was ever better provided with good wishes, merry words, and happy hopes than that in which Jo and her mother put away Meg’s few boxes, barrels, and bundles, and I am morally certain that the spandy new kitchen never could have looked so cozy and neat if Hannah had not arranged every pot and pan a dozen times over, and laid the fire all ready for lighting the minute `Mis. Brooke came home’. I also doubt if any young matron ever began life with so rich a supply of dusters, holders, and piece bags, for Beth made enough to last till the silver wedding came round, and invented three different kinds of dishcloths for the express service of the bridal china.

People who hire all these things done for them never know what they lose, for the homeliest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them, and Meg found so many proofs of this that everything in her small nest, from the kitchen roller to the silver vase on her parlor table, was eloquent of home love and tender forethought.”

Image:- Yellow Tablecloth with Cornflowers (1995) by Margaret Olley

Avoiding Food Waste

brownie

Did you know that the average New South Wales household throws away $1036 worth of edible food each year? (abc.net.au) That is like taking $20 out of your purse each week and throwing it in the bin.

I hate wasting food and try my best to avoid it, but every so often I end up with a container of something dodgy lurking in the back of the fridge that needs to be thrown away. Or a smell from the food cupboard that turns out to be a wet, mushy, very old potato. Bleugh!

These are some of the ways I minimise food waste:-

  • keep leftovers visible by using see through containers
  • have a designated spot in the fridge for leftovers
  • keep the fridge organised so that food doesn’t get ‘lost’
  • have a meal plan so I don’t buy more than I need
  • use the freezer. Even if it is a single portion of food, or I think I may be using something in the next few days, freezing food ensures that it won’t go off if I forget about it or change my mind.

bananabreadSome of the ways I avoided wasting food last week:-

  • made ice blocks using coke that had gone flat.
  • baked a banana bread (in the picture above) using bananas that had gone brown. I put my brown bananas in the freezer and save them for baking.
  • I bought two bags of onions because they were $1 kilo. I chopped them up using the blender, then spooned them into ziplock bags (1 onion per bag) and put them in the freezer so that they will keep for a long time.
  • We had a leftovers for dinner on Sunday night (see below). I set it out like a buffet, and told the kids they could choose what they wanted. They thought that this was the best dinner ever!
    buffetDo you have any tips for avoiding food wastage?

Thinking outside the box.

The sun came out today after four days of rain and storms. So I did what people all over Sydney were doing – hung some washing out on the line. I wanted to wash the winter blankets before putting them on the beds, to get rid of that cupboardy odour. They now smell like fresh air and sunshine!washingpowder

As I scooped the washing powder into the machine, I thought about how I love the green colour of these containers. (Yes, it was a bit of a slow day around these parts). I started using these vintage canisters to keep my washing powder in after I began making my own. Even when I buy my washing powder ready-made, I still pour it into these canisters, because they are so much nicer to look at.dogfoodtin This is the old bread bin that I keep our dry dog food in. Molly the collie recognises the sound of the lid being opened, and rushes into the kitchen whenever she hears the clang.toothbrushesI keep our toothbrushes and toothpaste in an old Stilton cheese jar that I bought in a Scottish op-shop for £1.washingupbottlesThis is our washing up liquid and surface spray (I just use diluted washing up liquid in the spray bottle). I bought the original cleaners from Aldi ages ago, and covered them in some contact from a roll that I bought at a garage sale. When they are empty, I refill them using a bulk bottle of Aldi washing up liquid.

I love using old, repurposed or decorated containers to store my everyday things in. It is a lot more aesthetically pleasing, reduces the need to buy new storage items, and also means that you can often buy in bulk, which cuts down on unnecessary packaging.

Do you tip things out of their original packaging, or use unusual containers to store things in? I’d love to hear any ideas.

 

Pumpkin Soup

The morning air is crisp and cool, the magpies are chortling in the big gumtree outside and I’m in the kitchen making pumpkin soup. I love Sundays like this. I’m using a whole butternut pumpkin that my dad bought at the Kangaroo Valley farmers market when we were there last week. I’ll take it over for lunch when we visit my mum and dad later on.oil on veges

I use this recipe from Donna Hay. The thing that makes this recipe so marvellous is the roasting of the vegetables- no having to hack away at difficult-to-cut pumpkin. You just slide it out of the skin and into the blender.

roast veges

pumpkin

Look at all that lovely, roasty goodness!
sproutsI found two little sprouting seeds inside the otherwise-perfectly-fine pumpkin. They looked too full of potential to throw away, so I’ve planted them outside, underneath my tomatoes that are just about finished. We’ll see what happens.

planted seeds

You can just about see them here. They look like two little white worms.

cucumber

While we’re out here, check out my cucumber!! I’ve never grown cucumbers before, and I’m almost reluctant to pick it. 

soupHere is the finished product. Mine wasn’t as thick as I like it this time, so I added a few potatoes, which worked perfectly. Next time I’ll remember to pour in the chicken stock a bit at a time.

Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. It’s the last day of the school holidays tomorrow, so we might go and see Cinderella.  I think I’m more excited about that than the kids!

Do you have a good recipe for pumpkin soup?

Ever grown cucumbers?

Garage Sale Goodies

Well, I struck garage sale gold this morning. I hadn’t even planned to go, but with an hour to spare, I decided to have a quick look on Gumtree to see if there were any sales close by, and luckily for me there were two, one in the street behind our house, and the other a five minute drive away.

cotton

These cotton reels were just some of the sewing supplies I picked up. I don’t think I will ever need to visit Spotlight again! It was like travelling through time as I looked at these treasures – baby layette patterns from the early 1900s, buttons from the 40s…the lady who had owned these had obviously been a very keen seamstress.
garage sale

These buttons remind me of the dresses and cardigans that my Nanny (grandmother) used to make for me. She always used to add specially chosen buttons to match the clothes that she had lovingly made. blue jug blue dish This Depression-ware dish sparkles like a jewel.greendishA green glass Pyrex dish with a lid that will be great for cooking vegetables in the microwave.cornishjug This Cornishware jug was only $2. Lots of crazing, but no chips.

Looks great on my dresser.hookandeyes ribbons These very old reels of ribbon are fascinating. Obviously chosen very carefully by their original owner, and probably quite expensive to purchase back then. I wonder why she never used them?dinnersetA gorgeous dinner set. I also bought the matching serving platter.Will be perfect for Christmas lunch.pot A little Bakelite (I think?) trinket box.rikrak An old biscuit tin filled with bias binding, rick rack, etc…..garden poem I have put this framed poem on my desk. It is very soothing to read.patternsLook how well worn these old patterns are.

I had such a lovely time when I got home, rummaging through all my treasures. It was like Christmas morning. Nothing cost more than a couple of dollars, so I feel that I have kept to my thrifty principles. (Well, only just!)

I think the ladies who had owned these items would be happy to know that they had ended up with someone who would love and appreciate them.

Ephemeral Art

Have you heard of ephemeral art? It describes art that is non-permanent, short-lived and transient.

Some ephemeral artists use mainly natural materials:-

leaves_byandygoldsworthy

via

Others use man-made materials in a temporary way:-

Christo

via

Because of its emphasis on the process over the finished product, it is a perfect art style for young children to explore. Think of chalk drawings on the footpath, sand castles at the beach, pictures drawn with a finger on a steamy rainy-day window. Children love these activities, even though (or because?) there is nothing to hang on the wall when they have finished. If they are not happy with what they have made, a quick swipe of the hand and it is gone!

Here are a few examples that my children made last year. I love how they used the things they found in ways I never would have thought of.

Have a lovely weekend!