Australia · basics · gardening · gratitude · happiness · herbs · winter

An Appreciation of Winter Crops and Sun

Winter is just simply the most heavenly season of the year in my part of the world.

I  could make a list of the advantages of cooler days and nights, in fact, I’ll do just that! Here’s my “Winter Appreciation” List.

  • The feeling of the soft fluffy fabrics of my jumpers against my skin is pure luxury.
  • I enjoy knitting to my heart’s content, without fear of sweaty fingers.
  • Have I mentioned I wear jeans, just about every day? Jeans in winter are so comfy with my fluffy boots, or clogs.
  • Ironing isn’t quite the chore in winter that it is in summer!
  • I sleep peacefully each night, without waking up all hot and sweaty.
  • The heat of the oven when baking warms the house.
  • My baking satisfies hungry tummies!
  • My cats and kids are all far more cuddly in winter!
  • Hardly any weeds grow in the garden and those that do grow are tiny.
  • Gardening is a pleasure under the warm winter sun.

Okay, that’s ten points. I could go on to one hundred points, but I think you get the drift…

Little “Cutie Cat” and I enjoyed a wonderful wander around the garden this morning; with me photographing all of my green crops, nearly ready to be picked, and she pouncing out from behind bushes to grab at my hand, startling the daylights out of me as I stopped to pull out a weed here and there.

Coriander is definitely at the top of my favourite herbs list and I have three plants growing, one of which is covered in delicate little flowers right now, much to the bees delight. And the spinach that I had all but given up on has had a new lease on life, now looking fresh and green and ready for the picking.

Coriander in flower
Baby spinach

Here’s a view of some old laundry tubs which make wonderful planters pots. This is where my spinach is thriving, along with some recently planted bok choy. We harvested some of the most carroty tasting carrots I have ever had the pleasure eating from these tubs, only about a month ago. Imperfect, but beautiful.

Recycled tubs
New carrots

The cauliflower and broccoli were planted at the same time, although the broccoli has overtaken the cauliflower by a long shot. We’ll be enjoying the first of this season’s broccoli tonight. 🙂

Broccoli and Cauliflower
Ready to eat.

I’ve taken a freshly picked lettuce inside and we have an ample supply of flat leaf parsley on standby, flourishing away happily in the winter sun.

Home grown lettuce
Flat leaf parsley

Our garden is extra green at the moment. This is one family you can rest assured  will be “eating their green’s” for the rest of the winter.

Cutey gardener
Sunning herself
basics · daughter · inspiration

Hayley’s Homemade Gift

One of the things I enjoy the most about blogging is sharing thoughts and ideas with others. As is the case in the “real world”, like minded people are drawn together throughout the blogosphere, sharing inspiration from all corners of the planet.

Yesterday, Robin, from Bogs of Ohio, told us the story of “The Scrounger’s Garden” which is one of the garden displays at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. In the garden, various items have been recycled, such as old boots and shoes, and even an unused bicycle has been included in the display.

Robin is a wonderful photographer and has included a number of photos in her post, so do pop on over and have a read of the story and admire her photographic skills. And make sure you scroll all the way down to the last photo, where you will see a lamp, made by Robin’s husband, ingeniously sculpted from old used books. I love it! 😀

One of the links in Robin’s story takes us to The X Facta, where Kel shows us how she has made a keepsake journal, by binding together plain old brown paper bags. It’s another ingenious idea and Kel’s artistic talent is apparent when you see the beautiful artwork on her journal. Go on over to Kel’s “Art Attack” and admire her work for yourself.

Another link included in “The Scrounger’s Garden” takes us to the site of Kathy, at “Lake Superior Spirit”, who is another one of Robin’s bloggers friends. Kathy has written an article about the benefits of reusing old cards and calendars. You will find this story at “Taking Back the World, One Card at a Time”.

Kathy’s story really struck a chord with me. It reminded me of my childhood days, when I would save all of the old cards given to my family for birthdays, Christmas and Easter. I had a box full of cards stashed under my bed and when the new school year began, my elder sister and I would cover my new school books with old brown paper, then we would choose a picture from a card to glue on the front of each book.

My sister also taught me how to press flowers, just as Kathy describes, by squashing them for a lengthy amount of time between heavy books.

When my own two daughters were just little girls, each had their own flower press, a more sophisticated manner of pressing flowers than the heavy book version, although both methods work beautifully.

You can imagine my delight when Hayley, my eldest daughter, presented me on Mother’s Day this year with a framed picture which she had made herself. She had found a verse on the internet “How God Created Mother”, which she printed out, glued to a sheet of pretty purple paper, and added pressed pansies along the side.

Here’s a photo of Hayley’s creation ~

Be sure to run the mouse over the photo and click on it, for a closer view.

Hayley apologised for using a second hand picture frame! Can you believe it? It’s such a beautiful gift, from my beautiful daughter, which I will treasure always. 🙂

There’s a lot to be said for saving old cards, calendars, magazines and left over fabric pieces, along with pressing pretty, colourful flowers from your garden. The possibilities are endless when considering the number of hand-made projects we can put together, if we just give some thought to recycling, as opposed to discarding.

And think of the amount of joy which can be spread when the time is taken to create your own personalised gift for a friend or family member, just as Hayley did for me.

Between Robin, Kel and Kathy, I have been pleasantly reminded of gardening and craft projects, involving the reusing of old items, that I have enjoyed myself throughout the years, not only from childhood days but also more recently. I’ll make a point of telling you about them, another day.

Right now though, I’m off to get some sewing done. (Which reminders me…I must tell you about the quilt I made, many years ago). 🙂

Thank you, Robin and Kathy, for sharing your stories and inspiring not only my day, but also my intended future posts here. 😀

basics · challenges · Changes

Adopting the Minimalist Approach…

Yesterday, I “accidentally” finished all of my ironing…yes, that’s right…

I don’t have an ironing pile climbing up the wall anymore!

It all began a couple of days ago. I felt cold. My fingers were so cold that I’m sure they might have snapped in half, if I were to try bending them. Doing some ironing would warm my fingers up very nicely.

To cut a long and boring story short, (yes, boring…ironing is boring, believe me), I enjoyed the warmth of the iron all day, although my over-exertion, in the interests of keeping warm, created yet another problem…I ran out of coat hangers.

To every problem, there is a solution, and the solution to this one made my heart sing. I discarded more unused clothing from my wardrobe!

The periodic analysis of my life over the past couple of years has made it clearly evident to me that a huge chunk of the middle of my life, to date, has been lived to other people’s standards rather than my own.

The reality of it is ~ I’m a “closet” minimalist.

Hot on the tail of yesterday’s post, “Flicking the Labels”, I am reluctant to label myself by announcing “I am a minimalist”. But yes, living a minimalistic life does appeal to me…it “feels” right for me.

Look at what I have hung on to over the years, not wishing to discard useful items, before they were past their “use-by date”…

  • My refrigerator worked perfectly, although it had rust marks covering the doors. I buckled and purchased a new fridge, after hearing that “old fridges never die”.
  • When my washing machine did die, after hearing the painful news that there was simply no hope of resurrection, I reluctantly purchased a new machine. Lifetime of the old washing machine ~ 1988 to 2009.
  • My children nicknamed my first mobile phone “The Dinosaur”. Another hurtful name they gave it was “The Brick”. I’m here to tell you that I became rather attached to that phone. I only owned it for about eight years and it didn’t miss a beat. Initially I had resisted owning one, but the Man of the House insisted I have a mobile, giving it to me as a gift…
  • Our TV set came into our family around the same time as the washing machine, in 1988. It has served us all very well over all of these years, and continues to do so.
  • When the fabric began to fade and fray on my old favourite lounge chair, I had it recovered…simple!
  • The first car I owned, a two door, stopped being functional after I had my first two children, so after nine years, I traded it in on a four door sedan. That car served me well for ten years and was traded in for a four wheel drive after the birth of my fourth child, as I needed a six seater car. Five years later, when my eldest son had his own car I couldn’t justify hanging on to a “gas guzzler” so traded it in on another four door sedan, which I have had for four years so far.

This list could go on; however I think you get the picture. I loathe the idea of discarding useful items. I refuse to get sucked in by all of the glitzy marketing of buying the “latest and greatest, you’ve simply got to have it” fashionable items.

Don’t the consumers realise it ~ everything goes out of fashion!

My discarding of useless items, especially clothing, is so liberating! The clothes I have hanging in my wardrobe now have air flowing around them; no longer are they all squashed up together to fit them all onto the hanging rail. The clothes I’m parting company with, I never wear anyway, and the charity shop will make good use of them. Not to mention the fact that I finished my ironing…and had enough coat hangers for everything…win/win!

Becoming a genuine minimalist would entail selling household furniture and appliances, only hanging onto the barest minimum. It would also involve downsizing my home and perhaps selling my car in favour of riding a bike, which would, in turn, create more problems…

1 ~ All of the furniture in my home is enjoyed and used every day.

2 ~ We actually need a home the size of ours, to accommodate our family.

3 ~ (Don’t laugh)…I don’t know how to ride a bike, never owned one. Besides which,

we live way too far from the town for it to be practical.

So where does that all leave me? This year especially, I have upgraded my desire to part company with all material item which are no longer of any use to me. I now purchase only the essentials in food and clothing, reverting back to my own old ways of growing food in the garden and making my own clothes.

Actually, “back to basics” is perhaps the more apt expression for how I prefer to live. Although you could also say I’m a minimalist…basically! 🙂

Let me know what you think about this topic. Are there any more “closet” minimalists out there?

Australia · basics · challenges · knowledge

Recycle, Reuse and Repair

As a general rule, I’m not much of a one for standing on my proverbial soapbox and trying to convert the world, one way or another, on any given issue, nor do I write today with the intent of converting anyone’s beliefs.

However…once in a while, although only occasionally, an incident will leave me uttering certain statements and questions, such as “What the …”, “Why?” and “I really don’t see the point!”

Such an occasion has just reared its ugly head. Let me set the scene for you….The Man of the House (MOTH), decided the time was right to begin some outdoor house painting. At the back of our house, we have two fairly wide and rather long verandas, which look out over our incredible views of the Tweed Valley. The ceilings of these verandas are his latest target with the paint brush.

We have a total of four ceiling lights along the verandas, each light covered with an enclosed glass light shade (enclosed to keep the bugs out of the inside of the shade). The shade sits into a metal surround, with a rubber seal between the metal and the shade, to hold the shade securely in place.

We removed the light shades for ease of painting around the lights, only to discover that the rubber seals have perished, no doubt due to being subject to the elements for the last four years since we put them up.

Today, the MOTH has taken one of the old perished seals to various local stores to find replacements, as without the seals, the shades won’t hold in place on the metal surrounds, only to be told he will have high hopes in finding them.

Okay, so what are they suggesting? That we go out and buy four new replacement light shades, just because the seals are perished??? And what exactly do we do with the old shades? Oh, of course, throw them away!

A similar incident happened recently, although with a happier ending. The electrical lead on our son’s laptop wasn’t working; we had to buy him a new one. An initial price check revealed that once we had parted company with $80.00 we would become the proud owners of said lead. $80.00?!! The MOTH dismantled the point of the lead (yes, he has electrical expertise!), found the broken “bit” and bought a new one. Twenty five cents worth of parts and ten minutes labour on the MOTH’s part, and it was all fixed!

What is it with our consumer driven society these days? What happened to the good old days of “repairing items, when broken”? That’s if they ever did break down. I owned the same refrigerator for over twenty years. It didn’t miss a beat; however the doors were beginning to show spots of rust, all over, apparently caused by our use of magnets on the metal, when holding up our children’s works of art for all to enjoy.

For years, I waited patiently for that fridge to die, only to be eventually told, by a man in the know, that old fridges never die! Finally, I bit the bullet and bought a beautiful new refrigerator, only to be told I should get five years wear from it, perhaps seven, and ten if I was extremely lucky!

How society has changed over the years. It is sad to say, but I do believe that we are living in a disposable world. No sooner have you left the car yard with a shiny new vehicle than it has lost value and become superseded! The same applies for computers, mobile phones, television sets and CD players.

Advertisers prey on the vulnerability of consumers at large, especially the young, displaying the latest and greatest “got to have it” items. Just bring your credit card along!

Hmmm….the credit card….Australia has a population of over 22 million people. Our national credit card debt is at $40.4 billion dollars. Let me take that one step further ~ Australia’s national debt, including mortgages, credit cards and personal loans is currently at $1.2 trillion, which is up by 71% over the last five years. And, it gets even better…that equates to $56,000 debt for each and every man, woman and child in the country!

Quick, pass me the scissors; I’m cutting up my credit cards!

Just when you’re thinking it can’t get any worse, I have found even more statistics…each Australian produces, on average, a total of one tonne of rubbish each and every year!

Whatever happened to the idea of recycling, reusing or repairing? We are going further and further into debt, all in the name of owning the latest and the greatest, or being forced into buying new, when the old could be repaired. The old is tossed out onto the rubbish dump and we are burying ourselves in the waste!

Help!!! Am I missing something here?

Being a firm believer that every little bit helps, for years now I have encouraged my family to recycle, reuse or repair old items. We have a compost heap down the back yard, we use the recycled items garbage bins for glass, paper, etc. I take old clothing to the charity shops and believe that repairs and a good coat of paint gives renewed life to all walls and furniture.

The World Wide Web is a big place, so how about we all start sharing our own ideas on recycle, reuse and repair? I’m open to ideas on the three R’s; how about you?

Oh, and about those broken seals on our four light shades? The MOTH is working on improvising ~ he’ll come up with an idea! 🙂

~ All statistics information contained on this post was obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. ~