Fruits of Our Labours

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Sometimes you seem to spend ages beavering away in the background with not a lot to show for it.  Then it finally comes together.  Yesterday was one of those days.

After about 5 weeks without a door on the dining room, it is finally finished and re-hung.  However, it was much more than a 5 week job if you take into account all of the time (years) that it remained unpainted and the agonising debate over what colour to use. We are both extremely happy with the result so it was worth the wait.

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And the view when it is closed.

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Of course, GMan has identified a couple of minor touch-ups which require a steady hand so I have been seconded to do those and the glass needs a final clean as there are a spots of paint on it.

Whilst not completely finished, here are some progress photos of the entrance walkway/arbour that has been in progress for a few months.

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Yesterday we added the final cross rail as well as the wire of the lower sections.

Here is a close-up of one of the mandevilla creepers that we planted. I hope that in time they will cover most of structure.  We have planted 3 and need to buy one more.

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The lawn has been dug up from beneath the walkway and will be paved.  We also need to work our exactly what size and spacing we want for the slatted roof.

 

In the Fading Light

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After the grey and rainy days of the past week, we had a perfect Queensland winter day.  Brilliant blue sunshine but quite chilly with a westerly wind.  I did not even stop to take a photo as we were busy working on an outdoor project.

You may remember this post from a little over 3 months ago when we began in earnest to build the walkway/pergola entrance to our garden.  It had been several years in the dreaming/planning stages but is now finally a reality, albeit, a not quite finished one.

We worked until the light was fading fast so I snatched these last minute photos as GMan was packing up the final tools.

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We still have to attach the crossbar at the end closest to the house as well as panels of wire on the lower sections of the sides.

The next step will be to decide on exactly what coverage we want on the top of the walkway.  It will probably be timber slats but we need to consider how wide and how far apart.  The base will be paved with some of the pavers we salvaged from the front steps when they were demolished.  There is even a pile of excess crusher dust salvaged from the front steps project, too.  We will clean the pavers with the high pressure Gerni first.

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The final step will be to plant 4 Mandevilla creepers in shades of pink and crimson.

I am excited at the progress we have made and am looking forward to seeing a welcoming flower-covered entrance to our garden.

 

Plastic Free July

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Well, it is a week into to Plastic Free July and I decided that rather trying to to buy any plastic for the whole month, I would simply shop and live as I do on a regular basis and try to capture a true picture of my plastic consumption.

Having our own vegetable garden and fruit trees certainly helps.

Orange juice ready to freeze.

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Grapefruit marmalade.

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Yesterday I took a Weck jar when I went to buy feta cheese at the deli counter of the local IGA.  This was a definite win, but only after reminding the attendant to weigh the jar before filling it.  A reminder that this is not yet the norm and you need to be ever vigilant to ensure that your plastic-free attempts are not hijacked by well-meaning staff.

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Fruit and vegetable shopping is relatively easy to achieve plastic-free, particularly if you choose local, seasonal produce as much as possible.

Here is what I bought today.

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The supermarket is a very different story.  The items I bought today represent the majority of what I buy at the supermarket.  By its very nature, everything is packaged.  The cans are recyclable as is some of the plastic but, as we know, recycling should be the last resort.

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There was also a bottle of vinegar which did not make it into the first photo.

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We make at least some of our food from scratch which helps to eliminate some plastic packaging.  These include bread, pizza bases, tomato sauce and peanut paste.

These pizza bases are partly pre-cooked and ready to be frozen.  The plastic wrap is old cereal packets which have been washed and re-used many times.

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I am far from perfect when it comes to Plastic Free July (or any other time for that matter) but by making and growing some of our own food, having virtually no takeaway and not shopping for recreation we are fairly successful at limiting our single-use plastic consumption.

Are you participating in Plastic Free July?  How is it going?

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Remember, there are no failures – just increased awareness.  And that is a good thing.

 

 

My Shopping List

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The impending ban on regular plastic carry bags in Queensland has created a definite upswing in interest in alternatives.

There will be heavy duty plastic bags for sale, however, these are really no better as very few people seriously reuse them and the inherent problems still exist – the use of non-renewable resources to create the plastic and the waste which invariably ends up in waterways and the oceans.

Many of the so-called ‘reuseable bags’ are also derived from plastic and are far from ideal.

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You can make your own fabric bags (preferably from second-hand or salvaged fabric) or buy from groups such as your local Boomerang Bag group.  Otherwise, grab a cardboard box or two to stack your groceries.

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Beyond these obvious choices, there has been much discussion, both online and in real life, about the impact of the changes.

But what will I use to line my bin?
The fabric bag won’t fit the metal packing rack?
There is no space to pack my groceries?

And so on………

All of these questions are valid.  We need to think outside the box and perhaps change some other habits.

The first thing that springs to mind is reducing waste so that there is less or no need for bin liners.

Secondly, is about how you shop, what you buy and where you buy it.  This is what I want to discuss today.

In an online forum, I recently mentioned that I bought very little at the supermarket and could generally place it directly in my cloth bag as it was scanned through the checkout.  I place the handle over one arm and with the other hand I load the items into the bag.  I think this comment raised some interest about how I actually achieve this.

The most important tip is make the supermarket your last resort.

Eat simply, cook from scratch, grow some of your own food, support local small businesses, buy in bulk, buy online, buy at Farmer’s/Growers markets and finally, go to the supermarket.

I do not shop at either of the two major supermarkets here in Australia, Coles and Woolworths.

We live near a small town with a Woolworths and an IGA supermarket.  I buy a few things at the IGA and also go to the local butcher and our Co-op which stocks a wide range of organic products from both Australia and overseas.  Most of my supermarket shopping is done at Aldi which is about 10km away in a different direction.  The fruit and vegetable vendor that I go to is not far from Aldi.  I buy the majority of my dry goods at a family-owned shop with bulk bins.  It is about 45km away so I plan my trips and stock up about twice a year.

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By shopping at small, independent retailers you will find it much easier to use and pack your own bags as there is generally more counter space, less pressure and the seller will probably be much more supportive of your decision.  I also take my own containers/bags to have them refilled in almost all instances but that is a discussion for another day.

To give you an idea of what I buy and where I buy it, I have created the following lists of everything I buy, including food and non-food items.

I have not included fruit and vegetables from the greengrocer as this is seasonal and depends on my planned meals for the week as well as what is growing in the garden.

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Butcher

Beef mince
Diced beef
Bacon
Chicken breast fillets
Gravy beef

IGA supermarket

Vita Brits
Taco shells
Salmon
Olives
Salami
Cleaning vinegar
Soda Stream gas canisters

Co-op

Brown rice
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
Tamari
Coffee
Honey
Shampoo
Conditioner
Face wash
Moisturiser

Simply Good

Bread flour (white)
Wholemeal flour
Rye flour
Potato flour
Brown rice flour
Chickpea flour
Quinoa flour
Arrowroot
Almond meal
Flaxseed meal
Corn meal
Raw sugar
Pepitas
Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds
Almonds
Peanuts
Walnuts
Chickpeas
Kidney beans
Black beans
Haricot beans
Red lentils
Brown lentils
Sultanas
Raisins
Mixed peel
Cocoa
Coconut
Psyllium husk
Chia seeds
Quinoa
Bicarb soda
Herbs
Spices
Salt
Pepper

Aldi

Vegemite
Corn chips
Cheese
Butter
Milk
Sausages
Toothpaste
Toothbrushes
Cat food (tinned)
Cat food (dry)
Frozen peas
Mayonnaise
Dijon mustard
White vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Tuna in springwater
Flavoured tuna
Baked beans
Corn kernels
Coconut cream
Curry paste
Stock powder
Tinned tomatoes
Rice cakes
Rice crackers
Ice-cream
Skim milk powder

Online

Tea
Dog food
Eucalyptus oil

Direct from manufacturer (local)

Laundry liquid
Enzyme soaker
Dishwashing liquid
Dishwasher powder

I am sure you can see items missing from the lists, so please feel free to ask questions.  It may be that we simply do not use it or that I make it myself.  For example, I make tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, jam, peanut paste, onion flakes, pasta, pizza bases and GMan makes bread.

 

Mothers Day Makeover

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For those of you who think this post is going to be about me with a new hairstyle or looking particularly glamorous, you are going to be disappointed.

GMan and I spent a good portion of yesterday and today (Mothers Day) working on a garden project.

Here are some before shots.

January 2018

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Then we planted some shrubs.

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Easter 2018 – GMan and my brother dug 6 holes and put in 3 posts.

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GMan and I then finished the remaining posts but then there was no more progress during April as we were busy socialising and celebrating.

Part of the grand plan for this space was to remove a portion of the lawn and plant some low to medium height native shrubs.  We had already planted a few in January and will add some more soon.

GMan dug up all of the lawn in squares then we covered the area with cardboard which we had been collecting for some time.  It makes a great weed suppressant and breaks down over time.  Finally, we covered the area with mulch which had been languishing in a pile below the chicken run.  This mulch resulted from some tress we had lopped ages ago.

I did not take any photos during the process as I was busy loading cut turf into the wheelbarrow and relaying it elsewhere.

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We did not have to move the turf too far as we have relaid beside the path just inside the gate.  It is a bit uneven in places but is an improvement on the state of this space previously.

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There is more to do yet – we will complete the portico and plant flowering creepers to cover it, plant some more shrubs and build a gabion seat in near the corner of the mulched area.

Like every area of our garden this corner is a work in progress and will develop over time.

 

 

End of Easter

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Well, it is nearly 2 weeks since my last post and I honestly cannot remember what I have been doing, apart from to say that I was totally occupied by my paid work in the run-up to the Easter break and I spent a most enjoyable Easter with various members of my extended family.  There was not a chocolate in sight…………….however, 4 generations of my family were able to enjoy a shared lunch on Saturday.

GMan, my brother and I worked hard to earn our lunch as we positioned and concreted these 3 posts in place.

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This followed on from the 6 holes they had dug the day before.  It is all part of a project which has spent several years in the ‘dreaming’ pile and has now started to come to fruition.  You can read about it here.  We hope to have the other 3 posts positioned and concreted next weekend.  I am busily working on the design of the rest of the construction and hopefully it will not take too long to complete.

There were some other fun and games as my brother-in-law extricated a visitor from the hen house.  He had been there for a couple of days and we think he was looking for a warm, dry spot to digest what looked like a substantial meal.

Anyway, it was time to move along…………

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And off to a more appropriate spot………………….

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Today was quieter and an opportunity to catch up on some jobs at home so that I can start the working week with a clean slate.  I am pleased to report that all of the washing and ironing are done as well as some voluntary admin work completed.  I even made time to do a little bit of sewing.

I hope you had a safe and relaxing Easter break, too.

A Weekend in the Garden

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For the first time in what seems like months, we actually had a weekend where the weather was conducive to being outdoors.  Lately it has either been 35C or raining or both so gardening has not really been on the agenda.  We were delighted to see a forecast of mostly sunny days with a maximum temperature of 27C.

Yesterday, we decided to firm up our vague plans for a freestanding walkway/pergola to define the entrance to our garden.  The idea is to have it covered with a flowering creeper.  We have had a general idea of what we wanted but now have calculated the materials and so then it was off to Bunnings to buy the 6 large posts for the uprights.  These are now positioned on sawhorses under the house where GMan has begun painting them.

We have marked out the exact location of the posts as you can see in the photo below.

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We are hoping to get the construction started over the Easter break when we have a couple of extra days off.

There will be more updates once there is more progress.

The perfect weather deserted us overnight and we awoke this morning to drizzling rain and cloud drifting past the windows.  However, we did not let that stop us and we braved the overgrown and out-of-control vegetable gardens.  Everything was covered with the wild cherry tomatoes.  I had resolved to pick all the fruit which was ripe and not damaged before removing the plants.  It was a massive job but we successfully cleared the garden beds and planted a variety of seeds.  There are now beans, radishes, spinach, beetroot, lettuce, kale and cucumbers planted.

Hopefully, these freshly dug and planted beds will soon yield a range of produce.

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I don’t have a before photo but suffice to say that this is a vast improvement on how it looked this morning.

It may be a little difficult to see but there is an addition to the area.  We constructed a new compost area in front of the hen house using some panels of pool fencing and some star pickets.  This allowed us to put all of the cherry tomato plants in a single heap.  I also cut the asparagus back and added that to the pile.

The forecast warm weather with showers every day fort he next week should give the newly sown seeds the best possible start so I am feeling quite optimistic.