Back to the Laundry

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It is a while since I have cleaned the laundry thoroughly and it was beginning to show.  The general view of the room looks OK but I was starting to feel that things were just being shoved in the cupboards.  I was finally prompted into action after we went to the Kin Kin markets yesterday to stock up on more laundry liquid and pre-soak/stain remover that are made locally by Felix at Kin Kin Naturals.

005I have 2 storage areas in this room.  One is the cupboards under the bench.  The other is a tall cupboard opposite the washing machine.

This is what the cupboard under the bench looked like this morning.

003Then I pulled everything out.

006I found that I had a couple of half-used bottles of laundry liquid so I condensed these.  I also decided to change the storage container for the dry cat food from a large, round bucket which is never full to a more manageable oblong container.  The spare spray bottles which were living in the rectangular bucket have been removed and will be stored downstairs.

The cupboard, shelves and inside and outside of the doors was wiped down and cleaned.  I was astounded at how grubby the insides of the cupboard doors were.

The finished cupboard is a bit more organised.

008Then it was on to the tall cupboard.  Here is the before photo.

002For a moment, I was tempted to just ‘tidy it up’ but decided to remove everything (including the rack on the inside of the door) and do it properly.

007Everything got the ‘once-over’ before putting it back.  I scrubbed the small stepladder, removed and cleaned the liner of the laundry hamper, washed the plastic bag holders and repaired the rag-bag where it was coming unstitched.  I realised that I barely scratch the surface of the pile of rags in the bag so I sorted through them and have sent a few downstairs to the workshop and thrown a few in the rubbish as the fabric was not terribly good for any sort of cleaning job.

I checked what cleaning supplies I had and made sure that they were all things that I will use – either currently or in the future – before putting them back.  Like every other area of the house, I have been working on reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ that is in here by using it up and in some instances not replacing it.

Once I had refilled the rag-bag and plastic bag holders it was time to put everything back in its place.

013Whilst the overall view is not substantially different, I am happy that I know what is in the cupboard and exactly how much I have.

Tracking 2015 – July

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We have started the new financial year with plenty of spending but when you look at it over the longer term it is just under the monthly average for 2015.

So, what did we spend our money on?  Unlike some other months, there was no spending on gifts or travel.  The category of ‘House & Garden’ continues to to be where much of our discretionary spending goes.  In July we bought our new desk for the home office and at the end of the month we replaced the microwave which died.  ‘Food’ was almost $700 as we stocked up on supplies in July and petrol was higher as I drove to Brisbane a bit more to spend time with my mother.  We spent $320 on clothing as we ordered several items of knitwear for both GMan and myself.

Budgeting

Here are the totals for the first 7 months of 2015:

January – $5,144.53
February – $1,783.49
March – $4,350.56
April – $2,385.31
May – $5,961.54
June – $2,939.07
July – $3,537.09

You need to remember that this is only our variable spending and does not include mortgage, rates, phone, internet, insurances or any other fixed costs.

The total for the first 7 months is $26,101.59 at an average of $3,729.00 per month.

I am starting to see some patterns emerge and these will be discussed in more detail later in the year.

It is important not to forget the reason for this tracking exercise.  I wanted to see how much we spend and on what so that we could better understand what our actual financial needs would be in our retirement.  Our plans to leave the paid workforce are still a few years away but preparation is a necessary part of that if we are to be able to live according to our means.

Project 333 – New Additions

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I know that the concept of Project 333 is to ‘dress with less’ but one of the clear benefits for me has been to be able to identify gaps in my wardrobe.  It means that I can confidently and consciously purchase new items of clothing knowing that they will fit with my lifestyle and work with the existing pieces in my wardrobe.

Today a parcel arrived with 3 items of knitwear that I had ordered online.  They are all merino/cashmere blend from Woolovers online shopping.  I have not been overly confident of buying online but my sister had previously purchased from the site and had actually found a couple of the pieces were too big for her so passed them on to me.  One was a black v-neck cardigan which I found perfect so I bought an identical one in royal blue.

2015-07-30 01I am trying to incorporate more plain pieces into my collection to increase the versatility.  I bought this cardigan specifically to wear with this dress but it will also be great for wearing with collared shirts and trousers.

2015-07-30 02For years I have dreamed of having a short-sleeved black cashmere top.  I finally have one, albeit, merino/cashmere blend.

002It will be able to be worn in so many ways but I am definitely looking forward to pairing it with this skirt.

2013-02-27 01And this one.

2013-02-27 02My final purchase was this 3/4 sleeve cowl neck pullover.  I love 3/4 sleeves and am looking forward to wearing it with a selection of jeans, trousers and jackets.

003My red scarf will go well with it.

2015-03-23 02I have no affiliation with the site but if you are interested in buying from them (and have not done so before) you can use the code and instructions in this link to secure a 10% discount off your first order.

Kitchen News

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Tonight I have a quick update on the subjects of the last couple of posts.

The dehydrated onion has now been ground and here is the result.

2015-07-29 01This is a 450g Vegemite jar which is about 3/4 full.

While the powdered onion can be used as is, it is actually part of a bigger plan that I have.  I hope to make my own vegetable stock powder and have noted that the commercial varieties have onion powder and celery powder as two of the main ingredients.  Since I have celery growing quite profusely at the moment I plan to try dehydrating some celery, including the leaves as they have the strongest flavour.  Watch this space for more on the progress of this venture.

On the appliance front, we took some time on Monday to look for a new microwave oven.  We have chosen one and I am going to buy it tomorrow.

Finally, I am hoping to collect the breadmaker which has been offered to us on the weekend.

Onion Tears

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Do the tears flow when you start cutting up onions?  Here is a way to minimise the suffering in the long-term.2015-07-27 01I bought this 10kg bag of onions last weekend for $7.99.  I shared a couple of kilos with a friend and had used a few myself but today it was time to prepare them.  I peel and quarter the onions before chopping them in lots using the food processor.

First I filled the four trays of the dehydrator.

2012-02-02 01When the onion is thoroughly dried I will grind it to make flakes/powder.  It takes up very little space and stores well.

I bagged the remainder of the chopped onions in as many ziplock bags as I could muster.  I do not buy ziplock bags.  I collect mine through “dumpster diving”.  There are people in my office who bring 2 Weetbix to work for their breakfast in a brand new ziplock bag, tip them into a bowl and toss the bag in the bin.  If I open the bin and the discarded bag is on the top I simply bring it home and wash it for reuse.

Anyway, I digress – the chopped onion is in ziplock bags.  I pack 150g which is equivalent to a medium onion in the small bags and 300g in the larger bags.  I ended up with 10 small packs and 7 large packs of diced onion.  Because I packed the diced onion fairly flat, it is easy to break off a section if you only want a small amount of onion.

2015-07-27 03I sliced the remaining onions by hand and they are packed in the red lidded container.

This means that that I will not need to chop or slice an onion for several months.

End of Life

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Before you start offering condolences, it is not a person but a couple of my kitchen appliances.

In the past week or two both the microwave and breadmaker have ceased to function.  GMan and I are planning to go to the appliance store tomorrow to purchase a new microwave.  I have previously had a Panasonic and from what I can see from my research we will probably buy another similar one this time.

Through the wonders of social media I have discovered that a friend has an unwanted breadmaker languishing in a cupboard which she has kindly offered to me.  I am not sure when our paths will cross so in the meantime GMan decided to have a go at mixing the dough using the dough hook on the KitchenAid mixer and baking it in the oven.

I think this is what success looks like.

2015-07-26 02He baked it in this cast iron Dutch oven.

2015-07-26 01It is a little more time-consuming than the ‘set and forget’ breadmaker but will suffice until we replace the breadmaker.

Although we have managed to bake bread and create meals using alternative methods, there is no doubt that both the breadmaker and microwave definitely have a place in my kitchen.  In fact, I would not hesitate to replace most of my appliances as they perform a valuable function.

What about your appliances?

Project 333 – Shoes

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Today I decluttered my shoes – again!  I am now down to 15 pairs.  This includes my thongs and slippers which live in my wardrobe but excludes the gumboots and old gardening sneakers which are downstairs.

This is the least number of pairs of footwear that I have owned anytime in my adult life.  I do like shoes but in recent years my fascination has not been about falling in love with totally impractical styles and colours but rather about the pursuit of the ‘perfect’ shoes.

It is interesting that the more I streamline the selection of clothes that I wear the easier it is to let go of shoes.  If I tend to wear lots of a similar style or colour it stands to reason that the same shoe will work with many different outfits.

2015-07-25 01Here are the shoes that are in my cupboard today.

On the floor (from left to right)

Hiking boots – rarely worn but still make the cut
RM Williams dress boots – worn with jeans in cold weather
Short boots (red) – bought last year overseas when I needed some to replace a pair of shoes that wore out
Red lace-up shoes – Ecco brand – worn with jeans or trousers
Sneakers – for walking and exercise
Australian Geographic slippers – lightweight, great with socks
Purple thongs – summer casual wear

Top shelf

Bronze Mary Janes – super lightweight and comfortable, can be worn with dresses or trousers
Red Mary Janes – as above
Black patent kitten heel – dress shoe for after-five wear
Red walking sandals – Ecco brand – very comfortable

Lower shelf

Black low-heeled sandal – Taos brand – flexible sole, comfortable but quite dressy
Black low heeled ankle strap shoes – dressy winter shoe
Pink summer sandals – very comfortable
Red summer sandals – as above

Comfort and ease of wearing are my main criteria when buying shoes and they also need to be able to be worn with a variety of outfits.

Here are a couple more that I would like to add to my collection.

2015-07-25 02These are identical to my red and bronze Mary Janes and are available here.

2015-07-25 03I love red shoes and this pair look perfect.  I don’t know that I can justify them at the moment but I do love them.  They are from Frankie4.  I have not bought any shoes from this range but a friend has and she recommended them.  I like the selection of summer sandals that are both stylish and look comfortable.

2015-07-25 04I will be keeping an eye out for their spring/summer catalogue as I will definitely need some new summer sandals.  The pink and red ones that I have are just about at the end of their lives after a couple of long, hot summers.

What do you look for in shoes?  Have your criteria changed over time?