A Versatile Piece

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As I have minimised and streamlined my wardrobe over time, it has become increasingly important that individual items are able to be worn in a multitude of ways.

Everything is multipurpose to some degree but I think this piece is a clear winner.

We live in a relatively temperate climate where the maximum temperatures range between about 15C and 35C and the minimums between about 5C and 20C.  Consequently, we can wear variations of the same outfit for much of the year.

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The skirt shown above is a lightweight seersucker cotton fabric which is lined with an equally lightweight lining.  On the hottest days I can pair it with a sleeveless white cotton shirt and a pair of strappy black sandals.  Conversely, I have also worn it with a grey cowl-neck pullover, red trenchcoat, scarf, tights and knee-high black boots.

There are plenty of options that fall somewhere between these two extremes as I have a fitted black tshirt as well as a short sleeved black cashmere pullover.  A couple of different white shirts and a black cardigan complete the mix of tops.  A pair of black heels provides another option between the sandals and boots.

These are just a few of the possibilities which work with this skirt.

A relatively small selection of clothes means that each piece needs to really earn its keep.

Decluttering, Again and Again

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Have you ever met anyone, either in real life or online, who has told you that they decluttered their entire home in a weekend?  I have read these kind of stories a few times but I have a really difficult time getting my head around the concept.  Unfortunately, they usually involve a huge garbage skip and wholesale dumping of perfectly useable items.  I find this strategy a disgusting waste and totally unnecessary.

My approach is the complete antithesis – a little bit at time and I often go back to the same area multiple times.  Also, I never dump anything.  I try to find new homes for them using a variety of strategies.

The bookshelves in the study/office is the perfect example of my method.

Once upon a time this is how it looked.

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As the culling continued over several years we whittled it down to one bookcase and sold the other.

The small freezer was moved down to the workshop.

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We upgraded from our folding table.

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To this desk.

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We added a blind to the bare window.  I wanted to create a comfortable reading area/library so we sourced 2 armchairs.

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Fast forward a bit more and we have culled the books even further.  There were some non-fiction ones which have been relocated to the shelving in the living room.

This shelving unit was originally horizontal in the living room but was moved to the spare bedroom/sewing room to store some of my sewing materials and equipment.  We decided to swap it with the light-coloured bookcase which will work better for the sewing stuff and is aesthetically better in the other room.

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Here are 2 views of what I think is the final state of the office/reading room.

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It has been thoughtfully curated over a period of time as our needs and ideals changed.  I certainly could not have achieved this in a single weekend for one room, let alone a whole house.

There has been no waste as all of the items have been reused in our own home or found new homes.

New to Me

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Sometimes things are just meant to be.  A couple of weeks ago my mother told me that had some casual clothes – mostly tshirts which were now surplus to her requirements.

In the spirit of my relatively streamlined wardrobe and a lack of need, I refused most of them.  However, this one caught my eye.

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I had no intention of rushing out to buy a pink and white striped rugby top but when I saw this in the pile I simply fell in love with it.  This top is very lightweight and perfect for our generally mild weather for about 6 months of the year.

After wearing  it for a couple of days when I first received the top, I washed and ironed it.  While ironing it, I noticed that there was only one button on the placket.  The button was white and I searched my collection of numerous white buttons but could not find any suitable ones but discovered that I had 2 pink buttons that were the right size.

When I was planning what to pack on our upcoming trip to the UK I decided to include this top.  Even though it is quite light, it is loose enough to wear a thermal top underneath it and with the addition of a warm jacket I would be quite snug when out and about.

Even though this was an unplanned addition to my wardrobe, I am confident that it will  be perfect for my needs and get plenty of wear.

Old and New

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This is a post that I have been meaning to write for a couple of months but it would be nothing without the photographs.

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Sometime ago we did yet another round of sorting and organising in the workshop.   This tall galvanised bin is now empty and I am not sure what its future will be.  It is over 50 years old and came from my parents’ place.  The bin was one that was originally supplied to householders in Brisbane by APM (Australian Paper Mills) back in the 1960’s for the purpose of collecting used newspaper for recycling.

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Most of the various outdoor and garden implements were stored in the bin using the same principle as the utensil jar on the kitchen bench.

However, it was becoming overcrowded and at times was difficult to extricate the desired item.  Also, since it was circular it took up more space than we wanted so it was time for a new solution.

We had often discussed that we felt the best option was to hang the items on the wall.  But how?

The ‘centre aisle’ at Aldi provided just what we needed.  One day when we were doing the grocery shopping GMan spied exactly what we needed so we bought 2 hanging racks.  These were duly mounted side by side and gave us the opportunity to hang 12 different items.

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We chose to hang the items which were a lighter weight and saved the heavier ones for a rack we had prepared earlier.  A few years ago we demolished the old chicken run and rebuilt it in a new location with the salvaged materials.  We left the small wood shed which was adjacent to it but tidying up we found a hanging rack screwed to the rafter at the back of the shed so GMan removed it with a view to using it elsewhere.  After having been stored for several years it has finally found a new use.  The heavier spades and garden implements are safely stored.

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My Minimalism

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I often read or hear people asking quantitative questions with regard to minimalism.  These generally revolve around how many of something you need.  Examples include, “How many pairs of shoes do you have?” or “How many sets of clothes do I need for a 2 year old?”

Additionally, there are numerous blogs and articles out there which exhort you to get rid of appliances or say that one set of crockery per person is all you need.

Conversely, I maintain that minimalism should not be prescriptive and that each person has different circumstances and will make their own choices.

The thing that defines minimalism to me is that whatever you own is mindfully curated and limits are set.

In particular, I have been reminded recently of variations in kitchen requirements.  We grow some of our own food and naturally we end up with a glut of certain produce from time to time.  I do my best not to waste it.  Processing a large quantity of produce is generally when appliances come into their own.

I can happily squeeze 2 or 3 oranges using this vintage glass juicer.

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But when it comes to juicing the 160 grapefruit that we have picked in the last 2 weeks I have neither the time or energy to do them by hand.  My trusty food processor with the citrus juicer attachment comes into its own.

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This was one batch of about 60 grapefruit that I juiced last weekend.  In the space of 30 minutes I had several bottles of juice for GMan plus containers of juice to freeze for future use.

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Citrus are not the only produce that I deal with in bulk amounts.

Some time ago I bought a 20kg bag of onions.  Once again, I routinely dice one or two onions using a sharp knife but the food processor with the cutting blade is invaluable for processing larger quantities of onions.

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I chopped 3kg of onions and then used another appliance – my dehydrator – to dry them.

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24 hours later  – back to the food processor, but this time with the spice grinder attachment.

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The end result was dried onion flakes and onion powder which cost me $3 and a little time as compared to nearly $13 to buy the same quantity from the supermarket.  As an added bonus there is no packaging either.

I have used the deydrator to make garlic powder, tomato powder and vegetable stock powder using the same general method.

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Then there is the Kitchen Aid mixer which I regularly use to make spreadable butter, pizza bases, combine various flours for my gluten-free flour mix, the occasional cake and GMan uses it when making sourdough bread.  It also has a pasta attachment which I use occasionally.

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The high-speed blender is also used regularly to make smoothies, mango sorbet and peanut paste to name but a few.

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So, my minimalist kitchen is probably a joke in some people’s eyes but it works for me.

However, I do not have single-purpose appliances such as a waffle maker, ice-cream maker, hot dog maker and so on.

You see, minimalism really is what is right for the individual and their circumstances.

 

 

 

 

 

The Useful Drawer

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Many people have what they refer to as ‘the junk drawer’, however, if you embrace the concept of minimalism in any way or have simply decluttered, there is really no reason to have a drawer full of junk.

Therefore, I actually have a carefully curated drawer of useful things.

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Some of the things are probably a bit difficult to identify so I will list them below.

Top of photo from left to right:

2 boxes of extra-long matches
Set of mini screwdrivers
Candle
Screwdriver with multiple heads
Heavy-duty ziplock bags for reuse
Bread bags for reuse (under ziplock bags)
Small bags for reuse
Brown paper
Teatowel and muslin cloth

Bottom of photo from left to right:

Cut down milk bottle containing twist ties
Cut down milk bottle containing boxes of matches, compass, mini steel measuring tape, rubber bands, tiny ziplock bags, reusable plastic tags cut from an ice-cream container
String tin
Gas gun
Baking paper
Case containing torch and charger
Bag containing pieces of plastic from cereal box liners for reusing to separate food in the freezer
Ziplock bags for reuse

The contents are very useful as evidenced by the fact that my useful drawer is opened multiple times every day.

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Do you still have a junk drawer that looks like the one above?  It is a great place to start decluttering.  Why don’t you try it and see?

The Last Drop

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It is often difficult to extract the last of a product from the container using the regular method of dispensing.  However, there are ways of getting the best value from what you have bought and minimising the amount of waste.

Bottles of shampoo and tubes of toothpaste are classic examples of where there is often unused product which is discard.  Buying the largest bottle available is a good strategy because you come to the end of the bottle less frequently.  You can add a little water to shampoo, conditioner and laundry liquid bottles and get several more uses from them.

Tubes can be cut open to reveal more than you can ever hope to extract via the nozzle.  Here is a tube of face wash which I have cut the end off.

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This is not the face wash I usually use but it was left behind some months ago by a guest and I felt it would be a waste to just throw it out so a few weeks ago I decided to use it.  There was not a lot left in the tube but once I had squeezed out what I could I then unscrewed the lid and was able to get a bit more on the tip of my finger for several more days.

I cut the end off yesterday and discovered that there was quite a bit more.

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I estimate that there is at least enough for another week, possibly longer.  It is definitely a worthwhile exercise to spend 2 seconds to cut off the end of the tube rather than tossing all of this in the bin.

What do you do to make sure that nothing gets wasted?