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.

 

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.

One person’s trash….

Exciting times are upon us folks….it’s council clean up week!! I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this concept, but in our city, twice a year, households have the opportunity to place their unwanted goods out the front of their house to be picked up by the council. The sort of stuff that you can’t throw out in your weekly rubbish eg. mattresses, fridges, broken toys etc etc. In amongst the genuine ‘rubbish’ are lots of perfectly good things that people no longer want or need. Hence, the treasure!!

When we were kids, ‘throw out day’ was the highlight of our year. One time my friends and I discovered a whole box of high heels. We immediately put them on (of course!) and teetered all the way home, feeling ever so glamorous. On another occasion, a discarded pram provided hours of entertainment, as we pushed each other up and down the steep hill where we lived.

I am not ashamed to say that clean up week gives me the same thrill now as it did when I was a child. I love going for a quick stickybeak around my local area to see what gems I can uncover.

Speaking of gems……

edited teaset2

Can you believe it?! They’re old, and gorgeous and look perfect on my dresser. I am in love! Especially with this wee fellow..

jan 2014 139

My other find was this lantern below. Swoon!! When we (I took my kids along with me for moral support) walked around the corner, I spotted it, in the hands of a man who looked suspiciously like a second-hand dealer. He was holding it, turning it over, this way and that, while I silently willed him to put it down. Luckily my telepathy worked, and as soon as he had put it back and driven off, we swooped over and grabbed it. I gave it a wipe down and put a chunky white candle inside, and it now looks tres elegant on the table on our back verandah. Happy days!

jan 2014 128

Over the course of the weekend, we also managed to acquire: two basketball hoops, a hot pink office chair, numerous brand new board games, a wooden garden bench, a set of vintage Christmas decorations, a Pyrex pie dish, three boogie boards, and a hand-knitted blanket. I have meticulously washed and cleaned all of these things; some I’ll keep, others I’ll donate to our local charity shop. I just hate to see waste, and I would much rather these things be given a second chance, rather than end up as landfill. It also gives me a bit of retail therapy without actually parting with any cash!

As Lucie said yesterday…”Mummy, this has been the BEST day!”